Lindsey Graham stormed out after a senate committee subpoenaed Repub donors in a SCOTUS ethics inquiry. Said Lindsey "I don't have time for this. I've got a man and a martini waiting, in a penthouse suite by the river! Mama needs lovin', not legal mumbo-jumbo! So long, suckers!" pic.twitter.com/sdihetYXti— Paul Rudnick (@PaulRudnickNY) December 2, 2023
The Tuesday loss is a stinging rebuke of Moms for Liberty, a “parental rights” organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center designated as an extremist group. What happened in Iowa mimics similar defeats suffered by the group and by Republicans in general throughout the U.S.
Moms for Liberty was founded in 2021 to push back against Covid-19 restrictions in schools. It has since expanded to opposing classes on diversity, curbing the rights of LGBTQ students, and banning books.
But on Tuesday, voters across the country pushed back on the Moms for Liberty agenda. The organization endorsed more than 130 candidates across the country, and the vast majority of them lost—with some failing to get more than single-digit support.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The right-wing group Moms for Liberty has been a force in clashes over what public schools can teach or not about sexuality and race, but its influence may be on the wane. Last week, the group lost closely watched school board races in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Iowa. As Jim Zarroli reports, Moms for Liberty is facing growing resistance at the local level.
JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Karen Svoboda and her husband have a large blended family of seven kids in New York's Dutchess County. They try to pay attention to what's happening in local schools. So when Moms for Liberty endorsed a slate of school board candidates last year, Svoboda did some research.
KAREN SVOBODA: And then I looked into the local Facebook page of Moms for Liberty and just browsed through some of the social media of some of these individuals. And what I saw was very upsetting.
ZARROLI: The Southern Poverty Law Center has called Moms for Liberty a hate group. It supports efforts to oppose pandemic restrictions, suppress discussion of LGBTQ issues and remove books in local schools across the country. Many of the comments Svoboda read attacked her local school's teachings on gender and racial equity issues. One post in particular bothered Svoboda, who has gay and nonbinary kids in her family. It said a gay students group at the high school was indoctrinating students.
SVOBODA: As a mom of kids who are members of that community, it was very concerning to think that these people would be trying to get onto the school board, 'cause what does that mean for my kids?
ZARROLI: Svoboda knew Moms for Liberty had supporters locally. Dutchess County is an hour and a half north of progressive New York City, but it's a swing district politically. Political scientist Maurice Cunningham says the group appeals to people who feel disenfranchised from politics.
MAURICE CUNNINGHAM: And that may be more potent in blue areas where very conservative people may feel like they don't have a way to fight back. And Moms for Liberty gives them one.
ZARROLI: Svoboda started a group called Defense of Democracy to get the word out about some of the school board candidates. It's part of a nationwide grassroots counteroffensive against conservative efforts targeting schools. Katie Paris, who founded a network of liberal suburban women called Red Wine and Blue, says the culture warriors running for school board in many places are out of step with most voters.
KATIE PARIS: They don't represent the majority, but they are very loud, and their views are very extreme. And we have seen what can happen when just a few people start to sow chaos in any individual school district.
Christmas came early for NBC: The network’s annual telecast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade delivered the biggest ratings ever.
The 97th annual parade was seen by 28.5 million viewers and earned a hefty 7.2 rating in the 18-49 age demo. Both numbers are up 6 percent from last year’s parade. It was also the highest-rated entertainment program of the year in both categories across all of broadcast and cable.
The record is particularly impressive at a time when even major live events have witnessed ratings erosion in recent years.
It is very impressive. Good for Macy's and NBC.
Moms for Liberty says it has removed two Kentucky chapter chairs from leadership positions after the women posed in photos with members of the far-right group the Proud Boys, one of several controversies that the conservative “parental rights” nonprofit has fended off in its rise to national prominence in public education.
The two women, who had led local chapters in Boone and Campbell counties near the Ohio border, appeared in photos with several men dressed in yellow and black Proud Boys clothing at a Nov. 4 rally in Frankfort, the Kentucky capital. The photos, posted on Facebook by another attendee, show the women smiling in Moms for Liberty clothing, as one helps to hold up a flag that reads, “Appalachian Proud Boys Kentucky.”
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Phillip Fisher Jr – a pastor and local Republican ward leader who volunteered at Moms for Liberty’s national summit in Philadelphia this year – pleaded guilty in 2012 to a charge of aggravated sexual abuse involving a 14-year-old boy when he was 25 and living in Chicago.
Sheila Armstrong, the chairwoman of Philadelphia’s Moms for Liberty chapter, confirmed to the Inquirer that Fisher was still planning to volunteer at her autism non-profit’s Christmas party.
