Cup of Joe – 1/5/22

New York Times: “More than 4.5 million people voluntarily left their jobs in November… That was up from 4.2 million in October and was the most in the two decades that the government has been keeping track.”

“The rate of quitting has been especially high in hospitality and other low-wage sectors, where workers have been taking advantage of strong demand to look for jobs with better pay or working conditions.”

“There were 10.6 million job openings posted on the last day of November. That was down from 11.1 million in October, but still more than in any month before the pandemic began. — and far more than the roughly seven million Americans looking for work.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told reporters that he isn’t involved in any serious talks at this time about reviving President Biden’s sweeping climate and social spending bill, The Hill reports.

Said Manchin: “I’m really not going to talk about Build Back Better anymore because I think I’ve been very clear on that. There are no negotiations going on at this time.”

Manchin voiced skepticism over a Democratic push to change the filibuster along party lines, warning that his “preference” is for any rules changes to be bipartisan, The Hill reports.

Said Manchin: “Being open to a rules change that would create a nuclear option. It’s very, very difficult. It’s a heavy lift.”

He added: “I’m talking. I’m not agreeing to any of this… I want to talk and see all the options we have open.”

“The Jan. 6 select committee is preparing to ask Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity for his voluntary cooperation with its investigation of the assault on the U.S. Capitol,” Axios reports.

Ivanka Trump and Don. Jr asked a judge to throw out New York Attorney General Letitia James’ subpoenas of them in her civil investigation into the former president’s businesses last night. The prosecutor wants both documents and testimony under oath from the two Trumps.

Their lawyers pointed to the Manhattan District Attorney’s parallel criminal investigation into the Trump Organization. They accused James, who is a partner in that criminal probe, of trying to “circumvent the entire grand jury process.”

James brushed off the Trumps’ move later on Monday, vowing on Twitter that their “delay tactics” wouldn’t stop her investigation.

Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro told Rolling Stone about his plan to block the certification of the electoral vote on Jan. 6, 2021, saying “There were over 100 congressmen ready to implement the plan.”

Said Navarro: “One of two things could happen. They go back there to the states, they look at it and they say, ‘Nope. It’s certified.’ The votes come back, and that would be it. Fair enough.”

He added: “But the more likely scenario based on our assessment of the evidence was that states would withdraw any certification. And the election would be thrown to the House of Representatives. And even though the House is controlled by Democrats, the way votes would be counted in a presidential election decided by the House, Trump would almost certainly win.”

If you believe Navarro, it was the Capitol rioters that likely derailed his scheme.

“Former President Trump and fervent allies, including Steve Bannon, plan to go on the offense during Thursday’s anniversary of the Capitol insurrection — in fiery contrast with House and Senate Republican leaders, who plan no events,” Axios reports.

“The starkly differing approaches underscore tensions remaining within the GOP about how to address the deadly riot.”

“Senate Republicans are cringing at former President Donald Trump’s plans to speak on Jan. 6, openly fretting he’s trying to pull their party back into debating his false election claims,” Politico reports.

Said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV): “I don’t think that’s a good idea. I guess it depends on what he’s going to say. But early assumptions are that it’s going to be an aggressive statement. I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”

And Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who voted to convict Trump over his role in the Jan. 6 attack, said the event isn’t a “terribly good idea,” but added, “What am I going to do about it?”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will lead a delegation to Georgia on Jan. 6 for former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R-GA) funeral, meaning “no senior GOP leader will be in the Capitol on this first anniversary,” Punchbowl News reports.

“The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has closed its investigation of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decisions involving Covid patients and nursing homes in 2020,” Bloomberg reports.

“The Albany County District Attorney’s office has said it wouldn’t move forward with a misdemeanor sex crime charge against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Facebook groups swelled with at least 650,000 posts attacking the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory between Election Day and the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol, with many calling for executions or other political violence,” the Washington Post reports.

