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“Embarrassing Spectacle”: Progressive Dems Boycott Modi’s Congress Speech

“When it comes to standing up for human rights, actions speak louder than words,” the representatives said.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Progressive Democrats boycotted Narendra Modi’s speech to Congress Thursday, citing the Indian prime minister’s terrible human rights record.

Modi met with President Joe Biden earlier in the day to discuss strengthening the relationship between their two countries. Democrats in both the House and Senate had urged Biden to press Modi on human rights issues. In a letter to the president on Tuesday, 75 lawmakers cited “the shrinking of political space, the rise of religious intolerance, the targeting of civil society organizations and journalists, and growing restrictions on press freedoms and internet access.”

Modi’s speech to Congress, though, was widely attended—minus several prominent progressive Democrats. Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar had said Wednesday that they would boycott the address. They were joined a few hours later by Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

Tlaib, Omar, Cori Bush, and Jamaal Bowman released a joint statement ahead of the speech Thursday explaining their intention to boycott the address, which they called an “embarrassing spectacle.”

“When it comes to standing up for human rights, actions speak louder than words,” the statement said. “By bestowing Prime Minister Modi with the rare honor of a joint address, Congress undermines its ability to be a credible advocate for the rights of religious minorities and journalists around the world.”

The group called Modi “complicit” in the 2002 Gujarat riots that killed more than 1,000 people. They noted that his government has targeted Muslims and other religious minorities, journalists, and dissidents; suppressed criticism through internet shutdowns and censorship; and enabled Hindu nationalist violence.

“It is shameful to honor these abuses by allowing Modi to address a joint session of Congress,” the statement said. “We must never sacrifice human rights at the altar of political expediency and we urge all Members of Congress who profess to stand for freedom and democracy to join us in boycotting this embarrassing spectacle.”

The authoritarian tendencies that progressive Democrats spoke out against are coming to bear against Indian Americans. U.S.-based Modi critics told HuffPost that they are experiencing government intimidation, online trolling, and legal harassment, as well as essentially being banned from traveling to India.

The activists said it might be tricky for Indian American lawmakers to speak out against Modi’s visit, lest they face the same kind of pushback.

Moms for Liberty Chapter Defends Quoting Hitler in Newsletter

If you needed more proof of how this is an extremist group

A woman rests her hands on stacks of books.

A Moms for Liberty chapter has apologized after receiving blowback for quoting Hitler in its newsletter, but they still justified using the quotation.

Moms for Liberty was recently branded an “extremist” group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC says Moms for Liberty is “a far-right organization that engages in anti-student inclusion activities.”

The Hamilton County, Indiana, chapter of the organization posted its newsletter, “Parent Brigade,” on Facebook Wednesday morning. On the front page was the quote, “He alone, who OWNS the youth, GAINS the future.” The group didn’t even try to hide that it was a Hitler quotation, citing the Nazi leader just under the text.

The newsletter sparked swift backlash, with both the local Democratic and Republican parties condemning the use of the quote. By Wednesday night, the Moms for Liberty chapter had updated the newsletter to include “context” under the quotation.

“The quote from a horrific leader should put parents on alert,” the update read. “If the government has control over our children today, they control our country’s future. We The People must be vigilant and protect children from an overreaching government.”

By Thursday morning, as outcry grew, the quote had been removed entirely from the group’s newsletter. The chapter chairwoman also released a statement apologizing for quoting Hitler in the first place.

In place of Hitler’s words, the chapter moved up a message from the Moms for Liberty national founders Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich. Their message was headlined “Moms for Liberty will not be intimidated by hate groups,” an apparent response to the SPLC extremist label.

Moms for Liberty is enjoying newfound influence within the Republican Party. The group has backed bills banning transgender women and girls from playing women’s sports, and encouraged book bans. Their annual summit this year will feature multiple 2024 presidential candidates, including Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

We Officially Know Who Bailed Out Serial Liar George Santos

The Republican representative tried to keep the identities of his guarantors sealed, but a judge denied his request.

George Santos
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
George Santos

After a weeks-long legal battle, a federal judge on Thursday officially revealed who put up $500,000 to bail out serial liar George Santos from jail.

ABC and MSNBC journalists reported Thursday that Santos’s father and aunt guaranteed the bond to release the New York representative from federal custody.

Santos’s father, Gercino dos Santos Jr., previously worked as a house painter, according to campaign contribution records reviewed by The New York Times. His aunt, Elma Santos Preven, said she worked as a mail handler for the U.S. Postal Service when she also contributed to Santos’s campaign.

They did not have to pay the $500,000, but agreed to be “personally responsible” for ensuring that Santos followed the conditions of his bond.

Santos and his legal team did everything they could to stop the names from being released, at one point even arguing that Santos would rather go to jail. It’s not clear why, if they were just his family members. Santos also argued that if their names were released, they would withdraw their bond.

