Over the last two months, White House employees were asked to complete a background check questionnaire that included questions about marijuana use and the use of other drugs. Now, the White House is calling for past users to resign.
What We Know:
- After revealing past marijuana use during their background checks, several White House staffers that were suspended or working from home have been asked to resign. While marijuana is legal in many states, it is still an illegal drug on the federal level, making it an issue for those who require a federal security clearance.
- As a result, CNN reports that five staffers who admitted to using marijuana have been dismissed from the White House while a few other employees continue to work remotely as they wait for their drug clearance. White House officials stated that those who were let go had additional security factors or more severe drug use that contributed to their termination.
- On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that the White House “worked with the security service to update the policies to ensure that past marijuana use wouldn’t automatically disqualify staff from serving in the White House. As a result, more people will serve who would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use. The bottom line is this: of the hundreds of people hired, only five people who had started working at the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy.”
As a result, more people will serve who would not have in the past with the same level of recent drug use. The bottom line is this: of the hundreds of people hired, only five people who had started working at the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) March 19, 2021
- The issue has primarily impacted younger employees. For now, the White House is granting waivers on a limited basis to those who have limited marijuana use in the past year and those that are required to qualify for Top Secret clearance. Employees under the waiver must agree to stop using marijuana, agree to a pledge not to use marijuana during government service, and undergo random drug tests.
Employees will be working remotely until their past usage meets the standards set by the Personnel Security Division.
Anti-Vaxxer Allen West Says He Has ‘COVID Pneumonia’ But That It’s ‘Not Serious’
Texas gubernatorial candidate Allen West is downplaying his admitted case of “COVID pneumonia” despite being hospitalized for it on Saturday night. The ultra-conservative Republican who has not endorsed the COVID-19 vaccine tweeted about his medical status and tried to put a positive spin on what sounded like a grave situation.
Hours are announcing that he and his wife had contracted COVID-19, West tweeted Saturday afternoon that the two of them had “completed the monoclonal antibody infusion therapy and are in the observation period.” He added that there was “concern” about his own oxygen levels, as COVID-19 is known to aggressively attack the respiratory system.
Amazingly, in a subsequent tweet, the 60-year-old described his diagnosis as “not serious” and said he would likely go to the hospital.
2/ My chest X-rays do show COVID pneumonia, not serious. I am probably going to be admitted to the hospital.
— Allen West (@AllenWest) October 9, 2021
West tweeted Sunday morning that his wife had been released from the hospital while he was kept for additional observation. But in the same Twitter thread, West doubled down on his opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine, suggesting that his hospitalization had somehow renewed his anti-vax stance.
Instead of using the moment to recommend the vaccine to his 762,000 Twitter followers, West chose to endorse monoclonal antibody infusion therapy, an FDA-approved treatment for COVID-19. The infusion therapy is not direct evidence that West is unvaccinated, as doctors can choose to treat breakthrough cases with monoclonal antibodies.
However, choosing the treatment all but revealed West — a QAnon-supporting, one-term Congressman and Army veteran “war criminal” who once called for former President Barack Obama to be impeached — to be another in a growing list of right-wing extremist anti-vaxxers.
“I can attest that, after this experience, I am even more dedicated to fighting against vaccine mandates,” West tweeted Sunday morning. “Instead of enriching the pockets of Big Pharma and corrupt bureaucrats and politicians, we should be advocating the monoclonal antibody infusion therapy.”
He added without proof in a subsequent tweet: “I now have natural immunity and double the antibodies, and that’s science.”
West then made a campaign promise to “vehemently crush anyone forcing vaccine mandates in the Lone Star State” if he is elected governor.
West’s dedication to such right-wing, conservative rhetoric has been nothing short of consistent.
West, who is running against incumbent Texas Gov. Greg Abbot in the Republican primary next year in a longshot campaign that began this past summer after he abruptly quit his job as chairman of the Texas Republican Party,Â has previously referred to public health guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic as “tyranny.” Addressing Abbott’s policies specifically last year, West decried “the despotism, the tyranny that we see in the great state of Texas, where we have executive orders and mandates, people telling us what we can and cannot do, who is essential, who is not essential.”
Also last year, West appeared at the Texas Freedom Rally, where he led a caravan of motorcycles and cars from DallasÂ toÂ AustinÂ in a protest that was held with the purposes of â€œsecuring our civil liberties, defending the constitution, and making sureÂ TexasÂ is open for business,â€�Â according to a press releaseÂ about the event. During the rally, West was injured afterÂ his motorcycle crashed.
