Cup of Joe – 7/27/21

Former President Donald Trump urged Senate Republicans to abandon talks on a bipartisan infrastructure deal until the GOP retakes majorities in Congress, The Hill reports.

Said Trump: “Senate Republicans are being absolutely savaged by Democrats on the so-called ‘bipartisan’ infrastructure bill.”

He added: “Don’t do the infrastructure deal, wait until after we get proper election results in 2022 or otherwise, and regain a strong negotiating stance. Republicans, don’t let the Radical Left play you for weak fools and losers!”

Josh Marshall: “Blah blah blah. Whatever. I don’t know how much impact this will have on infrastructure deal. As I’ve argued earlier, the Dems approach to this seems, rightly, that they want Republicans to join but will move along without them. What this signals more is Trump’s role in the 2022 midterm.

Trump will not only intervene to push his issues to the forefront and maintain his own dominance of the GOP. He’ll also intervene just to undermine any potential rival power centers in the party.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) told Fox News that the legislative text of the bipartisan infrastructure package will be ready on Monday. Really, where is it?

Wall Street Journal: “Lawmakers pushed to finalize an infrastructure agreement Sunday and lock down enough support from Republicans to advance the bill in a Senate vote early this week… Both sides were haggling over final sticking points entering the weekend.”

“Lawmakers said negotiations over how to finance the infrastructure package had largely wrapped up, with aides adding that staff were still working on details. The group removed a source of revenue disliked by Republicans that would beef up the Internal Revenue Service’s collection of unpaid taxes. Instead, to generate budget savings, lawmakers are expected to delay a Trump-era proposal that could result in more-expensive Medicare prescription-drug plans.”

“Senators ran into new problems Monday as they raced to seal a bipartisan infrastructure deal, with pressure mounting on all sides to show progress on President Joe Biden’s top priority,” the Associated Press reports.

“Heading into a make-or-break week, serious roadblocks remain. Disputes have surfaced over how much money should go to public transit and water projects. And other disagreements over spending and wage requirements for highways, broadband and other areas remain unresolved, as well as whether to take unspent COVID-19 relief money to help pay for the infrastructure.”

The Hill: “The sense of feeling ignored by the Senate is making House Democrats, particularly progressives, grow ever more exasperated with the bipartisan talks that continue to drag on after a group of senators agreed on an initial framework with the White House a month ago. And more broadly, it’s making Democrats feel like their flurry of legislative activity in the last six months has been futile.”

Wall Street Journal: “The self-described Democratic socialist [Senator Bernie Sanders] has tempered some of his progressive policy demands to team with the Biden administration on Democrats’ sprawling antipoverty and climate plan. At the same time, he has helped pull Democrats leftward on healthcare and other issues he calls critical to working people, a shift Republicans say will be a boon to the GOP as they try to reclaim control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections.”

“The biggest test comes this fall. With Mr. Sanders’s input as budget chairman, Democratic leaders are working to pass a $3.5 trillion plan that would expand Medicare and finance cleaner power. The legislation is also expected to attempt to provide a path to citizenship for some immigrants and fund expanded child care, paid family leave and affordable housing.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) will announce that all city employees will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the New York Times reports.

“A group of nearly 60 major medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association, called for mandatory vaccination of health care workers,” the New York Times reports. “As the highly contagious Delta variant drives a new surge of coronavirus cases, vaccination is an ethical obligation for health care workers.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said that state and healthcare employees will soon be required to show proof they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 — with those who remain uninoculated subject to a regular testing regimen, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs will require 115,000 of its frontline health care workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus in the next two months, making it the first federal agency to mandate that employees be inoculated,” the New York Times reports.

A Tennessee pastor threatened to boot mask-wearers from his church, the Lexington Herald Leader reports. Said Pastor Greg Locke: “If they go through round two and you start showing up with all these masks and all this nonsense, I will ask you to leave. I am not playing these Democrat games up in this church.”

David Leonhardt: “The scale of breakthrough infections remains unclear. Are they a significant reason that cases are now surging in the U.S. — and a reason for vaccinated people to be concerned? Or are breakthrough infections rare exceptions that receive outsize attention?”

“Those are two very different scenarios. If breakthrough infections are an important source of Covid spread, it would suggest that vaccinated people should resume some of their previous precautions, like avoiding crowded places. If Covid is instead spreading overwhelmingly among the unvaccinated, it would suggest that the behavior of the vaccinated doesn’t matter very much; the only reliable way to reduce caseloads would involve more vaccinations.”

“I’m going to warn you up front that I don’t have a definitive answer for you.”

Washington Post: “It’s unclear when a roster may be finalized, and Democrats running the committee have yet to articulate specific plans or timelines for their investigation. Nevertheless, on Tuesday, four police officers — two from the Capitol’s protection squad and two from D.C. police — are set to provide the first public testimony before the select committee.”

Just Security comes up with an extensive set of questions the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection should ask its witnesses.

“Democrats are seeking to elevate the role of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) on the committee examining the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, scheduling her to deliver one of the two opening statements at the panel’s first public hearing on Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the decision,” the Washington Post reports.

“The move is intended to present the committee as a bipartisan effort following Republican leadership’s decision not to participate in the panel after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) last week rejected two of their picks for the panel.”

