Warnock and Walker are polling neck and neck. A runoff vote is looking more and more likely

If you’ve ever heard Georgia Republican senate candidate Herschel Walker speak, it’s difficult to understand how he and Sen. Raphael Warnock are running nearly neck and neck in the polls. Between the tsunami of lies uncovered about Walker’s past to his completely incoherent theories about COVID-19, climate change, and evolution, he’s the GOP’s man in Georgia and a football legend, so he’s staying in the game.

Georgia is not a blue state—not yet anyway—and this year’s midterm will certainly feel like a 2020 Groundhog Day if Warnock can’t clear the 50% mark in November. In Georgia, a candidate must get a majority vote. Otherwise, the top two nominees must head into a special election runoff—the exact same situation that happened in 2020 in the senate race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican David Perdue. 

Democrats are, once again, in a battle for control of the Senate. Sukari Johnson, chair of Clayton County Democratic Party, tells Politico. “Nobody wants a runoff… Because it’s very difficult for people to come back out, and at that point, you’re spending time and money to get people to come back out. And nobody wants to do that after November.”

RELATED STORY: New political ad in Georgia attacks Gov. Brian Kemp as ‘right for segregationists’

As Politico reports, another fly in the ointment is Libertarian Chase Oliver, who is taking a few much-needed points from both Warnock and Walker. According to FiveThirtyEight, Warnock is polling at 47.2%, with Walker at 44.2%.

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich told Politico he believes Warnock could win, but only if the campaign “is a small race, and it’s just down to two personalities.” But, he adds, if it’s a “big race,” then “it comes down to Warnock’s being part of 9% inflation and the highest price gas in history, and you can go down the list, then I think Warnock loses.”

As we reported last week, the Trump-endorsed Walker finally agreed to debate Warnock after months of hemming and hawing. And only after Walker’s camp ran a 30-second ad calling for Walker to “stop dodging” and “commit to debates.”

If Herschel Walker is so ready to debate, why hasn’t he agreed to any? pic.twitter.com/SxU65WHBbu

— Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) July 25, 2022

Understandable that Walker would be terrified to face the incumbent senator and senior pastor at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and be forced to defend how his COVID-19 spray works or why he hid from the public and his own campaign staff that he’d fathered three children. Or how he said he’d graduated from college but didn’t. Or certainly why he said he’d co-founded a veterans organization when he didn’t. Not to mention his history of domestic violence.

NEW ad running in Georgia from Republican Accountability PAC. This is the real Herschel Walker. pic.twitter.com/vErPuvOqNw

— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) August 8, 2022

Dodging debates is nothing new for Georgia’s cowardly Republican nominees. Walker refused to debate during the primaries in May, and in 2018, Gov. Brian Kemp refused a final debate with Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams.

According to The Black Wall Street Times, Walker is polling unfavorably among Georgia’s Black voters. Results found that 80% of Black voters plan to vote for Warnock. Walker has continually refused to accept the results of that poll.

In a statement sent to Politico, Quentin Fulks, Warnock’s campaign manager, said, “There are going to be polls in all directions over the course of this campaign. Here’s what we know: this race will be close, which is why we can’t take anything for granted and are working hard every day to reelect Reverend Warnock.”

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Minnesota secretary of state candidate questioned whether disabled people ‘should be voting’

The Republican Party’s plan to find all the worst people in America and run them for office just keeps on going. This time it’s Kim Crockett, who has a good shot at becoming the party’s nominee for Minnesota secretary of state on Tuesday. Crockett wants to be in charge of Minnesota elections. Crockett has some extremely peculiar ideas about which Americans even ought to be allowed to vote to begin with.

In a 2020 radio interview resurfaced by The Huffington Post, Crockett mused on a state Supreme Court ruling allowing voters to ask for help in casting their vote if they have a disability or don’t feel confident in their ability to read English. And by “mused,” we mean:

GOP candidate for Minnesota secretary of state Kim Crockett, who would be the state’s chief election officer, says that people requiring assistance because they do not speak English or are disabled “raises the question: Should they be voting?” pic.twitter.com/hoCKBBXq1e

— Heartland Signal (@HeartlandSignal) August 5, 2022

“So, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that indeed you can help an unlimited number of people vote if they are disabled or can’t read or speak English, which raises the question, should they be voting? We can talk about that another time.”

Ohhh yes, I think we will. Crockett is now furiously (and very dubiously) backtracking, but her question was a straightforward one. If you don’t speak English or if you can’t, say, physically make it up the steps outside your assigned voting location, “should they be voting?”

Well, neither of those things is a requirement for being an American citizen, so unless we’re going to start classifying wheelchair use or poor vision or dyslexia or not speaking English as a felony, those people do get to vote. It’s not, uh, controversial. Unless you’re a Nazi, of course.

