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‘The Swamp’ Exposes Just How Much Republican Matt Gaetz Kisses Trump’s Butt

1 hour 19 min ago

‘The Swamp’ Exposes Just How Much Republican Matt Gaetz Kisses Trump’s ButtSpoiler alert: Contrary to his stated intentions, President Donald Trump has not “drained the swamp,” but has in fact amplified D.C. corruption and special-interest power—currently, more than 300 lobbyists have seats in his administration—unseen in modern times. The Swamp understands and exposes this fact, and yet Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme’s HBO documentary (premiering August 4) nonetheless tackles the issue of politics and money via a decidedly wishy-washy look at three of Trump’s staunchest faux-“renegade” GOP congressional acolytes: Colorado’s Ken Buck, Kentucky’s Thomas Massie and Florida’s perpetually sycophantic Matt Gaetz.It’s Gaetz who’ll likely be best known to viewers, thanks to a series of headline-making (and social media-inflaming) stunts, including tweeting out a not-so-veiled threat to congressional witness (and former Trump attorney) Michael Cohen, and leading a group of rabble-rousing Republicans on a raid of a closed-door impeachment hearing deposition. A perpetual fixture on Fox News, where he parrots Trump talking points in the most extremist fashion imaginable, he’s a young, eager go-getter who’s hitched his post to the current commander-in-chief. That’s certainly the figure depicted by DiMauro and Pehme’s film, which captures him articulating his staunch support in personal phone calls to the president (and is told, in return, “You’re doing fantastic…you’re tough and smart and you have the look”), as well as stating outright “I love him so much.” Throughout the film, Gaetz is repeatedly seen fawning all over Trump, receiving marching orders from the president and delivering near-daily progress reports. When Trump calls him “handsome,” the congressman acts like he’s won the lottery. John Oliver Unloads on ‘Idiot’ Trump for Endorsing Dr. Demon SpermNetflix Targets the ‘World’s Most Wanted’ CriminalsGiven his fawning admiration for the president, it’s predictable that Gaetz spends a lot of time in The Swamp criticizing D.C. venality at the hands of wealthy special interest groups, whose checkbooks are coveted by politicians wanting to maintain their membership in the party, and their position in committees. Gaetz, Massie and Buck’s dismay over this flawed paradigm is voiced at regular intervals throughout the film (set in 2018-2019), as is a greater desire for bipartisanship, which Gaetz himself partakes in alongside California’s Ro Khanna with their Khanna-Gaetz amendment designed to take unilateral war powers (specifically with regards to Iran) away from the president and return them to Congress. In this effort, as in their many censures of super PAC influence, the three come across as principled outliers committed to upending the “new normal” of donor-driven governance ushered in by Newt Gingrich in 1994.Like an introductory scene of Gaetz dressing and putting on makeup in the office work closet he calls home—the better to maximize his daily productivity, he says—such commentary is the trio’s (and film’s) means of casting them as hard-working against-the-grain mavericks. At the same time, though, directors DiMauro and Pehme fully recognize that these supposed rebels—and Gaetz in particular—are bald-faced hypocrites who don’t walk their own talk. While it’s true that, in 2020, Gaetz became the first Republican to swear off any campaign donations from super PACs (a worthwhile stand, to be sure), he otherwise comes across as a guy who doesn’t care that his beloved president is far from the reformer he claimed he would be on the campaign trail. First during the Mueller hearings and again throughout the impeachment process, Gaetz readily takes to his Fox News pulpit to rail against the “witch hunt” and Democrats, as well as to vilify immigrants as “criminals, thugs, special-interest aliens…jihadists,” habitually using the president’s very own polarizing language. He’s akin to a Trump ventriloquist dummy.The discrepancy between Gaetz’s anti-“swamp” pronouncements and his adulation of a leader whose entire Oval Office tenure has been designed to enrich himself is hard to ignore, and The Swamp certainly takes pains to underline it, as it does the dissonance between Buck and Massie’s avowed disgust for special interests and yet dubious connections to the NRA and the coal industry. Massie himself likens his congressional pin to The Lord of the Rings’ ring (because its limitless power is corrupting), and equates himself to Star Wars’ rebel fighters and Congress to the Death Star, and the nerdiness of the latter point is only outweighed by the silliness of the analogy, especially since Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale recently associated the president’s re-election as a villainous Death Star juggernaut ready to wipe out its enemies.Despite routinely pricking Gaetz and company for behaving in ways that are diametrically opposed to their declared values, The Swamp still spends considerable energy lavishing fond attention on them. Slow-motion shots of Gaetz strutting down D.C. streets, sunglasses on and the sun shining from behind him, contribute to puffing up his media-friendly persona as rock star-ish upstart contrarian driven to shake up the status quo. Since the film knows this isn’t really the case—at its conclusion, Gaetz votes along party lines for a military bill even though his beloved war powers amendment was cut out of it—the effect is to make one feel as if the directors want to have it both ways, obligated to critique their subject but not too harshly because, after all, Gaetz has granted them intimate access to his life in the first place.Only in interviews with Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig does The Swamp make a truly passionate case for the need for wide-scale lobbying reform—which came, most recently, in the form of Democrats’ H.R. 1 bill, which found few receptive Republican friends in the Senate. From climate change to military funding to gun control (to name only a few pressing national concerns), “none of these issues can be addressed sensibly until we address the deep corruption inside of our government,” he says. Without that, we’re doomed to deal with a system that turns politicians into fundraisers, and because “politics of hate is the most productive technique for fundraising we have,” that in turn leads to the hyper-polarization we see today.When it’s providing an insider’s view of the ways elected representatives are compelled—often willingly—to sell themselves to the highest bidder in order to maintain their sliver of power, The Swamp is a revealing and timely survey of our broken government. Where it stumbles, however, is in its choice of tour guides through that greedy bog—a collection of pretenders whose corruption-friendly actions speak far louder than their crusading words. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


