Republican Greg Abbott tries to pin superspreading on immigrants after lifting COVID-19 restrictions
Just one day after he recklessly lifted novel coronavirus pandemic restrictions, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is now trying to blame asylum-seeking parents and children for cases in his state, falsely claiming in a tweet that the “Biden Administration is recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities.”
With all due disrespect to the governor, he’s full of shit. “This is an utter lie, and it is even worse because it comes the day after Abbott ended all statewide precautions for COVID,” tweeted immigration policy expert Aaron Reichlin-Melnick. “In total, 108 people who tested positive have been released in Texas since late January. That's not ‘hundreds.’ It's not even 4 per day on average!” Unfortunately, Abbott wasn’t alone in trying to blame Republican superspreading on these families.
The Senate voted Thursday afternoon to begin debate on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan with the assistance of Vice President Kamala Harris to make the vote 51-50. Yes, Republicans unanimously opposed even moving forward on providing essential aid to the American people to get out of this pandemic.
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Ron "Genius" Johnson became the face of the GOP, surpassing his usual ridiculousness in his opposition to the COVID-19 relief bill that 77% of voters support, including 59% of Republicans. That includes saying it really should be blocked from passing for 1,200 days, because ... reasons. Maybe because a $1.9 trillion stack of one dollar bills is "A stack of dollar bills that extends more than halfway the distance to the moon." Because for some reason he believes that is relevant. Of course, the GOP Tax Scam he voted for in 2017 had just about the same price tag but for some reason, he didn't think that stack of bills was too high.
The point is, Johnson is intent on delaying passage of the bill for as long as he can, knowing that Congress has a hard deadline of March 14 (but the sooner the better) to make sure people don't start losing their unemployment benefits. Johnson is going to force the Senate clerks to stay up all night reading the entire relief bill aloud. That should take about 10 hours and do nothing more than make the Senate clerks really pissed off at him.
With more than 20 anti-trans laws in the works across the nation, we take some comfort in the knowledge that many won’t pass out of the state House, much less the state Senate. And even if they do, we reason that with a Democrat as governor, the bills aren’t likely to become law. This means, for example, that vehemently exclusionary measures to bar transgender youth from participating on the sports teams that align with their gender identity won't become law. Or that physicians who provide gender-affirming healthcare to transgender youth won't become literal criminals. But, as is the case with the anti-trans bill gaining speed in Mississippi, comfort isn’t always available.
On Wednesday, the Mississippi House passed SB 2536, and as Daily Kos covered at the time, the state Senate passed the bill in February. The bill, which would bar transgender girls and women from participating in girls’ sports teams at both primary and secondary education levels, is headed to the governor. What’s extra concerning about this? Mississippi’s Republican governor, Tate Reeves, has signaled support for the measure in a March 4 tweet. And once one state adopts legislation, a disturbing precedent takes hold.
On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott decided to toss a big fat distraction on how Republicans turned that state’s energy market into a scheme that generates billions in instant profit from pure human misery. Abbott was just one of several Republican governors who have decided that, now that there’s reasonable leadership in Washington, there’s no longer any need for them to even pretend to be reasonable back at home. Expect them to wake up any day now and blame President Joe Biden for the hundreds of thousands of deaths that … wait a second. This just in:x
The Biden Administration is recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 3, 2021
The Biden Admin. must IMMEDIATELY end this callous act that exposes Texans & Americans to COVID.
According to the CDC, there are currently more than 171,000 active cases of COVID-19 in Texas. In his no-masks, everything open to the fullest ruling this week, Abbott just gave every single one of those people, and the tens of thousands more who don’t even know they have COVID, permission to crowd into the nearest bar and restaurant and share their germs. Abbott didn’t just lift all mask requirements, he banned counties and localities from imposing local mask requirements. And he did it in a week when more than half the counties in Texas saw a sharp increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases. It’s the kind of action that has Republicans spending their Wednesdays defending the honor of Neanderthals.
But, surprisingly, there is one Republican governor who is going in the other direction.
