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MAGA Negotiator? McCarthy Gives Taylor Greene Key Committee Seat

The House speaker seems to have bribed Marjorie Taylor Greene for her vote on the defense bill.

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene

MAGA Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene only voted for the defense budget because House Speaker Kevin McCarthy promised her a key committee seat.

House Republicans on Friday passed a national defense bill packed with bigoted amendments targeting abortion, LGBTQ rights, and diversity generally. Four Democrats broke ranks to help vote the bill through, but it wasn’t clear until the final vote whether enough Republicans would unite behind the measure.

Normally a staunch McCarthy ally, Greene was actually planning on voting against the bill as recently as Thursday night—until the speaker promised her a seat on the House-Senate conference committee for the defense budget, CNN’s Manu Raju reported.

Greene ultimately voted for the bill, and later confirmed that McCarthy’s offer is why she changed her mind. When Raju asked whether McCarthy’s proffered deal was what “got [her] there,” Greene replied, “Right, because I have the opportunity to continue to do what I did this week.”

“And I want that opportunity,” she continued. “I think that’s an important opportunity for me to have to represent not only the people in my district, but the people all over America that do not want their tax dollars spent on an NDAA that funds a foreign war.”

Greene was referring to aid for Ukraine, which has been a point of contention among Republicans, many of whom want to stop sending funds and supplies to Kyiv as it fends off the Russian invasion.

McCarthy’s deal with Greene is yet another sign of just how much the speaker has ceded to his party’s farthest-right wing. McCarthy made multiple deals with the House Freedom Caucus in order to become speaker, and he is constantly bowing to them as he tries to carry out his agenda.

Even though the Freedom Caucus technically kicked Greene out, she’s still ideologically aligned with them. And McCarthy needs to keep them all happy in order to keep the gavel.

Panicked Trump Wants Georgia Evidence Tossed to Stop Third Indictment

Trump is doing everything he can to stop the investigation into his efforts to overthrow the 2020 election.

Donald Trump
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When you get impeached twice, found liable for sexual abuse and defamation, and indicted numerous times it’s a lot easier to go ahead and try asking the courts to stop investigating you. Such is the strategy of Donald Trump.

CNN reports that the former president is seeking a new court order to pretty much stop the Fulton County, Georgia, investigation into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump’s lawyers are filing to try throwing out all the evidence collected last year by a special grand jury, ban prosecutors from presenting that evidence to a new grand jury, and disqualify District Attorney Fani Willis from court proceedings.

The brazen demands come from a legal team that claims that allowing the investigation to proceed would lead to “a violation of [Trump’s] fundamental constitutional rights,” as he “seeks his Party’s nomination for the Presidency of the United States.” The lawyers filed petitions to both the Fulton County Superior Court and the Georgia Supreme Court.

It makes sense that Trump’s legal team is getting desperate: the Georgia grand jury is expected to announce on Tuesday whether Trump and his associates should face criminal charges for trying to overthrow the election.

The Georgia investigation has been going on for the better part of two years, hearing from 75 witnesses, including Trump advisors, his former attorneys and aides, and Georgia officials. The special grand jury, which heard evidence for some seven months, recommended indicting more than a dozen individuals—of which Trump is suspected to be among.

All to say, the process has been a long and arduous one, not something flippant nor inherently infringing upon Trump’s constitutional rights, just because it took so long that he’s now running for president for the third time in a row.

Trump’s lawyers have made similar filings in other legal cases he faces. Earlier this week, his legal team asked for a delay in the trial where he faces 37 charges for seizing and mishandling top secret government and military documents. They have argued that it’s impossible to try the case in the lead-up to the 2024 election.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Justice Department deemed Trump not immune from E. Jean Carroll’s second defamation lawsuit against him, dating back to 2019.

Dark Brandon Wipes Out $39 Billion in Student Debt, Despite Supreme Court

You love to see it.

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The Biden administration announced Friday it will forgive $39 billion in student debt, just weeks after the ultraconservative Supreme Court tried to block such a move.

