A Texas Republican lawmaker’s bill literally defunds same-sex marriageÂ â€“ and punishes state employees who follow the law.
State legislatures are often called the laboratoriesÂ of democracy. Some experiments, like Massachusetts’ health care system that provided a template for Obamacare, are good ideas and become successful. Others are not.
Take, for instance, “An Act relating to the funding, issuing, and litigation of certain marriage licenses,” also known as HB 623,Â the Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act, filed by Republican state representative of Texas, Cecil Bell.
â€œTexas is a sovereign state and our citizens have the right to define marriage,” Rep. Bell said in a statement. “We as Texans voted in 2005 toÂ define marriage as being solely between a man and a woman. In Texas marriage is sacred and traditional families are recognized as the fabric of our society.”
By some count, Texas has the 11th-highestÂ divorce rate in the nation.
Rep. Bell’s bill, if passed by its majority-Republican legislature and signed into law by its anti-gay Republican governor, is literally designed to defund same-sex marriage in the Lone Star State.
“Taxes or public funds may not be utilized to enforce a court order requiring the issuance or recognition of a same-sex marriage license,” one section reads.Â
It also mandates that “State or local taxpayer funds or governmental salaries may not be used for an activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage.”
On top of defunding “certain” marriages,Â the bill would penalize state employees â€“Â clerksÂ â€“ who follow the law regarding same-sex marriage. Texas currently is defending its ban on same-sex couples marrying, but given the current trend, it’s hard to imagine that ban will last forever. When it falls and same-sex marriage is legal in Texas, clerks who issue marriage licenses, as the law would require, would “not continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit at the expense of the taxpayers of this State.”
The bill point-blank states a “state or local governmental employee officially may not recognize, grant, or enforce a same-sex marriage license,” despite what the U.S. Constitution might suggest, if, for instance, the Supreme Court were to rule on same-sex marriage.
Unfortunately for Rep. Bell and his limited understanding of the Constitution, he foresaw that likely outcome, and included a Â provision to address it.
“The State is not subject to suit in law or equity pursuant to the eleventh amendment of the United States Constitution for complying with the provisions of this section, regardless of a contrary federal court ruling.”
That might appeal to the Tea Party base, but any court of law worth its salt would, after laughing hysterically, deem it unconstitutional and strike it down.Â
â€œWhen I was elected, I made a promise to my constituents to fight to protect our traditional values and to stand strong in the defense of our constitutional rights as Texans and Americans,â€ Bell says. Just not allÂ Texans and Americans.
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Hunter Biden Is Fighting Back
After years of being the right wing’s punching bag, Hunter Biden is fighting back.
The 52-year old attorney, investor, lobbyist, father of five, and Navy veteran who just happens to be the son of the President of the United States, is calling for state and federal investigations into how his personal, private information from his now-infamous laptop was disseminated, according to CBS News.
Biden is also threatening a defamation lawsuit against Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
The “flurry of letters to the Delaware attorney general, the Department of Justice, the I.R.S. and attorneys for Fox News and Carlson,” CBS reports, “represent an aggressive new strategy for the president’s son, who is facing long-running, as well as new probes promised by , according to a source familiar with Biden’s approach.”
“This marks a new approach by Hunter Biden and his team,” the source told CBS News. “He is not going to sit quietly by as questionable characters continue to violate his rights and media organizations peddling in lies try to defame him.”
Biden lost his mother and sister in a car crash injuring him and his brother when he was just two years old, and later, that same brother, Beau Biden, the longtime Delaware Attorney General, died from an aggressive cancer of the brain.
CBS reports Biden’s “computer data that was turned over to the FBI showed no evidence of tampering or fabrication, according to an.”
But The Washington Post last year hired two forensic investigators, and they reached different conclusions.
“From a forensics standpoint, it’s a disaster,” said Jake Williams, who the Post describes as “a forensics expert and former National Security Agency operative who once hacked the computers of foreign adversaries.” The other investigator, Matt Green, the Post says is “a Johns Hopkins University security researcher who specializes in cryptography.”
“The drive is a mess,” Green told The Post.
The Post found that “the lack of what experts call a ‘clean chain of custody’ undermined Green’s and Williams’s ability to determine the authenticity of most of the drive’s contents.” The “clean chain of custody” refers to the fact that countless individuals have had access to the hard drive.
