Weekend Open Thread
[guest post by Dana]
First news item
Criminal probe opens after Secret Service deletes text messages:
The Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog has opened a criminal investigation into the destruction of Secret Service phone text messages related to the days around the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The Secret Service was informed of the investigation Wednesday night by the office of the Inspector General of DHS, which said the probe is now criminal and that the agency had been ordered to stop internal investigations into the deleted text messages, NBC reported.
Second news item
House passes contraception bill with eight Republicans voting yes:
The House on Thursday passed legislation that would protect access to birth control, the latest move in a broader effort by Democrats to enshrine into federal law rights they fear could come under threat by the Supreme Court following its decision to wipe away the constitutional right to an abortion.
The vote was 228-195, with eight Republicans joining every Democrat in voting in favor. All 195 “no” votes came from Republicans.
Ultimately, if Democrats had been smart about it, the bill would have been deftly worded with a goal of securing Republican votes rather than alienating them with what is typically seen as inflammatory rhetoric:
Third news item
They knew what Chappelle was about when they booked him. To cancel him and his sold-out show at the last minute because the internet pitched a fit is just stupid. But hey, if they want to bump his popularity, have at it:
Hours before Dave Chappelle was set to hit the stage in Minneapolis, the venue canceled the sold-out show.
First Avenue, well known as the venue featured in Prince’s 1984 film “Purple Rain,” declined to host Chappelle’s comedy show after backlash over comments in some of his previous Netflix specials that have been criticized as transphobic.
“The Dave Chappelle show tonight at First Avenue has been canceled and is moving to the Varsity Theater,” First Avenue writes in a post on its verified Instagram account.
“To staff, artists, and our community, we hear you and we are sorry,” the statement reads. “We know we must hold ourselves to the highest standards, and we know we let you down. We are not just a black box with people in it, and we understand that First Ave is not just a room, but meaningful beyond our walls.”
“The First Avenue team and you have worked hard to make our venues the safest spaces in the country, and we will continue with that mission. *We believe in diverse voices and the freedom of artistic expression, but in honoring that, we lost sight of the impact this would have. We know there are some who will not agree with this decision; you are welcome to send feedback.”
*Except when we don’t.
Fourth news item
For 187 minutes, then-President Trump chose to do nothing to stop the siege at the Capitol because he wanted it to happen:
Despite desperate pleas from aides, allies, a Republican congressional leader and even his family, Donald Trump refused to call off the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol, instead “pouring gasoline on the fire” by aggressively tweeting his false claims of a stolen election and celebrating his crowd of supporters as “very special,” the House investigating committee showed Thursday night.
The next day, he declared anew, “I don’t want to say the election is over.” That was in a previously unaired outtake of an address to the nation he was to give, shown at the prime-time hearing of the committee.
The panel documented how for some 187 minutes, from the time Trump left a rally stage sending his supporters to the Capitol to the time he ultimately appeared in the Rose Garden video that day, nothing could compel the defeated president to act. Instead, he watched the violence unfold on TV.
“President Trump didn’t fail to act,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a fellow Republican but frequent Trump critic who flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. “He chose not to act.”
We should have known by his reaction the next day that he was never going to say the election is over:
“I don’t want to say the election’s over,” Donald Trump said in outtakes of a video filmed the day after the riot that were played during the Jan. 6 committee hearing. https://t.co/EYamsSnMJk pic.twitter.com/Dqu57fWi8G
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 22, 2022
Fifth news item
Well, this could be very problematic:
Former President Trump’s top allies are preparing to radically reshape the federal government if he is re-elected, purging potentially thousands of civil servants and filling career posts with loyalists to him and his “America First” ideology, people involved in the discussions tell Axios.
The impact could go well beyond typical conservative targets such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service. Trump allies are working on plans that would potentially strip layers at the Justice Department — including the FBI, and reaching into national security, intelligence, the State Department and the Pentagon, sources close to the former president say.
The heart of the plan is derived from an executive order known as “Schedule F,” developed and refined in secret over most of the second half of Trump’s term and launched 13 days before the 2020 election.