The Supreme Court in June ruled 6–3 against Joe Biden’s original student loan forgiveness plan, but it appears the president refuses to give up. His administration implemented a series of fixes to the student loan repayment system that is expected to help more than 800,000 people with student debt.

The Biden administration counted payments for borrowers who had made partial or late payments, and for people who had paused their payments under certain circumstances, such as if they were a student or unemployed, but continued to pay the interest. These types of payments previously went uncounted, according to the government.

“For far too long, borrowers fell through the cracks of a broken system that failed to keep accurate track of their progress towards forgiveness,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

The fix has a far more limited scope than Biden’s original plan, which would have canceled up to $20,000 of student debt for up to 43 million people, but the move is still noteworthy.

Biden had originally cited the Heroes Act of 2003 as the law that gave him the authority to cancel student debt. That measure permits the secretary of education to “waive or modify” student loan provisions under the circumstances of a national emergency. Debt relief opponents had argued that the act was not applicable because it was no longer a national emergency.

The new plan hinges on the Higher Education Act, which allows Biden to direct the education secretary to “compromise, waive, or release loans under certain circumstances.”

Republicans are furious that Biden has found a way around both them and the Supreme Court. Biden “is intentionally thumbing his nose at the U.S. Supreme Court and our Constitutional separation of powers,” tweeted Virginia Representative Ben Cline.

Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted, “This administration has no respect for our institutions.”

But Democrats hailed the move, especially Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who had previously pushed the HEA as the law to underpin student loan forgiveness. “This action is what it looks like when the Education Department is on the side of working people,” she tweeted.

California Representative Mark Takano called to keep up the momentum. “I applaud the Biden Administration’s commitment to student debt forgiveness, despite the Supreme Court’s efforts to rip away desperately needed relief from millions of borrowers,” he said. “We must continue to fight for student loan borrowers and get them the relief they deserve.”

Twitter’s New Promise to Pay Content Creators Has One Big Catch

A stream of Twitter’s verified users have reported big payments from the company, but take a closer look at who exactly they are.

Elon Musk
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It was always leading up to this. The rife misinformation, the skewed financial incentives, the promises for something greater, something worthwhile, something of purpose: Musk’s acquisition of Twitter is now, for all intents and purposes, a multilevel marketing scheme:

Musk’s explanation comes after a stream of Twitter’s verified users—often far-right and conspiratorial ones—received thousands of dollars for helping bring eyeballs to embedded ads within Twitter’s interface.

As per Musk, the apparent big catch is that verified users only make money off of other verified users, creating what amounts to the combination of an MLM and conspiratorial echo chamber.

While some users like Brian Krassenstein—known first as an anti-Trump content factory, now as a generically liberal voice is also quite friendly toward the rest of the Twitter Blue community—have made money, many of the Twitter payments to “content creators” seem to have gone to users who have whipped up hateful and dangerous conspiracies. These users have also been at the forefront of implicitly or explicitly prodding more people to join the subscription program helping keep Musk’s Twitter Blue afloat.

Ian Miles Cheong, a far-right user who once used his massive platform to falsely identify an innocent Black man as the “number one suspect” in the shooting of two police officers, said he received over $16,000 from Twitter.

“I hear some asking, ‘Why aren’t liberals and leftists getting paid for Twitter? Why is it just people Elon seems to like?’” Cheong tweeted when announcing the news. “Oh I don’t know, could it be because they boycotted Twitter Blue, refused to sign up for monetization, and staged failed walkoffs to Mastodon and elsewhere?”

“Twitter Monetization For Creators Is REAL,” sensationalist provocateur Benny Johnson also celebrated, announcing his nearly $10,000 paycheck from the Big Tech elite billionaire.

“That’s insane! I need in on this,” one user tweeted in response.

“Just sign up for subscriptions in Twitter Blue — the rest happens automatically,” Johnson responded, spreading the good word about the product. “Really easy! Do it,” he urged. Johnson repeated such assurances of the billionaire’s lackluster product to similarly wistful repliers.

