June 27, 2022 / by 

 

Constructive Action: Taking Back Real Control of the Senate

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

There’s just so much wrong right now in governance which could be fixed with 60 Democratic seats in the Senate.

We could pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, for starters, which would encode women’s reproductive rights and autonomous control of their bodies. This bill passed the House but not the Senate because of 50 GOP senators and 2 DINOs.

We could pass other needed legislation which has been throttled by the same 50 GOP senators and 2 DINOs, including the Build Back Better Bill.

We could expand the Supreme Court so that the total number of jurists would match the number of circuit courts.

We could institute term limits for Supreme Court justices so that retirements could be planned.

We could address the shortcomings of the Roberts’ Court ethical failings, from the lack of an ethics code, to Thomas’s refusal to recuse or resign, to the Trump appointees’ misrepresentations before the Senate Judiciary Committee during nomination hearings.

But none of these and other additional remedies can be addressed without at least 60 seated Democratic Senators.

These are the Class III Senators up for re-election or open seats this year:

State Class 3 Cook PVI Notes
Alabama Richard Shelby (R) retiring, open seat R+15 Will Boyd (D)
Alaska Lisa Murkowski (R) R+9 Non-Partisan Primary August 16, 2022
Arizona Mark Kelly (D) R+3
Arkansas John Boozman (R) R+16
California Alex Padilla (D) D+14
Colorado Michael Bennet (D) D+3
Connecticut Richard Blumenthal (D) D+7
Delaware D+6
Florida Marco Rubio (R) R+3 Primary August 23, 2022
Georgia Raphael Warnock (D) R+3
Hawaii Brian Schatz (D) D+15
Idaho Mike Crapo (R) R+19
Illinois Tammy Duckworth (D) D+7
Indiana Todd Young (R) R+11
Iowa Chuck Grassley (R) R+6 Michael Franken (D)
Kansas Jerry Moran (R) R+11
Kentucky Rand Paul (R) R+16
Louisiana John Kennedy (R) R+12
Maine D+1
Maryland Chris Van Hollen (D) D+14
Massachusetts D+14
Michigan R+1
Minnesota D+1
Mississippi R+10
Missouri Roy Blunt (R) R+11
Montana R+11
Nebraska R+13
Nevada Catherine Cortez Masto (D) Even
New Hampshire Maggie Hassan (D) Even
New Jersey D+6
New Mexico D+3
New York Chuck Schumer (D) D+10
North Carolina Richard Burr (R) not seeking re-election R+3 Cheri Beasley (D)
North Dakota John Hoeven (R) R+20
Ohio Rob Portman (R) R+6 Tim Ryan (D)*
Oklahoma James Lankford (R) R+20
Oregon Ron Wyden (D) D+6
Pennsylvania Pat Toomey (R) R+2 John Fetterman (D)
Rhode Island D+8
South Carolina Tim Scott (R) R+8 Dem primary results pending
South Dakota John Thune (R) R+16
Tennessee R+14
Texas R+5 **
Utah Mike Lee (R) R+13 *** Evan McMullin (I) has Utah Dems’ support
Vermont Patrick Leahy (D) retiring, open seat D+15 Dem primary August 9, 2022
Virginia D+2
Washington Patty Murray (D) D+8
West Virginia R+23
Wisconsin Ron Johnson (R) R+2 Dem primary August 9, 2022
Wyoming R+26

light orange: needs assistance with defense

light yellow: winnable

light green: stretch but in range

* Ohio’s senate race is tied — within MOE depend on the poll. There is an independent candidate running as well who may act as a spoiler. Ohioans need to do an effective job of encouraging votes for Ryan so that the independent doesn’t fragment the vote.

** Texas does not currently have a senate seat open or up for re-election. The governor’s race is critical, though, as it is Texas state anti-abortion laws which have been setting the trend for the nation. Beto O’Rourke needs to win this seat.

*** Utah’s Democratic Party has thrown its support behind Evan McMullin because the chances of a Democrat winning that state are slim to none. Mike Lee is an insurrectionist who must be removed.

Pick one or more senate races to defend. Help others go on the offense. Pay attention to the pending primary races and be ready to step in to help.


House January 6 Committee: Public Hearings – Day 2 [UPDATE-1]

This post and comment thread are dedicated to the House January 6 Committee hearings scheduled to continue today June 13, 2022 at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Please take all comments unrelated to the hearings to a different thread. Updates will appear at the bottom of this post.

This week’s hearings are expected to tackle these topics:

Monday, June 13 – Trump’s Big Lie
Wednesday, June 15 – The Department of Justice’s role
Thursday, June 16 – Campaign to pressure Mike Pence into breaking election law

The hearings will stream on:

House J6 Committee’s website: https://january6th.house.gov/news/watch-live

House J6 Committee’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZ0yNe3cFx4

C-SPAN’s House J6 hearing page: https://www.c-span.org/video/?520282-1/open-testimony-january-6-committee

C-SPAN’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/c/C-SPAN/featured

Check PBS for your local affiliate’s stream: https://www.pbs.org/ (see upper right corner)

Twitter is carrying multiple live streams (NBC, PBS, Washington Post, Reuters, CSPAN, Bloomberg): https://twitter.com/i/events/1536343313325821952

MSNBC will carry coverage on their cable network; special coverage has already begun with their Morning Joe program on https://www.msnbc.com/live.

