Aaron Blake/WaPo:

The very conspicuous holes in the first big Jan. 6 report

The first report, though, reinforces the limits of what Congress can produce without an agreement on a specialized and powerful commission. It is narrowly tailored toward bureaucratic problems with the response, but even inside of that limited scope, it strains to avoid much of anything amounting to a politically contentious finding. The report also notes that its authors struggled to gain full compliance from the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as from key officials in the House and U.S. Capitol Police.

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The essay of the day is from George Packer/Atlantic:

How America Fractured Into Four Parts

People in the United States no longer agree on the nation’s purpose, values, history, or meaning. Is reconciliation possible?

Politically, Smart America came to be associated with the Democratic Party. This was not inevitable. If the party had refused to accept the closing of factories in the 1970s and ’80s as a natural disaster, if it had become the voice of the millions of workers displaced by deindustrialization and struggling in the growing service economy, it might have remained the multiethnic working-class party that it had been since the 1930s. It’s true that the white South abandoned the Democratic Party after the civil-rights revolution, but race alone doesn’t explain the epochal half-century shift of working-class white voters. West Virginia, almost all white, was a predominantly Democratic state until 2000. If you look at county-by-county national electoral maps, 2000 was the year when rural areas turned decisively red. Something more than just the Democrats’ principled embrace of the civil-rights movement and other struggles for equality caused the shift.

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Liz Essley Whyte/HuffPost:

Spreading Vaccine Fears, And Cashing In

Meet the influencers making millions by dealing doubt about coronavirus vaccines.

For the Bollingers and a network of similar influencers, speaking out against vaccines, including the coronavirus shots, is not just a personal crusade. It’s also a profitable business.

The Bollingers, for example, sell documentaries and books; other influencers hawk dietary supplements, essential oils or online “bootcamps” designed to train followers in anti-vaccine talking points. They frequently share links to each other’s content and products. Although the total value of anti-vaccine businesses is unknown, records indicate that the top influencers alone make up a multimillion-dollar industry. In 2020, the Bollingers told a court their cancer business had raked in $25 million in transactions since 2014. 

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Greg Sargent/WaPo:

Republican loyalty to Trump isn’t just about the ‘big lie.’ It’s much worse.

One of the most misleading ideas in our discourse right now is that Republican loyalty to Donald Trump is all about pledging fealty to his “big lie” that the election was stolen from him. It implies that this loyalty test requires nothing more than a willingness to tell a certain story about the past to soothe the former president’s hurt feelings.

An important new piece in the New York Times helps dispel this notion. As it reports, numerous Republican candidates for elected office around the country are not just pledging fealty to the “big lie.”

What they’re actually doing is considerably worse. They’re widely casting doubt on the idea that Joe Biden is the legitimate president of the United States, something that has alarming implications when it comes to future elections:

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Rosalind Helderman/WaPo:

‘It was like this rogue thing’: How the push by Trump allies to undermine the 2020 results through ballot reviews started quietly in Pennsylvania

Joe Biden’s presidential victory in Pennsylvania had been certified for weeks when officials in some Republican-leaning counties began receiving strange phone calls from GOP state senators in late December.

The lawmakers, who had been publicly questioning Biden’s win, had a request: Would the counties agree to a voluntary audit of their ballots?

The push to conduct unofficial election audits in multiple counties, described in interviews and emails obtained by The Washington Post, served as a last-ditch effort by allies of former president Donald Trump to undercut Biden’s win after failing in the courts and the state legislature.

The previously unreported lobbying foreshadowed a playbook now in use in Arizona and increasingly being sought in other communities across the country as Trump supporters clamor for reviews of the ballots cast last fall, citing false claims that the vote was corrupted by fraud. The former president’s backers argue that any evidence of problems they can uncover will prove the election system is vulnerable — and could have been manipulated to help Biden win.

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Jonathan V Last/Bulwark:

Joe Manchin Just Killed HR 1. How Do Democrats Save Democracy Now?

Move on. Quickly.

HR 1 Is Dead

Over the weekend, Joe Manchin basically killed HR 1. A lot of people are upset. I get this. But I want to concentrate your mind on what does, and does not, matter. And let’s start with the mission statement:

The best version of HR 1 is the version that (1) has the key protections and (2) can pass.

That’s it. Everything else is a nice-to-have.

So let’s start with the things that do not matter and which no one should spend even five minutes thinking about:

  • Manchin’s motivations.
  • How to get rid of Manchin.
  • Why Provision X from the bill was really great and would have made life better.

Do not throw good money after bad.

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Politico:

What’s in the massive Democratic bill Joe Manchin just tanked

The proposal rewrote federal election laws but also included big changes on campaign finance and ethics — including some that have been blocked before.

The fierce backlash to Manchin’s announcement reflects how important the bill was to many Democrats, even more than its label in the House and the Senate: H.R. 1 and S. 1, the monikers traditionally given to the majority’s top priority. Activists and lawmakers on Capitol Hill cast the legislation as a bulwark against restrictive new Republican proposals on voting in states across the country.

But the bill also became a vehicle for all types of government reform — including proposals that have been bogged down in filibusters, partisan opposition and even internal resistance among some Democrats over the last decade, like sweeping rules about “dark money” disclosure and how campaigns can raise their money.

Here are some of the provisions that are in the bill — and what could come next.

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NY Times:

Senate Report Details Security Failures in Jan. 6 Capitol Riot

A 127-page joint report is the most comprehensive and detailed account to date on the intelligence, communications and policing failures around the Capitol riot.

The 127-page joint report, a product of more than three months of hearings and interviews and reviews of thousands of pages of documents, presents a damning portrait of the preparations and response at multiple levels. Law enforcement officials did not take seriously threats of violence, it found, and a dysfunctional police force at the Capitol lacked the capacity to respond effectively when those threats materialized.

“The failures are obvious,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota and the chairwoman of the Rules and Administration Committee. “To me, it was all summed up by one of the officers who was heard on the radio that day asking a tragically simple question: ‘Does anybody have a plan?’ Sadly, no one did.”

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