In the news today: The Biden-Harris administration faced pushback from activists on more than one front. COVID-19 continued to surge, and Republican politicians continued to say and do some of the worst things imaginable about it. Republicans also maintained their commitment to standing in the way of policy that would strengthen the economic recovery.

Here’s some of what you may have missed.

● Republicans say agreement on infrastructure is close. Except for transit. And broadband. And stealing COVID funds.

● Imagine the worst thing that could happen to anyone, then imagine Republicans laughing about it.

● ‘We reminded her of the urgency of this moment’: Immigrants meet with Harris following DACA ruling.

● Biden draws sharp response from activists, leaders he’s telling to work harder on voting rights.

● Evictions, loss of unemployment aid threaten millions while COVID-19 resurges.

Community spotlight: 

The Daily Bucket – gulls & seal pup season

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Asking “do you know who I am?” is never a great tactic when you’re pulled over by the cops—especially when hardly anyone knows who you are. It’s one thing if you’re Mel Gibson and antisemitism basically oozes from your pores. Cops know who you are, and they expect bad behavior from your sodden arse. They may not expect you to brand a new kids’ cereal while you’re off on your tirade, but the general outlines are pretty well drawn beforehand. 

Not so if you’re a nondescript state legislator from Montana. If you’re that cat, you may just want to take your lumps when you’re caught going 33 mph over the posted speed limit. And whatever you do, you shouldn’t pull out a copy of the Montana Constitution to “prove” that you’re somehow cleared to recklessly murder people on the highway.

Montana state Senate President Pro Tempore Jason Ellsworth, a Republican, has been charged with obstruction of a peace officer after he was pulled over doing 88 mph in a construction zone, where the speed limit was 55.

State Sen. Jason EllsworthThe charges, filed in May, were only recently reported. After he was stopped, Ellsworth reportedly showed his legislative ID to the state trooper and said he was on his way to a legislative council meeting scheduled for the next morning.

According to the The Montana Free Press:

The charging document says the officer returned to her vehicle to run a check on Ellsworth’s vehicle, which had plates issued from a car dealership, and print him a warning for excessive speed. As described in the complaint, Ellsworth then got out of his vehicle and approached the officer’s car against the trooper’s instructions, and was “mumbling something that could not be understood.”

Indicating that he had pulled up the Montana Constitution on his phone, Ellsworth then told the officer that he needed to be released, citing a provision that exempts legislators from arrest “during attendance at sessions of the Legislature and in going to and returning therefrom.”

The 67th Legislature adjourned April 29, roughly a month before Ellsworth was pulled over.

The charging document alleges that Ellsworth then claimed he would call Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who oversees the Montana Highway Patrol via the state Department of Justice.

“If you want me to call the attorney general …“ Ellsworth allegedly began.

“Go ahead and call him,” the trooper replied. “Back to your car now.”

“I would be happy to,” continued Ellsworth, according to the document. “I suggest you call your boss.”

For the record, Ellsworth appears to realize he fucked up. A statement issued by state Senate Republicans was appropriately conciliatory: “Senator Ellsworth respects and appreciates that the trooper and the county attorney are public servants who are doing their jobs with this traffic citation. He looks forward to resolving the matter and continuing to serve his constituents.”

Meanwhile, Knudsen told The Free Press, “The Senator’s behavior was inappropriate. The trooper’s handling of the situation is a testament to the professionalism of the Montana Highway Patrol.”

Of course, Ellsworth isn’t the first well-connected fucknut to run afoul of the law. 

In May 2018, New Mexico State Rep. Monica Youngblood, another Republican, was pulled over for a suspected DUI. The following exchange ensued, as reported by Daily Kos’ own Jessica Sutherland:

Youngblood: “I literally fight for you guys every time I get the chance.”

Montaño: ”That doesn’t make it okay to drink and drive.”

Youngblood: ”I fight for you guys every time I get the chance. Seriously. So many people tell me you guys treat people like shit and I didn’t believe it.”

Montaño: ”I’m not treating you poorly at all.”

Youngblood “It’s funny because you guys treat people of color [Youngblood is Hispanic] like shit and I always stand up for you guys…I always stick up for you guys…I say ‘you know what? They wouldn’t be treated like shit if there wasn’t a reason.’”

Then there’s the curious case of Marsha Blackburn, the esteemed Republican U.S. senator from the official national COVID-19 and measles sanctuary of Tennessee. According to a March CNN story, Blackburn’s car was pulled over by Capitol Police earlier this year while she was bolting the Capitol building to get a head start on the weekend:

Leo Kowalski, an aide to Blackburn, told his friends that after being pulled over, the senator “hopped out, flashed her pin, hopped back in the car [and] said ‘drive!'”

“Officer didn’t say a word, just shook his head,” the aide said in a text message, which was reviewed by CNN.