“The vast majority of the data — and most of the nearly 129,000 emails it contained — could not be verified by either of the two security experts who reviewed the data for The Post,” the newspaper reported. “Neither found clear evidence of tampering in their examinations, but some of the records that might have helped verify contents were not available for analysis, they said. The Post was able in some instances to find documents from other sources that matched content on the laptop that the experts were not able to assess.”
Meanwhile, CBS News also reports that in a ” letter sent Wednesday, Biden attorney Bryan Sullivan demanded that Fox News and Tucker Carlson devote airtime to retracting statements made about Biden paying ‘rent’ to his father, ‘in what Mr. Carlson implied was essentially a money laundering scheme to finance President Biden’s lifestyle prior to his election … and alluding to Mr. Biden having unauthorized access to classified documents because of his presence at President Biden’s house.’ Sullivan writes that the claims were false, and even after others acknowledged as much, Carlson continued to make them.”
“The letter, which cites California’s defamation statute, notes that the Daily Caller website retracted an article that made similar claims.”
Image via Wikimedia and a CC license
Watch: Angry, Santos Reacts to News DOJ is Investigating His Alleged ‘Ghosting’ With $3000 Raised for Veteran’s Dying Dog
Out of all the unethical actions reportedly taken by U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) – lying about his education, work, ethnicity, and funding, while mysteriously becoming rich overnight – some feel one of the worst things he allegedly did was abscond with thousands of dollars from a GoFundMe charity drive raised to help a veteran’s dying service dog get the care they needed to live.
“Of all the Santos outrages, none has cut more deeply with the public than his (alleged) theft of money from a disabled Navy veteran & his dying dog,” tweeted Larry Sabato, the famed political scientist. “How low will Santos go? This low.”
Now, the Dept. of Justice is investigating the alleged charity fraud scheme.
The veteran, Richard Osthoff, says two FBI agents contacted him on Wednesday, “on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York,” Politico reports.
“Osthoff gave the agents text messages from 2016 with Santos, who he says used his plight to raise $3,000 for life-saving surgery for the pit bull mix, Sapphire — then ghosted with the funds, as first reported by Patch.”
ABC News’ Will Steakin caught Congressman Santos in the halls of the Capitol and asked him if the FBI had contacted him.
Santos, appearing angry, said he had “no clue” about the issue, and said he had never met Osthoff – although Osthoff told Patch he only spoke to Santos, and only a few times.
“He talked to you more than he talked to me,” Santos said, although it was unclear if he was referring to the FBI or Osthoff, or someone else. “I haven’t been reached out by them.”
NEW: Santos tells me he had “no clue” when asked about reports that FBI agents were investigating his role in service dog charity scheme
He said he “never met” the Vet who claims he scammed him out of from dying dog’s GoFundMe
He says FBI agents have not reached out to him pic.twitter.com/1L3JULHrT8
— Will Steakin (@wsteaks) February 1, 2023
Attorney Joshua Schiller told Politico the reportedly missing charity funds could be a quick way to prosecute Santos.
“I think there is an urgency here because Santos is currently in a position to make laws,” Schiller said. “I can think of examples where the government used a lesser indictment to seize assets and try to cause the defendant to plea to a deal before bringing a second or third indictment on more serious charges, and I bet that is the case here.”
In January Patch reported on the heartbreaking story.
“Two New Jersey veterans say George Santos promised to raise funds for a lifesaving surgery for a service dog — then disappeared,” the report says.
“In May 2016, Richard Osthoff was living in a tent in an abandoned chicken coop on the side of Route 9 in Howell, New Jersey, with his beloved service dog Sapphire. A veteran’s charity gave the pit mix to Osthoff, a disabled veteran who was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2002, he told Patch.”
“When Sapphire developed a life-threatening stomach tumor, Osthoff, now 47, learned the surgery would cost $3,000. A veterinary technician took Osthoff aside and told him, ‘I know a guy who runs a pet charity who can help you,’ Osthoff recounted.”
The GoFundMe drive was successful, raising over $3000, but the person running it, believed to be Santos, put Osthoff though several hoops, forcing him to travel from New Jersey to Queens to see a different vet, who then claimed he could not operate on the dog.