This is the sort of eugenics-adjacent ick that most people wouldn’t think to even say in private, much less on the radio, but saying such things on the radio is how your state Republican Party decides they want to endorse you as their candidate for office. But Crockett has much more on her resume. She’s a promoter of election conspiracy hoaxes, which is why she was grousing about the state Supreme Court letting disabled people vote to begin with. She’s anti-immigrant, which is why she was grousing about the “can’t speak English” part.

HuffPost notes a 2019 New York Times story quoting Crockett as saying America was “at the breaking point,” in terms of immigration, because “These aren’t people coming from Norway, let’s put it that way. These people are very visible.” She’s also a promoter of antisemitic rhetoric, thinks Biden’s win was “illegitimate,” and is in general just an absolute garbage fire of a human being.

Again: She won the Minnesota Republican Party’s endorsement just last May, as Republican state parties become functionally indistinguishable from early Naziism. Is suggesting that disabled people shouldn’t vote or presenting, to the party convention, a video depicting the Jewish incumbent of the office you’re running for is a “puppet” of George Soros—is that the “Minnesota nice” we keep hearing about?

Or just the burps of midwest fascists?

There is a whole lot of extremely-adjacent-to-Nazism rhetoric coming out of state Republican candidates this cycle, and it’s stuff that the party would be extremely unlikely to stomach a decade ago. That’s ancient history. This time around, high-profile Republican candidates are using rhetoric plucked right from Klan rallies.

FL congressional candidate Laura Loomer tonight says schools “are being infiltrated by godless communists and marxists trying to indoctrinate your children with LBGTQ degeneracy and anti-God, anti-white propaganda.” pic.twitter.com/INnikL0oIW

— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) August 7, 2022

Yeeeesh. And in the meantime, fascist cells promoting the notion that democracy itself must take a back seat to hard-right goals are getting gauzy profiles from a press still unwilling to pick sides between fascism and not-fascism.

Republican campaigners are no longer self-filtering. They’ll tell you exactly what they think, and they think that whole segments of Americans shouldn’t be voting and that “Marxists” are infiltrating schools to promote “LGBTQ degeneracy.” These people are not good. These people are hateful, bigoted, racist, paranoid, cruel, paranoid, compulsively lying, paranoid, and paranoid people. This is a whole party that’s made a game of finding the people in America most willing to work themselves up into an absolutely batshit froth, then put Republicanism’s official backing behind the lot of them.

I don’t know how you find someone like Kim Crockett. That takes some doing. I’m also stunned the Republican Party found her before Fox News signed her to host her own evening show.

Daily Kos has endorsed Democrat Steve Simon in this race. Donate to his campaign and other Democratic secretary of state candidates now to stop Republican attempts to subvert our elections from the inside.

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‘You don’t deserve a light sentence:’ All three sentences handed down in Ahmaud Arbery murder

The white father-son duo already sentenced to life in prison in the death of Ahmaud Arbery were handed down additional life sentences on Monday for federal hate-crime convictions in Arbery’s death. Former prosecutorial investigator Gregory McMichael got life plus seven years, and his son Travis, who fired the gun who killed Arbery, got life plus 10 years, according to WSB Radio. William “Roddie” Bryan, who filmed moments of the murder and helped the McMichaels corner Arbery, was also sentenced in federal court to more than 37 years in prison. With time-served being counted toward his sentence, it translates to 35 more years in prison. That’s in addition to the life sentence Bryan was handed down in the state case against him.

“By the time you’ve served your federal sentence, you will be close to 90 years old, but Mr. Ahmaud Arbery never got the chance to be 26,” U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood reportedly told Bryan. “You didn’t brandish a gun; you preserved what ended up being the crucial video of the trial.”

RELATED STORY: Men who gunned down and killed Ahmaud Arbery sentenced to life in prison

Wood also told Bryan he was “not a model of citizenship even after this happened,” but the one thing that he did “was explain you had that crucial evidence.”

“The sentence is lengthy and one that has been earned,” the judge told Bryan.

Her ruling means Bryan, a white man, is the only murderer who could be eligible for parole. Wood, however, said the sentence she delivered him isn’t a light sentence “because you don’t deserve a light sentence.”

Gregory and Travis armed themselves with guns, got into a truck, and chased 25-year-old Arbery on Feb. 23, 2020 through the Satilla Shores neighborhood in South Georgia after accusing Arbery of breaking into a home under construction in the community, according to a federal indictment.  Bryan used his truck to block Arbery’s path. 

Assistant U.S. District Attorney Tara Lyons said Bryan’s perceptions of Black people “absolutely influenced his decisions on the day he chased Ahmaud Arbery.”