One source familiar with the account told CNN that Blackburn identified herself as a senator and was allowed to leave. The source added it’s unclear whether the responding officer made that call or was directed to let her go by a superior.

Hmm, must be nice.

Oh, and no doubt you’ve heard of this guy. Matt Gaetz sure as shit has:

Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg asked a Lake Mary Police officer for “professional courtesy” because he is an elected official as he tried to talk his way out of a ticket after he was pulled over for speeding Tuesday.

“I’m baffled that the professional courtesy is not being extended to at least issue a warning in something like this,” Greenberg can be heard on a police video telling a Lake Mary officer after he was issued a citation for traveling 39 mph in a 25 mph zone. “If there’s any way on earth — I’m just trying to stay off the front page of the damn newspaper: ‘Tax collector gets ticket.’ This is the kind of political crap I have to deal with.”

And as we now all know, Greenberg did a flawless job of keeping his name off the front page of the damn newspaper. 

This is never a good look for anyone, and, sadly, Democrats are not immune to this kind of behavior. But it is amusing. And in an era when Republicans are being flat-out reckless day after day after day, it can’t help their cause.

Sure, Montana is redder than Donald Trump’s eternally chafed, reality-denying ass, but the optics on this kind of thing are still bad—both in Montana and in the saner redoubts of our venerable republic.

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Just $12.96 for the pack of 4! Or if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

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The pandemic is far from over. Across the country, hospitals are filling up again, but not without a common trend. With more than 90% of COVID-19 related deaths amongst unvaccinated people, unvaccinated individuals are making up the majority of patients in hospitals. While some are begging for vaccines when it’s too late, others still refuse to despite getting COVID-19 and recovering.

Misinformation about the vaccine and conspiracy theories are running so deep that despite barely surviving the coronavirus, some people believe the vaccine holds a greater threat. These people in hospitals waiting to be discharged not only are putting their own lives constantly in danger but that of others as they spread their misinformation too.

“Here I am recovering getting out of here finally tomorrow… am I gonna get a vaccine? No, because there’s too many issues with these vaccines,” Scott Rowe, a man who was hospitalized after getting COVID-19 told CBS News.

I don’t even have words for this pic.twitter.com/vrCnrfhnfb— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) July 22, 2021

When asked if he would have taken the vaccine prior to being infected if he could to avoid his situation, Roe said no. “Don’t shove it down my throat,” Rowe said, speaking of the vaccine. “That’s what local, state, and federal administration was trying to do.”

“What are they shoving, the science?” the reporter asked.

“No, they’re shoving the fact that it’s their agenda!” he replied. “Their agenda is to get you vaccinated.”

But Rowe isn’t alone. Many others nationwide share the same sentiments about the vaccine. Myths of how the vaccine was made and not needing to be vaccinated because of already having COVID-19 are included in the long list of false information being spread on and offline. The truth is just because you have already been infected by COVID-19 does not give you immunity from getting it again. Other myths include the vaccine hurting one’s fertility, a myth that has no evidence and has been debunked by multiple doctors.

“None of our ICU patients has been vaccinated,” Dr. Ken Lyn-Kew, a pulmonologist in the critical care department at Denver’s National Jewish Health told NBC News. While the CDC recommends people get vaccinated despite whether or not they have previously been infected by coronavirus, Lyn-Kew told NBC News that many patients opt not to be vaccinated because of previous illness, whether or not they were ever tested for COVID-19 “They thought they were sick from COVID but they weren’t. And they have the mindset of, ‘Oh, I don’t need to get vaccinated because of that,'” Lyn-Kew said. “They’re gravely mistaken.”

GOP officials and Republicans haven’t done much to combat these issues. Despite calls for individuals and officials to combat the spread of misinformation and encourage vaccines, many Republican officials have instead encouraged and spread the very conspiracy theories that have led to an increase in infection nationwide.

Additionally, data has found that while Democratic lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have a 100% vaccination rate against COVID-19, Republicans in the House and Senate do not. For Republicans, at least 44.8% of House members are vaccinated and at least 92% of senators are, CNN reported.

“All 219 House Democrats have reported being vaccinated. Among the Republican conference, 95 of the 212 members (44.8%) have said they are vaccinated.” 👉🏻 https://t.co/Uxp6Bsg7F1 https://t.co/vj7avRgeCl— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) July 22, 2021

Many Republicans have reinforced the myths associated with the vaccine including fears of not knowing the side effects and claims that they do not have any benefit or provide any protection from coronavirus infection.

According to CNN, both clinical trial and real-life data find that mRNA vaccines are more than 95% effective at preventing severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalizations, and death.

