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@LauraClawson

New Kaiser Report Reveals Terrible Cost Of Vaccine Refusal

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

COVID-19 is now the second-leading cause of death in the United States, despite the availability of safe, effective, and free vaccines. The promise of those vaccines showed itself when they first became widely available and COVID-19 dropped to be seventh on the list of causes of death.
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Gym Jordan Torched On Twitter For Insanely Opposing ‘All Vaccine Mandates’

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Republicans are increasingly making opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates a requirement for membership in their club, but sometimes, as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) found out Tuesday night, that sets you up for a takedown.

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‘They Work’: Biden Urges Employers To Hasten Vaccine Mandates

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

President Joe Biden on Thursday pressed companies to put COVID-19 vaccination mandates into place while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) completes a new rule requiring companies with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccination or routine testing.
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Congress Ready To Issue Criminal Referrals On Trumpsters Who Evade Jan. 6 Subpoenas

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

This week will bring two big deadlines in the face-off between the congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and Team Trump. The committee appears to be coming loaded for bear.

If Trump is going to officially ask President Joe Biden to assert executive privilege over Trump-era White House records, that's going to happen this week. But the "officially ask President Joe Biden" part is important in two ways. For one thing, Trump will have to ask the guy who beat him for a favor, rather than just sending out fundraising messages to his supporters claiming that executive privilege applies.

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Responding To Charges That She Abused Power, Noem Plays The Victim

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem knows that to gain national prominence and have a shot at the presidential or vice presidential nomination, a Republican governor has to be particularly terrible, not just on policy but as a human being. She's giving it her best shot. Bolstering her credentials this week is the Associated Press report that Noem leaned on state officials to certify her daughter as a real estate appraiser.

Noem's 26-year-old daughter, Kassidy Peters, was initially denied the certification, according to a letter from her supervisor—though no official record of a denial exists. Days later, Noem summoned Sherry Bren, the head of the licensing agency, to a meeting along with the state labor secretary and a host of lawyers. As if that doesn't look suspicious enough, Peters herself was at the meeting.

Peters got the certification months later, and days after that, state Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman demanded Bren's retirement. Bren filed an age discrimination complaint and got a $200,000 settlement. The settlement, though, bars her from disparaging state officials, and she limited the details in her account of the meeting to the AP. But she did say that the letter from Peters' supervisor complaining that Peters had been denied her appraiser's license was brought out at the meeting. Which, again, Peters, the governor's daughter and would-be certified appraiser attended.

So: Peters was either denied certification in a way that there's no record of, or her supervisor thought she had been or would be rejected. The supervisor wrote a letter complaining. The governor, Peters' mother, summoned the responsible official and her bosses and top lawyers in the governor's office for a meeting that included Peters and at which the letter complaining about her rejection was discussed. Peters got her license. The head of the agency responsible for the licensing was forced into retirement by someone at that original meeting, at the cost to South Dakotans of a $200,000 age discrimination settlement.

And … Noem is playing victim.

No, Noem. When you abuse your power to get your kids—in this case your grown-ass 26-year-old adult offspring—things they didn't earn, it's news. Because when you, the governor and aspiring Republican primary candidate, abuse power, it is news.

Here we've got Noem trying to make a story about a politician's child into a story about that politician even though as far as we know, President Joe Biden never convened a major government meeting with multiple top officials because he was upset about someone not giving Hunter a job. Yet even without the president having done anything wrong on that front, his son's career and struggles with addiction have been thoroughly aired in the media, in a presidential debate, in an impeachment.

There should be one standard. And it should apply not just to Hunter Biden and Kassidy Peters but to Ivanka Trump and Don Jr. and Eric, too. But the real story is Kristi Noem, governor and wannabe nominee. If she was trying to show that she can be as self-serving and nepotistic as Donald Trump … it's a start, anyway.

Poll: Nearly A Quarter Of American Households Face Food Insecurity

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Like the coronavirus pandemic, food insecurity continues even when it recedes from the headlines. A new poll finds 23 percent of people in the U.S. haven't been able to get enough to eat or haven't been able to get the kinds of foods they want. More than half of those food insecure people struggled to access all of the government or nonprofit assistance that should have been available to them, and 21 percent said they hadn't been able to get any aid.