It’s no surprise that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis cares more about the rich than the economically vulnerable. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, DeSantis has not only downplayed the virus, but prioritized the health and safety of those he can profit from.
While a majority of Florida’s eldest residents have struggled to not only sign up but receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, almost all wealthy people 65 years and older were vaccinated by mid-January, according to a community newsletter obtained by the Miami Herald. Additionally, those being vaccinated were ensured that despite most of the state being unable to receive their first dose, they would have access to both the first and second dose of the vaccine.
The GOP appears to have decided that high voter turnout was responsible for their losses in the 2020 election, so Republican legislators are pushing 253 bills with provisions that restrict voting access in 43 states. #Colbert #ALateShow #Monologue
Nearly 70 indigenous rights, wildlife, and civil rights groups are calling on the Biden administration to tear down nearly 60 miles of border fencing erected by the previous administration in Arizona, as well as some fencing along other regions of the border. While President Joe Biden ordered a 60-day halt to review the legality of the project we were always told Mexico was going to pay for, fencing has cut through tribal lands and continues to harm communities and wildlife in the region.
“One of the longest wall sections in the report runs along 7 miles of the border near Quitobaquito Springs on Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument,” Arizona Daily Star reports, noting the arrests of a dozen Tohono O’odham protesters late last year. One activist was shot with rubber bullets by officers as he sang a traditional Tohono O’odham song.
As we know, the QAnon super big-brain trust have latched onto March 4 as the date that Prznint Stupid will be inaugurated as the 19th president (following President Ulysses S. Grant, who was according to them, the last legally elected president; no word on whether or not Grant will attend the festivities) —based on their superior understanding of Constitutional history and logic too sophisticated for me to understand.
The FBI said that the potential attack could involve the Three Percenters whose name is “based on the myth that only three percent of American colonists took up arms against the British during the American Revolution. ” The 3%ers “regard the present-day U.S. Government as analogous to the British” during the Revolutionary War, so you see that they have all the legal grounds covered for another revolution. In other words, you cannot have an insurrection against a country that doesn’t exist? Something like that? I told you that they were thinkier than us!
But I digest…
Democrats in the House have passed HR1, an extensive package of voting reforms designed to fight back against the voter suppression efforts of Republicans. I find myself in an odd position about this: I firmly support passage of the bill, but I don't really care that much what's in it. Let me explain with a chart:
The chart starts in 1992, right before the motor voter law was passed. It goes through 2016, and thus includes all of the various Republican state laws enacted over the past couple of decades to restrict voting.
The results are pretty obvious: Voter turnout has been steady; Black voter turnout has gone up a bit; and both early voting and mail voting have increased. Roughly speaking, all those Republican voter suppression efforts just haven't had much impact on a national level.
On a national level. This is the key. On the level of individual states, it's likely that Republican efforts have been more successful. And this obviously makes a difference in Senate races, in the Electoral College, and in gerrymandering of House districts.
So here's the thing: it's absurd that political parties are essentially able to control the voting process to their own advantage. No other democratic country that I know of allows this. Voting in national elections should be regulated at the national level, just as the Constitution suggests:
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations...
Congress should set the rules for registration and voting and they should be the same for every state. This is so obvious that it barely even needs to be defended.
HR1 would do this. But once we've agreed to national rules, what should those rules be? It's here that I think we have a lot of leeway. As the chart above shows us, national voting has been pretty steady despite the hundreds of individual laws passed over the past couple of decades. Things like Sunday voting, early voting, mail voting, ID requirements, and so forth haven't had a big impact. I'd be perfectly happy to compromise considerably on those details as long as the resulting rules applied equally to every state and territory.
Needless to say, this would also put a stop to the tidal wave of state lawsuits that consume so much time after every election. Very often these cases turn on state legislatures that have tried to change the voting rules at the last minute in a desperate effort to squeeze out a few extra votes for their party, and a national law would put an end to that.
