Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

Democracy-in-PerilYesterday Joe Biden commemorated Memorial Day with a speech honoring those who served the country in wartime, while cautioning that “democracy…is in peril.”

Politico: Biden on Memorial Day: Democracy is ‘in peril,’ worth dying for.

President Joe Biden marked Memorial Day with an address at Arlington National Cemetery, pledging to never forget or fail to honor fallen veterans’ sacrifice and saying that democracy is “worth fighting for” and “dying for.”

Democracy, which he called the “soul of America,” is in danger, Biden said on Monday.

“Democracy itself is in peril, here at home and around the world,” Biden said, speaking to military officials and people who have lost military loved ones after a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “What we do now, what we do now, how we honor the memory of the fallen, will determine whether or not democracy will long endure.”

Throughout the speech Monday, Biden praised veterans’ sacrifice for democracy and defended democracy’s aspirations, though he said the U.S. hadn’t always lived up to them. He called empathy “the fuel of democracy.”

The president said that “we all” take democracy “for granted,” saying “the biggest question” is whether the system of democracy can win out over opposing “powerful forces.”

“All that we do in our common life as a nation is part of that struggle,” Biden said. “A struggle for democracy. It’s taking place around the world, democracy and autocracy.”

Democracy is in danger because the Trumpist Republican Party opposes it. Since their cult leader lost the 2020 election, Republicans are focused on making voting more difficult. The latest effort took place in Texas. Fortunately, Democrats in the Texas legislature were able to fend off the new Jim Crow law for now.

The Daily Beast: Democrats Finally Step Up and Smack Down Texas Jim Crow Law.

In a dramatic surprise, Texas Democrats stopped the GOP’s latest and lowest voter suppression effort at the eleventh hour (literally – the session was adjourned at 11pm Monday night). They used tricks, stunts, and gambits. They chased the headlines, and grabbed them. Democrats, this is how you do it.

For months, these outrageous, baseless, anti-democratic, and cravenly self-interested Republican efforts in state after state have been the “sleeper story” of the year. In some ways, Republican voter suppression isn’t new; they’ve been lying about voter fraud for years, even though it has never existed on a widespread level. And some of the concrete measures are familiar: closing voting locations in predominantly Black areas (yes, it really is that brazen), restricting early and absentee voting, and so on….

GHJFADFEVNEK3EHRR3RZ6KXX7MSo far, Democrats have failed to stop this racist and anti-democratic freight train. It’s barreled through FloridaGeorgia, and Iowa. It’s rigged the 2022 elections by making it harder for Black voters (and voters who can’t get off of work easily, or need help getting to the polls) to vote. It’s a national disgrace.

But it’s barely made the news….

These efforts should be headline freaking news. The blatantly racist nature of these policies. Their likely effects on the next election. And their foundation in the same conspiracy theory that led to the January 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C. All of these are beyond outrageous, but journalists can’t just make news happen; that’s up to politicians and other public figures who give us something to report.

Which is exactly what Texas Democrats did Sunday night.

They raised every possible technical and procedural objection to the vote. They indulged in long-winded Q&A sessions. They stretched the process out for hours. And then, right before eleven at night on the eve of Memorial Day, they walked out, depriving the Texas State House of Representatives of a quorum.

Even the walkout was dramatic. Texas State Representative Chris Turner texted party members at 10:35, writing, “Members, take your key and leave the chamber discreetly. Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building. ~ Chris”

Gotta love it.

But the bill could still pass. What’s needed is national legislation to protect voting rights.

The Washington Post: After defeating restrictive voting bill, Texas Democrats send loud message: ‘We need Congress to do their part.’

Texas Democrats who defeated a Republican effort to pass a suite of new voting restrictions with a dramatic late-night walkout from the state House chamber on Sunday have a message for President Biden and his allies in Congress: If we can protect voting rights, you can, too.

The surprise move by roughly 60 Democratic lawmakers headed off the expected passage of S.B. 7, a voting measure that would have been one of the most stringent in the nation, by denying Republicans a required quorum and forcing them to abruptly adjourn without taking a vote.

downloadThe coordinated walkout just after 10:30 p.m. Central time jolted the national debate on voting rights, putting the spotlight on Democratic-backed federal legislation that has been stalled in the Senate all spring, even as state Republicans move to enact new voting rules.

