Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.
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Reprinted with permission from DailyKos
On Wednesday, the House Rules Committee met to vote on whether the recommendation for charges of criminal contempt against former Trump campaign chair and Jan. 6 conspirator Steve Bannon would be forwarded to the full House. At the end of the hearing, the committee voted along party lines, which means that the full House could vote to drop Bannon's file on the Department of Justice by Thursday.
Despite the party-line vote, with every GOP member on the committee voting to surrender Congress' power to conduct any form of executive oversight, there was at least one Republican present who disagreed. That's because the vice chair of the House Select Committee, Liz Cheney, sat down to explain what makes Bannon's documents and testimony vital. According to Cheney, it appears that Bannon "had substantial advance knowledge of the plans of January 6 and likely had an important role in formulating those plans." And, more than anything else, Bannon simply, "has no legal right to ignore the committee's lawful subpoena."
That last point seems like something that should gather universal support from any member of Congress. After all, if it's not possible to subpoena someone who worked for a former administration, and who holds no official position, exactly how much power does Congress have to compel testimony from anyone? But that reasonable position ignores the fact that the party known as the GOP party is actually the TOT party—as in Terrified Of Trump. So Republican leadership gave all members the word before the hearing to cast their inconsequential votes in favor of a powerless Congress.
But before that vote was cast, the committee had to listen to two defenders who charged in to uphold the right of Steve Bannon to plan the downfall of the nation and thumb his nose at consequences: Reps. Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan. And that appearance … was kind of hilarious.
Calling in Jim Jordan to defend Steve Bannon over his involvement in Jan. 6 is like calling in the Zodiac Killer to defend Jack the Ripper. That's because, back in August, Jordan admitted that he had talked to Donald Trump on Jan. 6. But exactly when that call took place wasn't exactly fresh in the congressman's mind. "After?" said Jordan "I think after. I don't know if I spoke with him in the morning or not. I just don't know … I don't know when those conversations happened."
"Conversations" being the key word here. Because, as Politico has since made clear, there was more than one call between Trump and Jordan in the middle of that little insurrection thing.
"Look, I definitely spoke to the president that day. I don't recall—I know it was more than once, I just don't recall the times," Jordan told Politico reporter Olivia Beavers. At least one of these calls apparently came after Congress members had been moved to a secure location, and since Jordan said that he, "like everyone" wanted the National Guard to get involved, that would be a very good sign that this call took place very much during the attack on the Capitol. Whether the second call also took place from this "secure location"—and whether there were only two calls—remains unclear.
But there is something else that is known about that call: Jordan wasn't alone. Someone else was listening in as he talked with Trump.
After a group of lawmakers were evacuated from the House chamber to a safe room on Jan. 6, Jordan was joined by Rep. MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.) for a call during which they implored Trump to tell his supporters to stand down, per a source with knowledge of that call. The source declined to say how Trump responded to this request.
So, the two men who were in the room on Wednesday begging the House Rules Committee to give Steve Bannon a waiver, were the same two men who spent Jan. 6 talking to Donald Trump during an active attempt to overthrow the government. Which makes Jordan's efforts to dodge questions about that call today more worthy of a world-class eye roll.
In his reply, Jordan insists that his call with Trump happened after the attack. But if it did, this was clearly a later call, because a call made while huddled in the House safe room was definitely not "after." Jordan seems to recognize this, waffling around the idea of whether there was more than one call and in general trying to summon a semblance of being insulted by the question.
But that moment doesn't come close to the too-toasty-for-s'mores immolation applied by Congresswoman Norma Torres—a moment that could serve as a model for how to deal with either of these men on any occasion.
Gaetz is certainly looking at plenty of legal action of his own in the near future. Jordan should be. But maybe this will help: During his reply, Jordan said that he "did not speak to the president during the attack." That seems like something that could warrant a subpoena right there.
Reprinted with permission from DailyKos
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency regulation back in June requiring hospitals and other health care settings to enforce COVID-19 safety practices. Now, OSHA is warning three states—Arizona, South Carolina, and Utah—that if they don't adopt those rules, the federal government will take over workplace safety enforcement.
"OSHA has worked in good faith to help these three state plans to come into compliance," Jim Frederick, OSHA's acting director, said on a call with reporters on Tuesday. "But their continued refusal is a failure to maintain their state plan commitment to thousands of workers in their states."
The emergency temporary standard for health care facilities requires them to develop a plan for COVID-19 safety including personal protective equipment, health screening, social distancing, ventilation, cleaning, and more. It's mostly very familiar stuff more than a year and a half into the pandemic. But Arizona, South Carolina, and Utah have failed to fulfill the requirements of the rule, according to OSHA.
States are allowed to do their own workplace safety enforcement as long as they meet minimum requirements. If they fail to do that, the federal government steps in.
"The bottom line is private-sector employers in state plans do not want federal OSHA coming in," former OSHA official Debbie Berkowitz told Dave Jamieson. "In almost every state where they have a state plan, although they have the same regulations, enforcement is so much weaker."
All three states were basically "Who, us?" about the OSHA warning that they weren't meeting the emergency temporary standard. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement that Arizona officials believed the state to be in compliance, but would look into the matter. A South Carolina official said the state's policies had "proven effective as South Carolina has consistently had one of the lowest injury and illness rates in the nation." And Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said that his state's plan was as good as the federal one, but also that the federal one would create too great a burden for the health care industry.
The emergency temporary standard for health care is, in itself, important. But it's also an early warning sign about how states will respond when OSHA releases a rule requiring all large workplaces to mandate either vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing for all employees. If a state isn't willing to enforce basic standards in health care settings, that's kind of a red flag for how it will approach the broader rule.