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Ongoing discussion of the political news of the day. This thread is for 'smaller' stories that don't call for their own thread. If a story blows up, please start a new thread for it.

Of course he’s staying Democrat. That’s the only way he can continue to help his corporate overlords and screw over American voters. He can’t do that as a Republican.

I think Sina's planning her heel turn.

No Republican Senator voted for the motion to bring the Freedom to Vote Act before the Senate for discussion today. Not a single one.

OG_slinger wrote:

No Republican Senator voted for the motion to bring the Freedom to Vote Act before the Senate for discussion today. Not a single one.

That's after the previous bill also was voted down so they "compromised" with manchin... And same result

It sure is a good thing we've put so much effort into catering to him above and beyond any other senator with a D by their name. /s

Manchin is a Republican, Democrats are less brazen about their corruption

Months after GETTR sh*t the bed--only attracting about 1.5 million users and having jihadists from the Islamic State flood the platform--Trump announced he's forming yet another social media platform: TRUTH Social. Apparently TRUTH Social is supposed to compete against Twitter and Facebook, the two platforms Trump's banned from.

The platform will be part of a new company he's forming--Trump Media and Technology Group--which he claims will "create a rival to the liberal media consortium and fight back against the 'Big Tech' companies of Silicon Valley, which have used their unilateral power to silence opposing voices in America."

The company will eventually offer a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ (because the world's greatest salesman couldn't think of a catchier name, like RubeTube or TrumpMax+) which "will feature 'non-woke' entertainment programming, news, podcasts, and more.''

EDIT: Apparently less than an hour after the announcement a staff writer at the Daily Dot was able to find a live domain for the mobile version of TRUTH Social, set up an account, and grabbed the @donaldtrump handle.


And folks have been combing through the site's terms of service and found that users aren't allowed to "disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site," they can't "annoy" anyone working for the platform in any capacity, and, because Trump really hates those Big Tech companies that shut down his social media accounts for terms of service violations, he's going to one up them and allow TRUTH to terminate anyone's account for "any reason or no reason."

Teenage Mutant Trump Grifters?

So 24 hour David Chappelle stand up?

strangederby wrote:

So 24 hour David Chappelle stand up?


He can't leave the democratic party. No one is going to pay just another mediocre republican among a crowd of mediocre republican they way they are paying to have a democrat to destroy democracy.

I wish this mattered

(CNN)Five military veterans on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's advisory board resigned from their roles this week, slamming the Arizona Democrat as one of the "principal obstacles to progress."

The veterans said they object to her refusal to change the Senate filibuster and her opposition to parts of the Democrats' sweeping budget reconciliation package that makes up President Joe Biden's agenda.

"You have become one of the principal obstacles to progress, answering to big donors rather than your own people," the veterans wrote in a letter to Sinema. The letter will be in a new ad from the progressive veterans' activist group Common Defense, The New York Times reported Thursday. "We shouldn't have to buy representation from you, and your failure to stand by your people and see their urgent needs is alarming."

OG_slinger wrote:

And folks have been combing through the site's terms of service and found that users aren't allowed to "disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site," they can't "annoy" anyone working for the platform in any capacity, and, because Trump really hates those Big Tech companies that shut down his social media accounts for terms of service violations, he's going to one up them and allow TRUTH to terminate anyone's account for "any reason or no reason."

Also there's this...

As a user of the Site, you agree not to:

20. upload or transmit (or attempt to upload or to transmit) viruses, Trojan horses, or other material, including excessive use of capital letters and spamming (continuous posting of repetitive text), that interferes with any party’s uninterrupted use and enjoyment of the Site or modifies, impairs, disrupts, alters, or interferes with the use, features, functions, operation, or maintenance of the Site.

Is Trump going to be banned by his own social media site?

hmmm… sounds a lot like censorship to me.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Is Trump going to be banned by his own social media site?

I seriously doubt there's going to be any moderation of the site at all. I mean the address of the company's "chief legal officer" is an apartment complex a few miles from Mar-a-Lago. Nothing about this venture screams "I'm serious about this business."

