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GOP representatives have worn AR-15 pins in Congress
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A Sickness In Our Souls, But Get Your "Bulletproof" T-Shirt Now

Whew. In this quicksilver, "terrible moment," be careful what you wish for. Amidst our pious assertions political violence is always wrong, the tinpot candidate of ever-erratic political violence who's celebrated, advocated, excused and craved violence just got it in unexpected ways. Relishing his martyr's moment - and clad in a little "ear diaper" - he shows no sign of slowing his fascist march to power, proclaiming to supporters, fist in air, “I am Donald J. Trump. FEAR NOT!" Actually, we think we'll fear.

After Saturday's shooting, Biden echoed other Dems, did the sober, responsible thing and declared, "There is no place in America for this kind of violence or for any violence ever. Period. No exceptions." The founders, he went on, "created a democracy that gave reason and balance a chance to prevail over brute force. That’s the America we must be...Violence in America like this is just unheard of." Sadly, not so, writes David Frum, who notes that "assassinations, lynchings, riots, and pogroms have stained every page of American political history." Now, "Violence stalks the president who has rejoiced in violence to others," entirely, historically apt when "fascism feasts on violence." "Trump and his supporters envision a new place for violence as their defining political message," says Frum. "Fascist movements are secular religions (that) offer martyrs as their proof of truth...The Trump movement now improves on that: The leader himself will be the martyr in chief, his own blood the basis for his bid for power and vengeance."

Thus did Trump, with his showman's flair after having possibly, barely been grazed by a random bullet or more ingloriously nicked by flying glass from his teleprompter, respond not with checking on others or seeking to calm them, but with a histrionic fist in the air and clarion call, three times, to "Fight!" - the same word he used on January 6. Similarly, predictably, did inveterate grifters rush to hawk rock-band-like assassination merch - mugs, stickers, sweatshirts, trading cards. Within hours came Amazon's No. 1 best-seller "novelty t-shirts," emblazoned with that instantly iconic image - the flag, the blood, the fist - blaring "Bulletproof," "For God and Country," "Legends Never Die," "You Missed," "Impeached, Arrested, Convicted, Shot, Still Standing." Just as quickly, Trump's campaign set up a shiny new fundraising site featuring the same flashy image shrieking, "I am Donald J. Trump. FEAR NOT!" Also, "I will always love you for supporting me. Unity. Peace. Make America Great Again.”

Alas, the plea for "unity" and "peace" was as self-serving as it was short-lived by a party who've embraced anger and violence in their messaging and a leader who blithely, viciously uses threats of and incitement to that violence to quell opposition. The bland calls to lower the rhetorical temperature were met with a sick rush of threats, taunts, and crackpot charges, though the shooter was a Republican fan of Demolition Ranch videos about guns and explosives and his parents were flagged in 2016 by the Trump team as "strong Republicans" likely worried about gun rights. The "rhetoric of the radical left," Republicans raved, "led directly" to the shooting. Georgia Rep. Mike Collins: "Joe Biden sent the orders." Some blamed fake news - Fox chyron: "MEDIA LAYED (sic) GROUNDWORK FOR VIOLENCE AGAINST TRUMP" - or a complicit Secret Service led by a "DEI hire," aka woman. Whatever: Wingnuts on social media declared it their "last damn straw." "Let’s give it to them," one snarled. “CIVIL.FUCKING.WAR."

In truth, Aaron Rupar notes, "Multiple things are true about Trump's shooting. Political violence is wrong, and nobody has done more to worsen the climate of political violence in this country." He's spewed ceaseless violent rhetoric, threatening countless "others," aka anyone not a MAGA freak. He urged rally attendees to beat up protesters, Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by,” "2nd Amendment people" to attack Hillary Clinton, police to "don't be too nice" to suspects, fans to "go after" New York A.G. Tish James, the military to "just shoot" BLM protesters and migrants, Gen. Mark Milley be executed for a phone call he didn't like. He belittled an attack on Paul Pelosi and a plot to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer. He vowed "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," "there has to be retribution," "you'll never take back our country with weakness," "big, big trouble" if he's indicted, and "a bloodbath" if he loses the election. He watched Jan. 6 with glee, champions its insurrectionists as "hostages" and promises to pardon them.

