Cup of Joe – 12/20/21

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he won’t sup­port his par­ty’s “Build Back Bet­ter” plan, a de­ci­sion that could doom Pres­i­dent Biden’s top do­mes­tic-pol­icy pri­or­ity, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Said Manchin: “I can’t move forward. I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation, I just can’t. I tried everything humanly possible,”

He added: “I can’t get there… This is a no.”

“My Democratic colleagues in Washington are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face. I cannot take that risk with a staggering debt of more than $29 trillion and inflation taxes that are real and harmful to every hard-working American at the gasoline pumps, grocery stores and utility bills with no end in sight.”  — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), in a statement saying he won’t support President Biden’s Build Back Better Act.

Punchbowl News on how progressives feel about the betrayal: “They agreed to pass the infrastructure bill with promises that Biden would be able to bring Manchin along. As of now, he’s not been able to get Manchin on board. There had already been growing frustration among the progressives in the party. Manchin’s statement that he is done with BBB will infuriate them even further. The problem for progressives is they don’t have a lot of leverage here – especially because they agreed to pass infrastructure already.”

Reuters: Bernie Sanders says there should be vote on Build Back Better despite Manchin rejection.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Sen. Joe Manchin’s remarks that he would not vote for President Biden’s Build Back Better Act are “at odds with his discussions this week with the President, with White House staff, and with his own public utterances,” Axios reports.

Said Psaki: “Weeks ago, Senator Manchin committed to the President, at his home in Wilmington, to support the Build Back Better framework that the President then subsequently announced. Senator Manchin pledged repeatedly to negotiate on finalizing that framework ‘in good faith.’”

“The White House was given a 30-minute heads up via a staffer for the West Virginia senator.”

Playbook: “The relationship between the White House and Manchin is deeply frayed… Essentially, Psaki is calling Manchin a liar. Picking up the pieces from here won’t be easy.”

As Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) prepared to announce on Fox News that he wouldn’t vote for President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, top White House officials scrambled to call the senator and talk him out of what he was about to do, Politico reports.

Said a senior official: “We tried to head him off, but he refused to take a call from White House staff.”

“President Joe Biden will deliver a speech on Tuesday to address the omicron variant and unveil new steps the administration is taking to help communities in need of assistance,” NBC News reports.

CNN: “Biden and his team have all but ruled out new lockdowns, and behind the scenes, administration officials have been debating how to shift public attention from the total number of cases — which appear likely to surge, even if many are mild — toward the number of severe infections that are overloading health systems and causing interruptions to normal life.”

“Some of Biden’s advisers are encouraging the administration to begin discussing publicly how to live alongside a virus that shows no signs of disappearing, a potentially stark shift in messaging for a White House that once touted ‘freedom from the virus.’”

“Steering public attention away from the total number of infections and toward serious cases only — as some Biden advisers have encouraged — could prove a challenge after nearly two years of intense focus on the pandemic’s every up and down. It is a part of a growing conundrum that Biden faces as the Covid-19 pandemic refuses to abate.”

“The latest surge of the coronavirus is another reminder for President Biden of how hard it is to get ahead of the pandemic,” the New York Times reports.

“Vaccine effectiveness has waned in the onslaught of Delta and Omicron. A spike in demand for testing is straining the system. And masks remain a political issue across the country.”

“Nearly a year into his presidency, Mr. Biden’s promise to ‘shut down the virus, not the country’ remains only partly fulfilled. Stubborn resistance to vaccines among millions and the arrival of the fast-spreading new variant have upended the president’s plans for a hopeful, end-of-the-year holiday season.”

Overnight, the Senate confirmed President Biden’s 40th judge — the most since Ronald Reagan, who also got 40 judges confirmed in his first year, the Washington Post reports.

Biden’s confirmed judges also far surpass the 18 judges Donald Trump got confirmed in his first year.

“The Senate confirmed more than 30 ambassadors and other Biden administration nominees early Saturday after Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed to schedule a vote on sanctions on the company behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany,” the AP reports.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated Caroline Kennedy to be U.S. ambassador to Australia and Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan as ambassador to Belize, Reuters reports.

New COVID-19 cases detected with the Omicron variant are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in areas where there is community spread, Axios reports.

New York Times: “Of American adults who are fully vaccinated and eligible for a booster shot, only about 30 percent have received one… And among all Americans, only about one in six has received a booster.”

Politico: Bad Covid winter brings questions about what’s “fully-vaccinated.”

“A growing body of preliminary research suggests the Covid vaccines used in most of the world offer almost no defense against becoming infected by the highly contagious Omicron variant,” the New York Times reports.

“All vaccines still seem to provide a significant degree of protection against serious illness from Omicron, which is the most crucial goal. But only the Pfizer and Moderna shots, when reinforced by a booster, appear to have success at stopping infections, and these vaccines are unavailable in most of the world.”

“The other shots — including those from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and vaccines manufactured in China and Russia — do little to nothing to stop the spread of Omicron, early research shows. And because most countries have built their inoculation programs around these vaccines, the gap could have a profound impact on the course of the pandemic.”

“A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated the Biden administration’s coronavirus vaccination policy for large private businesses, reversing an earlier court ruling that had halted one of the White House’s signature efforts to reduce transmission and drive down case counts,” the Washington Post reports.