He even launched TMTG via a special-purpose acquisition company so he could have it be publicly traded without all that pesky due diligence by investors and SEC filings. I wouldn't doubt that he's looking at this as a pump-and-dump stock opportunity to make a quick buck for him and his favorite Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs.

House votes to refer the charge against former President Trump's longtime ally to the Department of Justice

Of course he is. f*ck trump and the republican party in general hold the government in contempt in the common use of word (as opposed to a strict legal definition) I am just surprised the House had enough backbone to do it.

I'll be shocked if this social media garbage by Trump gets anywhere. It's a vaporware grift.

JC wrote:

I'll be shocked if this social media garbage by Trump gets anywhere. It's a vaporware grift.

The entire Trump experience, including why it is successful.

Justice Dept. Adds Two Top Prosecutors to Matt Gaetz Case

NYT wrote:

The Justice Department has added two top prosecutors from Washington to the child sex trafficking investigation of Representative Matt Gaetz, according to two people briefed on the matter, a sign of the complex and high-stakes nature of the inquiry into Mr. Gaetz, a Florida Republican who is one of former President Donald J. Trump’s closest congressional allies.

The prosecutors — one a public corruption investigator with an expertise in child exploitation crimes, and the other a top leader of the public corruption unit — have been working on the Florida-based investigation for at least three months, the people said.

It is not unusual for prosecutors from the Justice Department in Washington to be added to local teams of federal investigators in high-profile cases that require a deep and specific expertise like sex crimes.

The Washington prosecutors have joined a group of federal authorities in Florida who have been investigating accusations of sex trafficking, fraud and corruption by several people connected to Republican politics in Florida, including Mr. Gaetz. The authorities have been examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated a federal child sex trafficking law by providing goods or payments to a 17-year-old girl in exchange for sex.

Despite the wide-ranging nature of the case, only one person has been publicly charged, a former local tax collector named Joel Greenberg. He has pleaded guilty to sex trafficking the same 17-year-old girl and other corruption and fraud charges. Mr. Greenberg agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation, telling authorities that he saw Mr. Gaetz and others have sex with the girl.

In a sign of the ongoing nature of the investigation, the judge overseeing the case granted a motion on Monday filed by Mr. Greenberg’s lawyer, Fritz Scheller, to have his client’s sentencing delayed until March.

One of the questions the prosecutors will have to wrestle with is whether to charge Mr. Gaetz with the same crime that Mr. Greenberg pleaded guilty to, sex trafficking a minor. The law is broadly written and carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison.

Gaetz was also in the news today because it came out that he's currently no longer allowed to practice law in Florida because he failed to pay his bar association dues back in August. He's since paid his dues (and late fees), but the association automatically strips members of their ability to practice law if they don't pay their dues and requires them to file a petition to be reinstated.

Gaetz should just create his own bar association to reinstate himself, like Rand Paul did for Ophthalmology.

Just in case you didn't know already, the mega social infrastructure bill is pretty much gutted, as POLITICO REPORTS. There are 12 big topics still there, but what text is left is pitiful... and it could be gutted even more once Manchin and Sinema are done.

Thanks, big corporations paying a couple of Senators to be in their pockets. Give people paid leave and more afford healthcare?! Never! Whatever will ultimately pass will only hurt the mega rich by, oh, .00000005% of their wealth.

CW for sexual assault and suicide.

“The Liberty Way”: How Liberty University Discourages and Dismisses Students’ Reports of Sexual Assaults

ProPublica wrote:

When Elizabeth Axley first told Liberty University officials she had been raped, she was confident they’d do the right thing. After all, the evangelical Christian school invoked scripture to encourage students to report abuse.

“Speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves, for the rights of all who need an advocate. —Proverbs 31:8.” It was quoted in large type across an information sheet from the school’s office tasked with handling discrimination and abuse.

Axley was a first-year student at Liberty in the fall of 2017. She had been at the school less than three months. One Saturday night, she went to a Halloween party at an off-campus apartment and drank eight shots of vodka, along with a couple of mixed drinks. She doesn’t remember much after that, until, she recalls, waking up with a fellow student on top of her and his hand pressed over her mouth. (The student denies Axley’s allegations.)

