Cup of Joe – September 27, 2022

Politico: “Wages are up, gas prices are down, the thinking goes. And following a year of fits and starts, Biden clinched congressional deals aimed at reshaping major parts of the U.S. economy — and cementing elements of his own presidential legacy.”

“But just as the White House was rushing to capitalize on its winning streak — in hopes of turning around an economic narrative that has dogged the administration from its earliest days — complications have arisen. The lengthy fall in gas prices finally ended, inflation has stayed stubbornly high and a bleak global economic landscape has rattled the markets, with both the Dow Jones and S&P 500 nearing their weakest levels of the year.”

“The cross currents of economic and political news have left the White House in a tricky position. After spending much of his term battling inflation and fears of a recession, Biden has begun traveling the country touting long-term investments in manufacturing and climate. And among White House advisers and allies, there’s even optimism that an economic record that once weighed on congressional Democrats’ political prospects could help keep many of them in power.”

Washington Post: “The country seems to be barreling toward a rematch that few voters actually want, but that two presidents — one current, one former — cannot stop talking about. Biden and Trump both say they are planning to make their decisions in the coming months, but with a lingering codependency between them, they each appear to be nudging the other into what would be a rare faceoff between the same two candidates four years apart.”

“In some sense, given the growing attacks, a 2024 grudge match is already underway. But it is less a heavyweight rematch that the country is eager to see and more of a rerun that few seem to be looking forward to. Neither Biden nor Trump is enthusiastically embraced by his own party.”

“At 4:34 pm on January 6, 2021, a cell phone registered to a Capitol rioter who had stormed the building, received a phone call from a White House landline,“ CNN reports.

“The call lasted for only nine seconds.”

“Who placed the call and why remains a mystery, but it is notable as the only known call made from the White House to the phone of a rioter during this critical time period.”

“As allies of then-President Donald Trump made a final push to overturn the election in late-December 2020, one of the key operatives behind the effort briefed then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about his attempts to gain access to voting systems in key battleground states, starting with Arizona and Georgia, according to text messages,” CNN reports.

“The messages, which have not been previously reported, shed new light on how Waldron’s reach extended into the highest levels of the White House and the extent to which Meadows was kept abreast of plans for accessing voting machines.”

The January 6 committee subpoenaed Wisconsin’s House Speaker Robin Vos (R) over the weekend for testimony about a July phone call with former President Donald Trump, Politico reports.  According to CNN, Vos asked a federal judge in Wisconsin to block the subpoena, which called for him to testify at 10 a.m. ET on Monday.

“A federal judge in Arizona ruled Thursday that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol can see the phone records of Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward and her husband,” NBC News reports.  “In January, the state GOP chair and her husband, Michael Ward, were among 14 of 84 so-called alternate electors subpoenaed by the committee because they had claimed in bogus documents that then-President Donald Trump had won the 2020 election in their states.”

“The chief of the U.S. Capitol Police during the Jan. 6 siege has a book deal,” ABC News reports.  “Steven Sund’s Courage Under Fire: Under Siege and Outnumbered 58 to 1 on January 6 will come out Jan. 3, just shy of the two-year anniversary of the riot by supporters of President Donald Trump.”

“Donald Trump denied knowing at the time the January 6 attack on the US Capitol started that a mob of his supporters – whom he privately called ‘fucking crazy’ – were rioting, the author of a forthcoming book on his chaotic presidency writes in what may stand as one of the most surprising, non-believable postscripts of his tenure in the Oval Office,” The Guardian reports.  Said Trump: “I didn’t usually have the television on. I’d have it on if there was something. I then later turned it on and I saw what was happening.”

He added: “I had heard that afterward and actually on the late side. I was having meetings. I was also with Mark Meadows and others. I was not watching television.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, said that a criminal referral for former President Trump should be unanimous from the panel, The Hill reports.  Said Schiff: “We operate with a high degree of consensus and unanimity.”

“The Ukraine war is entering a risky period in which the guardrails for averting military escalation between the U.S. and Russia are increasingly imperiled,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to redraw his red line by moving to annex portions of Ukraine, suggesting they will become part of Russia proper once the results of referendums are announced later this week. Mr. Putin warned last week that Moscow might use nuclear weapons if the West attacks Russian territory, which in its view will soon be larger.”

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the U.S. has warned Russia that it would face “catastrophic consequences” if it uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

New York Times: “The drive to compel Ukrainians to battle other Ukrainians is part of a broader, if risky, effort by Moscow to mobilize hundreds of thousands of new fighters as its forces suffer huge casualties and struggle to hold off Ukrainian advances in the east and south.”

