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Screw You, Republicans, and Your Stupid, Useless Prayers

Two deadly mass shootings in Maine—and Republicans are doing nothing but recycling their old “thoughts and prayers.”

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A candlelight vigil in honor of the mass shooting victims in Half Moon Bay, California, on January 27.

Here we go again. At least 18 people were killed and upward of 60 people injured in Lewiston, Maine, late Wednesday evening. This is the 565th mass shooting that has been reported in 2023 alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

The senseless violence has also tapped into another fruitless round of Republican leaders issuing “thoughts and prayers” to the families of victims while continuing to pocket large donations from gun lobbyists.

In the last decade, the National Rifle Association has spent more than $37 million on its political lobbying, with GOP legislators reaping the bulk of it, including Senators Mitt Romney and Mitch McConnell, according to data from OpenSecrets. Meanwhile, the money behind “gun rights” lobbying groups has dwarfed that for gun control efforts every year dating back to 1998.

Their unbroken influence over the political right has swept votes on issues ranging from bans on assault weapons to high-capacity magazines, both of which Maine’s own Senator Susan Collins voted against.

Like Collins, other Republicans are once again offering us nothing but their thoughts and prayers.

Recent changes to the House’s leadership are unlikely to change circumstances, either. Just last week, now-Speaker Mike Johnson entertained a meeting with a group against gun control legislation, Women for Gun Rights.

Roughly 63 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with U.S. gun laws, according to a 2023 Gallup poll, which noted that just 54 percent of Republicans were satisfied with their own party-driven policies—a five-point decrease from 2022.

“Praying for everyone’s safety in Maine, and for the victims and their families,” tweeted Florida Representative Maxwell Alejandro Frost. “But unlike some in Congress, I don’t believe the only thing we can do about gun violence is pray. Every minute our leaders fail to act = more people dead to senseless gun violence.”

Sean Hannity Thinks He Can Stop Mass Shooters With His Pampered Millionaire Fists

The Fox News host offered an unbelievable plan after two mass shootings in Maine.

Sean Hannity of Fox News
Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Sean Hannity offers some truly pathetic advice to those afraid of mass shootings: Take up mixed martial arts!

On Wednesday evening, at least 18 people were killed in two mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine. The alleged perpetrator—who at the time of writing, is still being searched for by law enforcement—reportedly used a semiautomatic rifle.

Just hours later, Hannity used his Fox News show to express his frustration at the speed that a mass shooting “becomes politicized,” before careening into his real complaint: the victims’ lack of preparedness in the face of a semiautomatic firearm.

“And then I always ask the question, when something like this happens, what is your plan? What do you do?” Hannity said to his guest, Nikki Haley. 

The Fox News millionaire went on to describe his foolproof plan in case of such an incident.

“I have a personal security plan. I train in mixed martial arts. I’ve been a big believer in the Second Amendment for a long time, with the prayer that I never would have to use it,” he said.

If Hannity is “bothered” by the speed at which mass shootings inspire calls for gun reform, is it fair to say that we are frustrated at the speed at which he offers ridiculous and tasteless advice?

This year, there have been 565 mass shootings in the United States.

New House Speaker Kicks Things Off With Crass Remark About His Wife

Representative Mike Johnson made a gross gaffe about his wife in his acceptance speech.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Usually when a new speaker of the House is elected, they have major plans to unveil, recontextualizing the House’s work. Speaker Mike Johnson, however, had some other priorities. First thing on his agenda? Make a weird joke about his wife.

Shortly after the little-known congressman won the title that he claimed he never sought, Johnson took the podium to thank the hard work of the congressional staff, Speaker Emeritus Kevin McCarthy, and his wife.

“I want to thank my dedicated wife of almost 25 years, Kelly. She’s not here, we couldn’t get a flight in time. This happened sort of suddenly,” Johnson said.

“She’s spent the last couple of weeks on her knees in prayer to the Lord. And, um, she’s a little worn out,” Johnson smirked.

“We all are,” he added.

Johnson, a legislator with a track record of anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion, and anti–election integrity initiatives, won the speakership with a unanimous GOP vote on Wednesday. It was a feat that several of his more prominent colleagues had failed to accomplish in the last three weeks since McCarthy was ousted, and which some speculated may even be impossible.

Johnson’s ascension to a post second in line for the presidency has been the fastest in modern U.S. history, according to The Atlantic. The 51-year-old, who began his congressional career in 2017, was mentored by the likes of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Representative Jim Jordan. The head-down congressman has also closely aligned himself with Donald Trump, fighting tirelessly during 2020 to help overturn the presidential election results and becoming what The New York Times described as the “most important architect” of the 2020 Electoral College objections on January 6, 2021.

