Wednesday, January 5, 2022

 -Dana Perino on how military-grade police equipment would have solved snow on I-95

The anniversary of the January 6 attack on the Capitol has recentered all kinds of interesting questions, like “what the fuck happened back there?” and “is the Justice Department being too chill about it?” and “wait, they still haven’t found the pipe bomb guy?”

  • In Wednesday remarks, Attorney General Merrick Garland addressed growing criticism of his seeming reluctance to prosecute Donald Trump and his inner circle for their roles in the insurrection. "The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law—whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy,” Garland said, in a wordy version of “hey, shut up, we’re not done."
  • President Biden is expected to be considerably more direct about who those perpetrators include in his speech on Thursday, in a notable break from his own reluctance to speak publicly about, “the former guy,” as Pod Save America host Jon Favreau insists on calling him, for some reason. Biden “will lay out the significance of what happened at the Capitol and the singular responsibility President Trump has for the chaos and carnage that we saw,” according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. 
  • On the “what the fuck happened” front, Sebastian Gorka has become the latest Trump ally to sue the January 6 committee and Verizon in an effort to quash the committee’s subpoena of his phone records. And as the committee asked Fox News host Sean Hannity to testify voluntarily, it released another batch of his texts to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows which reveal that Hannity was privately wringing his hands about Trump’s coup plans while publicly continuing to spread lies about the election.

It remains to be seen whether the anniversary will bolster Democrats’ voting-rights push, but Republicans are acting worried.

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and a number of other GOP senators have suggested they’d be open to reforming the Electoral Count Act, apparently in a bid to keep more important democracy protections good and stalled. Meanwhile, a group with ties to McConnell has poured $1 million into new ads calling on West Virginians to beg Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) not to touch the filibuster.
  • While most Republicans have spent this week pretending to have no recollection of January 6, McConnell on Tuesday turned his blinders towards the future: “Why would any legislature in America want to overturn the counting of votes?...The notion that some state legislature would be crazy enough to say to their own voters, ‘We’re not gonna honor the outcome of an election,’ is ridiculous on its face. They assume that people who get elected to the legislature are idiots.” No comment on the idiots part, but plenty of state legislators tried to help overturn the last election, and oodles more GOP candidates are currently running for office on pro-overturning-elections platforms.

The renewed national focus on the insurrection undermines Republicans’ whitewashed version of events, and forces them into awkward contortions to defend their antidemocratic maneuvering in the year since. They should stay pinned that way for longer than a few days each year. 

Start off your new year with an all new episode of Keep It! This week, Louis, Aida, and guest host Guy Branum talk about what movies and TV shows they’re looking forward to in 2022. Plus, they discuss the loss of Betty White, Joan Didion, and Bell Hooks. New episodes drop every Wednesday. Listen and follow wherever you get your podcasts.

The number of American children and teens killed by gunfire has spiked during the pandemic, while GOP lawmakers were busy opposing new gun-control legislation and posing with their own kids in gun-themed Christmas cards. The rate of gun deaths of children 14 and younger rose by 50 percent from the end of 2019 to the end of 2020, according to the CDC, and the crisis seems to have only worsened in 2021: more than 1,500 kids under 18 were killed in homicides and accidental shootings last year. Researchers attribute the increase to a boom in gun sales that put more young kids within reach of improperly stored firearms, rising homicide rates, and the pandemic’s toll on young people’s mental health. Seems like a problem worth at least as much sustained noise as the devastating threats of school mask requirements or critical race theory.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has declared a state of emergency and invited Russia to send in “peacekeeping forces” to help quell a growing protest movement. The demonstrations began on Sunday over a surge in fuel prices, and quickly snowballed amid broader discontent with Kazakhstan’s entrenched leadership. Protesters have set fire to government buildings, stormed an airport in the country’s largest city, and violently clashed with law enforcement. Authorities have blocked access to the internet across much of the country, and Tokayev accepted the resignation of the government on Wednesday morning in a failed attempt to restore order. State Department spokesman Ned Price called Kazakhstan a “valued partner," said the U.S. was following the unrest closely,  and called for restraint from all parties. 

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The U.S. economy added 807,000 new jobs in December, double what economists had predicted.

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) has posthumously pardoned Homer Plessy, whose refusal to leave a whites-only railroad car in 1892 led to the landmark Supreme Court ruling Plessy v. Ferguson.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has endorsed legislation to expand the Supreme Court.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has successfully unfurled its complex sunshield, one of the biggest milestones in the deployment process.

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