And such is the undergirding framework of Twitter: the few profiting most from Musk’s takeover ambling to enchant the many into buying into the whole scheme too. A scheme whose promises grow bigger the more that people join, but whose actual rewards remain largely at the top. Twitter, indeed, is an MLM.

The first rollout of paychecks comes after Musk’s competitor, Zuckerberg’s Threads, announced over 100 million sign-ups. Musk has maintained that the timing is coincidental, but something else to keep in mind is Musk often has not told the truth and is making up Twitter policy as he goes. “Any kind of content monetization we’ve done in the past was based on a revenue model,” one former Twitter executive who worked on creator partnerships said. “This just feels pulled out of thin air for a specific subset of creators that he wanted to placate.”

Florida Republican Calls to “Crush” Pride Month for Being “Anti-Christian”

Anthony Sabatini is outdoing the rest of his party with the bigotry.

Rainbow heart
Paul Morigi/Getty Images

A Florida Republican politician suggested that Pride images are “anti-Christian” hate symbols and called for the government to immediately “crush” Pride Month.

Anthony Sabatini, who currently serves as the chair of the Lake County Republican Party, slammed Pride Month as “anti-American” and proposed ways the state government could effectively end LGBTQ pride celebrations.

“There’s a great reset going on. And I say, well, if you look around, really, I think the great reset is a gay reset. I mean, if you look at Pride Month, that’s pretty much, like, the whole program,” Sabatini, who is running for Congress, said at an event. It is not clear when the event took place, but video of his speech was posted to Twitter on Friday by liberal activist Lauren Windsor.

“We have to end Pride Month, okay?” Sabatini continued to applause from the audience. “We have to crush Pride Month. It has to go away.”

“It’s time to crush Pride Month and the businesses that promote that toxic anti-American garbage.”

Sabatini suggested the Florida government should pass a law banning all counties, school boards, city commissions, and even businesses from promoting Pride Month in any way. He pointed to the city of Mount Dora, which marked Pride by hanging rainbow banners along the streets.

“First we need to crush Pride Month” by banning people from spending state or local funds on it, Sabatini said. “We need to bend our civil rights laws to make it actionable legally for when they do do that because it’s an anti-Christian hate symbol.”

Republicans across the country are steadily making the U.S. more hostile to LGBTQ people, and Florida is leading the charge. State lawmakers have passed laws expanding “Don’t Say Gay,” banning discussions of personal pronouns in schools, and prohibiting transgender people from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender on any public property. Meanwhile, Governor Ron DeSantis earlier this month shared what is possibly the most bigoted ad ever for his presidential campaign.

And it’s not just at the state level. The Supreme Court ruled in June that businesses can refuse to serve LGBTQ people, which has already spurred more discrimination. And on Friday, the House of Representatives passed a defense budget that bans the Department of Defense from flying Pride flags or reimbursing travel costs for service members who seek gender-affirming care.

Here Are the Democrats Who Helped Pass the “War on Woke” Defense Bill

Four Democrats joined Republicans to pass the radical bill targeting abortion, LGBTQ rights, and more.

Capitol building
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The House of Representatives on Friday passed a defense budget that was loaded with Republican amendments aimed at furthering their culture wars.

The House voted 219–210 for the newly extreme bill, which now bans the Department of Defense from flying Pride flags, funding diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, and reimbursing travel costs for service members who need to get an abortion.

Four Democrats broke ranks to vote with Republicans. Here are the Democrats who voted for the defense budget in all its bigoted glory.

  • Donald Davis of North Carolina
  • Jared Golden of Maine
  • Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington
  • Gabe Vasquez of New Mexico

This is not the first time that some of these members have sided with Republicans. Golden and Perez voted in May to repeal President Joe Biden’s student debt relief program and to end the federal student loan repayment freeze. Davis also voted Thursday to include the Pride flag ban amendment in the defense budget.

