CHICAGO — Video call meetings and work-from-home regulations are no longer just for humans. Illinois-based organizations that offer therapy dog services are having their canines offer their emotional support online.Typically in disasters, therapy dogs are dispatched to physically comfort those affected, said Tim Hetzner, president and CEO of Lutheran Church Charities. But, with growing concerns and physical limitations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, video calls have comforted those who need it the most. With the physical restrictions of the state’s stay-at-home order, many Chicagoans are al...
The day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed S.B. 90, the voter suppression law pushed by his state's Republican legislators, the advocacy group People for the American Way demanded information about how the signing of the bill came to be closed to all media other than Fox News.
The group filed a Freedom of Information Act request (pdf) Friday calling on the governor's office to release all communications and records related to the planning and execution of the signing, which was made available to "Fox & Friends" viewers via an exclusive live feed.
The signing took place in West Palm Beach at Club 45, an organization which supports the agenda of former President Donald Trump.
PFAW's request noted that even "The FLORIDA Channel, the state's taxpayer-funded television channel of record," was excluded from covering the signing of a bill which will directly affect Florida voters in upcoming elections, as it restricts the use of mail-in voting and ballot drop boxes and forbids people and groups from giving any "items"—including food and water—to voters who are waiting in line to cast their ballots.
Republicans including DeSantis, PFAW said in a statement Thursday, are "doing everything they can to reinstate disenfranchisement and disempowerment of the people in an attempt to regain power. The legislation signed by Governor DeSantis is a voter suppression bill pure and simple."
Adele Stan, director of PFAW's Right Wing Watch project, signed the FOIA request and issued a statement Friday accusing DeSantis, who is believed to have presidential ambitions, of orchestrating "a self-serving publicity stunt at the same time he is signing away his constituents' constitutional rights."
"He chose a very specific and national audience before which to display his bona fides in advancing the false narrative of widespread voter fraud in order to disenfranchise Floridians," Stan said. "We look forward to finding out more about how and why this event was planned."
By broadcasting the event for a national audience on a network which amplified false claims by DeSantis and Trump last year about fraud in the 2020 election, PFAW President Ben Jealous said, "DeSantis's antics went from deplorable to disgusting."
"Depriving people of their voting rights is a deeply vile attack on civil rights, and DeSantis turned it into a sleazy publicity grab," said Jealous. "We filed this FOIA request because the people of Florida deserve to know the rationale behind DeSantis's actions, including the reasons why other press were excluded from the event. We, and they, could make a pretty good guess, but we'd rather just know the facts."
Anyone who doubts that former President Donald Trump still has an iron grip on the Republican Party need only take a look at the backlash against arch-conservative Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming. She is not only likely to be removed from her position as House Republican Conference chair but is also in danger of being removed from Congress altogether via a 2022 GOP congressional primary.
Trump devotees in Wyoming are lining up to take on Cheney in that primary, but some allies of the former president — including Donald Trump, Jr. — fear that Cheney may prevail if the primary becomes too crowded.
Cheney, the 54-year-old daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is hardly a centrist, let alone a liberal or a progressive. The Republican congresswoman is a neocon with a very conservative voting record. But in Trumpworld, facts often take a back seat to emotion — and Trump devotees are attacking Rep. Cheney as a RINO (Republican in Name Only) for refusing to go along with the Big Lie, acknowledging Joe Biden as the legitimately elected president of the United States and calling out Trump's thoroughly debunked claims of widespread voter fraud in 2020 as total nonsense.
Rep. Cheney has made it clear that she views Biden — policy differences and all — not as her enemy, but as the loyal opposition. And she made that point when she exchanged a friendly fist bump with Biden before his late April speech before members of Congress. But to Trump loyalists, even being civil to the president is offensive.
If Cheney is removed from her position as House Republican Conference chair, she would still be in Congress. But Republicans who are entering the congressional primary in Wyoming are hoping to remove her from Congress altogether. Reporting in Politico and the right-wing Fox News this week shows how competitive that primary has already become.
