Joe Rogan's wildest interview yet

Spotify's $100 million dollar man, Joe Rogan, has found himself at the wrong end of a number of controversies recently for the scientifically questionable content being put forward on his wildly popular program, "The Joe Rogan Experience." First, he hosted an anti-vax scientist who compared U.S. public health authorities promoting COVID-19 vaccination to the Nazis — comments that inspired a fierce backlash and calls for a boycott of Rogan's show.

Then came a feud with legendary artist Neil Young, who pulled his music from Spotify after an ultimatum: You can have me or Rogan's COVID-19 misinformation, but not both.

Now, Rogan's back in the crosshairs of the scientific community after an episode with the clinical psychologist and occasional right-wing pundit Jordan Peterson, which was riddled with false claims about a number of topics — most notably during extended riffs on climate change and racial identity of "Black" Americans.

Here are some of the wildest claims from a particularly wild conversation:

1) That climate change doesn't exist because there's "no such thing as climate."

For more than 30 minutes of the episode's more than four-hour run time — yes, seriously — the two men discussed the veracity of the scientific establishment's broad agreement that climate change is real and that humans are to blame.

Rogan begins by saying he's reading a book about the subject, which he says "requires a lot of thinking" to look at criticisms on "both sides" of the issue.

"The climate change one is a weird one," he says, prompting an equally articulate response from his guest.

Though it's not exactly clear, Peterson seemed to be making the point that measuring Earth's climate over time will naturally lead researchers to assess a large number of variables — and that making sense of so many variables is an impossible task. For the record, it's not exactly what real climate scientists say about the subject.

PETERSON: Well, that's because there's no such thing as climate. Right? "Climate" and "everything" are the same word, and that's what bothers me about the climate change types. It's like, this is something that bothers me about it, technically. It's like, climate is about everything. Okay. But your models aren't based on everything. Your models are based on a set number of variables. So that means you've reduced the variables, which are everything, to that set. Well how did you decide which set of variables to include in the equation, if it's about everything? That's not just a criticism, that's like, if it's about everything, your models aren't right. Because your models do not and cannot model everything.
ROGAN: What do you mean by everything?
PETERSON: That's what people who talk about the climate apocalypse claim, in some sense. We have to change everything! It's like, everything, eh? The same with the word environment. That word means so much that it doesn't mean anything. … What's the difference between the environment and everything? There's no difference.

2) Calling a light-skinned person Black is "weird" — and should only be reserved to African natives "not wearing any clothes" all day.

This side-conversation began when Rogan brought up the work of author and academic Michael Eric Dyson, who several years ago criticized Peterson as a "mean, mad white man."

In response, Peterson said it was "a lie" to call him white, insisting that he's "kind of tan" — a description he would extend to Rogan as well.

"And [Dyson] was actually not black — he was sort of brown," Peterson added. Rogan then took that idea and ran with it:

"Well, isn't that weird? The Black and white thing is so strange because the shades are... There's such a spectrum of shades of people. Unless you're talking to someone who is, like, 100% African from the darkest place where they're not wearing any clothes all day and they've developed all that melanin to protect themselves from the sun. Even the term Black is weird and when you use it for people that are literally my color, it becomes very strange.

3) Honorable mention: Jordan Peterson's tuxedo

For some unknown reason, Jordan Peterson also wore a full tuxedo to the interview — a strange choice given the host's notably laid-back style.

Watch the full episode (if you must):

Joe Rogan Experience #1208 - Jordan Peterson www.youtube.com

Democrats quietly consider using 14th Amendment to prevent Trump from running for office in 2024

Congressional Democrats are eyeing a little-known constitutional mechanism to prevent former President Donald Trump from running for office again, citing his responsibility for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and subsequent attacks on American democracy.

According to a new report in The Hill, at least a dozen Democratic lawmakers have been quietly speaking, both publicly and privately, about whether or not it would be possible to use Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to permanently ban Trump — or anyone else who participated in the planning or execution of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack — from seeking elected office in the future. The post-Civil War clause bars anyone who has engaged in "insurrection or rebellion" against the United States from seeking public office, and reads:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

The theory gained credence in the days following the Capitol riot, but quickly fell by the wayside with the hope that Trump would eventually accept his election loss and disavow the violence of Jan. 6. With the one-year anniversary of the attacks now passed, and Trump's false claims of a "stolen" election still at a fever pitch, it appears the idea is once again being discussed on Capitol Hill.

"If anything, the idea has waxed and waned," said Laurence Tribe, a constitutional expert at Harvard Law School who has spoken previously about the 14th Amendment. "I hear it being raised with considerable frequency these days both by media commentators and by members of Congress and their staffs, some of whom have sought my advice on how to implement Section 3."

He shared with The Hill the names of several lawmakers who have reached out in recent weeks for counsel on gaming out exactly how such a controversial tactic might be used. Those include Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the House select committee investigating Jan. 6; Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who told the outlet: "I continue to explore all legal paths to ensure that the people who tried to subvert our democracy are not in charge of it."

Neither of the other two Democrats spoke with The Hill about their inquiries, though Raskin gave an interview last February in which he expressed his support for the premise.

"The point is that the constitutional purpose is clear, to keep people exactly like Donald Trump and other traitors to the union from holding public office," he told ABC News, adding that he planned to conduct "more research" on the matter before pursuing it.

