Thursday Reads: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Woman playing lute, August Macke

Woman playing lute, August Macke

Good Afternoon!!

Yesterday, Republicans won control of the House, so we can look forward to multiple insane “investigations” of Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, and whatever else the “Freedom Caucus” can dream up to own the libs. The good news is that they will alienate normal voters who would rather have their representatives work on legislation and, you know, govern. 

Right now I’m waiting for Nancy Pelosi to announce her plans for the future. She will speak any minute now. AP News: Nancy Pelosi to announce ‘future plans’ after GOP wins House.

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to address her plans with colleagues on Thursday in the wake of Democrats narrowly losing control of the House to Republicans in the midterm elections.

Pelosi’s decision to either seek another term as the Democratic leader or to step aside has been widely anticipated. It would come after the party was able to halt an expected Republican wave in the House and the Senate but also in the aftermath of a brutal attack on her husband, Paul, late last month by an intruder in their San Francisco home.

She is expected to open the House at noon and then deliver remarks, her office said.

“The Speaker plans to address her future plans tomorrow to her colleagues. Stay tuned,” Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill tweeted late Wednesday.

The speaker took home two versions of her speech overnight for review.

The speaker “has been overwhelmed by calls from colleagues, friends and supporters,” Hammill said, and noted that she had spent Wednesday evening monitoring election returns in the final states where ballots were still being counted.

According to CNN, President Biden has asked he to stay on.

Pelosi is speaking now. She reminisces about the first time she saw the U.S. Capitol as a child attending her father Thomas D’Alesandro’s swearing in as a Representative from Maryland. She looks back on the Presidents of the U.S. she has served with. She says she has decided not to seek reelection as Democratic leader. Quotes the Ecclesiastes, “for everything there is a season…” before she announces her decision [standing ovation] Now she is thanking all the people she has worked with. Quotes the prayer of St. Francis, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…” She ends the speech to another of several standing ovations. This is a truly historic moment. Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the House. 

From the BBC: Nancy Pelosi stands down as leader of US House Democrats.

Nancy Pelosi, who has led Democrats in the US House of Representatives for almost two decades, has announced she is standing down from the role.

The 82-year-old is the most powerful Democrat in Congress and the first woman to serve as speaker of the House.

She will continue to represent her California district in the lower chamber of Congress.

young_spanish_woman_with_a_guitar_Auguste Renoir

Young Spanish Woman with a Guitar, by Auguste Renoir

It comes as Republicans are projected to take back control of the House following the midterm elections.

“I never would have thought that someday I would go from homemaker to House speaker,” Mrs Pelosi said in a statement in the chamber on Thursday.

“I will not seek re-election to Democratic leadership in the next Congress. The hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus,” she said.

Mrs Pelosi will serve as speaker until January when a new Congress takes over, and will remain in the congressional seat she first took up in 1987 until January 2025.

New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries is widely expected to take up the top Democratic leadership post in the House, which would make him the first black minority leader in US history.

More on Pelosi:

The first woman to lead a major party in either chamber of the US Congress, Nancy Pelosi will also go down in history as one of the most effective – an invaluable asset for Democrats and a formidable opponent for Republicans.

Her legislative acumen, her ability to keep a restless party united when it matters, and her instinct for political theatre have made her a force on Capitol Hill, as well as a lightning rod for criticism from her detractors.

She wasn’t the most telegenic Democratic leader. Her speeches and press conference were hardly inspirational. But her ability to keep her fractious and often slim majority in the chamber together on key votes had few rivals.

Her political instincts were invariably sound, and her sense of legislative timing – when to push and when to wait and what it would take to win a vote – was impeccable. And she did it in an era where the House leadership had incentives, such as earmarked spending authorisations, to keep recalcitrant back-benchers in line.

NBC News on Pelosi: Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House, says she’ll step down as Democratic leader.

Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House, who helped shape many of the most consequential laws of the early 21st century, said Thursday that she will step down after two decades as the Democratic Party’s leader in the chamber.

“With great confidence in our caucus I will not seek re-election to Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” Pelosi said in a speech on the House floor.

Pelosi was speaker from 2007 to 2011 and returned to the top job in 2019. She announced her decision just a day after NBC News and other news outlets projected that Republicans had flipped control of the House in last week’s midterm election, sending Pelosi and the Democrats back to the minority….

Pelosi won’t be leaving Congress after winning her 19th term last week. She is expected to remain, at least temporarily, given the GOP’s razor-thin majority.

Pelosi, 82, is one of the most powerful lawmakers of her generation or any other, and her departure will rob Democrats of strategic acumen and unmatched fundraising skills.

The Girl with the Sitar, by Dominique Amendola

The Girl with the Sitar, by Dominique Amendola

“She’s been at the center of the country’s biggest crises, initiatives and showdowns for a quarter-century,” Pelosi biographer Susan Page said. “People can certainly disagree with her policies and her tactics. She hasn’t done much to temper the partisan tone in Washington. But what you can’t disagree with is this: She has gotten things done, even when almost everybody else thought they were impossible.”

Pelosi’s decision is expected to kick off a wave of generational change in Democratic leadership. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, 83, also announced Thursday that he will not seek another term in leadership. And Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, 82, will not seek any of the top three spots in leadership, but has indicated that he plans to stay on in an “advisory” role.

Pelosi nodded at the coming changing of the guard in her speech. “For me, the hour’s come for a new generation to lead the Democratic Caucus that I so deeply respect and I’m so grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility.”

Most Republicans–including Kevin McCarthy–didn’t even have the decency to attend Pelosi’s speech, according to NBC. Steve Scalise did attend.

We will soon go from the sublime to the ridiculous, as Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise take over and a new era of Republican “investigations” begins. House republicans have no interest in policy or passing legislation to help the American people. All they want is revenge for imagined slights. 

NBC News: House Republicans plan investigations and possible impeachments with new majority.

WASHINGTON — House Republicans’ majority will be smaller than expected, but they’re eager to use their new oversight powers and pass a spate of bills to draw contrasts with Democrats and give the Biden administration heartburn.

In this moment of divided government and fierce partisanship, it’s perhaps appropriate that the GOP conference is expected to be led by Reps. Kevin McCarthy of California and Steve Scalise of Louisiana, veteran lawmakers known more for their skills in political combat than for their policy acumen.

Although House Republicans will still face a Democratic White House and Senate aimed at blocking their legislative aims, McCarthy — who is working feverishly to cement his ascension to speaker despite growing discontent in his ranks — has already made it clear the party plans to launch investigations into the Biden administration and at least one of the president’s family members.

But McCarthy and other leaders will have their hands full as they try to keep their wafer-thin majority united and corral conservative bomb throwers who are clamoring to shut down the government and impeach President Joe Biden and his top allies….