“We knew today, with the eyes of the nation watching action in Austin, that we needed to send a message,” state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat, said at a news conference held at a historically Black church in Austin early Monday, shortly after he and other lawmakers left the state Capitol. “And that message is very, very clear: Mr. President, we need a national response to federal voting rights.”\Republicans control every branch of Texas government and hold firm majorities in both the House and Senate. While Gov. Greg Abbott (R) vowed late Sunday to bring the voting measure back at a special legislative session for redistricting later this year — and threatened to defund the legislature in a tweet on Monday — the walkout represented an unmistakable and shocking defeat for Republican leaders who had assumed the bill would pass ahead of the House’s midnight deadline to finish its 2021 business.

Unfortunately, Congress is not stepping up so far.

Nicolas Fandos at The Washington Post: Push for Voting Overhaul in Congress Falters.

In the national struggle over voting rights, Democrats have rested their hopes for turning back a wave of new restrictions in Republican-led states and expanding ballot access on their narrow majorities in Congress. Failure, they have repeatedly insisted, “is not an option.”

But as Republican efforts to clamp down on voting prevail across the country, the drive to enact the most sweeping elections overhaul in generations is faltering in the Senate. With a self-imposed Labor Day deadline for action, Democrats are struggling to unite around a strategy to overcome solid Republican opposition and an almost certain filibuster.

Republicans in Congress have dug in against the measure, with even the most moderate dismissing it as bloated and overly prescriptive. That leaves Democrats no option for passing it other than to try to force the bill through by destroying the filibuster rule — which requires 60 votes to put aside any senator’s objection — to pass it on a simple majority, party-line vote.

cg607453581752eBut Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, the Democrats’ decisive swing vote, has repeatedly pledged to protect the filibuster and is refusing to sign on to the voting rights bill. He calls the legislation “too darn broad” and too partisan, despite endorsing such proposals in past sessions. Other Democrats also remain uneasy about some of its core provisions.

Navigating the 800-page For the People Act, or Senate Bill 1, through an evenly chamber was never going to be an easy task, even after it passed the House with only Democratic votes. But the Democrats’ strategy for moving the measure increasingly hinges on the longest of long shots: persuading Mr. Manchin and the other 49 Democrats to support both the bill and the gutting of the filibuster.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Meanwhile, extremist Republicans–including the former guy–are openly supporting insurrection. As Dakinikat reported yesterday, disgraced retired General Michael Flynn attended a Q-Anon meeting and called for a military coup in the U.S. 

Donnie O’Sullivan at CNN: Echoing QAnon forums, Michael Flynn appears to suggest a Myanmar-style coup should happen in the United States.

Michael Flynn, former President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, appeared to endorse a Myanmar-style coup in the United States on Sunday.

For months, QAnon and Trump-supporting online forums have celebrated the deadly military coup in Myanmar and suggested the same should happen in the United States so Trump could be reinstated as President.

Flynn made the comments at an event in Dallas on Sunday that was attended by prominent peddlers of the QAnon conspiracy theory and the Big Lie.

“I want to know why what happened in Minamar (sic)can’t happen here?” a member of the audience, who identified himself as a Marine, asked Flynn.

“No reason, I mean, it should happen here. No reason. That’s right,” Flynn responded….

Some QAnon followers are obsessed with the idea that the US military will somehow put Trump back into office. Some believed and hoped Trump would declare martial law on Inauguration Day to stop Joe Biden from entering the White House.

Speaking at the same event in Dallas, Flynn earlier in the weekend falsely claimed, “Trump won. He won the popular vote, and he won the Electoral College vote.”

Trump himself claims he will be “reinstated” as president, according to Maggie Haberman.

4060f4bbe7fc4726bd17af60a9fda86dRaw Story: Trump expects to be ‘reinstated’ as president by August: reporter.

Former President Donald Trump reportedly believes he’s going to be “reinstated” as president within the next two months.

According to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, “Trump has been telling a number of people he’s in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated by August” because the widely criticized “audit” he’s backing in Arizona will show he actually won the 2020 presidential election.

“He is not putting out statements about the ‘audits’ in states just for the sake of it,” Haberman reports. “He’s been laser focused on them, according to several people who’ve spoken with him.”

Haberman notes that Trump’s obsession with retaking the White House this year comes as he’s staring at the possibility of being indicted by the New York Attorney General’s Office, which is conducting a criminal probe of the Trump Organization for potential tax fraud.

If you want to know more about the conference of Q-Anon crazies that took place over the weekend, check out this article at Vice: QAnon’s Wildest Moments From Their Massively Disturbing Conference.

QAnon’s biggest celebrities threw a three-day conference in Dallas over the weekend—and it did not disappoint.

Whether you wanted to hear a former US Army general calling for a military coup or Roger Stone’s social media advisor calling for Hillary Clinton’s execution, there was something for everyone.

