CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, is an event held annually by a group of American right-wing conservativeÂ extremists, hell-bent on taking down Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, instilling fear in America, “taking their country back” to the stone age, and propagating so-called “American values” of selfishness, ignorance, and Christian bible-centric governing.
The hallmark culmination of each CPAC are the results of the straw poll, in which the CPAC attendees vote for whom they want the Republican presidential nominee to be, andÂ the closing speech.
Read: “Who Will CPAC Nominate As GOP 2012 Presidential Nominee?” for a full list of this year’s straw poll nominees.
Winners of the CPAC straw poll in years past have rarely won the GOP presidential nomination, much less the presidency. Last year’s winner was Ron Paul, who interrupted Mitt Romney’s three-year streak. George W. Bush did win in 2000, and Ronald Reagan won in 1976, 1980, and 1984.
CPAC closing speakers of recent years past have included right wing extremist icons such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, and Newt Gingrich. Often, the speakers mention the Republican deity, Ronald Reagan, who himself spoke at CPAC a dozen times.
Waning Importance Of CPAC
Despite the fact that this year’s CPAC has drawn its largest crowd ever, an estimated 11,000 attendees, an obvious indicator of the waning importance of CPAC, organized by the American Conservative Union, the oldest conservative lobbying organization in the country, is this year’s closing speaker, Rep. Allen West. An extreme right-wing freshman Republican politician, West is best known for falsely claiming, “I have a clearance that even the president of the United States cannot obtain because of my background.â€ The closing speaker, by comparison, last year was Glenn Beck, and the year prior, Rush Limbaugh.
This year’s CPAC, which began today and runs through Saturday evening, boasts the following list of confirmed speakers, most of whom represent the GOP of the 20th Century. A few notable exeptions are the Tea Party favorites, such as fraudulent journalist Andrew Breitbart and Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Another obvious indicator of the waning importance of CPAC is that the most-well-known GOP member, Sarah Palin, along with Marco Rubio, Senator Jim DeMint, will not be attending this year’s CPAC. (The Atlantic asks today, “CPAC Begins, but Does It Still Matter?“)
This year’s confirmed speakers include:
Rep. Michele Bachmann
Gov. Haley Barbour
Hon. John Bolton
Gov. Mitch Daniels
Hon. Newt Gingrich
Sen. Mike Lee
Sen. Mitch McConnell
Rep. Ron Paul
Sen. Rand Paul
Hon. Tim Pawlenty
Gov. Rick Perry
Hon. Mitt Romney
Hon. Donald Rumsfeld
Rep. Paul Ryan
Hon. Rick Santorum
Sen. John Thune
Rep. Allen West
Events, Panel Discussion, Speeches
Some of the events during this year’s CPAC include panel discussions and presentations, such as, “The Leftâ€™s Campaign to Reshape the Judiciary,” “How Political Correctness is Harming Americaâ€™s Military,” “Why The Conservative Party Is The Next Step For The Tea Party,” “Lawlessness, Racialism and Terror at Obamaâ€™s Department of Justice,” “Reagan at 100: Role Model for the Next Generation,” “Repealing Obamacare: In The States, In Courts, and In Congress,” and “Traditional Marriage and Society.”
Controversaries: God and The Gays
Several large controversies have plagued this year’s event. First, Muslims. As you know, Islamophobia is a big social issue gripping Fox News-based Americans. So, a panel discussion, “The Importance of Faith & Religious Liberty in the US & Abroad,” sponsored by Muslims for America, surely will draw strong reactions, especially as there is another presentation, “The Ground Zero Mosque: The Second Wave of the 9/11 Attacks,” sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. This event features bigot extraordinaire Pamela Geller, and is the worldwide “special screening” of a trailer for the new AFDI documentary, “The Ground Zero Mosque: The Second Wave of the 9/11.” Talk about a conflict!
But wait, there’s more!
Another Islamophobia event, “The Sharia Challenge in the West,” takes place on Saturday.
Hopefully there’s strong security at these events.
Then there’s the “problem” of “the gays.”