It's unclear exactly how the implementation of such a provision might work — it would likely be the first time in well over a century that Section 3 has been discussed in Congress, after the body waived enforcement of the clause for Confederate officials and some Ku Klux Klan members as a way to promote national unity during the Reconstruction era.

Constitutional scholars are split over how execution of the rule would work, with one group arguing that a simple majority vote in both chambers of Congress that found Trump guilty of fomenting the insurrection would be enough to bar him from holding future public office.

Others, including Tribe, say that a "neutral" fact-finding body would have to determine whether Trump officially engaged in an "insurrection" or "rebellion" — a task for either a Congressional panel or federal court.

A separate stand-alone law proposed last year by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., would give the U.S. Attorney General the power to argue that same case in front of a three-judge panel, though the bill itself has received little support thus far.

Liberal elections groups, such as "Free Speech For People," have even been making the case that state-level election officials could use Section 3 on a state-by-state basis to take Trump's name off their ballots if he were to run again in 2024.

All of these implementations would, however, face a major hurdle at the U.S. Supreme Court, which maintains a conservative majority after Trump appointed three justices to the bench during his four years in office.

Trump losing far-right support after COVID vaccine endorsement

Devoted far-right followers of former President Donald Trump are finally turning on him — and all it took was a series of enthusiastic public statements endorsing COVID-19 vaccines.

It started on Sunday when Trump revealed during a rally with longtime conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly that he had received a booster shot, a fact that attendees greeted with boos.

"Don't, don't, don't," Trump responded after hearing the boos. "That's alright, it's a very tiny group up there," he added, pointing to a section of the crowd.

He doubled down on his endorsement of vaccines Wednesday during an interview with online commentator Candace Owens, saying definitively, "the vaccine worked."

"But some people aren't taking it. The ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don't take their vaccine," Trump said. "If you take the vaccine, you're protected. Look, the results of the vaccine are very good. And if you do get it, it's a very minor form. People aren't dying when they take their vaccine."

The comments angered many of Trump's biggest supporters online, sending alternative social media networks like Telegram and Gab into a frenzy. Prominent conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and "Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander led the charge against Trump, denouncing the twice-impeached former president for the comments.

"Trump, stop. Just stop. Have your position (backed by Fauci) and allow us to have ours (which is backed by science). This losing is getting boomer level annoying," Alexander wrote on Telegram, Insider reported.

Jones, who has been a steadfast Trump supporter for years, insinuated that Trump had abruptly switched allegiances as a result of his vaccination.

"Hell, we're fighting Bill Gates and Fauci and Biden and the New World Order and Psaki and the Davos Group ... and now we've got Trump on their team!" Jones said during a broadcast of his "Infowars" program Tuesday.

Even right-wing cartoonist Ben Garrison, who has spent years drawing beefed-up versions of Trump in various states of undress, had enough of the former president's comments. In a new cartoon this week, Garrison drew a frightened-looking Trump riding on a "vaccine bandwagon" alongside TrumpWorld villains like the "corporate media" and "Big Pharma," among others.

The disavowal of Trump's most devoted followers underscores the extent to which medical misinformation and anti-vaccine sentiment have taken over the conservative base, making even lukewarm endorsements of vaccines off-limits. These are the same people who have stood by Trump through a number of scandals, including bragging about sexual assault on camera, two impeachment trials, and an attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The simmering TrumpWorld civil war has also had a similar effect on the community of people who subscribe to the QAnon conspiracy theory — leaving them unsure whether Trump has abandoned the anti-vaccine movement, or is simply following a plan so complicated and secret that they cannot comprehend its inner workings.

Former Trump attorney L. Lin Wood, who has himself touted various tenets of QAnon, pushed the latter theory, urging the former president's supporters to withhold their judgement for the time being.

"I believe We The People should wait until ALL the facts are known before passing judgment on the President's wartime strategy and the tactics designed to achieve victory," he wrote on Telegram.

Rolling Stone reports the comments caused a fracture in the online message boards where Q followers congregate — a "hornet's nest," in Wood's own words.

"Hornets must not like the TRUTH!!!" he wrote in a subsequent post on Telegram. "You don't have to agree with every statement President Trump makes or position he takes…. Judge the entire body of President Trump's world as president… He loves America, freedom, and We the People."

Tucker Carlson claims his son was in US Capitol building on Jan. 6

Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has used his considerable platform as the most-watched cable news personality to spread conspiracy theories about and downplay the severity of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, revealed this week that his son was inside the building that day — and that Carlson was in communication with him the entire time.

He made the comments Thursday during a recording of "The Fourth Watch Podcast," hosted by right wing commentator Steve Krakauer. Carlson's admission came in response to a question about his recently released "Patriot Purge" documentary, which spreads a number of debunked conspiracies about the storming of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6 — most notably the idea that the entire things was a "false flag" operation spearheaded by "deep state" operatives in the FBI and other national security agencies.

"What is it about the focus on Jan. 6 that made you say, 'We need to give a different look at this,'" Krakauer asked Carlson at one point.

"Well, I hated what happened on Jan. 6, you know one of my kids was actually in the building when it had happened. I was on the phone in real time," Carlson responded.

He did not say which of his sons attended the Capitol riot that day, but The Hill reports that it was likely Buckley Carlson, an aide in the Capitol Hill office of Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind. Neither Carlson responded to the outlet for comment.