I think it's unlikely that HR1 will pass in the Senate. No matter what it includes, Republicans will conclude that they have a better chance of winning by allowing Republican states to create their own rules. But you never know. It's possible that Democrats could attract a dozen or so Republicans by insisting on national rules but making substantial concessions on the details of the rules. My take—subject to correction from experts—is that Democrats will be in good shape as long as they know what the rules are;¹ Republicans will be satisfied if we agree to some of their hobbyhorses; and the country will be far better off if voting regulations are national. We should give it a try and see if Republicans are willing to put their money where their mouths are.
¹As an example, photo ID laws are one of the worst examples of Republicans trying to suppress the votes of groups that vote Democratic. And yet, it turns out their effect was minimal. The reason is that once Democrats understood the new rules, they were able to turn that into higher energy among Black and Brown voters to get to the polls. On net, then, photo ID laws worked in both directions and had only the smallest effect on election results.
Texas Congressman Louie Gohemert, who was admonished by FOX Business for promoting anti-Semitic George Soros conspiracy theories to Lou Dobbs, now claims he doesn't know any Republicans who believe in QAnon.
The Capitol police advised Congress of security threats being made from QAnon and other Trump supporters over their latest March 4th conspiracies. Some Qanon types believe March 4 is a magic day in which Trump will somehow be sworn in for a second term.
The claim got under Gohmert's mask.
Why March 4th? Because that was the country’s original Inauguration Day, of course.
Speaking on the House floor, Gohmert said, "We were told 'no,' there is some concern from somebody that the QAnon announced inauguration will be tomorrow (March 4) so we need to get out of town."
Gohmert continued, "Apparently there's somebody that believes --I don't know anybody on our side, but perhaps the Speaker and the Majority Leader are the believers in QAnon. Nobody else here I know of."
Ummmm, Marjorie Taylor Greene?
Trump believes in QAnon.
Michael Flynn believes in QAnon.
Rep. Lauren Boebert believes in QAnon.
QAnon believes in QAnon. In the service of returning Donald Trump to office. Pelosi and Schumer? Not so much.
The list goes QAnon and on and on.
On Jan. 6, 2021, as the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., was under siege from a cast of Qanon characters and predominantly misguided white-wing extremists, images emerged showing a gentleman lounging about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. He posed for photos while sitting in the speaker’s chair, feet up on the desk, and ended the adventure by stealing a piece of Pelosi’s mail. Richard Barnett of Gravette, Arknasas, even took a nice portrait photo, bare chest exposed (for some reason), in front of the Capitol building, holding up the piece of mail he had stolen from Speaker Pelosi’s office. Barnett reportedly even left a note for Pelosi that read “Nancy, Bigo was here, you B****." “Bigo” is his nickname.
Barnett was quickly identified and arrested. His initial defense was that he wandered into Pelosi’s office because he had been looking for a bathroom. Not unlike many other well-documented insurgents, Barnett’s No. 1 argument is that he didn’t physically knock down the doors of the Capitol—he just walked right on in. The 60-year-old Barnett was hit with three charges: Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority; Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct on Capitol Grounds; and Theft of Public Money; Property, or Records. Initially, an Arkansas judge approved Barnett’s release into the custody of his girlfriend—a person who had admitted to aiding and abetting Barnett on his return from D.C. This was quickly reversed by Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell, who chastised Barnett in court and ordered him jailed until another hearing.
A couple of weeks later, a grand jury indicted Barnett on five additional charges, including Obstruction of an official proceeding; Aiding and abetting; Entering and remaining in a certain room in the Capitol building; Disorderly/Disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; and Parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building. So how are things going now for Mr. Barnett—I mean, “Bigo?”
The House stayed in late Wednesday to wrap up a critical week's of work: passing H.R. 1, the sweeping voting and democracy reforms, and a expansive overhaul of American policing, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The House was shuttered Thursday, a result of the threat of violence against the Capitol bubbling up from those forces that, in part, make the legislation necessary: those with fascist and white supremacist instincts to impose their will over the majority, and particularly citizens of color, by keeping them out of the polls and under constant threat from law enforcement.