GOProud, a gay Republican organization, is attending this year’s event, and as a result, many right-wing bigots and their organizations, such as the Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council, Senator Jim DeMint, and other Republican heavyweights decided to not attend.
Erick Erickson, possibly America’s least self-aware citizen, and a CNN contributor and founder of RedState, a right-wing blog, today wrote, “GOProud is not a conservative organization.”
He adds, “GOProud has taken one of the favorite leftist bullet points and brought it straight into CPAC. You oppose affirmative action? Youâ€™re a racist. You oppose gay marriage? Youâ€™re a bigot.”
“Those groups and people who have sat out CPAC this year have done so not because they hate the gays, as Grover Norquist and GOProud would have you believe, but because GOProud is not a conservative organization and its agenda is not a conservative agenda.”
More anti-gay controversary at CPAC: Politico reports, “A POLITICO reporter just got handed a flier telling parents and young people that “radical homosexual front groups and their supporters will be in attendance to push their perversion on you.” This comes as some social conservative groups are boycotting CPAC in protest of the gay Republican group GOProud’s attendance.
So, does CPAC matter? Yes and no. Yes, because it propagates and celebrates anti-American extremism, and no, because it propagates and celebrates anti-American extremism.
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On World AIDS Day, DOJ Says Tennessee Law Discriminates Against Those With HIV
The Department of Justice celebrated World AIDS Day by calling out a Tennessee law that discriminates against people with HIV.
The DOJ released a report Friday that the state’s aggravated prostitution law violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. A person arrested under the aggravated prostitution law is normally changed with a misdemeanor, and faces up to six months in prison and a $500 fine. However, if the person arrested has HIV, the crime becomes a felony, and if they’re convicted, they would face between three and 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
“Tennessee’s aggravated prostitution law is outdated, has no basis in science, discourages testing and further marginalizes people living with HIV,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “People living with HIV should not be treated as violent sex offenders for the rest of their lives solely because of their HIV status. The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that people with disabilities are protected from discrimination.”
The law was originally passed in 1991. It classifies HIV-positive sex workers as violent sex offenders, according to WKRN-TV. This means that in addition to the sentence, those convicted are put on the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry, usually for the rest of their lives.
The DOJ advised the state—and particularly, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, which enforces the statute most frequently, the department says—to stop enforcing the law. It also calls on the state to repeal the law and remove anyone from the registry when aggravated prostitution is the only offense. If this doesn’t happen, Tennessee could face a lawsuit.
Tennessee isn’t the only state to have laws applying to only those living with HIV. In 1988, Michigan passed a law requiring those with HIV to disclose their status before sex, according to WLNS-TV. The law is still on the books, but was updated in 2019 to lift the requirement if the HIV-positive person has an undetectable viral load. The law now also requires proof that the person set out to transmit HIV.
Laws like these can work against public health efforts, according to the National Institutes of Health. The NIH says these types of laws can make people less likely to be tested for HIV, as people cannot be punished if they didn’t know their status. In addition, critics say, the laws can be used to further discriminate. A Canadian study found a disproportionate number of Black men had been charged under HIV exposure laws.
World AIDS Day was first launched in 1988 by the World Health Organization and the United Nations to highlight awareness of the then-relatively new disease. The theme of the 2023 World AIDS Day is “Let Communities Lead,” calling on community leaders to end the AIDS epidemic.
Featured image by UNIS Vienna/Flickr via Creative Commons License.
John Fetterman Says Bob Menendez ‘Senator for Egypt,’ Should Be Expelled Next
Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) called Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) a “senator for Egypt,” and said he needed to be expelled from Congress, much like the now-former Representative George Santos.
Fetterman appeared on The View on Friday. The live broadcast aired as Santos had been kicked out of the House. When host Joy Behar asked what he thought of the vote, Fetterman immediately replied, “I’m not surprised.”
“If you are going to expel Santos, how can you allow somebody like Menendez to remain in the Senate? And, you know, Santos’ kind of lies were almost, you know, funny,” Fetterman said. “Menendez, I think is really a senator for Egypt, you know, not New Jersey. So I really think he needs to go.”