There were auctions selling $1,000-blankets and $8,000 baseball bats. A sitting Congressman appeared on stage and literally embraced QAnon influencers. Dozens of members of a shadowy militia provided protection—some with their own pugs in tow. And then there was Kraken-lawyer Sidney Powell trying to sing the national anthem….

The “For God and Country: Patriot Roundup” event took place over Friday, Saturday and Sunday in downtown Dallas with thousands of QAnon supporters paying at least $500 for a ticket to the event.

The event took place in the city-owned Omni Hotel despite opposition from local residents whose petition was signed by more than 20,000 people.

The organizer of the event, John Sabal (known online as QAnon John) claimed prior to the  event that it was not a QAnon conference, despite multiple high profile QAnon figures speaking there.

The event was a coming-out party for many well-known figures in the QAnon world, but also highlighted just how far the conspiracy movement is bleeding into mainstream Republican politics, with one sitting Congressman, Rep. Louie Gohmert, speaking on stage, along with the chairman of the Texas GOP, Allen West.  

Read more highlights at the Vice link.

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following? As always, this is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads

dona i gat_Myrtille Henrion-Picco

Dona i gat, Myrtille Henrion-Pico

Good Morning!!

It looks like the Covid relief bill could finally pass the Senate after an all-nighter in which Biden himself was finally brought in to get Joe Manchin on board. 

Politico: Senate reaches unemployment benefits deal, ending logjam on Covid aid bill.

Senate Democrats clinched a deal on Friday night over unemployment benefits that will smooth the upper chamber’s passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill this weekend.

After about a nine-hour delay following Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) resistance to an earlier agreement on jobless payments, party leaders announced a new accord with Manchin. The latest deal would provide $300 a week in extra unemployment benefits through Sept. 6, and up to $10,200 in tax relief for unemployed workers.

Democratic leaders also agreed to limit eligibility for that tax relief, restricting the tax-free status of the benefits to households with incomes under $150,000 a year.

Ophelia Redpath, 1965

By Ophelia Redpath, 1965

The White House quickly announced its support after endorsing the earlier compromise.

“The President supports the compromise agreement, and is grateful to all the senators who worked so hard to reach this outcome,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Friday night.

With Manchin’s objections eased, Democrats plowed forward with a marathon “vote-a-rama” — an all-night ordeal in which any senator can offer an amendment to Biden’s bill. The Senate is now on track to pass the package on Saturday….

After Senate passage, the bill will go back to the House, where lawmakers must approve the changes before it reaches Biden’s desk.

At The New York Times, Glenn Thrush reports:  More Democrats join the effort to kill the filibuster as a way of saving Biden’s agenda.

A growing number of Senate Democrats are warming to the idea of eliminating the filibuster as they encounter Republican resistance to President Biden’s legislative agenda, forcing the White House to cut deals on issues like the minimum wage and pandemic relief payments.

If the founders envisioned the upper chamber as a “cooling bowl” to moderate more extreme bills passed by the House, the filibuster has often been a deep freezer, infamously deployed by Southern racists to quash reforms during the civil rights era….

Two Senate Democrats — Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have said they will oppose any effort to do away with the rule, making any rollback a long shot. Mr. Biden and Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, have been noncommittal about eliminating the filibuster.

Two Senate Democrats — Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have said they will oppose any effort to do away with the rule, making any rollback a long shot. Mr. Biden and Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, have been noncommittal about eliminating the filibuster….

Tatyana Struchkova

By Tatyana Struchkova

On Thursday, Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota took to Twitter to declare her support for ending the filibuster. “The Senate needs to abolish the filibuster. It’s undemocratic,” she wrote, adding, “We need to move this country forward.”

A day earlier, Senator Amy Klobuchar, the state’s senior senator and a standard-bearer for her party’s moderate wing in 2020, said the likely demise in the Senate of a House voting rights bill had flipped her from a “maybe” to a “yes.” [….]

Another centrist, Jon Tester of Montana, has taken a wait-and-see approach, but signaled recently that he too might be open to killing the rule.

The investigations into the January 6 insurrection continue. Recent news:

The New York Times: F.B.I. Finds Contact Between Proud Boys Member and Trump Associate Before Riot.

A member of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys was in communication with a person associated with the White House in the days just before the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.

Location, cellular and call record data revealed a call tying a Proud Boys member to the Trump White House, the official said. The F.B.I. has not determined what they discussed, and the official would not reveal the names of either party.