Santos claimed to have made millions in a short amount of time before being elected, and the fact that others had to pay his bond raises further questions about his actual financial standing.

During his short time in Congress, Santos has made headlines for a series of fabrications, some innocuous and others not so much. He has lied about his educational background and his career history, about having Jewish ancestry, about his mom dying because of 9/11 (she wasn’t even in the country), about losing his employees in the Pulse shooting, and about raising money for a homeless veteran’s dying dog (Santos kept the money).

Last month, Santos was officially charged with 13 counts related to money laundering, wire fraud, lying to Congress, and theft of public funds. Prosecutors allege Santos scammed his supporters and used their donations to pay for designer clothes and credit card bills. He was also charged with fraudulently claiming $24,000 in Covid-19 unemployment benefits, while making a $120,000 salary. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

House Republicans have, for their part, avoided censuring Santos, though he did resign from his committee assignments in late January. Only a handful have called for him to resign or be expelled.

Republicans Are Approaching an Absurd Number of 2024 Candidates

The 2024 Republican field is getting more crowded by the day.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former Texas Representative Will Hurd announced Thursday that he is running for president, bringing the Republican primary ticket to an insane high.

Hurd is the fourteenth candidate to join the field, which is still overwhelmingly dominated by Donald Trump, despite the former president’s recent federal indictment. For comparison, 17 Republicans ran in 2016, although several dropped out before the primaries.

Some people warn that a crowded field will benefit Trump, as it did in 2016, because no one will be able to unify behind one other candidate. But this time around, Trump has already been indicted twice, with two more potentially on the way, which could finally turn people against him.

Here is the list of every Republican currently running for president:

Republicans Resurrect National Abortion Ban in Time for Dobbs Anniversary

Republicans seem to no longer care about the “states’ rights” argument.

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Representative Elise Stefanik

Almost exactly a year after celebrating abortion law being returned to the states, Republicans are once again embracing the idea of a national ban on abortion.

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022, Republicans hailed the decision as a step in the right direction. Many GOP lawmakers argued that abortion rights are a state issue, not a federal one.

But on Tuesday, Representative Elise Stefanik indicated that she and her colleagues will introduce a bill banning abortion nationwide after 15 weeks. “The people are the most important voices” on abortion, Stefanik said, apparently not seeing the irony of her words.

Speaking at an event to mark the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, hosted by the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, Stefanik argued that the federal government does have a role in abortion legislation, particularly in “building consensus” nationally on the topic.

“We should embrace this debate,” Stefanik said.

Stefanik’s announcement takes Republicans’ war on abortion rights to the next level. Last year, when Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a federal 15-week abortion ban just before the midterms, many of his colleagues slammed the move. The bill never made it to the Senate floor. But Stefanik is signaling that more Republicans are ready to embrace a national ban.

Except there is already a national consensus on abortion rights. An overwhelming majority of Americans—62 percent, to be exact—still think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the Pew Research Center. What’s more, people consistently vote in favor of increasing abortion rights protections.

And yet Republicans have the gall not only to consistently override the will of the people but also to pretend that a 15- or 20-week ban is somehow a compromise.

Abortion saves lives, and abortion wins elections. The GOP may be about to find that out the hard way.

House Republicans Censure Adam Schiff in Complete Waste of Everyone’s Time

Republicans decided that this bill, which has no chance of moving forward, should be a priority.

Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

House Republicans voted Wednesday to censure Adam Schiff for accusing Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign of colluding with Russia, in a massive waste of time for everyone.

The House had already voted last week to table a similar measure, with 20 Republicans joining Democrats to vote it down. Both resolutions, sponsored by Florida Representative Anna Paulina Luna, allege that Schiff “spread false accusations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia” and abused his access to classified information. The measures also accuse Schiff of acting “dishonestly and dishonorably on many other occasions.”

The resolution last week also sought to fine Schiff $16 million. That penalty has been removed from the current measure.

The final vote on Wednesday was 213–209. The measure has no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Luna, a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, had said that most of the Republicans who previously broke ranks would change their vote this time around. Her accusations stem from Schiff’s criticisms of Trump over the special investigation by Robert Mueller. Mueller found that Russians had contacted officials for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and that the officials were willing to accept Moscow’s help to win.

Schiff, who is running to replace Dianne Feinstein in the Senate, sarcastically thanked Republicans just before the vote. “You honor me with your enmity. You flatter me with this falsehood,” Schiff said. “You who are the authors of a big lie about the last election must condemn the truth tellers, and I stand proudly before you.”

Last week, he slammed Republicans for using the vote as a way to distract people from Trump’s federal indictment. “The fact that Speaker [Kevin] McCarthy would take up this MAGA resolution when we have so many pressing challenges before the country is really a terrible abuse of House resources,” Schiff told CNN.

