WARNING: Republicans Are Up To Their Same Old Tricks On Social Security

INSIDE: Ron DeSantis ... Salman Rushdie ... Harry Whittington
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 05: U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) casts his vote in the House Chamber during the third day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 0... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 05: U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) casts his vote in the House Chamber during the third day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 05, 2023 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is meeting to vote for the next Speaker after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to earn more than 218 votes on several ballots; the first time in 100 years that the Speaker was not elected on the first ballot. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.

White House Rejects GOP Ploy On Medicare and Social Security

Wrapped up in Republicans’ debt ceiling hostage-taking is also their long-running con to break Social Security. Despite Speaker Kevin McCarthy repeatedly assuring public audiences that Social Security and Medicare are “off the table” in debt ceiling negotiations, Republicans continue to float various ways to undermine the social safety net.

Just last week, former Vice President Mike Pence trotted out the old GOP standby for Social Security: private accounts.

To its credit, the White House on Monday strongly rejected a GOP ploy to create a commission to consider “reforms” to Social Security and Medicare.

This will serve as your regular reminder that the use of the word “reform” in the context of Social Security and Medicare is highly misleading and tendentious.

Republicans for decades now have opposed these popular programs on ideological grounds, but have attempted (often successfully due to unsophisticated media coverage) to mask their efforts to undermine and redefine them out of existence. Or, as the LA Times’ Michael Hiltzik called it: the “Republican and conservative habit of employing plausible-sounding jargon and economists’ gibberish to conceal their intention to hobble the program.”

Hiltzik serves as a great example of sophisticated coverage of the GOP sophistry on Social Security:

But make no mistake: Diverting any significant portion of Social Security taxes into private accounts would make the program unworkable, funnel untold wealth into the hands of Wall Street promoters and leave millions of families destitute.

Worth a read.

Neo-Nazi Charged In Plot To Attack Power Grid

A founding member of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen and his girlfriend were hit with federal charges of conspiring to attack the power grid around Baltimore. A third person they were allegedly conspiring with turned out to be an informant for the government who recorded many of their conversations.

Marines Charged In Capitol Riot Got Intel Jobs AFTER Jan. 6

We knew that the active duty Marines recently arrested for allegedly participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol worked in military intelligence roles, but what we didn’t know is that they were assigned those highly sensitive posts after Jan. 6, according to the latest reporting from James Risen at The Intercept.

DeSantis Seeks New Powers To Go After ‘Voter Fraud’

Stymied by local Democratic prosecutors that refuse to play ball, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has had limited success in winning prosecutions based on the work of his bogus voter fraud police.

The reason? The statewide prosector that he wanted to handle the cases is limited by statute to prosecuting crimes that happen in multiple counties. So if someone allegedly voted illegally in only Miami-Dade County, the statewide prosecutor has no jurisdiction. And if the local DA doesn’t want to do DeSantis’ bidding, then he’s out of luck.

Not to worry though! The GOP-controlled Florida legislature is considering a bill to broaden the jurisdiction of the statewide prosecutor and do an end run around Democratic DAs who want no part of DeSantis’ scheming.

Why it matters: DeSantis’ bogus voter fraud police has, not surprisingly, focused its attention on predominately Democratic counties, and most of those voters arrested have been Black. So to sum up, Florida Republicans are trying to change the law as a way of doubling down on their effort to target Black voters, ginning up more attention about bogus voter fraud, and in the process stirring up fear to dampen the Black vote. Admirable work, all the way around.

Kaila Philo has our full story.

STFU About The SOTU

The most contrived news days of the year is here! Laugh/sob.

The outsized coverage, the faux theater, the ponderous analysis, the annual media obsession with the smallest trivialities:

  • Who will deliver the opposition response? (Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders Huckabee)
  • Who will be the designated survivor? (not yet announced)

Curmudgeonly much?

Trump Will Appeal Nearly $1M In Sanctions

Former President Trump and his lawyer Alina Habba and her law firm are planning to appeal the ruling awarding nearly $1 million in sanctions against them by a federal judge in Florida for filing frivolous and vexatious litigation.

Great Read

The recent eruption of Mauna Loa disrupted for the first time the decades-long project set up on the mountain to record atmospheric CO2. The data from Mauna Loa (collected separately by NOAA and Scripps) feeds into the long-running Keeling Curve, based on observations that Scripps scientist Charles David Keeling began recording in the 1950s. The New York Times has a great piece on the temporary observatory set up on the nearby Mauna Kea volcano to continue the crucial scientific work.

Death Toll In Turkey Quake Climbs Past 5,000

A Syrian woman walks past a half collapsed house in the town of Azaz on the border with Turkey on February 7, 2023, following a deadly earthquake. The 7.8-magnitude quake early the previous day, which has also killed thousands in neighbouring Turkey, led to widespread destruction in both regime-controlled and rebel-held parts of Syria. (Photo by Bakr ALKASEM / AFP) (Photo by BAKR ALKASEM/AFP via Getty Images)

The 7.8-magnitude quake and its 7.5-magnitude aftershock laid waste to vast areas of Southern Turkey and Syria, with an early death toll of more than 5,000 people.

The Defiance Of Salman Rushdie

The New Yorker’s David Remnick talks with Salman Rushdie in his first interview since being gravely wounded in an assassination attempt last year.

Dick Cheney Was A Boss

Who else could shoot a guy in the face with a shotgun and get the guy to apologize publicly for having been shot in the face? Only Dick Cheney.

The guy, Texas lawyer Harry Whittington, died Saturday at age 95, 17 years after the hunting accident with the then-vice president.

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