U.S. punishes Israeli extremists accused of blocking, ransacking humanitarian aid for Gaza

U.S. punishes Israeli extremists accused of blocking, ransacking humanitarian aid for Gaza 1

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The Biden administration took the unusual step Friday of blacklisting a group of Israelis implicated in the looting and destruction of lifesaving humanitarian aid destined for Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip after eight months of brutal war.

It is only the second time in recent years the U.S. has punished Israeli groups for their violent and sometimes deadly actions against Palestinians.

Last year, the State Department announced it was barring U.S. entry to dozens of Jewish settlers who attacked Palestinian villagers in the West Bank, destroyed their properties and attempted to seize their land.

Several hundred Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed in recent months in these attacks and in Israeli military operations.

The latest U.S. measure targets a group known as Tzav 9, Hebrew for “Order 9,” a reference to call-up orders for Israeli reservists. U.S. officials say the group has ties to extremist Jewish settlers in West Bank settlements.

“For months, individuals from Tzav 9 have repeatedly sought to thwart the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, including by blockading roads, sometimes violently, along their route from Jordan to Gaza, including in the West Bank,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement. “They also have damaged aid trucks and dumped life-saving humanitarian aid onto the road.”

They have also burned aid trucks, he said. “We will not tolerate acts of sabotage and violence targeting this essential humanitarian assistance,” Miller said.

With negotiations for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war still unsuccessful, the inability of international organizations to get food, water and medicine into Gaza has deepened the suffering there, with more than a million Palestinians facing starvation. Aid agencies report that children are dying from malnutrition, and hundreds of people are dying from a lack of medical care. Most hospitals have been rendered inoperable by Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza.

Last month Israel closed the Rafah crossing on Gaza’s border with Egypt, a principal entry point for aid. The U.S. military built a pier into Gaza’s coast, but it has been plagued by high seas and other problems that have limited its use for delivering aid.

Tzav 9 claims it is stopping “gifts” from reaching Hamas, the militant group in Gaza whose attack on kibbutzim and a musical festival in southern Israel on Oct. 7 left nearly 1,200 Israelis and others dead and triggered the current war.

At times Israeli extremists have filmed themselves in the act of blocking trucks, destroying cargo and dumping aid in the road.

More than 37,000 Palestinians — including vast numbers of civilians — have been killed by Israel’s air and land attacks in Gaza.

It is not clear what impact the new sanctions will have on the group. The U.S. measures bar members of the sanctioned group from financial transactions with American persons or entities, and may impede their travel to the U.S. Any assets they have in the U.S. are to be frozen.

The State Department also called out the Israeli government, noting it was Israel’s “responsibility to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian convoys transiting Israel and the West Bank.”

Friday’s action comes in part in response to an urgent plea from Jordan, which has been supplying most of the targeted aid trucks.

Jordan has been able to dispatch up to 40 trucks a day to Gaza — a tiny fraction of what aid workers say is the bare necessity.

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Supreme Court strikes down ban on rapid-fire bump stocks like those used in Las Vegas mass shooting

Supreme Court strikes down ban on rapid-fire bump stocks like those used in Las Vegas mass shooting 2

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The Supreme Court on Friday struck down a federal ban on “bump stocks” like those used in the nation’s deadliest mass shooting, when 60 people were killed and 500 wounded at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas in 2017.

In a 6-3 decision, the justices rejected the views of the Biden and Trump administrations and ruled that bump stocks could not be prohibited as illegal machine guns because the trigger action operates in a different way.

The court’s six conservatives were in the majority and the three liberals dissented.

While the ruling wipes out the federal regulation, bump stocks remain illegal under California law.

Justice Clarence Thomas, speaking for the court, said bump stocks do not meet the definition of a machine gun.

“A semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bump stock does not fire more than one shot by a single function of the trigger,” he wrote in Garland vs. Cargill. “All that a bump stock does is accelerate the rate of fire by causing these distinct [functions] of the trigger to occur in rapid succession.”

In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said a bump stock works like a machine gun.