Two Democrats Help Republicans Pass Vile Ban on Pride Flags in Military

Even three Republicans voted against the measure, and yet…

Pride flag
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Two Democrats—one poised to be the party’s next anointed Kyrsten Sinema—helped Republicans codify Donald Trump’s policy banning the Defense Department from displaying Pride flags.

The amendment to the national defense bill came from Republican Representative Ralph Norman, as part of the stream of culture war issues the party took up before they voted to shove another nearly trillion more dollars into the military industrial complex.

In a 218–213 vote late Thursday, the House approved the amendment that would ban members of the armed forces or civilian employees from displaying any flag other than the American, or other limited approved flags like state or military service ones, or flags of another country that is “an ally or partner of the United States.” The amendment was widely interpreted as one targeting Pride flags in particular.

A Norman aide noted that while the Pentagon hasn’t flown a Pride flag, the goal of the amendments is to get ahead of the trend of more and more agencies displaying Pride flags, even simply on social media accounts. Acts as extreme as the Navy having a rainbow Twitter banner during Pride month this year were enough to light the fire underneath 218 House members to put the foot down on letting anyone imagine that military members might be gay.

The amendment codifies a Trump-era (and Biden-upheld) policy that bans Pride flags from military bases. Such an amendment even got three Republican dissenters in Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick, Mike Lawler, and Marcus Molinaro.

Still, two Democrats decided the bigoted ban was one worth adding to the defense bill: Michigan’s Elissa Slotkin and North Carolina’s Don Davis.

Davis may be triangulating as he anticipates unfavorable gerrymandering from state Republicans. Nevertheless a weak excuse, as it is politically inept for Democrats to legitimize such causes as anything more than paltry culture war. Relatedly, Davis also joined eight Democrats—including those who voted against student debt relief—in approving Republican Chip Roy’s amendment to ban funds from going towards teaching critical race theory.

Such urgent priorities these Democrats bravely gave credence to.

Slotkin, for her part, said her vote was “to ban hateful flags from flying on military bases, particularly the Confederate flag,” arguing that the most sound way to ban “hateful flags” was by pursuing a near-universal flag ban.

Slotkin may very well have believed her vote to be more about banning hateful symbols at the relatively smaller expense of banning Pride flags. Even if that was the case—and considering that the entire Democratic caucus otherwise voted against the amendment—the vote adds to a broader record of the Democrats’ heir-apparent Michigan Senate candidate dissenting against other caucus-wide causes.

Previously, Slotkin has opposed student debt assistance on a vote supported by 93 percent of the caucus, voted against 85 percent of her caucus on whether the United States should simply study the impact of its sanctions on other countries, voted to overturn locally enacted criminal justice and voting rights reforms in Washington, D.C., and even voted against 94 percent of her caucus to bar security clearance from anyone who has used cannabis.

Slotkin also does not openly support Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, or abolishing the death penalty. And now, she has signed on to a Republican-led bill that bans members of the armed service from displaying a Pride flag.

Michigan is part of Democrats’ growing midwestern blue wall—a region where the party has shown, over and over again, how strong commitments to progressive causes can actually manifest into meaningful change for millions of people. But Slotkin is proving over and over again her incongruence with that possibility.

This article has been updated.

Republicans Successfully Weaponize the Defense Bill for Their Culture Wars

Republicans have successfully used the defense bill to target abortion, diversity, and LGBTQ people.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy bangs the gavel in the Capitol
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

House Republicans voted Friday to add hundreds of amendments to the defense bill, successfully using the budget as a tool in their culture wars.

The House of Representatives voted 219–210 for the amended bill, completely along party lines. The measure now goes to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where the GOP’s ideological amendments have little chance of passing.

The Republicans’ extreme changes include banning the Department of Defense from spending federal funds on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, which military officials consider critical not only for recruiting fresh talent, but also for combating extremism in the ranks.

The GOP has also blocked the military from reimbursing travel expenses for service members who have to travel for an abortion. Another amendment prohibits the Defense Department from reimbursing travel costs for people who travel for gender-affirming care.