ABC, NBC, CBS will carry the hearings live on broadcast and CNN will carry on its cable network.

Twitter accounts live tweeting today’s hearing (subject to change):

Marcy’s thread: https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1536361021564243971

Brandi Buchman-DailyKos: https://twitter.com/Brandi_Buchman/status/1536285741088751616

Scott MacFarlane-CBS: https://twitter.com/MacFarlaneNews/status/1536348494931406850

Jennifer Taub: https://twitter.com/jentaub/status/1536343525398224897

Laura Rozen: https://twitter.com/lrozen/status/1536361217450725376

JustSecurity’s team live tweeting: https://twitter.com/just_security/status/1536338931104550913 (check their feed, they don’t live tweet as frequently or thoroughly as others)

Check also these Twitter accounts for coverage (no live tweet thread established yet):

Jordan Fischer: https://twitter.com/JordanOnRecord
Aaron Rupar: https://twitter.com/atrupar

If you know of any other credible source tweeting the coverage, please share a link in comments.

The original agenda for this hearing:


Shortly after 9:00 a.m. this morning the agenda and hearing timing was changed to reflect Stepien’s omission from the witness lineup due to a family emergency. The hearing’s start time was pushed back a half-hour to 10:30 a.m.; Stepien’s attorney is expected to make a statement.

~ ~ ~

Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the hearing progresses.

Again, this post is dedicated to the House January 6 Committee  and topics addressed in testimony and evidence produced during the hearing.

All other discussion should be in threads under the appropriate post with open discussion under the most recent Trash Talk.

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

Comment policy

Community guidelines

If you are leaving a comment, please be concise; 100 words is the optimum length.

If you are sharing active links your comment may be delayed by auto-moderation.

If contributors and moderators seem slow, it’s because they’re dealing with higher than usual volume of comments including trolling.

Caution: moderators will have much lower tolerance for trolling.

~ ~ ~

ADDER — 10:02 A.M. ET —

Not really an update since the hearing hasn’t started. The Senate Jucidiary Committee Dems have posted a Twitter thread about former US Attorney BJay Pak’s testimony before their committee regarding the demands made to investigate “irregularities” in Atlanta’s 2020 handling of ballots and vote counting.


Excellent prep work to read before Pak’s testimony today.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE — 12:30 P.M. ET —

Ben Ginsberg, a Republican election law lawyer, has been added as a witness appearing in person before the committee along with the rest of the second panel (i.e., Pak and Schmidt after a 10-minute break).


House January 6 Committee: Public Hearings – Day 1 [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Any updates will be published at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

This post and comment thread are dedicated to the House January 6 Committee hearings scheduled to begin Thursday June 9, 2022, at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Please take all comments unrelated to the hearings to a different thread.

The hearings will stream on:

House J6 Committee’s website: https://january6th.house.gov/news/watch-live

House J6 Committee’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZ0yNe3cFx4

C-SPAN’s House J6 hearing page: https://www.c-span.org/video/?520282-1/open-testimony-january-6-committee

C-SPAN’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/c/C-SPAN/featured

Check PBS for your local affiliate’s stream: https://www.pbs.org/ (see upper right corner)

Twitter is carrying multiple live streams (NBC, PBS, Washington Post, Reuters, CSPAN, Bloomberg): https://twitter.com/i/events/1533876297926991877

MSNBC will carry coverage on their cable network with coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET as well as on MSNBC’s Maddow Show podcast feed. Details at this link.

ABC, NBC, CBS will carry the hearings live on broadcast and CNN will carry on its cable network.

Fox News is not carrying this on their main network. Their weeknight programming including Tucker Carlson’s screed will continue as usual and will likely carry counterprogramming.

Twitter accounts live tweeting the hearing tonight:

Brandi Buchman-DailyKos: https://twitter.com/Brandi_Buchman/status/1535034512639512576

Scott MacFarlane-CBS: https://twitter.com/MacFarlaneNews/status/1535050143879266306

Chris Geidner-Grid News: https://twitter.com/chrisgeidner/status/1535052708922937345

JustSecurity’s team live tweeting: https://twitter.com/just_security/status/1534955708881457154

If you know of any other credible source tweeting the coverage, please share a link in comments.

Marcy will not be live tweeting as the hearing begins 2:00 a.m. IST/1:00 a.m. UTC/GMT. She’ll have a post Friday morning Eastern Time. Do make sure to read her hearing prep post, though.

An agenda for this evening’s hearing has not been published on the committee’s website.

~ ~ ~

Any updates will appear at the bottom of this post; please bear with any content burps as this page may be edited as the evening progresses.

Again, this post is dedicated to the House January 6 Committee  and topics addressed in testimony and evidence produced during the hearing.

All other discussion should be in threads under the appropriate post with open discussion under the most recent Trash Talk.

To new readers and commenters: welcome to emptywheel. New commenters, please use a unique name to differentiate yourself; use the same username each time you comment.

Comment policy

Community guidelines

If you are leaving a comment, please be concise; 100 words is the optimum length.

If you are sharing active links your comment may be delayed by auto-moderation.

If contributors and moderators seem slow, it’s because they’re dealing with higher than usual volume of comments including trolling.