New details made public over the weekend via police documents of a rape investigation have added fresh fuel to the political firestorm surrounding the chair of the Republican Party of Florida, Christian Ziegler, and his wife Bridget Ziegler, co-founder of the far-right Moms for Liberty, which engages in book-banning efforts, attacks on public education, religious moralizing, and the promotion of fascist ideology in chapters nationwide.
After an unnamed longtime associate accused Christian Ziegler of rape
last week, the emergence of a police search warrant and associated
affidavit showed that the alleged victim said she had engaged in
consensual three-way sexual relations with the Zieglers in the past but
on the day of the assault, on Oct 3., tried to call off the encounter
because Bridget would not be there to participate.
"Sorry I was mostly in for her," the victim said, according to text messages quoted in the affadavit.
The high-profile political work of the Zieglers—who rail against the sexual identities and lifestyle choices of others and who have been openly hostile to the LGBTQ+ community, often suggesting queer people are somehow deviant or morally problematic—has resulted in my cries of hypocrisy and calls for Christian's resignation.
"Allegations of rape and sexual battery are severe and should be taken seriously," said Florida Democratic Party chair Nikki Fried in a statement on Thursday. "I applaud the accuser's bravery in coming forward against a political figure as powerful as Christian Ziegler, and I trust that the Sarasota Police Department will conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations of criminal behavior."
Given the severity of the allegations against him, Fried called on Christian Zeigler to resign from his post, a call echoed later by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican currently running for the GOP presidential nomination.
Fried said that "what happens behind closed doors is Christian and Bridget's personal business," but added that she did "find it interesting that two people who are so obsessed with banning books about gay penguins might be engaged in a non-traditional sexual relationship," referring to a children's book about gay parents which has been targeted by Republicans for banning in schools in Florida and elsewhere.
"As leaders in the Florida GOP and Moms for Liberty," said Fried, "the Zieglers have made a habit out of attacking anything they perceive as going against 'family values'—be it reproductive rights or the existence of LGBTQ+ Floridians. The level of hypocrisy in this situation is stunning."
Christian Ziegler has been a leader in the state Republican party for years, and Bridget Ziegler found political success more recently with help from Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). DeSantis endorsed her when she ran for school board and named her to the board that oversees Disney World’s special district, which was part of an act of vengeance against Disney for opposing his state’s Don’t Say Gay law.
“Bridget Ziegler, we should have her in every county in Florida,” DeSantis once said in a speech posted to Bridget Ziegler’s YouTube channel. “We have to do a better job in these school board races.”
Harvard Law Cyberlaw Clinic instructor Alejandra Caraballo noted that Moms for Liberty is an organization that paved the way for Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law, among other things. She called out the “level of hypocrisy” in light of the allegations.
James Elder, a spokesperson for the UN children’s agency, Unicef, said the “worst bombardment of the war right now [is] in south Gaza”. Airstrikes were coming every 10 minutes, he said.
He posted on X: “Despite what has been assured, attacks in the south of Gaza are every bit as vicious as what the north endured. Somehow, it’s getting worse for children and mothers.”
The pause is over, as Amy Goodman (DEMOCRACY NOW!) explained Friday, "Dozens of Palestinians have been killed after Israel resumed its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, ending a weeklong pause to facilitate the exchange of captives. Hamas responded by firing a salvo of rockets toward southern Israel. The U.N. says the resumption of violence puts thousands of innocent lives at risk." Joe Queally (COMMON DREAMS) notes, "More than 700 people were killed in the Gaza Strip in just 24 hours, the Health Ministry in the besieged territory said Sunday, as Israeli bombings escalated following a brief pause and wider evacuation orders stoke fears of wider displacement and carnage." Ryan Grim (INTERCEPT) reports:
On this week’s episode of Deconstructed, I spoke with “Breaking Points” co-host Krystal Ball about my new book, “The Squad: AOC and the Hope of a Political Revolution.” You can listen to it on whichever podcast platform you use, and the video has been posted on Krystal’s channel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tasked his top adviser, Ron Dermer, the minister of strategic affairs, with designing plans to “thin” the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip “to a minimum,” according to a bombshell new report in an Israeli newspaper founded by the late Republican billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
The outlet, Israel Hayom, is considered to be something of an official organ for Netanyahu. It reported that the plan has two main elements: The first would use the pressure of the war and humanitarian crisis to persuade Egypt to allow refugees to flow to other Arab countries, and the second would open up sea routes so that Israel “allows a mass escape to European and African countries.” Dermer, who is originally from Miami, is a Netanyahu confidante and was previously Israeli ambassador to the United States, and enjoys close relations with many members of Congress.
