Wednesday, January 19, 2022

 -Lisa Murkowski, on fixing the Senate

Sens. Joe Manchin (“D”-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (“D”-AZ) will momentarily put the last nail in the coffin of Democrats’ voting-rights push, thereby blessing the GOP assault on democracy and cementing their places on the wrong side of history. The important thing is, they had fun out there.

  • All 50 Senate Republicans filibustered voting-rights legislation on Wednesday evening, triggering Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s promised vote to revive the talking filibuster, which would’ve allowed the elections package to pass with a simple majority. While all 48 other Senate Democrats are expected to line up behind that rule change (Mark Kelly hive, assemble), Manchin and Sinema have promised to vote no, prioritizing an arcane, widely abused Senate procedure over the future of American democracy.
  • Wednesday’s votes followed President Biden’s first press conference of 2022, marking the end of his first year in office. Biden highlighted his administration’s progress on the pandemic and economic recovery, said that the Build Back Better Act would probably need to be broken up, and acknowledged he may have underestimated GOP obstruction: “I did not anticipate that there'd be such a stalwart effort to make sure that the most important thing was that President Biden doesn't get anything done…What're they for? Name me one thing they're for.” (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would be happy to, after he’s back in power.) 
  • Of course, obstructive Republicans had a couple of helping hands. During Biden’s presser, Manchin gave a pro-filibuster speech on the Senate floor next to a big sign reading, “THE UNITED STATES SENATE HAS NEVER BEEN ABLE TO END DEBATE WITH A SIMPLE MAJORITY.” (Unless it’s, you know, confirming awful Supreme Court justices, or raising the debt limit last month, or doing anything at all under the Senate’s original rules.) Manchin urged Schumer not to move to end debate on the voting-rights package, and to instead leave it on the floor until it could attract, god help us, 10 Republican votes.

For Sinema, at least, helping Republicans tank voting-rights legislation might spell the end of her political career. 

  • EMILY’s List announced Tuesday that Sinema would lose its endorsement going forward if she didn’t cut the shit: “Sen. Sinema’s decision to reject the voices of allies, partners and constituents who believe the importance of voting rights outweighs that of an arcane process means she will find herself standing alone in the next election." NARAL issued its own threat ahead of the vote on Wednesday: “Going forward, we won’t endorse any U.S. senator who doesn’t support changing the Senate rules to pass voting-rights legislation.”
  • Meanwhile, a group of 70 top Democratic donors—some of whom gave Sinema’s 2018 campaign as much money as the law allows—wrote her a letter saying that unless she changed her position on the filibuster, they would support a primary challenge in 2024 and demand refunds for their 2018 contributions. “Bipartisanship works only if it is reciprocal,” they wrote. “Republicans are gutting our electoral system in state capitals with no federal check on them. This is life and death important to us.”

So ends Democrats’ year-long effort to protect free-and-fair elections with federal legislation, and so begins the next stage of the fight: Asking the far-right Supreme Court to strike down discriminatory voter-suppression laws, and when that doesn’t work, organizing in 2022 like all future elections depend on it.

Check out the latest episode of Pod Save The World! This week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken joins Ben and Tommy to discuss the threat of Russia invading Ukraine, the Iran deal, combatting antisemitism and promoting democracy. New episodes of Pod Save the World drop every Wednesday. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has sought a court order to force Donald Trump, Don Jr., and Ivanka to comply with their subpoenas to testify in her office’s investigation, which she said a Tuesday statement has turned up “significant evidence” that the Trump Organization engaged in a whole bunch of fraud. In her motion filed with the New York Supreme Court, James accused the company of using “fraudulent or misleading asset valuations” for some of its major properties, inflating values to receive loans and later devaluing them for tax benefits. The new details about that pattern included the allegation that the Trump Organization (get your chef’s kiss hand in position) lied about the size of Trump’s personal apartment in Trump Tower, saying it was nearly three times its actual size.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Ukraine on Wednesday (riding high after his Pod Save the World interview) and warned that Russia’s military build-up on the border would allow it to launch an attack “on very short notice.” President Biden said Wednesday that he expects an attack is forthcoming, and said that an invasion of Ukraine would be a “disaster for Russia.” Blinken will end his week in Europe by meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, but has downplayed the likelihood of a diplomatic breakthrough, and rejected Russia’s request for a written response to its non-starter demands. In anticipation of a sudden invasion, the Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will provide an additional $200 million in military aid to help Ukraine defend itself.

In 2021 mental health is finally a thing, especially as people are not feeling like their normal selves. Let’s support one another and talk openly. Whether or not therapy is your thing, knowing it’s available and affordable is important, for you or perhaps a loved one.  

Millions of people are trying and loving online therapy. It doesn’t have to be sitting around just talking about your feelings.

So, what is therapy, exactly? It’s whatever you want it to be.

You can privately talk to someone if your stress is too much to manage, you’re battling a temper, having relationship issues, anxiety, depression, etc… Whatever you need, there’s no more shame in these normal human struggles. We take care of our bodies, why not our minds, too? Without a healthy mind, being truly happy and at peace is HARD.

BetterHelp is customized online therapy that offers video, phone and even live chat sessions with your therapist, so you don’t have to see anyone on camera if you don’t want to. It’s much more affordable than in-person therapy and you can start communicating with your therapist in under 48 hours.

It’s always a good time to invest in yourself, because you are your greatest asset. See if online therapy is for you by heading to for 10% off your first month.

The Biden administration will distribute 400 million free N95 masks at thousands of pharmacies and health centers starting next week. 

President Biden has nominated Nusrat Jahan Choudhury, legal director of the ACLU of Illinois for a federal judgeship. If confirmed, Choudhury would become the first Muslim woman to serve on the federal bench. 

An endangered species of salmon has returned to its old spawning grounds in California, thanks to heavy rains late last year.

The Jamaican four-man bobsled team will be back at the Winter Olympics for the first time since 1998, an important win for the Cool Runnings generation.

. . . . . .

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