The Fox host's statements shine a new light on his months-long effort to portray the events of Jan. 6 as anything other than a coordinated attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election — a goal that was accomplished for a short time as Congress delayed its business and hunkered down in the face of explicit threats of violence. A number rioters even called for the killing of Vice President Mike Pence, who they felt did not put sufficient effort into his attempts to overturn the election results.

Carlson went so far as to say: "Anyone who calls Jan. 6 an insurrection is a liar at this point."

A number of Fox employees have raised concerns about Carlson's rhetoric, including pundits Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg, who quit the network over the alleged distortions in his Jan. 6 special.

"Fox News still does real reporting, and there are still responsible conservatives providing valuable opinion and analysis," the duo wrote. "But the voices of the responsible are being drowned out by the irresponsible."

"A case in point: Patriot Purge, a three-part series hosted by Tucker Carlson."

Inside the 38-page PowerPoint TrumpWorld circulated to justify election subversion

As the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot continues its work, reports suggest it is closely scrutinizing a PowerPoint document filled with conspiracy theories and several plans to overturn the 2020 election results.

This article first appeared on Salon.

The 38-page file turned over by former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was titled "Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN" and was circulating "on the hill" in the days prior to Jan. 6, according to a letter Rep. Bennie Thompson, the select committee's chairman, sent to Meadows' attorney earlier this week.

The document is part of the reason the committee is so interested in speaking with Meadows more extensively, Thompson said, which leaves him "no choice" but to bring Meadows up on contempt of Congress charges after he stopped cooperating with the committee.

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

Both the Guardian and The New York Times report that a different, 36-page version of the PowerPoint circulating online is similar to the one received by the committee. Both include plans to declare a national emergency in order to delay the certification of the 2020 election and the outlines of a wild conspiracy that the country of Venezuela had taken over voting machines in a large number of important states, among other debunked and unverifiable allegations.

Though it remains unknown who first created the document, the Times notes it bears striking similarities to the theories of Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, which the paper describes as a "Texas entrepreneur and self-described inventor."

Meadows' attorney, George J. Terwilliger III, told the committee that the ex-Trump aide turned over the PowerPoint to the committee after receiving it via email and that he had not done anything with it.

"We produced the document because it wasn't privileged," Terwilliger wrote.

But the Times reports that Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel and one of the key propagators of Trump's Big Lie, apparently circulated the document among influential lawmakers, holding several briefings for Senators and House members on Jan. 4 and 5, respectively. Waldron, who reportedly cites a history of involvement with "informational warfare," told the paper that he hadn't given Meadows a copy but wasn't surprised it found his way to Trump's chief of staff.

"He would have gotten a copy for situational awareness for what was being briefed on the Hill at the time," he said.

It's unclear Meadows' continuing involvement with Waldron around Jan. 6 — though Waldron told The Washington Post that he met with Meadows and others at the White House just a few weeks earlier, around Christmas, to discuss investigative avenues, and held another meeting with Trump and several Pennsylvania legislators in the Oval Office on Nov. 25.

Former New York City Mayor and personal attorney to Trump Rudy Giuliani has also talked openly about receiving information from Waldron for his legal campaign to overturn the 2020 election, the Post reported, often serving as a go-between for Meadows and the retired Army colonel.

Shortly after turning over the document — and thousands of other emails and texts — Meadows decided to stop cooperating with the Jan. 6 committee. The drawback sets up an escalating legal battle that entered a new phase this week, with Meadows suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Jan. 6 committee in the hopes a judge will block the subpoenas.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit also recently poked a hole in Trump's argument that he be allowed to keep documents from the Jan. 6 committee, writing that Congress has a broad mandate to Congress investigate any attacks launched against it.

"The January 6th Committee has also demonstrated a sound factual predicate for requesting these presidential documents specifically," the court writes. "There is a direct linkage between the former President and the events of the day."

House Speaker Donald Trump is on the table as Republicans threaten brutal revenge

As member after member of the House Republican caucus took the dais Wednesday to speak during debate over whether to censure fellow Rep. Paul Gosar, the topic of conversation quickly turned from what the Arizona Republican did — post an anime video in which an animated version of himself brutally murdered Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — to all the ways a conservative majority would retaliate against Democrats and reward its own members who had stood strong in the face of harsh public criticism.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the likely future House speaker if Republicans retake the majority next year, doubled down on the us-versus-them rhetoric Thursday during a press conference — even adding at one point that he planned to reinstate the committee assignments of both Gosar and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who was stripped of hers earlier this year after similarly endorsing violence against Democratic politicians. McCarthy even suggested he might reward the right-wing duo with better assignments for their refusal to apologize or equivocate.

"They'll have committees," McCarthy vowed. "The committee assignment they have now, they may have other committee assignments, they may have better committee assignments."

Another idea floated by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Thursday was to elect Donald Trump as speaker of the House — which is not outside the realm of possibility, since the speaker doesn't have to be an elected member of Congress. (Though all of them have been so far.) Meadows didn't even bother framing that as a good idea for the country or the House — just as a way to seek revenge against Democrats.

"You talk about melting down," he said during an appearance on Steve Bannon's "War Room" podcast. "I mean, people would go crazy!"

These statements underline a troubling trend for those invested in a functioning American democracy — top-level Republicans are increasingly embracing a scorched-earth brand of opposition-based politics, in which Democrats are an enemy to be fought and defeated, rather than a governing partner with competing ideas and proposals.