Meanwhile, Stephen Kalin, Anat Peled, Summer Said and Dov Lieber (WALL STREET JOURNAL) report, "Talks between Israel and Hamas to hand over hostages held in Gaza in return for a pause in fighting there have stalled, the White House said Sunday, while Israeli forces step up attacks and direct Palestinians in the enclave to move into a narrower strip of land." Casey Gannon (CNN) notes:
Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Japayal on Sunday reiterated her call for a ceasefire in Gaza, even as fighting has resumed following the collapse of a truce on Friday.
“It’s what has to happen, and I do think it’s realistic,” Jayapal told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”
“We did have a temporary ceasefire and what happened? We were able to see a significant number of hostages released, we were able to get humanitarian aid into Gaza, and I think the long-term plan for what happens is incredibly important,” she continued.
THE NEW YORK TIMES quotes the White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby stating today on MEET THE PRESS (NBC), "We are still working it really hard, hour by hour, to see if we can get the sides back to the table and see if we can get something moving. We would like that to happen today. But honestly, I just don't know." CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali adds, "Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday and discussed the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and the occupied Palestinian territories, emphasizing the need for de-escalation and a ceasefire, the country’s state news agency said. The prime minister reaffirmed Qatar's commitment, alongside its mediation partners, to ongoing efforts aimed at restoring calm to the region."
As CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund." NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza." The slaughter continues. It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service. Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide." ABC NEWS notes, "In the Gaza Strip, more than 15,000 people have been killed and over 41,000 have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry." In addition to the dead and the injured, there are the missing. AP notes, "About 4,000 people are reported missing." And the area itself? Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells." Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War." Max Butterworth (NBC NEWS) adds, "Satellite images captured by Maxar Technologies on Sunday reveal three of the main hospitals in Gaza from above, surrounded by the rubble of destroyed buildings after weeks of intense bombing in the region by Israeli forces."
The Jabalia refugee camp in the north of Gaza was among the sites reported hit from the air as were the cities of Khan Younis and Rafah in the south of Gaza. Israeli government spokesperson, Eylon Levy, said the military had struck more than 400 targets over the weekend “including extensive aerial attacks in the Khan Younis area” and had also killed Hamas militants and destroyed their infrastructure in Beit Lahiya in the north.
Over 15,500 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli strikes in the last two months, Gaza’s health ministry announced on Sunday. According to ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra, 70% of the Palestinians killed were women and children. He said that 41,316 had been injured.
During “the past hours” 316 dead and 664 wounded were removed from the rubble and taken to hospitals, al-Qudra said, adding that “many others are still under the rubble”.
The UN humanitarian agency (OCHA) said that about 1.8 million people – roughly 75% of Gaza’s population – are internally displaced, up from a previous figure of 1.7 million. “However, obtaining an accurate count is challenging,” it said.
Hospitals in southern Gaza overflowed with dead and wounded, amid what Uncief spokesperson James Elder said was “the worst worst bombardment of the war right now in south Gaza” on Sunday evening. “I feel like I’m almost failing in my ability to convey the endless killing of children here,” Elder said in a video from Nasser hospital in Khan Younis.
[. . .]
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) called on Israel to respect the international rules of war and said he was accelerating his investigation into violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. In a video address following a visit to Israel and Palestine, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan added, “In Gaza, there is no justification for doctors to perform operations without light, for children to be operated upon without anaesthetics. Imagine the pain … I was crystal clear, that this is the time to comply with the law. If Israel doesn’t comply now, they shouldn’t complain later.”
Israeli settlers attacked two Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank late on Saturday, killing one man and torching a car, Palestinian authorities said. The Palestinian ambulance service said a 38-year-old man in the town of Qarawat Bani Hassan, in the northern West Bank, was shot in the chest and died as residents confronted settlers and Israeli soldiers.
A statement issued by the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that an unnamed Jordanian citizen was killed and his brother was severely injured following an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip.
The statement did not say in which part of Gaza the deadly strike took place.
Ambassador Sufyan Al-Qudah, a ministry spokesman, said that contact has been made with the families of the two victims.
The injured brother is reportedly in a coma and is being treated at the Baptist Hospital in the besieged enclave.
The statement also said that Jordan holds the Israeli government “fully responsible” for the safety of all Jordanian citizens who have remained in Gaza. As of November 20, there were 741 Jordanian nationals in Gaza, according to the ministry’s list.
When not attacking civilians, the Israeli government attacked medical personnel:
Israeli forces fired upon two ambulances in the Faluja area of the north of Gaza, injuring two paramedics and an accompanying injured person on Sunday, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said.