“When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck,” she wrote. “A bump-stock-equipped semiautomatic rifle fires automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. Because I, like Congress, call that a machine gun.” Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson agreed.

Gun safety advocates said Congress needs to take up the issue.

“Guns outfitted with bump stocks fire like machine guns, they kill like machine guns, and they should be banned like machine guns — but the Supreme Court just decided to put these deadly devices back on the market,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We urge Congress to right this wrong and pass bipartisan legislation banning bump stocks, which are accessories of war that have no place in our communities.”

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. agreed it was time for Congress to act.

“The horrible shooting spree in Las Vegas in 2017 did not change the statutory text or its meaning,” he wrote in a concurring opinion. “That event demonstrated that a semiautomatic rifle with a bump stock can have the same lethal effect as a machine gun, and it thus strengthened the case for amending. Now that the situation is clear, Congress can act.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) denounced the decision and said “Senate Democrats are ready to pass legislation to ban bump stocks, but we will need votes from Senate Republicans.”

While California will continue to enforce its state law, California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said a federal ban on bump stocks would make the state’s ban more effective.

“Federal laws that apply on a nationwide basis serve as an important complement to state firearms laws that protect our residents and communities from gun violence,” he said.

The case decided Friday did not involve the 2nd Amendment. Instead, it turned on how machine guns were described when Congress prohibited their sale. They were defined as weapons that fired automatically with a single pull of the trigger.

The Las Vegas shooter had an arsenal of assault-style rifles in his hotel room overlooking the concert site. Authorities later said 14 weapons were fitted with bump stocks that had permitted the gunman to fire more than 1,000 rounds in 11 minutes.

In response to the shooting, then-President Trump ordered the federal regulators to reclassify bump stocks as illegal machine guns because they permit a shooter to fire hundreds of rounds per minute. The Biden administration attorneys defended that rule.

Congress first restricted machine guns in 1934 in response to the gangland murders during Prohibition, including the Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago. Since then, Congress has revised and updated the ban several times.

More than 500,000 bump stocks were said to be in private hands when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms issued its ban in 2018. Owners were told they needed to turn in those weapons.

Michael Cargill, a Texas gun store owner, turned in his two bump stocks and then sued to challenge the law. He won before the conservative 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans that said the wording of the law was ambiguous.

U.S. Solicitor Gen. Elizabeth Prelogar appealed and urged the justices to restore the ban.

Still pending before the Supreme Court this term is a major gun rights case. At issue in that case is a federal law that authorizes judges to deny guns to persons who were accused of domestic violence. The 5th Circuit Court ruled this provision violated the 2nd Amendment, and the justices are due to hand down a ruling on the Biden administration’s appeal in U.S. vs. Rahimi.

The justices are also weighing several appeals from Illinois contending the state’s ban on assault weapons violates the 2nd Amendment.

If the court votes to hear the appeals, it will cast doubt on California’s long-standing ban on rapid-fire weapons.

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Does This Pathetic Fool Really Think He’s Harlan Crow’s Friend?

Does This Pathetic Fool Really Think He's Harlan Crow's Friend? 3

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So Clarence Thomas took several more trips on the private plane of GOP megadonor Harlan Crow than were previously known, Sen. Dick Durbin revealed yesterday. Between the private yachts and the luxury jet trips, when the hell did he have the time to tour trailer parks on his luxury megabus? Via CNN:

According to information obtained by Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, Thomas traveled on Crow’s private jet during trips in 2017, 2019 and 2021 between various US states, as well as on a previously known 2019 trip to Indonesia, during which Thomas also stayed on Crow’s mega-yacht.

The newly revealed private plane trips add to the picture of luxury travel enjoyed by Thomas and bankrolled by friends of the justice who have ties to conservative politics. Thomas has come under fire for his failure to include such trips on financial disclosure forms the justices release each year, though he and his defenders argue that he followed the court’s disclosure rules as they were understood at the time.

The revelation was likely to add to the tension between the high court, where conservatives hold a 6-3 majority, and Democrats on Capitol Hill, who have been pushing for more than a year for tighter ethics rules. A series of ethics scandals involving Thomas and, more recently, Justice Samuel Alito, have left public approval of the court at historic lows.

