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It was only one half-hour into Wednesday's congressional hearing on abortion access when it became clear that the Republican contributions to the day would be loonier than a QAnon message board.
"In places like Washington D.C.," fetuses are "burned to power the light's of the city's homes and streets," claimed Catherine Glenn Foster, who had, just minutes before, sworn not to lie under oath. The GOP-summoned witness let loose the wild and utterly false accusation that municipal electrical companies are powered by incinerated fetuses.
"The next time you turn on the light, think of the incinerators," she said, apparently repeating a misleading talking point from the same anti-choice activists caught stashing fetuses at home. Everything on the right is psychological projection.
So that's where Republicans are these days: Arguing that we live in a janky version of the Matrix, except powered by fetuses instead of actual people.
Foster is not some random nut that Republicans pulled off a soapbox at a subway station minutes before the hearing started. She is a Georgetown law school graduate who is paid $190,000 a year to be the president of Americans United for Life, one of the largest anti-abortion non-profits in the country. So it's not surprising that Foster believed she would get away with this absurd nonsense. Hers was merely one of a truly overwhelming number of lies that poured out of Republican lawmakers and witnesses alike throughout the course of Wednesday's hearing. When lies are coming out like chocolates on a conveyor belt aimed at Lucille Ball, the liars can be assured they've overwhelmed the fact-checkers beyond any hope of accountability.
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The GOP contributions to the hearing were a blizzard of bullshit, meant to totally white out the efforts by Democrats and reproductive rights activists to remind the public of the great human cost that results from banning abortion.
As their actual political views become harder to defend on the merits, Republicans increasingly embrace conspiracy theories and urban legends to justify the unjustifiable.
Republicans pretended progressives don't know what a "woman" is. They insisted that the mere existence of abortion shows that birth control efforts are useless. (On the contrary, the abortion rate has gone down as birth control access has improved.) They pretended, over and over, that the issue at hand was only late-term abortions. In reality, the abortion bans being passed start at two weeks after a missed period, if not sooner. And then there was the repulsive contributions of Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, who pretended that women wait until they go into labor and then abort the pregnancy right before the baby is born. Having made this lie up, he then berated Alabama-based OB-GYN Dr. Yashica Robinson for the existence of a procedure that, quite literally, only happens in his bizarre fantasies. (Thanks to Charles Pierce at Esquire for the transcript.)
Johnson: Do you support the right of a woman who is just seconds away from birthing a healthy child to have an abortion?
Robinson: I think that the question you're asking does not realistically reflect abortion care —
Johnson: In that scenario, would you support her right to abort that child?
Robinson: I won't entertain theoretical —
Johnson: It's not a theoretical, ma'am. You are a medical doctor.
Indeed it is not theoretical — it is entirely fantastical. Johnson's showboating was the equivalent of berating a doctor over unicorn horn removal surgery. But Johnson, eager to talk about anything but the realities of abortion care, continued to play this game. He went on to insist that Robinson answer for killing a baby "halfway out of the birth canal," forcing her to pointedly remind him that actual murder is already illegal.
When lies are coming out like chocolates on a conveyor belt aimed at Lucille Ball, the liars can be assured they've overwhelmed the fact-checkers beyond any hope of accountability.
Anti-choicers love this hypothetical of a woman who aborts during labor. In reality, it makes about as much sense as banning men from touching their penises out of fear one might one day he might cut his off. But of course, Republicans would rather talk about their lurid fantasy lives than the realities of abortion.
In the aftermath of the leaked draft opinion that indicates that the Supreme Court will be overturning Roe v. Wade in a few short weeks, the grim reality of what banning abortion means is just starting to dawn on the larger public. Poverty, child abuse, derailed lives, women trapped in abusive relationships, people mutilated or killed in attempted self-abortions, people being imprisoned for trying to get abortions, and even just the looming anxiety hovering over every sexual encounter: That's what the GOP wants to inflict on Americans, and it is not exactly the most popular politics.
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Sadly, there's nothing surprising about this turn towards wild tales about fetus-powered street lamps and women demanding abortions during labor.
As their actual political views become harder to defend on the merits, Republicans increasingly embrace conspiracy theories and urban legends to justify the unjustifiable. Want to ban schoolchildren from reading about Martin Luther King Jr.? Just falsely claim that something called "critical race theory" is being taught to school kids and use that as cover. Want to deny trans kids the right to be treated with dignity in public schools? Roll out some wild story about how kids are now "identifying" as cats and using litter boxes in school. Want to rile up the GOP going into the midterms? Screw making any substantive arguments! Just claim that Democrats are conspiring to "replace" white Christians with people of different races and ethnicities, a conspiracy theory lifted directly from neo-Nazis, with the details barely tweaked before being repeated hundreds of times on Fox News.
Of course, in the latter case, the cost is paid in blood. We've seen repeated mass murders as a result of this "great replacement" conspiracy theory, with the latest in Buffalo, New York. This points to another, even darker purpose of the Republican reliance on urban legends instead of evidence: Dehumanizing the targets of their sadistic political views.
Lately, Republicans have accused their political opponents of "grooming" children, which is basically just a way of saying all Democrats are pedophiles. It's an idea directly borrowed from QAnon, just like "great replacement" is borrowed from white supremacist groups. The purpose of this kind of rhetoric is to paint your opponents — or in many cases, your actual targets— as subhuman and therefore deserving of any abuse you dish out, including violence.
Indeed, it's arguable that the abortion debate is how conservatives honed the art of spooling out monstrous false accusations in order to dehumanize their opponents. Falsely accusing doctors and abortion patients of "murder" has been standard conservative rhetoric for decades, and the human cost has been staggering: Assassinations of doctors, the bombing of clinics, and mass shootings of patients. Yet Republicans never let up, because despite claiming to be "pro-life," they can always be counted on to prioritize political point-scoring over actual human life.