As multiple variants spread nationwide, being vaccinated now is more important than ever. According to CNN, as of mid-July, less than 60% of eligible Americans ages 12 and up have been fully vaccinated. More than 97% of people now entering the hospital with COVID-19 have not been vaccinated, this includes children and young adults, many of which were previously considered healthy.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 vaccines helped plummet the more than 125,000 average number of COVID-19 patients that were coming in early January to just over 15,000 on average this week.

Breakthrough infections are not what is driving this current surge—unvaccinated people are. It’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated and data backs up that the overwhelming majority of sick patients in recent months have not been vaccinated. Yes, breakthrough infections occur in those who are vaccinated but they are rare. Additionally, studies have found that when they do occur, the person is less likely to be fully vaccinated or is immunocompromised in a way that the vaccine did not take full effect.

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The new message on COVID-19, as the delta variant spreads, is that this is now “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Presumably this message—coming from the Biden administration (I’m definitely looking at you and your Twitter feed, White House chief of staff Ron Klain), the CDC, and the media—is intended to convince people to get vaccinated. Whether it works, I don’t know. But, speaking as the vaccinated parent of a child too young to be vaccinated, it’s an infuriating message.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky did use the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” message to encourage people to get vaccinated because children under 12 can’t be. But most of the people emphasizing “get vaccinated or you might die” aren’t talking about that as anything more than an afterthought. And under Walensky, the CDC’s policy pretends that kids are not an issue. Get vaccinated because it will slow the spread of the coronavirus and kids will be less likely to be exposed. But other precautions that might protect children? Nah.

Vaccinated people can go maskless just about anywhere but health care facilities and public transit. Unvaccinated people are politely asked to wear masks indoors, but no one is checking who’s vaccinated. And if there’s one thing we know about many unvaccinated people, it’s their intense concern for public health. The CDC is gently suggesting that a group of people significantly overlapping with the ones who spent the past year-plus screeching about how masks are tyranny should, on the honor system, probably wear masks. 

We know children under 12 aren’t vaccinated. So if you want one small measure of how many people are ignoring the feckless plea that the unvaccinated wear masks indoors, go to your nearest grocery store and look for a kid under 12 who isn’t wearing a mask. Go ahead. I’ll give you 10 minutes, but you probably won’t need it. And the parents of all those kids are right there, apparently fine with the situation.

A pandemic of the unvaccinated? Our kids are the unvaccinated. 

Oh, but we’re told it’s okay, because kids don’t get too sick from COVID-19. Nothing to worry about! Never mind that we don’t know how the delta variant—or the variant after that—might be different in children. Never mind the 87% increase in COVID-19 diagnoses among children under 12 in Florida last week. Never mind the 22 children hospitalized in Alabama or the 11 in one Kansas City hospital. The numbers aren’t huge … yet. We don’t know where they’re going. And we’re talking about our kids. Our kids who have lived significant fractions of their lives during this pandemic and now, just as it seemed like they might get back to their lives, face virus rates rising again and a whole new set of worries about transmission to deal with, while the FDA broadcasts an intention to slow-walk emergency use authorization for vaccines for children under 12.

My kid probably won’t die or have long-term effects if he gets COVID-19. He doesn’t have underlying conditions, he’ll have great medical care. He’ll probably be fine. How am I supposed to respond to that? Great? Fab? Yee-f’ing-haw? There’s an entire industry out there dedicated to convincing parents that kids are a total non-issue rather than convincing people in power to set guidelines that will protect children to begin with, and every single person in that industry can fuck all the way off.

What’s enraging is that the “your kid will probably be fine” message isn’t coming with a “but we’re doing everything we can to protect everyone” addendum. It’s coming as the excuse for not doing anything to protect kids. Or seriously immunocompromised people for whom vaccines don’t confer the full level of protection. This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, folks! Vaccination is the answer to everything, no need to do anything else! While the people who have chosen not to be vaccinated draw a lot of reporting, and varying levels of judgment, our fury should be reserved for the people in positions of power who are making this a question of personal responsibility rather than public policy. For the institutions that could say our public health is contingent on something other than an honor system placed largely in the hands of the dishonorable. We need our leaders to do better.

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Late Night Snark: Jim Jordan & Other Pathogens Edition

“Among the unvaccinated in the United States, covid cases are once again on the rise, due to the highly-infectious ‘Delta variant.’ The rising cases are being fueled by vaccine hesitancy, which itself is being fueled by a dangerous pathogen scientists are calling the Republican party.”
—Stephen Colbert

“[Trump cultist Jim Jordan] literally plotted at the White House with the president about how January 6th would go to overthrow the election result and keep Trump in power. And so the Republicans picked him to be on the committee investigating what happened on January 6th. It’s like if you wanted to investigate the rise in obesity and you appointed ten cheeseburgers and a blooming onion as your contribution to the commission of inquiry.”
—Rachel Maddow, after Speaker Pelosi removed Jordan from the Jan. 6 committee

Continued…

You are now below the fold. Watch for flying javelins.