Cult members, often armed, have followed ugly suit. A Kansas fundraiser offered a Biden effigy to punch, Don Jr. touted an image of Biden bound and gagged, Kari Lake warned millions of NRA members "are going to put on the armor of God, and maybe strap on a Glock," Tom Cotton urged MAGA-ites to "take matters into your own hands" to get "pro-Hamas mobs (out) of the way," Matt Gaetz urged "we hunt down" BLM "terrorists," Ted Cruz said his job is to "grab a battle axe (and) fight the barbarians," Mark Robinson said, "Some folks need killing." House Repubs wore AR-15 lapel pins or sent "kinda murdery" Christmas cards of loved ones cradling assault weapons. GOP candidates ran bonkers, vengeful ads featuring Dems in Klan hoods, armed thugs "hunting RINOs," AR-15 "liberty machines" to stay "safe from looting hordes in Atlanta or a tyrannical government in Washington"; Klan Mom MTG, who once urged Nancy Pelosi be executed, hefted a big-ass gun and "blew away the Democrats' Socialist agenda." They all seem nice.

In MAGA's us-and-them world, they're all good with targeting the “them” - migrants, trans kids, Marxists, people with weird names or skin any shade suspiciously darker than their own. Because Trump has always denied his deadly rhetoric contributes in any way to the country's divisions - "It brings people together" - his acolytes can argue straight-faced his innocent victimhood at the lunatic hands of the latest AR-15-fueled, much-aggrieved white guy. "Almost any criticism of Trump is already being spun by MAGA as an incitement to assassinate him," writes Edward Luce of the Financial Times. "This is an Orwellian attempt to silence what remains of the effort to stop him from regaining power." It's also a good way to distract from his wildly unpopular authoritarian plans and the fact - see wildly unpopular - the only way Republicans can gain power is by lying and cheating while celebrating his Nietzschian powers of shamelessness. "They try to jail him. They try to kill him. It will not work," raved Greg Abbott. "He is indomitable.”

He is also, arguesThe New Yorker's David Remnick and other sane people, "the most violent person in contemporary U.S. politics," a "man who seeks power through the humiliation and subordination of disdained others," a wannabe authoritarian who wants to destroy democracy running on an openly authoritarian platform: "This isn't a smear, it's a fact." A clumsy pot-shot from a sick kid does nothing to change that, Remnick notes, "nor does it absolve him of his past misdeeds." Unlike earlier fringe outliers from Joe McCarthy to Islamic Jihadists posing a "radical challenge" to America, Trump has formed "stable coalitions with accepted stakeholders," from colonizing one of two major parties to transforming SCOTUS into a fiery pit of Christo-fascism; he's also defeated or stalled every legal impediment to his rise and brought his thugs and felons into "the summit of the American elite." Now, a grazed ear "secures his undeserved position as a partner in the protective rituals of the democracy he despises."

The shooting has prompted "appropriate expressions of dismay and condemnation from every prominent voice in American life," notes Remnick of "polite hypocrisy" and conventional calls for unity that are socially useful but singularly dangerous by giving Trump an unseemly sheen of legitimacy. "The familiar practice is (to) proclaim Americans have more things in common than (those) that divide them," he writes. "Those soothing words, true in the past, are less true now. Nobody seems to have language to say: We abhor, reject, repudiate, and punish all political violence, even as we maintain that Trump remains himself a promoter of such violence" - and even as he and his right-wing collaborators rush to exploit a gunman's folly "as their path to exonerate past crimes and empower new ones." As a result of rightly denouncing violence, "We are extending an implicit pardon... absolving and inscribing Trump into a place in American life that he should have forfeited beyond redemption on January 6, 2021."

It's easy to see and hear how emboldened Trump et al now feel in their goose-stepping parade to power. After Judge Aileen Cannon dismissed his classified documents case in a ruling "so bereft of legal reasoning as to be utterly absurd" - Lisa Needham: "Special counsels are unconstitutional if they make Trump sad" - he gleefully celebrated the dismissal of a "Lawless Indictment (as) just the first step" and noxiously called for ditching "ALL the Witch Hunts - the January 6th Hoax, Manhattan D.A.’s Zombie Case, New York A.G. Scam, Fake Claims about a woman I never met (and) Georgia “Perfect” Phone Call." Jesus. In what was deemed a "shocking" announcement after coyly pretending he knew nothing of and nobody from the fascist Project 2025, he promised to give an Administration post to career cop, former ICE thug and primary author Tom 'Epic-Flood-of-Illegals' Homan. "I have Tom lined up," he beamed. "We have the greatest people" - the evident descendants of his infamous "best people."