After Axley returned to her dorm, she called the campus police department. One of the officers drove her to the local hospital, where, records show, a nurse documented 15 bruises, welts and lacerations on her arm, face and torso.

Axley wasn’t sure what to do next, but she did know that she wanted the man to “stay away from her,” as she recalled. So when Axley got back to her dorm that Sunday morning, she again told someone at Liberty, her resident adviser.

The RA, Axley said, told her not to report it, saying Axley could be found to have violated the school’s prohibition against drinking and fraternizing with the opposite sex.

Instead, the RA offered to pray with Axley.

“I was really confused,” recalled Axley. “They were making it seem like I had done something wrong.”

Axley didn’t want to pray. She wanted the school to do something about what had happened. “I didn’t want to get fined or punished, but I wasn’t going to let this keep me from reporting my assault.”

The next day, Axley went to the school’s federally mandated office for investigating sexual harassment and violence.

She had prepared. Axley saved texts from that weekend. “He was all over you,” one concerned friend had written to her. It was “pretty damn weird.”

“I f*cking remember making noise and him covering my mouth oh my god,” Axley texted another friend in the early morning hours. She also took photos of the welts across her chest, multiple lacerations on her right upper arm and a bruised lip.

“When I went into that office,” Axley said, “I was ready.”

But Elysa Bucci, the official who took the complaint, didn’t seem interested, Axley recalled. Bucci was a lead investigator with Liberty University’s equity office, which is responsible for looking into potential violations of Title IX, the civil rights law that bans sexual discrimination on campuses that receive federal funding. Liberty students receive almost $800 million a year in federal aid.

Instead of considering her evidence, Axley said, Bucci started throwing questions at her: Why had Axley gone to the party? What had she had to drink? How much? “I immediately felt judged,” remembered Axley. (Bucci, who is now a Title IX investigator at Baylor University, declined to comment.)

Then Axley waited. She received email updates saying the school was still looking into her case. After five months, Axley heard from Bucci that Liberty had completed its investigation and a committee was now going to consider the case. Bucci invited Axley to first come to the office and review the file.

Axley went in and looked through the materials. The photos with her injuries, she recalled, were no longer there. Axley said that when she asked what had happened, Bucci told her the photos had been removed because they were too “explicit.”

“I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach,” Axley recalled. “I had been relying on them all these months to take my evidence into account when considering my case, and it wasn’t even in my file.”

A few days later, Axley received another email from the university. It said that as the case was moving ahead for a final decision, Axley needed to sign a document acknowledging that she could be found to have violated the university’s code of conduct. The Liberty Way covers nearly all aspects of a student’s life and includes bans on drinking and “being in any state of undress with a member of the opposite sex.”

As the document that Axley received phrased it, by moving ahead with the case, Axley was acknowledging that she herself could face “possible disciplinary actions.”

Universities across the country have long faced scrutiny for their handling, and mishandling, of sexual assault cases. But Liberty University’s responses to such cases stand out. Interviews with more than 50 former Liberty students and staffers, as well as records from more than a dozen cases, show how an ethos of sexual purity, as embodied by the Liberty Way, has led to school officials discouraging, dismissing and even blaming female students who have tried to come forward with claims of sexual assault.


In the end, Stevens, Stargel and Axley were not fined. But two former students did recall being punished after they reported being sexually assaulted. One said that after she reported being raped to school authorities, she was fined $500 for drinking alcohol and told she had to attend counseling. The former student, who declined to be named, said she was told her transcript would not be released until she paid.

Another student recalled being punished after reporting the potential sexual assault of someone else: Axley.

Logan Pratt, the friend who had texted Axley saying he was concerned by what he saw, told the Title IX office he’d seen Axley being mistreated at the party. He said the university misrepresented what he told investigators, giving the false impression that his testimony undercut Axley’s recollections rather than buttressing them. Then, a few months after the incident, Pratt said Liberty kicked him out of school for drinking and other Liberty Way infractions. One other student also said Liberty misrepresented what she described seeing in Axley’s case.


Liberty’s handling of cases has often added to the pain of the women I spoke with. As Axley waited for Liberty to decide on her case, she began missing classes. She didn’t want to risk bumping into her alleged assailant. Her grades plummeted. She skipped meals and started sleeping during the day.

