President Donald Trump on July 4th finally achieved his years-long dream of a do-over on the National Mall to make up for the low-attendance his Inauguration Day ceremony drew. That dream was also sparked when the Commander-in-Chief went to France and saw a Bastille Day parade that he reportedly couldn’t stop talking about.
For Trump’s Independence Day “Salute to America” there were tanks. Military plane flyovers. And of course a speech by the President that the White House quickly packaged into a video tweet – that the official Trump campaign then used as free political advertising – paid for by the taxpayers.
So, how much are taxpayers on the hook for, for Trump’s egomaniacal Fourth of July Salute to himself – at least according to the Trump administration?
According to ABC News, more than $5 million: “$5.35 million, according to an Interior Department letter released exclusively to ABC News.”
ABC News adds that number does not include the $750,000 in fireworks donated by two companies that lobbied Trump for tariff exemptions, which many on social media decried as corruption.
Washington, D.C. ended up bankrupting a special terrorism-related account to pay for security for the event. The Trump administration still owes the city for his inauguration, bringing their total debt to D.C. to $9 million.
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‘Total Breakdown’: House Sends Members Home – Experts Warn ‘Republicans Can’t Govern’ And Have No ‘Working Majority’
Nine days before an increasingly-likely shutdown of the federal government of the United States, Speaker Kevin McCarthy has effectively adjourned the House for the rest of the week, with GOP leadership telling members they may go home and come back next week, after a procedural vote to fund the Dept. of Defense failed for the second time this week.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram reports, “Note that the House has not officially dismissed everyone.. but everyone expects they are done for the week. Why? They House lacks the VOTES TO ADJOURN.”
He later added that “Things are very fluid,” and “there could be votes TOMORROW or this weekend still in the house. This could be a problem if some members already got on flights.”
Fox News online is reporting, “House abruptly cancels votes for the week without spending deal after series of defeats for GOP leaders,” and notes members are not expected back until Tuesday.
McCarthy this week has repeatedly denigrated and attacked the extremist members of the House Republican conference on camera to reporters, and Thursday was no different, saying, “This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down.”
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) blasted House Republicans upon hearing the House was about to adjourn for the week.
“What you need to understand is that chaos is the point for a big chunk of House Republicans. They came to congress to BURN THE GOVERNMENT TO THE GROUND,” the Connecticut Democrat wrote. “Their goal is a shutdown.”
The sentiment is being echoed by political experts, but many of those are placing the blame on Speaker McCarthy.
Democratic strategist Sawyer Hackett, senior advisor to former Obama Cabinet secretary Julián Castro Thursday afternoon wrote: “Reminder: Kevin McCarthy could put a clean bill to fund the government on the floor right now and it would pass easily. Instead, he’s sending members home for the weekend with 9 days until a shutdown—all because he’s afraid he’ll lose his job.”
Evidence that the far-right extremist House Republicans, led by U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) are effectively in control comes via Punchbowl News co-founder Jake Sherman:
At 1:13 PM ET Sherman posted that Rep. Gaetz had “just emerged from” Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s suite. “Gaetz said that he’s advocating for pausing consideration of the Pentagon spending bill and moving to bills that cut spending. He mentioned: State-Foreign Ops, Agriculture, Energy and Water.”
Sherman noted that Gaetz “said again there are not enough votes” for a continuing resolution, legislation to keep the government open temporarily, possibly 30 days past the September 30 deadline.
“Just to review, the plan right now is to begin passing 11 appropriations bills with relatively open rules allowing for amendments between next tues (possibly wed) and Sunday.”
At 2:40 PM, Sherman added, “This is now the strategy. They’re going to bring up individual approps [appropriations] bills next week, per lawmakers who just met with @SpeakerMcCarthy.”
Others were less pleased.
Veteran foreign policy journalist Laura Rozen wrote: “truly insane. Mccarthy surrendered to Gaetz.”
Even before McCarthy adjourned the House for the rest of the week, political experts had warned the volatile situation was worse than it may have appeared.
Sherman, late Thursday morning, issued this warning on social media after the failed Defense Dept. vote: “Just to put this in context, republicans cannot even agree to debate the pentagon spending bill. This bill usually passes by big margins. It failed twice this week. Kevin mccarthys House Republicans are in a state of crisis.”
Josh Chafetz, Georgetown Law professor of law and politics, responded to Thursday’s failed Defense Dept. procedural vote, writing: “if you can’t pass the procedural stuff you don’t have a working majority.”
Aaron Fritschner, the Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) is calling the state of the GOP House a “total breakdown.”
“I started working in the House nearly 11 years ago, I’ve seen some crazy days and some chaotic votes but never seen anything like what is happening with this majority. Just a total breakdown,” he wrote Thursday morning.