The DOD would be barred from flying Pride flags, and using federal funds to support green energy initiatives.

The radical, bigoted bill has little chance of making it through the Democratic-controlled Senate. But it’s a clear sign of the lengths that Republicans will go to wage war on things they disagree with (instead of, you know, actual issues).

Arizona Republican Says He “Misspoke” During Rant About “Colored People”

Representative Eli Crane’s comment immediately sparked outrage in the chamber.

Representative Eli Crane
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Representative Eli Crane

Arizona Republican Eli Crane gave a nod to the times of segregation on the floor of the U.S. Congress on Thursday.

“My amendment has nothing to do with whether or not colored people or black people or anybody can serve. OK? That has nothing to do with any of that stuff,” Crane began, prompting shock throughout the floor.

Crane’s comments came as he offered an amendment to the nation’s annual defense spending cornucopia that he said would ban the consideration of “race, gender, religion, or political affiliations, or any other ideological concepts as the sole basis for recruitment, training education, promotion, or retention decisions.”

The amendment was just one of many GOP-pushed amendments dealing with culture war issues, rather than, for instance, reappropriating the destructive and wasteful military spending towards anything that actually serves people.

The comments prompted Representative Joyce Beatty, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, to ask for the words to be struck down from the record. “I find it offensive, and very inappropriate,” Beaty said. “I am asking for unanimous consent to take down the words of referring to me or any of my colleagues as ‘colored people.’”

Crane injected, requesting to amend his comments to “people of color,” but Beatty insisted the words be removed, which they were by unanimous consent.

“In a heated floor debate on my amendment that would prohibit discrimination on the color of one’s skin in the Armed Forces, I misspoke,” Crane said afterward. “Every one of us is made in the image of God and created equal.”

Language is always evolving, and the connotations words hold are grounded in the histories surrounding them. “Colored people” is associated heavily with the times of slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow: times during which the term referred to Black people as property, and then as categories to be avoided or held separately from white society.

Consequently, the term is a relic of the ills in America’s past—and not a term one may use if they’re interested in staying away from that past.

Meanwhile, also this week, Crane’s Senate Republican colleague Tommy Tuberville insistently refused to acknowledge that white nationalism is racist.

Hypocrite Nancy Mace Backs Abortion Measure She Called “Asshole” Amendment

The Republican representative revealed her true colors.

Representative Nancy Mace
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Representative Nancy Mace

Representative Nancy Mace voted to use the defense budget to limit abortion access, despite previously branding the amendment as an “asshole move.”

Republicans have packed the new NDAA with amendments targeting some of their favorite culture wars, including banning the military from funding diversity, equity, and inclusion programs; banning Pride flags; and barring the Department of Defense from reimbursing travel costs for service members who have to travel for an abortion.

Mace has repeatedly urged her party to take a more centrist stance on abortion, warning that the GOP’s extreme restrictions on the procedure could cost them elections. But she has yet to take her own advice, and Thursday night was no exception.

“We should not be taking this vote, man. Fuck,” she told her staff in an elevator in reference to the anti-abortion amendment, Politico reported. “It’s an asshole move, an asshole amendment.”

Hours later, though, she fell in line with her party and voted to include the amendment in the defense budget.

But Mace tried to have it both ways, telling Politico, “I’m all for having these conversations and debates, but doing so as part of a bill which could jeopardize our national security is wrong. Traditionally the NDAA is bipartisan legislation. This year’s bill could be historically partisan.”

The amendment will definitely alienate House Democrats, whose support is needed to pass the bill. The change is also unlikely to survive the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Mace’s vote is a clear sign of how desperate Republican leadership is to crack down on abortion access. But it’s an even clearer sign of how untrustworthy Mace is.

The South Carolina representative has repeatedly urged her party to move towards the center, and not just on abortion. She talks a good talk, but she has yet to actually walk the walk. If anything, she walks just as far to the right as the colleagues she has been warning.