“It comes at the same time as a Russian-orchestrated vote that is setting the stage for the Kremlin to cleave Ukraine through an annexation that has been broadly condemned around the world.”

The Biden administration is trying to stave off a bipartisan push on Capitol Hill to sharpen the enforcement of a proposed cap on the price of Russian oil, aiming to avoid an escalation that officials worry could upset the effort’s delicate diplomatic balancing act,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Treasury and White House officials have been working for months on a plan to set a cap on the sales price of Russian oil around the world. With allies in the Group of Seven wealthy nations, they have designed a plan to limit Russia’s revenue from oil sales while still keeping Russian oil available on global markets. The plan would bar the use of Western financial services for shipping Russian oil if the oil isn’t sold below the cap.”

“He wants to scare the whole world. These are the first steps of his nuclear blackmail. I don’t think he’s bluffing.” — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, quoted by CNBC, on Russian president Vladimir Putin’s threat of using nuclear weapons.

“Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida wanted to irritate a set of wealthy, liberal elites when he flew migrants to Martha’s Vineyard from Texas, delivering them a slice of the humanitarian crisis simmering along the nation’s southern border,” the New York Times reports.

“But Mr. DeSantis’s stunt also annoyed an entirely different group — fellow Republicans in Austin, including some of the allies and aides of Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas.”

“Publicly, Mr. Abbott has not criticized Mr. DeSantis’s migrant flights from his state… But privately, the Florida governor’s gambit stung Mr. Abbott’s team. No one in the Texas governor’s office was given a heads-up that Mr. DeSantis planned to round up migrants in San Antonio, according to people familiar with the matter.”

After all, Abbott’s team reportedly complains, the migrants came from the Texas governor’s turf, and he’s just as committed to exploiting them by sending them to “blue cities” just as much as DeSantis is! DeSantis privately lamented to donors last year that he wasn’t as lucky as Abbott to have that delicious U.S.-Mexico border to use as racist political capital, the Times also reports.

“Italy will be led by the most far-right government since the fascist era of Benito Mussolini, early exit polls suggest,” CNN reports. “Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party – whose origins lie in post-war fascism – were on track to win the vote in Sunday’s general election.”

BBC: “A Meloni-led Italy will alarm much of Europe with Russia at war in Ukraine.”

“Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni has claimed victory in a general election that seems set to install her as Italy’s first female prime minister, leading the most far-right government since the fascist era of Benito Mussolini,” CNN reports.

“Preliminary results put an alliance of far-right parties, led by Meloni’s ultraconservative Brothers of Italy party, on track to win at least 44% of the vote.”

Damon Linker: “Put it all together—populist hostility to immigration, pro-business economic policy, support for federalism, and social conservatism on religion and cultural issues—and we have an incoming coalition that overlaps in important ways with the post-Trump configuration of the Republican Party (without the embrace of election-fraud conspiracies), as well as with the current governments of Hungary and Poland, the recently elected anti-immigrant government of Sweden, and Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally in France.”

Punchbowl News: “Due to the holiday, the House is out of session on Monday and Tuesday. The Senate is out today but has a high-profile vote Tuesday on the legislative vehicle for a short-term government-funding bill. Federal agencies run out of funding on Friday, so this vote will be the key to what unfolds throughout the rest of the week. Lawmakers are anxious to get back home to campaign and they want to wrap up legislative business as soon as possible.”

“President Joe Biden has won Senate confirmation for more than 80 of his nominees to be federal judges, a breakneck speed that outpaces former President Donald Trump at this juncture of his presidency,” NBC News reports.

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said that Republicans are thinking about impeaching President Joe Biden if they take over the House chamber following the midterm elections, USA Today reports.  Said Mace: “I believe there’s a lot of pressure on Republicans to have that vote and put that legislation forward.”

“Some key House Republicans are calling for the repeal of Democrats’ newly-passed drug pricing measure if the GOP flips control of one or both chambers of Congress next year,” Axios reports.  “Democrats view the drug pricing measure in the Inflation Reduction Act as a clear political winner and are essentially daring Republicans to say they want to repeal it.”  Fighting inflation by making drugs more expensive seems like a losing issue.

“Not only am I committed to the 60 vote threshold, I have an incredibly unpopular view, I actually think we should restore the 60-vote threshold for the areas in which it has been eliminated already.” — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), on the Senate filibuster.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) praised Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), saying she’s the “most effective first-term senator” he’s seen during his 37 years in the upper chamber, Insider reports.