Professor and American historian Aaron Astor on Thursday asked, “Does the GOP actually have a working majority in the House?”
Veteran journalist John Harwood quickly replied, “clearly not.”
‘Good Riddance’: Experts Blame Rupert Murdoch for ‘Intellectual and Moral Decay’ of America, Issue Warning on Future
Rupert Murdoch‘s announcement he is stepping down as chairman of Fox Corp. and News Corp. circulated rapidly Thursday morning, with critics celebrating the exit of the billionaire media mogul some are blaming for the “intellectual and moral decay of our society.”
Murdoch created Fox News, which he launched in October of 1996. His massive empire also includes the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, along with dozens of other media outlets in the U.S. and around the world.
“I have decided to transition to the role of Chairman Emeritus at Fox and News,” his letter, addressed to “Dear Colleagues,” reads. One of his sons, Lachlan Murdoch, “will become sole Chairman of both companies.”
“My father firmly believed in freedom,” Murdoch adds, “and Lachlan is absolutely committed to the cause. Self-serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their provenance and purpose. Elites have open contempt for those who are not members of their rarefied class. Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth,” he claimed.
The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake was among the many who pointed to Murdoch’s “elites” remark.
“Murdoch in his letter: ‘Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth,'” Blake writes, before pointing to court documents from the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit Fox News settled for $787 million. “Murdoch in the Dominion documents: Showing exceeding concern about angering the most powerful man in the world [Donald Trump] by telling the truth.”
Murdoch in his letter: “Most of the media is in cahoots with those elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth.”
Murdoch in the Dominion documents: Showing exceeding concern about angering the most powerful man in the world by telling the truth. pic.twitter.com/yd980z5qkG
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) September 21, 2023
Author, editor, and professor of international relations, Nicholas Grossman, also focused on Murdoch’s “elites” remark.
“Rupert Murdoch’s parents had the titles of Sir and Dame. He’s a multi-billionaire, and very influential, owning prominent news outlets in the US, UK, and Australia. The notion that Murdoch, of all people, is not elite, and not in cahoots with media, is ridiculous, absurd, insane.”
Although Murdoch’s move is not effective until the shareholders’ meeting in November, his announcement comes just one day after a Vanity Fair interview with author Michael Wolff: “Murdoch Chronicler Michael Wolff Foresees the Fall of Fox News: ‘It Will Cease to Exist in Its Present Form.'”
“Now, with The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty, Wolff has directed his poison pen back to a topic that helped make his name,” Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo writes.
Wolff’s focus is on what happens to Fox News after the 92-year old Rupert Murdoch dies, and how his more liberal son James might impact the media empire.
“I think it will cease to exist in its present form,” after Murdoch’s death said Wolff. “I think it will go into a radical transition in which, either James Murdoch will take over and change it into something else, or they will sell it. Fox has existed in its present state just for one reason: It’s controlled by Rupert Murdoch, who is the one man who can stand up, or has been able to stand up, to the political and social opprobrium at a fierce, fierce level, and to do this for the sake of making enormous amounts of money. But when he departs, that changes very clearly and very quickly.”
Wolff added he thinks the “logical” decision will be to sell off Fox News.
“I think it’s more logical, at any rate, to sell the whole damn thing. And I think the position that cable television news is not going to get more valuable, it’s only going to get less valuable, is persuasive.”
Wolff Thursday morning reposted this photo:
Michael Wolff at his book launch explaining that the end of the Murdoch era will come sooner rather than later about 13 hours before Murdoch announces his retirement. Not bad. https://t.co/Eon2eRFR1U pic.twitter.com/1wSFEiVCFy
— thomas beller (@thomasbeller) September 21, 2023
Political and journalism experts, like foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf, on Thursday cheered the Murdoch news and denounced his reign.
“On this happy day on which Rupert Murdoch has announced his retirement, let us reflect on the fact that no single individual has done more damage to Western democracy or more for the intellectual and moral decay of our society during the past half century than Rupert. Good riddance,” wrote Rothkopf.
“I believe one could accurately argue that Rupert Murdoch did more to corrode American democracy and fuel division than any other individual in modern history,” wrote veteran intelligence officer, activist, and social media personality Travis Akers. “His departure from Fox News leaves a wake of public distrust, violence, and a nation in a cold civil war.”
Author and former Chicago Tribune editor Mark Jacob adds, “Millions of Americans are more ignorant and less loyal to our democracy because they got their’news’ from Rupert Murdoch.”
MSNBC’s Medhi Hassan wrote: “As Rupert Murdoch announces his ‘retirement’, a reminder that some of the worst things we have had to experience in recent years – the Iraq war, the rise of Trump, the Big Election Lie – are all thanks to him and to Fox.”