“The barrage — averaging at least 10,000 posts a day, a scale not reported previously — turned the groups into incubators for the baseless claims supporters of President Donald Trump voiced as they stormed the Capitol, demanding he get a second term. Many posts portrayed Biden’s election as the result of widespread fraud that required extraordinary action — including the use of force — to prevent the nation from falling into the hands of traitors.”

New York Times: “Researchers at the Brookings Institution reviewed transcripts of nearly 1,500 episodes from 20 of the most popular political podcasts. Among episodes released between the election and the Jan. 6 riot, about half contained election misinformation, according to the analysis.”

“In some weeks, 60 percent of episodes mentioned the election fraud conspiracy theories tracked by Brookings. Those included false claims that software glitches interfered with the count, that fake ballots were used, and that voting machines run by Dominion Voting Systems were rigged to help Democrats.”

“Officials across the United States, from President Biden on down, have been insisting that they are no longer in the shutdown business, and will not order any closures to contain the latest surge in coronavirus cases,” the New York Times reports.

“But Omicron may be taking the decision out of their hands. So many workers are testing positive or calling in sick that businesses, schools, government agencies and more are being crippled by staff shortages that may force them to close some operations anyway.”

“The World Health Organization said a coronavirus variant found in France hasn’t become much of a threat since it was first identified in November,” Bloomberg  reports.

Axios: “The Chinese government is going to drastic lengths to maintain its “zero COVID” policy even with more contagious variants like Omicron emerging and the rest of the world largely learning to live with the virus — including countries like Australia and New Zealand that had previously tried to keep all cases out.”

“12 days into a strict lockdown, residents of Xi’an are in most cases barred from leaving their homes, let alone the city, except for testing.”

“A fourth shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine generated a fivefold boost in antibodies a week after the jab, according to preliminary results of a study made public by the Israeli government Tuesday,” the Washington Post  reports.

“Why do we think that we can create something better than God in terms of combating disease?”  — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), in an interview on WCPT, arguing that natural immunity from Covid-19 is better than vaccines.

Former President Donald Trump gave Hungary’s Viktor Orbán his “Complete support and Endorsement.”

Meanwhile, from the New York Times: “After long indulging him, leaders in the European Union now widely consider one of their own, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, an existential threat to a bloc that holds itself up as a model of human rights and the rule of law.”

Politico: “It would’ve previously turned heads. The ostensible leader of the Republican Party embraced Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for reelection on Monday, endorsing a far-right leader accused of eroding democratic norms and embracing authoritarian governance.”

“But barely anyone said a peep about former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of Orbán, even though the Hungarian has previously received bipartisan condemnation.”

Charlie Sykes: “The world is too much with us, of course, but the real problem it is that it so dumb, so infused with mind-numbing bad faith, and a grinding sense of futility that anything will matter or change.”

“This exhaustion is not to be confused with boredom, because, if anything we have been been over-stimulated for too long. On social media and cable television, the emotional level has been set somewhere between alarm and emotional meltdown for years now. We’ve experienced endless assaults on the public mind, with the ever-escalating goal of inciting, inflaming, and grifting. We’ve been saturated, pummeled, and battered by it for the last five years.”

“Over and over and over.”

Susan Glasser: “But the national mood is sour, and understandably so. Sanity, competence, and civility have not exactly returned to Washington; normalcy is not just around the corner. Biden, it is now clear, promised what he couldn’t deliver in a nation divided against itself. He trafficked in hope that was arguably as misleading in its own way as Trump’s lies. More than four hundred thousand Americans have died of covid since Trump left office—many of them because they refused to get a free, lifesaving vaccine.”

“More than two-thirds of Republicans to this day refuse to accept that Biden is the legitimately elected President, preferring Trump’s Big Lie to the uncomfortable truth of his defeat. There is no restoration possible in such a country.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland will give a speech Wednesday about the Justice Department’s efforts to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, stressing the department’s “unwavering commitment to defend Americans and American democracy from violence and threats of violence,” the Washington Post reports.

