Thursday, January 13, 2022

 -Kamala Harris, on whether it's time fo change the COVID strategy

Between Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) seemingly extinguishing Democrats’ last hope for passing voting-rights legislation and the Supreme Court swiftly ruling in favor of coronavirus, the republic looked particularly busted on Thursday. Fortunately, we hear there is a simple solution called “bipartisanship”?

  • The House approved a new measure combining Democrats’ two voting-rights bills along party lines and kicked it over to the Senate for an unfilibusterable debate, the first and final good development of the day. Ahead of President Biden’s visit with Senate Democrats, Sinema announced on the floor that her prioritization of the filibuster over her own constituents’ voting rights hadn’t changed: “While I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.” 
  • This literal nonsense went over great with Republicans, Joe Manchin, and exactly no one else. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), an early favorite to primary Sinema in the next cycle, called her out by name for throwing democracy on the bus. “Today the House showed where it stands. We won't shrink from protecting our democracy and the voting rights of all Americans. It's past time for the U.S. Senate and Senator Sinema to do the same.” Martin Luther King III slammed Sinema for “siding with the legacy of Bull Connor and George Wallace instead of the legacy of my father and all those who fought to make real our democracy.”
  • Manchin politely waited until after meeting with Biden to tell him and democracy to get fucked, saying in an endless statement, “I will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster.” He and Sinema will still have to go on the record to that effect, and voting-rights activists aren’t ready to throw in the towel: The King family will lead a march in Washington, DC, on Monday to keep the pressure on until the last minute. And Biden summoned the two of them to the White House late on Thursday. 

In a cruel punchline, the Supreme Court chose Thursday to notify Democrats that they don’t get to do any governing from the White House, either.

  • The Supreme Court’s conservative majority has blocked the Biden administration’s vaccination-or-testing requirement for large employers, using breathtakingly stupid logic to justify undermining the pandemic response at Republicans’ behest and ensuring that more Americans wind up hospitalized or dead unnecessarily. The Court will allow the administration to proceed with a vaccine requirement for most health-care workers, as expected.
  • So, to recap: The filibuster and GOP gerrymandering prevent Democrats from getting legislation passed in Congress, and two lunkheads prevent them from changing the rules to fix that. Then, when a Democratic president tries to govern around a paralyzed Senate, a handful of conservative justices (appointed by Republican presidents who lost the popular vote and confirmed by Republican senators who ditched the filibuster to do so) invalidate the White House’s authority, saying that Congress needs to pass legislation. By the end of that loop, all voters get out of a Democratic trifecta is a presidential statement asking business leaders to please just do the right thing. 

An impossibly cool day in the American experiment! It’s not too late for Senate Democrats to halt the country’s slide into permanent minority rule, but right now is their last best chance, and two of them remain intent on blowing it. 

Check out the latest episode of Hysteria! Erin Ryan is back from maternity leave—welcome back Erin!—and joins co-host Alyssa Mastromonaco to talk about Democrats’ lackluster action on protecting abortion access and voting rights. Plus, Dana Schwartz stops by to discuss how technology is weaponized against women and people of color and the tech dystopian future. New episodes of Hysteria drop every Thursday. Listen and follow wherever you get your podcasts.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has (unsurprisingly) announced he won’t voluntarily cooperate with the January 6 committee, and will instead conceal knowledge about Donald Trump’s state of mind during the attack that could potentially implicate Trump in a crime. The committee said it would consider a subpoena. In other apparent crimes, investigators are looking into forged certificates of ascertainment that Trump allies created in seven states—Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Mexico—some of which were submitted by top GOP officials who would strongly prefer not to talk about it. Meanwhile, the Justice Department has charged 11 people, including Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, with seditious conspiracy—a devastating blow to the otherwise watertight right-wing talking point that January 6 couldn’t have been an insurrection because no had been charged with sedition yet. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on spectacularly thin ice after admitting that he attended a BYOB Downing Street garden party in May 2020, in violation of the U.K.’s strict lockdown rules. His Wednesday apology did nothing to quell demands from the Labour Party that he resign, and a handful of Conservative lawmakers have publicly called on him to quit. A YouGov/Times poll conducted before Johnson’s apology found that support for the Conservatives had fallen to its lowest level since 2013, putting it ten points behind the Labour Party.  If Johnson doesn’t succumb to the pressure and Conservatives decide he’s a drag on the party, they could ultimately choose to oust him by holding a vote of no confidence. It’s almost like a liberal party that’s not afraid to relentlessly call the opposition leader a dangerous buffoon can…weaken the buffoon?

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President Biden announced that the administration will double the free rapid tests to be distributed to Americans to a total of one billion, provide free N95 masks, and deploy 1,000 military medical personnel to assist hospitals around the country.

The Energy Department has announced a newly formed Clean Energy Corps that will bring on 1,000 additional staffers to focus on deploying clean energy projects and cutting emissions. 

Nearly 66,000 student-loan borrowers will see their debt canceled after Navient reached a $1.85 billion deal with 39 states to settle claims that it made predatory loans. 

Animal-welfare organizations have been flooded with donations in honor of Betty White.

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