This morning, THE GUARDIAN notes:
A crater the size of a basketball court out of the earth. A dead toddler’s bare feet and black trousers poked out from under a pile of rubble. Men struggled with their bare hands to move a chunk of the concrete that had crushed the child.
Later they wept as they marched through the ruins carrying the body in a bundle and that of another small child body wrapped in a blanket.
“We were asleep and safe, they told us it was a safe area, Rafah and all,” said Salah al-Arja, owner of one of the houses destroyed at the site.
“There were children, women and martyrs,” he said. “They tell you it is a safe area, but there is no safe area in all of the Gaza Strip, it is all lies and manipulations.”
At a home in Khan Younis that was struck overnight, flames licked the collapsed masonry and grey smoke billowed out from the rubble. Boys were picking through the wreckage with bare hands.
Next door, Nesrine Abdelmoty stood amid damaged furniture in the rented room where she lives with her divorced daughter and two-year-old baby.
"We were sleeping at 5:00 a.m. when we felt things collapse, everything went upside down," she told Reuters. "They told [people] to move from the north to Khan Younis, since the south is safer. And now, they've bombed Khan Younis. Even Khan Younis is not safe now, and even if we move to Rafah, Rafah is not safe as well. Where do they want us to go?
How's Joe Biden's support for the slaughter in Gaza working out? World leaders are condemning the US and Israel. Joe's position has really clarified and honed in Iraqi opinion on the United States and its continued occupation of Iraq. PRESS TV reports:
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which is an umbrella group of the country's anti-terror fighters, says it has targeted two US bases in eastern Syria and western Iraq in new strikes on the American occupation forces.
The Iraqi resistance said in a late Sunday statement that the US military base near Syria’s al-Khazra village was hit with a barrage of missiles.
The statement added that the resistance forces also carried out a drone attack on the American forces based in Ain al-Asad Airbase in the western Iraqi province of al-Anbar.
And, of course, this was in response to a US attack today. Sinan Mahmoud (THE NATIONAL) notes:
An air strike in northern Iraq has killed at least five militants, social media accounts linked to Iran-backed Shiite militias reported late on Sunday.
The air strike hit the militiamen in Kirkuk province, according to Sabreen news channel on Telegram, which is affiliated with Iran-backed Shiite militias.
It did not give details on when the air strike happened, but said it was carried out by US forces.
A US military official - on condition of anonymity - confirmed the "self defense" strike carried out in northern Iraq on a drone staging site.
ATLAS NEWS adds, "The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella organization of Iran-backed Shia militias, has confirmed the deaths of five of its fighters amid claims of an American airstrike against militia forces in Iraq today." The attack follows a pitiful plea from the US government. Karwan Faidhi Dri (RUDAW) reported yesterday, "United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a Friday phone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani renewed Washington’s call on Baghdad to protect American troops from attacks by pro-Iran militias as the conflict in Gaza resumes after a brief truce."
Please remember that, this is not the first US assault in the last days on this segment of the Iraqi military -- and please remember that the groups being attacked are part of the Iraqi military. And their political factions? They make up part of the formation of the current prime minister's bloc. The last bombing led to calls that the US government had violated Iraq's sovereignty. November 22nd, Julian Bechocha (RUDAW) reports:
The Iraqi government said it “vehemently condemns” the US airstrikes on Iran-backed Iraqi militia positions in Jurf al-Nasr on Wednesday as a “blatant violation of sovereignty” as the strikes took place without government knowledge.
“We vehemently condemn the attack on Jurf al-Nasr, executed without the knowledge of Iraqi government agencies. This action is a blatant violation of sovereignty and an attempt to destabilize the security situation,” Basem al-Awadi, spokesperson for the Iraqi government, said in a statement.
The statement came hours after US warplanes struck pro-Iran fighters in Jurf al-Nasr (formerly Jurf al-Sakhar) in northern Babil province, around 60 kilometers southwest of Baghdad. Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, or Hashd al-Shaabi) confirmed to AFP that the strikes left eight fighters dead.
Wednesday’s strike came hours after the US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced its first retaliatory strike targeting Iran-backed groups in Iraq since the start of the attacks on American personnel in Iraq and Syria over Washington’s support for Israel in its war against Gaza. The first retaliatory strike resulted in “several enemy casualties,” according to CENTCOM.
“The Iraqi government is solely dedicated to enforcing the law and holding violators accountable, a prerogative exclusively within its purview. No party or foreign agency has the right to assume this role, as it contradicts Iraqi constitutional sovereignty and international law,” the government statement said, labeling the recent escalations as “a dangerous development.”
Joe Biden has put US service members a risk in the Middle East.