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“Lazy Shits”: Republican Congressman Curses Teenage Senate Pages

This is not the first time Representative Derrick Van Orden has threatened a bunch of teenagers.

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Representative Derrick Van Orden

Wisconsin Representative Derrick Van Orden yelled at a group of teenage Senate pages early Thursday morning, calling them “lazy shits” and “jackasses.”

Senate pages are typically high school teens sponsored by their home state’s senator to help out in the chamber. When the Senate works late—as it was on Wednesday, as votes on the national defense bill stretched into Thursday—pages sometimes rest in the Capitol Rotunda. This week is their last in Congress before their session ends.

According to Punchbowl News, several pages were lying on the floor taking pictures of the building’s dome when Van Orden spotted them. He immediately began cursing at them, calling them “lazy shits” and ordering them to “get the fuck up.”

A Senate page wrote down a transcript of the interaction, which was later reported on in The Hill.

“Wake the fuck up you little shits.… What the fuck are you all doing? Get the fuck out of here. You are defiling the space you [pieces of shit],” Van Orden reportedly told the pages. “Who the fuck are you?”

After one of the kids clarified that they were Senate pages, Van Orden replied, “I don’t give a fuck who you are, get out.”

“You jackasses, get out,” he repeated.

Van Orden, for his part, defended his behavior, arguing that the Capitol Rotunda was used as a field hospital during the Civil War for Union soldiers.

“I would think that I’d be terribly disrespectful to lay on the grave of a soldier that died fighting for freedom,” Van Orden told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “And I don’t know anybody that disagrees.”

Van Orden did not seem to recognize that a hospital and a cemetery are two different things—and the Capitol Rotunda is neither one of them.

The Wisconsin Republican seems to have a penchant for bullying teenagers. In 2021, the then-candidate threatened a 17-year-old staff member at a local library, demanding to know who set up the Pride Month display of books. Van Orden went on to check out every book from the display so that they would not be available to other patrons.

The teenage employee went home and told her parents she no longer felt safe at work.

Half of Republicans Don’t Think Trump Took Classified Docs. That’s Terrifying.

Trump still controls the Republican Party—and they’ll believe anything he says.

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Donald Trump

Half of Republicans don’t actually think that Donald Trump had hidden classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, a poll released Thursday found, a troubling sign that the party is still deeply in his thrall.

Trump was charged in June with 37 criminal counts of willful retention of national defense information, making false statements, and conspiracy to obstruct justices, among other things. The indictment included multiple photos of the boxes of documents that Trump hoarded at his Florida resort. He kept them stored everywhere around the property, from the ballroom to the bathroom. And there’s even a public recording of him admitting he kept the classified materials.

But despite the seemingly overwhelming evidence against him, only 49 percent of Republicans actually believe there were classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, according to a new Marquette Law School survey, while 50 percent don’t believe there were documents there.

Those numbers are a fortunate shift from September, when only 40 percent of Republicans believed there were documents, and 60 percent did not.

Democrats, meanwhile, have never been in doubt. The survey found that 95 percent of left-leaning voters believe classified material was kept at Mar-a-Lago, compared to 91 percent in September.

Independents are not quite as convinced as Democrats, but far more believe the indictment than Republicans. Seventy-eight percent say classified documents were present at the resort, up from 66 percent in September.

Republicans’ refusal to see the facts right in front of them is a clear sign of how much influence Trump still has over the party. He is leading the pack of Republican presidential candidates by a mile, and if anything, the multiple indictments against him have made him even more popular.

This is a chilling indication of what we can expect next November. If Trump wins the GOP presidential nomination, then he will still have a solid fan base on which to draw come Election Day.

And if he does return to the White House, good luck prosecuting him for anything.

This Senate Is the Second-Oldest in History

A recent incident with Mitch McConnell has cast a light on just how old this Congress is.

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Senators Dianne Feinstein and Mitch McConnell

Congress is even older than you think it is.

On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed to shut down while giving a press conference at the Capitol. He froze, apparently unable to speak, as several of his colleagues asked him if he was alright. Eventually, he had to be escorted away.

While he seems to have recovered shortly thereafter—glaring at reporters who asked him whether he had chosen a successor yet—the incident has revived questions about his age and fitness to serve. After all, this isn’t the 81-year-old lawmaker’s first public health scare.

But zooming out, it also casts a light on just how old our Congress is getting.

According to an NBC News analysis, this Congress is the third-oldest since 1789, when the legislative branch as we know it today was first established. The Senate is the second-oldest in U.S. history.

And as the House keeps getting younger, the Senate keeps getting older.

A Pew analysis found that the median age of House lawmakers is 57.9 years, down from 58.9 in the last Congress. The Senate’s median age, however, is 65.3 years, an uptick from 64.8 in the last session. These reverse trends have been continuing for years now.