Then he tapped "naked authoritarian," spineless opportunist and "alarm bell in the night" J.D. Vance, an anti-abortion and America First zealot with "all the fascist instincts of Trump but a better brain," to be VP and toss out election results they don't like. Despite having called Trump a "cynical asshole," the "fruit of the party's collective neglect," "loathsome," "cultural heroin," and most famously "America's Hitler," Vance stepped boldly up to charge that Biden likening Trump to Hitler "led directly to Trump’s attempted assassination." An authoritarian piece of work, he's raged against the "childless left," called rape "an inconvenience" and universal day care "class war," praised Alex Jones as "a truth-teller," and opined "the devil is real." Tell us about it. Hear a scorching, hilarious Trae Browder, who once hung out with Vance trashing Trump as an "existential threat to America," on "a Machiavellian sycophant with less integrity than a Boeing 737" only good at "when, where and to what precise angle he should bend over. Fuck J.D."

Fans (again) claim Trump's magically pivoted into a somber, presidential figure - Tucker Carlson: "Getting shot in the face changes a man" - but he seemed the same arrogant asshole as he lumbered into the first day of the GOP convention "like he just survived the Tet offensive." As Lee Greenwood sang "God Bless the USA," he was met with cheers that lit up his lumpy face like an 8-year-old basking in the love he'd always wanted from his Nazi dad but never got. He wore an oversized bandage on his war wound - "the doctor said he never saw anything like it" - widely mocked as an "ear diaper" and a Mr. Pillow mini-pillow he reportedly didn't wear golfing the next day; still, rabid fans donned their own "Maxi-pad of courage" in solidarity. As the warrior hero entered, many in the crowd chanted, “Fight, fight, fight!" with arms straight up, Nazi-style. Soon he was seen asleep. "Should we be traumatized by his shooting?," a viewer asked "for a nation tired of double standards," "or just pretend it was a school shooting and get over it?"

Unsurprisingly for a convention of bigots, yahoos and Putin apologists offering nothing but hate and fear, the lofty "let's lower the temperature and unite" shtick quickly evaporated. Wisconsin's Ron Johnson opened the speeches by blasting a Democratic "radical far-left agenda" that poses "a clear and present danger to America," only to later mumble it was a pre-shooting attack mistakenly loaded into the teleprompter. But he did unapologetically trash "biological males competing against girls," the "sexualization and indoctrination of our children,” and the fact we're "horribly divided and it's all about Critical Race Theory," thought it's unclear how a white Republican man shooting a white Republican man fits that charge. "Democrats wanted this to happen," MTG screeched of the shooting. ”The Democrat (sic) Party is flat out evil (and) they tried to murder President Trump," but God saved him, also "there are only two genders." Tim Scott: "A devil came to Pennsylvania holding a rifle, but a lion got back on his feet and he roared.”

While the event's general refrain was "Fire the Biden/Harris regime," each day had a theme. The first was "Make America Wealthy Again," wherein people raged about "Biden's inflation" and touted Trump's (fictional) "rip-roaring economy," which even before COVID was disastrous: The worst jobs president ever, he oversaw soaring unemployment, cratering GNP and fat-cat tax cuts that caused most of today's inflation. Hate-and-fear-mongering seeped in around the edges. Repulsive Senate candidate Bernie Moreno, born to a rich family in Colombia who immigrated here as a child, said "the American dream I lived is under attack" from Biden's "millions of illegals...They’ll destroy America if we don’t stop them." Improbably, they all just got more loathsome, from vicious and whining Don. Jr to Ted Cruz - "Your family is less safe" - to Kari Lake - "Build the wall!" though it doesn't work - to MTG: "They promised normalcy and gave us Transgender Visibility Day on Easter Sunday!" Cue booing hordes and smirking Marge.

In the end, everyone drank the Kool-Aid and kissed the ring, from Rod DeFascist to Nikki Haley: "We have a country to save." Some reality TV person wailed her parents were serving time for millions in fraud because of "rogue prosecutors" and what about Hunter? Mike Johnson lauded his "law and order team" headed by a 34-count felon, and quickly walked off the stage when a teleprompter broke even though he'd just blasted Biden for needing a teleprompter. Keynote speakers included a puppy killer and a model who preaches Satanism, Dems were "far-left lunatics fueling ludicrous hysteria," trans jokes were told, Rudy Giuliani fell drunk to the floor, a bickering Matt Gaetz and Kevin McCarthy almost came to blows after Gaetz kept interrupting and taunting MCarthy, probably because he insisted Gaetz be investigated for sleeping with a minor, until an exasperated bystander repeatedly urged Gaetz, "Don't be an asshole," a big ask. A good, nasty, toxic, other-hating time was had by all.