Caution: moderators will have much lower tolerance for trolling.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 7:30 P.M. ET 10-JUN-2022 —

According to Scott MacFarlane-CBS there will be a total of six House J6 Committee hearings this month.

House J6 Committee hearing schedule (as of eve 6/10/2022):

Monday June 13 — Hearing: On the January 6th Investigation
10:00 AM | 390 Canon HOB
Host: Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack

Wednesday June 15 — Hearing: On the January 6th Investigation
10:00 AM | 390 Canon HOB
Host: Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack

Thursday June 16 — Hearing: On the January 6th Investigation
1:00 PM | 390 Canon HOB
Host: Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack

Tuesday June 21 — Hearing: On the January 6th Investigation
**10:00 AM ET | Date-Time-Place Subject to Confirmation**
Host: Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack

Thursday June 23 — Hearing: On the January 6th Investigation
**8:00 PM ET | Date-Time-Place Subject to Confirmation**
Host: Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack

Date, time, and location of the next three hearings have been published on the U.S. House of Representatives’ calendar. The last two have not yet been confirmed and published.


It’s Your Economy, Stupid GOPr

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

I’ve had it. I’m fed up with the attacks on the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress about the economy when the problem is and has been the GOP.

The same GOP which has steadfastly encouraged Americans to avoid vaccines and boosters, reject wearing masks, ignore the need for social distancing and better ventilation to prevent the ongoing spread of COVID, ultimately weakening the country’s workforce and reducing the number of healthy workers.

The same GOP which has persistently supported Putin’s demoralization and destabilization of this country, even though they knew Trump was an asset — we haven’t forgotten Kevin McCarthy’s blurting it out back in 2016 and the rest of the GOP congressional caucus continuing their omertà — ultimately encouraging Putin to attack Ukraine setting economic sanctions in motion.

Now there are GOP candidates who are running not only on the worst of Trumpism, expressing naked racism, misogyny, other forms of xenophobia, but running on just plain stupidity about the economy.

I swear I could publish a post at least once a week cataloguing so much fresh stupid.

Today’s idiot is a GOP senate candidate, Blake Masters, who has already distinguished himself within the last week with a racist remark aimed at Black Americans.

Masters decided today he wanted it his way:

Sir, this is a McDonald’s.

Masters has no fucking clue why there aren’t enough fast food workers to take orders, as if COVID didn’t kill more than a million Americans causing a cascade of job losses due to long COVID, difficulty finding and keeping safe daycare for children and eldercare, scared off older employees who’d rather tough it out on their Social Security than risk getting sick, made transportation more challenging because the used car market is tight and parts and labor for repairs equally tight, public transport shared with maskless riders, so on.

And last but not least, fast food workers’ wages have not kept up with the increase in rent driven upward by speculation.

That’s why you’re looking at a goddamned self-operated kiosk, Masters.

Not to mention potential employees don’t want to take the risk on an employer which can’t be bothered to post wages or the number of available openings.

Applicants need to know before they even bother to apply because the average rent in Marana, AZ on a 1-bedroom apartment is $1542 a month. A worker needs in excess of $15/hour at 40 hours a week to make the rent — not including any other expenses like food or clothing or water or electricity or health insurance — and fast food jobs aren’t 40 hours a week because the companies want to avoid paying unemployment benefits.

The remaining fast food restaurant workers are moving into other industries because they can’t afford the irregular, too few hours combined with the lack of benefits, the crappy management, and the chronic mistreatment by customers on top of exposure on the regular to COVID.

But go ahead and expose your gross ignorance, Masters, punching down on the people who can least afford the time to rebut your whining.

The people who should rebut Masters’ whining are the Arizona corporations which do business in or rely on automation and robotics — businesses which will replace the crappy jobs fast food workers can’t afford, while improving the Arizona economy with better paid design and manufacturing jobs.

Like these companies, to name a few: Stanley Black & Decker, Nogales AZ; Caterpillar, Tuscon AZ; Lucid Motors and IPE Aerospace, Tempe AZ.

I hope Arizonans are smart enough not to fall for Blake Masters’ ignorant Trumpiness. If he hasn’t already figure out how stupid he is (being a potential victim of Dunning-Kruger), he may inflict some wretched stupidity on Arizona and the rest of the nation.

Seriously, can Arizonans trust him not to lick the kiosk display?


3 Things: GOP’s Continuing Deadly Assault on America

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

The GOP hasn’t stopped since January 6, 2021 and years earlier. They want to wreak maximum damage on this country and blame anybody and everybody but themselves for it.

We’re supposed to believe they’re the arbiters of what’s right for this country but everything they do is demoralizing and destabilizing.

It’s almost as if they were acting on behalf of another hostile country.

One only need to look at how the GOP have handled state and federal response to the mass shooting in Uvalde and elsewhere to see they don’t care how many Americans die so long as they continue to get their blood money.

If uncontrolled guns were the only damage they inflicted on this country, but no – the Grand Old Party of Death goes wide.

~ 3 ~

The pandemic isn’t over. It’s not ending because far too many right-wing Americans have been brainwashed by the right-wing ecosphere into believing vaccines, boosters, masks, and social distancing are evil.

The logic fails over and over; it doesn’t help when The New York Times continues to run crap by David Leonhardt which undermines encouraging mask wearing up to and including mandates.

