things that make you say hmmm
August 16, 2019

Congressional Republicans are ready to point the finger to the other side of the aisle.

A memo circulated by House Republicans advises lawmakers to deflect questions about gun violence and white nationalism to instead blame "the left" and "both sides," reports the Tampa Bay Times.

The talking points falsely described the shooting in El Paso, Texas, and other mass shootings as "violence from the left," though the alleged El Paso shooter targeted "Mexicans" and reportedly wrote a white nationalist, anti-immigrant screed that decried a "Hispanic invasion of Texas," per NPR, echoing President Trump's rhetoric surrounding immigration.

The inclusion of El Paso was actually a mistake, said a spokesperson for Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), who circulated the talking points. It was supposed to mention Dayton, Ohio, where another shooting occurred the same weekend. The alleged Dayton shooter was reportedly a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), though there is no evidence his alleged attack was motivated by leftist political views. The Tampa Bay Times reports that other shootings described as leftist violence are included "despite ambiguous, if not contradictory, evidence."

If asked whether "white nationalism is driving more mass shootings recently," Republican lawmakers are advised to steer the conversation in a way that argues both sides are to blame. FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress most domestic terrorism cases "are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence." The Anti-Defamation League says 73 percent of extremist-related murder in the last decade were committed by right-wing extremists, including white supremacists, while 3 percent were committed by left-wing extremists.

"White nationalism and racism are pure evil and cannot be tolerated in any form," reads the reported document. "We also can't excuse violence from the left." Read more at the Tampa Bay Times. Summer Meza

July 15, 2019

The Jeffrey Epstein case just keeps getting stranger.

During Epstein's bail hearing on Monday, federal prosecutors disclosed the contents of Epstein's safe after the FBI raided his Manhattan residences last week. Sure, they found "piles of cash." And some diamonds, too. That's to be expected.

But Alex Rossmiller, one of the prosecutors, reportedly revealed a more startling discovery.

One can only speculate about why Epstein has the passport and if he ever used it, but the enigma grows. No one can pinpoint how Epstein accrued his wealth, there are reports of a steel safe in a secretive room on his private island, and there are longstanding rumors, which may have been substantiated, that he has compiled blackmail to use against his powerful associates. Add the passport to the list.

Of course, these mysteries should not overshadow the actual reason Epstein is in the news — he has been charged with sex trafficking minors for years and accused of sexual abuse. But perhaps as investigators been to unravel this sprawling tale, some of the weirder components will begin to shed light on Epstein's alleged criminal history. Tim O'Donnell

July 9, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) might have stumbled into agreeing to what would be considered a major foreign policy pronouncement.

During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Warren was approached by two members of IfNotNow, an American Jewish progressive activist group opposing Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. An interesting exchange followed in which Warren answered in the affirmative when asked, if elected president, whether she would pressure Israel to end the occupation.

Whether Warren was intentional in her commitment or was being a tad careless during a busy campaign stop is unclear, but IfNotNow considers it signed, sealed, and delivered.

Warren's stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict has evolved over the years. In 2012, she said she would work as a senator to "ensure Israel's security and success." Two years later, Warren defended a senate vote to increase military aid to Israel during the war on Gaza. More recently, though, Warren has called for Israeli restraint in response to Palestinian protests and opposed a proposal to criminalize boycotting Israel.

Still, neither of the latter stances are equivalent to what she said in New Hampshire. Neither Warren or her campaign have addressed the exchange. Tim O'Donnell

June 4, 2018

One of Hollywood's most polarizing figures has offered his opinion on his role in the #MeToo movement.

Director Woody Allen told Argentinian news program Periodismo Para Todos that he felt he should be the "poster boy" for the movement, since none of the women on his movie sets have publicly accused him of misconduct. Allen's adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, has alleged that Allen sexually abused her 25 years ago. Quartz reports that the judge in the abuse case called Allen's behavior "grossly inappropriate," but he was never charged with any crimes.

Allen called the abuse allegations "so crazy," saying it's "upsetting" that they're still being scrutinized publicly after authorities ended their investigation. Outside of the allegations from Farrow, Allen emphasized his otherwise clean record, calling himself a "big advocate of the #MeToo movement."

"I should be the poster boy for the #MeToo movement. Because I have worked in movies for 50 years. I've worked with hundreds of actresses and not a single one — big ones, famous ones, ones starting out — have ever ever suggested any kind of impropriety at all. I've always had a wonderful record with them."

The director lamented the fact that he is sometimes "linked" with people who are accused of misconduct by dozens of women. Meanwhile "I, who was only accused by one woman in a child custody case which was looked at and proven to be untrue, I get lumped in with these people," said Allen. Read more of the interview at Quartz. Summer Meza

See More Speed Reads