Cup of Joe – 6/4/22

“President Biden, in a rare prime-time address Thursday, called on Congress to take immediate action on gun control, seeking to transform emotion and anger into change as the nation reeled from a spate of horrific mass shootings from New York to Texas to Oklahoma,” the Washington Post reports.

“The United States has resisted firearms limits following wrenching murderous attacks that have erupted on an increasingly regular basis over the past few decades, but Biden sought to channel a feeling by some in Washington that this time could be different in the aftermath of a racist massacre and a slaughter at an elementary school that gripped the nation’s attention.”

New York Times: “With the 17-minute address, Mr. Biden abruptly shed the reluctance of his White House to engage in what could become yet another fruitless partisan confrontation, played out amid funerals in Uvalde, Buffalo and Tulsa. After weeks of carefully calibrating his calls for action, the president on Thursday did not hold back.”

“White House officials are privately bearish Congress will pass anything substantial to limit guns,” Axios reports.

“Biden aides aren’t under any delusion that a presidential speech will change deeply entrenched and structural obstruction on Capitol Hill.”

Josh Marshall: “In Kentucky today Mitch McConnell said there can only be a deal on guns if it doesn’t do anything on guns but rather focuses on the “real issues” of mental health and school safety. So it seems we’re getting to the end of the standard Republican cooling off period in which Republicans make sounds about moving on gun legislation until the initial shock of the latest child massacre has worn off and they can go back to “no.” But I wanted to address a question that has come up in many of your emails in recent days about a notional bipartisan Senate deal on guns.

The hypothetical goes like this. Say there’s a deal but it’s a deal over something really, really minor, even marginal. Maybe it’s a red flag law or a 21 year old age limit on certain gun purchases. Many of you have asked whether it’s worth it to allow Republicans some “credit” on the gun issue or take some of the pressure off them in exchange for something so minor. A number of you think it’s not.

There’s a real ethical question about whether we should look at legislation through such a prism. But I think we can set that aside. Because the premise here is just wrong. If Republicans allow a vote on some minor reform no one who cares about this issue is going to change their minds about the Republican role on the national gun issue. But even more important they’re not looking for credit! They don’t need it. The premise here is that Democrats somehow have Republicans on the ropes on the gun issue. Working with them on some minor reform will take the pressure off them and make deeper reforms less likely.

This is a fantasy.

Republicans aren’t under any pressure. They don’t care about the “credit” and they actually wouldn’t get much credit. As a strategic stance, Republicans are actually right to think that since there really isn’t much pressure, “no” is the best position. Once you agree to even minor reforms on an issue of such grave public concern you’ve validated that it’s a problem and that legislators can at least do somethings to address it, even if they’re not total solutions. It’s not like the dam would break if a few small reforms passed. But any trend would be in that direction more than the opposite.

Progress is progress. Don’t overthink it. Thinking that Democrats need to drive a hard bargain to give Republicans any “credit” is just a total misunderstanding of the political reality of the situation. Republicans aren’t hurting over this. They’re fine.”

“When Sen. McConnell asked me to be sort of the point person on this, I thought to myself ‘well, this is like Joe Biden appointing Kamala Harris border czar,’ I accepted the responsibility with a little trepidation.”  — Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), quoted by Politico, on the bipartisan gun talks, while adding that failure “will be embarrassing.”

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) declared that an AR-15 is “a gun of choice for killing raccoons before they get to our chickens.”

During a tense House Judiciary Committee session on a sweeping gun control package on Thursday, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) tore into Republicans’ “bullshit” argument that gun control is an infringement on constitutional rights, and he wasn’t having it when he was asked to yield after saying The Bad Word.

“No, I will not yield, and I’m not gonna yield for my entire five minutes, so don’t ask again!” Cicilline retorted.

The committee ultimately passed the legislation (which is titled the “Protecting Our Kids Act”) along party lines, and it’ll be taken up for a full House vote next week, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Needless to say that the package almost certainly won’t go anywhere in the Senate. A bipartisan group of senators is apparently working on its own legislation at the moment.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) wants to make it clear that he absolutely is doing something to prevent future school shootings like the horrific massacre in Uvalde last week, and he can prove it with this letter he sent to the commissioner of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) yesterday. In it, Abbott directs the commissioner to, among other things, ensure that school doors are keeping the kids safe.