Voting to censure Schiff is also a bold, and potentially disastrous, move for certain Republicans, 18 of whom go up for reelection next year in districts that went for President Joe Biden. The resolution against Schiff is pointless and could cost them their seats. The fact that Republicans forged ahead with the censure vote is a sign of how willing they are to eat their own in order to accomplish petty goals.

MTG Is So Pissed at Lauren Boebert She Called Her a Bitch on the House Floor

The two Republican representatives are in the absolute pettiest of fights.

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Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert

Republicans are not happy with Representative Lauren Boebert, who moved to force a vote this week to impeach President Joe Biden. But her former work bestie Marjorie Taylor Greene is absolutely livid.

Boebert introduced articles of impeachment Tuesday under a privileged resolution, meaning there has to be a vote on the measure within two days. The move surprised and frustrated many of her colleagues. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said the measure was premature and urged Republicans to oppose it. He also warned it could hurt their bogus investigation into Biden. Representative Don Bacon called Boebert’s resolution “frivolous” and said she had made the impeachment into “playground games.”

Greene, on the other hand, was upset for a very different playground explanation. She tore into Boebert on the House floor Wednesday afternoon for copying her articles of impeachment.

Greene introduced articles of impeachment against Biden in May, over his handling of immigration at the southern border. Those articles have yet to go anywhere.

I’ve donated to you, I’ve defended you. But you’ve been nothing but a little bitch to me,” Greene told Boebert in the middle of the House floor, according to The Daily Beast, citing an anonymous source who witnessed the exchange. “And you copied my articles of impeachment after I asked you to cosponsor them.”

Boebert, who claimed she had never read her colleague’s articles, replied, “OK, Marjorie, we’re through.”

“We were never together,” Greene shot back.

Earlier Wednesday, Greene had publicly shaded Boebert for copying her work and then skipping steps to get all the attention. I had already introduced articles of impeachment on Joe Biden for the border, asked her to co-sponsor mine, she didn’t,” Greene said. “She basically copied my articles and then introduced them and then changed them to a privileged resolution.”

The Georgia Republican told The Hill Wednesday that she would convert her articles, and others she has drawn up against other members of the Biden administration, to privileged resolutions she can introduce whenever she feels like.

When asked if she would support Boebert’s resolution, Greene replied, “Of course I support ’em because they’re identical to mine.

“They’re basically a copycat,” she added.

Greene and Boebert seemed to be good friends when they both first arrived on Capitol Hill, but they have since ruptured pretty spectacularly. They first began to diverge over continuing aid for Ukraine: Boebert supported it, while Greene was opposed.

Greene has also ingratiated herself with establishment Republicans, although both women still embrace far-right beliefs. Things came to a head during the interminable vote for speaker of the House in January. The pair reportedly got into a massive argument in a Capitol bathroom, when Greene accused Boebert of taking money from McCarthy for her reelection campaign but then refusing to vote for him for speaker.

The Daily Beast, citing an anonymous source, said Boebert replied, “Don’t be ugly” and then “ran out like a little schoolgirl.”

So safe to say, the fact that Boebert swooped in and got to impeach Biden first is not going down well.

This article has been updated.

RFK Jr. Gives Away the Game With Decision to Speak at Moms for Liberty Summit

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. finally reveals who he has been all along.

Lisa Lake/Getty Images for SiriusXM
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Democratic presidential candidate and rabid anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has decided to take his 2024 campaign to new, extremist levels.

Kennedy will be a guest speaker at a Moms for Liberty gathering in Philadelphia next week, an event dubbed the “Joyful Warriors National Summit,” the nonprofit announced Tuesday.

Moms for Liberty has been labeled an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, for disguising its attacks on schools, teachers, and the LGBTQ community as “parental rights.” The group is especially famous for pushing bans on books that discuss identity issues, including race, gender, and sexuality, or have sexual content; chapters of the group have run (sometimes successful) campaigns in schools across the country. It’s a broad ambush, “seeking to undermine public education holistically and to divide communities,” the SPLC’s Rachel Carroll Rivas told NPR earlier this month.

So why is Kennedy, who purports to care about issues of censorship, speaking at the summit? Perhaps because he’s running on the wrong ballot.

Other guest speakers at the Moms for Liberty summit include some of the top 2024 Republican candidates: twice-impeached and twice-indicted former President Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and anti-woke multimillionaire Vivek Ramaswamy. In fact, Kennedy appears to be the only Democrat on the list of guest speakers, which also includes far-right conspiracy theorists and the president of the right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation.

This isn’t a total shock for anyone who has familiarized themselves with Kennedy’s actual political views. The candidate has a long history of spreading conspiracy theories—including before Covid-19 saw a resurgence in anti-vaxxers—and his fringe ideas often come with a racist or homophobic twist.

