- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday formally seconding the nomination for Sen. Bernie Sanders.
- Many people on social media and some news outlets created confusing by claiming she had endorsed Sanders over Joe Biden, the presumptive nominee.
- In reality, Ocasio-Cortez was following a convention rule that says any candidate who receives a certain amount of delegates can be nominated at the convention and the nomination must be seconded.
- In fact, the DNC had explicitly asked Ocasio-Cortez to deliver a speech nominating Sanders and had issued a press release earlier in the day announcing the decision.
- Following the confusion, Ocasio-Cortez accused NBC News of spreading misinformation by sharing a tweet falsely claimed she had not endorsed Biden and blasted the network for waiting nearly four hours before issuing a correction and deleting the tweet.
Ocasio-Cortez’s DNC Speech
Following her speech at the Democratic National Convention, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Ny.) slammed NBC News on Wednesday for spreading “misinformation” in a tweet that suggested she did not endorse Joe Biden, and then failing to issue a correction until hours later in the middle of the night.
In the 90-second speech, Ocasio-Cortez opened by thanking everyone who was working towards what she described as a “mass people’s movement” that is “striving to recognize and repair the wounds of racial injustice, colonization, misogyny and homophobia. And to propose and build reimagined systems of immigration and foreign policy that turn away from the violence and xenophobia of our past.”
“A movement that realizes the unsustainable brutality of an economy that rewards explosive inequalities of wealth for the few, at the expense of long-term stability for the many,” she added. “And who organized a historic, grass roots campaign to reclaim our democracy.”
“In a time when millions of people in the United States are looking for deep systemic solutions to our crises of mass evictions, unemployment, and lack of health care, en el espíritu del pueblo, and out of a love for all people, I hereby second the nomination of Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont for president of the United States of America,” she concluded.
Her last remark created a flurry on social media, where many users and even some news outlets claimed she had endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), with some saying the move with an intentional snub to Biden, who she did not mention in her speech.
Shortly after she delivered her speech, Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to address the confusion.
“If you were confused, no worries!” she wrote.“Convention rules require roll call & nominations for every candidate that passes the delegate threshold. I was asked to 2nd the nom for Sen. Sanders for roll call. I extend my deepest congratulations to @JoeBiden – let’s go win in November.”
DNC Rules & Delegate Roll Call
As Ocasio-Cortez referenced in her tweet, under convention rules, any candidate who gets enough delegates can be “nominated” for the party’s ticket.
While it has been set in stone for a while that Biden will be the nominee because he has already passed the 1,991 delegates needed to secure the nomination, Sanders still had enough delegates to be a nominee, even if there was no shot at him winning.
That is also why when Sanders announced he was dropping out the race, he stayed on the ballot to collect delegates for the convention.
Those delegates are then counted in a formal roll call, which normally takes place in person, but because the virtual convention is viritual, this year it took place remotely with delegates in all 57 states and territories casting their votes Tuesday.
Nominating Sanders, even though everyone knows Biden is going to be the nominee, is a symbolic gesture that acknowledges his run and his influence in the party— which was exactly what Sanders said he wanted when he announced he was suspending his campaign but staying on the ballot.
Contrary to many narratives that circulated online and in the media, Ocasio-Cortez was not using her speech to undermine the party or take a jab at Biden— she was just following a standard practice at the DNC.
In fact, the DNC had explicitly asked her to deliver a speech seconding Sanders’ nomination, which she thanked the party for while congratulating Biden in another tweet.
Ocasio-Cortez also was not the only person to second Sanders’ nomination. The DNC also asked Bob King, the Former President of the United Auto Workers, to do the same. Even beyond that, the convention also published a press release that explicitly said Ocasio-Cortez and King would be giving nominating speeches for Sanders.
NBC vs. AOC
While it is understandable that Ocasio-Cortez’s speech may have been confusing for those of us who do no read DNC press clips or know the ins-and-outs of convention rules, the news media is held to a higher standard.
