Lazy Caturday Reads

lightning_cloud_by_chiakiro_dea7odg-pre

Lightning Cloud, by Chiakiro

Good Afternoon!!

Politico “Playbook” has a good brief summary of where things stand right now with the January 6 Committee investigation: The Jan. 6 committee drama gets serious. (I’ve added a few links to longer articles.)

JAN. 6 INVESTIGATION STEAMROLLS FORWARD — Over the last 24 hours, we’ve seen major developments in the ongoing investigation into the pro-Trump Jan. 6 riots that sought to overthrow democracy in America.

1) Executive privilege waived: “President JOE BIDEN will not invoke executive privilege to shield an initial set of records from DONALD TRUMP’s White House that’s being sought by congressional investigators probing the Jan. 6 Capitol attack,” report Nicholas Wu, Kyle Cheney, Betsy Woodruff Swan and Meridith McGraw.

— What comes next: Trump has 30 days to challenge the decision in court, after which time, the National Archives will release the documents to the Jan. 6 panel. The former president is already asserting privilege over 45 specific documents requested from the committee, and indicated in a letter that he wants to bar the release of additional documents “potentially numbering in the millions.”

2) Committee subpoenas hit deadlines: The first wave of high-profile subpoenas from the Jan. 6 committee have been served, and not all of the subjects are cooperating, as Nicholas, Kyle, Betsy and Meridith detail:

  • STEVE BANNON claims that Trump’s invocation of executive privilege means that he doesn’t have to participate. (That strikes legal experts as dubious, seeing as at the time of the 2020 election, Bannon hadn’t worked in the White House for several years.)
  • MARK MEADOWS is “engaging with the Select Committee,” per a statement from the panel.
  • KASH PATEL issued a statement Friday confirming that he “responded to the subpoena in a timely manner” and is engaging with the committee.
  • DAN SCAVINO was officially served with his subpoena on Friday.

— What comes next: In a statement from Jan. 6 Committee Chair BENNIE THOMPSON (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyo.), the panel said it “will not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock, and we will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral.” If they’re serious, a criminal referral would require a full floor vote in the House.More from NYT’s Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater

— Something to watch:“Congress’ Jan. 6 investigators face an inevitable reckoning with their GOP colleagues,”by Kyle Cheney and Olivia Beavers

Ophelia Redpath, 1965

By Ophelia Redpath, 1965

Also from Politico: Capitol Police whistleblower delivers scathing rebuke to two of its senior leaders on Jan. 6, by Daniel Lippman and Betsy Woodruff Swan.

A former high-ranking Capitol Police official with knowledge of the department’s response to the Jan. 6 attack has sent congressional leaders a scathing letter accusing two of its senior leaders of mishandling intelligence and failing to respond properly during the riot.

The whistleblower, who requested anonymity for privacy reasons and left the force months after the attack, sent the 16-page letter late last month to the top members of both parties in the House and Senate. His missive makes scorching allegations against Sean Gallagher, the Capitol Police’s acting chief of uniformed operations, and Yogananda Pittman, its assistant chief of police for protective and intelligence operations — who also served as its former acting chief.

The whistleblower accuses Gallagher and Pittman of deliberately choosing not to help officers under attack on Jan. 6 and alleges that Pittman lied to Congress about an intelligence report Capitol Police received before that day’s riot. After a lengthy career in the department, the whistleblower was a senior official on duty on Jan. 6.

The whistleblower’s criticism went beyond Capitol Police leaders to Congress. Without naming specific lawmakers, his letter accuses congressional leaders of having “purposefully failed” to tell the truth about the department’s failures.

POLITICO obtained the letter detailing the allegations, which is circulating among Capitol Police officers, and is publishing portions of it here. To protect the whistleblower’s identity, POLITICO is not publishing the letter in full.

Click the Politico link to read the rest.

Evelina Oliveira

By Evelina Oliveira

This morning the Washington Post Editorial Board posted this in response to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s report on Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election at a meeting three days before the January 6 attack on the Capitol: Opinion: Without these changes, U.S. democracy will remain vulnerable to Trump and other bad actors.

The Senate report details how Mr. Trump tried persistently to enlist the Justice Department in his scheme to overturn the 2020 election results. His pressure campaign, after Attorney General William P. Barr resigned in December, featured calls and meetings with Mr. Rosen and other top Justice Department staff. It continued as Mr. Trump sent them a preposterous petition he wanted them to file with the Supreme Court asking the justices to void Joe Biden’s victory. It reached its zenith in a cockamamie plot to force Mr. Rosen to pressure state governments to cook the results or be replaced by Jeffrey Clark, a lower-ranking Justice official who would go along with the scheme.

Mr. Trump failed because Mr. Rosen and other officials in key positions refused to cooperate and threatened to resign. But they could not stop Mr. Trump from forcing the resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta and replacing him with a lawyer the then-president thought would pursue the fraud investigations he wanted to see.