Media Matters for America President Angelo Carusone served up this warning:
“Lachlan Murdoch is worse than Rupert Murdoch, so you’ll basically just get a more malevolent version of Fox that will also be even more chaotic since Lachlan is both a less competent leader and Fox is facing an especially turbulent period that Lachlan has no idea how to navigate.”
With an eye to the future, veteran journalist Kara Swisher offered this on Lachlan Murdoch: “Prediction: It will be a short reign of the crown prince — after the old man goes, the other siblings will have the con and it will all be sold off (Elon? Right leaning PE firm or media org?).”
Media Matters’ Madeline Peltz also glimpsed into what the future might look like under Lachlan’s leadership.
“Lachlan Murdoch is now the sole chairman of his family’s media empire. He is a dangerous ideologue who unwaveringly backed Tucker Carlson’s white supremacy on the network,” Peltz said, referring to the now-former top Fox News host. She added: “Murdoch was the number one champion of Tucker Carlson, even as he cost Fox News millions in ad revenue and spread dangerous extremism that inspired acts of right-wing terrorism around the world.”
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DeSantis ‘Shuts Down’ Question of How He Would Handle His Kids Being LGBTQ: ‘We’ll Leave That Between My Wife and I’
Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, currently polling 40 points behind GOP 2024 presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, in a rare TIME magazine interview refused to answer a reporter’s question about what he would do if one of his three children were LGBTQ – but he did spend time promoting his parents’ rights platform.
“I think we were viewed, really from Day One, as the candidate that had the strong record on the issues important to parents,” the Florida Republican told TIME’s national political correspondent Molly Ball in a 30-minute interview at the Iowa State Fair published Wednesday,
“’It has been an issue, really, from the beginning,’ he says of the ‘parents’ rights’ agenda that has been central to his struggling presidential candidacy. ‘And so I do think we’ve tapped into that, and we’ll continue to do it.'”
Parents’ rights is the latest conservative code word for “family values,” as TIME’s national political correspondent Molly Ball notes.
But it really was really a platform the Florida governor grabbed after it proved to be a winning issue for Virginia Republican Glenn Youngkin in what had been a “long-shot” gubernatorial battle. Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s infamous gaffe on parents’ rights gave new life to the Republican political novice’s campaign in September of 2021, just weeks before the election and just weeks after DeSantis announced he would run for re-election.
“As governor of Florida, DeSantis says, education policy is part of his purview, but it’s also personal,” Ball writes in her TIME interview.
DeSantis told her, “I also just see it through the lens of a dad of a six, five and three-year-old.”
“We understand some of the things that parents are concerned about and that parents are going through. And that impacts how we view these policies, particularly when it goes to things like parents’ rights to be involved in the education.”
Ball writes, “Framing it all a crusade for ‘parents’ rights’ is a neat trick politically, highlighting a throwback, traditionalist view of what used to be termed ‘family values,’ but with a very 2023 culture-war spin.”
“Kids should be kids—there shouldn’t be an agenda,” DeSantis told Ball. “I didn’t feel like there was an agenda when I was growing up.”
Ball reports, “I ask DeSantis about the rights of parents of trans children, who are being prevented by the state from accessing the medical care they may believe is in their kids’ best interest. He points to the ongoing debate over transgender treatment in Europe, where some experts have recently been moving away from a purely affirmative approach, arguing that the state has an interest in preventing ‘sterilizing children at age 13 or 14′ or performing sex-change surgery on minors.”
DeSantis’ remarks do not appear to be representative of heath care options for minors in the U.S., based on a May report from The Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Factcheck.org.
DeSantis continued his remarks against appropriate medical support of transgender youth.
“As a parent right now, I can’t take my six-year-old daughter and get her a tattoo, even if I want to do that,” he told Ball. “You don’t have the right to do things that are going to be destructive to kids. I think that some of these parents are being told by physicians who are making a lot of money off this that you have to do this, otherwise your kid can end up doing something like commit suicide. I think that they get bullied into thinking this is the right decision.”
LGBTQ youth suffer far higher rates of suicide ideation and suicide attempts than their non-LGBTQ counterparts.
A May, 2022 NPR report titled, “Nearly half of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide, survey finds,” specifically mentions DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
Ball also reports DeSantis shut down her question about the possibility of his children being LGBTQ and what he would do.
She writes, “when I ask how he’ll respond if one of his children turns out to be gay or trans, his eyes flash momentarily, and he swiftly shuts down the question. ‘Well, my children are my children,’ DeSantis says. ‘We’ll leave that—we’ll leave that between my wife and I.'”
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