It also doesn’t help when corporations are too damned greedy to the point of short-sightedness, screwing both their own business and Americans at the same time.

But it’s not just the continued onslaught of disinformation and misinformation which is hurting this country. It’s the GOP refusing to keep Americans safe; they’ve refused to provide funds necessary for vaccines, boosters, therapies, and development of new boosters designed for the current dominant Omicron variants.

15-MAR-2022White House begs Congress for Covid funding amid concern about Omicron sister variant

30-MAR-2022Biden presses Congress for new COVID funding, gets second booster shot

But Senate Republicans have balked at setting aside additional money, saying they want a full accounting of earlier spending, and House Democrats subsequently rejected a plan to repurpose money already pledged to states.

While federal regulators on Tuesday authorized a fourth shot of vaccine for Americans 50 and older, U.S. officials have said they do not have enough funding to place advance orders for additional vaccine doses to cover all Americans, unless Congress passes the stalled package.

27-APR-2022Fact Sheet: Biden Administration Underscores Urgent Need for Additional COVID-⁠19 Response Funding and the Severe Consequences of Congressional Inaction

09-MAY-2022U.S. will limit next-generation Covid vaccines to high-risk people this fall if Congress doesn’t approve more funding

21-MAY-2022As COVID funding runs out, U.S. could see rationing of supplies

Months now they’ve dragged their feet because it might help Democrats; their party’s levels in broken public opinion polls don’t fair as badly as Biden’s because the media hasn’t held them accountable for their intransigence.

The GOP doesn’t care a whit if it hurts their own voters because a red state remains red even when the bodies pile up in the morgue.

Older people are the most reliable voters and the ones who vote GOP most often, but these deaths don’t matter to the GOP because media about these deaths hurts Democrats more.

It’s death by GOP passive-aggression.

~ 2 ~

The GOP wants to kill girls’ sports in public education. Ohio is the vanguard leading the way by passing a bill in its state house allowing anybody to contest a minor child’s gender identity which would then require a physical examination of the child’s genitals if that child is enrolled in a school participating in interscholastic sports.

Read that Twitter thread and the bill linked in it. That bill is an utter dumpster fire.

It’s sexual assault by the state sanctioned by the GOP. It’s little different from Larry Nassar’s assaults on gymnasts who didn’t consent to his abuses; these minors likewise can’t consent/dissent and their parents will be obligated to consent on their behalf if the child participates in sports.

The bill doesn’t obligate male-identifying minors to go through the same invasive inspection which means this bill is clearly aimed at controlling female-identifying bodies.

It’s literally Trumpy “grab ’em by the pussy” governance beginning in K-12 education. It’s not small government and it’s not freedom; it’s anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-women Trumpism, and sane parents would rather not allow their children to be subjected to this abuse for the sake of interscholastic sports.

The GOP means death to girls’ sports, and in a secondary fashion, death to public education for girls.

Next up: mandatory burkhas – not out of line to assume this since obligatory inspection of girls’ bodies is something the Taliban would insist upon.

~ 1 ~

The GOP claims it’s the party of life but that ends with birth. They literally don’t care if American babies died of starvation.

They also don’t give a flying fuck if children starve, assuming they aren’t already dead from mass shootings.

Morley pointed out the provision for funding school lunches was in the Build Back Better bill which the GOP rejected.

Stay cool this summer, kiddies, and starve; thank the GOP while you do so.

The GOP is about as helpful to America’s children as Uvalde TX police at a mass shooting.

~ 0 ~

Regular community members consider yourselves warned this week could see a surge in trolls and trolling. The right-wing has been casting about for an approach to offset the anticipated bad news coming from the House J6 Committee hearings this week; so far they haven’t settled on one thing partly because they are dealing with blowback about gun rights and police militarization. They’ve tried blaming Antifa repeatedly; some of the insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol claim the Capitol Police set them up and Antifa was responsible.

Sure, sure. Looks like a set up.

But the head troll has sent up a bat signal for the fascist horde to flood the zone with their usual shit.

Let’s not forget this bat signal isn’t just about the January 6 hearings but about Bannon’s own butt. His contempt of Congress case is back in court on June 15, coincidentally 10 days after this shout for troll mobilization.

There will be much less tolerance for bullshit here primarily because there will be more bullshit than moderators to shovel it. Bear with us, thanks.


Must-See TV: House January 6 Committee Hearings Begin June 9 at 8:00 PM

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Schedule your evenings accordingly, people:

Apparently there are spiffy advisories with a blurb about the hearings’ subject making the rounds:

Squirrel away this link for live stream through the House J6 Committee’s website:

https://january6th.house.gov/news/watch-live

The folks at Just Security produced a primer on the hearings available at this link.

The content is structured into teams based on the efforts and outcomes certain groups of Trump supporters focused on in the run up to and through January 6.

At least 93 persons and organizations have been subpoenaed by the House J6 Committee to date. The hearings are working on the content produced by these subpoenas as well as other methods for obtaining evidence.

Last night CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed former Republican representative Denver Riggleman about the House J6 Committee’s work. It’s a +10:00 minute segment but worth your time.