The former head of the FDA warned that the Northeast will likely get hit with another wave of coronavirus cases, saying the virus continues to 'rotate through different parts of the country'

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 21:03

The former head of the FDA warned that the Northeast will likely get hit with another wave of coronavirus cases, saying the virus continues to 'rotate through different parts of the country'"It's going to be this slow burn, unfortunately, for the rest of the year," the former FDA commissioner said.


Mexico crime: Mexican police seize alleged oil theft crime boss The Sledgehammer

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 20:54

 Mexican police seize alleged oil theft crime boss The Sledgehammer"The Sledgehammer" is caught after releasing a bizarre, tearful video declaring war on security forces.


Verdict looms in killing of Lebanon ex-PM Hariri

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 20:49

Verdict looms in killing of Lebanon ex-PM HaririA UN-backed tribunal will give its verdict Friday on the 2005 murder of former Lebanese premier Rafic Hariri, but questions will remain over a long and costly trial whose suspects remain at large. Four alleged members of the Shiite Muslim fundamentalist group Hezbollah are on trial in absentia at the court in the Netherlands over the huge Beirut suicide bombing that killed Sunni billionaire Hariri and 21 other people. The judgment harks back to an event that changed the face of the Middle East, with Hariri's assassination triggering a wave of demonstrations that pushed Syrian forces out of Lebanon after 30 years.


Florida man once bitten by alligator is chomped by 8-foot shark while on vacation

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 20:41

Florida man once bitten by alligator is chomped by 8-foot shark while on vacationJustin Stuller is now sporting two dozen stitches and a small limp after tangling with an eight-foot lemon shark in the Florida Keys.


China reports 43 new coronavirus cases in mainland vs 49 a day earlier

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 20:15

China reports 43 new coronavirus cases in mainland vs 49 a day earlierChina reported 43 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the mainland as of Aug. 2, down from 49 a day earlier, the country's national health authority said on Monday. The National Health Commission said 36 of the new cases were locally transmitted, including 28 in Xinjiang, while another seven cases were imported infections involving travellers from overseas. This compared with 33 local infections and 16 imported cases reported a day earlier.