The editors argue:

The seriousness of Mr. Trump’s effort to nullify an election, his continuing lies about the results and the willingness of so many Republicans to indulge those lies call for several responses.

The investigations must continue. The House’s Jan. 6 committee should compel Mr. Clark, who did not cooperate with the Senate Judiciary panel, to testify. The House and the Justice Department must enforce the committee’s subpoenas, which several Trump confidantes appear prepared to flout on the former president’s say-so. The National Archives should turn over documents immediately. If courts are involved, judges must act with urgency….

Most urgently, Congress must reinforce elements of the nation’s democratic infrastructure vulnerable to exploitation by bad actors such as Mr. Trump. It should revamp the ancient Electoral Count Act to limit partisan interference in presidential vote tallying, and it should impose federal election standards that insulate state election officials from political pressure.

The Committee needs to get right to work on enforcing the subpoenas and Steve Bannon should immediately be arrested and jailed. I hope they do something quickly, but I’m not holding my breath.

After he backed down and allowed a vote to avert a U.S. default and a global financial crisis, Mitch McConnell is now threatening to let it happen in December. His excuse is that Chuck Schumer made an
“inappropriate” speech after the vote. Here’s the speech:

Behind Schumer, you can also see Joe Manchin having a hissy fit over the speech. He agrees with his pal McConnell, apparently.

The Guardian: Schumer ‘poisoned well’ over debt limit, McConnell says in insult-laden letter.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, sought to fight his way out of a corner on Friday by releasing an angry letter in which he blamed Democrats for the impasse over the debt ceiling he broke by ending a refusal to co-operate he had said was absolute.

In the letter to Joe Biden, McConnell complained about a speech in which the Democratic majority leader, Chuck Schumer, attacked Republicans for their behaviour.

Lamenting Schumer’s lack of civility – which prompted angry scenes in the Senate – McConnell levelled a string of insults at his opposite number.

paradise-cat-hans-ruettimann

Paradise Cat, by Hans Ruettimann

“Last night,” the minority leader wrote, late on Friday, “in a bizarre spectacle, Senator Schumer exploded in a rant that was so partisan, angry and corrosive that even Democratic senators were visibly embarrassed by him and for him.

“This tantrum encapsulated and escalated a pattern of angry incompetence from Senator Schumer … this childish behavior only further alienated the Republican members who helped facilitate this short-term patch. It has poisoned the well even further.”

Democrats argue it was McConnell who poisoned the well by refusing to co-operate with raising the debt limit, a step they took repeatedly with Donald Trump in power. Experts say a US default would be catastrophic for the global economy.

McConnell insisted: “In light of Senator Schumer’s hysterics and my grave concerns about the ways that another vast, reckless, partisan spending bill would hurt Americans and help China, I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement.”

Suddenly being partisan is a bad thing because a Democrat did it? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Finally, a little comic relief: it appears that the Q-Anon nuts have turned on Michael Flynn. Will Sommer at The Daily Beast: Michael Flynn to QAnon Believers: I’m Not a Satanist!

Former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has been on a relentless media tour since his pardon last year, sitting for interviews with even the most obscure right-wing media outlets to promote the MAGA agenda.

But on Tuesday, Flynn appeared on a little-known YouTube channel called Truth Unveiled TV for a very different reason: rebutting the idea that he led a church congregation in a Satanic ritual borrowed from a nuclear doomsday cult.

In a video entitled “Some Have Said That General Flynn Prayed to Satan in a Recent Prayer,” host Paul Oebel gave Flynn a chance to rebut the growing right-wing controversy alleging he’s signed on with Lucifer.

Steampunk cat lady, by Jeff Haynie

Steampunk cat lady, by Jeff Haynie

“I even saw a show the other day saying ‘Michael’s flipped on the side of the devil,’” Oebel said. “Can you please explain what happened there?”

“All of these people that talk about turning to whatever…” Flynn said. “People need to stop overthinking what everybody is saying.”

The bizarre YouTube interview marked Flynn’s latest attempt in a weeks-long campaign to convince his one-time fans in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement that he isn’t a Satanist.

Prior to the unusual controversy, Flynn had embraced his position as a hero to supporters of QAnon, taking a QAnon oathraising money from QAnon believers, and selling QAnon T-shirts. In May, Flynn even appeared at a QAnon conference and endorsed the idea of a military coup.

But QAnon fame is a fickle thing. After promoting QAnon for more than a year, Flynn now finds himself on the business end of the conspiracy theory. Like QAnon targets before him, Flynn is now struggling to persuade angry QAnon believers that he isn’t a secret Satan-worshipper.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a great weekend!


Thursday Reads

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!!

125213545_web1_125213545-14d4cd2da1fe4516b2d3471ec5887b19.jpg.optimalThe demented, delusional former guy just won’t go away. After being banned by Twitter and Facebook, he decided to start a blog. Sadly, very few people read it, so he shut it down yesterday after less than a month. Next he plans to return to his Hitler-style rallies. Will anyone show up to listen to his paranoid rants?