A Republican with a background in national security and the military with experience in obtaining intelligence, Riggleman should be Mark Meadow’s nightmare. One might wonder if this interview was a last-ditch attempt to encourage Meadow’s full compliance with the committee’s subpoena because it sounds like Meadows is in the committee’s crosshairs. Riggleman is candid in this interview, calling the content he’s seen a horror.

Speaking of horror, Ginni Thomas is mentioned several times in this interview.

Former AG Bill Barr testified before the J6 committee today. He may have been asked about the proposed rejiggering of the Department of Justice before January 6 during this session.

Probably a last chance to buff his image and distance himself from the attack on the Capitol.

There are folks who should be squirming in Washington; there should be some preparing resignations, too.

But if the mass delusion has a stranglehold on them as well as a substantive portion of of the American right-wing, they may simply be preparing to do more damage to our democracy during the mid-term elections, and after depending on the election results.


Senate Democrats’ Unanimous Fail

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

This is fucking maddening.

Not one bloody Democrat voted against this unnecessary crap. Local police could do more to enforce ordinances against noise and the lack of protest permits but you had go on the record supporting this fascist suppression of First Amendment speech instead.

Perhaps these Senate Dems were thinking ahead to the day Ketanji Brown Jackson is sworn in as a justice and needs protection. But without any statement to the Democratic base explaining this, the base can only assume they are protecting from First Amendment-protected protests the fascist wing of the SCOTUS which is intent on destroying women’s rights to autonomy.

While Senate Dems’ unanimously support protecting fascist jurists from their neighbors who aren’t happy with them, or gods forbid, the horrors of chalked messages on sidewalks like those which terrified Sen. Susan Collins…

…this is what’s going on in Realityville, USA.

The patient in this thread would have been dead in states where zero tolerance abortion laws have been or will be passed.

She’d tried to avoid getting pregnant and it still wasn’t enough to stop an ectopic pregnancy which threatened her life.

The patient in this next thread would have been prosecuted.

She didn’t even know she was pregnant, but if there had been any misinterpretation of her symptoms and history she would have been prosecuted for aborting the fetus.

As she notes women have already been prosecuted for miscarriages.

While Senate Democrats unanimously supported protections for SCOTUS against so-scary First Amendment protests, states are moving to eliminate women’s basic human rights — like traveling to another state for health care.

Because treating women’s reproductive organs is health care and Texas can’t have that.

Somewhere soon, within hours or days, women are going to begin to die from these anti-abortion, anti-women laws passed in red states. The first will be women with ectopic pregnancies who will bleed out while hospital employees stand around and tell her they can’t do anything about it though the mortal threat can be treated by aborting the unviable pregnancy.

Partitions between states will appear as new state laws are introduced, creating what are little more than concentration camps for women — yes, concentration camps because Texas women of childbearing age will not be able to leave Texas if there’s any possibility they may be pregnant.

Imagine having to take a pregnancy test before being allowed to cross a state line; it’s not an outside possibility.

These laws within these partitioned states will deny fundamental human rights to a class of citizens.

We’ve seen this before and fought a civil war over it.

But do pat yourselves on the back, Senate Democrats — you’ve ensured the Supreme Court’s fascist faction which leaked the salvo setting off this cryptic civil war is protected from women writing poignant demands on the sidewalk in front of their homes.

Go, you. Especially you, Sen. Chris Coons. How bipartisan of you to work with the concentration camp state’s Sen. John Cornyn. Don’t let the appearance of two white men get in the way of shepherding a bill intended to assure the abolition of rights for more than half the population doesn’t inconvenience the people who will ensure those rights are abolished.


This Is Not How You Wield Power: Toxic Punditry’s Lack of Self Awareness

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

This is complete and utter bullshit:

We all know asking Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself is merely pissing into the wind. Congressional Democrats are obligated to ask this of him but they know Thomas is corrupt and won’t give the demand a second thought.

What’s bullshit, though, is MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan and Ayman Mohyeldin ripping into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about a request by Democrats to Thomas for his recusal on cases related to the January 6 insurrection.

We all know as well the real problem is that Thomas should be removed from the Supreme Court. Pelosi was absolutely correct saying that Thomas should never have been approved as a SCOTUS jurist to begin with. His failure to report his spouse’s income appropriately — particularly Ginni Thomas’s income from her nonprofit — during the lead up to the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision was unacceptable, as was his meeting with the Koch brothers.

But the House had absolutely nothing to do with Thomas being approved in the first place. The Senate is responsible for review of nominees to the Supreme Court and their approval.

We all know, too, that the House may impeach jurists, but they cannot be removed without a two-thirds vote for conviction by the Senate.

And in this case, a Senate which is only nominally held by Democrats. They couldn’t convict and remove Trump twice after impeachment for the same reason — an inadequate number of Democrats in the Senate.

Where is this power that Hasan and Mohyeldin think Pelosi has as House Speaker when she cannot remove Thomas? Why are they insisting she launch a war she can’t win? (We can see how that works out for Putin in Ukraine.)

All these two boneheaded pundits (and others making the same argument like them) are doing is misogynist pontificating when they know it’s the Senate which can force the issue and only if there were two-thirds of the Senate willing to vote to convict Thomas for his continued corrupt practices.

Yet you don’t see pundits like Hasan and Mohyeldin going after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Nope.

Why is that?