“This never, ever, ever would’ve happened if Ahmaud had been white,” Lyons said and WSB Radio journalist Veronica Waters captured.

RELATED STORY: ‘I wish they’d all die’: Trial for Arbery exposes vile racism and it’s not the only ‘despicable’ one

Bryan did take an opportunity to speak during the sentencing and apologized to Arbery’s family and friends, Waters reported.

“I would like to say to Mr. Ahmaud Arbery’s family and friends how sorry I am for what happened to him on that day,” Bryan said. “I never intended any harm to him, and never would’ve played any role if I knew then what I know now.” 

Roddie Bryan atty Pete Theodocion is doing his best to distance Bryan from the McMichaels and their “special breed of racial animosity…They knew #AhmaudArbery had done nothing wrong; they both made sure to grab firearms. These are not small differences in defendants” @wsbradio

— Veronica Waters (@MissVWaters) August 8, 2022

Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud’s father, scoffed at the killers asking for mercy and said “it was hard to look at” the three murderers “everyday as a father.”

“And they show no remorse for how they took his life,” Marcus Arbery said. “That’s the thing that really bothers me real bad, and then they ask for mercy. They didn’t give him no mercy that day.”

Arbery was shot with a shotgun three times, twice in the chest and once in a wrist, according to autopsy results.

“They didn’t even give him a chance to finish his run,” Marcus Arbery said.

Marcus Arbery reacts to the sentencing of Travis McMichael, who received a second life sentence for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. “They show no remorse for how they took his life… And then they ask for mercy. They didn’t give him no mercy that day.” pic.twitter.com/bfCkiz0TwE

— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 8, 2022

The McMichaels must serve their sentences in state prison—a request Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones advocated for when the McMichaels pleaded guilty to the federal count against them in February— according to WSB Radio. “Granting these men their preferred conditions of confinement will defeat me,” Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told Wood at the time. “It gives them one last chance to spit in my face after murdering my son.”

Amy Lee Copeland, Travis McMichael’s attorney, said in federal court that his client already has received hundreds of threats and a state prison would mean “an effective back-door death penalty.”

Cooper-Jones said during a news conference that whether he served in federal or state prison, it wasn’t going to bring Ahmaud home, “and that’s a pain that we live with everyday.”

She said she’s proud to say “we finally got justice for Ahmaud on the federal level” but that she was waiting for “just a simple I’m sorry” from Travis.

“But evidently he wasn’t sorry,” the mother said.

Cooper-Jones also mentioned the fact that although her son’s murderers were sentenced, the alleged corruption that shielded them from accountability for months has not been addressed fully.

It took 74 days after Arbery’s death for charges to be filed against the McMichaels. Former Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson was indicted on counts of obstruction and violating her oath of office. Johnson, the applicable prosecutor at the time, recused herself from the case because Gregory McMichael used to work as an investigator in her office, but she also involved Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Barnhill to act in her place. His son worked in the same office. Barnhill wrote in his eventual recusal letter that the Arbery family “are not strangers to the local criminal justice system,” according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“So the journey is not over,” Cooper-Jones said. “We still have some more people to deal with.”

RELATED STORIES:

Three white men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery found guilty of hate crime and kidnapping charges

‘I wish they’d all die’: Trial for Arbery exposes vile racism and it’s not the only ‘despicable’ one

Same day jury seated, disgusting remarks unearthed in federal trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers

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McConnell says people being forced to have children don’t deserve any more financial help

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), to his very minimal credit, wants to ensure that some of the people being forced to have children get some financial support from the government, albeit minimal. He has a few Republican takers, a very few. And absolutely no support from leadership. According to Sen. Mitch McConnell, people are being coddled enough already.

“There are actually a lot of resources for expecting and new Moms, including Medicaid and S-CHIP for health care, maternal nutrition and child care programs,” McConnell spokesman Scott Sloofman told The Washington Post. “What we shouldn’t do is expand massive government stimulus programs which would exacerbate the runaway inflation that is crushing Kentucky’s working families.”

Get that? Kentucky’s working families don’t need any more help for those children Republicans are forcing them to have. Because all those programs exist, despite repeated efforts by Republicans to end them.

Donate now to protect abortion rights in Kentucky.

One of the main reasons people have been having abortions since, well, forever, is economic. Having a child upends work, education, ability to care for other family members, and just costs a lot of money. 

That’s one reason why a group of 154 distinguished economists and researchers filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the United States in advance of the Mississippi case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, where the court overturned Roe and ended federal protection of abortion rights.

  • That’s what passes for family-friendly among the death cult Republicans, the ones including Romney and Rubio who just voted against making insulin affordable for people with private insurance. 