New House Speaker Thinks It’s Christian to Call Gay Love Sinful

Speaker Mike Johnson has a long history of homophobia. Here is a small sampling.

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Mike Johnson finally got the votes on Wednesday afternoon to fill an embarrassing three-week vacancy in the House speakership.

While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle touted Speaker Johnson as a low-key and quiet lawmaker, a long history of homophobia has already begun to surface from the Louisiana Republican’s past.

On Wednesday, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported on Johnson’s extensive history of editorials, amicus briefs, and legislation to undermine marriage equality, including drafting what some have called a national version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill in 2022.

But the bread crumbs of Johnson’s homophobia go much deeper than had previously been reported. The New Republic has learned that as early as 2003, Johnson was attacking LGBTQ rights and individuals. At the time, Johnson was a key advocate against marriage equality as a lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has called a hate group.

In 2004, Johnson defended Louisiana’s proposed statewide ban on same-sex marriage in the courts—and went as far as to use a derogatory term for opposing counsel. Johnson directly called John Rawls, an attorney advocating for marriage equality, a “homosexual” while awaiting a court decision on the ban. Rawls was so upset by Johnson’s remark, he charged the future House speaker, according to reporting in the Times Picayune. “I am not a homosexual,” Rawls angrily told Johnson. “I am a gay man.… No one calls me the ‘h’ word.”

The following year, in 2005, Johnson defended a so-called “Day of Truth,” in which far-right Christian organizations organized students to protest same-sex marriage as an attack on religious liberty. At Harvard, pamphlets were handed out decrying gay love as sinful and evil. “If the other side is going to advance their point of view, it’s only fair for the Christian perspective to present their view, too,” Johnson told The Harvard Crimson.

“You can call it sinful or destructive—ultimately it’s both,” he told NBC News of same-sex relationships.

A decade later, in 2014, Johnson (who calls Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett a friend) was again defending another statewide ban on gay marriage in Lousiana before the courts. In a 2020 interview with The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner, Johnson argued (unsuccessfully) that the issue of marriage equality is one of states’ rights.

It has yet to be seen if curbing LGBTQ rights will be part of Johnson’s governing agenda as House speaker. So far, marriage equality has flown under the radar in the current Congress. And for his part, Johnson isn’t taking questions from the press.

As speaker designate, Johnson declined to take questions Tuesday night about his role in the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. After being elected speaker on Wednesday afternoon, Johnson held a press conference on the House steps, during which he answered no questions from reporters.

During the vote that elected Johnson as speaker, Representative Angie Craig had a special message for her partner as she voted for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

“Happy anniversary to my wife,” said Craig, drawing a standing ovation from Democrats, ostensibly as a jab at Johnson’s long history as a career homophobe. Only Representative Matt Gaetz stood and applauded on the Republican side of the aisle.

Trump and His Big Mouth Violate Gag Order—and It’ll Cost Him

Donald Trump will be fined for breaking a court gag order.

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Donald Trump has crossed the line in Judge Arthur Engoron’s courtroom—again.

On Wednesday, the former president was fined $10,000 for violating his gag order in his $250 million New York fraud trial, the second such incident in less than a week. Engoron has threatened more severe sanctions should Trump continue to break the order, including the possibility of jail time.

At issue was an offhand remark Trump made to reporters during a break, apparently criticizing Engoron and his law clerk.

“This judge is a very partisan judge with a person who is very partisan sitting alongside him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is,” Trump said.

Once back in the courtroom, Engoron called on Trump to testify under oath about who he had been referring to.

Trump claimed he was referring to Michael Cohen, but when pressed by the judge on whether he’d previously called his law clerk “partisan,” Trump said “maybe” he had called her unfair, adding that she’s “very biased.”

“Why should there not be severe sanctions for disobeying a clear court order?” Engoron said.

About 45 minutes after the judge levied the fine, Engoron denied a motion on a separate issue brought forward by Trump’s team. Then, surprising everyone, Trump got up and stormed out of the courtroom, reported NBC News.

The gag order stems from the second day of Trump’s fraud trial, after the former president went on a social media campaign, lambasting Engoron’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, and baselessly claimed that the legal adviser was in a relationship with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Trump also shared Greenfield’s Instagram details, effectively ushering a scourge of far-right sympathizers onto her social media accounts.

“Consider this a gag order on all parties with respect to posting or publicly speaking about any member of my staff,” Engoron said at the time. “Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate, and I won’t tolerate it.”

New House Speaker Once Blamed Abortions for Social Security, Medicare Cuts

Mike Johnson tried to justify Republican cuts to the social safety net in the most inane way.