That became immediately apparent during a conspiratorial tirade delivered Wednesday by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., who said on the House floor that Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Somali immigrant and Minnesota Democrat, was part of a "jihad squad," while implying that Omar had married her own brother and supported terrorism against the United States.

Even the House's so-called "moderates" appeared to endorse this behavior — Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota was quoted as saying threats of violence are something that all members of Congress will have to get used to — even if those threats are directed by fellow members. "Unfortunately, in the world we're in right now, we all get death threats, no matter what the issue is," he said.

None of this is new, even if Republican threats of revenge after a potential 2022 victory reached a fever pitch this week.

Boebert herself threatened to call for "politically motivated investigations" last week in response to the news that former Trump adviser Steve Bannon had been indicted for contempt of Congress after refusing to cooperate with a subpoena from the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

"Now that Democrats have started these politically-motivated indictments for Contempt of Congress, I look forward to seeing their reactions when we keep that same energy as we take back the House next year!'" she wrote on Twitter.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio echoed the threat: "There are a lot of Republicans eager to hear testimony from [White House chief of staff] Ron Klain and [national security adviser] Jake Sullivan when we take back the House."

McCarthy even made vague threats of retaliation against telecommunications companies who were reportedly cooperating with the House select committee's request for documents, which members have said could shine a light on possible coordination between members of Congress and the organizers of the Jan. 6 rally preceding the deadly Capitol riot.

"If companies still choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law," he wrote in a statement.

And Rep. Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican who was appointed to serve on the Jan. 6 committee before being blocked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi over his pledge to obstruct the group's investigation, promised to strip each member of their own assignments in much the same way Gosar and Greene had been treated.

"When we win back the majority next year, we have a duty as Republicans to hold every member of this committee accountable for this abuse of power, for stepping over the line, by preventing them from being in positions of authority," Banks said during an appearance on Fox News.

So far, it does not appear that Democrats in Congress are changing their approach in response to these threats.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., described McCarthy's threats against telecom companies as "treasonous."

When asked whether the Gosar vote could put prominent Democrats in jeopardy of losing their committee assignments come 2023, Pelosi responded: "Democrats don't threaten the lives of other members."

Whether that will save them from retribution remains to be seen.

GOP Rep. Andy Harris may lose medical license after pushing bogus COVID treatments

Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist by trade, claimed this week that he may lose his medical license after pushing unproven COVID-19 treatments.

The Maryland doctor said during an October radio interview that he had prescribed at least one patient the anti-parasite drug ivermectin to treat COVID-19, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Ivermectin is often used in developing countries to treat intestinal worms and other parasites, and before recently it was largely used in the United States to treat livestock. It has taken on an almost mythical status in far-right circles, where its proponents refer to it as a cheap cure-all despite the fact that researchers have failed to prove its effectiveness in fighting the coronavirus.

The Food and Drug Administration advises against its use in treating COVID-19, and points out that the medication can be dangerous in large doses.

"Using the Drug ivermectin to treat COVID-19 can be dangerous and even lethal," the FDA said recently. The FDA has not approved the drug for that purpose."

"You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it." the FDA added in a later tweet.

On Monday, Harris said during a meeting of the House Freedom Caucus that someone had filed a complaint against him with the state's medical board over his ivermectin prescription.

"An action is currently being attempted against my medical license for prescribing ivermectin, which I find fascinating, because as an anesthesiologist, I know I use a lot of drugs off-label that are much more dangerous," Harris said on a video of the meeting that was later shared to Facebook.

The Maryland Board of Physicians keeps any such complaints confidential, so details of the action were not immediately apparent. It also appears the board accepts anonymous complaints given there is "sufficient information," the Sun reported.

The ongoing scandal also shines a light on Republican radicalization when it comes to spreading medical misinformation — Harris, as a part of a Congressional group called the "Doctor's Caucus," spent the spring of 2021 advocating for Americans to get vaccinated, even appearing in a video alongside his GOP colleagues pleading with constituents to seek out the shot.

But as the summer progressed and Republican attacks on vaccination efforts and a number of other COVID-19 mitigation efforts ramped up, Harris did an abrupt about-face, fighting Maryland officials over vaccine mandates on university campuses and questioning the efficacy of masks.

He even went so far as to encourage a constituent who called into a radio show he was appearing on last month to research alternatives to vaccination promoted by fringe medical group "America's Frontline Doctors" — the organization led by a conspiratorial Texas physician named Stella Immanuel, who is best known for suggesting that certain ailments may be caused by sperm from sexual visitations from demons and/or alien DNA.

As of Wednesday evening, no disciplinary actions were reported against Harris by the Maryland Board of Physicians.

Republicans have new idea to fix labor shortage: Loosen child labor laws

Republican-controlled legislatures in several states have come up with a novel way to stem the effects of an ongoing labor shortage: loosen child labor laws governing the number of hours and times that teenagers are allowed to work.

It's not exactly a new strategy. Businesses hiring minimum-wage employees across the country have advertised their use of teenagers to plug the holes in their workforce for months, especially fast-food chains like Chipotle, Burger King and McDonalds, among others. Seasonal work in tourism-heavy industries like amusement parks have also doubled-down on the strategy.

But at least two states, Wisconsin and Ohio, are now pushing for new laws that would allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work longer hours — the most brazen attempts to expand American businesses' use of teenage labor in decades.