Politico on the blog shutdown and his future plans: Trump’s blog failed, bigly. His next online venture won’t be any easier, by Tina Nguyen and Meredith McGraw.

Twenty-nine days after it was launched, Donald Trump’s blog, once hailed by fans as his triumphant return to the internet, was taken down on Wednesday.

It was just less than three Scaramuccis old. Noah’s Ark had a longer run.

Publicly, Trump’s team described the decision to remove the “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” site as part of the process towards building a larger online footprint. But privately, aides conceded that the site was proving to be more of a nuisance than a bullhorn.

“It was more of a hassle than anything else and it wasn’t getting as many views as the team would have liked,” conceded a person familiar with the decision to take down the blog. “It was drawing more negative press than positive press.” [….]

As Trump’s team took down the blog, it promised that something better was in the offing — a Trump-focused, Trump-branded, Trump-world social network, free of the constraints imposed by Big Tech….

So far, no new platform has been revealed. Anddespite reports leaked out of Mar-a-Lago about a string of meetings with MAGA-friendly developers and apps, the reality is that creating a stand-alone Trump platform — even with an eager, preexisting user base — is, experts say, a daunting, almost-impossible task, complicated by cash, technology, time and talent….

252214_RGB_768Creating and maintaining a social media site untainted by the influence of Big Tech could run into the tens — if not hundreds — of millions of dollars, tech experts say. Computer servers that could process his fans’ activity — every like, comment, share and video play — would have to be purchased. Expensive engineers would also have to be hired to maintain those servers. And as several tech experts told POLITICO, skimping on these investments could mean a site that crashes every hour.

“This isn’t going out and buying a PC from Walmart, and connecting to the internet and hosting a website,” said Keith Townsend, a technology consultant who specializes in cloud computing. “This is very complicated stuff that is extremely costly, and who’s going to fund it when it’s not making money?”

I doubt if Trump and his loser buddies have what it takes build and operate a social media platform. It’s more likely Trump will hit the road and try to get people to show up to his ridiculous rallies. Max Burns at MSNBC: Upcoming Trump rallies will help Democrats remind voters why they didn’t re-elect him.

This summer doesn’t mark only the return of family get-togethers and concerts. Starting this month, Donald Trump will also be back in public circulation, headlining a series of grievance-filled summer MAGA rallies. That’s fantastic news for anxious Democrats.

The return of Trump’s hourslong, rambling rallies is an opportunity to remind the American people that Republican craziness hasn’t dialed down a notch since his defeat last year and to remind Democrats that they have reason to focus on their shared values rather than their increasingly bitter Senate fights.

By now, most Americans know to expect plenty of disinformation and far-right red meat from Trump rallies. But they have yet to see how a humiliating electoral loss and Trump’s delusional claim that he’s about to be reinstated as president any day now mix with tried-and-true Trump classics like spreading election disinformation and whining about “cancel culture.”

After just one Trump rally, Democrats will have plenty of sound bites and offensive content to make the case that Trump has learned nothing during his time out of office surrounded by yes men at Mar-a-Lago. And while Trump’s unhinged claims to be the president of the United States in exile may energize MAGA fundamentalists, they reaffirm to independents and moderates who rejected Trump that he has, if anything, grown more detached from reality in defeat.

Let’s hope the cable networks will resist broadcasting these horror shows. Hayes Brown at MSNBC: Donald Trump’s rebooted rallies have no place on your television.

NBC News’ Jonathan Allen reported Tuesday: “Trump returns to the electoral battlefield Saturday as the marquee speaker at the North Carolina Republican Party’s state convention. He plans to follow up with several more rallies in June and July to keep his unique political base engaged in the 2022 midterms and give him the option of seeking the presidency again in 2024.”

569941f09ae37.imageTrump’s return to the rally circuit is a major shift in what has so far been a period of stasis and self-imposed exile at Mar-a-Lago, where he accepts supplicants seeking his blessing and sends out press releases on a blog nobody reads. By holding rallies again, even if theoretically for the benefit of other candidates, Trump will potentially regain a major platform. Let’s hope the news media has learned its lesson from six years ago.

I think that how these first post-presidential rallies are covered will reveal a lot about lessons learned — or not learned. Saturday’s rally simply does not need to be covered live.

For one thing, we can assume that Trump will not hold back. I argued last month that Trump’s social media silence was giving Republicans the space to work on their long-term projects, including re-engineering state election laws. But Trump’s return is likely to push the party line even further — whether GOP leaders want him to or not.

The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported Tuesday that Trump has been telling people “he expects he will get reinstated by August.” That’s delusional. But it’s something that famed loon, er, lawyer Sidney Powell has been telling other far-right luminaries for months.

And it’s exactly what Trump’s base wants to hear — directly from the man himself.