Some Republicans kind of get it. Along with Romney, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has been thinking about helping working families. “We have a history of laissez faire economic policies in the Republican Party,” he told the Post. “But there are things that are important for the well-being of our country, and one of them is the strength of our families.” Rubio has one proposal that’s blatantly anti-abortion for that, allowing pregnant people to claim a child tax credit for an unborn child—that’s essentially an outgrowth of the “personhood” movement giving a fetus rights at least equal to that of the person carrying it. He also has what he calls a “pro-work” child tax credit proposal, meaning the help would come with a work requirement.

You would think last week’s lesson on abortion rights from Kansas  might make McConnell rethink his stance on abortion rights and all of the politics around it. You’d think wrong.

“Republicans have a major, major problem right now with women, exacerbated by abortion but made a lot worse by their refusal to balance that liability with support for any kind of family benefits,” Democratic pollster Celinda Lake told the Post. “That could really make them pay a price in the fall, particularly with women, but there’s no evidence they’re going to change.”

Thanks to the voters in Kansas, they’re not going to be able to avoid that discussion this fall.

RELATED STORIES:

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‘That’s what dictators do’: Book claims Trump fumed over how his generals weren’t like Hitler’s

Former President Donald Trump was reportedly frustrated because his generals weren’t “like the German generals in World War II” and they had failed to offer him total fealty like those Nazi soldiers who served Adolph Hitler, according to a new book about Trump’s time in the White House. 

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

In a new book by New York Times reporters Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, The Divider: Trump in the White House, the former president and his frequently tense relationship with his generals were detailed alongside other troublesome insights into his scandal-ridden term.

The New Yorker published an excerpt from the book on Monday that recounted the aforementioned exchange where Trump exposed not just his own ignorance of world history and American history, but also a position utterly divorced from the nation’s historic positions against bald fascism and authoritarianism. 

“You fucking generals, why can’t you be like the German generals,” Trump told his then-Chief-of Staff John Kelly. (Kelly served from July 2017 until January 2019.) 

Kelly, unsure, asked Trump which generals he meant. 

“The German generals in World War II,” Trump replied. 

Kelly told Trump that Hitler’s generals had actually tried to assassinate the Führer on multiple occasions and were nearly successful but Trump refused to believe him, insisting instead that the Nazi generals were all blindly subservient.

”No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him,” Trump said. 

This, of course, was false. 

The excerpt from Baker and Glasser’s book exposed how tense the relationship became between Trump and his generals, beginning in earnest when he was advised against holding a spectacle-ridden military parade to celebrate the Fourth of July. 

His Cabinet officials were “bewildered” at the notion, with his then-Defense Secretary James Mattis saying “I’d rather swallow acid” when the parade with tanks and ticker tape was proposed. Kelly and Trump had clashed over the proposal for various reasons, but when Trump mentioned not wanting any parade where soldiers with disabilities were visible, Kelly laced into Trump. 

Those who are injured, who had lost limbs or found themselves in wheelchairs for the duration of their lives because of their military services were heroes, he told Trump. 

“In our society, there’s only one group of people who are more heroic than they are—and they are buried over in Arlington,” Kelly reportedly remarked.

His son, Lt. Robert M. Kelly, was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2010 and was interred at Arlington Cemetery. But, according to Baker and Glasser, his chief of staff did not inform Trump of this and instead listened as Trump retorted: “I don’t want them. It doesn’t look good for me.”

When plans for Trump’s Fourth of July parade were later mentioned “sarcastically” during a briefing in the Oval Office with Trump, Kelly, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Paul Selva, a point made to Trump about American principles went soaring over the 45th president’s coiffed head. 

Selva told Trump he did not grow up in America, but instead, grew up in Portugal under a dictatorship. Parades in Portugal were about “showing the people who had the guns.”

“And in this country, we don’t do that. It’s not who we are,” Selva said.

The message still wasn’t penetrating for Trump.

So, he didn’t like the idea of a parade then? Trump asked. Selva, according to Baker and Glasser, told the president quite plainly that he did not. 

“No. It’s what dictators do,” he said. 

The excerpt released in The New Yorker on Monday also offered insights into the often-tenuous experience of Mark Milley. Milley started as the U.S. Army chief of staff and then later served as Trump’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Milley and Trump split ideologically on numerous subjects, including how and when to draw down troops in Afghanistan as well as what position the U.S. military should take towards transgender troops. Trump told Milley he heard he was “weak on transgender,” according to Mattis. Milley insisted he wasn’t weak, he just “didn’t care who sleeps with who.” 

The excerpt published in The New Yorker on Monday offers a glimpse too into Milley’s near-daily struggle trying to reconcile his service to Trump and his greater service to the Constitution.