In Ohio, the Republican-controlled state legislature took up a measure last month to allow businesses to keep teenagers under the age of 16 at work until 9 p.m., with a parent's permission. Previously, they had only been allowed to work until 7 p.m. The bill was introduced by two Republicans and one Democrat.

Likewise, the Wisconsin Senate last month also passed a bill which would allow businesses to hire 14- and 15-year-olds to work from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weeknights or 11 p.m. on weekends. The measure would only apply to businesses which run less than $500,000 in sales annually and aren't governed by a federal statute known as the Fair Labor Standards Act.

If approved by the state Assembly, which appears likely, its fate will lie with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. It remains unclear whether he will veto the measure or not.

It's just the latest attempt in a long line of Republican-led changes to the state's child labor code over the last decade, according to an analysis in The Guardian. In 2011, Wisconsin eliminated limits on the number of hours — and days — that minors aged 16-17 could work, and even replaced the phrase "child labor" in state law with "employment of minors" in 2017.

The most recent changes have attracted support from a number of powerful service-industry lobbies, such as the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, who say it will help to solve businesses' staffing issues and teach teenagers a healthy work ethic.

On the other side, the measure has attracted ire from the AFL-CIO and a number of the state's high-profile Democrats, who uniformly appear to oppose the bill.

"It's a nice workaround," state Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, told WISN-TV last month. "I think in reality if those employers are looking for workers, what frankly the market should dictate is they should be raising wages, offering additional benefits."

A number of high-profile progressives have echoed those sentiments — with some even pushing back against the mainstream narrative that a widespread worker shortage exists in the first place. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said on her Instagram recently that what America is confronting isn't a labor shortage, but a "dignified job shortage."

Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist and co-chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, told Salon that the larger issue at play is why kids would have to work in the first place.

"A lot of families are in such dire economic conditions that they might agree to send their kids to work because of necessity." she said. "But that's the problem. If you get up and go to work every day, you shouldn't be living in poverty, you shouldn't be living in such dire situations."

The increasing reliance on American teenagers to work more hours is also leading to a number of negative outcomes for children who are forced into the labor market at younger ages — including increasing rates of substance abuse and high school dropouts, research shows.

In an op-ed for the Bucks County Courier Times, a local Pennsylvania Newspaper, high school junior Darcy Leight wrote that she and her peers were experiencing burnout at much higher rates due to the increasing pressure to work longer hours in recent months.

"A job I intended to work strictly during the summer has somehow found its way into my fall schedule and has become almost equivalent to academics on my priority list. And I don't even know how it happened," she wrote. "The coupling of a job anywhere from five to 35 hours a week along with being a student is extremely stressful.

GOP candidate claims Michael Flynn hoped to blackmail U.S. officials into pro-Trump 'audits'

A Republican Senate candidate alleged over the weekend that Michael Flynn, the retired general and former national security adviser, has sought damaging information on elected officials in a number of states, with the apparent goal of blackmailing them into supporting conspiratorial election audits meant to reinforce Donald Trump's false claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent.

Everett Stern, a businessman who owns a private intelligence firm called Tactical Rabbit and is running for the open U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, held a press conference Saturday to share his purported findings, later tweeting out a link to the video of his remarks titled, "Everett Stern Releases New Evidence of Ongoing Domestic Terror Threat Links to General Michael T. Flynn."

"I'm here today not as a candidate running for U.S. Senate, I'm here as a citizen who is genuinely concerned about our country, sincerely concerned about the undermining of our democracy," Stern said in the opening moments of his statement. He also claimed to be in touch with federal law enforcement about the situation.

Stern claims that at least two people representing a Flynn-linked group called "Patriot Caucus" approached him earlier this year after a public speech, offering to hire his firm to gather "dirt" on officials and recruit others to assist in the plot. One of the men allegedly told Stern that they had retained the services of active intelligence officials "both domestic and foreign."

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

"They wanted to gather intelligence on senators, judges, congressmen, state reps, to move them towards the audit," Stern said. "The word 'move' was emphasized tremendously. It was clear to me what they wanted was not traditional opposition research — what they wanted was to extort and to literally move people towards the audit with dirt."

Stern claimed he was targeted because of his political ties in Pennsylvania, a key swing state targeted by election conspiracy theorists who longed to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 electoral victory there. Patriot Caucus apparently wanted Stern to focus on two Republican state officials in particular: Sen. Pat Toomey and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. (Toomey is retiring, and Stern is now a candidate for his seat).

"He said to me, 'PA GOP better move towards the audit, or we will crush them,'" Stern said, alleging that he feigned interest in order to gather documents and audio recordings that could be used to expose the group.

According to Stern, Patriot Caucus is funded largely by billionaire Texas real estate mogul Al Hartman, and has operations in Oklahoma, Nebraska and Virginia, among other places. Hartman became controversial recently as an early crusader against basically any form of COVID-19 precautions: lockdown orders as well as mask and vaccine mandates.

Beyond the goals that Patriot Caucus was chasing, Stern claimed, it was the methods Flynn's group encouraged Stern that made him uncomfortable.

RELATED: Mike Flynn swears allegiance to QAnon in wild Fourth of July video

He claims that he was told to "accomplish the mission even if you have to use domestic terrorism."

"I believe that Gen. Flynn has committed treason against the United States," Stern said on Saturday. "Based on what I have seen and witnessed, I truly believe that's the case."