Yes, Trump supposedly believes he is going to be “reinstated” as president this summer. Will Sommer and Asawin Suebsaeng at The Daily Beast: MyPillow Guy Says He ‘Probably’ Inspired Trump’s Idea of an August Restoration.

Donald Trump now has the notion in his head that he could return to the White House in August. But the twice-impeached former president isn’t getting that idea from constitutional scholars or his attorneys. Instead, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell apparently inspired him.

“If Trump is saying August, that is probably because he heard me say it publicly,” Lindell told The Daily Beast on Wednesday.

On Monday, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted that former President Trump has been telling associates that he expects to be restored to the presidency by August, after Joe Biden’s election is overturned. President Biden, of course, legitimately won the 2020 U.S. presidential election, and decisively beat Trump in the Electoral College and popular vote. There is zero evidence to support that Trump will be back in office this summer, or at any time during the rest of Biden’s term.

In the past few weeks, two people close to Trump told The Daily Beast, the ex-president had begun increasingly quizzing confidants about a potential August return to power. What’s more, he claimed that a lot of “highly respected” people—who Trump did not name—have been saying it’s possible. Both of these sources said they decided not to tell the former president what they were thinking, which was that it’s not going to happen.

It’s unclear, exactly, who these “highly respected” individuals are, and who first got the August chatter in Trump’s ear. But the August deadline tracks with comments made by Lindell, one of the ex-president’s most ardent supporters and personal friends.

It sounds bizarre and ridiculous, but Trump’s deluded followers might very well believe him and take to the streets when the “reinstatement” doesn’t happen. Jamie Gangel and Donnie O’Sullivan at CNN: Talk of overturning the 2020 election on new social media platforms used by QAnon followers sparks fears of further violence.

Online conversation among Trump supporters and QAnon followers on new and emerging social media platforms is creating concern on Capitol Hill that President Donald Trump’s continued perpetuation of the falsehood that the 2020 election was stolen could soon incite further violence, three congressional sources tell CNN.

The social messaging platform Telegram has emerged as a particular source of concern among law enforcement officials, the congressional sources say. Groups on the platform dedicated to QAnon and pro-Trump conspiracy theories have tens of thousands of members — many of whom hang on every word the former President says.

20210528edhoc-aTrump’s comments to right-wing media outlets in recent weeks have played directly into the false belief among some of his supporters that he will be reinstated as president in the coming months.

Federal law enforcement officials say there is an overall concern about rhetoric on the election in general, both online, on Telegram and other sites, and offline.

Officials are careful to stress that much of it falls under First Amendment free speech protections. But officials are worried about how the talk can encourage and inspire people to act. They are continuing to monitor extremists and others who at times have shown intentions of violence.

Read the rest at CNN.

One more on this topic from John Skolnik at Salon: “A new inauguration date is set”: Inside the latest QAnon conspiracy theory to “reinstate” Trump.

Hundreds of people gathered in Texas for a QAnon-sponsored conference over Memorial Day weekend to hear the biggest boosters of Donald Trump’s Big Lie downplay the Capitol riot and bandy about new threats of a coming coup.  

Key Trump allies, including Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, Allen West; and perhaps most notably Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tex., attended the three-day event, dubbed “For God & Country Patriot Roundup,” at the Omni Hotel in Dallas. 

The QAnon conference came amid reports that Trump is attempting to orchestrate another election coup from his far-off kingdom at Mar-a-Lago. According to a Tuesday tweet from the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, the former President has been telling a number of people he’s in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated by August.” Trump’s reported thinking echoes that of his former lawyer’s, Sidney Powell.  On Saturday, Powell told attendees to the QAnon conference that Trump “can simply be reinstated.”

“A new inauguration date is set, and Biden is told to move out of the White House, and President Trump should be moved back in,” she explained. “I’m sure there’s not going to be credit for time lost, unfortunately, because the Constitution itself sets the date for inauguration, but he should definitely get the remainder of his term and make the best of it.”

Powell was not the only speaker at this past weekend’s event who spoke directly about the possibility Trump could reclaim his throne soon. 

And of course Michael Flynn called for a military coup at the same conference.

More stories on the danger we face from right wing Republicans:

252152_RGB_768Miles Parks at NPR: Experts Call It A ‘Clown Show’ But Arizona ‘Audit’ Is A Disinformation Blueprint.

E.J. Montini at The Arizona Republic: Will Republicans support Donald Trump’s summer coup attempt?

The Washington Post: Trump has grown increasingly consumed with ballot audits as he pushes falsehood that election was stolen.

Ben Jacobs at Vice News: The GOP’s ‘Off the Rails’ March Toward Authoritarianism Has Historians Worried.

David A. Graham at The Atlantic: The Frightening New Republican Consensus. Conservatives may disagree with one another about what happened in 2020, but they’re converging on a belief that Democrats win close elections only through fraud.

Adam Serwer at The Atlantic: The Capitol Rioters Won. Although some Republican leaders deplored their violence, most have come to support the rioters’ claim that Trump’s defeat meant the election was inherently illegitimate.