~ ~ ~

They’re literally filling empty air time with useless crap which only serves to damage the public’s opinion of House Democrats — the portion of government which has most reliably served the needs of the people during the Biden administration while the Senate obstructs its efforts.

They’re directly contributing to and amplifying the same poisoning of public opinion already performed by right-wing media outlets Fox News, Newsmax, and OAN, grossly distorting the public’s perception of US government.

It’s right there in front of their noses and they don’t see it:

Hello, Sam Stein, who’s with both MSNBC and Politico? You’re not doing a very good job breaking through to the public if they believe the complete opposite of the truth.

Dan Froomkin elaborated on media’s failures with help from Dean Baker; public opinion about employment is particularly telling.

An additional 21 percent didn’t know one way or the other. Only 28 percent said, correctly, that jobs were created. Less than half of those — only 12 percent — knew that it was more jobs created than in any other year in history.

Similarly, only 19 percent said they thought the U.S. economy experienced more job growth than normal in the past year. The plurality – 35 percent – said they thought more jobs were lost than usual, which is of course spectacularly wrong.

Media figures go out of their way to make sure something looks like it’s on fire or bleeding, so much so that it’s a joke.

But sure, keep beating on House Speaker Pelosi because that will effect the change needed as will pissing into the wind.

~ ~ ~

A pre-print study found that it’s not solely the public at fault when it comes to misperception — it’s not purely partisanship which mis- or disinforms their opinions.

A key problem is the business model: audience members’ understanding and opinions could be shaped by exposure to media, if media bought their time.

Unfortunately, cable and broadcast news don’t pay their viewers. They rely on advertising and subscription volume; their programming becomes little more than reductive clickbait fighting for audience attention. They’ll run the inflammatory material which skews public opinion the wrong way because good news is boring.

It makes sense, and yet the answer to running content which is both more attention-grabbing and -retaining to viewers and the ethically responsible content to run is right there under their noses.

Assuming, of course, the media outlets aren’t forcing their pundit-anchor class to promote corporatism über alles.

Why aren’t programs like Hasan’s and Mohyeldin’s contacting every goddamned Senator and putting them on the record one at a time on camera about their position on Thomas’s failure to recuse himself and whether they would vote to convict him if impeached for abuse of his office as jurist?

I’d pay to watch them squirm. I’d pay to watch Senators’ chiefs of staff run away from mics to avoid answering.

I’d pay to watch them ask Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, and Tommy Tuberville if Thomas should recuse himself on any lawsuit in which they may be named as co-conspirators because Thomas’s wife Ginni sided with Hawley and Cruz on overturning or obstructing the election…and was it obstruction of Congress or overturning an election in which they had been encouraged to participate?

That’d be Must-See TV.

~ ~ ~

The other person who gets off lightly all the damn time to the point every media outlet forgets he exists: Chief Justice John Roberts.

He’s the administrative leader of SCOTUS. Every decision made during his tenure will be attributed to the Roberts’ court.

Clarence Thomas’s unmitigated corruption including the damage to democracy Thomas’s role in Citizen United played is the product of Roberts’ court.

The lack of a self-imposed binding code of conduct is Roberts’ failure. Thomas’s refusal to recuse himself from January 6 cases which may be decided by SCOTUS is also his failure.

The lack of legislation requiring a SCOTUS code of conduct with adequate teeth to ensure enforcement is Congress’s fault, but primary responsibility is that of the Senate. In its absence Roberts could administer his court in a way which enforces judicial ethics.

Why wasn’t Roberts a subject of Hasan’s and Mohyeldin’s critique when Roberts clearly has the power to rein in corruption among his jurists?

~ ~ ~

But the real power to which Hasan and Mohyeldin deliberately turned a blind eye wasn’t Nancy Pelosi’s as House Speaker.

It wasn’t even Chuck Schumer’s, or John Roberts’ power.

That pre-print study says it’s their own. How convenient these media figures with a bully pulpit have a handy favorite punching bag to use as clickbait, redirecting attention away from their own failures as media figures with sizable audiences whose perception they shape.

By the way, you have power, too. You should be exercising it by calling your representative and senators and demanding legislation to implement a code of ethical judicial conduct for the Supreme Court (since Roberts appears unable or unwilling to produce one), and impeachment and conviction of Clarence Thomas for his lack of ethics as a jurist.

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121


Gaslighting of the Obstructive Kind

[NB: check the byline, thanks. / ~Rayne]

It’s pretty damned bad when your uncle feels he must denounce what you’ve said and done as the head of your shared political party.

Ronna McDaniel, niece of Mitt Romney and Republican National Committee chairwoman, deserved her uncle’s rebuttal. She’d tweeted in response to The New York Times’ article, ‘G.O.P. Declares Jan. 6 Attack ‘Legitimate Political Discourse‘ which reported the RNC’s censure of Representatives Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) for their participation in the House January 6 Committee:
As the chair of the RNC, it’s “legitimate political discourse” all the way down with McDaniel. She must have approved the wording of the censure which included the description of the U.S. Capitol’s violent storming as “legitimate political discourse,” doubling down when tweeting her objection to the NYT’s straightforward stenography of the censure.

There are so many layers of stupidity to this censure, one of which Marcy has already addressed. But for McDaniel and the RNC to expect the American public to believe their claim is unmoored from reality.