The reporting for this series draws on extensive interviews over a period of more than three months with more than two dozen people close to the former president, and others who have firsthand knowledge of the work underway to prepare for a potential second term…
Sixth news item
Gov. Newsom shifts his attention from Florida to Texas, or as it’s commonly known – campaigning for 2024:
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is running full-page ads in Texas newspapers Friday trolling Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to highlight a new California gun law modeled on the Lone Star State’s restrictive abortion law.
The ads, first shared with NBC News, will run in the Austin American-Statesman, Houston Chronicle and El Paso Times. They modify an Abbott quote about the state’s abortion ban and promote “California’s answer to Texas’ perverse bill.”
“If Texas can ban abortion and endanger lives, California can ban deadly weapons of war and save lives. If Governor Abbott truly wants to protect the right to life, we urge him to follow California’s lead,” the ad reads.
Sventh news item
The increase in the quality of Ukrainian weapons is also coinciding with the decrease in the quality of the Russian weapons. The Ukrainian military has operationalized its new HIMARS—and the trajectory (pun intended) of the conversation in the United States suggests that more will arrive soon. The Pentagon’s announced the shipment of four more earlier this week. Congress is about to approve a program to train Ukrainian pilots on F-15 and F-16 jets. Though the appropriation of this money will likely not come until next year, it will give the administration Congressional purchase—and push—for the transfer of military aircraft to Ukraine, which the administration could do at any time.
On the other side of the front lines, the American and allied export controls on the transfer of military and dual-use goods prevent Russia from producing more advanced weapons, and the Ukrainian are proving adept at blowing up the ones the Russians are currently operating. As a consequence of the Ukrainian’s facility at blowing up high-tech Russian weapons, the Russian military is recycling old weapons like T-62 tanks, which were introduced before the Cuban Missile Crisis and deployed with embarrassing results by Iraq during the Persian Gulf War and Russia during the Russo-Georgian War.
Eighth news item
President Biden willing to tick off progressive wing to help fight violent crime. Very low polling numbers will do that:
President Joe Biden plans to propose a steep funding increase for police, hoping to show that Democrats are serious about combating violent crime, despite the move potentially causing backlash from top members of his party’s left flank.
But a scheduled trip to Pennsylvania to ask Congress to spend roughly $37 billion for fighting and preventing crime was canceled Thursday when Biden tested positive for COVID-19.
His proposal is set to include $13 billion to help communities hire and train 100,000 police officers over five years…
As part of Biden’s plans, $3 billion would be geared toward clearing court backlogs and resolving cases involving murders and guns. The president also wants to use $15 billion to create a grant program that would fund ideas for preventing violent crime or creating a public health response to nonviolence incidents, aimed at reducing the burden on law enforcement.
Another $5 billion would support programs intended to stop violence before it occurs.
Ninth news item
Are Democrats making a strategic mistake?:
Democrats . . . have developed a party-wide strategy aimed at tagging Republican candidates in close elections as “MAGA Republicans,” a phrase they have poll-tested as off-putting for swing voters. In recent weeks, they have argued that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the nationwide right to abortion, the continued GOP resistance to some gun regulations despite mass shootings and the ongoing investigation into the Capitol riot all show a broader extremism across the Republican Party.
Here’s the problem: to the extent that you want to isolate “MAGA” and make the identification with Donald Trump as politically toxic now as it was in 2018, you really should focus on the things that are uniquely Trumpy: January 6, “Stop the Steal,” support for Trump 2024, Trump’s general personal outrageousness and transgressiveness, the worst flavors of Trumpism.
Democrats being Democrats, however, they cannot resist instead defining “MAGA” (or, in Joe Biden’s beloved phrase, “ultra MAGA”) as people who stand for the stuff Republicans always promised on policy, such as firm opposition to abortion and strong protection for gun rights. Identifying those things with MAGA only strengthens Trump and his MAGA brand within the Republican Party while diluting the Trump-specific turnoffs that helped Democrats take the House and several governorships in the last midterm cycle. Is that what Democratic strategists want?
Tenth news item
Lit the fuse, and ran away from the explosion. https://t.co/5VM23UGMC3
— Adam Kinzinger🇺🇦🇺🇸✌️ (@AdamKinzinger) July 22, 2022
Have a great weekend!