NC YOUNG REPUBLICANS HOLD SUPERSPREADER X-MAS WITH CAWTHORN: North Carolina’s Republicans continued in December to defy the governor’s order as well as public health recommendations by gathering without masks at a large holiday party featuring new Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn. The N.C. Federation of Young Republicans held a Christmas party on Dec. 18 in Carthage, according to 171 photographs posted on Facebook on Dec. 24. Like the GOP’s other gatherings in December, including one on Dec. 5, the people in attendance did not wear masks, shared microphones, shook hands and posed for photos with their arms around one another. Those are practices health officials discourage as the coronavirus pandemic surges to new highs.
THE 4 PONYMEN OF THE TRUMPOCALYPSE SLOUCH TOWARD DC: Madison Cawthorn, who was elected in November to represent the 11th Congressional District in the southwestern part of the state, and 13th District Congressman Ted Budd previously announced they would object to the certification vote. Eighth District Congressman Richard Hudson released a statement Sunday saying he would also object, and 7th District Congressman David Rouzer joined the list on Monday. “When there are widespread and grave concerns, I do not believe our Founders intended Congress to be an automatic rubber stamp of approval of a state’s votes," Rouzer said in a statement. "Election integrity is a foundational matter that needs to be ensured." There is no proof of any election fraud in any state that would have changed the outcome of the race, former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr told Congress last month. But President Donald Trump continues to argue that he won the election.
TRUMP ADMIN TO AWARD GRAZING RIGHTS TO CRIMINAL ARSONISTS: President Donald Trump pardoned the Hammonds in 2018, allowing them to be freed from federal prison. In a proposed decision made on Dec. 31, the BLM said Hammond Ranches should be apportioned all available forage in the Bridge Creek area grazing allotments in the high desert of eastern Oregon, covering about 26,000 acres. At the Hammonds' trial, witnesses testified that a 2001 arson fire occurred shortly after Steven Hammond and his hunting party illegally slaughtered deer on BLM property. One said Steven Hammond handed out matches with instructions to “light up the whole country.” The jury also convicted Steven Hammond for a 2006 blaze. Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians said they plan to protest the proposed decision. "With one foot out the door, the Trump Administration is trying ... to allow these bad-actor permittees to run roughshod over public lands,” said Sarah McMillan, Conservation Director for WildEarth Guardians.
ANOTHER REPUBLICAN GUN-NUT GOES TO CONGRESS PACKING HEAT: One of the newest members of Congress, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), has kicked off the session with a viral digital ad proclaiming her right to carry a Glock on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and in the streets of Washington. Boebert, the gun-toting owner of a gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, Colo., released the video Sunday amid efforts by some Democrats to ban members of Congress from carrying guns on the grounds of the Capitol. On Monday, those efforts appeared poised to fail. “Even though I now work in one of the most liberal cities in America, I refused to give up my rights, especially my Second Amendment rights,” Boebert, who defeated Scott R. Tipton in the Republican primary, says in the ad. “I will carry my firearm in D.C. and in Congress.” The ad begins with Boebert strapping a Glock to her hip before appearing to embark on a walk through Capitol Hill, near federal buildings and through alleys. Although the neighborhood is one of the city’s safest, she cites rising violent crime among the reasons she wants to be armed. “I walk to my office each morning by myself,” Boebert says. “So as a five-foot-tall, 100-pound woman I choose to protect myself legally, because I am my best security.” Boebert also accuses D.C. residents of not understanding “how we live in real America” — echoing the rhetoric of anti-statehood Republicans who have suggested that people who live in the nation’s capital are somehow separate from the rest of the United States.
JOSH HAWLEY ADMITS HIS SENATE GAMBIT WON'T WORK, BUT HE'S DOING IT ANYWAY: Senator Josh Hawley has never equivocated about his disruptive intentions in Washington. A Theodore Roosevelt-admiring populist with Ivy League credentials and lofty ambition, he has spent his first two years in the Senate trying to solder an intellectual framework onto President Trump’s freewheeling brand of politics — occasionally singeing his own party in the process. He declined to be interviewed for this article, but in public comments, he has said he is not running for president and conceded there is little chance of disqualifying any state’s electoral votes. He has also stepped around claims made by Mr. Trump and some House Republicans that the president was the victim of widespread fraud. Instead, Mr. Hawley has insisted that his own goal is to use the process to highlight insecurities in the voting system, the failure by certain states to follow their own election laws and what he called election “interference” on behalf of Mr. Biden by companies like Twitter and Facebook. He has repeatedly said he decided on his own to challenge the election results and is responding to the concerns of his constituents alarmed by allegations of widespread voting fraud, which are unsupported by evidence but which Mr. Trump has perpetuated for months. Aside from giving Senate leaders a courtesy heads-up, his aides said he had not discussed the matter beforehand with fellow senators or House members prepared to back a challenge, or with Mr. Trump. In the face of Republican criticism, Mr. Hawley wrote to colleagues saying he would prefer to have a debate on the Senate floor “for all of the American people to judge” rather than “by press release, conference call or email.” It is a position other senators might hesitate to put their colleagues in, but like Mr. Trump, Mr. Hawley prides himself on not playing by Washington conventions.