Thursday, January 6, 2022

 -Lindsey Graham on the world's first apolitical coup attempt

President Biden commemorated the first anniversary of the January 6 insurrection with a forceful condemnation of Donald Trump, nearly making up for the fact that Democrats also marked the day with a Lin-Manuel Miranda song, which we do not need to talk about.

  • Without using Trump’s name, Biden neatly eviscerated him, calling him a lying sore loser who put his own interests above the country’s. “The former president of the United States of America has spread a web of lies about the 2020 election…because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our constitution. He can't accept he lost.” Biden also made a powerful pledge not to let his ongoing assault succeed: “I will defend this nation, and I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy.”
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led lawmakers in a moment of silence on the House floor, at which Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and her father were the only two Republicans in attendance, the rest either in hiding or outside celebrating political violence and spreading conspiracy theories. Former Vice President Dick Cheney told reporters he was “deeply disappointed we don't have better leadership in the Republican Party to restore the Constitution.” 
  • While Biden didn’t make voting-rights legislation a core focus of Thursday’s address (he’s saving that for a speech in Atlanta next week), he and other top Democrats renewed their calls for substantive reforms. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer slammed the idea of fixing the Electoral Count Act as “doing the bare minimum” and “unacceptably insufficient and even offensive” without passing other democracy protections, after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell floated that strategy on Wednesday.

Threaded throughout Thursday’s events was the grim acknowledgement that the country is in a more precarious place now than on the day a mob smashed its way into the Capitol.

  • “While the broken windows have been repaired and many of the rioters have been brought to justice, the truth is that our democracy is at greater risk today than it was back then,” former President Barack Obama said in a statement. Former President Jimmy Carter published an op-ed warning that, “our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss,” citing the deluge of right-wing disinformation, GOP-controlled legislatures handing themselves power to subvert elections, and the mainstreaming of extremism and political violence.
  • The blurring of far-right fringe elements and the mainstream GOP was particularly visible on Thursday, as local Republican groups across the country planned prayer vigils for the poor, poor January 6 martyrs arrested while trying to overturn an election and/or murder elected officials. The Cobb County GOP canceled its own planned vigil after news of the event triggered intense bipartisan backlash in Georgia.

Congressional Republicans’ conspicuous absence from Capitol events speaks to the fact that a year after the insurrection, their path back to power still runs through pretending it never happened. Biden puts the whole GOP on defense by recounting the facts, assigning blame where it belongs, and being honest about the stakes of giving the perpetrators free rein to try again.

Today marks the five year anniversary of Pod Save America! That’s five years of breaking down all the political news that makes us laugh, cry, and scream into the void with experts and activists who help us figure out the issues that matter and what we can do about them. If you’re not already subscribed, you can catch new episodes of Pod Save America every Tuesday and Thursday. Listen and follow wherever you get your podcasts.

The Air Force will court-martial a general on sexual-assault charges for the first time in its 75-year history. Maj. Gen. William Cooley, the former head of the Air Force Research Laboratory, is accused of making unwanted sexual advances towards a civilian woman, kissing and touching her, while off-duty in August 2018. Cooley isn’t the first Air Force general to be accused of sexual assault, but previous alleged offenders were protected from prosecution by their high-ranking peers. They’ve also historically been tricky to prosecute: Courts-martial require a panel of jurors who are equal or senior in rank to the accused, making it difficult to scrape together an unbiased jury for a two-star general like Cooley. The fact that he’s going to trial at all is progress, and a sign that Congress’s pressure on the military to address systemic sexual misconduct has moved the needle. 

In another neat January 6 instance of Democrats On Offense, Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro plans to make protecting democracy a central plank of his campaign. He’s in the right state for it. Shapiro’s leading GOP opponents have variously funded transportation to the January 6 rally, promoted voter fraud conspiracy theories, and endorsed fake audits of the 2020 election. He aims to highlight what’s at stake by drawing a sharp contrast: “Every single one of my opponents would sign bills undermining voting rights. I will veto any bill that restricts voting rights here in the Commonwealth.” Shapiro’s democracy plan also includes vows to appoint elections officers who are committed to running elections fairly (reasonable), and to expand legitimate county audits to keep private or partisan sham audits out of the equation.

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Kids ages 12 to 15 are now eligible for  Pfizer booster shots. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) announced a $25 billion plan to build or preserve 100,000 affordable homes. (Also, shrewdly, the return of to-go cocktails.)

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District will rename several schools that currently bear the names of slaveholders.

We’ve got a real-life Lassie situation, folks

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