On Tuesday, about a mile from a convention patrolled by about 4,000 law enforcement but within its "operational zone," five police officers from Columbus, Ohio shot and killed an unhoused man fighting with another man in an unrelated encounter. One of them may or may not have pulled a knife; when they began scuffling, witnesses said both men were startled to see over 100 cops quickly appear. The man killed, nicknamed Jehovah, was well-known in a nearby tent encampment where about 70 people live; he had a pit bull later seen being loaded into a police van. A volunteer worker said Jehovah had used an on-site showerthe day before, and when he left he said, "I love you guys." "He was a person. He was human," she said. "This is more trauma on top of trauma." The same day, police arrested a Florida man with mental health issues for making multiple threats against Joe Biden to "slit his throat." Both events took place on the convention's second day; its theme was, "Make America Safe Once Again."

On April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, a pained, eloquent Robert Kennedy spoke to the Cleveland City Club about the "mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land (and) our lives." In a "mournful cadence," writes David Remnick, Kennedy urged we remember that "those who live with us are our brothers....Surely we can learn (to) look at those around us as fellow men and begin to work a little harder (to) bind up the wounds among us." Kennedy decried "a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity," the access to weapons to "men of all shades of sanity," the urge to find scapegoats or conspiracies, the mob that's "only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people." "Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer," he argued, "Only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul." Two months later, he was shot and killed at 42.

Update: We feel compelled to share. Idiocy unbound.


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Trump Vance 2024 placard
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Sunrise Warns Trump-Vance Would Cause 'Irreversible Damage' to Climate

The Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate organization, warned on Thursday that former President Donald Trump and Sen. JD Vance, who take their place on the Republican presidential ticket this week at the party's convention in Milwaukee, would cause "catastrophic and irreversible damage" to the climate if elected.

Republicans were not speaking about climate at the convention nor even their plans to "drill, baby, drill," as per the party's platform, Stevie O'Hanlon, Sunrise's communications director, said in a statement issued from Milwaukee. O'Hanlon posited that this is because party leaders know that their approach to the climate is unpopular among Americans.

"The absence is glaring," O'Hanlon said. "Republicans are dodging talking about the climate because they side with oil and gas billionaires, not the vast majority of Americans who support the U.S. taking steps to reduce climate change."

Other environmental groups have this week also issued warnings about the dangers of a Trump-Vance White House. The Sierra Club drew attention to the fact that one of Vance's main donors, the private equity firm the Blackstone Group, owns the "deadliest" coal plant in the country. Emissions from the Gavin coal plant in Ohio lead to 244 premature deaths per year, according to one estimate.

Sarah Burton, Sierra Club's national political director, highlighted Vance's approach to the dirty coal plant in a statement on Tuesday:

Anyone who wants a sneak preview of a Trump-Vance administration needs to look no further than the Gavin coal plant—a deadly disaster kept afloat to benefit Wall Street billionaires even as it makes everyone else sick. Gavin is the deadliest coal plant in America that has killed hundreds of Americans, but JD Vance spent his time in the Senate attacking safeguards that would clean it up while collecting checks directly from the plant's owner. Vance, Trump, and their Wall Street allies have proven over and over again that their priorities are with corporate polluters, not the people.

Media outlets have documented Vance's close ties to the fossil fuel industry—and even outright climate denialism—in the three days since Trump announced his vice presidential pick.

As recently as 2020, Vance acknowledged a "climate problem" caused by human emissions and voiced support for the use of clean energy. But during the Senate race in Ohio in 2022, his climate positions moved dramatically to the right, drawing an endorsement from Trump—and campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry.

As Politicoreported on Tuesday: "Vance changed his tune on climate change. Oil cash flowed."

The Washington Post on Thursday reported that a Republican sweep of the federal elections would "transform" U.S. climate policy by boosting fossil fuel use, rolling back clean air protections, and defunding or dismantling agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

In his first term, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris agreement and The New York Timescalled "climate damage" possibly his "most profound legacy."

A recent analysis by Carbon Brief, a science publication, estimated that a second Trump term would add about 4 billion metric tons of carbon emissions to the atmosphere by 2030.