That means both people going hungry—maybe eating just once a day—and people unable to get the fresh, healthy foods they would want for themselves and their children.

In the new poll from Impact Genome and The Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, respondents were very clear about what would help them have enough healthy food: more money. Half said extra money was necessary to pay for food or bills, and another 39 percent said it would be helpful but not necessary. Other response options offered in the poll—reliable or accessible transportation, enough free food to last a few days, a free prepared meal with no prior notice, and meals that are delivered by a community service—drew well under half of people saying they were necessary, though in all cases a large majority said they would be either necessary or helpful.

Things have recently gotten worse for many people with the cutoff of expanded federal unemployment benefits. An expanded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program allotment expires on September 30, though it will be partially offset by a permanent increase in nutrition assistance coming into effect on October 1 after the Biden administration changed how the government estimates the cost of a healthy diet.

But even with the expanded unemployment insurance and added SNAP benefits, food insecurity was high. In fact, it was high before the pandemic. While food insecurity didn't rise overall in the population during the pandemic, it did rise for some groups, including households with children and Black households. Food insecurity for families with children has risen, from 6.5 percent in 2019 to 7.6 percent in 2020. Among Black households, food insecurity went from 19.1 precent in 2019 to 21.7 percent in 2020.

The expanded child tax credit is now helping many of these families—and it needs to be extended in the Build Back Better reconciliation bill. As Paul Krugman recently wrote in The New York Times, the lifelong damage of childhood poverty is such that any money spent to keep kids out of poverty is the fiscally responsible thing to do (to say nothing of the moral stakes).

"Lifting children out of poverty is every bit as real an investment as repairing roads and bridges. Indeed, the evidence for a big economic payoff to spending on children is a lot stronger than the evidence for high returns to spending on physical infrastructure (although we should be doing that too)," Krugman wrote. "In fact, the returns to aiding children are so high that the cost would probably be minimal even in narrowly fiscal terms—because helping children grow up into more productive, healthier adults would eventually mean higher tax receipts and lower medical outlays. Unlike tax cuts for the rich, aid to poor children would largely pay for itself."

Politicians who don't want to expand aid to children tell on themselves: It's not about the money. They just want to punish poor people.

Texas Abortion Ban Promotes Misogyny, Cruelty, And Abusive Litigation

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The Supreme Court didn't just silently overturn Roe v. Wade by allowing a Texas law banning abortion at six weeks to go into effect. The Supreme Court, with its three Trump justices—two of them appointed through precedent-shattering Republican maneuvering—allowed Texas to put a bounty on the heads of anyone involved in any way in an abortion performed after six weeks gestation. (And never forget that six weeks is six weeks after the first day of a woman's last period—meaning many women don't yet know they're pregnant at that time.)

In a must-read Twitter thread, legal analyst Jay Willis spells out the ways the new Texas law enables anti-choice vigilantes. That starts with the fact that anyone, whether or not they have ever met the woman obtaining medical care, can sue anyone who "aids and abets" an abortion. If the vigilante wins in court, they get $10,000 and their attorney's fees. Someone who's wrongly accused and proves it in court gets … to pay their own attorney's fees. But it gets worse.

"SB8 also allows lawsuits against people who INTEND to perform abortion or 'aid or abet' abortion," Willis writes. "This is an open invitation to anti-choice activists to file lawsuits against everyone they don't like and try to drown them in frivolous litigation." And since the anti-abortion right has been funding networks of lawyers for years, they're equipped for a lot of frivolous litigation. On top of all of the abusive ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands seeking to use the law to continue victimizing and controlling women who have left them.

Not only that, Willis explains, "People can bring suits up to FOUR YEARS later. And if a court decision briefly protects the right to abortion and then gets overruled, defendants can't rely on that, EVEN IF the decision was good law at the time. Perpetual threat of devastating liability." That's not the only failsafe Republicans built into the law to make any victory over it fragile and temporary, either: "the law specifies that any court ruling that any part of SB8 is unconstitutional is temporary and can be overruled as soon as a friendlier court comes along. Utterly deranged, but also, what the conservative legal movement has been working for for decades."