Schools should be instructed to “conduct weekly inspections of exterior doors to verify they are secure during school hours,” Abbott writes.

The GOP’s new door control platform is part of conservatives’ Very Serious push to “harden” schools into quasi-supermax prisons rather than consider gun control.

“The U.S. economy added 390,000 jobs in May, better than expected despite fears of an economic slowdown and a roaring pace of inflation,” CNBC reports.

“At the same time, the unemployment rate held at 3.6%, just above the lowest level since December 1969.”

Wall Street Journal: “The job market is coming off an exceptional stretch in which demand vastly exceeded the supply of available workers.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has a “super bad feeling” about the economy and wants to cut about 10% of jobs at the electric carmaker, CNN reports.

President Biden brushed off Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s reported “super bad feeling” about the U.S. economy, while praising some of Musk’s competitors for expanding their investments in electric vehicles, CNBC reports.

Biden then took a dismissive-sounding swipe at Musk: “Lots of luck on his trip to the moon.”

Axios: “Benchmark futures prices for gasoline hit a new high of $4.19 per gallon Thursday, as the Department of Energy reported that gasoline supplies last week hit their lowest level this year.”

“Unless those futures prices come down quick, we’re about to blow past last week’s record retail gas price of $4.71 a gallon.”

“Republicans have no answers. There’s no economic agenda. Where’s their jobs plan for the last 10 years? Where the hell is their health care plan? They don’t have one. They’re bankrupt as a party. And, in addition to that, they accommodate and embrace these loopy theories and racist theories about how we should live our lives starting with Q-Anon.”  — Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), who is “not quite known to breathe rhetorical fire,” quoted by Politico.

Jamie Dimon warned investors to prepare for an economic “hurricane” as the economy struggles against an unprecedented combination of challenges, Bloomberg reports.  Said Dimon: “That hurricane is right out there down the road coming our way. We don’t know if it’s a minor one or Superstorm Sandy. You better brace yourself.” 

“The day before a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff called Mr. Pence’s lead Secret Service agent to his West Wing office,” the New York Times reports.

“The chief of staff, Marc Short, had a message for the agent, Tim Giebels: The president was going to turn publicly against the vice president, and there could be a security risk to Mr. Pence because of it.”

“The stark warning — the only time Mr. Short flagged a security concern during his tenure as Mr. Pence’s top aide — was uncovered recently during research by this reporter for an upcoming book, Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America, to be published in October.”

Former White House advisor Peter Navarro has been indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of contempt of Congress stemming from his failure to comply with a subpoena issued by the January 6 Committee.

“Former Attorney General William Barr on Thursday appeared for roughly two hours before the U.S. House select committee investigating the attack by a pro-Trump mob on the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

The House Jan. 6 Committee announced that it will hold its first public hearing on Thursday, June 9. The panel has reached out to three people closely tied to ex-vice president Mike Pence asking them to testify publicly, according to CNN: Ex-federal Judge J. Michael Luttig and Pence’s ex-chief counsel, Greg Jacob, plus Pence’s ex-chief of staff, Marc Short.

“Several close allies of Steve Bannon have been subpoenaed to testify before a New York state grand jury investigating his fundraising for a private border wall effort,” CNN reports.  “The subpoenas are the clearest indication that the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal investigation into Bannon’s fundraising efforts is intensifying and could lead to possible charges against former President Donald Trump’s onetime adviser.”

“A Washington state nonprofit group and its attorney have been fined more than $28,000 by the state Supreme Court for making legally meritless claims alleging widespread vote fraud,” the Seattle Times reports.

“A House committee said on Thursday that it was investigating whether Jared Kushner, former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and former adviser, traded on his government position to land a $2 billion investment in his new private equity firm from a prominent Saudi Arabian wealth fund,” the New York Times reports.

“Former President Trump and his allies, in conjunction with top House GOP leadership and conservative groups, have begun pulling documents and coordinating a behind-the-scenes effort to counterprogram the Jan. 6 committee’s televised hearings this month,” Axios reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin fired five more generals earlier this week, Pravda reports.