Investigations will dominate the new Congress, from the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and allegations of politicization at the Justice Department to America’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. But none will attract as much attention as the GOP’s planned investigation into the business dealings of the president’s son Hunter two years before a potential Biden re-election bid.

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the incoming Oversight Committee chairman, has said an investigation into Hunter Biden and other Biden family members and associates will be a priority as Republicans try to determine whether the family’s business activities “compromise U.S. national security and President Biden’s ability to lead with impartiality.”

In addition, Republicans plan to “investigate” Antony Fauci, Merrick Garland and the DOJ, Christopher Wray and the FBI, immigration policies, the withdrawal from Afghanistan (which was a Trump policy), and China. I hope the Democrats have plans to raise the debt limit before the Republicans take over or they may try to force the U.S. to default on our debts and bring down the entire world economy.

katsushika_oi-three_women_playing_musical_instruments-1850-obelisk-art-history

Katsushika Oi, Three Women Playing Instruments, 1850

Democrats have plans to fight back:

CNN: Inside the White House’s months of prep-work for a GOP investigative onslaught.

More than four months before voters handed Republicans control of the House of Representatives, top White House and Department of Homeland Security officials huddled in the Roosevelt Room to prepare for that very scenario.  

The department and its secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, had emerged as top targets of Republican ire over the Biden administration’s border security policies – ire that is certain to fuel aggressive congressional investigations with Republicans projected to narrowly reclaim the House majority and the subpoena power that comes with it.  

Sitting around the large conference table in the Roosevelt Room, White House lawyers probed senior DHS officials about their preparations for the wide-ranging Republican oversight they had begun to anticipate, including Republicans’ stated plans to impeach Mayorkas, two sources familiar with the meeting said.  

Convened by Richard Sauber, a veteran white-collar attorney hired in May to oversee the administration’s response to congressional oversight, the meeting was one of several the White House has held since the summer with lawyers from across the administration – including the Defense Department, State Department and Justice Department.

The point, people familiar with the effort said, has been to ensure agencies are ready for the coming investigative onslaught  and to coordinate an administration-wide approach. 

While President Joe Biden and Democrats campaigned to preserve their congressional majorities, a small team of attorneys, communications strategists and legislative specialists have spent the past few months holed up in Washington preparing for the alternative, two administration officials said.  

Read more at the CNN link.

More from Politico: Investigating the investigators: Dem strategists to launch counterpunch to House GOP.

A group of top Democratic strategists are launching a multi-million-dollar hub to counter an expected investigative onslaught by the likely incoming House GOP majority — digging into President Joe Biden, his administration and his son, on top of potential Cabinet impeachments.

Woman with violin, by Aneta Zembura, Polish

Woman with violin, by Aneta Zembura, Polish

The newly relaunched Congressional Integrity Project initiative, details of which were shared first with POLITICO, will include rapid response teams, investigative researchers, pollsters and eventually a paid media campaign to put congressional Republicans “squarely on the defense,” founder Kyle Herrig said in an interview.

It’s designed to serve as the party’s “leading war room” to push back on House Republican investigations, Herrig said in an interview. He added that the project would “investigate the investigators, expose their political motivations and the monied special interests supporting their work, and hold them accountable for ignoring the urgent priorities of all Americans in order to smear Joe Biden and do the political bidding of Trump and MAGA Republicans.”

A team of researchers has already begun scouring public records, press clippings and other documents in a bid to immediately undercut House GOP leaders, from Minority Leader — now speakership hopeful — Kevin McCarthy to the likely committee chairs expected to manage probes of Biden and his network.

The New York Times: Nonprofits With Ties to Democrats Plan Counteroffensive Against Congressional Investigations.

With Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, a loose network of groups allied with Democrats is planning a multimillion-dollar counteroffensive against an expected onslaught of oversight investigations into President Biden, his family and his administration.

The White House, which is building its own defense team, has quietly signaled support for some of the efforts by nonprofit groups with ties to some of the biggest donors in Democratic politics, according to people familiar with the groups.

The efforts appear intended to take pressure off the administration by pushing back in a more adversarial manner than Mr. Biden’s team on sensitive subjects, including the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the administration’s Covid response and — perhaps most notably — the foreign business dealings of Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

“The White House cannot be the sole nucleus for publicly responding to the onslaught of congressional investigations,” reads a memo from a nonprofit group called Facts First USA that has been circulating among major Democratic donors, members of Congress and others.

It lays out a $5 million-a-year “SWAT team to counter Republican congressional investigations,” including on issues that “may be too personal or delicate for the White House to be responding or to even be seen as directing a response” — an apparent reference to Hunter Biden….

It lays out a $5 million-a-year “SWAT team to counter Republican congressional investigations,” including on issues that “may be too personal or delicate for the White House to be responding or to even be seen as directing a response” — an apparent reference to Hunter Biden.

More at the NYT.

Some good news from California at The Los Angeles Times: Karen Bass elected mayor, becoming first woman to lead L.A.

Rep. Karen Bass has defeated businessman Rick Caruso in the Los Angeles mayor’s race, according to an Associated Press projection Wednesday, making her the first woman and second Black Angeleno elected to lead the city in its 241-year history.

The Lute, Henri Matisse

The Lute, Henri Matisse

The 69-year-old congresswoman achieved victory despite Caruso spending more than $100 million of his own fortune on his mayoral bid, shattering local spending records and pumping previously unprecedented sums into field outreach and TV advertising.

“The people of Los Angeles have sent a clear message: it is time for change and it is time for urgency,” Bass said in a Wednesday evening statement. She learned of the news while in her Los Angeles congressional office, according to the campaign.

Her message to the city, she said, was a pledge to “solve homelessness,” “prevent and respond urgently to crime” and make Los Angeles affordable for working families.

Caruso, 63, outspent Bass more than 11 to 1 but was ultimately unable to prevail as a former Republican in a sapphire-blue California city.

Preliminary results seesawed on election night, but by early the next morning Caruso had eked out a thin lead, buoyed by support from voters who marked ballots in person. Vote-by-mail ballots processed after election day strongly favored Bass, and her margin in the race steadily grew. As of Wednesday, she was leading by just over six points.

More stories to check out, links only:

David Rothkopf at The Daily Beast: GOP Authoritarianism Isn’t Going Away After the Midterms.

The Washington Post: Trump’s early 2024 launch fails to rally GOP around him.

This piece at Just Security was written by a number of legal experts, including Andrew Weissman, Joyce Vance, and Ryan Goodman: Mar-a-Lago Model Prosecution Memo.

Elie Mystal at Balls and Strikes: How John Roberts Delivered the House to His Fellow Republicans.

The New York Times: SpaceX Employees Say They Were Fired for Speaking Up About Elon Musk.

NPR: Fired by tweet: Elon Musk’s latest actions are jeopardizing Twitter, experts say.