Stern said he was moved to expose Flynn's alleged plot out of a moral imperative — something he said he was also familiar with as a corporate whistleblower at HSBC, where he exposed the bank's billion-dollar money laundering scheme. The case ended with a $1.92 billion fine against HSBC.

This is just the latest controversy around Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who once headed the Defense Intelligence Agency and was later pardoned by Trump after his conviction on charges of lying to the FBI. He was pictured last summer purportedly swearing allegiance to QAnon, the conspiracy theory positing that a group of cannibalistic, pedophile Satanic elites control much of the U.S. the government. (Flynn's family later denied the video in question had anything to do with QAnon.)

He also appeared to advocated the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, saying that a military coup like the one in Myanmar-style coup "should" happen here following Trump's loss to Joe Biden last November. (Flynn later claimed he had been misunderstood.)

Flynn did not respond to Salon's request for comment.

Watch Stern's full remarks here via YouTube:

New Evidence of Ongoing Domestic terror Threat Links to General Michael T. Flynn www.youtube.com

Fox News host says Jen Psaki 'one of the best press secretaries ever'

Former White House correspondent and current Fox News host Chris Wallace had some high praise for President Joe Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki, this week, calling her "one of the best press secretaries ever."

This article first appeared in Salon.

He made the comments on Friday while talking about an especially heated back-and-forth between Fox News reporter Peter Doocy and Psaki, that he referred to as "two people at the top of their game."

"I think that [Doocy] has become the Sam Donaldson of this White House press corps," he said, referring to the ABC News White House correspondent known for his tough questions during the Ronald Reagan Administration. "And Jen Psaki, I think, is one of the best press secretaries ever."


"I don't know that anything was particularly accomplished, but they both gave and got pretty good," Wallace added.

Wallace also said he gave the comments "grudgingly," since he knew Donaldson personally and worked as a White House correspondent during the Reagan years at NBC News.

Trouble piles up for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy

U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy faced over a dozen conflicts of interest during his tenure due to his refusal to divest family stakes in companies tied to the policies of his own agency.

According to documents newly obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) via a Freedom of Information Act, Dejoy reportedly recused himself from agency decisions that might have affected the performance of his former freight transportation company XPO Logistics. However, the postmaster general opted out of divesting from the firm altogether, opening him up to a blatant conflict of interest.

Back in August, CNN reported that, despite his role in heading the USPS, DeJoy's stake in XPO fell between $30 million and $75 million – an apparent conflict that came as a complete "shock" to many outside experts.

"If you have a $30 million interest in a company, of course it's going to impact you," Stuart Gilman, a former assistant director at the Office of Government Ethics, said. "I would assume that there is a problem here. It certainly doesn't pass the smell test."

XPO routinely carries out contracts with both the USPS and other government agencies, like the Defense Department. During the first two months of his tenure last year, XPO signed onto at least two new contracts with the USPS.

"There was a period of time where the head of the Postal Service was making decisions when there could have been a conflict, and he could have been thinking about his own financial interest, rather than the interest of the Postal Service and the country," said Noah Bookbinder, the president of CREW. "That's significant."

Last year, by October, DeJoy had announced that he would formally divest from XPO in order to preclude any conflicts of interest from arising. At the time, CREW suggested that the nature of the divestment might be a "sham," largely because DeJoy transferred his assets to his adult children, who could then return those assets to their father after he leaves government.

Also under scrutiny are a series of trades made by DeJoy last June, just a month after he joined the administration. The postmaster general specifically bought $50,000 and $100,000 in stock options for Amazon.

"It's another conflict. He's got the option to buy. That means he's gambling that Amazon's value is going to go up," Marcus Owens, a former top IRS official, told CNN. "Why is he investing in a competitor to the enterprise that he's supposed to be managing? This is a classic case for investigation by an inspector general."

The USPS's Office of Inspector has reportedly reviewed DeJoy finances and concluded he has complied with the necessary ethical requirements. Still, CREW noted, the review did not take into account a full picture of the postmaster general's finances.

Over the two years, DeJoy has also come under fire for his gross mismangement of the agency, which last year entailed a series of "cost-cutting" measures, such as the removal of mail sorting machines, that would drastically slow transit times. The move earned the Trump-appointee accusations of attempting to sabotage the election in Trump's favor by undermining the mail-in-ballot process. Many Democrats have called for his resignation.

This month, DeJoy again announced a set of policies that would "result in serious delays and the degradation of service for millions," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. The agency is expected to apply steep price hikes on commercial and domestic retail packages, as well as slow first-class mail transit by 30%.

Republicans rush to mock Alec Baldwin in wake of tragic film set accident

Less than 24 hours after a tragic New Mexico film set accident involving Alec Baldwin claimed the life of a cinematographer and injured the movie's director, Republicans were already making light of the incident and cracking jokes about Baldwin, a longtime right-wing boogeyman.

The A-lister was reportedly rehearsing for a scene in the western, "Rust," when he fired a prop gun that was loaded with a "live single round." The shot killed the film's 42-year-old director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, and injured director Joel Souza, 48, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 44 said in an email to its members.

Just hours after news of the incident broke, Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance was already online and gloating about the situation.

"Dear @jack," he wrote, tagging Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. "Let Trump back on. We need Alec Baldwin tweets."

The message was not received well, and drew criticism from Vance's prospective Democratic opponent, Tim Ryan, who replied: "Someone died, you assh*le."

