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BREAKING: Senate Gives Matthew Shepard Bill Major Lifeline

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Votes To Remove $1.75 Billion F-22 Funding From Bill In Face Of Presidential Veto Threat

Moments ago the U.S. Senate voted to remove funding for the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor, an aircraft program Secretary of Defense Gates and President Obama both were vehemently against continuing funding. The funding is part of a Defense Appropriations Bill that curiously included the Matthew Shepard Act, a hate crimes bill that was passed in the House April 29 by a 249–175 vote, and just last week in the Senate by a 63-28 vote.

President Obama has repeatedly insisted he would veto any bill that came to his desk which included funding for the F-22, an air-to-air fighter which uses stealth technology. In yet another curious development, Senator Edward Kennedy, the sponsor of the Matthew Shepard Act, voted with several Republicans to continue funding the F-22, in effect putting the hate crimes bill into jeopardy. Also odd is that Obama’s Republican presidential rival, John McCain, the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted to remove the funding.

Many saw the F-22 as unnecessary and outdated in a military whose focus has shifted from air-to-air combat and conventional warfare to battling insurgents in the Middle East. Proponents saw the jet as necessary and saw its funding as providing jobs in Connecticut, California, and Georgia.

And in still another act of irony, the Defense Authorization Bill still faces another major hurdle: The Thune amendment. South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune has attached an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that would effectively allow the weakest concealed gun carry permit from any state to be the law of the land in all 50 states. The bill has bipartisan support from Republicans and conservative Democrats who are in swing states. The NRA has been extemely active and successful recently, so this new challenge is of great concern.

Ironic that a bill providing greater protections would include an amendment that would put the general public at greater risk.

Many organizations have come out against the Thune Amendment, including the US Conference of Mayors, which represents 1139 cities.

Once the Defense Appropriations Bill is finalized and voted upon, it should move to the President’s desk, and, hopefully, the President will sign it, bringing the Matthew Shepard Bill, ten years in the making, into law.


For more on the Matthew Shepard Bill’s latest challenges, the Jeff Sessions Amendments, which passed yesterday, read David Mailloux (dym-sum) and Chris Geidner (Law Dork).


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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Watch: Democrat Delivers Fiery Rebuke to House Republicans Trying to Deprive Veterans of Abortion Rights

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U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, Democrat of Michigan, blasted congressional Republicans on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday, accusing them of turning a basic, bipartisan bill to help the nation’s veterans into “a cold heartless, violent” referendum on the right to abortion.

“In terms of making decisions on behalf of women, if you want to take a veterans’ bill and make it about abortion, then let’s do it,” Slotkin dared her Republican colleagues. “What you are saying – and you’re saying in front of the American people – is that you believe a veteran who has been raped, who was the victim of incest, or who is having a dangerous miscarriage, does not deserve access to abortion.”

Slotkin was referring to the Solid Start Act, her legislation designed to help veterans transition into civilian society. Republicans tried to block the bill after learning it includes a “requirement that the Department of Veterans Affairs provide female veterans with information ‘tailored to their specific health care’ needs, which would adhere to a new VA policy providing abortion access for women vets who are victims of rape, incest or whose life is jeopardized,” HuffPost reports.

READ MORE: ‘Yes’: GOP Nominee Mastriano Supports Charging Women With Murder if They Have an Abortion After a 6 Week Ban (Audio)

“If you can’t state it, then be clear you believe in no exceptions for women — a cold heartless, violent approach to women’s health,” said Slotkin, whose stepdaughter is a female Army officer. “You want to ban all abortions. That is your goal. Many of you have been open about that, and if you flip the House, we know that you will put forward a full ban on all abortion for all states.”

Slotkin, a military spouse and military step mother, is correct. House GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s plan for Republicans to take back control of the House, his Newt Gingrich-endorsed “Commitment to America” says it very clearly. In the section called “Preserve Our Constitutional Freedoms,” he says Republicans will “protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers.”

But GOP opposition to the abortion provisions in the veterans’ bill is even more extreme than McCarthy’s message – and does not protect the life of the mother.

READ MORE: ‘Doesn’t Get to Tell the County What They Can Read’: Lawmaker Blasts Christian in Viral Video Attacking LGBTQ Library Books

“We are all, on this floor, elected officials and not medical professionals,” Slotkin added in her more-then two-minute rebuke. “If it was your wife, your daughter who was suffering through a miscarriage, are you going to tell her she can’t until her fever gets high enough and until she’s bleeding harder?”

“If that’s what you want for veterans, shame on you! Shame on you!”

Watch below or at this link.