Sadly, without the surgery, there was no hope for the dog.
“Sapphire died Jan. 15, 2017. After being out of work with a broken leg for over a year, Osthoff couldn’t afford the dog’s euthanasia and cremation, he said.”
“I had to panhandle. It was one of the most degrading things I ever had to do,” Osthoff told Patch.
Patch’s report includes screenshots of text messages and Facebook posts that include a photo of the ailing dog.
Watch the video of Rep. Santos above or at this link.
‘His Big Plan Is to Ask the President a Question?’: McCarthy Mocked for His Handling of Debt Ceiling Negotiations
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy is being mocked for his handling of the run-up to critical negotiations over the debt ceiling with President Joe Biden – negotiations that, if they fail, could shut down the federal government and even throw the economy into a tailspin.
McCarthy first decided to take his fight – which includes drastic cuts to life-saving Social Security and Medicare, a non-starter for Democrats – not to the Oval Office but to Twitter.
“Mr. President: I received your staff’s memo,” tweeted the Speaker, still damaged from having to make still-secret promises to his own caucus members while taking 15 tries to get elected. “I’m not interested in political games. I’m coming to negotiate for the American people.”
That memo, according to CNBC, “sought to portray the 3:15 p.m. ET meeting as a showdown, one between a Democratic president who will protect Social Security, Medicare, health insurance and food stamps, and a House Republican majority that will demand cuts to these programs in exchange for helping Democrats avoid a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt.”
Meanwhile, many on Twitter responded by accusing him of trying to act like a “tough guy” with the President.
Comedian Dana Goldberg mocked McCarthy, tweeting, “Nothing says ‘I don’t want to play games’ like tweeting a response to the President of the United States.”
Former Lincoln Project Executive Director Fred Wellman had even harsher words for the Speaker.
“You were elected by a bunch of idiots in Bakersfield and made Speaker by a handful of insurrectionists and nutjobs. You don’t speak for the American people. You barely even speak for the House of Representatives, Kev,” he said.
Wednesday morning, again not taking his battle to the Oval Office, McCarthy aimed higher.
At the National Gathering for Prayer and Repentance, a far-right wing event sponsored by several Christian organizations, at least five of which appear on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups, McCarthy prayed for God to open his and President Biden’s hearts.
“Father, I want to lift up those who are not here today. I want you to open their hearts,” McCarthy prayed, asking for “the patience of Job,” and “the intellect the leadership that you gave David.”
“Father, I want to lift up the president. Father, you know I will meet with him today. Father, I ask. I asked that you open both of our hearts that you put our meaning, our meaning that seeks your truth.”
Later, McCarthy, heading to the White House, told reporters, “I’ve got a big plan. The first question is does the President wants to continue reckless spending or find a way that we can be responsible, sit down and find common ground where we put ourselves on a path to budget. Make a balanced budget,” he said, according to NBC News’ Kyle Stewart and CNN’s Manu Raju.
Many were unimpressed.
Aaron Fritschner, the Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) asked, “His big plan is to ask the president a question?”
Georgetown Law professor Josh Chafetz offered this in response:
“Step 1: Ask loaded question
Step 2: ???
Step 3: … also ???”
Journalist Dan Froomkin, editor of Press Watch, noted: “McCarthy’s opening position: A balanced budget. So basically cut a quarter of federal spending or he’ll burn down the world.
I’m sure the political media will be outraged.”
Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas asked, “If he’s got a plan, where is it?”
The Biden-McCarthy meeting began at roughly 3:17 PM and ended at approximately 4:41 PM, according to observations from Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman.
McCarthy talked to reporters after his meeting with the President, saying he felt they could find some “common ground.”
After first tweeting about his upcoming meeting with President Biden, then literally praying to God on-camera in public about his upcoming meeting with President Biden, then talking to reporters about his upcoming meeting with President Biden, McCarthy stood outside the White House after his first round of talks with the President and told reporters: “I’m not going to negotiate this in the press.”
Watch below or at this link.
McCarthy is asked after meeting what Biden about what programs he thinks should be cut. He says he’s not going to negotiate in public. pic.twitter.com/JtKRVBmu9N
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 1, 2023
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