“A new poll found that 66 percent of Americans approve of President Biden’s handling of the coronavirus. The other 34 percent like the way things used to be, back when we had to Clorox-wipe our bananas.”
—Jimmy Fallon

“Joe Biden has been president for six whole months, and he hasn’t told us to drink bleach once. That’s progress!”
—Jimmy Kimmel Live guest host Anthony Anderson

BREAKING: The Pulitzer Committee has decided to bestow a special Courage in Journalism Award to Sean Hannity for his statement that “COVID is bad, actually”— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) July 20, 2021

“Twitter is currently testing a thumbs-down button option. Kyrsten Sinema must be excited.”
—Samantha Bee

“According to a new book, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley was worried that former president Trump would try to incite a coup after losing the 2020 election. We really need to come up with a better early-warning system than tell-all books. ‘We’re in danger! Quick—get me a typewriter!'”
—Seth Meyers

One thing I miss about my nightly show is occasionally I’d make an offhand joke about laxatives and the next day I’d receive 2 cases of Dulcolax. Hear that, Dulcolax?
—Conan O’Brien on Twitter

And now, our feature presentation…

Cheers and Jeers for Friday, July 23, 2021

Note: If you need a bracket, take a bracket.  If you have a bracket, leave a bracket.  { ] [[}]   {

By the Numbers:

12 days!!!Days ’til Barack Obama’s 60th birthday: 12

Days ’til the Scranton Jazz Festival in Pennsylvania: 14

Number of people, mostly summer vacationers, packing U.S. airports per day now: 2 million

Percent of Trump cultists polled by CBS News who say they believe voter fraud was widespread in 2020 because of “their own observations”: 58%

Rank of the Black, Hispanic, and White community, respectively, among communities the Trump cultists blame for “a lot” of the voter fraud they claim took place (but which did not): #1, #2, #3

Age of Florence Rigney when she retired in Tacoma as America’s oldest nurse this week after 70 years on the job: 96

Number of subscribers Netflix lost in the second quarter, according to CNN: 433,000

Puppy Pic of the Day: Weekend plans…

CHEERS to a fine start. The 2020 Olympics, which were postponed a year due to the scourge of COVID-19 that was swirling around Tokyo, kicked off this morning amid the scourge of COVID-19 that’s swirling around Tokyo. Basketballer Sue Bird and Eddy Alvarez (baseball) led the 200-member American delegation as flag bearers. For the uninitiated, here’s a brief history of host country Japan:

It all started when Godzilla used his giant head to push up the Karaoke Mountains and form the country of Japan. For awhile the Ninjas and the Shoguns ruled over the Pikachus and the Mothras, but they got overthrown by Tojo who started World War II by doing Pearl Harbor. But Ronald Reagan unleashed his aircraft carriers at Midway and that’s when Japan decided they were better at consumer electronics. Today, Japan is an economic powerhouse populated by very nice people who, thanks to the Fukushima Daiichi accident caused by Joe Biden and the Demonrats, now glow in the dark. The Japanese didn’t start the coronavirus hoax—that was China and Dr. Fauci (but not Martin Luther King Jr. or Cesar Chavez because they never existed in the first place). But out of an abundance of caution they should just stay over there until we figure out what the hell is going on. Also: they do origami and feed goldfish.

We’d like to thank the Texas School Board for providing us with that insightful lesson using their latest set of legislature-approved facts. C&J plans to watch some highlights as my eyeballs happen to catch them. But for the record, we refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the Olympic Games until they bring back the original format from Athens circa 776 BC, and make the athletes compete in the nude. God bless tradition.

CHEERS to thumbs-up from the nerds in the green eyeshades. Always nice to hear that the bean counters who rule our world think the Democrats are onto something excellent. In this case, Moodys Analytics kicked the tires of the $4.1 trillion in proposed infrastructure/education/health care spending measures (bipartisan bill + reconciliation bill) and found them to be quite solid:

The report, penned by Moody’s Chief Economist Mark Zandi, says that…[if the bipartisan bill passes,] by 2023 inflation-adjusted economic growth would be 0.6 percentage point higher, with 650,000 new jobs created by mid-decade.

If Congress can’t pass anything, this is Plan B.If lawmakers follow up with the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package under discussion, any negative growth effects in 2022 would be canceled out and real economic growth could be nearly 1 percentage point higher, Moody’s said. [B]y mid-decade enactment of the reconciliation package could create as many as 2 million jobs and cut the unemployment rate by 0.5 percentage point.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer urged lawmakers to read the analysis. […] “The report by Moody’s should light a fire under all of us.”

“Thanks for reminding me,” said Senator Josh Hawley as he scribbled “Bring Flamethrowers To Next Insurrection” on his to-do list.