“The relationship between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was never very warm. Now it’s in the downright gutter,” CNN reports.

“After a whiplash week of power plays between the two party leaders over the January 6 select committee, tensions are at an all-time high between the California lawmakers, and there are zero signs of that simmering down anytime soon — with both lambasting each other publicly and erupting at each other privately.”

“The House’s select committee probing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump won’t hesitate to subpoena members of Congress or Mr. Trump, and will try to enforce the subpoenas in court if necessary,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS): “Anybody who had a conversation with the White House and officials in the White House while the invasion of the Capitol was going on is directly in the investigative sights of the committee.”

Running out? I am out. I now want the unvaccinated to be severely punished.

Josh Marshall: “Among the vaccinated there’s a growing realization that we’re going backwards, seeing rates go up, seeing some mask mandates come back because of the non-vaccinated. And people are getting frustrated.”

“That is a big part of why you’re seeing Republicans not simply encouraging people to get vaccinated but even more trying to ditch the vaccine-resistant brand. They’re feeling exposed to shifting public opinion. In short, they don’t want to be accountable for what they’ve done.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci said the United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” of soaring COVID-19 cases fueled by unvaccinated Americans and the virulent delta variant, the AP reports.  Said Fauci: “We’re going in the wrong direction.”  He also said recommending that the vaccinated wear masks is “under active consideration” by the government’s leading public health officials.

“Senior Biden officials are carefully monitoring the impact of the delta variant on Britain, as concerns intensify within the administration about the potential economic damage of the virus to the United States,” the Washington Post reports.

“If Britain’s reopening continues without a new wave of hospitalizations and lockdowns, America’s recovery could prove more likely to remain on course.”

An excellent new CDC interactive map shows county-level vaccination coverage and Covid cases across the country.

It explains why parts of the country, shaded in green, can feel like the pandemic is ending while others, shaded in red, show surging infections.

New York Times: The Delta variant is the symptom of a bigger threat: vaccine refusal.

“A Japanese company has started human trials of the first once-a-day pill for Covid-19 patients, joining Pfizer and Merck in the race to find treatments for the disease,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Shionogi is months behind Pfizer and Merck, which have started later-stage tests of pills to treat Covid-19. Pfizer has said its twice-daily pill could be ready to hit the market as soon as this year.”

“Iraq’s prime minister says his country no longer requires American combat troops to fight the Islamic State group, but a formal time frame for their redeployment will depend on the outcome of talks with U.S. officials this week,” the AP reports.

“President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi are planning to announce an agreement Monday that will detail a timetable for the drawdown of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq,” NBC News reports.

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan have hit record highs amid the U.S. troop withdrawal from the country, Axios reports.

Judi Hershman, former public relations adviser to independent special counsel Kenneth Starr during the Clinton impeachment, writes about her extramarital affair with him:

“I had been on the bike trip through Tuscany in 2009. Early one evening while our spouses were at dinner elsewhere, Starr had stepped out from the shadows of the grounds of the inn where we were staying and called me over. After expressing his feelings for me, he pulled me into an embrace. This was the beginning of a fond, consensual affair that I had every intention of taking to the grave…”

“It took me 20 years to pull my head out of the proverbial sand, but I can see clearly now all the harm Ken Starr has done from the 1990s and now beyond as he reaches for Mike Pence’s presumed coattails.”

Bill Scher: How can you wage culture war when your warriors are hypocrites and reprobates?

“President Biden has assembled the most aggressive antitrust team in decades, stacking his administration with three legal crusaders as it prepares to take on corporate consolidation and market power with efforts that could include blocking mergers and breaking up big companies,” the New York Times reports.

“President Joe Biden is nominating eight new leaders for U.S. attorney positions across the country, including in the office overseeing the prosecutions of hundreds of defendants charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol,” the Associated Press reports.

“Most would be historic firsts, including the first Black or female attorneys to lead their districts.”

Roll Call: “Conservatives are expressing outrage about a pending Senate National Defense Authorization Act that would require women to register for the draft, and two defense hawks opposed the Pentagon bill in the Armed Services Committee over the issue.”

Said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO): “American women have heroically served in and alongside our fighting forces since our nation’s founding. It’s one thing to allow American women to choose this service, but it’s quite another to force it upon our daughters, sisters, and wives.”

Nicholas Lemann: “It’s distinctly possible that the Supreme Court, as early as next year, could signal that it considers efforts aimed explicitly at helping Black people to be unconstitutional. In June, the Court asked the Biden Administration to give its views on the Harvard case. If the Court decides to take it, that would be seen as good news by the plaintiffs and bad news by Harvard, which has won in the lower courts…”

“It’s by no means clear that the Supreme Court has shared in the resurgence of passion for racial-justice issues that has swept through many other leading American institutions. This could be one of those Court decisions which set off not just private legal readjustments but public demonstrations, and years of political organizing… It will be fitting if the Court takes the Harvard case. The long-running battles over affirmative action involve a clash between two opposing principles, both arguably invented at Harvard: meritocracy and diversity.”

Wall Street Journal says there are signs that inflation is easing: “That signal is so-called inflation expectations: what businesses, consumers, workers and investors expect inflation to be over the next one to 10 years. Because such expectations can be self-fulfilling, economists consider them key to where inflation is going… After rising sharply from October through May, they have now begun to ease.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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