While age isn’t everything, and we don’t have the full details of what happened to McConnell, it’s hard not to be concerned about this trend.

In March, McConnell tripped and suffered a concussion and cracked rib, leaving him out of session for nearly six weeks before he was finally able to return to Congress. His injury is a common one among older people, as an estimated 800,000 seniors per year are hospitalized for injuries from falling. After Thursday’s incident in the press conference, reporters revealed that McConnell has fallen multiple times this year and has taken to using a wheelchair in airports to avoid future accidents. (McConnell, it should be noted, is a polio survivor and walks with a limp, but his recent history is troubling even his Republican colleagues.) 

On the other side of the aisle, Senator Dianne Feinstein was missing from the chamber for nearly three months due to a particularly bad bout of the shingles. The illness led her to contract Ramsay Hunt syndrome, causing facial paralysis and vision and balance impairments, as well as encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain that can cause “lasting memory or language problems, sleep disorders, bouts of confusion, mood disorders, headaches and difficulties walking,” according to The New York Times.

When she did finally return to Congress, Feinstein seemed completely unaware that she had been missing at all.

On Thursday morning, during a vote on the defense appropriations bill, she launched into a full speech instead of simply casting her vote.

“Just say ‘aye,’” Senator Patty Murray advised Feinstein, giving her a thumbs up.

“OK, just—?” she replied, looking confused. “Aye.”

Trump to Jack Smith: Indicting Me Will “Destroy Our Country”

Trump is expected to face his third indictment any minute now, and he is not handling it well.

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Donald Trump had a dangerous warning Thursday for special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating him for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 election: Another indictment would “destroy” the United States.

Smith has already indicted the twice-impeached former president for mishandling classified documents. Trump’s lawyers met with Smith’s team earlier Thursday and were reportedly told to expect an indictment.

Trump has not been handling all of the indictment talk well (to put it mildly), and his post on Truth Social was no different.

My attorneys had a productive meeting with the DOJ this morning, explaining in detail that I did nothing wrong, was advised by many lawyers, and that an Indictment of me would only further destroy our Country,” he wrote.

“No indication of notice was given during the meeting—Do not trust the Fake News on anything!” he added, disputing reports that his legal team was warned an indictment was coming.

In addition to Smith’s charges against him, Trump has been charged with 34 counts of business fraud in New York relating to hush-money payments made during the 2016 election, has been found liable for sexual abuse and defamation, and has been sued for defamation yet again. He could also be indicted in Georgia for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 election within the next few weeks.

Blacks and Latinos Are Half of L.A. Population—but 80 Percent of Arrests

A new study sheds light on the disproportionate rate of arrests in the second-biggest city in America.

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Los Angeles city police arrest a Black or Latino person nearly eight out of every 10 times, despite the fact that those two communities only make up about half the city’s population, a new study has found.

City Controller Kenneth Mejia’s office released an analysis Wednesday night of the LAPD’s nearly 300,000 arrests made from 2019 to 2022. Mejia was elected in November, and part of his campaign involved putting up billboards around Los Angeles blasting the city’s massive police budget.

Black and brown people make up an average of 78.26 percent of all arrests for the years analyzed—but they make up only 56 percent of the city’s population, according to 2020 census data.

The majority of the arrests, every year except 2021, occurred in the city’s District 14, where people of Hispanic origin make up nearly three-quarters of the neighborhood. In 2021, District 8 had the most arrests by just three. That district, which also has high arrest numbers, has a primarily Black- and Hispanic-origin population.

The report comes as police departments across the United States increased scrutiny, particularly of systemic racism and brutality. In June, the Department of Justice released a report that found the Minneapolis Police Department systematically used excessive force and discriminated against racial minorities for years ahead of the police killing of George Floyd.

Supreme Court Clears Way for Mountain Valley Pipeline, as Earth Reaches Hottest Temp

This is a blow to environmental groups everywhere.

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A Stop Mount Valley Pipeline rally in front of the White House on June 8

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that construction on the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline could continue, a huge win for Senator Joe Manchin and a blow to environmental groups.

Manchin had demanded that permits for the pipeline be included in the debt ceiling deal in exchange for his supporting the bill. Democrats agreed, infuriating environmental activists and politicians alike. Two separate appeals courts issued stays on the pipeline earlier this month, one of which determined that the pipeline would violate the Endangered Species Act.

But the Supreme Court agreed to lift the lower court orders and allow construction to continue. There were no public dissents, even from liberal justices, a rare occurrence on the politically divided bench.