The episode at Lafayette Square in 2020, when Trump had the park violently cleared of protesters with the help of the National Guard, was a breaking point for Milley.

He made the highly photographed walk with Trump and other officials like former Attorney General Bill Barr and then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper from the White House to the church across the square. But he “peeled off” at the last second, not wanting to be present in the photos where Trump was seen holding a Bible up for a few moments before returning to the White House. Tear gas was still hanging in the air and with it, Milley’s sense that he should resign immediately. 

In a resignation letter he would never send dated June 8, 2020, Milley blasted Trump for “using the military to create fear in the minds of the people.”

“I cannot stand idly by and participate in that attack, verbally or otherwise, on the American people. The American people trust their military and they trust us to protect them against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and our military will do just that. We will not turn our back on the American people,” Milley wrote. 

He also slammed Trump for failing to hold the most basic of American ideals: that all are created equal. 

“All men and women are created equal, no matter who you are, whether you are white or Black, Asian, Indian, no matter the color of your skin, no matter if you’re gay, straight or something in between. It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jew, or choose not to believe. None of that matters. It doesn’t matter what country you came from, what your last name is—what matters is we’re Americans. We’re all Americans. That under these colors of red, white, and blue—the colors that my parents fought for in World War II—means something around the world,” Milley’s draft resignation letter stated. “It’s obvious to me that you don’t think of those colors the same way I do. It’s obvious to me that you don’t hold those values dear and the cause that I serve.”

America has “fought against Nazism, has fought against extremism,” he added, noting that between 1914 and 1945, 150 million people were “slaughtered because of tyrannies and dictatorships.”

Ultimately, though, Milley believed Trump was “doing great and irreparable harm.” He did not tender the letter. Instead, he took advice from others he trusted. His resignation would be a story that would last but a day. If he could withstand the duration, he could help resist Trump’s worst inclinations. 

“Keep the chiefs on board with you and make it clear to the White House that if you go they all go, so that the White House knows this isn’t just about firing Mark Milley. This is about the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff quitting in response,” Robert Gates, a former Defense secretary, told Milley. 

Milley did stay, but it did not prevent Jan. 6. 

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff cooperated with the Jan. 6 committee as it conducted its investigation into the insurrection into the U.S. Capitol and told them, under oath, that he was shocked to learn that day that Trump had failed to send in any backup or support to the Capitol. Police were wildly overrun. Lawmakers, staff, and journalists were forced into hiding. A massive fire had been set on the Capitol steps. A gallows was erected meant to hang then-Vice President Mike Pence. 

“You’re the commander in chief. You’ve got an assault going on at the Capitol. And there’s nothing? No call? Nothing? Zero?” Milley testified. 

In a statement to The New Yorker released Monday, Trump described his generals. 

“These were very untalented people and once I realized it, I did not rely on them, I relied on the real generals and admirals within the system,” he said.

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Senate Democrats remain united to reject GOP effort to continue anti-asylum order indefinitely

Senate Democrats (and Vice President Kamala Harris, with her tie-breaking vote) this past weekend passed “substantive” climate and health care wins as part of a bill that invests billions in clean energy and makes prescription drugs more affordable for senior citizens.

Democratic lawmakers also passed the Inflation Reduction Act without further punishing and demonizing asylum-seekers, as Senate Republicans had sought to do. Among the GOP-led amendments rejected during the weekend was a proposal from James Lankford that would have continued Stephen Miller’s anti-asylum Title 42 order indefinitely. Senate Democrats remained united, defeating it 50-50.

RELATED STORY: Reject anti-immigrant amendments and deliver on Inflation Reduction Act, more than 300 groups urge

“While far from perfect, this bill promises to take major steps towards bolstering the health of our communities and ensuring that future generations will have a more sustainable world to live in,” responded Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). “Importantly, the Senate sent a clear message that hate and xenophobia have no place in our society by voting down every anti-immigrant amendment, including amendments that would have codified the Trump administration’s Title 42 asylum ban.”

NILC and America’s Voice, another pro-immigrant advocacy group, were among the voices singling out for praise Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Sen. Alex Padilla of California. Both had been warning that anti-immigrant amendments risked derailing the entire package.

“In order to maintain the integrity of this historic legislation, I will not only vote no on any immigration amendment introduced, but I will vote no on the final bill if any harmful immigration amendments are adopted,” Menendez had said. “We cannot allow Republicans to divide us and align the Democratic Party with extremist policies that would jeopardize us from delivering historic investments for the American people.”

