Cup of Joe – 11/23/21

“Don’t call it a comeback. Seriously, don’t. But for the White House, the breakthroughs they had last week represent major progress. And after the few months they’ve had, they’ll take it,” Politico reports. 

“In the span of four days, the president signed his bipartisan infrastructure bill into law and saw the second piece of his landmark economic package pass through the House. The Food and Drug Administration authorized Covid-19 booster shots for all adults, and the administration announced a new purchase of 10 million treatment courses of the Pfizer antiviral Covid-19 pill. All this, while government reports show strong gains in the number of jobs across the labor market.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) warned in a New York Times interview that if the Build Back Better Act doesn’t pass soon, don’t expect the progressive caucus to back Democratic leadership on anything else. Said Ocasio-Cortez: “So if those promises don’t follow through, it’s going to be very, very difficult for them to get votes on anything moving forward. Because the trust that was already so delicate will have been broken.”

She called the whole negotiating process “demoralizing” and predicted that it will affect Democratic turnout.

“President Biden is set to nominate Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to a second term leading the central bank, the White House said Monday, opting for continuity in U.S. economic policy despite pushback from some Democrats who wanted someone tougher on bank regulations and climate change,” the Wall Street Journal reports.  “Mr. Biden will also nominate Fed governor Lael Brainard as vice chair of the central bank’s board of governors.”

Politico: “Powell — a Republican and a Trump appointee — is expected to win confirmation with bipartisan backing, driven by his record in heading off a financial crisis at the onset of the pandemic and steering the economy through the crippling recession that followed.”

“But he’ll face intense scrutiny from some Democrats such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for overseeing a rollback in Wall Street rules, an issue that has sharply divided progressives over whether he deserves a second term, and over a trading scandal that forced two top Fed officials to resign.”

Wall Street Journal: “Over his first term in office, Jerome Powell became arguably the most dovish chairman in the Federal Reserve’s modern history, giving priority to full employment in an era in which inflation seemed extinct. In his second term he may have to execute the reverse: giving priority to inflation at the risk of sacrificing jobs. The pivot could be painful for both Mr. Powell and President Biden, who reappointed him in part on his dovish record, and reflects the substantial reordering of economic conditions in just the past year.”

Rolling Stone: “Two sources who were involved in planning the Ellipse rally previously told Rolling Stone they had extensive interactions with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The text messages provide a deeper understanding of what that cooperation entailed, including an in-person meeting at the White House. Rally organizers also described working with Trump’s team to announce the event, promote it, and grant access to VIP guests. A spokesperson for the former president did not respond to a request for comment on the record.”

“Group chats also provided a glimpse of tensions between rally planners. And the conversations showed how their core group reacted to the chaos that erupted that day in real time.”

“Efforts to overturn the election. Jan. 6 organizers. White supremacist groups. And more than a dozen private and public universities,” the Daily Beast reports.  “They all have one thing in common: They received anonymous funding funneled through a single conservative dark money behemoth.”

“That’s the news in the latest IRS filing from Donors Trust—a conservative, Koch-aligned nonprofit which does not need to reveal the names of its donors and has been called the ‘dark money ATM of the right.’”

“An Indiana man charged with carrying a loaded firearm to the Capitol on Jan. 6 told investigators that if he had found Speaker Nancy Pelosi, ‘you’d be here for another reason,” Politico reports.  “Though reports of rioters charged with carrying firearms have been limited, the number has been steadily climbing… The mounting evidence has undercut claims by former President Donald Trump and his allies that the mob attacking the Capitol was unarmed.”

“Global supply-chain woes are beginning to recede, but shipping, manufacturing and retail executives say that they don’t expect a return to more-normal operations until next year and that cargo will continue to be delayed if Covid-19 outbreaks disrupt key distribution hubs,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Wall Street Journal: “When a company raises prices directly, some vigilant customer is bound to notice and complain on social media, no matter how small the increase or valid the reason. A few complaints could then spiral into a firestorm of outrage, upturning even the most carefully orchestrated price increase.”

“The solution for many companies is to raise prices, but covertly. Companies hope that by making price increases hard to evaluate, they can then escape notice and avoid a customer backlash.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that Americans who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus should get booster shots ahead of a winter spike that could be “dangerous” due to the rampant spread of the virus among the unvaccinated, the Washington Post reports.

“Around 95 percent of the 3.5 million federal employees covered by President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for government workers have complied with the requirement ahead of its Monday deadline,” Politico reports.

“Up to 10,000 active-duty Marines will not be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus when their deadline arrives in coming days, a trajectory expected to yield the U.S. military’s worst immunization rate,” the Washington Post reports.

“While 94% of Marine Corps personnel have met the vaccination requirement or are on a path to do so, for the remainder it is too late to begin a regimen and complete it by the service’s Nov. 28 deadline. Within an institution built upon the belief that orders are to be obeyed, and one that brands itself the nation’s premier crisis-response force, it is a vexing outcome.”