The pipeline will run more than 300 miles from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia, possibly even into Northern California. It will carry fracked gas, which is proven to be the cause of surging global methane emissions—a major contributor to climate change.

But President Joe Biden has backed the pipeline, despite opposition from other Democrats. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, who represents one of the regions that will be most affected by construction, was particularly furious that the pipeline was included in the debt bill instead of moving through the standard process.

The ruling also comes as states from coast to coast struggle with triple-digit temperatures. July is set to be the world’s hottest month on record.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers are not just burying their heads in the sand over the heat wave but actively plotting to undermine Biden’s environmental policy plans.

The GOP is blocking Biden from declaring a national emergency over climate change, introducing a bill that bars him from directing resources to address the life-threatening crisis. The House and Senate sponsors of the bill have received about $5 million from fossil fuel interests just over the past five years.

This story has been updated.

Raskin Demands Comer “Publicly Reprimand” Greene for Waving Around Hunter Biden Nudes

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s actions are turning the committee into “a 1970s-era dime store peep show,” the Democratic congressman warned.

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Representative Jamie Raskin is accusing House Oversight Chair James Comer of undermining the committee’s credibility by allowing Marjorie Taylor Greene to show Hunter Biden’s nude photos, saying the committee is being “reduced to the level of a 1970s-era dime store peep show.”

The House Oversight Committee heard testimony last week from two IRS agents who say the Department of Justice dragged its feet on investigating the younger Biden for tax fraud. The hearing produced zero actual evidence, so instead, Greene tried to claim that Biden engaged in sex trafficking and listed payments to sex workers as a tax write-off. To support her argument, she held up poster-size prints of Biden’s nude photos, which she later also posted on Twitter and shared in her email newsletter.

In a letter sent to Comer Wednesday evening, Raskin tore into his colleague for refusing to stop Greene during the hearing. Raskin asked Comer to publicly reprimand Greene and to establish new committee rules banning the display of “pornographic images” unless they are actually relevant to the case at hand.

“If Rep. Greene’s completely gratuitous and irrelevant display of pornographic images at our televised hearing does not violate the Congressional rules of decorum, then we have no rules of Congressional decorum,” Raskin said in the letter, which was obtained by The New Republic. “This type of display is a violation of House rules, and, as you yourself have recognized, also ‘counter to a credible investigation.’”

Raskin also called Comer out for repeatedly declining to condemn Greene’s actions. Instead, the official Oversight Republicans’ Twitter account shared Greene’s tweet, which included a video clip of her holding up the nude photos.

“These pictures were displayed across America for purely voyeuristic, sensationalistic, and sadistic purposes,” Raskin said in his letter. “Our Committee, which was once chaired by heroes of the public interest like Henry Waxman and Elijah Cummings, is rapidly being reduced to the level of a 1970s-era dime store peep show.”

“Your failure to halt Rep. Greene’s display of pornographic photography during Committee proceedings undermines the integrity of this Committee and the House of Representatives.”

Democrats moved earlier this week to censure Greene for a variety of offenses, including showing Biden’s nudes. The resolution also condemns Greene for calling Muslim members of Congress part of the “Jihad Squad” and for appearing at a white nationalist event.

“For me, censuring Rep. Taylor Greene is about the health of our democracy and faith in government. Her antisemitic, racist, transphobic rhetoric has no place in the House of Representatives,” said Representative Becca Balint, who introduced the measure Tuesday.

Biden has also hit back at Greene: His lawyer, Abbe Lowell, filed an ethics complaint against her on Friday, sending a letter to the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics asking that Greene be investigated and penalized for her “outrageous, undignified conduct.”

Republican Rep Torches McCarthy for Biden “Impeachment Theater”

The hard-line Republican had some choice words for Kevin McCarthy.

Representative Ken Buck
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Representative Ken Buck

Republican Representative Ken Buck on Wednesday accused Kevin McCarthy of raising the idea of impeaching Joe Biden to distract the public.

McCarthy said this week that the Republicans’ (bogus) investigation of Biden was “rising to the level of impeachment inquiry,” despite previously calling attempts to impeach the president immature. The House Freedom Caucus, the GOP’s farthest-right wing, and other hard-line Republicans have been pushing the idea of impeachment proceedings for some time now.

But Buck, a member of the Freedom Caucus, is calling out McCarthy, saying that talking about impeachment right now is irresponsible. “This is impeachment theater,” the Colorado Republican told CNN’s Dana Bash. “We right now are starting the appropriations process, and there is not consensus on the Republican side about what the numbers should be.”

Buck pointed out that when McCarthy became House speaker, he had promised not to raise the debt ceiling. But he later struck a deal with Biden to do just that (after a Republican-manufactured crisis that brought the United States to the brink of default).