Banning abortion at six weeks is an extreme attack on women's right to make decisions about their own bodies. But it wasn't enough for Texas Republicans. They went ahead and hedged it around with financial penalties even for the falsely accused, and attached to it a license for personal cruelty.

This law is just one of a series of laws Texas Republicans have just passed to turn the state into a dystopian hellscape in which violence, ignorance, and vigilantes rule:

That Texas Republicans would do all this is horrifying but not surprising. The far bigger problem is that the Supreme Court let them.

House Democrats Demand Answers From Cyber Ninjas On Arizona ‘Fraudit’

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The conspiracy theory-driven "audit" of ballots in Maricopa County, Arizona, has raised a lot of questions. After all, it was only partially paid for by the Arizona state Senate, with the rest of the money coming from unknown donors. It was conducted by a company with no known experience in election audits and headed by someone who has tweeted pro-Trump conspiracy theories. And it involved questionable moves like inspecting ballots for bamboo fibers in an effort to prove a conspiracy theory about ballots being flown in from South Korea.

House Democrats are demanding answers to those questions, in a 13-page letter to Cyber Ninjas, the shady company hired by Arizona Senate Republicans to carry out the fraudit. Starting with this: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee "is seeking to determine whether the privately funded audit conducted by your company in Arizona protects the right to vote or is instead an effort to promote baseless conspiracy theories, undermine confidence in America's elections, and reverse the result of a free and fair election for partisan gain."

As the letter makes clear, detailing Cyber Ninjas' lack of experience with elections, its "sloppy and insecure audit practices" (which were widely reported and commented on by actual election audit experts), and CEO Douglas Logan's "embrace of election conspiracy theories," Democrats expect the answer to that opening question to be that the fraudit was intended to undermine confidence in elections and perhaps reverse the result of a free and fair election for partisan gain, not to protect the right to vote.

The letter, from Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jamie Raskin—the former being the committee chair—asks Cyber Ninjas to turn over nine categories of documents. Those include documentation of any previous election audit clients Cyber Ninjas has had (again, as far as anyone knows there are no such clients), information on who paid for the Arizona effort, documents and communications that might possibly explain why Cyber Ninjas was looking for bamboo fibers and looking at ballots under UV lights, and, just to be sure they got everything, "All documents and communications related to conducting the Maricopa County audit, including but not limited to policies, procedures, audit plans, strategy, staff and personnel, and security or integrity problems that arose during the audit, and any interim or final audit findings."

Oh, and also this: "all communications involving you or any Cyber Ninjas employees, consultants, agents, volunteers, or representatives with" Donald Trump, any Trump administration official or formal or informal campaign or legal representative of Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, and others.

The Justice Department has previously expressed concern about ballots and voting machines at risk of "being lost, stolen, altered, compromised or destroyed" thanks to Cyber Ninjas' poor security practices. And as House Democrats begin their investigation—which could lead to referrals to the Justice Department—Maricopa County announced it would spend nearly $3 million to replace voting equipment compromised by the fraudit, which took the equipment out of the control of the government.

"The frustrating thing is, those were perfectly good machines which passed all of our accuracy tests from the time we first got them in 2019. The taxpayer paid good money for them, but now this equipment will have to be decommissioned because the Senate didn't take our warnings about chain-of-custody seriously," Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chair Jack Sellers said in a statement.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, by the way, is majority Republican, but has been outspokenly opposed to the fraudit, calling it a "sham," a "con," and "a spectacle that is harming all of us." Their opposition to a partisan effort to undermine faith in their county's elections led the Maricopa supervisors to be threatened with arrest by other Republicans in the state, as support for Donald Trump's lies about the election having been stolen from him has become a key loyalty test for Republicans.

The House Democrats are giving Cyber Ninjas until July 28 to turn over its documents.