House Speaker Mike Johnson
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The new House speaker, Mike Johnson, has touted some extremely controversial opinions as a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus—but few as unsavory as his apparent hatred for a woman’s right to choose, sizing a woman’s worth up as her ability to create more workers for American businesses.

In a clip that surfaced Tuesday, Johnson put the onus of Republican cuts to essential programs on unborn children, claiming that if American women were producing more bodies to churn the economy then Republicans wouldn’t have to cut essential social programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Roe v. Wade gave constitutional cover to the elective killing of unborn children in America,” Johnson said, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

“You think about the implications of that on the economy; we’re all struggling here to cover the bases of Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and all the rest. If we had all those able-bodied workers in the economy, we wouldn’t be going upside down and toppling over like this,” he added.

Johnson has also co-sponsored at least three bills hoping to ban abortion at a nationwide level, including the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children From Late-Term Abortions Act, and the Heartbeat Protection Act of 2021, all of which carry criminal penalties of up to five years in prison for physicians who perform abortions.

Well, We Have a Speaker. He’s an Election Denier and an Extreme Christian Fundamentalist.

Meet Mike Johnson, Republicans’ new House speaker.

Representative Mike Johnson
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Republicans have at long last elected a House speaker: Representative Mike Johnson, a fundamentalist Christian who was also once called a key “architect” in Congress’s efforts to overthrow the 2020 election.

Johnson finally secured the speaker’s gavel after Republican infighting left the House without a speaker for 22 days. He secured 220 votes.

Johnson is a four-term congressman representing Louisiana. His win also represents the rise of the MAGA front in the Republican Party. Earlier Wednesday morning, Donald Trump endorsed Johnson as House speaker—after quickly killing Tom Emmer’s nomination the day before.

After the 2020 presidential election, Johnson led the amicus brief signed by more than 100 Republicans that sought to overturn election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. And he publicly bragged that he did it because Donald Trump called him up.

On January 6, 2021, as hordes of rioters stormed the Capitol, 139 Republican representatives—two-thirds of the entire party—voted to dispute the Electoral College results. The New York Times described Johnson as key to this effort, calling him the “most important architect of the Electoral College objections.”

Johnson convinced his colleagues, based on his expertise in law, that the way to object the results was on the grounds of “constitutional infirmity.”

Many states changed election rules during the pandemic, allowing mail-in ballots and early voting systems without approval of state legislatures, which Johnson argued was unconstitutional and could be used to reject the results from those states.

Johnson previously worked as senior attorney and spokesperson for Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, a Southern Poverty Law Center–designated hate group that pushes its far-right agenda through the courts. Johnson is also an evangelical Christian who has said, “My faith informs everything I do.”

That may include his history of using extreme, homophobic language. CNN uncovered some of his previous rhetoric, which includes calling homosexuality “inherently unnatural” and a “dangerous lifestyle” that would lead to legalized pedophilia and could destroy “the entire democratic system.”

“Experts project that homosexual marriage is the dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic,” he wrote in another 2004 column.

While working with the ADF, Johnson wrote an amicus brief opposing the Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned state laws criminalizing gay sex.

He has also opposed LGBTQ rights at every other turn. He voted against bipartisan legislation to codify same-sex marriage, which President Biden signed into law earlier this year. In 2022, he introduced what advocates called a federal “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The legislation would have banned classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation through the third grade. Johnson called the bill “common sense.”

He has voted for a national abortion ban and co-sponsored at least three bills that would restrict abortion on a nationwide level. The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America has given him an A+ rating.

In his spare time, Johnson hosts a religious podcast with his wife called “Truth Be Told.”

Ahead of the House floor on Wednesday, Democratic Representative Pete Aguilar warned the chamber about the Times’ quote calling Johnson an architect of the Electoral College objections.

Republican Representative Anna Paulina Luna publicly cheered, “Damn right!”

This article has been updated.

Guess Which Group Ron DeSantis Just Banned from Florida Campuses

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is launching an attack on students who care about Palestine.

Ron DeSantis
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The head of Florida’s public university system has called for the statewide shutdown of Students for Justice in Palestine on all campuses.

In a letter released on Tuesday, Chancellor Ray Rodrigues argued that all chapters of the pro-Palestine group must be “deactivated.” The letter also stated that the new directive was issued “in consultation with” Governor Ron DeSantis.

The letter pointed to a tool kit released by the national student-led organization, “which refers to [Hamas’s October 7 attack] as ‘the resistance’ and unequivocally states: ‘Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement.’”

This tool kit, Rodrigues wrote, shows that SJP is linked to “a terrorist led attack.” The letter also noted that under Florida law, it is a felony to “knowingly provide material support … to a designated foreign terrorist organization.”