The connection revealed by the communications data comes as the F.B.I. intensifies its investigation of contacts among far-right extremists, Trump White House associates and conservative members of Congress in the days before the attack….

Christilla Germain

By Christilla Germain

Separately, Enrique Tarrio, a leader of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys, told The New York Times on Friday that he called Roger J. Stone Jr., a close associate of former President Donald J. Trump’s, while at a protest in front of the home of Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida. During the protest, which occurred in the days before the Capitol assault, he put Mr. Stone on speaker phone to address the gathering.

A law enforcement official said that it was not Mr. Tarrio’s communication with Mr. Stone that was being scrutinized, and that the call made in front of Mr. Rubio’s home was a different matter. That two members of the group were in communication with people associated with the White House underscores the access that violent extremist groups like the Proud Boys had to the White House and to people close to the former president.

In response to this story, attorney Luppe B. Luppen (@Southpaw on Twitter) was reminded of an interesting January 6 tweet by CNN’s Jim Acosta:

This is interesting, from CNN: Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren quietly releases massive social media report on GOP colleagues who voted to overturn the election.

Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren has quietly posted a nearly 2,000-page report documenting social media posts by her Republican colleagues who voted against certifying results of the presidential election on January 6. The information compiled isn’t secret, but the report is another sign of the deep distrust that has settled into the US Capitol in the weeks since the insurrection.

The report chronicles the social media activity of members on public forums immediately before the November election and right after the January 6 riot. The report has been online for a week.

CNN reported earlier Thursday that federal investigators are examining records of communications between members of Congress and the pro-Trump mob that attacked the Capitol, as the investigation moves closer to exploring whether lawmakers wittingly or unwittingly helped the insurrectionists….

Catriona Millar2

By Catriona Millar

“Any appropriate disciplinary action is a matter not only of the Constitution and law, but also of fact,” the California Democrat wrote. “Many of former President Trump’s false statements were made in very public settings. Had Members made similar public statements in the weeks and months before the January 6th attack? Statements which are readily available in the public arena may be part of any consideration of Congress’ constitutional prerogatives and responsibilities.” [….]

“Like former President Trump, any elected Member of Congress who aided and abetted the insurrection or incited the attack seriously threatened our democratic government. They would have betrayed their oath of office and would be implicated in the same constitutional provision cited in the Article of Impeachment,” Lofgren wrote in her foreword to the report. “That provision prohibits any person who has previously taken an oath as a member of Congress to support the Constitution but subsequently engaged in insurrection or rebellion from serving in Congress.”

Communications from Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona are heavily represented in the report:

The report features a collection of social media posts and tweets that span dozens of pages from Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar where he urges supporters to “hold the line,” days before what would become the Capitol insurrection. In another social media post included in the report, Gosar wrote that “sedition and treason for stealing votes is appropriate.”

The report also captures numerous tweets where Gosar invoked @ali on Twitter, which was formerly the account used by Ali Alexander, a leader of the “Stop the Steal” group, who said in several Periscope livestream videos that he planned the rally that preceded the riot in conjunction with Gosar and two other congressional Republicans, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Andy Biggs of Arizona.

HuffPost reports that the FBI still haven’t arrested this guy who attacked police with a fire extinguisher: Revealed: The Star-Spangled Trumper Filmed Attacking Cops At The Capitol.

With bright red and white stripes across his body and stars down his sleeves, the man in the American flag jacket and “FLORIDA FOR TRUMP” hat wielded a fire extinguisher while charging the U.S. Capitol on the afternoon of Jan. 6. He shoved his way through the crowd of rioters to the police line, then sprayed officers at close range before chucking the emptied canister at them. By nightfall he himself had been lightly harmed, apparently by a police crowd control munition. He held up his shirt to show off his bruised gut during an interview with a female journalist filming him live as cops pushed the mob back from Capitol grounds. Then he looked straight into her livestreaming device and identified himself as Robert Palmer from Clearwater, Florida.

Adrie Martens

By Andrie Martens

At this point, the man had not only assaulted federal officers before a sea of smartphones while wearing highly distinctive attire, he’d also willingly revealed his own name and hometown on video at the scene of the crime — while still in the same outfit.

This isn’t your typical “Florida Man” story, despite its absurdity. This is the story of a violent insurrectionist who’s still at large — nearly two months later — and one woman who joined the online sleuthing communities crowdsourcing their efforts to bring a Capitol attacker to justice.

Robert Scott Palmer is a white 53-year-old husband and father who runs Son Bright Systems, a cleaning and restoration business. His criminal record includes being sentenced on charges of battery and felony fraud.