Because there had been a press release earlier in the day, and because many media organizations would be aware of a common procedural requirement at the convention, outlets that ran with the narrative that Ocasio-Cortez had gone against party wishes or endorsed Sanders received significant backlash.
The news organization that most flack was NBC News, which posted a tweet Tuesday night that read: “In one of the shortest speeches of the DNC, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez did not endorse Joe Biden.”
About four hours after posting that tweet, NBC deleted the tweet and issued a correction clarifying that Ocasio-Cortez had in fact been asked by the DNC to second Sanders’ nomination. They also noted that she had previously endorsed Biden.
NBC also went back on the claim that Ocasio-Cortez’s speech was one of the shortest at the convention by clarifying that it was a similar length to other nominating speeches. Though not noted in the correct, the DNC had explicitly given the representative just 60 seconds for her speech, a time limit she surpassed.
However, many felt that the correction still did not undo the damage it had done, including Ocasio-Cortez herself, who criticized the outlet on Twitter Wendesday.
“You waited several hours to correct your obvious and blatantly misleading tweet. It sparked an enormous amount of hatred and vitriol, & now the misinfo you created is circulating on other networks,” she wrote. “All to generate hate-clicks from a pre-recorded, routine procedural motion.”
Ocasio-Cortez also said that the DNC had shared the purpose of her remarks with the media well in advance and that NBC knew what was going to happen and that it was standard. “How does a headline that malicious & misleading happen w/ that prior knowledge?” she added.
“So @NBCNews how are you going to fix the incredible amount of damage and misinformation that you are now responsible for?” she wrote in a later tweet. “Because a 1:15am tweet to slip under the radar after blowing up a totally false and divisive narrative across networks isn’t it.”
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Hill) (Business Insider)
Supreme Court Rules High School Football Coach Can Pray on Field
All of our rights are “hanging in the balance,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a dissenting opinion.
Court’s Conservatives Break With 60 Years of History
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of a former high school football coach who lost his job after he refused to stop praying on the field at the end of games.
Joseph Kennedy, who was hired at Bremerton High School in Washington State in 2008, kneeled at the 50-yard line after games for years and prayed. He was often joined by some of his players, as well as others from the opposing team.
In 2015, the school asked him not to pray if it interfered with his duties or involved students.
Shortly after, Kennedy was placed on paid administrative leave, and after a school official recommended that his contract not be renewed for the 2016 season he did not reapply for the position.
Kennedy sued the school, eventually appealing the case to the Supreme Court.
The justices voted 6 to 3, with the liberal justices dissenting.
“Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse republic — whether those expressions take place in a sanctuary or on a field, and whether they manifest through the spoken word or a bowed head,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion.
“Here, a government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance,” he added.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissenting opinion.
“Today’s decision is particularly misguided because it elevates the religious rights of a school official, who voluntarily accepted public employment and the limits that public employment entails, over those of his students, who are required to attend school and who this court has long recognized are particularly vulnerable and deserving of protection,” she said.
“In doing so, the court sets us further down a perilous path in forcing states to entangle themselves with religion, with all of our rights hanging in the balance.”
The defense in the case argued that the public nature of Kennedy’s prayers put pressure on students to join him, and that he was acting in his capacity as a public employee, not a private citizen.
Kennedy’s lawyers contended that such an all-encompassing definition of his job duties denied him his right to self-expression on school grounds.
“This is just so awesome,” Kennedy said in a statement following the decision. “All I’ve ever wanted was to be back on the field with my guys … I thank God for answering our prayers and sustaining my family through this long battle.”
Religious Liberty or Separation of Church and State?
Sixty years ago, the Supreme Court decided that the government cannot organize or promote prayer in public schools, and it has since generally abided by that jurisprudence.
But the court led by Chief Justice John Roberts has been increasingly protective of religious expression, especially after the confirmation of three conservative Trump-appointed judges.