CHEERS to defying expectations. Thirty-one years ago this week, President George Bush—the relatively normal George Bush—announced that David Souter was his pick to replace liberal-leaning justice William Brennan on the U.S. Supreme Court:

Bush, who appeared nervous at the outset of the press conference, insisted he had not applied a “litmus test” of how Souter ruled in previous cases.

One of the good guys.

The president noted that Souter had been considered for a previous Supreme Court opening late in the Reagan administration and added, “I have selected a person who will interpret the Constitution and, in my view, not legislate from the bench.”

Souter’s progressive leanings took conservatives—and liberals, frankly—by surprise. (I believe their exact words were, “What the F….??!!”)  But he did exactly what his appointer said he would: rule fairly and un-legislatively. We hope the 81-year-old is enjoying his long and happy retirement in New Hampshire cracking walnuts with his gavel.  If anyone’s earned it, he has. (You, too, Justice Breyer.)

BRIEF SANITY BREAK

This guy builds LEGO kinetic sculptures that will blow your mind. Check out the kinetic sculptures by YouTuber JK Brickworks @jasonallemann pic.twitter.com/fOwy9H3rfJ— Tech Burrito (@TechAmazing) July 21, 2021

END BRIEF SANITY BREAK

CHEERS to a good man to have on Lincoln’s team.  On July 23, 1885, Ulysses S. Grant, the larger-than-life general who helped beat back the Trump crowd’s traitorous ancestors by winning the Civil War (even though he fainted at the sight of blood—really) and then went on to spend a rocky, cronies-run-amok eight years in the White House, died in Mount McGregor, N.Y. at 63.  Today we appreciate him for this nugget from the book Rating the Presidents: 

He kept his own religious values and practice to himself.

In the larger view for the country, he believed in a strict separation of church and state, stating in his seventh annual message to Congress:

In terms of appearance, our 18th president was straight out of central casting.”As this will be the last annual message which I shall have the honor of transmitting to Congress before my successor is chosen, I will repeat or recapitulate the questions which I deem of vital importance which may be legislated upon and settled at this session. […]

Declare church and state forever separate and distinct, but each free within their proper spheres; and that all church property shall bear its own proportion of taxation.”

Go pay your respects here.  But don’t leave him any cigars—they’re what killed him.  Perhaps toss up a nice salad.

CHEERS to home vegetation. Weekend TV starts tonight (right about now, actually) with an encore of the opening ceremony for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics on NBC, and they’ll be the go-to network for coverage the next two weeks.

The most popular home videos, new and old, are all reviewed here at Rotten Tomatoes. The MLB schedule is here. (We’re now in that sliver of time in which the NBA, NHL, and NFL are off, and baseball’s the only game in town.)  On 60 Minutes: encores of stories on Prince and a Utah family with nine professional cowboys. And that’s about it—quiet weekend. Now here’s your Sunday morning lineup:

Meet the Press: TBA

Sunday on ABC, Speaker Pelosi tries to put into words the thrill of booting Jim Jordan from the Jan. 6 committee. This Week: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Sen. Rob Portman (Cult-OH); a pundit roundtable so pitiful it makes me pine for Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson and George Will. 

Face the Nation: Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo; Kansas City, MO Mayor Quinton Lucas; former Surgeon General Jerome Adams; former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb; Carol Leonnig & Philip Rucker, authors of I Alone Can Fix It.

CNN’s State of the Union: Doc Fauci; Sen. Pat Toomey (Cult-PA); Gov. Asa Hutchinson (Cult-AR).

Fox GOP Talking Points Sunday: Sens. Tim Scott (Cult-SC) and Mark Warner (D-VA).

Happy viewing!

Ten years ago in C&J: July 23, 2011

CHEERS to havin’ a healthy (enough) headbone. Wow—I’ve never seen the words “Michele Bachmann” and “clean bill” in the same vicinity before, but I guess there’s a first time for everything. Responding to a smear job by The Daily Caller, she got a note from “The Attending Physician” of the House, saying that her migraine headaches won’t stop her from governing because they’re so sporadic. They only strike when she thinks.

And just one more…

And than strangle the little sucker until it flops over and turns blue.CHEERS to happy pruning.  Some people say exercise is the best thing to clear your head. Some say yoga, others say a wee toke of the wacky tobacky, while a handful find peace by short-sheeting the beds at nursing homes.  It’s actually spending a lazy weekend hour or two in the garden pulling weeds. Here’s how to do it in the most satisfying way: 1) Grab the base of the little bastard. 2) Give it a gentle yet persistent tug and wait for that little “Rrrrrrip!” sound that lets you know you’ve eliminated the menace by the roots.  3) Hold it up and say, “You’re gone, McCarthy!  As for you, Jordan, Gohmert, Boebert, Taylor-Greene, Gaetz and the rest…you’re next.”  4) Laugh maniacally.  5) Acknowledge the spontaneous applause coming from the neighbors’ yards.  6) If you have more weeds than there are idiot House morons, move on to idiot senators, governors and Fox News hosts.  Have fun!