“The ruling by the Ohio-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is likely to have the final say over the rules set to take effect Jan. 4.”

“Employers will be given more time to comply with a federal requirement that workers get vaccinated for COVID-19 or be regularly tested, the U.S. Department of Labor announced after a federal appeals court allowed the rule to go forward,” USA Today reports.

“Workers who are not fully vaccinated won’t have to be regularly tested until Feb. 9, more than a month after the original Jan. 4 deadline.”

“The sudden surge of new coronavirus cases has jolted some parts of the U.S. economy that depend most on face-to-face interactions, while other businesses are preparing for record holiday seasons and so far appear unscathed by the spreading omicron variant,” the Washington Post reports.

“The impact is uneven but acute. It reflects how some American consumers and business owners have grown accustomed to making instant decisions to cancel their plans, while others are more undeterred after such a long period of setbacks and delays.”

Associated Press: “Ohio became the latest state to summon the National Guard to help overwhelmed medical facilities. Experts in Nebraska warned that its hospitals soon may need to ration care. Medical officials in Kansas and Missouri are delaying surgeries, turning away transfers and desperately trying to hire traveling nurses.”

This is before the Omicron wave has even peaked.

“The nation’s coronavirus testing capacity, already straining to keep up with demand, is facing enormous new pressure, with holiday travelers waiting in long lines to be tested, overworked laboratories struggling to keep up and rapid at-home diagnostics flying off pharmacy shelves as the Omicron variant fuels a rapid spike in Covid-19 cases,” the New York Times reports.

Roger Stone took to the far-right messaging platform Telegram to suggest that Steve Bannon was behind the call to “breach” the Capitol building on Jan 6, the Daily Beast reports.

Said Stone: “It is highly likely that Bannon really gave the order to breach the Capitol and maneuvered patriots into dangerous positions. A neophyte Steve Bannon was willing to try crazy things like this to curry favor with Trump who had no interest in Bannon’s bullshit.”

Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro revealed what appeared to be a significant plot to overthrow a legitimate presidential election in an interview with Steve Bannon.

Said Navarro: “You were the hero on J6, Steve. You were the guy who had the strategy to go up to Capitol Hill. Pence was the quarterback. We had 100 people working on the team who were going to make sure we remanded the results back to the battleground states.”

“Members of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol believe that former Texas Governor and Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry was the author of a text message sent to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows the day after the 2020 election pushing an ‘AGRESSIVE (sic) STRATEGY’ for three state legislatures to ignore the will of their voters and deliver their states’ electors to Donald Trump,” CNN reports.

“A spokesman for Perry told CNN that the former Energy Secretary denies being the author of the text. Multiple people who know Rick Perry confirmed to CNN that the phone number the committee has associated with that text message is Perry’s number.”

The Hill: What we’ve learned from the Meadows documents.

Ali Alexander, who founded the pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” movement and attended the rally that preceded the Capitol attack, told congressional investigators that he recalls “a few phone conversations” with Rep. Paul Gosar and a text exchange with Rep. Mo Brooks about his efforts in the run-up to Jan. 6, Politico reports.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) told ABC News ‘it’s possible” some of his GOP colleagues in Congress are responsible for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.  Said Kinzinger: “I will tell you, yes, there are more texts out there we haven’t released.”

“House Republicans have begun mapping aggressive probes of the Biden administration if they win back the majority — including inquiries into the origins of COVID, a leak of IRS data about billionaires, and accusations the NSA spied on Tucker Carlson,” Axios reports.

“The plans, obtained exclusively by Axios, show House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy would make muscular use of majority powers for the last two years of President Biden’s term if, as expected, the GOP wins the majority in next year’s midterms.”

“President Joe Biden on Saturday commemorated the 49th anniversary of the car crash that killed his first wife and infant daughter, visiting their graves at the Saint Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church,” the AP reports.

“Their deaths occurred just after Delaware voters elected Biden to the Senate in 1972 and the fatal car crash became a defining moment that has shaped his persona and career.”

Three retired generals write in the Washington Post:  “As we approach the first anniversary of the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, we — all of us former senior military officials — are increasingly concerned about the aftermath of the 2024 presidential election and the potential for lethal chaos inside our military, which would put all Americans at severe risk.”

“In short: We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time.”

“The Biden administration is considering a plan to redirect helicopters and other military equipment once allocated for the now-defunct Afghan military to Ukraine to help quickly reinforce its defenses amid a buildup of Russian troops near its border,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The equipment is being sought by Ukraine, which discussed it with Pentagon officials, who generally support providing more arms to Ukraine.”

“Russia and China appear to be making headway toward a new gas pipeline that analysts say would help both countries hedge against growing tensions with the West,” Asia Nikkea reports.

“Boris Johnson was dealt another major blow to his leadership last night as it emerged the man overseeing Brexit was resigning from the cabinet,” The Guardian reports.

“With Tory MPs already warning the prime minister that he would have to regain control of the government to survive as leader until the next election, it emerged that Lord Frost is to leave the government after frustrations over Brexit negotiations and broader concerns over the government’s Covid policies and tax increases.”

“The shock departure represents another dangerous moment for Johnson, following a series of scandals and a humiliating byelection defeat last week that saw his party lose a 23,000 majority. Frost’s departure is also another sign of the major fissures opening up within the Tory party.”

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

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