This is not “legitimate political discourse” by ordinary citizens.

Not legitimate as an exercise of free speech.


Violent to the point political perspective has been lost, beyond an effort to obtain agreement.


No reasoned discourse, just rage the entire world could see.

What instead McDaniel and the RNC have offered is gaslighting – an effort to change the public’s perspective of what they saw on television on January 6, 2020; what they’ve seen online across numerous news outlets since then; what the public has been shown by the Federal Bureau of Investigation which is still searching for perpetrators; what the Department of Justice’s prosecutors have shown grand juries and courts as more than 700 individuals have been identified and arrested for their actions on January 6.

Gaslighting — a truly feeble effort which damages the RNC even further because the public can see through the dampened tissue held in front of its eyes.

More specifically, this gaslighting is aimed at GOP voters, who also saw a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6:

The last year of denialism, trash talking the House J6 Committee, and GOP congressional caucus refusal to cooperate in good faith has moved the disapproval rating 13%, still leaving 61% of GOP voters unhappy with what transpired on January 6.

So McDaniel and the RNC doubled down to try and recover more ground with GOP voters.

But the photos and videos don’t lie, and the other evidence gathered so far by both the House J6 and the DOJ bolster what the visual evidence tells us.

Nor has the court countered what the public saw, having convicted 208 and sentenced 85 out of 734 perpetrators charged to date.

The gaslighting will only become more obvious when hearings begin, and begin they will.

Not even Putin’s saber rattling over Ukraine can stop them.

~ ~ ~

The RNC had to backpedal on their claim this was “legitimate political discourse” because it even offended some GOP.

But the discussion over what the RNC really meant clouds another concern, which is that the censure itself was a fraud.

On January 6 and into the early hours of January 7, 2020, these states’ election certifications were called into question:

Arizona: 11 electoral votes – Counted following objection presented by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Senate rejected objection by a vote of 6-93
House rejected objection by a vote of 121-303

Georgia: 16 electoral votes – Counted following incomplete objection presented by Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) without a senator

Michigan: 16 electoral votes – Counted following incomplete objection presented by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) without a senator

Nevada: 6 electoral votes – Counted following incomplete objection presented by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) without a senator

Pennsylvania: 20 electoral votes – Counted following objection presented by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)
Senate rejected objection by a vote of 7-92
House rejected objection by a vote of 138-282

On December 30, Hawley said he was going to object to certification.

On January 2, 11 other GOP senators said they would object to certification. They were:

Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Mike Braun (R-IN)
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Steve Daines (R-MT)
Bill Hagerty (R-TN)
Ron Johnson (R-WI)
John Kennedy (R-LA)
James Lankford (R-OK)
Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
Roger Marshall (R-KS)
Tommy Tuberville (R-AL)

Blackburn, Braun, Daines, Hagerty, Johnson, Lankford, Lummis all withdrew their objections after the Senate reconvened and voted on certification.

Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) had not announced her intention to object in advance of January 6, but later withdrew her objection because of the assault on the Capitol Building.

Rick Scott (R-FL), Cindy Hyde Smith (R-MS), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) threw in with Cruz, Hawley, Kennedy, Marshall, and Tuberville to vote against certification though they did not announce their position ahead of January 6.

We know now that Tuberville had been contacted by phone on the floor of the Senate by both Trump and Rudy Giuliani just as the Senate was being evacuated on January 6.

Represenatives Brooks Gosar, Greene, Hice, Perry objected to the certification of states Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania with support from senators Cruz and Hawley.

In all, 148 GOP members of Congress – 8 senators, 139 representatives – voted against certification of the election.

What McDaniel and the RNC have tried to hide with their claim that January 6 was “legitimate political discourse” was the autogolpe attempted even after the insurrectionist rioters disbanded and left the Capitol Building.

“Legitimate political discourse” this was not, though it has now been whitewashed by the RNC and protected by the weaponized Speech or Debate Clause.

Which of these GOP members of Congress were in on the conspiracy to obstruct government proceedings?

Which of them knew in advance how the plan to overturn several states’ election certifications would work, and knew their role in the conspiracy?

Which of them performed their role as they understood it?

Which ones remained silent and voted against certification, saying little to nothing afterward?

Which ones vacillated – hello, Kevin McCarthy – or played some other role in the conspiracy – hello, Lindsey Graham?

Which ones refused to participate in the conspiracy, but have simply said nothing at all, implicitly supporting sedition, insurrection, and the peaceful transfer of power with their silence?

The lack of honest, forthcoming answers about the GOP congressional caucus’s role is both instructive and obstructive.

~ ~ ~

McDaniel and the RNC may think they’re going to pull their party’s butt out of the fire with this gaslighting effort, by attempting to reframe angry hordes summoned to D.C. — who attacked police and threatened members of Congress, insulted the country by defecating on the Capitol Building’s marble floors after smashing its doors and windows, stole podiums, papers, laptops — as ‘ordinary citizens’ engaged in “legitimate political discourse,” while redirecting attention away from the roles that GOP members of Congress played on January 6.

But they’ve only demonstrated once again the Republican Party is incapable of governing, just as it’s been incapable of establishing a platform since 2016 based on coherent values it demonstrates in its actions.

If the GOP can’t engage in “legitimate political discourse,” if it can only exercise bad faith in words and deeds, it’s dead.

