In a report detailing the symbiotic relationship between Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and his longtime friend Joel Greenberg -- now awaiting trial on a 33 count indictment ranging from financial crimes to sex trafficking of a minor -- Florida locals admit they are surprised at the turn of events that has the GOP lawmaker fighting for his political career.
According to Politico's Marc Caputo, the two sons of wealthy families who are at the center of a scandal that is being investigated by the Justice Department, are well known for their exploits and associates believe it was only a matter of time before it caught up to them.
"Their relationship is central to the allegations against Gaetz, a fierce Donald Trump ally who denies having sexual relations with a 17-year-old and prostitutes. Together, the taxman and the congressman shared a life-in-the-fast lane existence that contradicted the staid image that most elected officials are careful to maintain," Caputo wrote. "The only-in-Florida political drama has taken one bizarre twist after another in the week since the news broke of the investigation into Gaetz. It's a tale marked by a complicated extortion allegation involving Iran and Israel, alleged sexual crimes, a tangential cameo of a popular conservative cartoonist and even a porn star."
According to local lawyer David Bear, who represents a rival of Greenberg, "You couldn't make this story up, it's so crazy," before adding, "Ultimately, it's about abuse of power and how the Republican Party lost its way with guys like this. As one of the few remaining Never Trump Republicans, nothing could make me happier than seeing Matt Gaetz and his kind being taken down. They're the embodiment of Trumpism."
Noting that the relationship between the two is not one of equals -- with Gaetz a high-profile member of the House and Greenberg toiling in local Florida politics -- an associate of the two said they had one major connection.
"Joel idolized Matt," explained the friend, who asked not to be named and added, "And since they both loved beautiful women and Joel seemed to have endless access to them, it was definitely an additional incentive for Matt to stick around. Also, Joel is one of the funnest people you can hang out with."
According to those who know the two, it was not unusual for them to "share" girlfriends, with Caputo writing, "Gaetz described Greenberg as a 'wingman' to some acquaintances, and even promoted him as a potential congressional candidate. Now some suspect Greenberg might be cooperating with prosecutors to build a case against Gaetz."
Greenberg might have good reason to cooperate since Politico is reporting that friends of his have been speaking with investigators about comments he made.
"Less than a year after winning office, the indictment says, Greenberg engaged in a sexual relationship with a minor and, using his special access to a federal ID system as tax collector, 'obtained, disclosed, transferred, and used personal information of individuals … including individuals with whom [he] was engaged in 'sugar daddy' relationships'," the Politico report states, "Three Greenberg friends — including one who testified before the federal grand jury investigation into Greenberg — told POLITICO they personally heard him boast about his 2017 relationship with a then-17-year-old girl they claim went on to work in pornography."
One other mutual friend reinforced the claim that Gaetz and Greenberg are deeply tied to each other, telling Politico, "Sure, Matt and Joel have a taste for pretty women like any red-blooded American male, but their relationship was personal and political beyond that. They're both MAGA, both into cryptocurrency and they're both really smart."
You can read much more here.
In a wistful Daile Beast column that could be construed as "What if... " or "If only..", conservative Matt Lewis lamented the turn of events that led the late General Colin Powell to demur when asked to the Republican candidate for president -- saying it might have changed history enough that the GOP would have never fallen under the spell of outsider Donald Trump.
According to Lewis, the popular Powell -- whose only public misstep was a statement before the United Nations in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2001 that Powell later admitted was a mistake -- could have easily become the first Black president long before most of the country had ever heard of Barack Obama.
In fact, he notes, former president Ronald Reagan saw Powell as a future presidential winner and tried to convince him to run.
"Counterfactuals are always messy, but bear with me," Lewis wrote. "There is reason to believe that Powell was Ronald Reagan's vision of the Republican Party's bright future. And Powell might well have defeated Bill Clinton in 1996. That would have made Powell America's first Black president. Assuming re-election, he would have been president when 9/11 happened. Everything thereafter would, likely, have been very different."
He then ruefully added, "And, of course, it's hard to imagine a starker contrast than what eventually happened to America (and the GOP): President Donald J. Trump."
According to Lewis, a President Powell would likely have avoided launching the post-9/11 war and that would have far-reaching consequences.
"No Iraq war probably means no Obama and no Trump. What is more, Bill Clinton (and America) would have been spared the whole Monica Lewinsky ordeal. Instead of that, Powell watched the party slip away from him," Lewis wrote before adding that history -- and the Republican Party -- might have been changed for the better.
"For those who say Trump was the GOP's inevitable conclusion, I present President Powell as Exhibit A," he suggested. "Yes, the Grand Old Party hid a long-dormant toxic strain, but it didn't necessarily have to come to a head. It's a shame that a leader like Powell didn't emerge, but ultimately, Republicans own their decisions."
You can read more here -- subscription required.
In the wake of Colin Powell's death of complications from COVID-19, Chris Cillizza penned an op-ed for CNN saying that with the death of the four-star general and 65th United States Secretary of State, his particular brand of Republican no longer exists.
"Powell's personal journey from potential -- and much-coveted -- Republican presidential candidate in the mid-1990s to pariah within the Trump-ified GOP tells the story of how the party went from one that recognized the changing face of America and the need to adapt its policies as a result to one organized around the often-intolerant views of a single man who, it's worth noting, spent less time as a Republican than Powell did," Cillizza writes.
Cillizza points to the fact that during an interview with CNN earlier this year, Powell said he no longer considers himself a Republican.
"You know, I'm not a fellow of anything right now," Powell told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in January. "I'm just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat, throughout my entire career, and right now I'm just watching my country and not concerned with parties."
It was Donald Trump's rise the GOP that was the final straw for Powell, prompting him to vote for Joe Biden in 2020.
"Powell's alienation from the party he chose for himself following a long and highly decorated military career speaks to just how much that party changed underneath him over that time," writes Cillizza. "The idea of a moderate Republican in the mold of Powell simply disappeared from the GOP landscape entirely."
Read the full op-ed over at CNN.
An Oklahoma Baptist preacher angry the U.S. government isn't "executing" LGBTQ people and angry hate crime laws are, he claims, prohibiting "violent attitudes toward the f****ts and sodomites," is also suggesting he is acting like Jesus Christ by name calling.
"Now they want to execute judgment on the good who will disdain the abominable act of sodomy: you know, the faggots," Brother Salvador Alvarez of Stedfast Baptist Church in Oklahoma City preached on Sunday, as Friendly Atheist's Hemant Mehta reports.
"People who will have a violent attitude towards the f****ts and sodomites will be reported as having committed hate crimes," Alvarez lamented, calling it "a mixed-up justice system" that "needs to be called out."
"If they were to execute judgment, you know, that 'he beareth not the sword in vain,' where they execute, you know, executions, executions like the Bible says? They actually execute? You know, you don't go with a sword and you know, slap them. It's the sword to be able to have executions in Romans 13."
Alvarez suggests he is acting like Christ by "calling names."
"If they would actually commit executions on the pedophile, executions on the f****ts, on the sodomites. If they had executed, executed, you know, an adulterers are committing adultery with another man's wife then, then, we wouldn't have to call them out. There'd be no reason to call out a fox that is not a fox. But Jesus Christ wasn't afraid to call a fox a fox. He wasn't afraid to call names."
Yesterday, Brother Salvador Alvarez of Stedfast Baptist Church in Oklahoma City fantasized about the government executing certain sinners: Gay people, pedophiles, and adulterers.
He was upset with hate crimes laws that he claimed would target preachers like him. pic.twitter.com/ZN7ki7VC7w — Hemant Mehta (@hemantmehta) October 18, 2021
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