Oh, and there’s a full “buck” moon tonight, so get yer butt out in the back yard, look up, think of Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, and give it a wink. Floor’s open…What are you cheering and jeering about today?

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Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, California Rep. Judy Chu, Black-led organizations, and public health experts this week continued their calls urging the Biden administration to restore the asylum system by ending the scientifically unsound public health order used by two administrations now to quickly deport thousands of people seeking safety. 

Title 42, implemented by the prior administration under pressure from noted white supremacist Stephen Miller and kept in place by the Biden administration, has inflicted disproportionate harm on Black asylum-seekers, including children. The need to end this policy is all the more pressing following events in Haiti, advocates said.

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“We stand in solidarity with the Haitian people who are going through tremendous pain,” said Haitian Bridge Alliance Executive Director Guerline Jozef. “Two weeks ago, the Haitian President was assassinated in his home. Understanding the fear and concern the Haitian community at home and in the diaspora are experiencing, we ask for the immediate end to Title 42 to allow migrants, asylum seekers and refugees who are running for their lives to be able to get protection and be able to get safety.”

More than 130 organizations, including Haitian Bridge Alliance, have already called on the Biden administration to protect Haitian immigrants, writing that unjustly deporting asylum-seekers following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse “would be unconscionable and unlawful.” It would also be unconscionable to deport asylum-seekers under a policy implemented under order of a racist and that has no absolutely basis in science. 

“As a practicing physician who tests and treats many patients who are infected with Covid, I know that the Title 42 ban on entry has no basis in science or public health,” Dr. Kate Sugarman said. Dr. Vinu Ilakkuvan of Public Health Awakened said that “[b]locking asylum-based entrance based on false public health claims builds from a long history in this country of scapegoating and targeting immigrant communities during pandemics and other crises by labeling them as carriers of disease.”

Both physicians urged the Biden administration to immediately end the policy, yet it’s reportedly rethinking a plan that would’ve phased out the policy by the end of the summer. “As we’ve said before, Title 42 is a public health authority, and that authority rests with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention],” NBC News reports a White House official said. “We’ll continue to defer to the public health experts on these decisions and don’t have a timeline to preview on specific plans on when Title 42 is no longer needed.”

But public health experts have already stated that. In fact, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials at first refused to back the policy, but then did so under pressure from Miller and former Vice President Mike Pence.

“We must be decisive and unapologetic in our efforts to dismantle racist and discriminatory policies, Title 42 is no exception,” Pressley said. “Yet in the early days of the Biden administration, more Haitians were expelled than during all of fiscal year 2020.” That included deportation flights of children and their families. “We have the responsibility to change course,” Pressley continued. “That’s why in my capacity as co-chair of the House Haiti Caucus I’ve called on DHS Secretary Mayrokas to halt Title 42 expulsions of Haitian asylum seekers.” Chu said, “[t]he continued use of Title 42 is not helping our country fight this virus, and even worse, it’s actively hurting thousands of families, especially Black families.”

A number of Republican officials have despicably tried to blame migrants at the southern border for COVID-19 cases, but “newly-released data from one of the largest migrant shelters in South Texas not only conclusively disproves that claims, but also shows that 90% of migrants have voluntarily gotten a vaccine,” immigration policy expert Aaron Reichlin-Melnick recently said. By comparison, just 42% of Texans have been vaccinated, The Texas Tribune reported.

“President Biden has said time and again that his administration would be guided by science, yet medical experts have consistently rejected the idea that Title 42 is necessary to protect public health,” Oxfam America official Noah Gottschalk told NBC News. “Vaccines are readily available and effective against new variants of Covid. The country is opening back up. So, too, should our borders be open for people seeking asylum.”

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As Daily Kos has covered for much of 2021, Republicans are attacking trans folks from all sides, including, disturbingly, trans youth. We’ve seen a flurry of anti-trans legislation on the state level that targets trans girls who want to play and compete in school sports teams. While some legislation has sizzled out, other measures to keep trans girls out of sports have actually already been signed into law. These laws vary a bit state by state but generally ban trans girls from participating on the girls’ sports team if it’s a public school (or a school that competes with a public school) and ranges from kindergarten through the university level. No matter how it varies, though, they all have one big thing in common: discrimination.

In a glimmer of hope, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday that West Virginia must temporarily halt enforcement of a new anti-trans law that bans trans girls and women from competing in public school sports. The plaintiff, 11-year-old Becky Pepper-Jackson, an openly trans athlete who wants to play track and field, is allowed to try out for the girls’ team as of now, as reported by CNN. 