Sic transit mundum tuum, Factio Republicana.

But what if this obstructive gaslighting was more than a reframing exercise meant to skew public opinion?

What if McDaniel and the RNC instead meant to greenlight the same kind of violent behavior Trump’s supporters exhibited on January 6, using the censure of Cheney and Kinzinger and subsequent discussion as cover?

What if the walking dead GOP is not only rotting the brains of its followers with its false reality but encouraging them to continue to rebel because they have no other truly legitimate means to stay in power if voter suppression doesn’t succeed?


Three Things: A Call to Action for Voting Rights [UPDATE-2]

[NB: check the byline, thanks. Update(s) at the bottom of the post. /~Rayne]

It’s time to go to the phones and demand your elected members of Congress not only support civil rights but fulfill their oaths of office.

Before I forget, here’s what you’re going to need:

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or use Resist.bot

You may also look up your senators’ local offices online and call the one closest to you.

When you call you’re going to remind them the people are guaranteed under the Constitution a republican (little r) form of government under Article IV, Section 4:

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government…

The text may specifically say the states are guaranteed this, but it means that every state and in turn its citizens shall be assured their government is of, by, and for the people, with government’s powers arising from their consent. No closed clique will govern opaquely for narrower interests.

To that end every citizen must be assured the right to vote as part of that guarantee. We expect our elected officials to deliver on that, not to act like some star chamber.

Call and demand this through the support of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act, letting no procedural rule like the filibuster get in the way of the greater obligation to fulfill their oaths.

~ 3 ~

John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, S.4 (JLVRAA) undoes much of the damage done to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 caused by the Supreme Court’s absurd decision in Shelby County v. Holder (2013).

Because of Shelby County v. Holder, states have been able to violate citizens’ voting rights as states are no longer held to a federal standard to ensure they do not discriminate against voters.

This violates the 14th Amendment and its Equal Protection Clause; depending on the state in which U.S. citizens resided, they may not be assured the same voting rights as citizens in other states.

The JLVRAA:

– Prevents states from reverting to discriminatory polling policies including but not limited to literacy tests and poll taxes with a new federal preclearance policy evaluating polling changes;

– Establishes adequate advance notice to citizens of changes to voting rules by states;

– Allows the U.S. Attorney General to assign observers where racial discrimination against voters is most likely;

– Not only requires federal approval for policies impacting the ability to cast a ballot or register to vote, but ensures availability of language assistance for ESL voters as well as fairness in redistricting.

This bill does not replace the 1965 Voting Rights Act but works hand in glove with it to protect every citizen’s right to vote.

~ 2 ~

The For the People Act, S.1 also supports the 1965 Voting Rights Act by:

– Expanding automatic voter registration to every state;

– Restoring voting rights to Americans who have completed their felony sentences;

– Establishing independent redistricting commissions in every state to end partisan redistricting.

– Changes ethics and campaign finance rules to reduce improper and unethical influence on legislation.

You’d think this would be a no-brainer piece of legislation.

~ 1 ~

This video by David Pepper offers the clearest explanation I’ve found as to why the filibuster must go when it comes to voting rights.

Our rights are guaranteed by the Constitution. Our elected members of Congress have a duty to ensure the guarantee is fulfilled as part of their oath of office.

Their oath is NOT to changeable, non-permanent procedures which have benefited a narrower class of citizens.

Insist your senators fulfill their oath and end the filibuster for any civil rights legislation including the JLVRAA and Freedom to Vote Act.

This applies equally to every member of Congress, no matter what state or party affiliation; they’ve sworn the same oath to defend and uphold the Constitution.

~ 0 ~

Perhaps I could have written a shorter hortatory post; if I’d felt less than I do about this I might have, but these bills are essential to the preservation of our democratic republic.

Bottom line: call your senators and demand they fulfill their oaths by passing the JLVRAA and Freedom to Vote Act, ending the filibuster as necessary to pass these bills.

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or use Resist.bot

Now go – get in good trouble. Let us know how you did in comments.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 5:00 PM —

Looks like there may have been a breakthrough on a procedural basis:


Fingers crossed this works. Can’t be certain we have 50 senators supporting these two bills yet.

If your senators are Republicans or Independents, call them anyhow. All 100 senators swore the same oath.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-2 — 1:00 P.M. 13-JAN-2022 —

Last evening Michael Li of the Brennan Center noted the two voting rights bills have been consolidated, which may make the “message between the Houses” procedure much easier.

This morning Democracy Docket’s Marc Elias noted a change adding anti-subversion wording:

So the new “Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act” isn’t just a consolidation but an improved bill.

I need to confirm the improvement may get around that corrupt twit Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s block of three election security bills which were intended to prevent foreign interference and tampering with electronic voting machines over the internet. (By the way, racist Blackburn is up for re-election in 2025. Ditch her, Tennesseeans.)

The problem even with the procedural maneuvering remains Sen. DINO Sinema who has given a speech this morning which Sen. McConnell praised. That should tell you all you need to know.

Keep calling your senators including GOP senators. The ones who are more centrist like Murkowski in Alaska may be amenable — especially Murkowski given the percentage of voters in her state who are Native American.

Copyright © 2022 emptywheel. All rights reserved.
Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/congress/