WATCH: Defense secretary stomps Matt Gaetz for 'spurious' accusation on critical race theory

WATCH: Defense secretary stomps Matt Gaetz for 'spurious' accusation on critical race theory
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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday disputed Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) after he suggested that the U.S. military is practicing critical race theory.

Gaetz confronted Austin about the academic theory during a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee.

According to the Florida Republican, critical race theory is the "number one concern" of military officers.

"I've heard those sentiments most frequently from units that are majority-minority," Gaetz claimed. "How should the Department of Defense think about critical race theory?"

"I don't know what the issue of critical race theory is," Austin replied. "We do not teach critical race theory. We don't embrace critical race theory. And I think that's a spurious conversation. We are focused on extremist behaviors and not ideology, not people's thoughts, not people's political orientation."

"And thanks for your anecdotal input," he continued. "But I would say that I've gotten ten times that amount of input -- 50 times that amount of input on the other side that has said, 'We're glad to have had the ability to have a conversation without ourselves and our leadership.'"

Gaetz interrupted: "It may be that you're receiving that input in the ratios you describe because it was your directive. It may be people are concerned about criticizing your decision."

The congressman then accused Austin of "hiring a critical race theorist" as an adviser.

"This is the first I've ever heard [Bishop Garrison] being described as a critical race theorist," Austin responded. "Let me just share one thing you brought up, Congressman, about the input that comes to me. I trust my leadership from top to bottom that they will give me fair and balanced and unvarnished input."

"And for you to say people are telling me what I want to hear, I get it," he added. "You know, maybe they are telling you what you want to hear."

Watch the video below.

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Evangelical Christians whose support was vital to Donald Trump’s 2006 election victory are expected to continue standing by their “imperfect vessel" despite him becoming the first U.S. president ever indicted, experts said.

The Guardian reported Saturday that the hugely influential voting bloc stuck by Trump in the past because it compared him to King Cyrus, an '"imperfect vessel" who "in the biblical telling liberated the Jews from Babylonian captivity, despite himself being a Persian ruler who did not believe in the god of Israel.”

They believed God was using Trump for the greater good – to hand power in the U.S. back to white conservative Christians, the Guardian reported.

And, despite the allegations that he made illegal hush money payments to a porn actress to cover up an extramarital affair, that support is unlikely to waiver.

“The evidence from the public opinion data suggests that it will not make much difference,” Robert Jones, the president and founder of Public Religion Research Institute and author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, told the news website.

“When we look back at his favorability over time, you know, I think there have been any number of these bright lines, where people thought: ‘Oh, this will be the thing that causes white evangelicals to abandon this candidate.’ But we just don’t see that much movement.”

Trump’s support among the group remained strong despite accusations of his sexually assaulting women, his failing to denounce white supremacists and the emergence of hush money allegations in 2018, the Guardian reported. In the 2020 presidential election, 75% of white evangelicals voted Trump.

“At every rally he was talking about ‘build the wall’ to keep Mexican immigrants out of the US. He was going to ban travel from Muslim-majority countries. I think it was those kinds of appeals that communicated this worldview that the country was rightfully owned by white Christians, and he was going to protect that view of the country.”

“You would think, you know, that paying hush money to a porn star might rile some white evangelicals,” John Fea, author of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump and a professor of American history at Messiah College, told the Guardian.

“They clearly see this as a witch-hunt. They see this as a politically motivated prosecution. Almost to a man and a woman that’s how they’re interpreting this.”

“Make America Great Again, to white evangelicals, means: ‘Make America Christian Again,'" Fea added.


The indignant response of Donald Trump and his GOP allies to his indictment by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg last week has a fundamental flaw, the Washington Post observed Saturday.

“Trump ceded the moral high ground long ago” on indicting former presidents, a WAPO analysis notes. That destroys the argument that Trump and company are advancing now that’s he the one being indicted.

“Sometimes it’s explicitly stated, and sometimes it’s more implicit: Indicting a former president and a candidate in the next election is beyond the pale,” the Post characterized the Trump position. “It’s even election “interference” or the stuff of banana republics.”

Inconveniently for Trump, the Post cited a long trail of evidence from Trump's own mouth pointing to the contrary.

“He has advocated for the prosecutions of each of the last four Democratic presidential nominees — every single one since 2004. In two cases, he did it during the campaign, even suggesting they should be ineligible to run.

"And that’s to say nothing of the many other political opponents he has suggested should be prosecuted. He even, in some cases, actually agitated for that outcome when he held sway over the Justice Department.”

The Post also pointed to the most glaring example.

“The “lock her up” chant leveled at Hillary Clinton is the most well-known entry in this long succession. Trump at times merely goaded his 2016 rally audiences to go down that road, but at other times he endorsed it. He said late in the 2016 campaign, 'Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted and should be in jail,' and he even told Clinton to her face at a debate that if he were president, 'You’d be in jail.' He added at a later debate that 'she shouldn’t be allowed to run.'

"And Trump didn’t stop calling for prosecutions of top political figures even after a blizzard of accusations rained down upon him in his one-term presidency.

"By 2020, Trump gave a similar treatment to both his predecessor as president, Barack Obama, and his then-opponent, Joe Biden.