HuffPost verified his identity through a search of public records and social media accounts associated with Palmer, after receiving a tip from Amy, a woman living in a rural area out west who in her free time joined the #SeditionHunters network, an online sleuthing community seeking to identify the hundreds of Trump supporters who rioted at the Capitol. (Amy is a pseudonym she chose to protect her privacy.)

Reached by phone late Thursday afternoon, Palmer confirmed he was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and gave the livestream interview. He claimed that he’d done nothing to justify being struck with the police munition, and that the Biden administration was trying to “vilify the patriots” who were involved in the riot. 

Read more about Palmer at the HuffPo link. I wonder why he’s still at large?

More stories to check out today:

Sandra Bierman-yin-yang

Sandra Bierman, Yin Yang

Politico: Prominent retired generals aided Honoré review of Capitol security.

Raw Story: WATCH: QAnon-loving Capitol rioter thought JFK Jr would be ‘sworn in’ as Trump’s vice president on Jan 6

NBC News: Federico Klein, former Trump appointee charged in Capitol riot, wants jail cell without cockroaches.

Politico: Capitol riot shaman’s TV interview irks judge.

Newsweek: Rachel Powell, Capitol Rioter Known as ‘Bullhorn Lady,’ Indicted by Grand Jury.

The New York Times: Cuomo Is Told to Preserve Records at Issue in Sexual Harassment Inquiry.

CBS Evening News: Cuomo accuser alleges a staffer took sexual harassment training for the governor.

Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: How Never Trumpers Are Becoming Pro-Democracy Republicans.

Madison.com: Ron Johnson: No decision on 2022 run, but leaving office is ‘probably my preference now.’

The New York Times: Democrats Want a Stronger Edge in the Senate. Ohio Could Be Crucial.

Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!! This is an open thread.


Thursday Reads

Van Gogh Monmarte painting revealed

Scène de rue à Montmartre, 1887

Good Morning!!

I’m illustrating this post with paintings from Vincent van Gogh’s Paris years, because of this story from BBC yesterday: Van Gogh Paris painting goes on public display for first time.

A Street Scene In Montmartre has been owned by a French family for most of the time since it was painted in 1887.

Sotheby’s estimates it could fetch up to eight million euros (£6.9m) when it is sold at auction next month.

Van Gogh expert Martin Bailey told BBC News that this is “the first time we are able to see it properly”.

Small reproductions have been made in the past, often in black-and-white. “What is exciting is that it is a Van Gogh painting which has been hidden away ever since it came off the artist’s easel,” Mr Bailey said.

“It has always been in private collections, so only the owners and their friends knew it.

“It is an interesting picture because it is a transitional work between Van Gogh’s Dutch years, when he painted in dark, earthy colours, and the exuberant works that he did in Provence. It was in Paris that he discovered the Impressionists, and this led him to explore colour.”

It is one of a series of works Van Gogh created while lodging with his brother Theo in 1886 and 1887 a short distance from the street depicted in the painting….

Montmartre was still semi-rural when the scene was painted. A windmill features prominently behind some perambulating locals. The famous Sacré-Cœur church that now dominates the area was under construction at the time.

View of Paris from Vincent's Room, 1887

View of Paris from Vincent’s Room, 1887

I’m getting really angry about the treatment of Neera Tanden and Deb Haaland–both women of color–in the Senate. This attack on her by fake good ‘ol boy Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana is really disgusting. Andrew Solender at Forbes: GOP Senator Questions Neera Tanden’s Loyalty To Biden, America – Says Her ‘Allegiance’ Is To Hillary Clinton.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) denounced two of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet-level nominees in fiery terms Wednesday, questioning Office of Management and Budget nominee Neera Tanden’s loyalty to America.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Kennedy expressed pessimism about Tanden’s imperiled nomination, stating, “I’m not saying she’s a smoked turkey, but the smoker is heating up.”

Kennedy pointed to Tanden’s past tweets attacking lawmakers as the main area of concern, but simultaneously launched into his own attacks, claiming there is bipartisan concern that Tanden’s “allegiance is not to America and it’s not to President Biden, it’s to Secretary Clinton.

Kennedy also echoed Republican attacks on Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Biden’s nominee for Interior secretary, as a radical leftist, but said he needs to “do a little more research” and is still undecided, according to pool reports.

Kennedy said he is “not impressed” with what he has seen from Haaland thus far, labeling her a “neo-socialist, left-of-Lenin whackjob” who is “living in La La Land,” citing her support for an oil and gas moratorium.

What an asshole. And remember, Kennedy is one of the eight Republicans who in 1918 spent the Fourth of July in Russia sucking up to Putin.