West also attended a conference in Dallas that the Texas Tribune described as having â€œties to the QAnon conspiracy theory movement, where a former Trump administration official advocated for a military coup on the U.S. government.â€� He spoke during the â€œFor God & Country Patriot Roundupâ€� event that included former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn claiming Trump could be reinstated as president if a coup dâ€™etat takes place.
Westâ€™s attendance suggested he, like QAnon followers, believes the debunked conspiracy theory that Trump is the legitimate president who was defrauded out of the White House by a rigged election. West has also previously been linked to QAnon, including using the groupâ€™s motto, â€œWe are the storm,â€� for the Texas Republican Party when he first took leadership of the group. Despite all of West’s adoration, Trump has endorsed Abbotâ€™s bid for re-election.
To be sure, West is also a former Army colonel who was all but forced to retire in 2004 after he was charged with assaulting an Iraqi.Â The Nation reminded readersÂ of how â€œWest let the soldiers under his command beat the Iraqi man, whom West believed was involved in an attempt on his life. (No evidence was ever found implicating the man). Then, he staged a mock execution.â€�
Fred Wellman, of the Lincoln Project political action committee,Â described West in a tweetÂ as â€œa war criminal.â€�
As far as his political career goes, West has never kept it a secret how much he resents Obama, who was already the president when West won his congressional election in 2010. Citing the infamous prisoner swap with the Taliban that freed U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, West called for Obama to be impeachedÂ in 2014.
â€œObamaâ€™s breaking of the law in this case presents serious national security concerns â€” for all Americans,â€� West said at the time. â€œThis is aiding and abetting the enemy, which goes along with the collusion of this administration with Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations and supplying weapons and arms to Islamists.â€�
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OP-ED: Who Will Draw The Lines?
The inner workings of politics are often about who holds the power. When it comes to redistricting, power should not be held with politicians, but with the community that elects them.
Redistricting, or the redrawing of legislative districts, occurs following a census, which means every ten years districts must be redrawn to accommodate an equal distribution of populations and the allotment of congressional districts to the states.
Given the release of 2020 Census data earlier this year, we are in that window and the time to act is now. Only this time, the community gets to participate. We do that by going to redistricting hearings, encouraging others to do the same and, in some cases, drawing maps that we would like to see. Without our participation, elected officials can draw district lines in a way that silences our vote.
— GA Coalition for the People’s Agenda (@gcpagenda) October 8, 2021
If we ignore the process that mandates where district boundaries are drawn, we run the risk of losing our voice, of being forgotten, of being overlooked and ignored at times when it is most crucial that we are not. If you ask me, taking that risk is far too great. We must map our own future. We must draw our own community lines to ensure that when resources are allocated, that they are fairly distributed toward our communities, our children, andÂ ourÂ specific needs.
Letâ€™s remember,Â we elect politicians, they should work for usâ€¦not the other way around. When politicians take control of drawing district lines, they are doing so in favor of their own interests, of their own agendas. Do you want a district purposefully redrawn so that your representative can nostalgically have his former high school in his district even when he lives nowhere near that high school? It has happened. Would you want to be forcibly removed from your own district that includes your community â€“ the one that you have nurtured, fought for, organized, and loved for a decade? It has happened. What if you spent time, energy and money to get your favorite representative elected? Redistricting could take away that representative and youâ€™d be left with one that you do not desire. Do you want that to happen?
Our communities worked tremendously hard in 2020. We flooded the polls, the streets and the airways to show that our communities could not be silenced. From social justice issues, presidential elections, voting rights and more, we have spoken up. However, we have more work to do. Now is not the time to be complacent. Now is not the time to think, â€œSomeone else will take care of it.â€� Now is the time to choose, rather than have choices made for you.
We must be watchdogs.
The governor of Georgia has called a special session to start on Nov. 3, 2021. Moreover, weâ€™re not certain if districts have already been drawn, and if so, our next steps. Will we have the opportunity to approve or disagree with whatâ€™s been drawn or will we be relegated to only testify about the criteria?
We want to see the maps; we want to have the ability to comment on the maps that will be presented, and we want to know the process available to us to present our own maps, whether that will be in a legislature or only in a court situation. We need to know these basic things. Now.