Manchester-born 'wellness entrepreneur' revealed as Jeffrey Epstein's alleged ex-girlfriend

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 17:38

Manchester-born 'wellness entrepreneur' revealed as Jeffrey Epstein's alleged ex-girlfriendA Manchester-born publisher has been identified as the alleged former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein named in legal papers relating to Ghislaine Maxwell that were unsealed by a Manhattan court last week. A woman named as “Shelley” was allegedly named by Ms Maxwell as Epstein’s girlfriend between 1999 and 2002, according to an email contained in papers released by US District Judge Loretta Preska. It has now been claimed that the woman is Shelley Ann Lewis, 43, a “wellness entrepreneur”, who runs a company called The Equanimity Expert. There is no suggestion that Ms Lewis was aware of any criminal behaviour by Epstein during the time of their alleged relationship. It coincided with the time when Virginia Giuffre alleges she was coerced into having sex with the Duke of York – an allegation that Prince Andrew has repeatedly and vehemently denied. Ms Lewis could, lawyers believe, be approached by prosecutors and attorneys in the United States acting for Epstein’s victims to ask what she knew about the alleged behaviour of Ms Maxwell and Epstein. The tranche of papers was compiled during a defamation case brought against Ms Maxwell by Ms Giuffre. They were released despite fierce opposition from Ms Maxwell’s legal team. In a January 2015 email to Epstein, Ms Maxwell wrote: “I would appreciate it if Shelley would come out and say she was your g’friend – I think she was from end [19]99 to 2002.” Epstein replied: “OK with me.” Ms Lewis’ name appears repeatedly on the flight logs of Epstein’s private planes, on occasion travelling alone with the disgraced financier, who was found dead in a jail cell a year ago. Destinations included New York and Little St James – the financier’s private island in the Caribbean where many of the offences are alleged to have taken place. It is believed they met in 1999 when Ms Lewis, then 22, was working for Christie’s auction house in New York. Epstein was 46 at the time. The company Ms Lewis now runs says it offers a six-week course hosted by “some of the leading thinkers in the fields of big picture decision making, neuroscience and psychology”. The company’s website adds: “After an experience of direct awakening at age seventeen, Shelley has been on the path of inner transformation ever since.” Her meditation centre, called Sacred Space, is intended to help New Yorkers find respite from the city’s frantic pace and “cultivate practices for Inner Peace”. Ms Lewis is understood to divide her time between New York and west London, where she owns a flat. She was also the author of A Key to the Heart, a bestselling children’s book, which has reportedly been praised by Laura Bush, the former First Lady and author J K Rowling. Ms Lewis’ father, Brian, a retired businessman told The Mail on Sunday: “I’ve not seen my daughter for ages. I have no idea what she would want to say.” Ms Lewis deleted all her social media profiles a short time after the release of the court documents on Friday. Ms Maxwell, the daughter of the late Robert Maxwell, a Labour MP and owner of the Mirror Group of newspapers, is in custody in New York awaiting trial. Charged with six counts of child abuse allegedly committed between 1994 and 1997, Ms Maxwell, who has denied the allegations, is due to stand trial next July. Other documents remain sealed and Ms Maxwell’s legal team are seeking to prevent their release. Some papers, which were due to be released on Monday, will be kept under wraps, including Ms Maxwell’s own deposition in which she has denied knowledge of Epstein’s activities. Judges in the US Court of Appeals agreed to delay their publication in a two-page order published on Saturday. A further hearing has been listed for September. The Telegraph has approached Ms Lewis for comment.