“Democrats must stay united in preserving the bill, and passing this historic and transformational legislation for the American people,” Padilla urged during an Aug. 5 press call with advocates. Hundreds of organizations, including some on the press call with Padilla, had already been calling on lawmakers to reject any anti-immigrant amendments “that target immigrant communities to distract Americans, score political points, and derail the passage of this critical legislation.”

Roll Call reported that a second vote related to Title 42 came up during the “vote-a-rama” early Sunday that did get support from a number of Democrats, but ultimately failed to receive the 60 votes needed in this instance to proceed.

“Immediately after that vote, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., offered an alternative amendment that would extend Title 42 until 60 days after the public health emergency ends with requirements for the administration to submit a plan to Congress to address a potential influx of migrants,” the report said. “The Tester amendment contained no funding so was subject to a budget point of order, which six Democrats joined all Republicans in voting to waive.”

The five to join Tester were Catherine Cortez Masto, Maggie Hassan, Raphael Warnock, Mark Kelly , and Kyrsten Sinema. Four of these lawmakers—Tester, Hassan, Sinema, and Kelly—had previously supported efforts continuing Title 42. Warnock had not indicated his support for that specific effort at that time, but had expressed belief that Title 42 should not end in May, as the Biden administration had unsuccessfully sought. Cortez Masto, Hassan, Kelly, and Warnock are all up for reelection this November.

“Our community was very worried about the possibility of anti-immigrant amendments being added to this legislation,” said Yareliz Mendez-Zamora, federal campaign lead for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, in a statement received by Daily Kos. “Thankfully, we can rejoice at the fact that the Inflation Reduction Act passed free from harmful amendments.”

“We are relieved that lawmakers saw this opportunity for what it truly was; a bill that will benefit us all by lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, lowering energy costs and making health care affordable,” Mendez-Zamora continued. “This is a historic, breakthrough bill that would help millions of Florida families, native-born and immigrant alike and we are glad it passed the Senate. Now we urge the House to do the same!”

Click here to donate and help protect immigrant youth from deportation.

Want to fight voter suppression? Sign up to volunteer as a poll worker this November with Power the Polls, and they will get you connected.

RELATED STORIES:

 Advocates worry Republicans may derail reconciliation process with anti-immigrant amendments

Groups warn GOP-pushed amendment passed by House committee could ‘irreparably taint’ asylum law

Testimony confirms Title 42 was never about public health, it was about deporting asylum-seekers

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Three Republican senators running for reelection right now voted against affordable insulin

Senate Republicans did it again: They proved how little they actually care about life once it has emerged from the womb by blocking Democrats’ efforts to make insulin affordable for all people with diabetes. Republicans, 43 of them, didn’t just vote against it—they stripped it from the bill entirely.

An estimated 7 million Americans depend on insulin to stay alive, and about 14% of them pay as much as 40% of their income remaining after housing and groceries on the drug. These are the 43 Republicans who want people with private insurance to have to pay as much as $150 and more per month for the lifesaving drug, which costs less than $10 to produce.

These Republicans BLOCKED a $35 cap on insulin. pic.twitter.com/FPsHnaLzQA

— CAP Action (@CAPAction) August 7, 2022

Donate now to give Democrats a true majority in the Senate.

A handful of Republicans did vote with Democrats, including of all people Sen. Josh Hawley, who apparently realizes that his future political ambitions might be hampered just a little bit by this exceedingly petty vote by his colleagues.

The procedure here was a little arcane, as things tend to be with budget reconciliation bills like the Inflation Reduction Act. But it’s the process that allowed the final product to be passed with just Democratic votes. The Senate parliamentarian ruled that while the cap on insulin costs for Medicare could remain in the bill, the cap for private insurance didn’t fit the rules. Democrats left it in anyway, deciding that this was a good bill to challenge. That vote required 60 to pass, and only got 57.

Three Republicans who are up for reelection this year—Marco Rubio of Florida, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and Tim Scott of South Carolina—could have made the difference. They could have voted with Democrats and made sure that insulin was affordable for everyone with insurance. They didn’t, and one of them is already feeling the heat for that. 

Lying Dems and their friends in corporate media are at it again, distorting a Democrat “gotcha” vote. In reality, the Dems wanted to break Senate rules to pass insulin pricing cap instead of going through regular order. They put this in a bill it wasn’t allowed in, all for show.

— Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) August 7, 2022

See, it wasn’t voting against people having access to lifesaving medicine—it was Democrats trying to break the rules. That’s not going to fly with the public as long as Democrats keep up this line of attack.

“Republicans have just gone on the record in favor of expensive insulin,” said Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. “After years of tough talk about taking on insulin makers, Republicans have once against wilted in the face of heat from Big Pharma.” That’s pretty much it, and all Democrats have to say. 

Sign if you agree: Insulin should be free.