Clarence didn’t seem to have many friends until he started whining to Republican donors about how underpaid he was, and that maybe he should just quit the court. That’s when the luxury lifestyle really took off! Wonder how many invitations he’d get if somehow he had to resign.

I just keep thinking about the look on Billy Ray Valentine’s face when he heard exactly what the Duke brothers thought of him in Trading Places.

Opinion: Are the campus protesters angry enough with Biden to vote for Trump?

Opinion: Are the campus protesters angry enough with Biden to vote for Trump? 4

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The first time Americans younger than 21 years old could vote in a presidential election was when George McGovern challenged President Nixon in 1972, and conventional wisdom gave McGovern the edge with this new segment of the electorate. After all, McGovern was a Democrat who opposed the Vietnam War when college campuses were seething with protest, the military draft was still in effect and youthful rebellion was having a moment.

And yet on election day, Nixon drew surprising support from nearly half of first-time voters on his way to a landslide victory. Antiwar sentiment might have been widespread, but it wasn’t electorally consequential.

Today, as campus activism continues against U.S. support for Israel in its fight with Hamas in Gaza, young voters — who usually support Democrats — are threatening to withhold their votes from President Biden in protest. History may repeat itself. Their activism may amount to little when votes are counted in November. But if the conflict drives key votes, it could not only put Biden’s reelection at risk but also herald a turning point. This generation and this issue may greatly widen the perception of what matters most for emerging voters.

“Unlike some other foreign policy issues, young people may be viewing this conflict through a different lens that is informed by their generational experiences and, especially, their concerns about racial justice,” Alberto Medina wrote in a report for CIRCLE, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

Although foreign affairs rarely sway voters in this country, young people may not be considering domestic and foreign issues in distinct silos but rather viewing them as deeply interconnected.

Polls already indicate a significant generation gap in how Americans view the Israeli-Hamas conflict; a Pew Research Center survey published in March shows 18- to 29-year-olds were far more critical of Israel and its government, and far more sympathetic to Hamas, than were their elders. Here’s just one data point, of many: Only 38% of the younger cohort said that Israel’s reason to fight Hamas was valid. Among those 65 and older, it was 78%.

That same survey showed that more than a third of the voters under 30 believed that Biden is favoring the Israelis too much in this conflict, far more than any other age group and a number that polls show is rising over time.

Those who argue, or perhaps wish, that this antipathy will not meaningfully affect electoral behavior in November can point to plenty of evidence beyond the historical anomaly it would represent. Polls show that fewer young people are closely following the conflict and as a result are less knowledgeable about it than their elders. And while the campus protesters, especially at elite universities, have dominated media coverage, they still represent a fraction of potential voters under 30. That was true in the Vietnam era as well — one 1969 study found that only 22% of college freshmen participated in a protest against the U.S. government in the previous year.

“There’s a very slim percentage of young people who identify as activist in a deep and sustained fashion,” Jerusha Conner, a professor of education at Villanova University who studies student engagement, told me.

Nonetheless, fueled by the ubiquity of social media, the focus on identity politics and the consequences of globalization, many younger people clearly view the Israel-Hamas war not as a distant problem but rather an outrage felt personally.

This wider perspective may in part reflect the way they have come to understand other issues as clearly both local and global. There’s a solid argument that policies dealing with climate change, for example, cannot be seen simply as domestic issues for those who are inheriting a hotter, more dangerous, less hospitable world. In an April poll, Pew found that 59% of voters under 30 in the U.S. ranked climate change as their top international priority — placing it far above more conventional foreign issues such as relations with China, Russia, NATO or North Korea.

The framing of the Israel-Hamas conflict in moral terms related to identity also brings it close to home. Many American Jews have long viewed the welfare of Israel as central to their identity; in growing numbers, other Americans, especially young Americans of color, connect what they consider oppressive Palestinian suffering with the racial injustice they observe and experience in this country.