It's really hard to wrap one's mind around how hapless House Republicans are, not to mention the astounding failure in leadership Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy represents.
To review: McCarthy ran down to Mar-a-Lago to kiss Trump's ring and publicly enlist his help in retaking the House majority, while also failing to extract any promises from Trump not to target sitting members of their caucus. In other words, the GOP incumbents who voted to convict Donald Trump—at least a handful of whom hail from moderate/swingy districts—are on their own. Seven of the 10 Republicans who voted to convict have already attracted primary challengers.
Now some House Republicans are revisiting the fact that McCarthy sold out his caucus, and they apparently regret the error. Control of the House could literally come down to a handful of seats, and Trump's vendetta tour is putting roughly that many House Republicans at risk of losing their primaries and therefore their districts to more reasonable Democratic challengers in the general election. In Trump's first major rally since Democrats took control of the White House, Trump outlined a hit list of sorts—reading the names of every single congressional Republican who found him guilty of inciting an insurrection.
The Two Real Reasons the House Cancelled Today’s Session, Which Was An Understandable, But Really Bad Idea
Earlier this morning Anne Laurie highlighted that the House of Representatives would be taking today off because of a threat assessment, based on intelligence collected from social media and other sources, that some group of right wing violent domestic extremists – white supremacists, neo-NAZIs, armed and illegal paramilitary groups (aka “militias” and “patriot” groups), and/or other anti-government extremists – working off of a historically bonkers QAnon drop that is itself rooted in sovereign citizen (anti-government extremist) bullshit that 4 March is the real inauguration day and that since today is 4 March, Donald J. Trump is going to be inaugurated for his second term today. And that to celebrate, these anti-American violent domestic extremists were planning on attacking the Capitol again to kill as many members of Congress as possible. Or as members of the Bundy family call it: Thursday.
Just a few minutes ago, not realizing that he’d fallen for my nefariously cunning plan to turn him into my warm up routine, Mistermix asked the following question:
My second question is why the Capital is not ringed with soldiers, why every member and staffer doesn’t have an armed escort, and why some kind of armored vehicles aren’t patrolling streets around the building so the House can meet today? (The Senate is in session, which makes little sense if you’re closing the House for a threat.) Is not capitulating to terrorists reserved for foreign terrorists only?
There are two reasons that the House decided to cancel, even though the Capitol is nominally open for business given the pandemic protocols and the US Senate – the world’s greatest deliberative country club – is in session. Both reasons are different types of insider threats. An insider threat is defined as:
An insider threat is any person with authorized access to any U.S. Government resources, including personnel, facilities, information, equipment, networks, or systems, who uses that access either wittingly or unwittingly to do harm to the security of the U.S.
This threat can include damage to the U.S. through espionage, terrorism, unauthorized disclosure of national security information, or through the loss or degradation of government, company, contract or program information, resources or capabilities.
The first of these insider threats is from within the Capitol Police specifically and Federal law enforcement in general. Right now there are six officers from the Capitol Police Department that are suspended and another twenty-nine who are under investigation as part of the ongoing investigations into the 6 January insurrection at the Capitol. As a result, there is a very real worry that members of the Capitol Police may be sympathetic to these violent domestic extremists or, even worse, actually subjectively or objectively affiliated with them. It was reported yesterday that a DEA agent from LA has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation into his activities during the insurrection at the Capitol on 6 January. There is a credible threat of both specific insider threats within the Capitol Police Department and a general concern that there may be additional insider threats within and throughout other Federal law enforcement agencies. This means that those who work in the Capitol – from elected members of both chambers to their staffs to the committee staffs to the staff that just keep the building running for everyone else – may be at risk from those who are supposed to be protecting them.