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RELATED STORY:  Unified Democrats pass critical climate and healthcare bill in face of Republican blockade

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Jan. 6 committee has received texts from Alex Jones’ phone, sources say

A battery of text messages—some two years’ worth—that right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ lawyer mistakenly let fly in court have now been submitted to the Jan. 6 committee, according to a report first out by CNN on Monday. 

A representative for the committee declined to comment to Daily Kos, but CNN reported that a “person familiar with the matter” confirmed the hand-off from attorney Mark Bankston to the congressional panel.

Bankston represented two parents whose son was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook who sued Jones for defamation. Jones barraged the victims’ families with conspiracy theories and other baseless claims in his InfoWars podcast. Jurors returned a victory for those parents last week.

During trial, Bankston revealed that Jones’ attorney, Andino Reynal, sent the trove of messages inadvertently to him and never properly tried to claw them back. Bankston disclosed to the trial’s presiding judge last week that several law enforcement agencies had reached out to him seeking the texts, including the committee. 

Judge Maya Guerra Gamble said she would not stand in the way of the handover. 

It is unclear if the Justice Department has also received a copy of the texts. A spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment but it is standard procedure for the department to decline any official comment on ongoing investigations.

Jones has been cagey with the select committee. He sat for deposition after receiving a subpoena but proceeded to answer more than 100 questions by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. 

His proximity to extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and his involvement in various activities supporting the “Stop the Steal” movement have been the subject of focus for the Jan. 6 probe. Jones never entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, but he did deliver rousing speeches. He has maintained his innocence. 

Bankston said in court last week that some of the messages on Jones’ phone included “intimate” ones sent between the right-wing bombast and Roger Stone, former President Donald Trump’s fierce ally and associate of extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.

RELATED STORIES:

Alex Jones must pay Sandy Hook victims $45.2 million more in punitive damages

‘Perry Mason’ moment in Alex Jones defamation case turns into potential gold for Jan. 6 probe

Alex Jones sideswiped by exposure of his own texts at Sandy Hook trial

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Lindsey Graham wants states deciding same-sex marriage, dodges questions about interracial marriage

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has strong feelings about same-sex marriage and abortion. He’s defiant that decisions around these personal issues should be up to individual states, and that the U.S. Supreme Court should stay out of it. But when the fiery issue of interracial marriage comes up, Graham is fast to pivot to any other topic.

“I’ve been consistent. I think states should decide the issue of marriage, and states should decide the issue of abortion,” Graham told Dana Bash, host of CNN’s State of the Union, on Sunday. “I have respect for South Carolina. South Carolina voters I trust to define marriage and deal with the issue of abortion. Not nine people on the court. That’s my view.”

Of course Graham trusts South Carolina voters—Republican voters, anyway—to decide on abortion. As The Washington Post reports, the state is angling for a total ban on abortion, starting with a bill making it illegal to give “information [about how to get an abortion] to a pregnant woman, or someone seeking information on behalf of a pregnant woman, by telephone, internet, or any other mode of communication.”

RELATED STORY: State Rep. introduces amendment to anti-abortion bill that would ban erectile dysfunction drugs

When Bash pushed Graham on his views of the states deciding interracial marriage and whether or not the court should overturn Loving v. Virginia as well, Lindsey turned at breakneck speed.

“No, here’s the point. We’re talking about things that are not happening because you don’t want to talk about inflation, you don’t want to talk about crime … This is all politics, my friends. Instead of trying to solve problems like unstable people having guns, we’re talking about constitutional decisions that are still in effect. But if you’re going to ask me to have the federal government take over defining marriage, I’m going to say no,” said Graham in his usual testy tone.

Lindsey Graham on CNN says that “I think states should decide the issue of marriage,” but when Dana Bash asks him if states should also decide whether interracial marriage is legal, he dismisses the question as a distraction from inflation pic.twitter.com/L1rGv6ZGBi

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 7, 2022

Graham has clearly said he plans to vote against the Respect for Marriage Act in the Senate to protect same-sex marriage.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who appeared with Graham on CNN Sunday, told Bash that he thinks same-sex marriage “should be codified because there’s a real danger of it being overturned by the Supreme Court.”

Blumenthal added:

“This Supreme Court has indicated it has a hit list, beginning with marriage equality, contraception, possibly others as well, Loving vs. Virginia. And I think we need to guarantee these rights to assure people that they can marry the person they love.”

Lawmakers have been quickly making plans to create legislation to protect same-sex marriage ever since Justice Clarence Thomas offered that Obergefell should also be “revisited” after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Thomas, who is Black, also mentioned revisiting the court’s decision on interracial marriage despite the fact that his wife is white.