Little of this has been mentioned in Milwaukee this week. Prime-time Republican speeches haven't so far highlighted climate or energy policy, according to O'Hanlon, who argued that this is because the party's platform is so out of step with public opinion. O'Hanlon cited a CBSpoll from April showing that a large majority of Americans favor taking climate action, with just over half supporting action "right now" and another 17% favoring action in the next few years.

Sunrise has also expressed discontent with the Democratic presidential ticket. Last week, the organization called for President Joe Biden to step aside, arguing it would improve the party's chances of defeating Trump in November.

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Former World Leaders Push G20 to Set Global Wealth Tax on Billionaires
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Former World Leaders Push G20 to Set Global Wealth Tax on Billionaires

Former world leaders on Thursday called on the Group of 20 to follow through on a Brazilian proposal to enact a minimum wealth tax on billionaires.

In an open letter, 19 members of the Club de Madrid, a group of former presidents and prime ministers, urged G20 leaders to act on the proposal, calling it a "rare strategic opportunity" to address "extreme inequality" across the world and the inequities in governance systems that have made it so that billionaires "pay a lower tax rate than teachers and cleaners."

"Billionaires, globally, are paying a tax rate equivalent to less than 0.5% of their wealth," the letter, which Oxfam helped coordinate, states. "Trillions of dollars that could have been productively invested in communities, education, health, and infrastructure have instead been unproductively accumulated by the ultra-wealthy."

Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile and a signatory to the letter, echoed the need for global action in a statement that accompanied the letter. "We need a world in which the wealthiest are taxed in every country, and not allowed to dictate the rules for their own benefit," she said. "Brazil is showing us how."

Brazil, which currently holds the rotating G20 presidency, proposed the minimum wealth tax in February, suggesting the revenues could be used to fund clean energy transitions in the Global South. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's government tasked Gabriel Zucman, a left-wing economist based at the Paris School of Economics and the University of California, Berkeley, with developing the plan, a blueprint of which he released last month.

Zucman, founder of the EU Tax Observatory, calls for a 2% annual tax on billionaire wealth, which he said would raise $200 billion to $250 billion per year from about 3,000 individuals. More tax revenue could be raised if the levy applied to individuals with a net worth above $100 million, he said.

A raft of research on extreme inequality and inequitable tax policy has emerged in recent years, by Zucman and others. An Oxfam report from February found that a yearslong "war on fair taxation" in G20 countries led the wealthiest 1% to have their tax rates slashed by one-third over the last few decades.

Brazil's proposal has gained some momentum in recent months, drawing support from France and the International Monetary Fund. The general public in G20 countries strongly supports a wealth tax, a survey released last month shows.

However, the proposal has faced setbacks. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed opposition in May, drawing criticism from progressive groups; last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) pushed the administration to support the G20 proposal. Germany's finance minister also said his government was skeptical.

Such leaders will have to be convinced if the plan is to move forward. The Club de Madrid letter praises the Biden administration for a proposal it made in March to increase taxes on U.S. corporations and billionaires, but warns that such taxes in individual countries will not be fully effective, as "global capital does not respect national borders." If one country enacts a wealth tax, billionaires can move their money to more advantageous jurisdictions.

"Tax avoidance and evasion by the ultra-rich succeeds when governments fail to work together," the letter says. "We need global cooperation."

A global minimum wealth tax would strengthen national efforts, reducing inequality and helping governments raise money for much-needed social initiatives, the authors argue. It would also lay the groundwork for further international cooperation.

"A global deal to tax the ultra-rich would be a shot in the arm for multilateralism: proving that governments can come together for the common good," the letter says.

The former presidents and prime ministers cite another recent international tax project—to establish a global minimum tax (GMT) on corporations—as a model. More than 100 countries, including the U.S., agreed on the GMT in 2021 and its implementation is ongoing. It's expected to raise $220 billion more in tax revenues annually, which can be used for social services.

The G20 includes 19 major countries, the European Union, and the African Union. Its next major summit will be in Rio de Janeiro in November.

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Ohio state Sen. George Lang
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Ohio GOP Senator Says 'Civil War' Needed If Trump Loses

Just over a week after an assassination attempt against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump resulted in the killing of one bystander and left two people critically injured, a GOP state senator from Ohio was condemned for saying a Democratic victory in November would result in a "civil war."