Noting these trends, Conner is still not sure how or even whether this wider framing will directly affect voting behavior in November, even among voters active in campus protests. In 2020, she points out, “many activists were not enthused about Biden, but they held their nose and voted for him as a strategic choice. We could see some of the same this time. They are sorely disappointed by him but are savvy enough to understand the stakes.”

Even so, she sees an underlying challenge to the conventional wisdom about the way foreign ramifications of issues and foreign affairs could affect a U.S. election. In their broadest iteration, climate, immigration, reproductive rights, human rights — and the war in Gaza — represent “existential threats to this generation,” she said. “They see the connections. It’s all of a piece.”

Jane Eisner is the former editor in chief of the Forward, the former director of academic affairs at Columbia Journalism School and the author of “Taking Back the Vote: Getting American Youth Involved in Our Democracy.

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Californians less likely to vote cite a common reason: They don’t like the presidential candidates

Californians less likely to vote cite a common reason: They don't like the presidential candidates 5

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Most Californians say they’re likely to vote in the November election, but among those who aren’t sure, there’s a common reason: They don’t like the presidential candidates.

That finding comes from a poll released Friday by the UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies, which asked 5,095 registered voters across California to reflect on their likelihood of voting in the Nov. 5 general election that will feature a rematch between President Biden and former President Trump.

The poll, conducted for the nonprofit Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, found that about 78% of California’s registered voters say they’re highly likely to vote. The poll also found that the intent to vote varies widely by age, race and political affiliation — as do the reasons why people say they aren’t likely to cast a ballot.

Californians who see themselves as highly likely to vote said participating in the presidential election is the leading reason. But among those who say they’re less likely to vote, 40% cited not liking the candidates for president as a reason. That rose to 55% among voters who have voted regularly in the past but aren’t sure whether they’ll vote this year.

Trump, a Republican, is now running as the first former president convicted of crimes after a jury last month found him guilty of falsifying records in a scheme to conceal payments to a porn actor who alleged they’d had an affair. Biden, a Democrat, is facing criticism from some in his own party over his support for Israel in its war against Hamas, as well as his moves to restrict asylum at the Mexico border. And both are facing questions about their age: Trump is 77 and Biden is 81.

“The presidential election seems to be cutting both ways,” said Mark DiCamillo, the director of the Berkeley IGS poll. “It’s a motivating factor for those who are already on board and likely to vote, but it seems to be inhibiting others.”

Democrats and liberals were more likely than Republicans and conservatives to say that their dislike of the presidential candidates is one reason they may not vote, the poll found.

More than 1 in 3 voters in the state said they weren’t likely to vote because “special interests and big money are controlling things,” and almost 3 in 10 voters said they weren’t well informed about the issues and the candidates.

“It’s clear that when it come to our politics, belief is low and cynicism is high,” Jonathan Mehta Stein, the executive director of California Common Cause, said in a statement.

California’s ballot on Nov. 5 will be a lengthy one, including the presidential election, a growing list of statewide ballot initiatives and several competitive legislative races that could determine which party controls Congress. Some races in purple areas are expected to be won on razor-thin margins.

Overall, the poll found that the groups that appear to be most inclined to vote are over the age of 65, white voters, Republicans, homeowners and those with post-graduate degrees.

The groups in which the fewest people said they were likely to vote include voters who are young, Black or Asian American, have no post-high school education, or are naturalized citizens.

“It’s pretty much what we’ve seen in past elections — that older voters, white voters, the better educated voters are the most likely to turn out,” DiCamillo said.

The likelihood of voter participation varied widely by race, the poll found. Among white respondents, 90% said they were highly likely to vote. The share was 66% among Black voters, 70% among Latino voters and 62% among Asian American voters.

The foundation provided special funding to focus on Asian Americans, California’s fastest-growing demographic group, DiCamillo said.

The poll used voter-roll information to find voters who requested voting materials in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese, then asked the poll questions in those languages. (The poll always asks questions in both English and Spanish.)

The results give “a better read of those voting constituencies than we’ve ever had in the past,” DiCamillo said, and suggest that there are wide disparities in voting propensity among Asian Americans.