“A year after supporters of Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, Attorney General Merrick Garland faces critical decisions about whether to indict the former president or his top advisers as the Justice Department continues to fend off charges of politicization,” Bloomberg reports.

“More than 150 people have pleaded guilty to storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, but relatively few defendants have received prison time for their role in the insurrection,” Politico reports.

“A Politico analysis of every sentence to date in the Capitol riot shows that judges have been wary about imposing long prison terms except when violence, or the threat of it, was involved. A little over half of defendants who have pleaded guilty are still awaiting sentencing, and some of the most serious cases of violence against police officers are still awaiting their fate, so the length of prison time for the most serious offenders may change.”

“I think Merrick Garland has been extremely weak, and I think there should be a lot more of the organizers of Jan. 6 that should be arrested by now.”  — Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), quoted by Politico.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that a Republican-led House after the 2022 elections likely will consider impeaching President Biden on “multiple grounds,” the Washington Times reports.

Said Cruz: “The Democrats weaponized impeachment. They used it for partisan purposes to go after Trump because they disagreed with him. One of the real disadvantages of doing that is the more you weaponize it and turn it into a partisan cudgel, you know what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

Cruz predicted that Republican majorities in Congress after the next midterm election would face “enormous pressure … to begin impeachment proceedings.”

Kelly Ernby (R), who was running for a California Assembly seat and opposed vaccine mandates, died suddenly after becoming ill from Covid-19, the Orange County Register reports. Said Ernby in opposition to vaccine mandates: “There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) “declared a 30-day state of emergency that mobilizes the National Guard to assist state and local health officers at testing and vaccine sites and authorizes the state Department of Health to take steps to increase staffing at overwhelmed hospitals,” the Washington Post reports.

Hogan said models “are showing that hospitals could see more than 5,000 people hospitalized, which would amount to a 250 percent increase in hospitalizations.”

Don Moynihan: “The longer the pandemic goes on, the more trust will decline in institutions that have to make visible, salient decisions amidst changing circumstances, information and trade-offs while serving a population with wildly varying preferences.”

“This somewhat depressing insight may or may not seem obvious to you, but it wasn’t apparent to me until recently. The emergence of Omicron, which will propel us into a third year of the pandemic, and growing liberal dissatisfaction with the Biden administration helped crystalize this realization. My thinking on this is based on fitting what we know about certain biases (motivated reasoning, negativity bias, hindsight bias) on the dynamics and longevity of the pandemic.”

Jennifer Rubin says Trump idolatry has undermined religious faith: “While lovers of democracy around the world view these developments in horror, we should not lose track of the damage the MAGA movement has wrought to religious values.

Peter Wehner, an evangelical Christian and former adviser to President George W. Bush, explains in a column for the Atlantic how a recent speech from Donald Trump Jr. reflects the inversion of religious faith. “The former president’s son,” Wehner writes, “has a message for the tens of millions of evangelicals who form the energized base of the GOP: the scriptures are essentially a manual for suckers. The teachings of Jesus have ‘gotten us nothing.’ ”

Wehner continues: “It’s worse than that, really; the ethic of Jesus has gotten in the way of successfully prosecuting the culture wars against the left. If the ethic of Jesus encourages sensibilities that might cause people in politics to act a little less brutally, a bit more civilly, with a touch more grace? Then it needs to go. Decency is for suckers.”

Understanding this phenomenon goes a long way toward explaining the MAGA crowd’s very unreligious cruelty toward immigrants, its selfish refusal to vaccinate to protect the most vulnerable and its veneration of a vulgar, misogynistic cult leader. If you wonder how so many “people of faith” can behave in such ways, understand that their “faith” has become hostile to traditional religious values such as kindness, empathy, self-restraint, grace, honesty and humility.”

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

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