Elon Musk lays out options for remaining Twitter employees: click ‘yes’ or you’re done

Elon Musk lays out options for remaining Twitter employees: click ‘yes’ or you’re done

Fire: VICTORY: After FIRE lawsuit, court halts enforcement of key provisions of the Stop WOKE Act limiting how Florida professors can teach about race, sex.

That’s it for me. What stories are you following today?


Tuesday Reads

Vincent Van Gogh, Grapes

Vincent Van Gogh, Grapes

Good Afternoon!!

We are fast approaching the day of decision: November 8, 2022 is only 3 weeks away. Democracy is on the ballot, but according to the New York Times’ interpretation of a new poll, voters aren’t that concerned about a fascist takeover by Republicans.

The New York Times: Voters See Democracy in Peril, but Saving It Isn’t a Priority.

Voters overwhelmingly believe American democracy is under threat, but seem remarkably apathetic about that danger, with few calling it the nation’s most pressing problem, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll.

In fact, more than a third of independent voters and a smaller but noteworthy contingent of Democrats said they were open to supporting candidates who reject the legitimacy of the 2020 election, as they assigned greater urgency to their concerns about the economy than to fears about the fate of the country’s political system.

The doubts about elections that have infected American politics since the 2020 contest show every sign of persisting well into the future, the poll suggested: Twenty-eight percent of all voters, including 41 percent of Republicans, said they had little to no faith in the accuracy of this year’s midterm elections.

Political disagreements appear to be seeping into the fabric of everyday life. Fourteen percent of voters said political views revealed a lot about whether someone is a good person, while 34 percent said it revealed a little. Nearly one in five said political disagreements had hurt relationships with friends or family.

Political disagreements appear to be seeping into the fabric of everyday life. Fourteen percent of voters said political views revealed a lot about whether someone is a good person, while 34 percent said it revealed a little. Nearly one in five said political disagreements had hurt relationships with friends or family.

The entire article is trademark both-sidesing, of course–it’s The New York Times! The authors dug up a Democrat who is worried about “divisiveness” on “both sides.”

“I do agree that the biggest threat is survival of our democracy, but it’s the divisiveness that is creating this threat,” said Ben Johnson, 33, a filmmaker from New Orleans and a Democrat. “It feels like on both sides, people aren’t agreeing on facts anymore. We can’t meet in the middle if we can’t agree on simple facts. You’re not going to be able to move forward and continue as a country if you can’t agree on facts.”

The poll showed that voters filtered their faith in democracy through a deeply partisan lens. A majority of voters in both parties identified the opposing party as a “major threat to democracy.”

Most Republicans said the dangers included President Biden, the mainstream media, the federal government and voting by mail. Most Democrats named Donald J. Trump, while large shares of the party’s voters also said the Supreme Court and the Electoral College were threats to democracy.

Seventy-one percent of all voters said democracy was at risk — but just 7 percent identified that as the most important problem facing the country.

But why don’t we agree on “facts?” The poll suggests the media has something to do with that, but the NYT doesn’t include that in their analysis.

The NYT also doesn’t emphasize that it’s mostly Republicans who don’t care about saving democracy.

The polls have been so untrustworthy in the past few elections that I don’t know how much to trust them; but I do know I can’t trust the NYT to analyze the results honestly.

Meanwhile, Republicans seem so confident about taking over the House, that they are showing their cards ahead of the election.

The Washington Post: GOP to use debt limit to force spending cuts, McCarthy says.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that if Republicans win control of the House the GOP will use raising the debt limit as leverage to force spending cuts — which could include cuts to Medicare and Social Security — and limit additional funding to Ukraine.

“You can’t just continue down the path to keep spending and adding to the debt,” the California Republican told Punchbowl News in a recent interview. “And if people want to make a debt ceiling [for a longer period of time], just like anything else, there comes a point in time where, okay, we’ll provide you more money, but you got to change your current behavior.”

Autumn landscape, 1889, Danish Peder Mørk Mønsted

Danish painter Peder Mørk Mønsted – An Autumn Landscape. Date: 1889.

“We’re not just going to keep lifting your credit card limit, right,” he added. “And we should seriously sit together and [figure out] where can we eliminate some waste? Where can we make the economy grow stronger?”

Pressed on whether changes to the entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security were part of the debt ceiling discussions, McCarthy said he would not “predetermine” anything.

The debt limit — the country’s borrowing cap — will need to be lifted next year to protect the country’s credit score and to prevent the United States from defaulting on its debt. But McCarthy suggested that his party would be willing to hold the debt limit up for policy changes

The debt limit is the total amount of money that the government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salari.es, interest on the national debt, tax refunds and other payments. The debt limit is not new spending but rather allows the government to finance existing legal obligations.

Republicans are getting ready to do Putin’s bidding if they take over the House.

The Daily Beast: Ukraine Aid Could Be on the Chopping Block in a GOP-Controlled House.

Democrats and Republicans have both been backing Ukraine aid for months now. But there’s a growing sense of unease on Capitol Hill that something could soon happen to disrupt that financial support: Republicans could win the House in November.

“I’m absolutely not supporting any further funding for Ukraine,” Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Daily Beast last week….

Throughout Congress, Republican support for providing Ukraine aid has swung in multiple directions since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the war earlier this year. Several GOP lawmakers have told The Daily Beast they think President Joe Biden is being far too “weak” on Russia and not sending enough weapons to help Ukrainians fight back.

But there’s also been a strong and steady resistance to sending billions of dollars to Ukraine, even as Putin wages war. Some Republicans have tried to blame the war on Biden and have said they would rather focus on domestic priorities—from inflation to the southern border—and want to condition Ukraine aid on other issues, whatever the consequences may be in withholding aid from Ukraine.

Dozens of Republican members of the House have already sought to throw up roadblocks to Ukraine aid packages. Fifty-seven Republicans tried blocking $40 billion in aid to Ukraine earlier this year, in addition to 11 Republican Senators. Not a single Democrat tried to stand in the way.

Amherst Campus no.1 (1969) Fairfield Porter. Parrish Art Museum, New York.

Amherst Campus (MA) no.1 (1969) Fairfield Porter. Parrish Art Museum, New York.

In other Ukraine aid news, Elon Musk’s has threatened to stop supporting Starlink in the country. Starlink is the Musk-owned satellite system that supports internet communication in the Ukraine. He has wavered on this decision, but the Biden administration doesn’t trust him. Politico: Pentagon eyes locking in Starlink funding for Ukraine.

The Pentagon is considering paying for the Starlink satellite network — which has been a lifeline for Ukraine — from a fund that has been used to supply weapons and equipment over the long term, according to two U.S. officials who are involved in the deliberations.

The Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative is designed to provide enduring support for the Ukrainian military by financing contracts with American firms for weapons and equipment that would be delivered in months or even years….

The discussion comes after CNN reported that SpaceX warned the Pentagon last month that it would no longer be able to finance the satellite terminals and communications services, which has already cost it over $80 million and could cost hundreds of millions more over the next year….