Nearly 2 in 3 Vietnamese Americans described themselves as highly likely to vote. That rate rose to 71% among other Asian American and Pacific Islander groups, including Filipino and Japanese Americans.

By comparison, slightly less than half of Korean Americans and 54% of Chinese Americans said they were likely to vote.

The poll also asked California’s registered voters what could make them more engaged in the general election.

White and Asian American voters were most likely to say that their chances of voting would rise if they felt that “ballot measures or candidates would advance my interests.”

Latinos were most likely to say that their chances of voting would increase if “election results were more trustworthy.” And Black voters most frequently said that they would be more likely to vote if they “had access to an unbiased and trusted source of news about the election.”

Christian Arana, a vice president of the Latino Community Foundation, said in a statement that investment in voter education is crucial to ensure that voters “understand the significance of their vote and the influence they hold.”

Voters under the age of 30 were four times more likely than voters over 65 to say that “getting more information about how and when to vote” could improve their changes of participation.

They were also far more likely to say that their voting behavior could change if voting were more convenient, or if they had assistance from “a person or group that I trust to help me better understand the issues and the candidates.”

DiCamillo cautioned that 78% of respondents rating themselves as highly likely to vote does not mean a prediction of 78% turnout. Most voters have good intentions about voting, he said, “but they probably overestimate it.”

During the 2020 presidential election, more than 80% of registered voters cast a ballot in California, the highest percentage since 1976.

The poll was conducted May 29 to June 4 in five languages. The margin of error for the overall sample of registered voters was estimated to be plus or minus 2 percentage points, and could be higher for subgroups.

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‘Not a happy election’: Why this star-studded Hollywood fundraiser is so crucial for Biden

'Not a happy election': Why this star-studded Hollywood fundraiser is so crucial for Biden 6

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In what is likely one of President Biden’s last major Hollywood fundraisers before the November election, the Democrat will sweep into town Saturday for a multimillion-dollar, star-studded event in downtown Los Angeles.

The state, the city and the entertainment industry have long been the financial backbone for Democratic candidates across the nation. But Saturday’s gathering, which will include appearances by former President Obama and actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts, is taking place at a fraught time for the incumbent.

The war between Israel and Hamas is front of mind in a city that is home to the nation’s second-largest Jewish community, though it is not monolithic about Israel’s ongoing response to Hamas. The conflict was spurred by the terrorist group’s brutal attack on Israel on Oct. 7, leading to the death of tens of thousands of Palestinians.

And while statistics about unemployment, inflation and job creation show that the nation’s economy is steadily improving, voters are still feeling pain at the grocery store and the gas pump.

So a glittery event where the top-ticket package costs $500,000 creates a double-edged sword for Biden, said Jessica Levinson, an election law professor at Loyola Law School.

“The concern is that he looks out of touch with where Americans are with respect to how much you could ever pay to attend a high-dollar dinner when a lot of people are suffering to put food on table, and during an international crisis where he’s arguably out of step with many Democrats,” she said. “On the flip side, this is what politicians do. We’ve created a system where you need to raise big-dollar amounts to be competitive, and he would be a lunatic to unilaterally disarm. Even though he has the name recognition and has absolutely been introduced to the American public, it would be political suicide to give up big-dollar fundraising.”

Despite California’s sapphire tilt, the state’s donors are the mother lode of campaign cash for both parties.

The presumptive nominees of the two major parties have raised more in California than any other state in the nation this election cycle, with Biden bringing in $24 million through April 30, and former President Trump $11.7 million, according to the Federal Election Commission. These numbers do not include Trump’s fundraising swing through the state last weekend, nor do they include what Biden is expected to raise Saturday at the Peacock Theater.

In 2020, donors associated with television, movies or music across the nation contributed $40.1 million to efforts supporting Biden and $24.3 million to groups working to reelect Trump, according to a campaign fundraising analysis by Open Secrets, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that tracks electoral finances.

The entertainment industry’s Democratic leanings are well known. However, this election is different from the halcyon days when industry leaders feted Bill Clinton in 1992 or Barack Obama in 2008.