“I am excited to know that I will be able to try out for the girls’ cross-country team and follow in the running shoes of my family,” Pepper-Jackson said in a press release. She added that it “hurt” that the state would “try to block me from pursuing my dreams.” Becky’s bravery brings to mind another openly trans young person, 10-year-old Kai Shappley, who bravely spoke at the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs. Both girls are inspirations—and they also both shouldn’t have to worry about what adults are doing. And they especially shouldn’t have to be exposed to hate, exclusion, and discrimination when they’re literally trying to enjoy their childhoods.

U.S. Circuit Judge Joseph R. Goodwin halted enforcement of the law, which was signed by Republican Gov. Jim Justice in April, by issuing a temporary injunction, which is why Pepper-Jackson will be allowed to try out for and participate in the girls’ team at least as long as the case is ongoing in the legal system. Goodwin wrote in part, “Forcing a girl to compete on the boys’ team when there is a girls’ team available would cause her unnecessary distress and stigma.”

“I have been provided scant evidence that this law addresses any problem at all,” Goodwin wrote in part in his 15-page order. “Let alone an important problem.” He added that “When the government distinguishes between different groups of people, those distinctions must be supported by compelling reasons.”

Goodwin also brought up the point that allowing Pepper-Jackson to participate on the girls’ team was not taking an opportunity from any other girl, including cisgender girls. Pepper-Jackson, he wrote, “is the only transgender student at her school interested in school-sponsored athletics. Therefore, I cannot find that permitting B.P.J. to participate on the girls’ cross country and track teams would significantly, if at all, prevent other girls from participating.”

As some context, the principal of Bridgeport Middle School (where Pepper-Jackson will be attending school) initially told her parents the law would stop her from participating in the girls’ team this year, as the ban took effect as of July 1.

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Cooley LLP filed the lawsuit challenging the anti-trans ban on behalf of Pepper-Jackson. The suit was filed against the Harrison County Board of Education and Harrison County Superintendent Dora Stutler, as well as the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, state schools Superintendent Clayton Burch, and, lastly, the state Board of Education. 

“It is our hope that courts recognize and address discrimination when they see it,” Avatara Smith-Carrington of Lambda Legal said in a statement. “And nowhere is it more visible than in these stark attacks against trans youth.”

As of now, Montana, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, and Mississippi have signed anti-trans sports bills into law this year alone. 

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Any Republican who wants to be taken seriously these days knows where they have to be on specific issues. They have to support the Big Lie. They have to stand tough against the idea that the government should play any role in protecting citizens. And they need to make a lot of very, very bad predictions.

As HuffPost reminds us, Ted Cruz paused from complaining about Democratic governors trying to keep people alive, and made a bold call about what America would see in the near future. “If it ends up that Biden wins in November—I hope he doesn’t, I don’t think he will—but if he does, I guarantee you the week after the election, suddenly all those Democratic governors, all those Democratic mayors will say everything’s magically better.”

So, that may look bad. But really, puts Cruz soundly in the party of TFG who said:

“It will go away.” (3/6/2020)
“It’s going to go away.” (3/12/2020)
“It will go away, and we’re going to have a great victory.” (3/30/2020)
“It’s going to go away, hopefully at the end of the month. And, if not, hopefully it will be soon after that.” (3/31/2020)
“I didn’t say a date. I said ‘it’s going away,’ and it is going away.” (4/5/2020)
“It’ll go away—at some point, it’ll go away.” (5/15/2020)
“I will be right eventually. I said, ‘It’s going to disappear.’ I’ll say it again.” (4/19/2020)
“It’s going to go away.” (8/30/2020)
“It’s going to disappear; it is disappearing.” (10/10/2020)
“It is going away; it’s rounding the turn.” (10/24/2020)
Funny thing about those dates. It seems like after the election, someone really did stop talking about COVID-19. It was the guy who never cared. 

Cruz wasn’t the only one making the prediction that COVID-19 would suddenly fade from view after the election. As Forbes reported back in May 2020, Eric Trump had already made the claim that “After November 3 coronavirus will magically all of a sudden go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen.” Which almost makes it seem like Eric might have been miserable about predicting the virus, but pretty good in seeing how Nov. 3 was going to turn out. 

And of course, himself also said “Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid. A plane goes down. Five hundred people dead, they don’t talk about it. Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid. By the way, on November 4, you won’t hear about it anymore,” Which almost makes it seem like TFG also knew what … but no, surely not.

That claim that the virus would magically vanish after the election was another way of downplaying the pandemic and passing the whole thing off as a kind of fraud. What the right was maintaining was that the whole reaction to COVID-19 was exaggerated simply to sway voters in the election. It wasn’t a theory that made sense—but it’s not as if anything on the right has to meet high standards. However, it was a prediction that cost lives.