The second insider threat is from members of the House Republican Caucus and/or members of their staff. Within hours of the attack on the Capitol, Democratic members of the House, led by Congresswoman Mikie Sherill, alleged that Republican members of the House and/or their staff gave reconnaissance tours to the insurrectionists in the days leading up to the attack. Congressman Tim Ryan, who chairs the sub-committee with oversight over the Capitol complex itself, indicated last week that this question is now under active investigation by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Colombia:
Ryan also told reporters the issue of “reconnaissance tours” given by members of Congress to alleged rioters before the attack was now “in the hands of the U.S. attorney here in D.C.”
He said they were “reviewing the footage.”
In this case the concern is that there are members of the House of Representatives, specifically the House Republican caucus, or members of their staffs who aided and abetted the insurrectionists in planning and facilitating the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol on 6 January. One of the reasons that this investigation has to be done by reviewing footage and not reviewing visitor log details is because there are no visitor logs right now as the Capitol is closed to visitors under the pandemic control protocols that have been put into place. Ordinarily everyone who enters for one of these member or member’s staff given tours has to provide a significant amount of personally identifying information (PII) that would be logged into the system and cross referenced against who was escorting them, for what purposes, and the day, date, and time of entry and departure. That information isn’t available for this investigation because none of the members or their staffs are supposed to be giving tours, which makes it a perfect time to aide and abet surveillance ahead of a domestic terrorist attack by taking advantage of the normal record keeping process being suspended.
Given these two potential and suspected insider threats, it is perfectly understandable why the House would go into recess for the week a day early. It is also a terrible decision for all that it makes perfect sense. Every time one or more of these specific domestic extremists, domestic extremist group, or the members of the Republican House or Senate caucus who have decided to either represent them or indulge them in the hopes of electoral success (Senator Micro Rubio is definitely in the latter category), make a threat and get a response to them that is a rewards for making a threat, they win. Moreover, they learn that making a threat or actually carrying out a threat – stalking, harassing, and verbally assaulting members of the House or Senate, attacking the Capitol or a member’s office back in their districts and states, doing the same thing at the state and municipal levels, etc – they receive reinforcement not just for their revanchist, reactionary anti-American, and anti-constitutional beliefs, but for the actions they take to make those beliefs real. The more rewards and reinforcement they receive, the more they will engage in these behaviors and others will be inspired and motivated to adopt these beliefs and behaviors for themselves.
And that is why this moment is very different and uniquely dangerous compared to previous moments of hyper-polarization in US politics. Normally we would all want to try to make a distinction, painting with a very fine brush if you will, between those who hold ideologically extreme views, but work within the existing political system and processes to achieve their goals and those who hold those same views, but advocate and undertake the use of violence to achieve the same goals. We would want to do this because by channeling even those with ideologically extreme views through the existing political system and process it keeps them both in touch with those that don’t hold their views, exposes them to counter-arguments, and uses the system to temper their extremism by using the systems and processes to prevent their extremist beliefs from becoming extremist outcomes. This moment is unique, however, because that is both not possible and because the system is not working to do that. Hawley, Cruz, Cotton, Lee, Johnson, Grassley, McConnell, Graham, Tuberville, and almost thirty other Republicans in the Senate and Greene, Boebert, Cawthorne, Gaetz, Jordan, McCarthy, Scalise, and almost 140 other Republicans in the House have all made it explicitly clear that if the existing political system and processes won’t produce the outcomes that they prefer, that they are perfectly happy to subvert them and if that doesn’t work destroy them to achieve their objectives. Moreover, they are using the threats of and actual violence and terrorism by the violent domestic extremists to justify their actions and achieve their objectives. This is not one or two ideological fellow travelers that happened to just get elected and are not able to accomplish much. This is an insider threat from within the Republican House and Senate caucuses that make up a majority of the GOP caucus in the House and between a third and half of the Republican caucus in the Senate.
These two insider threats are the answer to MisterMix’s question.
For five years Donald Trump used the most offensive language and nasty attacks on his political rivals or anyone that disagreed with him either during press events, interviews, and on social media.
Republicans stayed silent.
The GOP snowflakes in government and right-wing media seized up in spasms of whinery.
Greg Abbott said, "It's not the type of word a president should be using."