“Clinton and Obama were both about generational change,” said Donna Bojarsky, a longtime Democratic political consultant, Hollywood fundraiser and co-founder of a nonprofit dedicated to building civic engagement in L.A. “This is not a happy election. This is an election of great importance, great struggle and great polarization.”

Biden doesn’t have the same deep relationships with the industry’s leaders that either of the prior Democratic presidents did.

National and swing state polls show an incredibly tight race between Biden and Trump, including in the aftermath of the Republican being convicted of 34 counts of falsifying business records about $130,000 in payments made to adult film actor Stormy Daniels about an alleged sexual relationship, and the Democrat’s son being convicted of three felony gun charges.

“These are not the most optimistic of times,” Bojarsky said. “Social norms, economic norms, civic norms, everything is turned on its head.”

However, she added that donors have come around, notably media mogul and Democratic kingmaker Jeffrey Katzenberg, who orchestrated Saturday’s fundraiser.

“This Saturday, we are going to see an unprecedented and record-setting turnout from the media and entertainment world,” Katzenberg said. “The enthusiasm and commitment for Biden-Harris couldn’t be stronger. We all understand this is the most important election of our lifetime.”

Biden was stymied from holding high-dollar Hollywood fundraisers for much of 2023 because of industry strikes. Once contracts were resolved, the president headlined major fundraisers here, including one in December where top tickets approached $1 million.

Hosted by directors Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner, producer Shonda Rhimes and other bold-faced names, the event took place at the Holmby Hills home of James Costos, the U.S. ambassador to Spain under Obama, and designer Michael Smith, the White House interior decorator during the Obama administration, and featured a performance by musician Lenny Kravitz.

In February, media mogul Haim Saban hosted Biden for a fundraiser at his Beverly Park estate. Tickets cost up to $250,000, and attendees included actor Jane Fonda.

A few months later, Saban, a Democratic mega-donor, criticized the Biden administration for putting a shipment of weapons to Israel on hold because they could be used in an offensive against a densely populated city in southern Gaza.

This divide, which is splitting key voting blocs of the Democratic coalition, could be on display Saturday. Protesters have interrupted the president and Vice President Kamala Harris inside events, and they have massed outside of fundraisers and the White House. At least one rally is planned outside Saturday’s fundraiser.

Protests over the conflict have roiled college campuses across the nation, including a pro-Palestinian demonstration at UCLA this week that resulted in about two dozen arrests after an initially peaceful gathering turned tumultuous.

This dynamic is likely to be on display at Biden’s fundraiser because of the expected absence of Clooney’s wife, Amal Clooney, an international human rights lawyer. She worked on the International Criminal Court case that led to the court’s prosecutors seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and others.

George Clooney called a top Biden advisor to object to the president’s characterization of the application for arrest warrants for the Israeli leaders as “outrageous,” according to the Washington Post.

Biden, who is attending the G-7 summit in Italy, is expected to arrive in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Later that day, thousands of the president’s supporters will converge upon the Peacock Theater. The least expensive tickets cost $250 for a seat farthest from the stage. The priciest option, at $500,000, includes four seats in the first three rows in front of the stage, a reception and photos with Biden and Obama, and an after-party, according to an invitation.

Republicans seized upon the gathering as proof that Democrats don’t understand the travails of many Americans.

“President Trump will campaigning and meeting everyday Americans in Detroit, Mich., an area decimated by Joe Biden’s failed policies,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said. “Meanwhile … Biden will be at a glitzy fundraiser in Hollywood with his elitist, out-of-touch celebrity benefactors that own him.”

The former president visited California earlier this month in his first fundraising swing after his convictions, three high-dollar affairs that cost as much $500,000 per couple. Actor Jon Voight was among the attendees at one held at a bayfront manse on gated Harbor Island in Newport Beach.

Said Jessica Millan Patterson, the California Republican Party chairwoman: “Nothing says to struggling Americans, ‘I understand what you’re going through and am ready to help,’ like spending a night schmoozing with the ultra-relatable George Clooney, Julia Roberts and other Hollywood celebrities. What you likely will see at President Biden’s glitzy L.A. bash: anti-Israel protests dividing their party, excuses for why issues like inflation and illegal immigration aren’t as bad as Californians know they are, and a bevy of out-of-touch Hollywood elites who are fearful that their standard bearer isn’t up to the job.”