Host Sunny Hostin then asked if Fetterman was uncomfortable with expelling Menendez, as, like with Santos, he had only been indicted, not convicted.
“He has the right for his day in court and all of it, but he doesn’t have the right to to have those kinds of votes and things. That’s not a right,” he said. “I think we need to make that kind of decision to send him out.”
This September, Menendez was indicted on corruption charges. He is accused of accepting bribes of cash, gold and a car, as well as giving “highly sensitive” information about U.S. Embassy staffers in Cairo to the Egyptian government, according to USA Today. Menendez was forced to step down as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was replaced by Ben Cardin, Maryland’s Democratic senator.
Menendez denied wrongdoing, and has refused to resign, despite many calls to do so from both Democrats and Republicans.
“For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave,” Menendez said in a statement following his indictment. “Since this investigation was leaked nearly a year ago, there has been an active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists.”
This is not Menendez’s first brush with the law. Menendez was indicted in 2015 on federal corruption charges. He was accused of helping Salomon Melgen, one of Menendez’s campaign contributors, by intervening in a dispute with federal regulators and helping Melgen get a port security contract in the Dominican Republic.
In 2017, Menendez’s trial ended with a hung jury, and the Department of Justice declined to retry the case, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Menendez denied all wrongdoing.
House Votes to Boot George Santos 311-114
Representative George Santos (R-NY) has been expelled from Congress following a 311-114 vote; two House members voted “present.”
The expulsion of Santos follows a debate on his fate on Thursday. The vote required a two-thirds majority, or 290 of the 435-seat chamber. This is Santos’ third vote of expulsion; last month, a vote failed with 31 Democrats voting against, according to The Hill.
While the vote was decisive, some notable Republicans voted to save Santos, including House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN).
“We’ve not whipped the vote and we wouldn’t,” Johnson told CNN Wednesday. “I trust that people will make that decision thoughtfully and in good faith. I personally have real reservations about doing this, I’m concerned about a precedent that may be set for that.”
Santos himself had harsh words for the House following the vote. Leaving the capitol building, he briefly spoke with reporters.
“The House spoke that’s their vote. They just set new dangerous precedent for themselves,” he told CNN. “Why would I want to stay here? To hell with this place.”
He then cut his time short, telling reporters, “You know what? As unofficially no longer a member of Congress, I no longer have to answer your questions.”
Santos also faces 23 federal charges, which include fraud, money laundering and misuse of campaign funds, according to CNN. He has pleaded not guilty. An Ethics Committee report found evidence that Santos used campaign funds for Botox and even an OnlyFans account.
On Thursday, Santos said he refused to resign because otherwise, “they win.”
“If I leave the bullies take place. This is bullying,” Santos said. “The reality of it is it’s all theater, theater for the cameras and theater for the microphones. Theater for the American people at the expense of the American people because no real work’s getting done.”
Santos also threatened to file a resolution to expel Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY). Bowman pulled a fire alarm in September. Bowman pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge, and said it was an accident. He said he thought the fire alarm would open a locked door as he rushed to a vote. Bowman paid a $1,000 fine.
There have only been six total expulsions from the House, including Santos. Santos is the only Republican to ever be expelled from the House.
The previous expulsion was in 2002, when Representative James Traficant (D-OH) was expelled after a 420-1 vote. Traficant had been convicted on 10 counts of corruption-related crimes.
Before Traficant, Representative Michael “Ozzie” Myers (D-PA) was the first representative of the modern era to be expelled. Myers got the boot following his conviction for accepting bribes. Myers couldn’t keep out of trouble; in 2022, he was convicted and sentenced to 30 months in prison on charges of election fraud.
Prior to Myers, the only expulsions from the House were in 1861, at the start of the Civil War. Henry Cornelius Burnett (D-KY), John William Reid (D-MO) and John Bullock Clark (Whig-MO) were all expelled for joining the Confederacy.
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