Dana Millbank at The Washington Post: Opinion: What terrible things did Neera Tanden tweet? The truth.

Can you believe that Neera Tanden called Hillary Clinton the “anti-Christ” and the “real enemy”?

Oh, wait. It was Ryan Zinke who said those things. Fifty-one Republican senators (and several Democrats, including Joe Manchin III of West Virginia) confirmed him as secretary of the interior in 2017.

Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin, 1887

Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin, 1887

And how about the times Tanden allegedly called the NAACP a “pinko organization” that “hates white people” and used racial epithets?

My bad. That was Jeff Sessions. Again, 51 Republican senators (and one Democrat, Manchin) voted to confirm him as attorney general in 2017.

Surely Tanden went beyond the pale when she “liked” a tweet calling then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry a “traitor” and “Vietnam’s worst export,” and when she suggested Clinton supporters leave the country.

Except Mike Pompeo was the one who did those things. He won confirmation as secretary of state in 2018 with the votes of 50 Republicans and six Democrats, including Manchin.

But, really, the most appalling thing Tanden said was that Muslims have a “deficient theology” and they “stand condemned.”

Whoops. That wasn’t Tanden but Russell Vought. Just last year, 51 Republicans voted to confirm him as director of the Office of Management and Budget — the same position Tanden is up for now.

Now, all 50 Senate Republicans, assisted by Manchin, are on the cusp of sinking Tanden’s nomination because they object to her harsh tweets. Many have noted the hypocrisy, particularly when compared with the treatment of Richard Grenell, an online troll who won confirmation as ambassador to Germany with 50 Republican votes — and Manchin, natch — despite routinely disparaging women’s appearances.

But this isn’t just about double standards. What really must sting about Tanden’s tweets is not that they were mean, but that, for the most part, they were true.

What really got Manchin’s goat was that Tanden criticized his daughter.

At The Daily Beast, David Rothkopf asks: Joe Biden Wants to Repair America. Will Joe Manchin Let Him?

Like 82 million others, I voted last year to entrust America to a moderate Democrat named Joe.

Little did I expect that the Joe who’d end up with the last word on a host of vital national issues would be Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Manchin’s ascendancy came thanks to the Democratic victories in the two Georgia runoff races in January. That gave the party 50 votes in the Senate and control, thanks to the decisive tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, so long as the caucus maintains unity. What they could not count on, it turned out, was Manchin.

Fishing in Spring, 1887

Fishing in Spring, 1887

On issues from cabinet nominations to the filibuster to the minimum wage, Manchin has seized the power that breaking from the Democratic majority gives him. He does this in the name of being a so-called centrist, a moderate. But the reality is that he is proving to be a MINO, a moderate in name only, embracing views that are more like those of the increasingly radical Republican Senate caucus than they are like those of his Democratic colleagues….

One of the earliest signs that Manchin was perfectly happy to play the spoiler disrupting the aspirations of his own party leadership came even before the Democrats took control of the Senate. While negotiations were taking place between Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell over the new power-sharing arrangements in the 50-50 Senate, McConnell sought to put a stake through the heart of any idea the Democrats might have of seeking to abolish the filibuster, one of McConnell’s favorite tools of obstruction in the Senate, vital to enabling his minority to continue to block key legislation that could not make it to the filibuster threshold of 60 votes.

Manchin publicly announced his opposition to removing the filibuster. His rationale was that of all filibuster advocates, that it was an important institutional legacy in the Senate and helped drive bipartisanship by forcing the majority to seek some minority support for their legislation. Neither of these assertions are true, however. The filibuster was rarely used in the first 200 years of U.S. history and once it began to be used more frequently, from the 1990s onward, it was almost always used to block the passage of legislation rather to leverage opposing sides into dialogue.

Biden needs to start playing hardball with Manchin. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

The Capitol insurrection in the news:

Frank Figluzzi at MSNBC: The Senate asked all the wrong questions about the pro-Trump attack on the Capitol.

The Senate held its first hearings into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol on Tuesday. And I have to be honest: I was not impressed.

The cadre of former Capitol security chiefs testifying might as well have played a continuous recorded loop of them reciting in unison, “the intelligence wasn’t there,” in response to senators’ equally redundant questions about the Capitol security failure and why adequate resources weren’t deployed.

A Woman Walking in a Garden 1887

A Woman Walking in a Garden 1887

But neither the senators nor their witnesses addressed the toughest questions: Why didn’t you see what so many civilians did? What biases fed into the many incorrect assumptions made? And what keeps us collectively — as Americans, as law enforcement, and more specifically, as white people — from perceiving our own as a potential threat? The answers are complex — but the right questions need to be asked first.