Said McConnell: “I’ve only known Kyrsten for four years, but she is, in my view — and I’ve told her this — the most effective first-term senator I’ve seen in my time in the Senate. She is, today, what we have too few of in the Democratic Party: a genuine moderate, and a dealmaker.”

The United Kingdom is be plunging into a currency crisis after the pound plummeted to a record low, the Financial Times reports.

The pound was trading as low as $1.035 early Monday morning, continuing an alarming trend triggered by a raft of tax cuts for corporations and the highest earners unveiled Friday.

“Elon Musk’s Starlink has activated its satellite broadband service in Iran after the US allowed private companies to offer uncensored internet access to the country amid protests that have caused more than 40 deaths,” the Financial Times reports.

“Ever since American manufacturing entered a long stretch of automation and outsourcing in the late 1970s, every recession has led to the loss of factory jobs that never returned. But the recovery from the pandemic recession has been different: American manufacturers have now added enough jobs to regain all that they shed — and then some,” the New York Times reports.

“The resurgence has not been driven by companies bringing back factory jobs that had moved overseas, nor by the brawny industrial sectors and regions often evoked by President Biden, former President Donald J. Trump and other champions of manufacturing.”

“Instead, the engines in this recovery include pharmaceutical plants, craft breweries and ice-cream makers. The newly created jobs are more likely to be located in the Mountain West and the Southeast than in the classic industrial strongholds of the Great Lakes.”

“The Biden administration and TikTok have drafted a preliminary agreement to resolve national security concerns posed by the Chinese-owned video app but face hurdles over the terms, as the platform negotiates to keep operating in the United States without major changes to its ownership structure,” the New York Times reports.

“The two sides have hammered out the foundations of a deal in which TikTok would make changes to its data security and governance without requiring its owner, the Chinese internet giant ByteDance, to sell it.”

“Republicans across the country have embraced an aggressive tactic this year as they seek to tout baseless claims that voter fraud is a serious threat: arming state agencies with more power and resources to investigate election crimes,” the Washington Post reports.

“Virginia’s Republican attorney general earlier this month announced a new election integrity unit staffed with more than 20 attorneys and investigators ‘to increase transparency and strengthen confidence in our state elections.’ Georgia legislators recently empowered the statewide police agency to launch election probes. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) last month described the arrests of 20 people for alleged illegal voting as the “opening salvo” of a new elections police force.”

“But a Washington Post examination of an earlier endeavor in Arizona to systematically ferret out voter fraud found it has turned up few cases — and that rather than bolster confidence in elections, the absence of massive fraud has just fueled more bogus theories and distrust.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) warned members of his party Saturday that the GOP is “winning right now” as that party controls the national conversation – arguing that Democrats’ failure to offer a “compelling alternative narrative” has put the “entire rights agenda” of the last half-century at risk, CNN reports.

Said Newsom: “These guys are ruthless on the other side… They dominate the most important thing in American politics today and that’s the narrative – facts become secondary to narrative. They dominate with illusion. And we are getting crushed. We are on the defense over and over again.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) “will travel to Texas on Saturday, venturing into the territory of one of his chief political foils while seeking to boost his own profile amid a noncompetitive reelection campaign back home,” ABC News reports.

“President Joe Biden won’t be coming down to South Florida on Tuesday, citing the incoming Tropical Storm Ian as the reason — which is still forecast to hit the state as a hurricane,” the Miami Herald reports.

“Biden was expected to speak on healthcare costs and Medicare in Fort Lauderdale, and then head to Orlando to speak at a Democratic National Committee event. It’s unclear when or if Biden will reschedule the visit.”

“President Joe Biden has elevated three veteran White House officials to the most senior level of his West Wing staff, highlighting their roles as key players on his team as the administration enters a critical stretch,” CNN reports.  “Biden promoted Jennifer Klein, the director of the White House Gender Policy Council; Vinay Reddy, Biden’s director of speechwriting; and Emmy Ruiz, the White House director of political strategy and outreach, to the role of assistant to the president.”

“The White House is launching a talent search to be ready for turnover in President Biden’s cabinet and other senior administration roles after the 2022 midterm elections,” Axios reports.

Donald Trump said the “rich friends” he acquired from his presidency made it all worth it to him, according to Maggie Haberman’s upcoming book, the HuffPost reports. Said Trump: “The question I get asked more than any other question: ‘If you had to do it again, would you have done it?’ The answer is, yeah, I think so. Because here’s the way I look at it. I have so many rich friends and nobody knows who they are.”

“You know why Lindsey kisses my ass? So I’ll endorse his friends.”— Donald Trump, quoted in an excerpt of Maggie Haberman’s The Confidence Man, on Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

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

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