Coronavirus testing czar calls for widespread mask compliance, but suggests mandate could be risky

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 13:20

Coronavirus testing czar calls for widespread mask compliance, but suggests mandate could be riskyAssistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, the White House's coronavirus testing coordinator, is not shy about urging people to wear masks. He told NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday that, especially in locations experiencing more intense coronavirus outbreaks, "you really need to have mask-wearing at a very high degree" to drive infections down. He does not, however, feel comfortable recommending a national mask mandate to President Trump.Giroir expressed concerned that a federal mandate would actually result in Americans wearing masks less consistently. "There's a debate whether a mandate actually does an affirmative thing or whether people will rebel against that," he said. "But it really has to be voluntary by the American people, whether it's mandated by a city, like it was done in Phoenix, or certain states."Either way, he said, the public health message remains the same. "We've got to have mask-wearing," he told Todd. > EXCLUSIVE: @HHS_ASH says there's "debate" over whether Americans would rebel against a universal mask-wearing mandate: > > "We are very concerned. ... Deaths will continue to increase for the next few weeks." pic.twitter.com/KzMfnqaVHX> > -- Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) August 2, 2020More stories from theweek.com The housing crisis is here 5 brutally funny cartoons about Bill Barr’s brand of justice Deutsche Bank launches investigation into personal banker of Trump, Kushner


Dr. Birx: Before schools can reopen, coronavirus outbreaks must get under control

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 11:57

 Before schools can reopen, coronavirus outbreaks must get under controlBirx endorsed a recommendation from CDC Director Robert Redfield that schools in areas with a 5% positivity rate or higher stick to distance learning.


Rep. Raúl Grijalva tests positive for COVID-19, is symptom-free

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 10:58

Rep. Raúl Grijalva tests positive for COVID-19, is symptom-freeRep. Raúl Grijalva has tested positive for COVID-19 after days in D.C. that included a hearing with Rep. Louie Gohmert, who also tested positive.


Nancy Pelosi Tears Into Dr. Birx: ‘I Don’t Have Confidence’ in Her

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 10:27

 ‘I Don’t Have Confidence’ in HerHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) didn’t mince words on Sunday morning, declaring that she has no “confidence” in White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, whom she blamed for President Donald Trump peddling coronavirus disinformation.Last week, during a closed-door meeting with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Politico reported that the speaker tore into Birx. “Deborah Birx is the worst. Wow, what horrible hands you’re in,” she reportedly exclaimed.Pelosi also accused Birx of “spreading disinformation” while simultaneously praising top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci—who has found himself in Team Trump’s crosshairs of late—as a “hero.”Asked whether her reported comments were accurate, Pelosi doubled down on her Birx criticism during an appearance on ABC’s This Week.“I think the president has been spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his appointee so, I don’t have confidence there, no,” the House leader huffed.At the end of a contentious CNN interview that included host Dana Bash pressing her on why the administration’s coronavirus response “failed so badly,” Birx was asked to react to Pelosi’s harsh remarks.“I have tremendous respect for the speaker,” Birx deflected. “And I have tremendous respect for her long dedication to the American people.”The White House coronavirus task force member then turned her attention to The New York Times, which recently published a deep-dive into the administration’s “failure” in containing the pandemic and reported that Birx was only giving good news to Trump.“And I think it was unfortunate that The New York Times wrote this article without speaking to me. I could have brought forth the data,” she complained, defending her record. “I provide data every single day with an analysis. The day that they are talking about that I was ‘Pollyannish.’”“It said there was improvement in the New York metro, but ongoing cases in Boston and Chicago, a new outbreak in Houston and full logarithmic spread, and new concerning outbreaks in Baltimore, New Haven, and Washington, D.C,” she continued. “This was not a Pollyannish view. I have never been called Pollyannish or non-scientific or non-data-driven. And I will stake my 40-year career on those fundamental principles of utilizing data to really implement better programs to save more lives.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Public transportation may not be a major source of coronavirus transmission