In the last week alone, RFK Jr. has made news for comparing Covid-19 mask mandates to Nazi experiments, saying chemicals in our water are making frogs gay and kids transgender, and claiming Wi-Fi causes cancer. He appeared on the conservative network Newsmax and accused China of developing “ethnic bioweapons” designed to go after specific races of people. And he promised to, if elected, gut funding for federal health agencies that recommend vaccine schedules for children. That includes agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier this month, Kennedy spent an hour sucking up to Elon Musk in a Twitter space, praising the then CEO for his dedication to free speech. Musk, meanwhile, has let Nazis return to Twitter, effectively forced out the executive overseeing the site’s safety and content moderation, and haphazardly enforced hate speech policies to target trans people.

OceanGate CEO Missing in Titanic Sub Had History of Donating to GOP Candidates

Here’s who OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush has donated to.

Ocean Gate/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Public campaign finance records indicate that Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate currently stuck on the missing Titan submersible that was running a tourist expedition of the Titanic wreck, has been a consistent Republican donor over the years.

Now a point of caveat here: According to these public finance records, Rush was not a Republican megadonor, but his donations over the years leaned heavily toward Republican candidates.

Federal Election Commission campaign finance filings show a Stockton Rush of Washington state employed by OceanGate giving $1,500 to Culberson for Congress, the principal campaign committee for now-former Republican Congressman John Culberson who represented Texas’s 7th district from 2001 to 2019. Culberson had a 100 percent scorecard rating from the conservative Family Research Council, a 92 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, and a 4 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters. Not exactly a RINO.

The FEC also lists donations from Stockton R. Rush III, Stockton R. Rush Jr., and Stockton R. Rush. While the home addresses for these donations are all the same, it’s not clear if these are close relatives or the same Stockton Rush (the employers for these donations vary depending on the specific donation and include “Remote Control Technology, Inc.,” “investor,” and “Mr Oil & Gas Company”). But altogether, those donations are consistently Republican and include George Bush for President in 1979, the Illinois Republican State Central Committee in 1980, Citizens to Elect Rick Larsen in 2022, and friends of Mike McGavick in both 2000 and 2005.

Separately, OpenSecrets filings show Stockton R. Rush donating to Dino J. Rossi, a perennial Republican candidate in Washington state who ran unsuccessfully for governor, United States Senate, and the House of Representatives. Rossi served in the state Senate from 2016 to 2017.

Washington state Democratic consultants told The New Republic they don’t regard these donations as a sign that Rush is anything like a GOP megadonor, just that he leans to the right.

As national attention has shifted to the missing submersible, there has been increasing scrutiny on OceanGate and its top executives. As I reported yesterday, according to court filings, a former employee at OceanGate voiced safety concerns about the Titan submarine that is now missing. The CEO reportedly knew about these safety concerns, and the employee voicing them was fired. That case was settled in court.

Ob-Gyns Say More People Are Dying Since Dobbs Overturned Right to Abortion

A new KFF poll finds health professionals are incredibly concerned about the restrictions on abortion.

Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
A doctor at a clinic in San Antonio, Texas, informs a patient that he can no longer provide abortion services since the Supreme Court just overturned Roe v. Wade, June 24, 2022.

Health professionals say that maternal mortality has skyrocketed in the year since Roe v. Wade was overturned, a new survey from KFF found, a sign of how harmful abortion bans are.

The Supreme Court rattled the country when it rolled back the nationwide right to abortion on June 24, 2022. In the year since then, Republican-led states have cracked down on abortion access, imposing confusing restrictions or outright bans on the procedure. Many in the GOP argue that they are not limiting access to medically necessary procedures, but instead are saving lives.

KFF surveyed nearly 600 ob-gyns nationwide from March to May, and found that 68 percent say the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision worsened their ability to respond to pregnancy-related emergencies. The survey also found that 64 percent of ob-gyns “believe that the Dobbs decision has worsened pregnancy-related mortality” and 70 percent believe the ruling increased racial and ethnic inequities in maternal health.

Part of this could be due to the fact that all of the new laws surrounding abortion have left doctors confused about what they’re even allowed to do. Only 45 percent of ob-gyns in states with abortion restrictions say they understand the circumstances under which abortion is legal.

Many doctors also feel that their hands are tied. In states where abortion is limited, 59 percent of ob-gyns say they are worried about the legal risk when making “decisions about patient care and the necessity of abortion.” In states where abortion is banned, that number jumps to 61 percent.

The United States already has the worst maternal mortality rate among developed nations, and health experts have long warned that abortion restrictions would only cause it to rise. A study released in November by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that if abortion is banned nationwide, maternal mortality will rise 24 percent. Maternal mortality among Black people will shoot up 39 percent.