“She would have panic attacks constantly — like full body shaking, laying on the floor, no matter where we were, in class or in the library,” said Shannon Gage, a friend of Axley’s and a fellow Liberty student.

Axley’s memories of that time are scattered. She was knocked even further off-balance when the student who she says attacked her filed a lawsuit alleging that Axley had defamed him by recounting her story to others. The sides reached a nonmonetary settlement a few months later. The parties agreed not to disparage each other over “doubtful and disputed claims.” Asked about Axley’s accusations, the former student told me that “I didn’t rape her” and that he also thought that Liberty didn’t investigate the case properly.

Axley has no doubts about what happened. In the months afterward, she scrolled again and again through the photos she had taken of her injuries. They gave her a small measure of calm.

“I would remind myself that I had evidence, and that I had done everything I could to document and report what happened,” she said. “I told myself, ‘How could the school not take action?’ All someone had to do was look at the photos.”

Six weeks after Elizabeth Axley told Liberty University officials she had been raped, she sat on the floor of her college dorm room with her laptop and typed out a brief note:

“He did this to me/Crushed my spirit/stole those I care about/stole something from me. … I can no longer go on like this.”

Two days later, she woke up in the hospital. She stayed for a few days, then went back to campus to resume her freshman year. (If you are considering hurting yourself, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to speakingofsuicide.com.)

“I tried to keep functioning but I felt so disconnected from everything going on around me,” Axley recalled. Sometimes, she would forget what she was doing midaction. Sometimes she would just stare straight ahead, unresponsive to the cues around her. She felt “so far away” from her fellow students, who continued going to class and attending social events as though nothing had changed.

In her email correspondence with the Title IX office during this time, Axley requested several notes to excuse her repeated absences from classes.

It was in March that Axley got the email from the school saying the investigation into her complaint was “completed” and that she could review it before the school came to a decision on the case. That email, from Bucci, also noted that Axley’s case had been moved over to the Office of Community Life, which handles Liberty Way infractions.

And it was when Axley went to review the report that she discovered that the photographs she had submitted as evidence had been removed from her file without her knowledge.

Axley was dumbstruck and resubmitted the photos. “At that point, it honestly felt like they were trying to sabotage my case,” she said.

Soon after Axley resubmitted her photo evidence, she received another email from the school. It said the committee reviewing her case — which Axley recalled was composed mostly of men — had reached a decision: By a “preponderance of the evidence,” her alleged assailant was found “not responsible” for rape.

In its accompanying explanation of the decision, the committee focused on the account of one student who recalled that Axley was on top of the man she said assaulted her, and that the man had told Axley to get off.

But that student, who requested anonymity, told me that the Title IX office misrepresented her testimony. Liberty quoted her saying it was “obvious” that Axley was trying to initiate sexual contact, but she said she doesn’t recall saying that.

Prior to our conversation, the witness had not seen the decision letter in which she was quoted. She was shocked that her name was used in the letter, despite her repeated requests to the Title IX investigator that she remain anonymous. “They made me sound like a casual, coldhearted individual with this statement,” she said. “I was very scared and very traumatized from this situation and it affects my life even today.”

Neither Aaron Sparkman, the university official who signed Axley’s decision letter, nor Bucci, who interviewed the two witnesses, responded to requests for comment.

The letter also did not detail the recollections of Logan Pratt, the friend of Axley’s who was so concerned about the man being overly physical that he texted Axley the morning of the incident to see if she was OK.

Instead, Liberty referenced Pratt’s observation that Axley was drunk.

“The way they wrote it down makes it seem that I went to the Title IX office not to help her but to get her in trouble,” said Pratt, who was shocked when I showed him the letter. “This reads very backwards to me. It is honestly scary that they twisted my testimony like this. It makes me wonder how many other people’s words they tweaked the way they did to my testimony.”

Pratt said that he went to the Title IX office of his own volition because he was “concerned for Lizzie’s safety” after what he saw at the party. But when he was interviewed, he said, he thought “they didn’t seem to care much about Lizzie,” and instead he felt like he was “interrogated for what I had been doing at the party.”