Russian fertilizer and coal tycoon Andrey Melnichenko has been keeping his $300 million superyacht anchored in a creek in Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates, per the Financial Times and Associated Press, as Western governments seize sanctioned Russian oligarchs’ fancy toys.

Melnichenko already had to kiss another yacht goodbye in March, when Italian authorities seized his $578 million boat in northeastern Italy. That was the biggest sailing yacht in the world, according to SuperYachtFan, and it came with several smaller boats to go with the big boat.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration Thursday asked the state board regulating doctors to essentially ban transition-related care for transgender minors, NBC News reports.

DeSantis has also vetoed the state budget’s $35 million that would have funded a new training facility and youth complex for the Tampa Bay Rays after the baseball team tweeted its support for gun control, Fox News reports.

“Ohio House Republicans passed a bill late Tuesday that bans all transgender students from playing high school and college sports, and requires genital exams in any disputes,” the HuffPost reports.

Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) blamed abortion for gun violence in a radio interview. Said Long: “When I was growing up in Springfield, you had one or two murders a year. Now we have two, three, four a week in Springfield, Missouri, so something has happened to our society and I go back to abortion.”

He added: “When we decided it was okay to murder kids in their mother’s wombs, life has no value to a lot of these folks.”

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said Ohio U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance (R) is right in wanting to ban pornography. Said Gosar: “Liberal courts have declared porn to fall under ‘free speech.’ What a joke.”

He added: “This, combined with the horrible effects it’s having on our young men and women, means that one who opposes any restrictions on porn is ignorant at best and malicious at worst… But leftists refuse to budge an inch for the sake of sexual immorality.”

Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) “is lamenting the loss of moderate House Democrats who have been defeated by primary challengers on their left,” Politico reports.

Said Bacon: “With the loss of Kurt Schrader, Carolyn Bourdeaux, Conor Lamb … and the much more progressive candidate winning in Mike Doyle’s seat will make it tougher for consensus builders to carry the day in the House. It appears the Democrat Conference will have less centrists.”

Check your own party, Donnie. You call the above moderate?

Former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that more House Republicans would have voted to impeach former President Donald Trump if they’d had the “guts,” the Myrtle Beach Sun News reports.

Said Ryan: “There are a lot of people who say they’re going to vote their conscious, they’re going to vote for the Constitution, they’re going to vote for their convictions but when it gets hard to do that they don’t do it.”

“Politicians who spend all day shouting in Congress so they can spend all night shouting on cable, they’re peddling crack. Most of it to people who are already addicted, but also with some glittery hopes of finding a new, angry octogenarian out there.”  — Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), quoted by the National Review, slamming the demographics of cable television news.

Rich Lowry: “It’s a blessing and a curse for formerly cutting-edge musicians to see their once radically countercultural material show up in TV ads for automobiles or other common consumer products. There’s no danger that Trump will ever be similarly laundered into the mainstream, or graduate into a beloved or respected elder statesman as almost all American presidents do at some point.”

“But he can become boring, which will put at risk one of the pillars of his appeal as the most wildly entertaining, madcap national political figure of our lifetimes.”

Bill Kristol: “There is no Trump ‘fever’ that is going to break, because Trumpism is now not a fever. It is an entrenched, all-encompassing fact of Republican and conservative life; one that is likely to be with us for quite a while. Trump may personally fade, but Trumpism is here to stay, for the foreseeable future.”

“Which means that authoritarianism—with inflections, or at least overtones, of fascism—will be here for a while, too. With an infrastructure, with a popular base, and with elite enablers. In other words: With its own establishment.”

William Saletan: “Trump may well succeed in purging Cheney and other Reagan Republicans from his party. In 2020, he scrapped the drafting of a platform entirely. He could do so again in 2024. Through purges, capitulations, and retirements, he might complete the transformation of the GOP into a party that worships dictators, ignores Russian aggression, tramples the Constitution, scorns the rule of law, and substitutes presidential favoritism for free markets.”

“That party might manage to gain and hold power for many years. It might even do so by winning elections. But it wouldn’t resemble the ‘Republican’ party any of us have known.”

“A group of House Freedom Caucus members are slated to meet with Donald Trump next week to discuss the group’s ‘strategy’ heading into the next Congress,” Politico reports.