"I believe wholeheartedly Donald Trump and Butler County's JD Vance are the last chance to save our country, politically," state SEn. George Lang (R-4) said at a rally for Vance, the first-term U.S. senator from Ohio whom Trump selected as his running mate last week. "I'm afraid if we lose this one, it's going to take a civil war to save the country, and it will be saved."

Lang apologized on social media soon after he made his comments at the rally in Middletown, Ohio, saying they were "divisive" and calling for all politicians to "be mindful" of what they say at political events ahead of the election.

But Lang's comments came after numerous polls have shown sizable portions of Americans, particularly Republican voters, sympathizing with the state lawmaker's message.

In May, the Marist National Poll found that 47% of Americans believed a civil war in the U.S. would occur in their lifetime, including 53% of Republican voters.

In April, 28% of Republican voters said in a PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist survey that violence may be needed to "get the country back on track."

Lang's call for "civil war" came as endorsements poured in for Vice President Kamala Harris to run as the Democratic nominee, a day after President Joe Biden announced he was stepping aside in the presidential race following weeks of pressure and concerns about his age and health.

Ammar Moussa, spokesperson for the Harris for President campaign, said Lang's comments were no accident and called on Trump and Vance to denounce the call for violence.

"Donald Trump and JD Vance are running a campaign openly sowing hatred and promising revenge against their political opponents. It's a feature, not a bug, of their campaign and message to the American people," said Moussa. "Trump and Vance pay lip service to unity, but their actions are more focused on dividing Americans than bringing us together. It's the polar opposite of everything Vice President Harris stands for."

The Ohio state Senate Democrats denounced Lang's comments as "irresponsible and undemocratic," and noted that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have condemned political violence.

But despite widespread agreement that violence is not the way to solve divisions in the U.S. over immigration, abortion rights, and other issues, Lang's remarks echoed Trump's repeated warning of a "blood bath for the country" if he loses the election, as well as West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice's statement last week at the Republican National Convention that "we become totally unhinged if Donald Trump is not elected in November."

Earlier this month, Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts said the country is already in the midst of a "second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be."

Trump's electoral loss in 2020 resulted in the then-president urging his supporters to riot at the U.S. Capitol to try to stop Congress from certifying Biden's victory.

Despite Lang's apology on Monday, said Sean Carberry, managing editor of National Defense, his call at the rally was "not some isolated/offhand comment."

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donald trump speaking
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ACLU Warns Trump Win Would Herald 'New Era of Mass Incarceration'

The ACLU on Friday issued a memo warning that a second term for former President Donald Trump would "exacerbate inequalities" in the criminal justice system and laying out plans to push against a potential Republican administration's efforts to do so.

The 14-page memo argues that Trump's agenda would be to expand incarceration, abusive policing practices, and the use of the death penalty, all of which the ACLU, a nonprofit human rights organization, opposes.

"We know from this country's history that these extreme and immoral policies harm communities and infringe upon our rights and humanity," Yasmin Cader, director of the ACLU's Trone Center for Justice and Equality, said in a statement that accompanied the release of the memo. "The ACLU is prepared to meet the Trump administration with the same fierce response as we did during his last term in office should he be reelected."

Most of the U.S. criminal legal system is run at the state or local level. More than 1.6 million people are incarcerated in state and local jails or prisons, compared to just over 200,000 in the federal system.

However, a second Trump administration would set the "tone" and create a "ripple effect across the country," threatening a "new era of mass incarceration," the ACLU said. The memo warns that Trump would do so in the following ways:

  • Escalating punitive, draconian sentencing and incarceration approaches;
  • Incentivizing dramatically worse conditions for the nation's 1.9 million incarcerated people;
  • Reincarcerating nearly 3,000 people released to federal home confinement during the pandemic; and
  • Undermining recent reforms, including the First Step Act.

The memo also argues that Trump encourages police abuses and has made an "open endorsement of authoritarian and violent policing." Trump's first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had the Department of Justice "pull back" on investigations of police abuse, the memo notes.

The ACLU also drew attention to Trump's extreme position on the death penalty. More people were executed by the federal government during his four-year term than had been in any in over a century, and his administration went on what ProPublicacalled a "last-minute killing spree" before his term ended.

Trump's pro-death penalty position dates back decades. In 1989, he took out full-page advertisements in The New York Times and several other city newspapers calling for a reinstitution of the death penalty in New York state following the rape and assault of a jogger in Central Park. Five Black and Latino teenagers were wrongfully convicted of the crime.