The more that former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, and former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger repeated their “intelligence was lacking” mantra, the less intelligent they sounded. Irving stated, “We did discuss whether the intelligence warranted having troops at the Capitol, and our collective judgment at that time was no, the intelligence did not warrant that.” Sund testified that “the level of probability of acts of civil disobedience/arrests on Jan. 6 ranged from ‘remote’ to ‘improbable'” and that “none of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred.”

Perhaps the dozens of intelligence professionals on Sund’s staff should include the cost of newspaper subscriptions and laptops in their next budget request. The truth is that there was significant online chatter and numerous media reports that protestors were targeting the electoral vote count. So then, what is it that keeps law enforcement professionals from seeing what’s right in front of them?

Ouch!

As these hearings continue, we will likely hear from the FBI and other law enforcement leaders. Importantly, we can expect to hear about the legal constraints on what that agency can and cannot do about monitoring social media, penetrating protests groups and investigating domestic extremism. These limits rightfully help preserve our civil liberties, free speech and freedom of association. And it’s true that law enforcement can’t possibly see and assess the universe of social media even if such monitoring were allowed. But plenty of social media posts prior to the insurrection spoke of violence, vandalism and targeting the Capitol — those things have little to do with exercising civil liberties.

After the insurrection, two ProPublica journalists interviewed 19 current and former U.S. Capitol Police officers about the assault on the Capitol. They also obtained confidential intelligence bulletins and previously unreported planning documents. Significantly, their reporting provides something other than the convenient “intelligence failure” rationale as to why planning was so poor when it came to protecting our iconic symbol of democracy.

Read the rest at MSNBC. 

NPR: Architect Of The Capitol Outlines $30 Million In Damages From Pro-Trump Riot.

The cost of repairing damages from the attack on the U.S. Capitol and related security expenses have already topped $30 million and will keep rising, Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton told lawmakers on Wednesday.

The events of Jan. 6, he said, were “difficult for the American people and extremely hard for all of us on campus to witness.”

Farmhouse in a Wheat Field, 1888

Farmhouse in a Wheat Field, 1888

Blanton said that congressional appropriations committees have already approved a transfer request of $30 million to pay for expenses and extend a temporary perimeter fencing contract through March 31.

But more money will be needed, he added: “History teaches us that project costs for replacements and repairs beyond in-kind improvements across campus will be considerable and beyond the scope of the current budgetary environment.”

The price tag will go even higher, Blanton told lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee, if the fence and other security measures are needed beyond March.

Republicans aren’t upset about the Capitol attack though. What they care about is Neera Tanden’s “mean tweets.”

Profiles of two of the insurgents:

The Daily Beast: An NYPD Cop’s Road From Terror ‘Victim’ to Capitol Rioter.

The retired NYPD cop now charged with assaulting a D.C. cop in the Capitol riot that has been called domestic terrorism was previously assigned to guard the ruins of the World Trade Center as recovery teams extracted the remains of innocents killed by Islamic terrorism.

And 54-year-old Thomas Webster once presented himself as a victim of terrorism in a civil suit filed in the same federal jurisdiction where he was accused this week of attacking a District of Columbia police officer “like a junkyard dog.”

Webster can be seen on video wielding a metal flagpole and seeking to tear off the cop’s gas mask with such ferocity that he became known online as “the eye gouger.”

Webster’s transformation from supposed terror victim to accused terrorizer caused him to be denounced by a law enforcement supervisor who directed and participated in the actual removal of remains from Ground Zero while the now retired cop stood guard at the periphery. The supervisor does not remember Webster from those months in downtown Manhattan but had seen the Jan. 6 video from the Capitol.

“I look at it as a further desecration of all first responders,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “It’s taken 20 years, but he managed in my view to be as guilty as any terrorist or terrorist wannabe. You are attacking the very principles of our existence: democracy, the Constitution, the Capitol.”

Bellingcat: Woman Accused of Stealing Nancy Pelosi’s Laptop Appears in Video Making Nazi Salute.

On January 6, 2021, Riley June Williams, a 22-year-old home care worker from Pennsylvania, was one of roughly 800 rioters who breached the US Capitol building in Washington D.C. While many engaged in property damage and violence that day, Williams’ case stands out given her ex-partner has alleged to the FBI that she stole a laptop from Nancy Pelosi’s office.

