Wednesday, January 12, 2022
BY SARAH LAZARUS & CROOKED MEDIA
** -Marco Rubio ([link removed]) on the most urgent threat to American democracy
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has mapped out the next steps in the Senate voting-rights battle, but absent any changes to the filibuster, the 2022 fight for democracy is about to spill out across dozens of much dumber battlegrounds.
* In a Wednesday memo, Schumer told Senate Democrats that he plans to force a debate ([link removed]) on both the Freedom to Vote Act and the The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act this week, via some boring procedural magic. To wit: The House will first pass legislation that squishes the two election bills into an existing, unrelated bill and send it to the Senate as a “message,” allowing Democrats to proceed to debate with a simple majority. That maneuver could happen as soon as Wednesday night.
* “Of course, to ultimately end debate and pass the voting rights legislation, we will need 10 Republicans to join us—which we know from past experience will not happen—or we will need to change the Senate rules as has been done many times before,” Schumer wisely noted. To that end, President Biden attended a Wednesday caucus meeting ([link removed]) with Senate Democrats to discuss potential filibuster reforms, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had a hissy fit ([link removed]) about Biden’s pro-democracy speech on Tuesday.
* It’s still unclear which change(s) to the filibuster Schumer plans to force a vote on within the next week, or whether Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) can be persuaded to support passing any rule change along party lines. He and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have continued to meet with Democratic colleagues frantically urging them to change their minds, but neither appears to have budged.
In anticipation of Democrats’ pitiful failure, donors have begun dumping piles of cash into the once unflashy elections that will shape democracy’s last line of defense.
* Secretary of state races will haul in record amounts of money this year ([link removed]) , according to a preliminary analysis by the Brennan Center. While there’s not much fundraising data available yet, it’s already clear that Republicans’ efforts to fill election-administration roles with Bie Lie fans have brought those races a new level of national attention. Secretary-of-state candidates in Georgia, Michigan, and Minnesota have collectively raised two-and-a-half times more than similar candidates had at the same point in the last two election cycles.
* Both parties are seeing a fundraising boom, but election denialism itself has proven distressingly lucrative. Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), who’s said, “I believe if there was a fair election, it would be a different outcome,” has raised $575,770, the most of any secretary-of-state candidate in Georgia.
The next few days will determine whether Democratic leaders can make good on their promises to protect voting rights and fair elections, or whether the rest of us will be white-knuckling it through the midterms in an effort to buy them another chance. If you live in Arizona or West Virginia (or know someone who does), now’s a great time to make that extra call ([link removed]) .
This week Keep It! is celebrating its four year anniversary! That’s four years of pop culture recommendations, celebrity hot takes, and of course, French accents. Congratulations to Ira Madison III, Louis Virtel, Aida Osman, and the entire team at Keep It for reaching this incredible milestone. New episodes of Keep It! drop every Wednesday. Listen and follow wherever you get your podcasts ([link removed]) .
Teachers’ unions aren’t the only groups reluctant to continue in-person learning during the Omicron surge. Students at a number of New York City high schools staged a walkout ([link removed]) on Tuesday to protest inadequate coronavirus measures, calling for more testing and a remote-learning option in the short term. In a bid to keep butts in classroom seats, the Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will begin shipping five-million free rapid tests to schools across the country ([link removed]) later this month, and expand lab capacity to allow schools to process another five-million PCR tests each month. The administration is also “strongly considering options” ([link removed]) to make N95 and KN95 masks more available. In what’s technically both
bad news and good news, all of those measures will come too late to mitigate much of the Omicron wave, which may be about to peak ([link removed]) .
* The January 6 committee has asked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to voluntarily provide information ([link removed]) “on a range of critical topics, including your conversations with President Trump before, during and after the violent January 6th attack.”
* Inflation rose seven percent in December over the year before ([link removed]) , the fastest climb since 1982, though month-to-month price increases show signs of deceleration.
* The federal grand jury investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) for sex trafficking heard testimony from his ex-girlfriend ([link removed]) , a sign that the Justice Department may be trundling towards an indictment.
* Disgraced former president Donald Trump abruptly hung up on NPR’s Steve Inskeep ([link removed]) after Inskeep confronted him about his voter fraud lies.
* A North Carolina court upheld Republicans’ extreme partisan gerrymanders ([link removed]) , but the case will now head to the state Supreme Court, where Democratic justices hold a slim majority.
* Roughly 8,400 workers have gone on strike at nearly 80 King Soopers stores in Colorado ([link removed]) , after negotiations stalled over wages and working conditions.
* A federal judge has rejected Meta’s request to dismiss the Federal Trade Commission’s revised antitrust complaint ([link removed]) , after tossing out the initial suit last year.
* COVID-19 was once again the leading cause of death among active-duty law enforcement in 2021 ([link removed]) . Some 458 U.S. law enforcement officers died last year, the highest total since 1930; 301 of those deaths were caused by COVID, according to preliminary data.
* Kanye West is planning a trip to Russia to meet with Vladimir Putin, do some shows, and expand his Russian business ventures ([link removed]) , as one does.
* Israeli scientists have taught six goldfish how to drive on land ([link removed]) , inhumanely condemning them to a lifetime of giving other goldfish rides to the airport.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) brought up a baseless January 6 conspiracy theory during a Tuesday Senate committee hearing ([link removed]) , in penance for betraying the far-right by referring to the insurrection as a “terrorist attack.” The conspiracy theory, which was floating through online right-wing sewers for months before Tucker Carlson picked it up, posits that a man named Ray Epps, secretly working for the FBI, encouraged Trump supporters to storm the Capitol in order to make mass arrests. After Cruz presented that claim on the Senate floor, the January 6 panel released a statement debunking it ([link removed]) : “The Select Committee has interviewed Mr. Epps. He informed us that he was not employed by, working with, or acting at the direction of any law enforcement agency on January 5th or 6th or at any other time, and that he has never been an informant for
the FBI or any other law enforcement agency.”
It’s the middle of winter, and time to get real about layers, lining—everything that’s going to keep you warm and comfortable when you head out the door.
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The Ohio Supreme Court ([link removed]) has struck down Republicans’ newly-drawn state legislative maps, and looks likely to do the same to their gerrymandered congressional map.
California ([link removed]) may become the first state to adopt a single-payer health-care system.
The Senate ([link removed]) has passed a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously to Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley.
Weed ([link removed]) …might…help prevent COVID infections? (struggling to form words through a mouthful of gummies) According to a new study????