As the Idaho Statesmen notes, some people were foolish enough to take Republicans seriously. “Before I came down with the virus, I was one of those jackasses who thought the virus would disappear the day after the election. I was one of those conspiracy theorists,” said a 63-year-old man from Boise. Instead, he now gets a lifetime of requiring supplemental oxygen after COVID-19 caused long-term damage.

What may be most amazing is that Republicans are still at it. Not only did Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis laugh off a doctor who warned that COVID-19 was likely to make a comeback over the summer, he followed it up by claiming that cases would “just go down” without any need for masks, social distancing, or any action on his part.

But wait. Let’s go back to Cruz and see what else he had to say. “You won’t even have to wait for Biden to be sworn in, said Cruz. “All they’ll need is Election Day and suddenly their willingness to just destroy people’s lives and livelihoods, they will have accomplished their task.”

It’s true that people’s lives and livelihoods are being destroyed. Somewhere over 900,000 Americans have lost their lives to the pandemic. Millions more have been made seriously ill, some with conditions that may last for the rest of their lives. That cost to the economy, and to society, is really immeasurable.

But the cost to Ted Cruz, or any other Republican, for downplaying the pandemic, sneering at attempts to save lives, and insisting that this was all just a political pandemic? Nothing at all.

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Back in 2013, Marco Rubio coauthored the comprehensive immigration reform package passed the U.S. Senate by a 68-32 vote. That same year, in an apparent effort to show his commitment to passing a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s undocumented communities, Rubio publicly revealed a voicemail left by his mom, begging him to do right by immigrants. “It’s a good effort, an important effort,” Rubio told Time. 

The Marco Rubio of today is virtually unrecognizable. In statement after statement, the Florida senator throws ice cold water on ongoing legislative efforts by Democrats to pass permanent relief for the undocumented immigrant communities he’s failed to protect. In one comment, Rubio calls protecting young undocumented immigrants, temporary status holders, and farmworkers “one of the worst things they could do right now.”

“Marco Rubio just said a citizenship bill granting a path to citizenship for immigrants is ‘one of the worst things’ we could do,” tweeted Florida advocate Thomas Kennedy. Marco in fact goes through a mishmash of word salad and unfounded excuses to try to explain why he won’t do his job. “@marcorubio is leaving DACA recipients, TPS holders, and essential workers at risk of deportation,” Kennedy continues. “Rubio is a bad person and needs to be voted out.”

Rubio further told CNN that the reconciliation pathway that Democrats are seeking is “a terrible way to do business.” Keep in mind that the reconciliation route now on the table is on the table only because Senate Republicans have refused to engage in good faith efforts with Democrats. There’s now no more time to waste following a federal judge’s ruling against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, following a Republican-led lawsuit. So maybe blame yourself there, buddy.

Marco Rubio just said a citizenship bill granting a path to citizenship for immigrants is “one of the worst things” we could do. @marcorubio is leaving DACA recipients, TPS holders, and essential workers at risk of deportation. Rubio is a bad person and needs to be voted out. pic.twitter.com/iiFemjEpjg— Thomas Kennedy (@tomaskenn) July 22, 2021

Rubio also writes in a National Review op-ed (I won’t link to that site, but you can read some of the text from Marco’s Senate page here) where he calls legalization for DACA recipients, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and farmworkers “backdoor amnesty” that Democrats are “trying to sneak” into the reconciliation budget package. I’m pretty sure no one’s sneaking anything? I mean, can it really be sneaking when both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have very publicly endorsed the reconciliation process? And when this process is a legitimate Senate procedure?

But wait, there’s even more from Marco. “Democrats are attempting to remake our nation wholesale,” he continues in that op-ed, coming dangerously close to echoing that white supremacist “replacement theory” bullshit. And what I just said there is one of those things that would cause Marco to launch into one of his trademark indignant speeches, of course ignoring his support for a former president who notoriously called that very white crowd of people chanting “you will not replace us” some “very fine people.” 

Here is @marcorubio running away like a coward after being rushed to his car trying to avoid DACA recipients, TPS holders, and essential immigrant workers who wanted to speak to him at his $5,000 a ticket fundraiser because he refuses to support a path to citizenship for them. pic.twitter.com/5hW7JcG8Vk— Thomas Kennedy (@tomaskenn) July 23, 2021

Kennedy and fellow immigrant rights advocates gathered outside what they said was a $5,000 a plate fundraiser for Rubio on Friday, “to call him out for refusing to support immigrants asking for a path to citizenship.” But Kennedy tweeted that “[b]ecause they aren’t wealthy donors, Rubio refused to speak with these folks.” In video Friday, Kennedy says that Rubio was quickly driven off to avoid speaking with immigrants who’ve long needed him to act.

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