Known for his fiery temper and “get off my lawn” angry scrunched face, Graham was admonished Sunday after he accused Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat from New Hampshire, of being “deceitful” and “dishonest” when she proposed an alternative to his amendment to kill a 16.4-cent-a-barrel tax on oil products imported to the U.S., The Hill reports. Graham was warned by Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, to calm down.

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Michigan Republican attorney general nominee linked to 2021 election security breach

Matthew DePerno is the Republican nominee for attorney general in Michigan. He won that position for one reason and one reason only: He was a fervent promoter of election conspiracy theories in the state, one who filed a doomed lawsuit claiming, without evidence, that Joe Biden’s victory in the state wasn’t valid because something something fraudulent vote counting.

It looks like he’s also a soon-to-be-indicted criminal, because Reuters now reports conclusive evidence that DePerno’s “Antrim County Election Lawsuit and Investigation Team” obtained unauthorized physical access to a Richfield county vote tabulation machine during their “investigation.” That’s a crime. It’s a very significant crime, and Reuters reports that they were able to match a serial number shown in a photograph of a tabulation “summary tape” submitted by DePerno for his lawsuit to a Richfield county machine that had previously been reported as part of an election security breach in that county.

“There’s no doubt in my mind” that the photograph shows DePerno’s team “had physical hands-on access” to the breached machine, an election security specialist told Reuters. We don’t know how that happened, but we do now know that the Richfield county breach, conclusively, is tied to DePerno’s failed “investigation.”

As we have had to explain repeatedly of late despite it seldom coming up in conversation at any point prior to Republicanism’s descent into widespread criminality, gaining unauthorized access to tightly restricted election machines is a big deal with big consequences. In order to prevent tampering, every machine used during the voting process is secured with strict chain-of-custody protocols to ensure nobody other than the machine’s authorized users can so much as touch it. Any machine that falls out of that chain of custody must be taken out of service, because election officials can’t prove it wasn’t tampered with.

That may mean rebuilding the machine from scratch, or it may mean destroying it and buying a new one. Vote tabulation equipment isn’t cheap, and a breach in the security chain can therefore be a budget-breaking screw-up on the part of whatever election official allowed it to happen. That’s why gaining unauthorized access to those machines is a felony: Merely touching them effectively destroys them, even if no tampering was done.

For the rest of us, explanations of election security protocols have long been useful mostly as tools for irritating those around you at parties. That was until the recent election cycle, when Republican officials who believed and promoted the Republican Party’s thoroughly seditious election conspiracies started willingly breaching that security themselves in nationwide attempts to prove that people who were not them had, uh, been doing it first.

So now we’ve got a whole slew of Republican candidates and elected officials being investigated or indicted for giving unauthorized Republican partisans physical access to election machines so that data can be copied or the machines can be disassembled to look for God knows what. Chips with bamboo in them, probably.

It was all based on a hoax promoted by a malignant narcissist who is simply mentally incapable of acknowledging that every individual bad thing that might happen to him is not a worldwide conspiracy to make him look bad, but it quickly descended into a Republican Party crime spree. Well, when your party immunizes a sitting president twice for gobsmacking corruption that would normally have resulted in removing the crook from office, it does tend to send a message to the party’s ground troops. Crime is good now, so long as you do it for Republicanism.

The obvious question now is what level of legal trouble Michigan Republican attorney general nominee Matthew DePerno now finds himself in, and the answer is: a lot. Reuters reports that the current Michigan attorney general’s office, headed by Democrat Dana Nessel, has been investigating the Richfield data breach at the request of the Michigan secretary of state. Now that Reuters has conclusive evidence tying DePerno’s “investigation” of voting machines in Antrim County to a previously unexplained security breach in Richfield County, the attorney general’s investigation now lands squarely on the Republican nominee to take over that investigation.

It seems likely that a special prosecutor will be appointed, rather than having the incumbent Michigan attorney general head an investigation into her own possibly felonious challenger. It also seems likely that this is going to happen very quickly, because we can be certain that if Matthew DePerno actually wins in November, he’ll announce that the investigation into the Richfield County security breach is over and everybody around him is innocent.

What, you think a man willing to commit or assist in felony election systems tampering is going to not commit the further crime of quashing the criminal probe into his own acts if he’s in a position to do so? There’s a guy sitting in the attorney general’s office in Texas who will prove you wrong any day of the week.

RELATED STORIES:

Michigan sheriff who made excuses for Whitmer kidnappers got access to, disassembled vote tabulator

Michigan Republican official pulled into investigation of election machine tampering

Election official, conspiracy theorist busted by grand jury in felony election tampering charges

Trump drafted executive order to seize voting machines so Sidney Powell could decide the election

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