The New York Daily News Editorial Board: Dangerously delusional Donald: Trump keeps lying to his faithful in the worst way.

The New York Times: Trump Administration Secretly Seized Phone Records of Times Reporters.

The Daily Beast: Is Glenn Greenwald the New Master of Right-Wing Media?

Have a nice Thursday!!


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

Tomoo Inagaki, Woodcut Cats in Moonlight

Good Morning!!

Before I get started on the political news, I want to note the passing of one of the great pioneers of rock and roll. Rolling Stone: Little Richard, Founding Father of Rock Who Broke Musical Barriers, Dead at 87.

Little Richard, a founding father of rock and roll whose fervent shrieks, flamboyant garb, and joyful, gender-bending persona embodied the spirit and sound of that new art form, died Saturday. He was 87. The musician’s son, Danny Penniman, confirmed the pioneer’s death to Rolling Stone, but said the cause of death was unknown.

Starting with “Tutti Frutti” in 1956, Little Richard cut a series of unstoppable hits – “Long Tall Sally” and “Rip It Up” that same year, “Lucille” in 1957, and “Good Golly Miss Molly” in 1958 – driven by his simple, pumping piano, gospel-influenced vocal exclamations and sexually charged (often gibberish) lyrics. “I heard Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, and that was it,” Elton John told Rolling Stone in 1973. “I didn’t ever want to be anything else. I’m more of a Little Richard stylist than a Jerry Lee Lewis, I think. Jerry Lee is a very intricate piano player and very skillful, but Little Richard is more of a pounder.”

Wassily Kandinsky, Three figures and a cat, woodcut

Although he never hit the top 10 again after 1958, Little Richard’s influence was massive. The Beatles recorded several of his songs, including “Long Tall Sally,” and Paul McCartney’s singing on those tracks – and the Beatles’ own “I’m Down” – paid tribute to Little Richard’s shredded-throat style. His songs became part of the rock and roll canon, covered over the decades by everyone from the Everly Brothers, the Kinks, and Creedence Clearwater Revival to Elvis Costello and the Scorpions.

Little Richard’s stage persona – his pompadours, androgynous makeup and glass-bead shirts – also set the standard for rock and roll showmanship; Prince, to cite one obvious example, owed a sizable debt to the musician. “Prince is the Little Richard of his generation,” Richard told Joan Rivers in 1989 before looking at the camera and addressing Prince. “I was wearing purple before you was wearing it!”

Read about Little Richard’s (born Richard Wayne Penniman) life and career at the Rolling Stone link.

 

Now to other news of the day.

As Trump and his personal attorney general Bill Barr take steps to erase the rule of law and establish a fascist dictatorship in the U.S., is President Obama finally getting ready to speak out publicly? Michael Isakoff at Yahoo News: Exclusive: Obama says in private call that ‘rule of law is at risk’ in Michael Flynn case.

Former President Barack Obama, talking privately to ex-members of his administration, said Friday that the “rule of law is at risk” in the wake of what he called an unprecedented move by the Justice Department to drop charges against former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.

In the same chat, a tape of which was obtained by Yahoo News, Obama also lashed out at the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as “an absolute chaotic disaster.”

“The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama said in a web talk with members of the Obama Alumni Association.

Woodcut by Kioshi Saito 1985

“And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.”

The Flynn case was invoked by Obama as a principal reason that his former administration officials needed to make sure former Vice President Joe Biden wins the November election against President Trump. “So I am hoping that all of you feel the same sense of urgency that I do,” he said. “Whenever I campaign, I’ve always said, ‘Ah, this is the most important election.’ Especially obviously when I was on the ballot, that always feels like it’s the most important election. This one — I’m not on the ballot — but I am pretty darn invested. We got to make this happen.”

Obama misstated the charge to which Flynn had previously pleaded guilty. He was charged with false statements to the FBI, not perjury.

Click the Yahoo link to read the rest.

And from Caleb Ecarma at Vanity Fair: As the DOJ Drops Flynn’s Case, Trumpworld’s Next Target is Obama Alums.

Conservative media figures who spent months insisting on Michael Flynn’s innocence, after he twice pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, are taking a gleeful victory lap in response to the Justice Department moving to drop its criminal case against the retired lieutenant general and former Trump national security adviser. But the reversal is not enough to placate the right-wing media rabble, as they are now calling for Attorney General William Barr to prosecute members of the Barack Obama administration and its judicial allies for their roles in the case….