 

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Ginni Thomas Testifies Today Before J6 Committee

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Far-right-wing activist and lobbyist Ginni Thomas, who held a months-long pressure campaign with Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to try to force him to somehow overturn the 2020 election, and sent numerous emails to GOP lawmakers in multiple states also trying convince them to overturn the election, will testify today before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

Were Thomas merely a far-right wing extremist, or even a wealthy and powerful lobbyist, her actions would have received less scrutiny, but given she is married to a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, who was the sole vote opposing the release of January 6 documents to the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection, many see her actions as concerning and deserving of investigation.

Politico’s Kyle Cheney broke the news Thomas will testify before the Committee today. Her testimony will be virtual. The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell adds, it is “voluntary.”

READ MORE: Former GOP Congressman Has ‘Legitimate Concerns’ Clarence Thomas Was Involved in ‘Push to Overturn the Election’

Calling Thomas “one of the panel’s most high-profile outstanding witnesses,” Politico reports, “Lawmakers took interest in her connections to John Eastman, a legal architect of former President Donald Trump’s last-ditch plan to subvert the 2020 election. She’d invited Eastman to speak to an activist group in the aftermath of the election, though Eastman has denied ever discussing Supreme Court-related matters with Thomas.”

In a March opinion piece on MSNBC, Wayne Batchis, associate professor of political science at the University of Delaware, examined the Supreme Court’s “Clarence Thomas (and Ginni Thomas) problem.”

“It turns out that Thomas not only sat on the board of an organization that promoted the dangerous fiction that the 2020 election was ‘stolen’ from former President Donald Trump through fraud, she also attended the rally attempting to vindicate this paranoid propagandistic fantasy (and said she left before Trump took the stage),” Batchis wrote.

READ MORE: Trump Sarcastically Prayed for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Health – Before Asking ‘How Much Longer’ She Had: New Book

” All the while, in what might resemble the coordinated efforts of synchronized swimmers, husband and wife seemingly sought to thwart the investigation into the democratically perilous events of Jan. 6. Ginni Thomas signed on to a letter seeking the expulsion of Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger from the Republican conference for joining the House Jan. 6 investigation committee; Clarence Thomas was the sole dissenter — standing in opposition to the rest of the court, including its three Trump appointees — in a decision allowing for the release of Jan. 6-related documents to said committee.”

“Without trust in the courts,” he warns, “American democracy does not stand a chance.”

 

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Former GOP Congressman Has ‘Legitimate Concerns’ Clarence Thomas Was Involved in ‘Push to Overturn the Election’

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Questions surfaced after Justice Clarence Thomas was the only member of the U.S. Supreme Court to oppose the release of Mark Meadows’ texts and information to the Jan. 6 committee. It turned out that in those text messages that the justice didn’t want revealed were communications with his wife.

Former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA), wrote in his new book that he thinks Justice Thomas is far more involved in his wife Ginni Thomas’ 2020 election overthrow attempts.

Riggleman, who left the committee in April, included many of the text messages that had previously been released from Ginni Thomas, along with the note that he had a difficult time trying to get the House Select Committee to sound the alarm on her actions.

“Supreme Court spouses are typically low profile. Ginni’s involvement with political groups had already led to questions about whether Clarence would need to recuse himself in cases with a political component,” wrote Riggleman. If Clarence had been in the logs, it would be a much bigger deal than all that. When I began to suspect Ginni and Clarence had texted with Meadows, I put together a technical brief outlining how we might be able to cement the identifications.”

IN OTHER NEWS: GOP lawmaker leaves people baffled with his opinion of drug seizures

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) called him to express concern that telling Americans that such an influential figure had gone full-Q. Cheney was worried it would turn the whole committee into a political sideshow and overshadow all of the other work the committee was doing. The release of Riggleman’s book has left the committee members furiousover possible leaks after spending a year with so few.

Riggleman persisted in pressing Cheney to tell Americans about the Thomases.

“The committee needed to show the American people that there was an organized, violent effort to reverse the election—and that there were indications it could have been directed by the White House,” he wrote. “Thanks to their prominence, Ginni and Clarence would make a lot of headlines, but those headlines might overwhelm the other important work we were doing.”

The conversation with Cheney didn’t go well, with the two “type A personalities” duking-out their arguments. Riggleman argued that data wasn’t political. It wasn’t right or wrong.

“I also thought that, given Clarence’s position and Ginni’s prominence in conservative circles, the American public had to know what she had been up to,” argued Riggleman. “Some of the messages went beyond simply cheering Meadows on. It was legitimate for me to have concerns as to whether a Supreme Court justice had been involved in the legally questionable push to overturn the election. Was it possible that one of the country’s nine top judges was on board with an authoritarian interpretation of the Constitution? The implications were overwhelming. Cheney found it all improbable. I think she still had more faith in the institutional GOP than I did at that point.”

Riggleman’s book, The Breach, is on sale now and Raw Story has complete coverage here.

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