Yes, Abbott (Not with Costello) actually said that.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves claimed he had a PTSD attack from Biden's word, reliving the "trauma" from when Hillary Clinton called some crazy republicans "deplorables."
"Today I feel the same way as I did the day Hillary Clinton called all of us in middle America deplorables."
And to cap it off, on Fox and Friends, Missouri's seditious Senator Josh Hawley was flummoxed and attacked Biden for not being "Mr. Unity," and getting out to middle-America more.
Pres. Biden just came back from Texas offering millions of dollars of federal aid, but whateves.
Wednesday was a big day in the U.S. House of Representatives, with legislators reintroducing two major legalization bills that stand to affect millions. The first, the Dream and Promise Act, affects Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders. The second, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, provides a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers and their families.
Both bills were previously introduced by the House, and passed with bipartisan votes. The Dream and Promise Act received seven Republican votes to pass 237 to 187, while the Farm Workforce Modernization Act passed by an even wider margin of 260 to 165. It was the first time the chamber had passed such protections in many years. Yet, like countless other progressive pieces of legislation, the bills were stalled by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Following his demotion, advocates say now is the time to act.
Rachel Maddow didn't sugarcoat it Wednesday night. Elaine Chao misused her office as Trump's alleged "Transportation Secretary" from the beginning, appearing regularly to promote her father's business while in office. Drain the swamp? Not in the Transportation Department!
The House stayed in session late Wednesday to wrap up a critical week of work: passing H.R. 1, the sweeping voting and democracy reforms, and an expansive overhaul of American policing, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The House was shuttered Thursday, a result of the threat of violence against the Capitol bubbling up from those forces that, in part, make the legislation necessary: those with fascist and white supremacist instincts to impose their will over the majority, and particularly citizens of color, by keeping them out of the polls and under constant threat from law enforcement.
Each bill would restart the crucial work of racial justice, providing real and transformative changes to federal elections by ensuring equal access to the voting booth and federal representation, and in policing by creating national standards for law enforcement and constraints on the use of force, including the kind of force police used in killing George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Each bill faces the ridiculous hurdle of a Democratic majority in the Senate that could fail to pass them because of what former President Barack Obama calls a "Jim Crow relic," the filibuster.
Over at the Washington Post, Philip Bump confirms a suspicion of mine. Fox News has been going absolutely ballistic over the "canceling" of Dr. Seuss books but hasn't shown the actual offensive images themselves:
The Washington Post isn’t showing the images for obvious reasons, but they can be seen elsewhere. But you know who else has avoided showing the images? Fox News.
Instead, the network’s coverage is heavy on B-roll footage in which cameras pan across Seuss titles seen on bookstore shelves....None of the books shown there are among the ones which the Seuss estate has pulled from publication.
The reason for this is obvious. Here, for example, is one of the images:
This is so obviously offensive by today's standards that even the whitest Fox News viewer would cringe at seeing it. And that would ruin their whole schtick. If Fox viewers realized that the images in question actually were offensive, and not just the fever dreams of some lefty social justice warriors, they'd realize that Fox was duping them.
So no pictures for Fox! Much better to simply rail endlessly and let their audience assume that this is just some ridiculous liberal freakout over nothing. That's much better for ratings.
Jan. 6 hearings show the process was awful, intelligence sucked, and Christopher Miller must testify
In days of testimony before Senate and House committees, three names have come up repeatedly. One of those is former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller. It was Miller who issued explicit, and unprecedented instructions to the D.C. National Guard which not only limited their equipment, but made it more difficult for them to be deployed in an emergency.
The second is former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy. Even when the Guard had been supposedly approved for deployment, McCarthy appears to have stepped in to demand details of how they would be used, even as Capitol Police and Metro D.C. Police were waging desperate efforts to protect Congress and push back protestors. Both McCarthy and previous Sec. of Defense Mark Esper appear to have worked closely with the National Guard during earlier protests, but on Jan. 6, McCarthy’s primary role appears to have been delaying the arrival of Guard forces for hours.