Reactions to the ruling were mostly split between liberals who saw the separation of church and state being dissolved and conservatives who hailed it as a victory for religious liberty.
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, which represented the Bremerton school district, said in a statement that the ruling “gutted decades of established law that protected students’ religious freedom.”
“If Coach Kennedy were named Coach Akbar and he had brought a prayer blanket to the 50 yard line to pray after a game,” one Twitter user said, “I’ve got a 401(k) that says this illegitimate, Christofascist SCOTUS rules 6-3 against him.”
“The people defending former Coach Kennedy’s right to kneel on the field after the game to pray – are the ones condemning Colin Kaepernick’s right to kneel on the field to protest police brutality against Black Americans,” another user wrote.
Others, like Republican Congressmember Ronny Jackson and former Secretary of State for the Trump administration Mike Pompeo, celebrated the ruling for protecting religious freedom and upholding what they called the right to pray.
“I am excited to build on this victory and continue securing our inalienable right to religious freedom,” Pompeo wrote.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (Fox News)
Rep. Schiff Urges DOJ to Investigate Trump for Election Crimes: “There’s Enough Evidence”
“When the Justice Department finds evidence of criminal potential criminal wrongdoing, they need to investigate,” the congressman said.
Schiff Says DOJ Should Launch Inquiry
Rep. Adam Schiff (R-Ca.) told Rogue Rocket that he believes there is “certainly […] enough evidence for the Justice Department to open an investigation” into possible election crimes committed by former President Donald Trump.
Schiff, who took the lead in questioning witnesses testifying before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection on Tuesday, said that it will be up to the DOJ to determine whether “they have proof beyond a reasonable doubt” of criminal activity, but added that an investigation must first be launched.
“Donald Trump should be treated like any other citizen,” the congressman said, noting that a federal judge in California has already ruled that Trump and his allies “likely” engaged in multiple federal criminal acts. “When the Justice Department finds evidence of criminal potential criminal wrongdoing, they need to investigate.”
“One of the concerns I have is it’s a year and a half since these events. And while […] there’s an investigation going on in Fulton County by the district attorney, I don’t see a federal grand jury convened in Atlanta looking into this, and I think it’s fair to ask why,” Schiff continued, referencing the ongoing inquiry into Trump’s attempts to overturn the election in Georgia.
“Normally, the Justice Department doesn’t wait for Congress to go first. They pursue evidence and they have the subpoena power. They’re often much more agile than the Congress. And I think it’s important that it not just be the lower-level people who broke into the Capitol that day and committed those acts of violence who are under the microscope,” he continued. “I think anyone who engaged in criminal activity trying to overturn the election where there’s evidence that they may have engaged in criminal acts should be investigated.”
Schiff Takes Aim at DOJ’s Handling of Committee Subpoenas
Schiff also expressed frustration with how the DOJ has handled referrals the committee has made for former Trump officials who have refused to comply with subpoenas to testify before the panel.
“We have referred four people for criminal prosecution who have obstructed our investigation. The Justice Department has only moved forward with two of them,” he stated. “That’s not as powerful an incentive as we would like. The law requires the Justice Department to present these cases to the grand jury when we refer them, and by only referring half of them, it sends a very mixed message about whether congressional subpoenas need to be complied with.”
As far as why the congressman thought the DOJ has chosen to operate in this manner in regards to the Jan. 6 panel’s investigation, he said he believes “the leadership of the department is being very cautious.”
“I think that they want to make sure that the department avoids controversy if possible, doesn’t do anything that could even be perceived as being political,” Schiff continued. “And while I appreciate that sentiment […] at the same time, the rule of law has to be applied equally to everyone. If you’re so averse, […] it means that you’re giving effectively a pass or immunity to people who may have broken the law. That, too, is a political decision, and I think it’s the wrong decision.”