The company donated the use of Starlink terminals after Russia invaded Ukraine in February amid fears that the country would be cut off from the outside world. SpaceX’s philanthropic efforts drew widespread plaudits.

The Defense Department said on Friday that it was continuing discussions with SpaceX about a way forward. But it also said it is considering other alternatives for commercial satellite communications.

Elon Musk has shown his cards recently, offering a suggestion for negotiated peace in Ukraine that would favor Russia’s interests. Insider: Elon Musk’s pro-Russian peace deal is ‘classic Putin,’ and there’s a clue of the Russian leader’s role, Fiona Hill argues.

Elon Musk’s recent efforts to broker a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine have almost certainly been puppeteered by Vladimir Putin, according to top Russia expert Fiona Hill.

“Putin plays the egos of big men — gives them a sense that they can play a role. But in reality, they’re just direct transmitters of messages from Vladimir Putin,” Hill told Politico this week, noting that the Tesla billionaire has tipped his hand in an obvious display of Putin’s influence.

Earlier this month, Musk tweeted a proposed peace plan he suggested could end the war in Ukraine that parroted Russian demands and echoed Kremlin talking points.

Autumn Leaves, Lake George (1924) Georgia O'Keeffe. Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio.

Autumn Leaves, Lake George (1924) Georgia O’Keeffe. Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio.

Ian Bremmer, a prominent political analyst, later reported that Musk spoke privately with Putin before drafting his proposition — an allegation that Musk denied.

While it was his October 3 tweets that garnered buzz around the globe, Musk was publicly evoking Putin’s desires even earlier.

Hill cited Musk’s September appearance at a conference in Aspen, during which he suggested a similar path forward through the war, encouraging Ukraine to “seek peace” by allowing Crimea — a territory which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 — to be recognized as Russian.

Musk also reportedly told attendees that the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in Ukraine ought to be up for grabs. Russia annexed four occupied Ukrainian territories just days later, including the two mentioned by Musk.

You can also check out an interesting interview with Fiona Hill at Politico: Fiona Hill: ‘Elon Musk Is Transmitting a Message for Putin.’’

Some Democrats have been getting wishy-washy about promoting abortion as a top tier issue in the upcoming elections, but Joe Biden still seems to think it’s important. Politico: Biden to pledge legalizing abortion on Roe anniversary if Dems expand majorities.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday will promise that the first bill he’ll send to the next Congress will be legislation to reinstate the abortion protections of Roe v. Wade, according to a Democratic official previewing the president’s remarks.

In a speech at a Democratic National Committee event in Washington, Biden will also pledge to sign that bill into law around the anniversary of the original Roe ruling in late January.

Biden’s plans are contingent on Democrats holding the House and increasing their majority in the Senate, a factor acknowledged by the official previewing the remarks. As such, it is a vow that appears aimed at energizing Democrats to turn out in force in the upcoming midterm elections where the party is struggling to keep its slim majorities, as polls show early outrage over the fall of Roe v. Wade this June has been outstripped by economic concerns.

Biden has increasingly escalated his attacks on Republicans over abortion rights since the high court’s ruling this summer overturning Roe. He’s repeatedly predicted that there will be a massive surge of voter activity in the midterms pushing back against the decision — particularly from women voters. Biden also has argued that abortion will be just the start of GOP attempts to dial back rights, warning that protections for contraception and same-sex marriage could be next.

“Republicans don’t have a clue about the power of women,” he told a gathering of Democrats recently. “Let me tell you something: They’re about to find out.”

golden-autumn-1888, by Ivan Shishkin, Russian

Golden Autumn, 1888, by Ivan Shishkin, Russian painter

Meanwhile, women in red states are still dealing with the GOP’s efforts to take control of their bodies. Caroline Kitchener at The Washington Post: Desperate pleas and smuggled pills: A covert abortion network rises after Roe.

Monica had never used Reddit before. But sitting at her desk one afternoon in July — at least 10 weeks into an unwanted pregnancy in a state that had banned abortion — she didn’t know where else to turn.

“I need advice I am not prepared to have a child,” the 25-year-old wrote from her office, once everyone else had left for the day. She titled her post, “PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!”

Within hours, she got a private message from an anonymous Reddit user. If Monica sent her address, the person promised, they would mail abortion pills “asap for free.

Monica didn’t know it at the time, but her Reddit post connected her to a new facet of the battle for abortion access: the rise of a covert, international network delivering tens of thousands of abortion pills in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down Roe v. Wade.

The emerging network — fueled by the widespread availability of medication abortion — has made the illegal abortions of today simpler and safer than those of the pre-Roe era, remembered for its back alleys and coat hangers. Distinct from services that sell pills to patients on the internet, a growing army of community-based distributors is reaching pregnant women through word of mouth or social media to supply pills for free — though typically without the safeguards of medical oversight.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

That’s all I have for you today. What’s on your mind? What stories are you following?


Friday Reads

Happy Friday!!

Today is a busy news day, even though it’s the Friday before Thanksgiving week.

Nancy Pelosi

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., presides over House passage of President Joe Biden’s expansive social and environment bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The breaking news: The House passed the Build Back Better bill this morning. CNBC: House passes $1.75 trillion Biden plan that funds universal pre-K, Medicare expansion and renewable energy credits.

The House of Representatives on Friday passed the largest expansion of the social safety net in decades, a $1.75 trillion bill that funds universal pre-K, Medicare expansion, renewable energy credits, affordable housing, a year of expanded Child Tax Credits and major Obamacare subsidies.

The final vote was 220-213, and only one Democrat, Jared Golden of Maine voted against the bill.

Now that it has cleared the House, President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act goes to the Senate, where it is likely to be revised in the coming weeks. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he aims to have the chamber pass the bill before Christmas. The House will need to vote on it again if the bill is altered.

If the measure is signed into law, the bill will profoundly change how many Americans live, especially families with children, the elderly and low income Americans.

What’s in the current version of the bill:

  • Universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds. In addition to helping millions of children prepare better for school, the benefit would enable parents of young children to return to the work force earlier.
  • Capping childcare costs at 7% of income for parents earning up to 250% of a state’s median income.
  • 4 weeks of federal paid parental, sick or caregiver leave.
  • A year of expanded Child Tax Credits. During the past year, these credits have raised households with more than 3 million children out of poverty, and cut overall child poverty in America by 25%.
  • Extended pandemic-era Affordable Care Act subsidies. So far this year, these subsidies have increased ACA enrollment by more than 2 million.
  • New hearing benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, including coverage for a new hearing aid every five years.
  • A $35 per-month limit on the cost of insulin under Medicare, and a cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs at $2,000 per year.
  • $500 billion to combat climate change, largely through clean energy tax credits. This represents the largest ever federal investment in clean energy.
  • Raising the State and Local Tax deduction limit from $10,000 to $80,000.