Democrats argue that such characterizations reflect Republicans’ jealousy over their party’s dominance among such donors, and they note that these contributors are working against their own economic interests because of their concerns for the nation’s future.

“These people are not fighting for tax breaks for themselves. They’re fighting for you to have clean water, for you to have clean air, for you to have access to abortion and civil rights,” said Mathew Littman, a former Biden speechwriter who helped create a private group of Hollywood actors, directors and producers who work largely behind the scenes to help the Democratic Party.

Among those who have taken part in informational Zooms, fundraisers, get-out-the-vote efforts and other actions aimed at helping Democrats since the group was formed in 2017 are actors Alyssa Milano, Helen Hunt and Barbara Hershey; Lawrence Bender, whose resume includes producing multiple Quentin Tarantino films; David Mandel, whose credits include being an executive producer of “Veep,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Seinfeld”; and Kevin Kwan, the author of “Crazy Rich Asians.”

Kwan was a surrogate to Asian Americans during the 2020 Biden campaign.

“I wrote a lot of angry speeches,” he told the New Yorker in an article published in 2021.

“To get on a Zoom and see two hundred AAPI volunteers, I was, like, ‘Oh, my God,’” he said, according to the magazine. “Maybe I’m stereotyping, but it takes a lot to get the Asian volunteer out.”

Littman acknowledged that qualms about how motivated voters are to turn out in November are a key concern for some of the group’s members.

“There should be anxiety,” Littman said. “It’s 50-50.”

But he added that Hollywood could be impactful, such as on social media, which now has a greater influence than most traditional media. He added that even those who are disenchanted by Biden or the Democratic Party recognize what’s at stake.

“Maybe you love Joe Biden. Maybe you don’t,” he said. “But you may love being able to get an abortion. You might love being able to protest without being deported. You might not want inflation going up 10% if Trump is elected. If you don’t want to talk about Joe Biden, don’t talk about Joe Biden. Talk about the issues at stake.”

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Killer Kyle Rittenhouse Is New Poster Child For Gun Nuts

Killer Kyle Rittenhouse Is New Poster Child For Gun Nuts 7

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Killer Kyle Rittenhouse was recently appointed as the Outreach Director for a group called Texas Gun Rights:

Per the press release, apparently Killer Kyle’s qualifications are that he is, well, a killer. They actually touted Kyle’s shooting and killing two people and injuring a third person as giving him a “unique perspective.” Well, you know that they couldn’t set the bar too high if he was deemed too stupid to join the Marines.

I wonder if his motto will be “Reach out and shoot someone.”

It is rather ironic that this announcement was made as Hunter Biden was convicted on felony charges for illegal possession of a firearm and lying on the background check form.

It does give one pause to wonder if there is indeed a two-tiered justice system in this country.

On one hand, a guy who lied on a form and illegally possessed a gun is now a convicted felon. But another guy, who had an illegally purchased gun, killed two people, injured a third and was let go without even a slap on the wrist and is now on the conservative wingnut welfare system.

Where’s the justice in that?

Creepy Adulterer Jesse Watters Shares His Dating Tips

Creepy Adulterer Jesse Watters Shares His Dating Tips 8

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Fox’s Jesse Watters is the last person anyone should be asking for dating tips, but the hosts on this Tuesday’s The Five decided to go there anyway.

Here’s the discussion about dating apps at the close of the show where apparently none of Watters’ cohosts thought there was anything creepy about asking a guy who dumped his wife and kids for a 25-year-old coworker for his thoughts on the topic:

FOWLER: Greg, what happened just going to a bar and meeting someone?

GUTFELD: It’s interesting. There aren’t that many bars anymore, and dating apps have removed the risk from social interaction, so you don’t build the muscles of charm and charisma that you used to have when you were meeting people.

When you’re on apps, it’s all about the superficial, height, salary, age. So, you know, I’m not six foot tall, but as a 9.7, I got that extra 0.3 by working on my charm and charisma.