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 10:05

Public transportation may not be a major source of coronavirus transmissionAt first glance, taking public transportation seems like a particularly risky activity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, but in several major cities where ridership has rebounded, there haven't been any outbreaks linked to subways, buses, or commuter railways, The New York Times reports.In Paris, contact tracers have not found public transportation to be linked to any of the city's 386 coronavirus clusters between early May and mid-July. The same goes for Tokyo's famously busy system, and an Austrian study also did not tie any outbreaks to public transportation in the country.The findings are encouraging, but come with some caveats: Ridership still falls short of pre-pandemic levels in most places, and those cities where passengers are taking public transportation in more significant numbers have mandated masks, disinfected trains and buses, and ramped up service to avoid overcrowding. Of course, that will likely be the blueprint for many cities going forward, at least while the pandemic continues.The trickier aspect might have to do with contact tracing. Experts warn that it's challenging to trace an outbreak to public transportation because there's little chance people will remember their precise train car, and it's even more difficult to track down who else was in the same space.A lot remains unknown, but the Times reports that riding public transportation probably falls somewhere in between walking outdoors and dining indoors on the safety scale. Read more at The New York Times.More stories from theweek.com The housing crisis is here 5 brutally funny cartoons about Bill Barr’s brand of justice Deutsche Bank launches investigation into personal banker of Trump, Kushner


India bootleg alcohol death toll rises to 98 as families mourn

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 09:53

India bootleg alcohol death toll rises to 98 as families mournThe death toll from a toxic bootleg alcohol scandal in the north Indian state of Punjab rose to 98 Sunday, officials and reports said. Police have arrested 25 people so far over the worsening tragedy, which starting coming to light late last week, the Press Trust of India news agency said. Hundreds of people die every year in India from illegal alcohol made in backstreet distilleries which sells for as little as 10 rupees (13 US cents) a litre, affordable for even the poorest.


Scientists and environmental groups 'alarmed' by huge rise in Amazon wildfires

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 09:43

Scientists and environmental groups 'alarmed' by huge rise in Amazon wildfires“It’s a terrible sign,” said Ane Alencar, science director at Brazil’s Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM).


Texas will now allow people taking the bar exam to bring their own menstrual products

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 09:19

Texas will now allow people taking the bar exam to bring their own menstrual productsThe Texas Board of Law Examiners will allow test-takers to bring their own menstrual products after previously forbiding them over security concerns.


Annual Sturgis rally expecting 250K, stirring virus concerns

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 08:48

Annual Sturgis rally expecting 250K, stirring virus concernsSturgis is on. The message has been broadcast across social media as South Dakota, which has seen an uptick in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, braces to host hundreds of thousands of bikers for the 80th edition of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. More than 250,000 people are expected to rumble through western South Dakota, seeking the freedom of cruising the boundless landscapes in a state that has skipped lockdowns.


The world's airlines say they won't recover until 2024, reflecting a new wave of pessimism as the pandemic rages on

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 07:45

The world's airlines say they won't recover until 2024, reflecting a new wave of pessimism as the pandemic rages onIt may be 2024 before airlines fully recover from the coronavirus crisis, a major airline group acknowledged for the first time.


Egypt tells Elon Musk its pyramids were not built by aliens

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 07:10

Egypt tells Elon Musk its pyramids were not built by aliensEgypt invited the billionaire to visit, after he appeared to tweet support for conspiracy theorists.


A cartel war has transformed once-tranquil Guanajuato into one of Mexico's deadliest states

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 06:00

A cartel war has transformed once-tranquil Guanajuato into one of Mexico's deadliest statesHomicides soar as two gangs battle it out in the Mexican state of Guanajuato.


Israel's Netanyahu rails at media over protests against him

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 05:51

Israel's Netanyahu rails at media over protests against himIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday railed at swelling protests against his rule, saying they were egged on by a biased media that distorts facts and cheers on the demonstrators. Netanyahu has faced a wave of protests in recent weeks, with demonstrators calling for the resignation of the long-serving leader, who is on trial for corruption charges. Netanyahu has painted the protests as dens of “anarchists” and “leftists" out to topple “a strong right-wing leader.”


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