The bill represents a major victory for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who pulled together a divided caucus with conflicting interests and united it behind a sprawling, 2,000-plus-page bill, passing it with a thin majority.

The vote was supposed to be last night, but a deranged Kevin McCarthy decided to make a last ditch effort to prevent it from going forward. The New York Times: Kevin McCarthy Speaks for More Than Eight Hours to Delay a House Vote.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California early Friday concluded a marathon speech in opposition to the Democrats’ social policy bill, after talking for eight hours and 32 minutes, surpassing the length of one by Representative Nancy Pelosi in 2018 that held the record for the longest continuous House speech in modern history.

“Personally I didn’t think I could go this long,” Mr. McCarthy said toward the end of his monologue as some of the people behind him struggled to keep their eyes open. Finally, after 5 a.m., he finished. “With that, Madam Speaker, I yield back,” he said.

Mr. McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, railed against President Biden and his agenda in an effort to delay the passage of the Democrats’ $1.85 trillion social policy and climate change bill.

The debate over the bill had been scheduled to last 20 minutes before Mr. McCarthy took over after 8 p.m. to deliver an at times rambling speech stuffed with Republican talking points against the legislation and punctuated with riffs about history.

“I know some of you are mad at me, think I spoke too long,” he said at one point. “But I’ve had enough. America has had enough.”

Shortly after midnight Friday, when Mr. McCarthy showed no sign of yielding control of the House floor, Democratic leaders sent lawmakers home, with plans to return at 8 a.m. to finish debate and vote on the sprawling package.

The horror! The notion of the government helping regular Americans instead of enriching the already super-rich was just too much for McCarthy and the rest of the Trumpist goons.

The Daily Beast: Democrats Finally Unite—to Mock Kevin McCarthy All Night as He Breaks Stupid Record.

Curiously, McCarthy stopped talking shortly after surpassing the eight hour, seven minute record set by Nancy Pelosi in 2018—yielding after eight hours and 32 minutes.

Starting at 8:38 p.m., McCarthy took full advantage of the “Magic Minute”—in which leaders from both parties are allowed to speak for as long as they want with it only counting as one minute against the time allocated for debate—and delivered a stemwinder of half-truths, outright lies, aggrieved arguments, unrelated tangents, and recycled rhetoric….

As McCarthy began his lecture on the floor Thursday, the Democratic heckling started almost immediately. McCarthy told members he had “all night,” to which Democrats responded, “So do we!”

And both sides really did.

When McCarthy baselessly claimed the bill would cost $5 trillion, Democrats started yelling out increasingly large numbers. “$6 trillion!” one shouted, before another topped him with “$7 trillion!”—with more Democrats joining in with even more farcical projections.

When McCarthy said, “If I sound angry, I am,” Democrats chimed in with a prolonged “awww” sound, like they were watching a baby do something cute.

Read more at the link. Democrats mocked McCarthy on Twitter too. Read more at Mediaite: House Democrats Roast Kevin McCarthy on Twitter for Marathon Speech: ‘Please Saw Me in Half and Put Me Out of My Misery.’

Biden appears to be working up to getting rid of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. The Washington Post: Biden expected to replace Ron Bloom, USPS board chair and key DeJoy ally, on postal board.

President Biden is expected to announce Friday that he will not renominate Ron Bloom, the chair the U.S. Postal Service board and a key ally of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, when his term expires next month, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

The move casts doubt on DeJoy’s future at the agency, the people said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

The decision potentially gives liberals on the panel another crucial vote to oust the postmaster general, who can only be removed by the board of governors. The nine-member board currently comprises four Democrats, four Republicans and one independent, though Biden has only appointed three members.

Bloom, a Democrat, has backed DeJoy as the agency permanently slowed mail delivery standards and raised prices.

Biden’s decision reflects the White House’s continued antipathy toward DeJoy, who is widely viewed as a loyalist to former president Donald Trump.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Yesterday, Dakinikat posted a video of Louisiana Senator John Kennedy going full Joseph McCarthy on a Biden appointee.

At The Guardian, David Smith writes: ‘Professor or comrade?’ Republicans go full red scare on Soviet-born Biden pick.

Saule Omarova, 55, was nominated in September to be America’s next comptroller of the currency. If confirmed, she would be the first woman and person of colour in the role in its 158-year-history.

Omarova was born in Kazakhstan when it was part of the Soviet Union and moved to the US in 1991. For John Kennedy of Louisiana, a member of the Senate banking committee, this was like a red rag to a bull.

Questioning whether Omarova was still a member of communist youth organisations, Kennedy said: “I don’t mean any disrespect: I don’t know whether to call you professor or comrade.”

The remark prompted gasps in the hearing room on Capitol Hill.

Omarova replied, slowly and firmly: “Senator, I’m not a communist. I do not subscribe to that ideology. I could not choose where I was born.

“I do not remember joining any Facebook group that subscribes to that ideology. I would never knowingly join any such group. There is no record of me actually participating in any Marxist or communist discussions of any kind.”

Omarova then told how her family suffered under the communist regime.

“I grew up without knowing half of my family. My grandmother herself escaped death twice under the Stalin regime. This is what’s seared in my mind. That’s who I am. I remember that history. I came to this country. I’m proud to be an American and this is why I’m here today, Senator.”

Omarova has worked mainly as a lawyer and most recently as a law professor at Cornell University. She has testified often as an expert witness on financial regulation and even worked briefly in the administration of George W Bush.

Kennedy wasn’t the only one to attack Omarova.

…in a letter to Omarova after she was nominated, Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania requested a copy of a graduation paper she wrote about Karl Marx when she was an undergraduate at Moscow State University – “in the original Russian” .

At Thursday’s hearing, Toomey noted that Omarova has written several academic papers that propose sweeping changes to the banking system.

“Taken in totality, her ideas do amount to a socialist manifesto for American financial services,” he said.

A judge is trying to muzzle the NYT in the Project Veritas case. The New York Times: Judge Tries to Block New York Times’s Coverage of Project Veritas.

A New York trial court judge ordered The New York Times on Thursday to temporarily refrain from publishing or seeking out certain documents related to the conservative group Project Veritas, an unusual instance of a court blocking coverage by a major news organization.

The order raised immediate concerns among First Amendment advocates, who called it a violation of basic constitutional protections for journalists, a viewpoint echoed by The Times. Project Veritas issued a statement in support of the order, arguing that it did not amount to a significant imposition on the newspaper’s rights.

The judge’s order is part of a pending libel lawsuit filed by Project Veritas against The Times in 2020. That suit accuses the newspaper of defaming Project Veritas in its reporting on a video produced by the group that made unverified claims of voter fraud in Minnesota.