So yes, laugh at the weird anti-choice lady raving during a congressional hearing about fetus-powered street lamps. But remember the almost unfathomably deep cynicism that fuels such lies. Republicans are determined to set back women's rights by decades, punish people for having sex, and prop up racial inequities. They frankly do not care how many lives are ruined — or lost — in the process. And they don't care how stupid they sound when they roll out urban legends, so long as they finish the sadistic task of making unwanted childbirth mandatory across much, if not all, of the United States.
Jan. 6 committee says it has evidence that 'directly contradicts' GOP denials of 'reconnaissance tours'
Georgia GOP Rep. Barry Loudermilk is facing scrutiny from the House Select Committee Investigating the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol.
"Based on our review of evidence in the Select Committee's possession, we believe you have information regarding a tour you led through parts of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021," Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote in a letter to Loudermilk on Thursday.
"The foregoing information raises questions to which the Select Committee must seek answers. Public reporting and witness accounts indicate some individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings, in advance of January 6, 2021," read the letter, which was also signed by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY).
"In response to those allegations, Republicans on the Committee on House Administration—of which you are a Member—claimed to have reviewed security footage from the days preceding January 6th and determined that '[t]here were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on.' However, the Select Committee’s review of evidence directly contradicts that denial," the letter stated.
The letter proposes a meeting during the week of May 23.
"The letter comes more than a year after some House Democrats accused Republicans of providing tours in the days leading up to January 6 to individuals who later stormed the Capitol," CNN noted. "Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a Democrat from New Jersey, accused Republicans in the days after the insurrection of providing tours to people who then used the information they learned from their visit about the complex's layout to aid in their attempt to interrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election results."
Sherrill said she saw members of Congress leading groups of people through the Capitol on a "reconnaissance" tour on Jan. 5. Her comments came on Jan. 12, 2021.
The committee investigating the 2021 US Capitol assault plans to stage public hearings in June and release its findings at the height of the midterm election campaign later this year.
Across eight hearings, key witnesses interviewed by the congressional probe will testify publicly for the first time on the alleged plot that led to the January 6 insurrection as well as the events of the day itself.
"We'll tell the story about what happened," Thompson told reporters.
"We will use a combination of witnesses, exhibits, things that we have through the tens of thousands of exhibits... as well as the hundreds of witnesses we deposed or just talked to in general."
The hearings are expected to make for blockbuster television -- potentially on a par with the Watergate hearings or Donald Trump's two impeachments -- as America relives minute by minute the day a mob of the defeated president's supporters stormed Congress to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to 2020 election winner Joe Biden.
The bench of seven Democrats and two Republicans will explore allegations that Trump inspired the violence through months of false claims about election fraud, as part of an illegal plot to stay in power.
Trump and his inner circle deny all accusations of wrongdoing, characterizing their election disinformation and alleged machinations to overturn the results as a good-faith attempt to clear up widespread corruption.
Trump's ultra-loyal Republican base argues that the investigation is a "witch hunt" to distract from rampant inflation and a burgeoning immigration crisis ahead of elections in November that could see the Democrats lose control of Congress.
With additional reporting by AFP
Voters fight Wisconsin Republican congressmen’s attempt to dismiss lawsuit aiming to bar them from office
A group of voters suing to prevent Sen. Ron Johnson, Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) from holding public office is fighting an effort by the congressmen to dismiss the lawsuit.
In March, a group of ten voters filed a lawsuit against Fitzgerald, Johnson and Tiffany for their roles in the attempt to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election. Johnson and Tiffany both voted against certifying the election results on Jan. 6, 2021 and Johnson, who initially signaled his intent to do the same but backed off after the deadly attack on the Capitol, has frequently shared baseless accusations of election fraud.
The lawsuit, aided by funding from the liberal Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC, argues that under Article 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, the three Republicans can be barred from office because they took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution but engaged in “an insurrection or rebellion,” against the U.S.
“Unfortunately, Defendants and their fellow Trump acolytes were not just telling lies about the election results and voting processes in Wisconsin and elsewhere,” the lawsuit states. “While they were spreading their malicious falsehoods about a ‘rigged election’ through regular and social media and at public appearances, Johnson, Tiffany, Fitzgerald, President Trump, and many others identified in this Complaint or still unknown to the public and the Plaintiffs were also engaged in a conspiracy whose illegal objective was to hijack the Joint Session on January 6, 2021 in order to permit the presentation of knowingly false and fraudulent slates of electors to the President of the Senate (Vice President Pence), the Senate, and the House of Representatives.”
Last month, the three members of Congress filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing the plaintiffs don’t have the legal standing to bring the lawsuit.
“First, this Court lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ declaratory-judgment action because they lack standing and because the U.S. Constitution grants Congress sole authority to decide challenges to Members’ qualifications,” Johnson’s motion to dismiss states. “Second, even if the Court has jurisdiction (it does not), Plaintiffs fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Congress has removed the disabilities imposed by the Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment (Disqualification Clause), and Plaintiffs identify no protected personal ‘rights’ to vindicate under the Declaratory Judgment Act. Senator Johnson respectfully requests that the Court dismiss Plaintiffs’ complaint with prejudice.”
Now, the voters are fighting the motion to dismiss, arguing that being forced to debunk continued false allegations of election fraud has injured their right to advocate for their preferred policies.
“A declaration from this Court will redress Plaintiffs’ First Amendment injury, allowing them to focus their political activism on the policy issues that matter to them rather than debunking ‘The Big Lie’ and speaking out against those who continued to support it,” an opposition motion states. “So long as the air remains clouded by a failure to resolve the constitutional questions that Plaintiffs have raised, their rights are being impaired.”
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