Abbott Threatens Texas Lawmakers With Arrest When They Return

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Texas Democrats left the state on Monday as a last stand for voting rights, preventing the state House from having the quorum it needs for Republicans to pass a voter suppression bill, along with an attack on transgender students, during a special session of the legislature. The Democrats—at least 51 of them—said they'll stay out of Texas until the special session ends August 6. But they need Congress to act.

Gov. Greg Abbott has threatened that "As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done." Abbott can call another special session to get the Republican legislation passed. Ultimately, Texas Republicans have the power to force just about any law through that they want, and right now, they want to make it hard for Black and brown people to vote.

"Our message to Congress," said state Rep. Chris Turner, is that "We need them to act now."

In every public statement he's made, Abbott has painted the Democrats as taking a "taxpayer-paid junket" using "cushy private planes." The Democrats, many of whom have left children behind, are pushing back on that to highlight their urgent message to Congress.

"This is not a vacation," said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer. "This is not a junket. I don't want a single U.S. senator to go home for the August recess thinking that everything is completely fine with voting rights in America. We're here to present the case that it is not." (Pssst … Sen. Manchin, Sen. Sinema, I think he's talking to you.)

Senate Democrats including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sens. Cory Booker, Alex Padilla, and Kirsten Gillibrand are meeting with the Texans. Vice President Kamala Harris praised their "extraordinary courage and commitment."

"I do believe that fighting for the right to vote is as American as apple pie. It is so fundamental to fighting for the principles of our democracy," said Harris.

Abbott is not the only Republican to slam the Democrats for blocking a quorum. "It's not very Texan," according to Sen. John Cornyn. "You stay and you fight."

Well, they're not done fighting. They just took the fight somewhere else, rather than staying in a 100 percent unwinnable fight. As for the other senator from Texas ...

Boebert Joins Greene's Anti-Vax Campaign With Insulting 'Nazi' Smear

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Rep. Lauren Boebert appears to be getting jealous of all that sweet, sweet attention Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is getting … for comparing public health officials to Nazis.

Following President Biden's announcement of a push to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates, including by sending public health workers door to door to offer people information and the opportunity to be vaccinated, Greene proved decisively that her much-touted trip to the Holocaust Museum had been a photo opportunity, not a learning opportunity, describing public health workers as "medical brown shirts." Boebert then followed suit.

"Biden has deployed his Needle Nazis to Mesa County," she tweeted. "The people of my district are more than smart enough to make their own decisions about the experimental vaccine and don't need coercion by federal agents. Did I wake up in Communist China?"

As a description of people going door to door with information to help people make informed decisions, connections to vaccination appointments, and in some cases the offer of in-home vaccination, this is blindingly dishonest. Polling and research has found that many people aren't necessarily opposed to being vaccinated, but they do want more information or need convenience and reassurance that it won't cost them anything. This is an effort to do just that.

It should not need to be spelled out, but just in case: Offering all people public health information and free vaccination can in no way be compared to sending people to death camps because they were Jewish. That is horrific.

But it's also pretty special to have a Republican ranting about government coercion, when Republicans in state after state have passed mandatory ultrasound laws for women seeking abortions. Republicans routinely force women to have one medically unnecessary intimate medical procedure to be allowed to make their own health care decisions, so they cannot talk about "coercion" in this context.

As for the Nazi talk, this is a chance for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to show he meant it when, after Greene compared mask rules to Nazism, he said "Americans must stand together to defeat anti-Semitism and any attempt to diminish the history of the Holocaust. Let me be clear: the House Republican Conference condemns this language."

Your move, Kevin. Did you mean it? (Ha ha ha, yeah, right.)

All of this Nazi talk from the Trump uber alles crowd is also a little disconcerting in light of reports that Donald Trump repeatedly praised Adolf Hitler to the point where then-chief of staff John Kelly had to say, point blank, "You cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler. You just can't." Trump praising Hitler plus Trump's most diehard followers constantly talking about Nazis is … a disturbing fixation to have surfacing in the Republican Party.

Biden Plan Is About To Boost Jobless Workers And Families With Kids

Republican governors across the country have cut off federal unemployment benefits for millions of people, but Democratic policies are still kicking in to help people struggling in the uneven recovery from the COVID-19 economy. Two parts of the American Rescue Plan going into effect in July provide direct aid to unemployed people and to families with kids.