This former boyfriend also alleges that her goal was to sell the laptop to a Russian intelligence agency, a claim January court documents say “remains under investigation,” but which has been denied by Williams’ lawyer who accuses the former partner of seeking revenge. 

Vase with White and Red Carnations, 1886

Vase with White and Red Carnations, 1886

While Williams has not been charged with stealing the laptop itself, something she also denies, she faces multiple charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds as well aiding/abetting others to “embezzle, steal, purloin.”

Footage from January 6 released by ITV News shows Williams urging rioters upstairs towards Congressional offices. In one video from inside Pelosi’s office, a voice that the FBI states it believes to be Williams’ says “dude, put on gloves” before a gloved hand takes a laptop from a table. The affidavit links to a thread of captured Discord posts from a user named Riley bragging, “STOLE SHITT FROM NANCY POLESI [sic]”.

In an interview with ITV on January 16, Williams’ mother described her daughter as getting caught up in the moment. She noted that Riley had been radicalized on far-right message boards but described her daughter’s main political goal as, “…wanting America to get the correct information”. 

However, Bellingcat has since received information that suggests that Williams was more than just a Trump supporter caught up in the maelstrom. She is somebody who posted racist and Anti-Semitic content as well as filmed a video that appears openly pro-Nazi and promotes accelerationism (speeding up the collapse of society) as a pathway towards establishing a genocidal white supremacist state….

Several days after Williams was charged in mid-January, an antifascist activist reached out to Bellingcat with a video they believed showed her pledging allegiance to Adolf Hitler. Bellingcat has since shared the footage and findings of its investigation with NBC News.

The 36-second video opens with a young woman dancing in a dress while wearing a hat, glasses and a mask decorated with a skull. These skullmasks were adopted as a symbol by Atomwaffen and similar accelerationist Nazi terrorist groups back in 2017.

But so what? Have you heard about Neera Tanden’s tweets?

That’s all I have for you today. I know there’s lots of other news–what stories have caught your interest?


WTF? Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) Not Sure If He’ll Vote for Obama or Romney

Joe Manchin with Barack Obama

From The Boston Globe:

In a statement Friday, the West Virginia lawmaker said he had “some real differences” with both leaders, finding fault with Obama’s energy and economic policies while questioning whether Romney could understand the challenges facing ordinary people.

“I strongly believe that every American should always be rooting for our president to do well, no matter which political party that he or she might belong to,” Manchin said. “With that being said, many West Virginians believe the last 3 1/2 years haven’t been good for us, but we’re hopeful that they can get better.”

The Globe writer has the nerve to call Manchin “moderate.”

Manchin, one of the more moderate Senate Democrats, has broken with his party on several issues as he seeks re-election this year. His state has backed the Republican candidate in the last three presidential elections, and Obama did not fare well in 2008. Obama lost to GOP nominee Sen. John McCain, 56-43 percent, and was overwhelmed by Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primary, losing 67-26 percent.

Last time I checked Hillary Clinton was a Democrat and a more liberal one than Obama, so I guess West Virginians are capable of voting Democratic.

Manchin told the National Journal (NJ) that he will vote for the person his constituents want, (which right now looks like it will be Romney says the NJ), but he has concerns about Romney’s support for the Ryan budget because the folks in WV might not like losing their Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. But he doesn’t like Obama’s energy policies. Whatever happened to politicians showing leadership?

Manchin’s position echoes the stance he took during his 2010 special election campaign to serve out the term of the late Sen. Robert Byrd. He declined ahead of that election to endorse a second term for Obama or to say if he would vote for Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., to remain majority leader.

If Manchin in fact votes based on which candidate most of his constituents embrace, he will likely cast his ballot for Romney. Obama lost West Virginia by 13 points in 2008 and remains unpopular there. While Romney’s wealth, Mormonism, and views on entitlement reform may not be a perfect fit in a state that remains relatively poor, Protestant, and dependent on federal spending, Obama probably will not take the state….

The share of voters who split their ballots between a presidential candidate and a Senate candidate has steadily declined since 1960. It is now common for more than 80 percent of voters who approve of a president’s performance to back the Senate nominee from the same party, a National Journal analysis of competitive races since 2004 found. Similarly, more than 80 percent of voters who disapprove of a president’s performance tend to support the Senate candidate from the other party, according to the analysis. That is Manchin’s challenge.

I’m guessing the Obama campaign’s reaction to Manchin’s up front announcement that he’ll likely vote for Romney is going to be a bit of a challenge too. Has Manchin ever heard of “The Chicago Way?” I don’t recall even Ben Nelson ever going so far as to publicly announce he would vote for the Republican presidential candidate.