"Bring back the death penalty and bring back our police!" the advertisement said in all caps.

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Palestinian woman in Gaza
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Harris Urged to Take 'Clear Stance' Against Weapons Sales for Israel

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris faced swift calls to support cutting off arms transfers to Israel after President Joe Biden dropped out of the 2024 race on Sunday, leaving her the heavy favorite to take his place at the top of the Democratic ticket in November.

Advocates who organized the movement that urged voters to mark "uncommitted" on their ballots to protest Biden's military and diplomatic support for Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip said Harris should publicly demand an end to weapons sales for the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which has repeatedly used American arms commit atrocities in the Palestinian enclave.

"For months, we've warned that Biden's support for Israel's assault on Gaza would hurt his electability," Layla Elabed, the leader of the Uncommitted National Movement, said in a statement Sunday. "Now, it's crucial for Vice President Harris to take a clear stance against weapons for Israel's war and occupation against Palestinians."

"Supplying weapons to Netanyahu's regime makes a mockery of Democrats' claims to fight against MAGA authoritarianism," Elabed added. "By funding a government committing human rights abuses, we undermine our party’s stance against far-right extremism and contradict our commitment to democracy and justice. It's time to align our actions with our values. Vice President Harris can start the process to earn back trust by turning the page from Biden's horrific policies in Gaza."

Harris has spoken forcefully against the Israeli government's attacks on civilians and obstruction of humanitarian aid in Gaza. In a March speech in Selma, Alabama, Harris said that "what we are seeing every day in Gaza is devastating," pointing to "reports of families eating leaves or animal feed."

"Women giving birth to malnourished babies with little or no medical care," Harris said at the time. "And children dying from malnutrition and dehydration. As I have said many times, too many innocent Palestinians have been killed."

The vice president called for a cease-fire of at least six weeks in that speech, which officials at the White House National Security Council reportedly watered down. The original draft of Harris' speech "was harsher on Israel about the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the need for more aid than were the remarks she ultimately delivered," NBC Newsreported, citing an unnamed U.S. official and former official.

"The Democratic nominee must immediately change course by calling for an arms embargo on the Israeli government and establishing a foreign policy centered in human rights."

The Biden administration has signed off on billions of dollars worth of weaponry for Israel since the Hamas-led October 7 attack. Earlier this month, the administration faced backlash for lifting a pause on a delivery of 1,700 500-pound bombs to Israel's military.

Jewish Voice for Peace Action argued in a statement Monday that the "tireless work of the movement for Palestinian freedom that has organized from the streets to the ballot box to demand a cease-fire and an end to this genocide has played a key role in bringing us to this moment," referring to Biden's decision to exit the presidential race.

"For nine and a half months, President Biden has funded and armed the brutal Israeli genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, making the U.S. government directly complicit in the killing of at least 39,000 people, including over 15,000 children," the advocacy group said. "The Democratic nominee must immediately change course by calling for an arms embargo on the Israeli government and establishing a foreign policy centered in human rights."

Calls for the eventual Democratic nominee to break from the Biden administration's support for Israel's war on Gaza came as Netanyahu traveled to Washington, D.C. ahead of a scheduled address to a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday. Netanyahu is expected to meet with Biden on Tuesday ahead of the address, which many Democratic lawmakers are planning to boycott.

Harris will reportedly be speaking at an event in Indianapolis instead of attending Netanyahu's speech.

Some expressed hope following Biden's decision to drop out of the 2024 race that a Harris presidency would mark a significant improvement over the incumbent on Gaza.

"While by no means a champion of the cause, I've heard numerous people note that Vice President Harris exhibited a deeply different emotional reaction to the stories of Palestinian suffering than President Biden," Waleed Shahid, a Democratic strategist and co-founder of the Uncommitted National Movement, toldThe Intercept on Sunday.

"While the vice presidency is limited, many feel that she would be an improvement from Biden's severe lack of empathy for Palestinians and his ties to the AIPAC old guard in the party," Shahid added. "However, challenging AIPAC's power within the Democratic Party establishment remains a formidable task regardless of who the nominee is."

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the lone Palestinian American in Congress, notably did not join many of her progressive colleagues in endorsing Harris after Biden dropped out of the presidential race on Sunday.

In a statement to The Detroit News, Tlaib expressed support for an open Democratic convention and said she was "eager" to talk with Harris about "an end to the funding of genocide in Gaza" and a cease-fire.

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