M.C. Escher, White Cat, woodcut

Shortly after the news broke on Thursday, right-wing radio host Mark Levin appeared on Fox News to boast, and to accuse Obama of conducting a vast shadow operation against the Trump administration. “You know what this is? This is Barack Obama’s blue dress. That’s what that is without the DNA on it,” he told Sean Hannity, referencing Monica Lewinsky’s infamous garment. “[The Flynn case documents] tells us that Obama knew…. Obama was working with the FBI and the intelligence agencies.” Levin also tweeted that “the perps responsible for trying to destroy” Flynn should be prosecuted, a talking point Hannity is now pushing too. “All this does is exonerate General Flynn,” the Fox News host declared on his Thursday radio program. “Now, it’s time to investigate Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s Department of Justice…and what they did here is they targeted an innocent man, and they—this is prosecutorial abuse.” Hannity’s colleague Tucker Carlson called Flynn’s case “demonstrably and provably unfair” and accused federal prosecutors of wanting “Flynn crushed purely because he happened to be away from the power they seek, and that’s why they’re still trying to put Roger Stone behind bars…. But the question is: How many other inconvenient Americans would they bankrupt and imprison if they could?”

A Daily Beast report found that numerous Trump administration and campaign officials are hoping to see Flynn resume work for the president in an official capacity. “Years ago when Nelson Mandela came to America after years of political persecution he was treated like a rock star by Americans,” Trump pollster John McLaughlin said Thursday while discussing the possibility of a Flynn–Trump reunion with the Daily Beast. “Now after over three years of political persecution General Flynn is our rock star. A big difference is that he was persecuted in America.” [….]

On Thursday, Trump described Flynn as “an innocent man” and “an even greater warrior,” before appearing on Fox & Friends the following morning to praise his attorney general’s efforts. “Bill Barr is a man of unbelievable credibility and courage, and he’s going to go down in the history books,” he told Fox News, adding that Fox hosts Hannity, Carlson, and Laura Ingraham “should get the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prizes” for leading the Flynn-innocence media campaign.

Wow. That is through the looking glass stuff. But the way things are going, it could happen. But through the looking glass is where Trump lives. Even with cases popping up in the White House, he still thinks the coronavirus will magically disappear.

Woodcut by Ellen Corddry

Yahoo News: Trump says coronavirus will ‘go away without a vaccine.’

President Trump on Friday broke with health experts, telling reporters that the coronavirus will “go away without a vaccine.”

“This is going to go away without a vaccine, it’s gonna go away, and we’re not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time,” Trump said at the White House. “You may have some flare-ups, and I guess I would expect that.”

Just days ago the Trump administration launched Operation Warp Speed, a project to accelerate the production of a vaccine for the coronavirus, which as of Friday had infected at least 1.2 million Americans and killed more than 76,000 here….

Asked what led him to believe that the virus would disappear without a vaccine, Trump claimed he had received that information from medical professionals.

“I just rely on what doctors say. They say it’s going to go. That doesn’t mean this year. It doesn’t mean, frankly, it’s going to be gone before the fall or after the fall, but eventually it’s going to go away. The question is whether we will need a vaccine. At some point it will probably go away by itself.”

Who are these mysterious “medical professionals?”

 

Trump doesn’t think testing for the virus is important either–unless you are Trump, Pence and people working around them. The Washington Post: Trump plays down coronavirus testing as U.S. falls far short of level scientists say is needed.

President Trump is increasingly dismissing the consensus of health experts, scientists and some of his Republican allies that widespread testing is key to the safe end of restrictions meant to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus, saying Friday that “testing isn’t necessary” and is an imperfect guide.

The president has played down the need for testing as he overrides public health recommendations that would prolong the closures of schools, businesses and much of daily life. Although he is now tested every day with a rapid-result machine, Trump has questioned the value of extensive testing as the gap between available capacity and the amount that would be required to meet public health benchmarks has become clearer.

Woodcut by Masharu Aoyama

Trump’s comments came as a second employee in the White House complex tested positive for the coronavirus, a development that prompted increased testing for staff and other precautions not generally available to most Americans.

“This is why the whole concept of tests aren’t necessarily great,” Trump said at the White House, as he confirmed a positive test result “out of the blue” for a top staffer, Vice President Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller.

During a Friday morning interview on Fox News, Trump ticked approvingly through the current testing figures but did not say what level he thinks is optimal or safe to use as a national benchmark for economic reopening.

Asked about the positive test result for one of his Navy valets, the president said that he himself remains negative but that the valet’s experience is instructive.

“And this is why testing isn’t necessary. We have the best testing in the world, but testing’s not necessarily the answer because they were testing them,” Trump said of the staff members.

WTF?! He found out these people had contracted the virus because they were being tested! What a fucking moron!

I’ll end with this. The AP has learned definitively that the President and his buddies were behind the shelving of the CDC reopening report: AP Exclusive: Docs show top WH officials buried CDC report.

The decision to shelve detailed advice from the nation’s top disease control experts for reopening communities during the coronavirus pandemic came from the highest levels of the White House, according to internal government emails obtained by The Associated Press.

Two Cats woodcut by Felix Vallotton from the periodical Pan published by F. Fontane and Co., Berlin 1895

The files also show that after the AP reported Thursday that the guidance document had been buried, the Trump administration ordered key parts of it to be fast-tracked for approval.