In just one of the American Rescue Plan's improvements to the Affordable Care Act, on July 1, unemployed people became eligible for additional Affordable Care Act subsidies. "An average of three out of five eligible uninsured Americans can access $0 plans after subsidies are factored in, and an average of four out of five current consumers will be able to select a policy for $10 or less per month, according to the Department of Health and Human Services," CNN reports.

And on July 15, expanded, monthly child tax credit payments start going out to millions of families. The overall child tax credit increased from $2,000 to $3,000, plus an additional $600 for children under six, and because it will be paid monthly, families can factor it into their regular spending, covering things like back-to-school clothes and supplies, paying monthly bills, or paying off debts. According to one recent survey, though, more than 55 percent of people receiving the credit plan to save it—a move that can cushion families against future instability due to job loss, medical bills, or other unexpected expenses.

It's estimated that the expanded child tax credit will cut child poverty by 45 percent. Currently, the parents with the lowest incomes don't get all of the existing child tax credit—in fact, 10 percent of kids get nothing. That's not true of the new policy.

After getting monthly payments through the end of 2021, families will get an additional lump sum when they file their taxes in 2022. Families that saw an income increase in 2021 over the 2019 or 2020 tax returns used to calculate the tax credit may not get that lump sum if the IRS determines they weren't eligible for the full credit in 2021; a few families with large income jumps may have to repay some of what they got in monthly payments. You can check out this calculator to find out if you're eligible for monthly payments, and how much. Families that don't want monthly payments can opt out. Unfortunately, the process will be much more complicated for families that don't file taxes, since the new IRS tool for them to sign up is generally seen as a user-unfriendly mess. Nonetheless, the money is out there, and parents and guardians of children 17 and younger should make sure to get it.

The combined impact of these two policies is that a jobless parent of two children whose $300 a week federal unemployment supplement has just been cut by their Republican governor could now be getting free health care and $500 to $600 a month in child tax credit checks. These American Rescue Plan provisions are a step toward what the U.S. safety net should look like all the time, not just during a massive global pandemic.

Pelosi Announces Select Committee To Probe Jan. 6 Insurrection

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

You cannot say House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rushed this decision but now, almost a month after Senate Republicans filibustered a commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Pelosi announced that she's launching a select committee to investigate.

"This morning with great solemnity and sadness I'm announcing that the House will be establishing a select committee on the January 6th insurrection," Pelosi said.

On Tuesday, similar reports emerged that Pelosi would form a select committee, only to have Pelosi call it a "false report," with a spokesperson saying: "Speaker Pelosi told Members she plans to announce WHETHER she will create a select committee THIS WEEK. Her preference continues to be a bipartisan commission which Senate Republicans are blocking."

Senate Republicans have forced Pelosi's hand: It's a select committee, investigation by standing committees, or nothing. Pelosi and other Democrats really held out, promoting the idea of another Senate vote even though there was no reason to believe the needed Republican votes would materialize.

Following the Republican filibuster in which 35 Republican senators opposed to the creation of an independent investigatory commission defeated 48 Democrats and six Republicans in favor of it (with 11 senators not voting), Pelosi declared, "Honoring our responsibility to the Congress in which we serve and the Country which we love, Democrats will proceed to find the truth."

It's time to proceed. Past time, really.

In the effort to win Republican votes for a commission, Democrats made major concessions as to the shape the commission would have taken. They don't have to make as many concessions this time. It's a given that Republicans will try to paint anything a select committee does as a partisan witch hunt, so it might as well be an aggressive effort to find the truth as a weak tea effort to look nonpartisan. The weak tea investigation would get the same Republican treatment without the same chance of uncovering important information.

We need a select committee to find out as much as possible about how the attack on the Capitol unfolded, from the earliest planning stages to the days immediately leading up to it to the attack itself to the aftermath and any cover-up attempts. That means getting to the bottom of failures to gather and respond to intelligence about what the crowd of Trump supporters was planning, how the Capitol Police were so unprepared, and why the National Guard was delayed. It includes what Donald Trump was doing during the attack. It includes what Trump told House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has been so opposed to an investigatory commission. It includes which extremist groups were involved, and how, and how far-reaching their conspiracies were.