On the Note of Democracy
Schiff emphasized the importance of the American people working together to protect democracy in the fallout of the insurrection.
“I really think it’s going to require a national movement of people to step up to preserve our democracy. This is not something that I think Congress can do alone. We’re going to try to protect those institutions, but Republicans are fighting this tooth and nail,” he asserted. “It’s difficult to get through a Senate where Mitch McConnell can filibuster things.”
“We don’t have the luxury of despair when it comes to what we’re seeing around us. We have the obligation to do what generations did before us, and that is defend our democracy,” the congressman continued. “We had to go to war in World War II to defend our democracy from the threat of fascism. You know, we’re not called upon to make those kinds of sacrifices. We see the bravery of people in Ukraine putting their lives on the line to defend their country, their sovereignty, their democracy. Thank God we’re not asked to do that.”
“So what we have to do is, by comparison, so much easier. But it does require us to step up, to be involved, to rally around local elections officials who are doing their jobs, who are facing death threats, and to protect them and to push back against efforts around the country to pass laws to make it easier for big liars to overturn future elections.”
“We are not passengers in all of this, unable to affect the course of our country. We can, you know, grab the rudder and steer this country in the direction that we want.”
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (CNN)
Senate Passes Bill to Help Veterans Suffering From Burn Pit Exposure
For Biden, who believes his son Beau may have died from brain cancer caused by burn pits, the issue is personal.
Veterans to Get Better Healthcare
The Senate voted 84-14 Thursday to pass a bill that would widely expand healthcare resources and benefits to veterans who were exposed to burn pits while deployed overseas.
Until about 2010, the Defense Department used burn pits to dispose of trash from military bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations, dumping things like plastics, rubber, chemical mixtures, and medical waste into pits and burning them with jet fuel.
Numerous studies and reports have demonstrated a link between exposure to the toxic fumes emitted by the pits and health problems such as respiratory ailments and rare cancers. The DoD has estimated that nearly 3.5 million veterans may have inhaled enough smoke to suffer from related health problems.
For years, the Department of Veterans Affairs resisted calls to recognize the link between exposure and illness, arguing it had not been scientifically proven and depriving many veterans of disability benefits and medical reimbursements.
Over the past year, however, the VA relented, awarding presumptive benefit status to veterans exposed to burn pits, but it only applied to those who were diagnosed with asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis within 10 years of their service.
The latest bill would add 23 conditions to the list of what the VA covers, including hypertension. It also calls for investments in VA health care facilities, claims processing, and the VA workforce, while strengthening federal research on toxic exposure.
The bill will travel to the House of Representatives next, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pledged to push it through quickly. Then it will arrive at the White House for final approval.
An Emotional Cause for Many
Ahead of a House vote on an earlier version of the bill in March, comedian John Stewart publically slammed Congress for taking so long to act.
“They’re all going to say the same thing. ‘We want to do it. We want to support the veterans. But we want to do it the right way. We want to be responsible,’” he said. “You know what would have been nice? If they had been responsible 20 years ago and hadn’t spent trillions of dollars on overseas adventures.”
“They could have been responsible in the seventies when they banned this kind of thing in the United States,” he continued. “You want to do it here? Let’s dig a giant fucking pit, 10 acres long, and burn everything in Washington with jet fuel. And then let me know how long they want to wait before they think it’s going to cause some health problems.”
For President Biden, the issue is personal. He has said he believes burn pits may have caused the brain cancer that killed his son Beau in 2015.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer applauded the fact the long-awaited benefits could soon arrive for those impacted.
“The callousness of forcing veterans who got sick as they were fighting for us because of exposure to these toxins to have to fight for years in the VA to get the benefits they deserved — Well, that will soon be over. Praise God,” he said during a speech on Thursday.
A 2020 member survey by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America found that 86% of respondents were exposed to burn pits or other toxins.
Although burn pits have largely been scaled down, the DoD has not officially banned them, and at least nine were still in operation in April 2019.