He said, “It all felt so backwards and strange, like they were trying to find me guilty by association.”

Pratt, who entered Liberty in the fall of 2017 on a full scholarship, said that five months after reporting Axley’s case, he was expelled from the school for violations of the Liberty Way, including drinking and partying.

“It sounds like the university was crafting their own narrative that had less to do with finding the respondent responsible or not, but rather with framing the complainant as someone who was ‘not worthy,’” said S. Daniel Carter, who helped author the Clery Act that covers how schools should handle and disclose sexual assaults.

Liberty’s letter with its decision on the investigation also did not mention the other evidence submitted by Axley — not the text messages from friends that weekend expressing concern about what had taken place, and not the photographs of her bruises and cuts.

Experts who reviewed the facts of Axley’s case and the committee’s subsequent letter explaining its decision were shocked that the Title IX office seemed to have removed evidence from Axley’s file and were confused as to why the decision made no mention of it.

“That’s outrageous,” said Rebecca Leitman Veidlinger, an attorney who specializes in Title IX. “The complainant herself offered the photos. There are ways to safeguard evidence of a sensitive nature. But to disregard key evidence? I can’t imagine the justification.”

After Axley learned that Liberty had dismissed her complaint, she thought there was still a chance the school might reconsider. “Yesterday my rapist was found not guilty. I would like to appeal this decision,” she wrote in a May 2018 email to the university.

Less than two weeks later, the appeal committee reaffirmed it had found the man not responsible for the alleged rape.

Such great Christian values in action at that school.

Well, that is the Liberty Way. Guess the kid had good scores in Bible Studies.

Opening Arguments podcast did an ep on a Title IX lawsuit against Liberty "University" by 12 anonymous plaintiffs. The stuff they try to sweep under the rug is horrific, including a violent assault by a student on a 15yo girl who was visiting for debate camp.

[Massive content warning for sexual assault on the lawsuit link.]

Prosecutors cannot call those shot by Kyle Rittenhouse 'victims,' a judge has ruled

NPR wrote:

Prosecutors in the criminal trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who shot and killed two protesters last year in Kenosha, Wis., will not be able to refer to the people he shot as "victims," a judge has ruled, while defense attorneys may be able to call them "arsonists" or "looters."

In a proceeding about the ground rules for the upcoming trial, prosecutors and defense lawyers debated whether certain language, witnesses or evidence would be allowed. The trial begins next week.

"The word 'victim' is a loaded, loaded word. And I think 'alleged victim' is a cousin to it," Judge Bruce Schroeder said on Monday, asking prosecutors to instead use the terms "complaining witness" or "decedent" to refer to those shot by Rittenhouse. (Though not universal, it is not unheard of for judges to feel that the word "victim" presupposes the defendant's guilt.)

Meanwhile, the defense will be allowed to refer to the three people Rittenhouse shot as "arsonists," "looters" or "rioters" so long as they took part in those activities, Schroeder ruled — a decision prosecutor Thomas Binger called "a double standard."

"Let the evidence show what the evidence shows," Schroeder said. "And if the evidence shows that any or more than one of these people were engaged in arson, rioting, or looting — then I'm not going to tell the defense they can't call them that."

The judge has also ruled that Rittenhouse's association with the Proud Boys is inadmissible along with a video taken a few months before the shooting that showed him hitting a girl as well as one filmed just days before he committed murder in which he looks a people running from a drug store and loading items in a trunk and says, “Bro, I wish I had my (expletive) AR, I’d start shooting rounds at them.”

Sounds like enough bullsh*t for a new judge.

Even without all that, he took a gun across state lines and shot and killed 2 unarmed people. He's guilty AF.

They were shot. They are victims of the shooting! Jesus f*cking Christ and they call the left the language police

FWIW, judges can be very sensitive to these things -- and sometimes overly so -- for reasons unrelated to sympathy of a person like Rittenhouse. Put your thumb on the scale against the prosecution's use of (perceived) incendiary language, and there's no consequence. But prevent the defense from doing so, or limit the ability for them to engage in the sort of victim-blaming, character assassination they seem to want to engage in here, and a court of appeals might find that you deprived the defense of a fair trial, and toss the conviction.