But to your point about the kombucha, if you’re going to do things on a date, you got to make sure that you choose something you’re good at, that you can show off at.

FOWLER: So like freehand glassblowing, Jesse?

WATTERS: You got me, Richard. The first time you got me. I have a serious question because I’m not a dating app guy. Is that when you just pick a girl and she comes right over?

FOWLER: No. No, that’s when you have to swipe.

WATTERS: I have another question. Is, are you allowed to put your salary on your dating app profile?

PIRRO: Why would you want to do that? (laughter) Say no more, Jesse. Say no more.

WATTERS: No, but Greg is right.

I agree with everything Greg says about the muscle memory. You got to stay limber out there when you’re dating because then you just, you can get flaccid with your reflexes and all of a sudden some guy steals your girl and you’re in the bathroom.

Makes you wonder if Watters is worried about still “staying limber” now that he’s moved onto wife #2.

H/t Decoding Fox News:

Trump Too Chicken To Take Questions At His ‘Press Conference’

Trump Too Chicken To Take Questions At His ‘Press Conference’ 9

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GOP senators were a vision of spinelessness as they slobbered over the convicted felon who nearly got them killed on Jan. 6, 2021. The felon, however, looked and sounded quite diminished.

He spoke to a gathering of reporters in what seemed to be a planned press conference. But after five minutes, the guy who seems like he can never get enough attention called it quits and refused to take questions.

Trump pretends to be so brave he’s willing to face down a guillotine. In reality, he is too frightened to deal with questions about his 34 recent felony convictions, the 54 felony charges he still faces, the $464 million New York fraud judgment against him, the $83.3 million defamation verdict arising out of sexual abuse of E. Jean Carroll, his incitement of the Jan. 6 insurrection, his lies about the 2016 election or any of his other countless lies. Or maybe he just can’t deal with talking to anyone not a shameless toady.

Or maybe the 78-year-old Trump is just not up to it, period.

Meanwhile, the Biden campaign noticed his frailty. They’re letting everyone else see it, too.

MAGA GOP Lawmaker Gets Fact-Checked To Death

MAGA GOP Lawmaker Gets Fact-Checked To Death 10

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Representative Tom Tiffany (MAGA-WI) sat down with CNN’s Boris Sanchez for an interview when he tried to spew the Republican conspiracy theory that President Biden was involved in influence peddling with Ukraine. He was not prepared for Sanchez who had done his homework and had the receipts. Tiffany didn’t know what hit him:

SANCHEZ: And there’s no evidence in any of the documents put out by the Oversight Committee that a single dollar went to President Biden when he was in office, therefore there’s no evidence that he did anything illegal, that he abused his power, or that he abused his power in office to help his family members or friends get wealthy.

TIFFANY: Joe Biden has a check in, in the amount of $40,000 that has his name on it, you got another $200,000 check that came from Jim and Sarah Biden to him. I mean, there’s over $20 million.

SANCHEZ: I actually have that check here. That was a check from 2018 when he was not Vice President and it actually says that this was a reimbursal, This was a loan repayment from his brother.

TIFFANY: So, you can make the case that the Bidens did not do this while Joe Biden was Vice President, but I think it’s contrary to the record. And it’s contrary to what happened when Joe Biden was Vice President, and he went and called off the prosecutor in Ukraine in regards to the Burisma investigation.

SANCHEZ: That has been debunked, that prosecutor was unanimously disliked by both Republicans and Democrats and even EU officials said that he was corrupt, and they wanted him out. Nevertheless, Congressman, we do have to leave the conversation there, we do appreciate you coming on, we hope you’ll come again soon.

Even better than Sanchez calling Tiffany out on each lie was the deer in the headlights look on Tiffany’s face. You can just see Tiffany’s brain shutting down as he realized he was not ready for prime time.

I’ll admit that I was amazed for a minute that Tiffany would trot out that conspiracy theory, given how it’s so easily debunked. But then I realized that the truth doesn’t matter to the Republicans, as long as they can con enough of their base to go along with their lies. And that is a very low bar for them to hurdle.