Friday, May 14, 2021
BY SARAH LAZARUS & CROOKED MEDIA
** -Tony Fauci ([link removed]) , unable to find a scientific explanation for Rand Paul
Between installing a vocal election-denier in party leadership, aggressively whitewashing the events of January 6, and rushing through a coordinated legislative attack on voting rights, the GOP seems like it might be pretty serious about this whole anti-democracy thing? At no point this week has anyone said “psych.”
* House Republicans have elected Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) ([link removed]) to replace Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as GOP conference chair, in spite of a last-minute challenge from Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), who argued that her voting record was way too moderate ([link removed]) . Can’t beat that lying-about-the-election record ([link removed]) , though! Speaking to reporters later, Stefanik thanked Donald Trump and called him “a critical part of our Republican team,” just in case there was any lingering confusion.
* With adherence to the Big Lie now mandated within the Republican party, lawmakers have gotten bolder ([link removed]) about not only rewriting Trump’s role in inciting an insurrection, but recasting the rioters themselves as harmless visitors. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) went ahead and crowned himself Denial King ([link removed]) on Friday: “There have been things worse than people without any firearms coming into a building.” As Abraham Lincoln famously said at Gettysburg, “There have been things worse than some guys spending a day together in a field. Let’s get some lunch.”
* And as Trump’s zombie election lies propel voter-suppression laws through state legislatures across the country, Republicans are comfortably gloating ([link removed]) about using the filibuster (and the two Democrats who wanna marry it) to block election reforms. Here’s Senate Minority (theoretically) Leader Mitch McConnell talking about S1 on Fox News: “It’s not gonna pass the Senate. There's not a single Republican for it. Senator Manchin, Senator Sinema made it clear they're not going to get rid of the legislative filibuster. It would take 60 votes to pass this bill. It will not pass.” Your move, Smanchinema.
Hold onto your butts, for it appears that the laws in question may not have arisen organically out of each state’s unique concerns.
* In a leaked video obtained by Mother Jones, the executive director of the conservative group Heritage Action bragged to donors about how the group had drafted provisions for Georgia’s new voter-suppression law ([link removed]) , and was doing the same for similar bills across the country. The video highlights how a dark money group that’s long pushed for suppressive voting restrictions is now taking advantage of Trump’s election lies to make it happen, spending $24 million over two years in eight battleground states.
* Of course, there is always the possibility that Heritage Action is full of shit. An Iowa GOP lawmaker who worked extensively on the state’s garbage new election law has adamantly denied ([link removed]) that the group had anything to do with it, saying he had “literally zero with a capital Z interaction with them. Any inference that they had anything to do with this bill is a bald-faced lie.” It’s the word of proven liars trying to make it harder to vote against the word of other proven liars trying to make it harder to vote, so we’ll just be over here calling our senators while they hash this one out.
House Republicans have left little doubt that if they regain power in 2022—which they likely would, as the opposition party with unaddressed structural advantages—they won’t hesitate to overturn a presidential election in 2024. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has repeatedly said that “failure is not an option” when it comes to passing the For The People Act, and it’s up to all of us to hold him to it ([link removed]) .
Senate Democrats will soon face a choice: Protect our democracy and pass the For the People Act, or protect the filibuster – an outdated and abused Jim Crow relic.
On Monday, May 17, join us for an exciting virtual town hall with Sens. Jeff Merkley and Elizabeth Warren at 8PM ET for a live discussion on how we’re fighting to end the filibuster and protect our democracy. RSVP here ([link removed]) →
House lawmakers have reached a deal on a bipartisan January 6 commission ([link removed]) , and there’s good news and bad news. The good news: The proposed commission would be tightly focused on investigating the insurrection, with none of the unrelated hollering about Antifa that Republicans had pushed for. The bad news: It would be...bipartisan, a 10-person commission split down the middle, with half of the commission functionally investigating the people who appointed them. The worse news (sorry): The panel would only be able to subpoena witnesses by bipartisan consensus, giving Republicans plenty of leash to obstruct the investigation. The proposal also still needs to pass the House and Senate. If both chambers approve, the commission will be tasked with publishing a final report by the end of this year.
* Israel’s military said ground troops have not yet entered Gaza ([link removed]) , contrary to an earlier statement, but airstrikes and tank fire continued to escalate into Friday, and the deadly violence has spread to the West Bank ([link removed]) . Gaza residents now have just five hours of electricity per day ([link removed]) , and half their usual water supply.
* All of this has worked out great for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ([link removed]) , who now looks likely to stay in power and subject Israel to its fifth election since 2019. After the violence interrupted negotiations for an alternative coalition government, right-wing politician Naftali Bennett announced he would negotiate with Netanyahu instead.
* House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House’s mask mandate won’t change until everyone’s vaxxed ([link removed]) . Congressional Democrats have a 100 percent vaccination rate, but only 95 of the 212 House Republicans have both gotten jabbed and been willing to say so publicly.
* The police officers who were assaulted by insurrectionists on January 6 do not appreciate Republicans’ recent comments painting them as normal tourists ([link removed]) , as you might imagine. DC officer Michael Fanone told CNN, Those are lies. And peddling that bullshit is an assault on every officer that fought to defend the Capitol. It’s disgraceful.”
* Welcome to another brand new episode of Matt Gaetz, Criminal Mastermind ([link removed]) .
* Two days after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) chased Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) through the Capitol yelling about terrorism, a video has surfaced of Greene screaming some very psycho shit through AOC’s office door mail slot in 2019 ([link removed]) . On Friday, a member of Greene’s staff harassed Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) ([link removed]) for wearing a mask.
* Gov. Mike Parson (R-MO) announced that Missouri won’t expand Medicaid ([link removed]) , in defiance of voters who passed a ballot measure to do so last year.
* Not to be outdone, the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned a medical-marijuana initiative that voters approved and struck down the state’s whole ballot-initiative process on a technicality ([link removed]) , killing a Medicaid expansion effort that organizers launched this week.
* Neera Tanden has joined the White House as a senior advisor ([link removed]) , after Senate Republicans (and Joe Manchin) blocked her nomination to lead the OMB.
* Buzzfeed News was able to find Biden’s Venmo account in under ten minutes ([link removed]) , pointing to a big ol’ privacy issue.
* Chicago has released 1,000 feral cats onto the streets to address the city’s rat problem ([link removed]) , and has 1,000 wild coyotes ready to deploy if the cat situation gets out of hand.
A new survey study found that we should probably just be dangling cash in front of vaccine skeptics ([link removed]) , as a public health measure. In recent randomized survey experiments, about a third of the unvaccinated population population said a cash payment would make them more likely to go get jabbed, suggesting that governors like Jim Justice (R-WV) ([link removed]) and Larry Hogan (R-MD) ([link removed]) are on to something. The promise of getting to do things in public without masks or social distancing also moved the needle (into MORE ARMS, haha), suggesting that the Biden administration is also on to something
([link removed]) . Researchers found that cash incentives were most effective among Democrats, while ditching masks seemed to motivate Republicans—and both proved more persuasive than endorsements by political figures or doctors.
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U.S. coronavirus deaths ([link removed]) have hit the lowest level in ten months.
The House ([link removed]) has passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a bill that would protect pregnant workers from discrimination and require reasonable workplace accommodations.
President Biden ([link removed]) has revoked a Trump-era order that barred immigrants from obtaining visas unless they proved they could obtain health insurance.
Los Angeles County ([link removed]) is considering a basic income pilot program that would provide at least $1,000 a month to at least 1,000 residents.