It truly is imperative that we all become watchdogs in this situation. You must call the U.S. Congress, your senators and representatives and ask them about the legislature’s special session regarding redistricting. Republicans hold a majority in the Georgia state House and Senate. Governor Brian Kemp is the sole individual who can set the agenda. We must track and follow this issue. We need redistricting at the top of this agenda. I promise you, if weâ€™re not watching, these people will do things that are not in our best interestâ€¦weâ€™ll see our power diminished, weâ€™ll see ourselves broken up into pieces that have little voices rather than one that is unified and weâ€™ll see weâ€™re represented by those who neither look like us, share our background and values nor respond to and understand us.
While weâ€™re at it, we also need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021. Under this act, there will be further protection against redistricting. For example, as stated on Congress.gov, “states and political subdivisions that meet certain thresholds regarding minority groups must preclear covered practices before implementation, such as changes to methods of election and redistricting.”
Mapping our future.
In my own community, we are currently working with a demographer to draw our district. Based uponÂ criteriaÂ set by law, and our wishes, he is drawing a plan that works for us. You can do the same. Communities can also work with a civil rights lawyer to challenge unfair maps. There is help out there, you must only seek it. For example, in the last decade, community members have progressed legal challenges that resulted in fair district maps being drawn in multiple Southern states. You must simply tell your stories and act to get your interest considered either legislatively or legally. Change can and will happen.
Communities must find a way to take care of themselves, just as we are. Redistricting is not a complicated process. It merely relies on us ignoring the process of drawing district boundaries. Letâ€™s not give politicians that advantage.
Helen Butler is the Executive Director of Georgia Coalition for the Peoplesâ€™ Agenda. As Executive Director, Ms. Butler leads initiatives that increase citizen participation in the governance of their communities.
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Public Affairs Outlet C-SPAN Dragged For Plan To Air Trump Rally When He’s Neither A Candidate Nor An Elected Official
Public affairs outlet C-SPAN got dragged on Twitter Saturday over the decision to air former President Donald Trump’s latest rally. C-SPAN framed the event as coverage of a 2024 presidential candidate, but some users pointed out that Trump has not declared candidacy for president
Dean Obeidallah, the host of a SiriusXM show, demanded to know “why they are using our cable fees to cover a man who plotted a coup and then incited the Jan 6 terrorist attack.” He encouraged folks to contact C-SPAN directly.
Just emailed @cspan asking why they are using our cable fees to cover a man who plotted a coup and then incited the Jan 6 terrorist attack. Hope you will email or call them as well: firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 737-3220 https://t.co/6lHagyqqoA
— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) October 9, 2021
MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan asked, “why?”
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) October 9, 2021
According to the C-SPAN website, it is a private nonprofit created by the cable television industry in 1979 to focus on public affairs programming. Â
C-SPAN receives no government funding, funding comes through license fees paid by television providers â€” the cable and satellite companies that offer C-SPAN to their customers as a public service â€” and through advertisements on our digital platforms. C-SPAN’s mission is to provide our audience with access to the live, gavel-to-gavel proceedings of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and to the other forums where public policy is discussed, debated and decided â€” all without editing, commentary or analysis, and with a balanced presentation of points of view.Â
Given C-SPAN’s expressed mission, it’s still unclear why platform Trump, besides clicks. Billed as a rally to “save America,” Trump isn’t simply advancing a political agenda worthy of debate. He continues to further conspiracy theories and blatant disinformation to destabilize the current government.
A fundamental question for C-SPAN’s leadership is whether platforming someone who routinely uses their rallies to spread disinformation and undermine democracy is being “balanced.” Â The antiquated notion of “balanced presentation” doesn’t seem to have kept up with the times. As a product of the cable-news industry, it looks like C-SPAN has learned nothing about disinformation and the false choice of covering “both sides” undisturbed.Â
A glance at C-SPANs executive committee and board of directors shows a predominantly white male group of elites. Pat Esser, president of COX Communications, serves as the executive committee’s board chairman. In a December 2020 statement announcing his selection, Esser Â
“C-SPAN is a national treasure that provides the public with unprecedented and consistent access to government proceedings and balanced coverage of political news,” said Esser. Â
One would think that “balanced coverage” would not simply mean spotlighting anything anyone says. Trump continues to lie about losing the 2020 election, keeping alive a source of political disinformation that has fueled attacks on democracy, including the Jan 6 Capitol attack. Â
It may be time for C-SPAN to reflect inward on how to carry out its mandate in this current political climate.Â
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