Jonathan Chait: “Nobody can say with any confidence if this fall can be reversed. Indeed, given the U.S.’s steady job growth, nobody can ascertain exactly why the public has turned so sour so fast. Biden is like a patient wasting away from some undiagnosable disease. What is clear is that if the presidential election were held this fall, Biden would enter the contest as the decided underdog against Trump.”

“The conventional wisdom has deemed that Biden is getting his just deserts for trying to govern as a liberal…”

“But the truth is that Biden’s presidency began to disintegrate without his abandoning the center at all. He found himself trapped instead between a well-funded left wing that has poisoned the party’s image with many of its former supporters and centrists unable to conceive of their job in any terms save as valets for the business elite. Biden’s party has not veered too far left or too far right so much as it has simply come apart.”

Jonah Goldberg and Steve Hayes write in The Dispatch that they are quitting as contributors to Fox News over a new Tucker Carlson series. “The special—which ran on Fox’s subscription streaming service earlier this month and was promoted on Fox News—is presented in the style of an exposé, a hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism. In reality, it is a collection of incoherent conspiracy-mongering, riddled with factual inaccuracies, half-truths, deceptive imagery, and damning omissions. And its message is clear: The U.S. government is targeting patriotic Americans in the same manner —and with the same tools—that it used to target al Qaeda.”

New York Times: “In some ways, their departures should not be surprising: It’s simply part of the new right’s mopping up operation in the corners of conservative institutions that still house pockets of resistance to Donald J. Trump’s control of the Republican Party.”

“Over the past 20 months, Israeli intelligence operatives have assassinated Iran’s chief nuclear scientist and triggered major explosions at four Iranian nuclear and missile facilities, hoping to cripple the centrifuges that produce nuclear fuel and delay the day when Tehran’s new government might be able to build a bomb,” the New York Times reports. 

“But American intelligence officials and international inspectors say the Iranians have quickly gotten the facilities back online — often installing newer machines that can enrich uranium at a far more rapid pace. When a plant that made key centrifuge parts suffered what looked like a crippling explosion in late spring — destroying much of the parts inventory and the cameras and sensors installed by international inspectors — production resumed by late summer.”

“One senior American official wryly called it Tehran’s Build Back Better plan.”

Tevi Troy: “There’s been a lot of noise lately about tensions between Vice President Kamala Harris’s staff and Joe Biden’s . Both teams have grumbled about each other to the press, with the Biden folks complaining about her poor political skills, and the Harris team complaining that she’s not being used appropriately.”

“Such tensions aren’t unusual when a vice president is working for a former campaign rival. It may seem that presidential nominees routinely choose rivals as their running mates. In fact, it happens relatively rarely, and only four times in the modern era have such tickets prevailed: John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson in 1960, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush in 1980, Barack Obama and Joe Biden in 2008 and Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris in 2020.”

“She and I are part of a team that is disciplined and doesn’t focus on what’s obsessing the commentators. We’re too busy with a job to do. She and I and the president… are laser-focused on getting the job done.”  — Secretary Pete Buttigieg, in a NBC News interview on whether he or Vice President Kamala Harris will run for president in 2024.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) said the Republican party’s vilification of members of Congress who have criticized Donald Trump or supported bipartisan legislation is “ruining America,” The Guardian reports.  Said Sununu: “That’s kind of that social media mob mentality that’s built up in this country where we don’t agree with one issue so we’re going to attack them, we’re going to vilify one person or one individual. We’ve got to get beyond that, because culturally, it’s really, really ruining America.”

He also specifically noted that House Republicans “have their priorities screwed up.”

“The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Saturday pushed back against his party’s blockade of President Joe Biden’s picks to top diplomatic posts,” Politico reports.  “With more than 50 foreign-policy nominations stalling on the Senate floor, Idaho Sen. Jim Risch said he has been ‘as energetic as I can about getting these through’ the upper chamber.”

New York Times: “Even as Ms. Sinema and Mr. Manchin, both Democrats, have drawn fire from the left for their efforts to shrink and reshape Mr. Biden’s proposals, they have won growing financial support from conservative-leaning donors and business executives in a striking display of how party affiliation can prove secondary to special interests and ideological motivations when the stakes are high enough.”

“Ms. Sinema is winning more financial backing from Wall Street and constituencies on the right in large part for her opposition to raising personal and corporate income tax rates. Mr. Manchin has attracted new Republican-leaning donors as he has fought against much of his own party to scale back the size of Mr. Biden’s legislation and limit new social welfare components.”

“U.S. allies expressed concerns to senators this weekend that Congress could break a 60-year streak and fail to pass an annual defense policy bill before the end of the year,” Politico reports. 

“The extraordinary dynamic comes as the Senate is at a standstill on the legislation. Several Republicans have delayed the process as they push for votes on their amendments to the bill, and Democratic leaders didn’t begin the floor process for the bill until this week — far later than in past years.”

Game show contestants in a Saturday Night Live skit are given clues to try to identify which guests are Republicans.

New York prosecutors are looking into the Trump Organization’s property valuations after discovering that the company provided different estimates on a number of properties, the Washington Post reports.  “Real estate appraisers said it was highly unusual for any property owner to give such widely different values for the same property during the same time period.”

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

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