“The meeting also comes two days before the Jan. 6 select committee is slated to begin public hearings designed to convey the gravity of last year’s siege on the Capitol. Perry, as well as former Freedom Caucus chair turned White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, are both under scrutiny for their support of Trump’s baseless election fraud claims in the runup to the violent riot.”

Michael Schaffer: “That’s not a rhetorical question. Read between the lines of some of the coverage during McCarthy’s 15 years in Congress and you start to suspect that many folks who pay close attention to our likely next House Speaker don’t think he’s the sharpest tool in the shed.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) is exploring a bid for Republican whip should his party take control of the House, Politico reports.

Two polls that were conducted by the Wall Street Journal and Gallup after the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision leak show how much Americans’ support for abortion access has ramped up in the face of the Supreme Court’s conservative majority striking down Roe.

57 percent now believe a person ought to be allowed get an abortion for any reason, according to WSJ, the highest figure since its pollster started surveying people on the issue since 1977.

For the first time, a majority of Americans now say abortion is morally acceptable, according to Gallup.

MIT Technology Review: “Opponents of abortion are already using methods like license plate tracking, body cam recordings, and Wi-Fi networks designed to direct visitors to anti-abortion materials.”

“If states go on to criminalize abortion, that data could be used by anti-abortion activists to try to prosecute people seeking abortions, even if they visit a different state where it remains legal.”

The Atlantic: “Americans support recycling. We do too. But although some materials can be effectively recycled and safely made from recycled content, plastics cannot. Plastic recycling does not work and will never work. The United States in 2021 had a dismal recycling rate of about 5 percent for post-consumer plastic waste, down from a high of 9.5 percent in 2014, when the U.S. exported millions of tons of plastic waste to China and counted it as recycled—even though much of it wasn’t.”

“Recycling in general can be an effective way to reclaim natural material resources. The U.S.’s high recycling rate of paper, 68 percent, proves this point. The problem with recycling plastic lies not with the concept or process but with the material itself.”

New York Post: “White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was saved by the bell Thursday when a time-keeper told her to wrap up her press briefing after she dodged repeated questions on when exactly President Biden was briefed on baby formula shortages and by whom.”

“Biden said Wednesday that he wasn’t told about the crisis until ‘early April,’ but Jean-Pierre — during a second day of grilling about the timeline of the crisis — said he actually became aware in ‘late April.’ She then backtracked and refused to say who told Biden, who waited until mid-May to invoke federal powers as parents became increasingly desperate.”

“President Joe Biden’s first formal talks with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro will cover a wide range of issues when they meet at the Summit of the Americas next week, including food insecurity, climate change and pandemic recovery,” Reuters report.

New York Times: “The visit represents the triumph of realpolitik over moral outrage, according to foreign policy experts. In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Biden has found it necessary to court other energy producers to replace oil from Moscow and stabilize world markets. The group of oil-producing nations called OPEC Plus, led by Saudi Arabia, announced on Thursday that it would increase production modestly in July and August. American officials expect the group to do more in the fall, but it may not be enough to bring down prices at the pump before November’s congressional elections.”

“The Biden administration had already been stepping up cooperation with Saudi Arabia on a variety of issues even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine roiled world energy markets, particularly in seeking an end to the eight-year-old Saudi-led war in neighboring Yemen. A two-month-old truce was extended on Thursday, and Mr. Biden praised Saudi leaders for their role.”

Covid-19 vaccinations for the nation’s youngest children could begin as early as June 21, Politico reports.

“The United States is now in its fourth-biggest Covid surge, according to official case counts – but experts believe the actual current rate is much higher,” The Guardian reports.  “America is averaging about 94,000 new cases every day, and hospitalizations have been ticking upward since April, though they remain much lower than previous peaks.”

New York Times: “In Democratic strongholds like Maryland, a rise in violent crime has pushed the party’s candidates to address the issue of public safety in newly urgent terms. Even before the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, reignited the debate over gun control, day-to-day gun crimes and other acts of violence were rattling the American electorate.”

“Long seen as a political wedge for Republicans to use against Democrats, crime is increasingly a subject of concern within the Democratic Party and the big cities that make up much of its political base.”

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

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