But he wasn't the only one deriding Baldwin in the wake of the tragedy — conservative commentator Candace Owens added in a since-deleted Tweet that "what has happened to Alec would be poetic justice if it weren't for the actual innocent people that were murdered by him."

She later added: "Will correct that last tweet to say Alec Baldwin *killed* someone— not murdered someone, as murder carries a different legal definition."

A number of other pundits and right-wing personalities also jumped on a tweet of Baldwin's from the first round of Black Lives Matter protests, in 2014, which read: "I'm going to make bright, banana-yellow T-shirts that read: "My hands are up. Please don't shoot me." Who wants one?"

Even Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., got in on the action, posting a screenshot of Baldwin's tweet with the caption: "@AlecBaldwin are these still available? Asking for a movie producer…"

The comments horrified a number of Twitter users, who flooded the Congresswoman's replies with admonitions.

"Have you no shame? Remove this tweet. It's utterly disrespectful to the victim & her family," one person wrote.

"I'm sorry you are so broken inside," another added.

Baldwin released his first statement Friday since the incident occurred, saying the he was cooperating with authorities and that he has spoken with Hutchins' family.

"There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours," he tweeted.

"I'm fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna."

Liz Cheney catches fellow GOP Rep. Jim Banks in a deceptive Jan. 6 plot

Liz Cheney publicly called out her fellow Republican congressman for lying on Thursday.

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., was caught red-handed by Cheney, a Republican congresswoman from Wyoming, sending letters to federal agencies claiming he was the ranking GOP member on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. In fact, Banks was rejected from serving on the committee because he voted to overturn election results — a demand made by violent rioters that day.

Cheney, the committee's vice-chair, called Banks out for his blatant falsehood as she entered his misleading letters into the official Congressional record.

"I would like to introduce for the record a number of letters the gentlemen from Indiana has been sending to federal agencies, dated September 16, 2021, for example, signing his name as the ranking member of the committee he's just informed the House that he's not on," Cheney said during a Thursday speech from the House floor.

Banks was apparently attempting to deceive federal agencies into revealing information that was shared with the committee.

In one of the letters to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Banks asked that the department "provide me any information that is submitted to the Select Committee."

"Additionally, please include me on any update or briefing that you provide," he continued.

The legal justification Banks appears to be using centers around the idea that he was at one point nominated by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to serve as the committee's ranking Republican member — and an assertion the "minority party in Congress retains rights to the same information that is provided to the majority party."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi immediately rejected both Banks' placement and that of Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, over their stated intentions of stonewalling any investigation into the events of Jan. 6. At the time, Pelosi cited widespread dismay among Democrats due to the "statements made and actions taken by these members."

Both Banks and Jordan voted to overturn election results in several states on the evening of Jan. 6 — and continue to support Trump's Big Lie to varying degrees.

Inside the 'weird' world of DWAC -- Trump's already soaring social media SPAC

For many investors, it apparently doesn't matter that former President Donald Trump's new media venture has yet to create, well, anything.

Millions rushed Thursday to snatch up shares of the blank-check company Trump is using to take his new media venture public, more than quadrupling its stock value in just one day.

As a result of the frenzied buying spree, shares of the shell company, called Digital World Acquisition Corp., are now sitting at $45.50 — which values it at a whopping $3.9 billion without ever launching a product. For reference, that's roughly half the size of The New York Times, and commensurate with the value of Netflix after it had already been in business for eight years.

The surge in trading was so drastic that Fidelity even reported it was the No. 1 most traded name on its platform Thursday.

DWAC is what's known as a "SPAC," or special purpose acquisition company. The strategy, which has become popular in recent years as a way to sidestep the typically onerous regulatory process of taking a company public, typically occurs when a non-public company merges with a shell company that is already public. In this case, DWAC is set to merge with "Trump Media & Technology Group."

In a press release Wednesday night, the ex-commander-in-chief touted the deal in especially Trumpian terms, saying he hoped to create a "rival to the liberal media consortium." But the numbers he cited also valued the company at just $1.7 billion — still a huge sum for a company without any apparent cashflow.

The venture's first project will be a social media venture called "TRUTH Social," which is set to launch next month for "invited users" and will be available sometime early next year for the general public, according to Trump's statement.

Though the platform wasn't set to go live for at least a month, the intense interest led more than a few users through a backdoor which allowed them to create their own accounts — with some even posing as Trump himself. In one instance highlighted by The Washington Post, someone who grabbed the "donaldjtrump" username posted a picture of a defecating pig to the account.

Trump himself will serve as chairman of TMTG, which is also planning a video-on-demand streaming service, TMTG+, and a news network, TMTG News, according to a public pitch deck obtained by Salon. The slides contain a number of lofty plans for the company to disrupt the business models of any number of perceived competitors, from Netflix to Disney to Twitter and Facebook, but notably did not include any financial projections or information on corporate structures, which are usually a part of such presentations.

"I don't know enough to say it's unprecedented, but it's weird," Michael Ohlrogge, an assistant professor of law at New York University who researches SPACs, told the Associated Press. "Given a lot of things that happen with Trump are not great with details and formalities, it's perhaps not surprising, but it's not the norm in SPACs."

The former president's interest in building a media empire has long been a source of speculation — many pundits were convinced back in 2016 that his presidential run was simply a ploy to generate interest in a subsequent media venture. In fact, former aide Jason Miller, who after Trump's 2020 election loss formed his own social media company, Gettr, confirmed in a congratulatory statement Wednesday that he and Trump had been in talks to collaborate on the venture but "couldn't come to terms on a deal."