Led by the provocateur James O’Keefe, Project Veritas often conducts sting operations — including the use of fake identities and hidden cameras — aimed at embarrassing Democratic campaigns, labor organizations, news outlets and other entities. It is the subject of a Justice Department investigation into its possible involvement in the reported theft of a diary that apparently belonged to President Biden’s daughter, Ashley.

Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer who represents media outlets including CNN, called the court’s order “ridiculous.”

“Even though it’s temporary, the Supreme Court has said even the most modest, minute-by-minute deprivations of these First Amendment rights cannot be tolerated,” Mr. Boutrous said. “To go further and suggest a limit on news gathering, I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

Read the rest at the NYT. See also The Washington Post: Court bars New York Times from publishing Project Veritas memos in move called ‘unconstitutional.’

More stories to check out today:

Will Bunch at The Philadelphia Inquirer: The impeachment of President Biden and other American nightmares coming in 2023.

The Daily Beast: Europe Locking Back Down With COVID Winter Surge Coming for Us All.

The Washington Post: Prominent scientist who said lab-leak theory of covid-19 origin should be probed now believes evidence points to Wuhan market.

The Chicago Tribune: Man spotted with AR-15 outside Kyle Rittenhouse trial confirms he is a fired Ferguson police officer.

Politico Magazine: The Bonnie and Clyde of MAGA World. For a decade, Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence had surfed the wave of populist-right politics like few other people in America. Then came Jan. 6.

CNN: Trump’s ire grows as DeSantis’ popularity with Republicans takes off.

The Washington Post: ‘No one tells me what to do’: Sinema praises infrastructure, questions spending and inflation in wide-ranging interview.

What stories are you following today?


Lazy Caturday Reads: Call Witnesses!

Ambrosius Benson, Portrait of a Woman and cat

Ambrosius Benson, Portrait of a Woman and cat

Good Morning!!

Yesterday after the Trump lawyers in the impeachment trial presented their pathetic defense of Trump’s January 6, 2020 coup attempt, details about a phone call between Trump and GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy began getting a lot of attention. The facts had actually been available for some time in the Longview, Washington Daily News, but hadn’t broken through in major media outlets until CNN broke this story yesterday: New details about Trump-McCarthy shouting match show Trump refused to call off the rioters.

In an expletive-laced phone call with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy while the Capitol was under attack, then-President Donald Trump said the rioters cared more about the election results than McCarthy did.

“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump said, according to lawmakers who were briefed on the call afterward by McCarthy.

McCarthy insisted that the rioters were Trump’s supporters and begged Trump to call them off.

Judith Leyster, Two Childrren with a Cat,

Judith Leyster, Two Children with a Cat

Trump’s comment set off what Republican lawmakers familiar with the call described as a shouting match between the two men. A furious McCarthy told the then-President the rioters were breaking into his office through the windows, and asked Trump, “Who the f–k do you think you are talking to?” according to a Republican lawmaker familiar with the call.

The newly revealed details of the call, described to CNN by multiple Republicans briefed on it, provide critical insight into the President’s state of mind as rioters were overrunning the Capitol. The existence of the call and some of its details were first reported by Punchbowl News and discussed publicly by McCarthy.

The Republican members of Congress said the exchange showed Trump had no intention of calling off the rioters even as lawmakers were pleading with him to intervene. Several said it amounted to a dereliction of his presidential duty.

Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was one of the Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, based on what she had learned about the phone call. From the Longview Daily News story linked above:

In a Friday interview with The Daily News, she said the events of Jan. 6 determined her course of action for the following week. Hiding with colleagues from the violent mob that was ransacking the U.S. Capitol on that day, she told how she was flooded with emotions.

“I was heartbroken. I was aghast. I was in disbelief,” she recalled. “I was praying. I was like, ‘We’ve got some pretty big angels, a couple of big angels, and we’re fine.’ Just knowing how badly outnumbered everybody was at that point, and how beaten everybody was, the fact that there wasn’t a mass casualty event to me just demonstrates, I feel like, I do think God, I do think God intervened.”

“When I look at the picture of the Capitol police officer on his face, with the crowd standing over him, or of someone being bludgeoned to death, I cannot express to you the feeling inside that says, ‘I will stand up to that any day of the week and twice on Sunday,’ ” she said.

Woman with a cat, Il Bacchiacca

Woman with a cat, Il Bacchiacca

“To me that’s what my vote represents. I will not tolerate that and nor will, I believe, a majority of the good people in my district, in our state and in our country.” [….]

On the House floor Jan. 13, Herrera Beutler said:

“I’m not afraid of losing my job, but I am afraid that my country will fail. I’m afraid that patriots of this country have died in vain. I’m afraid that my children won’t grow up in a free country. I’m afraid injustice will prevail.

“My vote to impeach our sitting president is not a fear-based decision. I am not choosing a side – I am choosing truth, she said. “It’s the only way to defeat fear.”

Trump’s lawyers are still claiming he didn’t know that Pence’s life was in danger, but he had to know, even before his phone call with Tommy Tuberville. USA Today: Sen. Tommy Tuberville stands by account of Jan. 6 Trump phone call after lawyers say it’s ‘hearsay.’

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., stood by his account of former President Donald Trump’s phone call to him during Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol despite Trump’s lawyers calling the account “hearsay.” 

Tuberville’s account would mean Trump was aware of the danger Vice President Mike Pence faced before he tweeted an attack on Pence. Asked about the allegation by reporters, Tuberville said he was not sure exactly what time Trump called, but reiterated he had talked to Trump by phone on Jan. 6 and had told the president Pence was evacuated from the Senate chamber. 

Tuberville recounted answering the phone, talking briefly to Trump, and then telling him, “Mr. President, they’ve taken the vice president out. They want me to get off the phone, I gotta go.” [….]

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., asked Trump’s lawyers for greater clarity on the call but said Trump’s lawyers had “not really” answered his question.

Trump’s attorney Michael van der Veen had responded to Cassidy’s question by saying he disputed the “premise” of Cassidy’s question and called Tuberville’s account “hearsay.”

But the Secret Service would have informed Trump.

This is from yesterday’s Washington Post: Six hours of paralysis: Inside Trump’s failure to act after a mob stormed the Capitol.

Hiding from the rioters in a secret location away from the Capitol, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appealed to Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) phoned Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.

Studies for Madonna with a cat, Leonardo Da Vinci

Studies for Madonna with a cat, Leonardo Da Vinci

And Kellyanne Conway, a longtime Trump confidante and former White House senior adviser, called an aide who she knew was standing at the president’s side.

But as senators and House members trapped inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday begged for immediate help during the siege, they struggled to get through to the president, who — safely ensconced in the West Wing — was too busy watching fiery TV images of the crisis unfolding around them to act or even bother to hear their pleas.

“He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV,” said one close Trump adviser. “If it’s TiVo, he just hits pause and takes the calls. If it’s live TV, he watches it, and he was just watching it all unfold.”