Federal prosecutors are at work on individual defendants and some conspiracies among the mob, but something this big can't be answered just through prosecution of the people on the scene. This was a violent effort to prevent Congress from doing its part in the peaceful transition of power, and it did not just happen organically.

Republicans have made clear that they don't want it investigated. They're engaged in an active campaign of downplaying and covering up, to the extent of 21 House Republicans voting not to award police responders the Congressional Gold Medal. Their participation in and response to a select committee to investigate has to be reported and assessed through that lens.

Pelosi: ‘Democrats Will Proceed To Find The Truth’ About Insurrection

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Senate Republicans filibustered a bipartisan independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, with 35 Republicans able to vote down 48 Democrats and six Republicans to block the investigation from going forward (11 senators did not vote). So now Democrats turn to Plan B, most likely a select committee.

"Honoring our responsibility to the Congress in which we serve and the Country which we love, Democrats will proceed to find the truth," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday, following the Senate vote. She didn't say the words "select committee," but in the past she has suggested as much, saying last week, as the House voted on the commission, "I certainly could call for hearings in the House, with a Majority of the Members being Democrats, with full subpoena power, with the agenda being determined by the Democrats. But that's not the path we have chosen to go." At the time, she said "I don't want to" have the investigation run through a House committee controlled by Democrats, but "It's a question of if they don't want to do this, we will."

They (Republicans) didn't want to do this (establish an independent commission), so the ball is in Pelosi's court.

Democrats made huge concessions on the shape of an independent commission in an effort to win Republican votes, and got 35 House Republicans in addition to those six senators. They won't have to make so many concessions on a select committee, but Republicans will fight the entire time to have it be seen as a partisan witch hunt, no matter how far Democrats bend over backward to be fair.

The thing is, if Republicans didn't like the way an independent commission was going, they would have fought the entire time to have it be seen as a partisan witch hunt, even after appointing half of its members. That's how they operate. So Democrats shouldn't feel all that constrained by what Republicans are going to say, and should always, always answer any questions from reporters about perceived partisanship by beginning with, "Well, Republicans refused to allow a bipartisan independent investigation, so we went forward with the only option they left us." And then they can get to the specifics of the question, if they so choose.

But Democrats must—they must—press forward and find out as much as possible about how the attack on the Capitol unfolded, from the earliest planning stages to the days immediately leading up to it to the attack itself to the aftermath and any cover-up attempts. That means getting to the bottom of failures to gather and respond to intelligence about what the crowd of Trump supporters was planning, how the Capitol Police were so unprepared, and why the National Guard was delayed. It includes what Donald Trump was doing during the attack. It includes what Trump told House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has been so opposed to an investigatory commission. It includes which extremist groups were involved, and how, and how far-reaching their conspiracies were.

These questions are just the beginning of what must be answered. We saw people beating down the windows and doors of the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying an election. They were explicitly trying to disrupt the peaceful transition of power. They carried Confederate flags through the seat of the U.S. government, seriously wounded and even killed police officers trying to protect the Congress, chanted about their desire to hang the vice president, broke into the speaker of the House's office, left congressional staffers and indeed members of Congress deeply traumatized. This isn't something that can be allowed to be brushed off, as convenient as that might be for Republicans.

We. Need. To. Know. And we need the media to report the facts, not Republican accusations that Democrats are being unfair, when Republicans and Republicans alone are responsible for the fact that there is no independent commission.

"Democrats will proceed to find the truth," Pelosi said. Great. Proceed with all due haste, please.

Fallen Capitol Police Officer’s Mother Asks To Meet With GOP Senators On Commission

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The fate of the bipartisan plan for a commission investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is still up in the air, thanks to Republican opposition. With a Senate vote likely on Friday after Majority Leader Chuck Schumer filed cloture on it Tuesday and ten Republicans needed to break the filibuster, Gladys Sicknick, the mother of fallen Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, is asking every single Republican holding Senate office to meet with her Thursday ahead of the vote.