"A month before the election, Trump tweeted, 'Where are all of the arrests?”' He added: 'BIDEN, OBAMA AND CROOKED HILLARY LED THIS TREASONOUS PLOT!!! BIDEN SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO RUN - GOT CAUGHT!!!'

“'But these people should be indicted, this was the greatest political crime in the history of our country — and that includes Obama and it includes Biden,' Trump added during an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network the next day. 'These are people that spied on my campaign.'

“Trump even indicated that he had made that case directly to his attorney general, William P. Barr: 'And I say, Bill, we’ve got plenty, you don’t need any more' to indict.”

At a campaign rally in Iowa on January 23, 2016, Donald Trump boasted that his voting base was so loyal to him that he "could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters, ok? It's like, incredible."

Well, I guess we will soon find out, won't we?

A grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has voted to indict the former president on what some outlets claim are 34 charges stemming from $130,000 in hush money paid to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film star, director, and entertainer, whose birth name — which she prefers not to use — is Stephanie Clifford.

As recently as six days ago, at his Waco rally, Trump denied ever having had sex with Clifford, who he referred to as "Horseface." So obviously, he is willing to lose the sex worker vote. But Trump and the nitwit chorus line of GOP politicians also characterize the indictment as "political persecution."

Yet Bragg must have evidence, not just testimony, that the payoff took place, so it will be interesting to see how Trump's lawyers explain what the money was actually for.

Presumably, the Trump campaign believed the Former Guy's candidacy could withstand one sex scandal, but not two. But the tragedy in all of this may have been that they may have been wrong.

In early October 2016, the release of the Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump boasted that he could "grab [women] by the pussy” and get away with it, became a survivable scandal.

By contrast, when Trump's consigliere and fixer, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels for her silence, we had known for decades that Trump was a serial adulterer. Would one infidelity more or less have changed the equation?

I don't think so.

But I do have to wonder if what Trump was potentially embarrassed about, given that he sought to project an image of being universally irresistible to beautiful women, was the implication that he had paid for sex.

While many news outlets characterize the $130,000 payout as covering up an "affair," what Trump and Daniels allegedly did was not what most of us would think of as an affair.

Instead, it was a series of phone conversations (I am guessing phone sex) and sexual encounters over two years. The relationship, which may have had a commercial dimension from the get-go, began with a dinner invitation in 2006, culminating in, as Daniels deadpanned at the Stand Up NY comedy club in Manhattan in 2019, "The worst 90 seconds of my life."

It was a terrible job, girlfriend, but someone had to do it. And I bet Melania would say the same thing if she were being honest.

Besides the fact that our legal system is not yet broken, there are three lessons in this.

First, you should probably never try to shame a successful sex entrepreneur into silence. By definition, a woman who has exposed everything she has to reveal and made a small fortune from it is not subject to convention.

Second, when you have paid off said woman, don't follow up by threatening her: she is a fucking professional.

And third, Daniels would sue if Trump defamed her. If you are a porn star, there is literally no such thing as bad publicity.

Since the news broke about the indictment last night, right before the 6 o’clock news hour, there has been much hysteria about whether Trump's "base" will react by taking to the streets, committing acts of violence and successfully redoubling their efforts to return him to the White House in 2024.

None of these things will happen.

For one, people underestimate the effects of the prosecutions stemming from the January 6, 2021, insurrection. As far as I can tell, almost none of those people believed they would be arrested and charged. Those who thought they were in legal jeopardy believed they would be pardoned in the waning days of the Trump presidency. They know differently now.

Individual acts of violence are possible, but we live in a country where rightwing extremists do these things almost daily. So do they really need a new reason? No.

And finally, the 2024 election. Whether the Trump base consolidates around this indictment, or subsequent one, doesn't matter. We, and the numerous outraged bags of hot air that call themselves Republican politicians, have direct evidence that Donald Trump not only can't win a national election with only his own voters but that at least part of that base has shifted to Ron DeSantis.

That voting constituency isn't enthusiastic about chaos, threats of violence and whether you can be president from jail. In other words, Trump needs moderate Republican and independent voters more than he ever has, and he has less access to them than ever.

Look at the evidence: Trump lost the "I'm-not-crazy-but-vote-Republican" demographic in the 2018 midterms. He lost it in 2020. And all signs point to the fact that, except for a few races where Trump-backed candidates prevailed in 2022, what a Trump endorsement accomplished was to nominate an extremist that even Republicans ran away from. Ask Arizona’s Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs if you don't believe me.

I have been skeptical about a Trump comeback for a long time. This is not because the net is closing on a man who has probably committed far more crimes than he will ever be charged with, but because he is a highly idiosyncratic and disorganized person.

And the best evidence is this: Trump's legal demise has begun with the most unnecessary crime he will be charged with. Why?

Because he was too cheap to pay off Stormy Daniels with his own money and too stupid to admit the error and file corrected forms with the IRS and the Federal Election Commission. Worse? He underestimated a woman who has a far cannier head for business and more courage than he has ever had.

So Stormy Daniels? I salute you, girl. Thank you for your service.

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