But despite the former president's involvement, it was the the strange details surrounding DWAC that had many experts scratching their heads.

According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company was formed just a few weeks after Trump's 2020 loss, with the stock brokerage firm Kingswood Capital Markets as the sole underwriter. As New York Magazine noted on Thursday, Kingswood used to be called EF Hutton — a 1980s financial powerhouse that was eventually sold after it was revealed the firm was involved in illegal mob-related ventures. Trump also famously bragged about dealing with the New York City Mafia during his years as a real estate developer.

DWAC's official address is listed as a WeWork office in Miami, while its management team is also drawing a fair bit of scrutiny. Patrick Orlando, the firm's CEO, appears to be a SPAC veteran whose most recent offering is Yunhong International, another blank-check company located in Wuhan, China.

The firm's CFO is a strange pick as well: Luis Orleans-Braganza, a top deputy to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and current member of the country's parliament.

The New York Times also reported that at least one of the initial investors in DWAC, Saba Capital Management, was not aware as late as this spring that the company was planning a deal with the former president.

It's unclear whether DWAC's sky-high valuation will hold. SPACs enjoyed a moment earlier this year in which a number of similar deals enjoyed early success, though many of those tickers have since come down to earth.

It's also important to note that a key feature of SPAC deals are the unique incentives that protect company insiders while other investors bear much of the risk if a deal fails to garner expected returns.

Trump's last publicly traded venture, a casino company called Trump Entertainment Resorts, also ended in heartbreak for investors after it lost hundreds of millions of dollars in just over a decade, a period during which it filed for bankruptcy numerous times. Though if the past is any indication, Trump will likely come out on top — Fortune Magazine reported at the time that he earned more than $82 million from the company before it went bust.

It's not even Halloween -- and Republicans are already claiming Biden is 'stealing' Christmas

Christmas is still more than two months away — but that hasn't stopped President Joe Biden from ruining the holiday, at least in the minds of Republican lawmakers and right-wing pundits.

"This is the guys who is trying to steal Christmas," the House Republican caucus tweeted this week, typo and all, alongside a strangely framed picture of Biden's back as he walked away from a podium. "Americans are NOT going to let that happen."

This sort of holiday culture war sentiment is, of course, nothing new for high-profile conservatives. The "War on Christmas" as a rhetorical concept dates back to at least 2005, with the release of a book written by the right-wing radio host, John Gibson, appropriately titled, "The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought."

Since then, it has become an annual yuletide tradition of sorts for Americans to debate whether the country is sufficiently deferential to the plurality of its citizens who celebrate the Christian holiday, and a favorite topic for conservative-leaning news outlets like Fox News as the end-of-year news cycle slows. But this year's histrionics are notable for one reason, at least — they're starting months earlier than normal.

The outrage du jour this time around is centered around rising inflation and a growing supply-chain crisis, which is causing a number of shipping bottlenecks that have slowed the modern economy's system of just-in-time delivery and threaten to roll back the dizzying array of consumer choices Americans have come to expect around the holidays.

Though there are myriad issues causing the current snarls — with an ongoing pandemic deserving most of the blame for all of them — Fox News and other right-wing outlets have seized on the idea that Biden's policies are what's causing the situation. It's not exactly an unpopular opinion, with an October Quinnipiac poll showing that just 29% of Americans think the economy is in "good" condition.

But some outlets have taken the argument a step further, seeming to suggest that Biden and in some cases public health health authorities are actively conspiring to stifle Christmas celebrations for some reason.

The "War on Christmas" rhetoric began this year on Oct. 4, to be exact, with a segment on Fox & Friends that also managed to work in a shot on right-wing boogeyman Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House COVID-19 adviser under both Biden and former President Donald Trump.

"No wonder Dr. [Anthony] Fauci is about to cancel Christmas," host Brian Kilmeade lamented, apparently referring to a statement of caution Fauci had made weeks earlier about planning large family gatherings in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "We're not going to have any presents anyway, so it's going to really work out," Kilmeade added.

The segment was full of these sentiments, from host Greg Gutfeld calling 2021 America a "dystopia" to Dana Perino's insistence that the Biden Administration was entering a "crisis of confidence danger zone" over his handling of the situation.

Over the last week, it has quickly become a Republican talking point that Biden is "stealing" or "ruining" Christmas — even Trump got in on the action, blasting out a mass email through "Save America," his PAC, dubbing this year's holiday "Biden's Blue Christmas."

The House Republican caucus even tweeted out a picture Thursday of Biden's face superimposed on Dr. Suess' iconic Christmas-hating character "The Grinch."

The Biden White House, for its part, doesn't dispute that things like slow shipping and marginally higher prices for consumer goods are happening. Instead, officials have taken to pointing out that a lot of the problems impacting the economy right now began last year while Trump was president, and have defied the easy solutions championed by Republicans, like ending enhanced pandemic-era unemployment insurance.

The Biden Administration this week announced it would move several California ports to a 24-7 schedule that will hopefully speed up supply chain delays, though it remains to be seen whether the effort will have an impact.

"There will be things that people can't get," a senior White House official told Reuters this week when asked about holiday shipping. "At the same time, a lot of these goods are hopefully substitutable by other things."

"I don't think there's any real reason to be panicked, but we all feel the frustration and there's a certain need for patience to help get through a relatively short period of time."