"Not having a January 6 Commission to look into exactly what occurred is a slap in the faces of all the officers who did their jobs that day," Sicknick said in a statement obtained by Politico. "I suggest that all Congressmen and Senators who are against this Bill visit my son's grave in Arlington National Cemetery and, while there, think about what their hurtful decisions will do to those officers who will be there for them going forward."

She added, "Putting politics aside, wouldn't they want to know the truth of what happened on January 6? If not, they do not deserve to have the jobs they were elected to do."

The thing is, Republicans never put politics aside, and it's bad for their partisan interests for the public to know the truth of what happened. For that reason among others, she's right that they don't deserve to have the jobs they do.

That starts with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is opposed to an independent bipartisan investigation into what he called a "disgrace" and "terrorism," acknowledging that Donald Trump was "practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day." But what's more important to McConnell is that, as he told Republicans at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, a commission could hurt Republicans in the 2022 elections. Truth does not enter in. It's just a question of what helps or hurts Republicans.

Republicans have repeatedly changed their arguments against a January 6 commission, which means it's not worth looking at any of those arguments in any detail at this point. Whatever they're saying at any given moment isn't true, and we know it isn't true, both because of how they keep moving the goalposts and because of what McConnell is saying in private. And because, exactly in line with what McConnell is saying in private, Republicans have very good reasons for wanting to block an investigation into something that will make not just Donald Trump but the entire Republican Party look very, very bad.

The commission needs ten Republican votes in the Senate, and it's not looking likely to get them. So far, just two Republicans, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney, have said they support a commission, while Sen. Susan Collins is claiming to support the idea of one, using that claim to try to water down a bill that already represents a massive compromise by Democrats even as she lays the groundwork to vote no.

There's no guarantee Republicans will even talk to Gladys Sicknick. When D.C. Metro Police officer Michael Fanone asked to meet with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to talk about his experience fighting the Capitol insurrection and show McCarthy his body camera footage, he was rejected. In fact, McCarthy's staff hung up on him. Will the mother of a fallen officer get a more welcoming reception from Republicans than a traumatized and injured officer did?

Supreme Court Will Hear Case That Endangers Roe Decision

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Reproductive freedom is under direct threat after the Supreme Court said it will review a Mississippi law placing harsh restrictions on abortion rights. The law in question is one of many passed in states around the country by Republicans seeking to get a challenge to Roe v. Wade heard at the Supreme Court, an effort bolstered by Donald Trump's appointments moving the court sharply to the right.

The Mississippi law bans abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions only for "severe fetal abnormality" or medical emergency, and not for rape or incest. Roe v. Wade allows abortion until the point of fetal viability, which comes around 24 weeks. Even though the vast majority of abortions take place before 15 weeks of gestation, banning the procedure starting at 15 weeks would give the most vulnerable pregnant people less time to consider their choice, save money if needed, find a provider, and overcome the many barriers states like Mississippi put in their way. Yet, showing the degree to which the Mississippi law is a political move and not one responding to real conditions in the state, the only abortion clinic in the state only performs the procedure up to 16 weeks.

But the political move is a powerful one, reaching far beyond Mississippi: As part of this case, the court will reconsider whether "all pre-viability prohibitions on abortion are unconstitutional." That raises the possibility of shattering decades of the court's own precedent, and it does so for no medical reason.

"In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman's right to choose an abortion before viability," Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. "States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman's right but they may not ban abortions."

This is one of the key reasons then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell held open one Supreme Court seat for the last ten months of Barack Obama's presidency, then filled another in an unprecedented rush in the final weeks before the 2020 election. Now, the Trump-McConnell six to three conservative court could fulfill years of efforts to effectively end women's control over their own bodies and right to decide their futures.

But, uh …

Cheney: McCarthy Should Testify About Jan. 6, Under Subpoena If Necessary

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

One thing we know about Cheneys is that they get revenge. If House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy somehow forgot that, he is perhaps remembering about now, with the release of a clip of a new ABC News interview with Rep. Liz Cheney.