The trove of emails show the nation’s top public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spending weeks working on guidance to help the country deal with a public health emergency, only to see their work quashed by political appointees with little explanation.

The document, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen. It included detailed “decision trees,” or flow charts aimed at helping local leaders navigate the difficult decision of whether to reopen or remain closed.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said Friday that the documents had not been approved by CDC Director Robert Redfield. The new emails, however, show that Redfield cleared the guidance.

This new CDC guidance — a mix of advice already released along with newer information — had been approved and promoted by the highest levels of its leadership, including Redfield. Despite this, the administration shelved it on April 30.

Read the rest at the AP link.

So . . . what else is happening? What stories are you following today?


Lazy Caturday Reads

Dali Atomicus, by Salvador Dali and Philippe-Halsman (photographer)

Good Morning!!

I would love to know who is leaking info about Michael Flynn. Apparently Flynn reached out to Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz while he was supposedly cooperating with the Mueller investigation.

CNN: Flynn contacted GOP Mueller critic while cooperating with special counsel.

While he was cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn contacted at least one member of Congress who was publicly criticizing the special counsel probe, according to messages obtained by CNN.

Flynn sent Twitter direct messages to Rep. Matt Gaetz, encouraging the Florida Republican to “keep the pressure on.” It’s not clear if Flynn sent additional messages to other lawmakers.
“You stay on top of what you’re doing. Your leadership is so vital for our country now. Keep the pressure on,” Flynn wrote in an April 2018 message to Gaetz, which was obtained by CNN.

By Amy Hill

On the evening Flynn sent the message to Gaetz, the lawmaker had appeared on Fox Business’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” where he criticized the Mueller investigation.

“We’ve got to play a far stronger role in exposing the hypocrisy at the Department of Justice,” Gaetz said in the April 3, 2018, appearance. “With no evidence of collusion, with no evidence of any crime whatsoever, they unleashed Bob Mueller to go investigate things that happened before Donald Trump was even contemplating running for president.”

That same hour, Flynn sent Gaetz the direct message.

Gaetz also received a message in February of this year. On the day that Attorney General William Barr was confirmed, Flynn sent Gaetz GIFs of a bald eagle and an American flag, without any accompanying text.

Flynn is still “cooperating,” and he hasn’t been sentenced yet. As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, new information has been revealed by order of the judge in Flynn’s case Emmet Sullivan. Did the DOJ leak the incriminating info about Flynn contacting Gaetz in response to the new Mueller report info to make Flynn look bad? I wonder what Judge Sullivan will have to say about this?

There’s also this Devin Nunes tweet from 2016:

Here’s another interesting story I missed from a couple of days ago. This one is about Felix Sater, who was involved with Trump for years and, along with Michael Cohen working on the Trump Tower Moscow project.

Natasha Bertrand at Politico: Judge confirms Trump associate gave feds Osama bin Laden’s number.

A federal judge has confirmed for the first time that Felix Sater, a former Donald Trump business associate who drove Trump Tower Moscow negotiations during the 2016 election, helped the U.S. government track down Osama bin Laden.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Percy, by David Hockney, 1970-71

During a hearing on Thursday in the Eastern District of New York — held as part of a lawsuit brought by First Look Media to unseal records related to Sater’s longtime cooperation with the government on various national security issues — Judge I. Leo Glasser said the media group already knew all of the “very interesting and dangerous things” Sater had done through his decade as an FBI informant.

“He cooperated,” Glasser said. “And you know what he did over the 10, 11 years, because you told me that you know. He provided the telephone number of Osama bin Laden. He has done an awful lot of very interesting and dangerous things.”

The detail is just another bizarre side plot that has emerged over the two-plus years that federal investigators, lawmakers and journalists have tried to uncover every detail about possible interactions between the Trump campaign and Russian intermediaries during the 2016 election. The probes have put spotlights on a cast of figures in Trump’s extended orbit, many of whom possess unusual backgrounds.

Trump’s “Roy Cohn” AKA Cover-Up General Bill Barr appeared on state TV on Friday to publicly trash the investigation into Russia’s interference in our elections.

Charlie Savage at The New York Times: Barr Again Casts Doubt on Russia Inquiry’s Origins, Aligning With Trump’s Attacks.

Still Life with Cat And Lobster 1962 Painting by Pablo Picasso; Still Life with Cat And Lobster 1962 Art Print for sale

When Attorney General William P. Barr described the early stages of the Russia investigation as “spying” on the Trump campaign, he prompted questions about whether he had used that word spontaneously — or whether he was deliberately fueling conspiracy theories.

That question flared anew on Friday after Mr. Barr went even further in casting doubt on the legitimacy of the investigation in two interviews that, by design or coincidence, provided fresh ammunition for President Trump and allies to attack law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Mr. Barr told Fox News he had been asking whether “government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale” in opening the Russia inquiry. “A lot of the answers have been inadequate and some of the explanations I’ve gotten don’t hang together,” he added.