Politico reporter Ally Mutnick explains, "There is no shortage of Republicans eager to take on Cheney in a 2022 primary since her vote to impeach President Donald Trump and her subsequent criticism of him tanked her popularity in Wyoming. But the crowded field is also a risk for the anti-Cheney forces, making it more possible for her to win with a plurality. That might be the only path back to Washington for Cheney, barring a drastic change of fortune: Internal polling conducted for Trump's PAC in January and, more recently, for the pro-Trump Club for Growth show a majority of Wyoming Republicans disapproving of Cheney and continuing strong support for Trump."
So far, Mutnick notes, four Wyoming Republicans "have filed to run against Cheney." And others in the GOP who are being mentioned as possible Cheney rivals in that primary include Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan and attorney Darin Smith.
Smith told Politico, "I think anybody who's a decent Republican is going to get behind whoever Donald Trump eventually endorses. He's gonna look under every rock and look over the lay of the land, and he's going to determine who that person that he's going to get behind is."
Former President Trump and Trump, Jr., have both said that removing Cheney from the House is a high priority in Trumpworld. The older Trump said of Cheney, "Her only chance would be if vast numbers of people run against her, which hopefully, won't happen." And Trump, Jr., at an anti-Cheney rally in Wyoming earlier this year, said, "Let's not split this vote up and blow an opportunity to get rid of a RINO."
A source described by Fox News' Paul Steinhauser as someone "familiar with Donald Trump, Jr.'s thinking" told that right-wing media outlet, "Getting rid of Liz Cheney is right near the top of his 2022 to-do list. You can expect him to be very engaged in that race. While he and his father haven't landed on a specific candidate yet, that will come sooner probably rather than later. They look forward to uniting the party in Wyoming."
Whoever wins the GOP congressional primary battle in 2022 — whether it's Cheney or one of her pro-Trump rivals — that person is likely win the general election in deep red Wyoming, where Trump defeated Biden by 43% in 2020.
In the past, Republicans were mentioning Cheney as a strong possibility for House speaker — a position currently held by Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California — if they regain their majority in the House. Now, the right-wing Club for Growth is evaluating which primary candidate would have the best shot at defeating Cheney.
Club for Growth President David McIntosh told Fox News, "We're definitely spending a lot of effort making sure we get the right person to run to challenge Cheney…. I can't tell you the number of (donors) who have already called me and said, 'When will you give us a candidate in Wyoming? We want to contribute to that person.'"
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was caught on camera bragging that he "led the objections" on January 6 to try to overturn a free and fair election. Cruz has been highlighted, along with U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), as the top leaders who "amplified claims of election fraud" that "resulted in threats of violence against state and local officials around the country," according to an ethics complaint filed by seven Democratic Senators.
Lauren Windsor, who describes herself as an undercover reporter for The Undercurrent and runs a site dedicated to helping victims of Project Veritas, pretended to be a far right wing voter and asked Senator Cruz why he "didn't do more to fight for President Trump on January 6."
Cruz on camera brags that he "led the objections but the Senate voted it down."
"But you could have done more," she tells the Texas Republican. "I mean, we all know that Joe Biden didn't win this election. I know in my heart of hearts that Joe Biden did not win."
Cruz repeats himself, saying "I led the fight," but does not at any time say that President Joe Biden won the election or that he is legitimately the President. Instead he blames the other Senators for him not having "the votes."
Windsor moves on, asking Cruz what he's "going to do to stop Big Tech from silencing conservatives," a fake claim by the right that is proven false daily here. "Big Tech" sites like Facebook ignore their own rules and terms of service and give preferential treatment that "favors low-quality, far-right content" while strangling liberal news sites.
Cruz gets saved by his handler, who tries to move her along. He insists he's "gotta take pictures" but she's not ready to let him go.
"Are you going to stop Facebook and Twitter from canceling conservatives?" she asks.
"I'm leading the fight every day, OK?" Cruz, hand on his heart, replies.
NEW VIDEO: @TedCruz wants you to know that HE led the effort to overturn the election in the Senate... take that, Josh Hawley! pic.twitter.com/eadMdgbc1B
— Lauren Windsor (@lawindsor) May 7, 2021
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