But first, a Night Cap:
Key players in the insurrection, like Kevin McCarthy, kept ignoring or refusing to comply with, subpoenas issued by the January 6th Committee. Thanks, in part, to our deeply flawed system and the example Donald set, these scofflaws feel no need to comply with legally executed Congressional subpoenas. In the end I don’t think their stonewalling will matter. For every one of those refusing to cooperate, there are dozens of others actively helping the investigation.
While the Committee continues to make progress, the Department of Justice made a significant move when federal prosecutors filed seditious conspiracy charges against the head of the Oath Keepers, 56-year-old Stewart Rhodes. Ten other members of the extremist right-wing anti-government group were similarly charged. Seditious conspiracy, which is akin to treason, is defined as an attempt “to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or... by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States.” iIt is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
These charges create enormous incentive for others with potential exposure to cooperate with the investigation. They also suggest that the Justice Department has every intention of going after bigger fish.
Last Thursday, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) gave a disingenuous speech that made me want to bang my head against a wall. While crying crocodile tears, she made it clear that she is more interested in making common cause with fascists, enabling their anti-democratic push, and supporting their divisive agenda than she is in working with her own party.
"I wish there had been a more serious effort on the part of Democratic Party leaders to sit down with the other party and genuinely discuss how to reforge common ground on these issues,” she managed to say with a straight face. Sinema knows exactly what she’s doing. She’s a cynical, bought-and-paid-for political hack who has betrayed her constituents. Manchin is no better but he can at least make the (still feeble) argument that he is the only Democrat who could be elected in the deep red state of West Virginia. Sinema is a senator in a state that is trending blue.
We are much better off with these two in the Senate than we would be if they were to be replaced by two Republicans. Without them there would have been no COVID relief in 2021 and Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill wouldn’t have passed. But the problem isn’t that only 96% of Senate Democrats are dedicated to saving democracy, the real problem is that 100% of Senate Republicans are doing everything they can to hasten democracy’s end and, therefore, 96% of Democrats aren’t enough to stop them.
There’s nothing we can do about those Republicans. Nothing. But Manchin has had almost a year to convince ten reasonable Republicans to join with Democrats in passing legislation that will help the American people. He hasn’t managed to secure one. He and Sinema have also had the same amount of time to learn about the filibuster and yet they’ve both come to the wrong conclusion—they actually claim to believe that preserving the filibuster is more important than saving democracy.
I heard Rep. Ruben Gallego might challenge Sinema in the 2024 Arizona primary. I think he would win. Let’s hope it’s in time to make a difference.
The Supreme Court, which Is adamant about letting states control women’s bodies, denied the Biden administration’s ability to enforce COVID vaccination and a testing mandate for companies with over 100 employees. The hypocrisy of this is maddening enough but it’s also one more obstacle in our efforts to contain the virus. First of all, this decision reduces the incentive of potentially millions of people to get vaccinated. Secondly, if COVID continues to rage out of control and we get hit with more virulent and more contagious variants, Republicans will make COVID an issue ahead of the 2022 mid-terms. They will blame Biden for a situation they’re doing everything in their power to make worse.
Surprising absolutely no one who’s been paying attention, Glenn Youngkin recently revealed himself to be the right-wing authoritarian he made clear he was during Virginia’s gubernatorial primary. On his first day in office Youngkin signed executive orders banning the teaching of critical race theory in public schools (which is a thing that has never happened); ending mandatory mask mandates in schools and barring teachers from requiring them (which may well be illegal); cutting workplace regulations; and, in order to “restore individual freedoms” (presumably the freedom to get infected and infect others with a potentially fatal virus) ending vaccine mandates for state employees. Virginia has been a blue state for years. Thanks to the last election that is no longer the case.
Under the Radar and on the Horizon
In seven states Donald’s allies submitted fake election certifications to the national archives. This means there was a coordinated effort in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—states Donald lost—to give those electors to Donald. This plan was potentially coordinated by Jon Eastman, the White House lawyer who wrote a six-point plan instructing Pence how to overturn the election results, and other sycophants in the Executive Branch.
It’s likely the plan was to sow enough doubt and confusion in Congress to give the seditionists in the House and Senate time to pressure Pence to throw out Biden’s electors or, failing that, to stall long enough to have the decision thrown to either the states or the Supreme Court.
The fact that this conspiracy isn’t splashed across the front page of every major newspaper in America every day with headlines in 80-point font is beyond my comprehension.
In his recent voting rights speech, President Biden outlined what was in the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. He also said, "Do you want to be ... on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?” I see nothing to object to here. Yet Senator Dick Durbin, the number two Senate Democrat, told reporters that "Perhaps the president went a little too far in his rhetoric.” This comment was entirely unnecessary. Democrats need to have Biden’s back at every turn as long as he is on the side of democracy. And they need to stop giving the Republicans talking points.
The RNC plans does not want any of its candidates to participate in debates run by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The commission is completely non-partisan and was set up by both parties in 1987 in order to regulate and moderate debates.
The Republican Party is staking out some very interesting territory. Essentially, they now seem to believe that openly debating the issues is a bridge too far and allowing all eligible Americans to vote is somehow un-American.