And he doubled down on the innuendo-laden formulation he used in congressional testimony last month, telling The Wall Street Journal, “Government power was used to spy on American citizens.”

The statements were the latest in a series of actions and comments by Mr. Barr expressing skepticism about how the F.B.I. began investigating during the 2016 presidential campaign whether any Trump associates conspired with Russia’s election interference. The attorney general has appointed a federal prosecutor to review aspects of the investigation, rather than await the results of an independent inspector general inquiry due in the coming weeks, and he has invoked the term “spying” on multiple occasions.

Grey Matter, by Amy Jo Hill

Are we stuck with Joe Biden as the 2020 Democratic nominee for president? The media in general seems to believe he’s the anointed one. But anointed by whom? Obama hasn’t endorsed him. Who really wants this guy to be POTUS?

Jill Filipovic at The New York Times: Does Anyone Actually Want Joe Biden to Be President?

The most important requirement for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee? Electability. It matters more, we keep hearing, than nominating a candidate who has good policies. It matters more than nominating a candidate with a track record of passing progressive legislation. It certainly matters more than nominating a candidate who could be the first female president.

Unfortunately, very few people who say they are putting electability first seem to understand what “electability” means, or what today’s electorate actually looks like.

Case in point: In a field crowded with nearly two dozen candidates, no answer to the electability question is offered more regularly and with more conviction than “Joe Biden.”

Mr. Biden, whose campaign officially kicks of this Saturday in Philadelphia, is the kind of guy you could see sitting behind a big desk, acting as a wise custodian of our democracy without posing any threat of changing much. He is from one of those scrappy Rust Belt cities fetishized by so many pundits — people who believe that the imaginary working-class white voter who is going to deliver the White House to the Democrats wants Joe Biden, which is what, in turn, makes Joe Biden electable.

But what about the rest of us–Democrats who aren’t white males living in the rust belt? What about women who still dream of a women president in their lifetimes? We don’t count when it comes to “electability” supposedly. Read more at the NYT.

At The Daily Beast, Adam Howard tries to explain Biden’s current appeal to African Americans: Why Black Voters Are Gravitating to Biden.

Haiku, by Albena Vatcheva

Now, with Obama’s blessing if not his formal endorsement, Biden has sought the presidency himself for the third time in 30 years, and this time, he’s enjoying a solid and in some case growing lead over a historically huge field of Democratic contenders. The backbone of his support comes from the most reliable and one of the most coveted Democratic primary voting blocs: African-Americans.

Most of the cable news commentary has approached this fact with the condescending assertion that Biden’s black support is mostly due to name recognition and his proximity to Obama. Some have suggested that older black voters, who are traditionally more moderate, may be attracted to his centrism.

But these hot takes overlook something less tangible and quantifiable: how much the sincere, integrated friendship of Biden and Obama (and their families) was cathartic and inspirational. It was the personification of the post-racial utopia some hoped Obama’s election victories would deliver but never did, and probably never could.

Their platonic bromance provided comfort during the confounding period when Obama’s popularity seemed to grow simultaneously with the rise and improbable election of a man who championed a racist campaign to discredit him.

Howard suggests that Biden could loose African American support as the campaign goes on. He doesn’t specifically address the attitudes of black women or provide any evidence for his arguments. The piece is based on his own personal opinions. I guess we’re just going to have to wait and see.

I’ll end with this article at The Washington Post on Nevada, where women are now in control of the legislature: Where women call the shots.

by Amy Hill

She didn’t plan to say it. Yvanna Cancela, a newly elected Democrat in the Nevada Senate, didn’t want to “sound crass.” But when a Republican colleague defended a century-old law requiring doctors to ask women seeking abortions whether they’re married, Cancela couldn’t help firing back.

“A man is not asked his marital status before he gets a vasectomy,” she countered — and the packed hearing room fell silent.

Since Nevada seated the nation’s first majority-female state legislature in January, the male old guard has been shaken up by the perspectives of female lawmakers. Bills prioritizing women’s health and safety have soared to the top of the agenda. Mounting reports of sexual harassment have led one male lawmaker to resign. And policy debates long dominated by men, including prison reform and gun safety, are yielding to female voices.

Cancela, 32, is part of the wave of women elected by both parties in November, many of them younger than 40. Today, women hold the majority with 23 seats in the Assembly and 10 in the Senate, or a combined 52 percent.

No other legislature has achieved that milestone in U.S. history. Only Colorado comes close, with women constituting 47 percent of its legislators. In Congress, just one in four lawmakers is a woman. And in Alabama, which just enacted an almost complete ban on abortion, women make up just 15 percent of lawmakers.

The female majority is having a huge effect: More than 17 pending bills deal with sexual assault, sex trafficking and sexual misconduct, with some measures aimed at making it easier to prosecute offenders. Bills to ban child marriage and examine the causes of maternal mortality are also on the docket.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

So . . . what else is happening? What stories are you following today?