Even as he did so, Trump did not move to act. And the message from those around him — that he needed to call off the angry mob he had egged on just hours earlier, or lives could be lost — was one to which he was not initially receptive….

Trump ultimately — and begrudgingly — urged his supporters to “go home in peace.” But the six hours between when the Capitol was breached shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and when it was finally declared secure around 8 p.m. that evening reveal a president paralyzed — more passive viewer than resolute leader, repeatedly failing to perform even the basic duties of his job.

It’s absolutely clear at this point that Trump deliberately aided the insurrectionists and knowingly put his own Vice President and members of Congress and their staffs in danger. Now House managers are face pressure to call witnesses in the trial, which they still can do. Greg Sargent writes:

Peter Paul Rubens, Detail from Annunciation,

Peter Paul Rubens, Detail from Annunciation,

Evidence is mounting that Donald Trump knew Mike Pence was in grave danger from the mob rampaging into the Capitol when the then-president sent out a tweet blasting his vice president.

During the Jan. 6 assault, Trump tweet-slammed Pence for lacking the “courage” to overturn the election, which further infuriated the insurrectionists. Trump essentially pointed the mob like a loaded gun at Pence — and newly unearthed facts suggest Trump may have understood what he was doing in exactly these terms.

These new circumstances hand Democrats one last big weapon to wield against Trump at his impeachment trial. They also impose on them an obligation.

Specifically, the impeachment managers can still call witnesses. And the case for this has gotten stronger, now that we are so close to showing that Trump may have knowingly endangered Pence’s life.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is calling for witnesses in the trial.

Today’s session of the Trump trial should be interesting.

More relevant reads:

Jan Steen, Children teaching a cat to dance

Jan Steen, Children teaching a cat to dance

The Bulwark: The 10 Worst Moments from Trump’s “Defense”

The New York Times: For the Defense: Twisted Facts and Other Staples of the Trump Playbook

David Frum at The Atlantic: The Incompetence Lasted to the Very End.

The New York Times: For the Defense: Twisted Facts and Other Staples of the Trump Playbook

George Conway III at The Washington Post: Opinion: Trump’s lawyers offered an attack on everything but the evidence

Aaron Rupar at Vox: Trump lawyers keep accusing Democrats of manipulating evidence. But they’re doing that themselves.

Politico: House Republican pleads for Pence, Trump aides to speak out on Jan. 6 insurrection

PBS: Sen. Patty Murray recounts her narrow escape from a violent mob inside the U.S. Capitol\

Yahoo News: Trump lawyer struggles to answer key questions from Republican senators

ProPublica: “I Don’t Trust the People Above Me”: Riot Squad Cops Open Up About Disastrous Response to Capitol Insurrection

That’s all I have for you today. Have a terrific long weekend, Sky Dancers!


Thursday Reads: Democrats and The Greene Party

Vittorio Matteo Corcos, Dreams / Sogni, 1896|

z;o Vittorio Matteo Corcos, Dreams / Sogni, 1896

Good Afternoon!!

I’ve never been a Joe Biden fan. Early on in the 2020 primaries, I even thought I might refuse to vote for him if he were the Democratic nominee. But as time went on, he grew on me. Now I think he probably is exactly what we needed. He’s a “normal” Democratic politician, he’s extremely knowledgeable and experienced in the ways of the Senate, and he comes across as a decent person. He’s the perfect antidote to Trump’s psychotic behavior, ignorance, and incompetence. And it turns out that most Americans support what Biden is doing as president.

AP: AP-NORC Poll: Americans open to Biden’s approach to crises.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two weeks into a new administration, a majority of Americans say they have at least some confidence in President Joe Biden and his ability to manage the myriad crises facing the nation, including the raging coronavirus pandemic.

Overall, 61% approve of Biden’s handling of his job in his first days in office, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Though the bulk of Biden’s support is from fellow Democrats, about a quarter of Republicans say they approve of his early days in office.

Even at a moment of deep national divisions, those numbers suggest Biden, as with most of his recent predecessors, may enjoy something of a honeymoon period. Nearly all modern presidents have had approval ratings averaging 55% or higher over their first three months in office, according to Gallup polling. There was one exception: Donald Trump, whose approval rating never surpassed 50% in Gallup polls, even at the start of his presidency.

The Travelling Companions by Augustus Egg

The Travelling Companions by Augustus Egg

Obviously Biden faces serious challenges, but so far the public as a whole is supportive.

Biden’s standing with the public will quickly face significant tests. He inherited from Trump a pandemic spiraling out of control, a sluggish rollout of crucial vaccinesdeep economic uncertainty and the jarring fallout of the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill. It’s a historic confluence of crises that historians have compared to what faced Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War or Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the depths of the Great Depression.

Biden’s advisers know that the new president will be quickly judged by Americans on his handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 450,000 people in the U.S. He’s urgently pressing Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion relief package that would include funds for vaccine distribution, school reopening and state and local governments buckling under the strain of the pandemic.

“We have to go big, not small,” Biden told House Democrats on Tuesday. He’s signaled that he’s open to trimming his $1.9 trillion proposal but not as far as some Republicans are hoping. A group of GOP senators has put forward their own $618 billion package.

Lady on a Sofa, Harold Gilman, c 1910

Lady on a Sofa, Harold Gilman, c 1910

At Axios, Mike Allen explains why Biden’s stimulus plan is probably going to get through Congress one way or another: Biden’s grand plan

President Biden toldRepublican senators he has “an open door and an open mind” on his $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan. But he already has the votes, and overwhelming support in the country.

Why it matters: Well, power matters. And Biden holds all of it.

Get used to this. Democrats are gleeful as they watch the media fixate on family feuds inside the GOP, while Biden pushes out executive orders and pushes through this bill on his terms.

  • Biden embraces the reality that the two numbers that matter most to his presidency are coronavirus cases falling and economic growth rising.

Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president and longtime Biden confidant, was in the Oval this week for meetings with Republican and Democratic senators, and told me that the president “reaffirmed and deepened his explanation and commitment on the numbers and the substance” of the full package.

  • Ricchetti said Biden made it clear that he welcomes “fine-tuning or amendments or recommendations,” but “underscored that he’s committed to his plan and to the elements he outlined” — and to moving quickly.

What we’re watching: Ricchetti said the president wants to have “a bipartisan and unifying dialogue in the country,” including conversations he’s already had with mayors and local elected officials, “so that this isn’t just about a dialogue with senators and members of Congress. It is a dialogue with the country.”

  • Ricchetti said Biden treated a GOP counterproposal “with an open mind and with respect. He was also honest … in underscoring why he proposed what he did — that he was committed to every one of the elements in his package.”

The bottom line: Democrats will dismiss any whining about Biden’s stimulus as D.C. noise or Republican hypocrisy. They’ll be right on both fronts.