“What he’s doing is he’s saying, ‘There’s a shiny object over here, and we’re really going to focus on that. We just need to get all these things done so that we can focus on the shiny object,’” Buck said. “Most of us are concerned about spending.”

“I don’t think it’s responsible for us to talk about impeachment.”

Buck did say he supported the House Republicans’ (so far evidenceless) probe into the Biden family’s alleged wrongdoing, but he warned that talking about impeachment already could give Americans the wrong impression.

McCarthy escalated the investigation to a new level on Monday when he put impeachment on the table. Other Republicans have tried to impeach Biden before. Both Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert introduced articles of impeachment over Biden’s handling of immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border—a sore point that led to Greene calling Boebert a “little bitch” on the House floor.

When Boebert introduced her articles in June, McCarthy called the move premature and urged his fellow Republicans to oppose it. He reportedly told lawmakers that impeachment “strengthens Biden and weakens us.”

The Iconic Moment Sinéad O’Connor Was Banned From SNL for Calling Out the Pope

The Irish singer-songwriter has died at the age of 56, but she leaves behind a legacy of political activism.

Sinead O'Connor performs on stage
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Sinead O'Connor performs in 2014 in Dublin.

Sinéad O’Connor, the world-renowned Irish singer and songwriter, has died at the age of 56.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad,” her family said in a statement Wednesday. “Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”

No cause of death was disclosed. The news of her passing has set off a wave of tributes for the artist known not just for her rebellious anthems but for her political activism.

Perhaps her most iconic moment was in 1992, on Saturday Night Live. O’Connor, who was raised Catholic, was performing a version of Bob Marley’s “War.” She changed some of the lyrics to reference child abuse and then held up a picture of Pope John Paul II as she reached the final line: “We have confidence in the victory of good over evil.”

Then she ripped up the photo and said, simply, “Fight the real enemy.”

She later explained that she was criticizing pedophilia in the Catholic Church. SNL banned her.

“I’m not sorry I did it. It was brilliant,” she told The New York Times in 2021. “But it was very traumatizing. It was open season on treating me like a crazy bitch.”

“It seems to me that being a pop star is almost like being in a type of prison,” she added. “You have to be a good girl.”

O’Connor was vocal on many other issues. She refused to attend the 1991 Grammy Awards or even accept her win for Best Alternative Music Performance. Instead, she wrote an open letter to the Recording Academy in which she criticized the awards for being based on “false and destructive materialistic values” rather than actual artistic merit.

Two years before that, during a performance at the Grammys, she painted Public Enemy’s target logo on her head, in solidarity with the hip-hop group and other Black artists who were being ignored by the Recording Academy.

O’Connor’s debut album, 1987’s The Lion and the Cobra, was an  international success. But her next album in 1990, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, which featured the hit song “Nothing Compares 2 U,” turned her into a global sensation.

O’Connor’s teenage son Shane died by suicide last year. She is survived by her three other children: Jake, Roisin, and Yeshua.

What the Hell Just Happened to Mitch McConnell in This Press Conference?

The Senate minority leader appears to have just shut down.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was escorted away from the cameras during a news conference Wednesday, after he froze and appeared unable to continue speaking.

McConnell began the press conference but soon trailed off mid-sentence and stood frozen at the podium. Eventually, Senator Joni Ernst put her hand on McConnell’s shoulder and asked, “Are you good? Mitch?”

Senator John Barrasso also approached and quietly asked, “Are you OK, Mitch? Anything else you want to say, or should we just go back to your office?”

McConnell did not respond verbally, only turning and walking off to the side. Senator John Thune then stepped up to the podium to continue the briefing.

When McConnell returned to the podium a little later, CNN reporter Manu Raju asked him if his freezing up was “related to your injury from earlier this year, when you suffered a concussion?”

“No, I’m fine,” McConnell replied.

Raju was referring to March 8, when McConnell tripped and fell after an event in Washington. He was hospitalized with a concussion and discharged on March 13. McConnell then spent more than a week in a physical rehabilitation facility.

If his freezing up is related to that injury, then that’s perfectly normal. McConnell is 81 years old and suffered terrible physical harm—and his injury is common for many older Americans. It’s understandable that he might still be dealing with negative effects.

What is not understandable is his apparent decision to cling to power after suffering incapacitating physical harm. When asked during the press conference by The New Republic’s Pablo Manríquez whether he had someone in mind to replace him if (let’s be real, when) he steps down as Republican leader, McConnell glared, then smiled and walked away.

The situation is starting to look like that of Dianne Feinstein, who has refused to step down despite growing concerns that she is no longer mentally capable of governing. Both politicians are looking less and less able to keep up with the demands of their job—again, understandable!—but simply cannot bring themselves to walk away.