The SJP has two active chapters in the state: at Florida State University and the University of North Florida.

Numerous instances of harassment and assault have occurred on college campuses following Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7 and Israel’s ongoing bombardment and siege on the Gaza Strip.

DeSantis has not helped cool down any of these tensions. On October 15, DeSantis claimed Palestinians “are all antisemitic,” while arguing that the United States should not take in Palestinian refugees. 

“You have Israelis being held hostage, as well as Americans being held hostage, but I don’t think they are under an obligation to be providing water and these utilities while those hostages are being held. Hamas should return those hostages before any discussions are had,” DeSantis told CBS’s Face the Nation.

DeSantis’s latest move is already under attack by free speech advocates. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression has called Rodrigues’s demands “dangerous” and “a threat to free speech.”

There’s no indication from the chancellor’s letter that any action from Florida’s Students for Justice in Palestine groups went beyond expression fully protected by the First Amendment,” FIRE wrote in a statement.

House Republicans Lose Their Mind After Reporter’s Question About 2020

A reporter tried to ask the newest House speaker candidate a tough question. Chaos ensued.

Representative Mike Johnson
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Republicans lost their mind as they tried to defend their new House speaker hopeful on Tuesday, even from legitimate questions poking at his efforts to help overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Republican Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson has been described as the “most important architect” of the Electoral College objections to Biden’s presidency on January 6, 2021. He also  led the amicus brief signed by more than 100 Republicans that sought to overturn election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

But moments after Johnson won the GOP’s nomination, his caucus wasn’t keen to entertain questions about any of that.

When ABC News reporter Rachel Scott attempted to ask a question related to Johnson’s deep involvement in Trump’s coup, the Louisiana congressman began shaking his head, ushering a cacophony of “Boos” from the horde of Republicans flocking him, which included Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Representative Lauren Boebert.

Some congressmen took the jeering a step further.

“Shut up,” shouted Representative Virginia Foxx.

“This audio is so telling, and defining,” tweeted former Florida Representaitve David Jolly in reaction to the scene. “There’s a euphoria to tonight for Johnson and Republicans, but he’ll regret this. It’s not even manufactured grace, it’s dismissive of reality—on a most critical matter with significant implications for 2024.”

Republicans’ New Speaker Pick Led Effort to Overturn 2020 Election

Representative Mike Johnson, who may be the next House speaker, played a key role in the attempt to overthrow the 2020 election results.

Win McNamee/Getty Images
House Republicans excited they finally (maybe) found their next speaker: Representative Mike Johnson

It’s Day 22, and the House still doesn’t have a speaker, though the GOP selected another designee out of an apparent carousel of contenders late Tuesday.

Republican Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson, a four-term congressman representing Louisiana, is the latest of the batch to try to unify the divided caucus. Johnson’s beliefs are a sweet spot for many GOP members: He’s anti-LGBT and rallied against Roe v. Wade. And when it comes to the 2020 election, he’s just a less dumb version of Jim Jordan, who played a close role in January 6 but failed to secure the speaker’s gavel earlier this month.

In the days following the 2020 presidential election, Johnson played a more subtle but still key part: He led the amicus brief signed by more than 100 Republicans that sought to overturn election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Then, on January 6, 2021, 139 Republican representatives voted to dispute the Electoral College results, in large part thanks to a loophole nitpicked by Johnson, who The New York Times described as the “most important architect of the Electoral College objections.”

According to the Times, it was Johnson’s lawyerly nuance that made him dangerous.

Offering possible objections based on what he described as “constitutional infirmity,” Johnson claimed there were grounds to reject the election results from states that permitted pandemic-induced state modifications to mail-in ballots and early voting systems that bypassed the approval of state legislatures.

Ultimately, it was Johnson’s work that allowed Republicans to seize on the events of January 6 for political profit, helping them transform their brand from dangers to democracy to defenders of electoral integrity, and garner grassroots support and donations from corporate backers who had once denounced them.

According to a leaflet from Johnson’s office obtained by Punchbowl News, Johnson’s core principles include: individual freedom, limited government, the rule of law, peace through strength, fiscal responsibility, free markets, and human dignity—though none of those seemed to conflict with his belief in overturning the 2020 presidential election results.

Only a few GOP members have indicated so far that they will not support him in a floor vote. His endorsers include Majority Leader Steve Scalise, fellow contender Representative Kevin Hern, and perhaps most critical, Donald Trump.

The Michael Scott look-alike is the second person to snag the speaker nomination in just one day, after Majority Whip Tom Emmer resigned mere hours after his own nomination.