The Railway, Edouard Manet, 1873

The Railway, Edouard Manet, 1873

Meanwhile, Republicans are mired in a conflict over Q Anon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Gree Kevin McCarthy has to be the most pathetic GOP leader ever–even worse than Paul Ryan or John Boehner. Yesterday, Republicans met to discuss the futures of Greene, a complete crackpot, and Liz Cheney, a relatively normal mainstream Republican who had the guts to vote for Trump’s impeachment. Both women have survived so far. 

CBS News: Liz Cheney survives vote to remove her from GOP leadership.

House Republicans voted by a large margin Wednesday to allow Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney to stay on as the GOP conference chairwoman following an hours-long meeting where members aired their grievances over her vote to impeach former President Trump last month. Just 61 Republicans voted to remove Cheney from her post, while 145 voted for her to stay in a vote by secret ballot.

The vote came after Cheney told her Republican colleagues she would not apologize for her decision, according to a source familiar with the meeting. She later praised the result as a “terrific vote.” 

“We’re not going to be in a situation where people can pick off any member of leadership,” she said after the meeting. “It was very resounding acknowledgment that we need to go forward together and then we need to go forward in a way that helps us beat back the really dangerous and negative Democrat policies.” 

歌川国芳 by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

歌川国芳 by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Greene’s situation is still somewhat up in the air, but she got a standing ovation after apologizing the her colleagues in a private meeting. From The New York Times: The G.O.P. Walks a Tightrope.

  • The extremist wing of the Republican Party has lived to fight another day. But G.O.P. leaders are in knots trying to prove that the party’s factions can all live in harmony.

  • Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, refused to strip Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee appointments yesterday, instead issuing a long statement that condemned her history of making extreme and violent statements but also threw a jab back at Democrats, accusing them of a “partisan power grab.”

  • But at a closed-door meeting yesterday, the party’s House delegation also voted overwhelmingly to keep Representative Liz Cheney — an anti-Trump, establishment figure who has drawn fire from the party’s right wing — in her spot as the No. 3 Republican in the chamber.

  • At the meeting, many House Republicans expressed dismay with Cheney for her vote to impeach Trump and her condemnation of his role in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. Members of the far-right Freedom Caucus accused Cheney of “aiding the enemy” when she joined just nine other Republicans in voting to impeach Trump, according to people familiar with the discussion. But ultimately she held on to her leadership role easily.

  • McCarthy’s unwillingness to strip Greene of her appointments, as Democrats and many Republicans have called on him to do, indicates that the G.O.P. plans to address the division in its ranks through messaging more than disciplinary action, at least for now.

  • In his statement, McCarthy used strong and direct language to reject the conspiracy-minded views promulgated by Greene, but he effectively defended her right to have held them.

  • “Past comments from and endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene on school shootings, political violence, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories do not represent the values or beliefs of the House Republican Conference,” McCarthy said. “I condemn those comments unequivocally.”

  • He said that he had met with her privately and explained “that as a member of Congress,” she would be held “to a higher standard than how she presented herself as a private citizen.”

Just a Couple of Girls by Harry Wilson Watrous, 1915

Just a Couple of Girls by Harry Wilson Watrous, 1915

At Axios, Margaret Talev reports: Exclusive poll: Republicans favor Greene over Cheney.

Conspiracist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is far more popular than Rep. Liz Cheney among Americans who align with the Republican Party, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

Why it matters: As the House GOP caucus is being torn over calls to yank Cheney from congressional leadership for backing Donald Trump’s second impeachment, and strip Greene from committee assignments for her baseless conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric, these findings show how strongly Trumpism continues to define most Republicans.

  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is much more popular with Republicans than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the survey finds.

By the numbers: McCarthy enjoys the highest favorable versus unfavorable ratings (net favorability) of the four among Republicans, at 38%-16% (+22); followed by Greene, at 28%-18% (+10); McConnell, at 31%-46% (-15); and Cheney, at 14%-42% (-28).

  • Greene is the least well known of the four, with 51% of Republicans and Republican leaners saying they don’t know enough to say whether their impression is favorable or not. Respondents have the most fully formed views of McConnell.
  • Republican respondents are three times as likely to say their views align with Greene than with Cheney, but nearly one-third say they don’t align with either, and half say they don’t know enough to say.
  • Republican respondents who voted for Trump in November gave McCarthy a high net favorable rating (+31) and McConnell a high net unfavorable rating (-18).

The intrigue: People who identify with Greene are disproportionately likely to have lost faith in democracy or believe despite evidence that voter fraud is rampant in their state.

How scary is that?

Leitura by José Ferraz de Almeida JúniorDemocrats are moving forward on a plan to take away Greene’s committee assignments. CNN: House to vote on removing Marjorie Taylor Greene from committee assignments.

The House will vote Thursday on a measure to remove Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments, a decisive step that comes in the wake of recently unearthed incendiary and violent past statements from the congresswoman that have triggered widespread backlash from Democrats and divided congressional Republicans.

House Democrats, who control the chamber, set up the vote after first attempting to pressure Republicans to strip the Georgia Republican of committee assignments on their own. House Republicans have not taken that action, however, and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday released a statement calling the push by Democrats to take away the congresswoman’s committee assignments a “partisan power grab.”

The measure the House will take up calls for Greene to be removed from the House Education and Labor Committee and the Budget Committee “in light of conduct she has exhibited.”

The move could set a risky precedent as Democrats target a sitting member of the opposing party in Congress over views expressed prior to her serving as an elected official — one that has the potential to someday be used against the party by Republicans.

Interesting stories to check out today:

Young Woman Reading an Illustrated Journal, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, c. 1880

Young Woman Reading an Illustrated Journal, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, c. 1880

Slate: How Georgia Newspapers Are Covering Marjorie Taylor Greene.

The Atlantic: What QAnon Has in Common With the Birchers: Sixty years ago, many GOP leaders resisted extremism. Now they’re not even trying.

Just Security: Movie at the Ellipse: A Study in Fascist Propaganda. Scholars on the Nazis and anti-Semitism have seen this before.

Norm Eisen and Katherine Reisner at USA Today: Whatever legal or constitutional test you apply, Trump incited the violent Capitol attack.

The Washington Post: Mitt Romney unveils plan to provide $3,000 per child, giving bipartisan support to President Biden’s effort.

Slate: Biden Ousts All 10 of Trump’s Union Busters From Powerful Labor Panel.

NBC News: Biden administration weighs plan to directly send masks to all Americans.

Moe Tkacik at Slate: The Lousy Tippers of the Trump Administration. They were exhausting, impossible, stingy, and cruel, just like at their day jobs.

It has been quiet around here lately. I know I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, and I’m probably not alone. I’m realizing that Trump culture isn’t going to just magically go away. But I do hope you’ll check in and leave a comment or link when you can. We miss you when we don’t hear from you!