Cheney was just stripped of her leadership role in the House Republican conference for the unpardonable sin of telling the truth about Donald Trump, Jan. 6, and the 2020 elections, and calling on the Republican Party to respect election results going forward. She was replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik, who is less conservative but more loyal to Trump, while McCarthy distinguished himself for his lack of leadership, ditching Cheney and clinging to Trump just months after he said Trump did bear responsibility for the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Now, Congress is moving to create a bipartisan January 6 commission, and Cheney absolutely thinks McCarthy is going to need to testify—perhaps under subpoena. Check out her spectacular deadpan here as she twists the knife:

Jon Karl: Now the speaker, along with at least one Republican—key Republican—announced an agreement on a commission to look into what happened on January 6. Should Kevin McCarthy be willing to speak—testify before that commission? After all, he is one of the few people that we know of that was actually talking to Donald Trump while the attack was taking place.
Cheney: He absolutely should, and I wouldn't be surprised if he were subpoenaed. I think that he very clearly, and said publicly, that he's got information about the president's state of mind that day. The elements of that commission are exactly as they should be. I'm very glad they rejected Leader McCarthy's suggestions that somehow we should dilute the commission. It's really important that it be focused just on January 6 and the events leading up to it.
Karl: So you would welcome a subpoena for Kevin McCarthy to testify to that committee?
Cheney: I would anticipate that, you know—I would hope he doesn't require a subpoena, but I wouldn't be surprised if he were subpoenaed.

Arizona GOP Legislator Admits Audit ‘Makes Us Look Like Idiots’

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

How is the effort by Arizona Republicans to undermine their state's election results going?

"It makes us look like idiots," said Paul Boyer, a Republican state senator who had supported the effort, as quoted in The New York Times. "Looking back, I didn't think it would be this ridiculous. It's embarrassing to be a state senator at this point."

That well, huh?

Republicans are trying to have 2.1 million ballots from Maricopa County—where the majority of the state's voters live—"audited." So far, the conspiracy theorists in charge of the effort have gotten through 250,000 ballots, which puts them on track to finish in August. They only have the space where they're currently working reserved until May 14, at which point they will have to find someplace else to move the ballots and equipment, because there are high school graduation ceremonies scheduled at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum beginning on May 17.

A former Arizona secretary of state involved in the effort claims they will finish in June or July, depending which news outlet he's talking to, after hiring more workers—currently less than half of the tables available for counting are staffed. The hiring process has already led to a former Republican state representative and participant in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol being paid to count ballots, so that should go well. Maybe he can recruit some of his buddies.

A conspiracy theory-inspired effort to find watermarks on the ballots has been abandoned, but the people being paid $15 an hour to inspect and count them are still looking for bamboo fibers due to another conspiracy theory involving a planeload of counterfeit ballots from South Korea. (Apparently Asian nations do not have access to paper without bamboo in it?)

The Justice Department has raised serious concerns about the proceedings, noting that "the ballots, elections systems, and election materials that are the subject of the Maricopa County audit are no longer under the ultimate control of state and local elections officials, are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors at an insecure facility, and are at risk of being lost, stolen, altered, compromised or destroyed," which could violate federal laws relating to the preservation of election records.

The Justice Department further expressed a concern that the plan to "identify voter registrations that did not make sense, and then knock on doors to confirm if valid voters actually lived at the stated address" and to contact voters in selected precincts to "collect information of whether the individual voted in the election" is potentially in violation of federal laws against intimidating voters, including in the Voting Rights Act. Arizona State Senate President Karen Fann subsequently backed off that part of the plan.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who has criticized the partisan and slipshod manner of the proceedings, now requires a 24/7 security detail after death threats.

All of this when the votes were counted the first time, then underwent a partial hand recount and two audits, in a county where the Board of Supervisors is controlled by Republicans who have strongly defended the integrity of the election and the count. The reason is simple: "They lost, and they can't get over it," as Grant Woods, a former Republican Arizona attorney general who became a Democrat during the Trump years, told the Associated Press. "And they don't want to get over it because they want to continue to sow doubt about the election."