Cup of Joe – September 28, 2022

“More than $12 billion in Ukraine-related aid will be included as part of stopgap spending bill that would fund the federal government into mid-December,“ the AP reports.  “The funding package, which Congress is set to consider this week, will also provide disaster assistance, including for Jackson, Mississippi, where improvements are needed for the city’s water treatment system after its main facility malfunctioned in late August, leaving many stranded without clean water.”

Playbook: “What’s not in it: Biden’s request for emergency funds to fight Covid and monkeypox.”

“What’s in it for now, but might not be for long: Joe Manchin’s permitting reform bill.” Indeed, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) “asked for permitting reform changes he has been pushing to be cut from a stopgap funding bill as its passage appeared doomed amid bipartisan opposition,” The Hill reports.

Politico: “McConnell is urging Senate Republicans to vote no on advancing Manchin’s permitting reform legislation as part of a government funding package… It’s an ominous development that puts the West Virginia Democrat’s legislation in peril as he works behind the scenes to drum up support.”

“The GOP leader is whipping his members to vote against advancing an effort on Tuesday that would eventually combine a short-term government funding package with the energy permitting legislation. Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hope to tie the two pieces of legislation and send them over to the House, allowing Manchin’s legislation to ride along the must-pass legislation. Government funding runs out Friday at midnight.”

“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has endorsed a bipartisan electoral count reform bill in the Senate, giving the legislation a key boost over a similar bill the House passed last week,” the Washington Post reports.

“Both bills seek to prevent future presidents from trying to overturn election results through Congress, and were directly prompted by the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win.”

“The Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), would amend the Electoral Count Act of 1887 and reaffirm that the vice president has only a ministerial role at the joint session of Congress to count electoral votes, as well as raise the threshold necessary for members of Congress to object to a state’s electors.”

Vox: Trump found the holes in our election laws. Congress is trying to patch them.

“Efforts to reform an obscure 135-year-old election law, which Donald Trump tried to utilize to subvert the 2020 election, are reviving a classic congressional rivalry: the House vs. the Senate,” Politico reports.  “After signaling for months that they wanted to go further than the Senate’s proposed adjustments to the law, House members could vote as early as Wednesday on legislation to update the Electoral Count Act, the 1887 statute that Trump and his allies distorted in an attempt to seize a second term he didn’t win.”

“The Senate is hurtling toward a critical test vote on Tuesday that will decide whether congressional leaders will be forced to strip Joe Manchin’s energy permitting plan from a short-term government funding patch in order to thwart a shutdown at midnight on Friday,” Politico reports.   “The GOP is likely to block an effort to combine the two bills as soon as Tuesday afternoon, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell whipping against the West Virginia centrist’s permitting measure. Manchin has continued working behind the scenes to whip up support, but leading Republicans are increasingly lined up against him.”

Russians desperate to flee Vladimir Putin’s military draft are paying as much as $25,000 each for a seat on a private jet as high demand for flights out of the country has sent airfares soaring, The Guardian reports.

New York Times: Russia admits to draft problems as anger flares into violence.

“New satellite images show a line of cars and trucks spanning more than 10 miles of trying to leave Russia and enter Georgia,” Axios reports.

Meta revealed that “a sprawling disinformation network originating in Russia sought to use hundreds of fake social media accounts and dozens of sham news websites to spread Kremlin talking points about the invasion of Ukraine,” the AP reports.

In what’s almost certainly meant to be a troll move aimed at the U.S., Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Monday granted Russian citizenship to ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who’s been living in Russia since 2013 to escape criminal charges after exposing U.S. mass surveillance.

Snowden won’t have to go fight in Ukraine under Putin’s partial mobilization order (which applies to dual citizens), according to Snowden’s lawyer, because he hasn’t previously served in the Russian military.

Snowden announced in 2020 that he and his wife were applying for Russian citizenship so they could cross borders more freely with their soon-to-be-born son.

Tom Nichols: “The Russian president is facing multiple countdowns that could end in disaster, all of them set in motion by a series of his own stupid and reckless decisions that has cost thousands of lives and put world peace at risk. There is one last mistake he has not yet made—the use of a nuclear weapon—and we can only hope that all the other clocks run out before he even considers the most dire misstep of all.”

“Russia is set to formally annex occupied territories in Ukraine after staging referendums that involved coercion, threats and, in some places, soldiers going door to door and forcing people to vote at gunpoint,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Between Nov. 3, 2020, and President Biden’s inauguration, Mark Meadows’ cellphone became a key channel for dozens of elected officials as well private citizens to convey outlandish conspiracy theories and last-ditch ideas to overturn the election, according to a new book by an ex-adviser to the Jan. 6 committee,” Axios reports.  “The Breach by former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA) claims that former President Trump’s chief of staff received texts from 39 House members and five U.S. senators. It cites texts from GOP lawmakers to paint a picture of how invested many were in Trump’s effort to overturn the election.”

“Senior leadership at the Secret Service confiscated the cellphones of 24 agents involved in the agency’s response to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol and handed them over to the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General,” NBC News reports.

“The day before the 2020 election, Roger Stone, the long-time Republican operative and ally of former President Donald Trump, said in front of a documentary film crew that he had no interest in waiting to tally actual votes before contesting the election results,” CNN reports.  Said Stone, in the video: “Fuck the voting, let’s get right to the violence.”   Stone claimed to the Washington Post the video is a “deep fake,” though there’s no sign it was manipulated in any way.

“The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob intends to show at its hearing this week video footage of Roger Stone recorded by Danish filmmakers during the weeks before the violence,” the Washington Post reports.  “The committee is considering including video clips in which Stone, a longtime friend and adviser to former president Donald Trump, predicted violent clashes with left-wing activists and forecast months before the 2020 vote that the president would use armed guards and loyal judges to stay in power.”

CNN: “The committee has presented evidence that former President Donald Trump wanted to go to the Capitol on January 6, eliciting testimony from numerous witnesses describing the former President’s urgent desire to be driven to the Capitol complex by his Secret Service detail following his speech on the Ellipse. It also has established that Trump anticipated staying in office.”

“Yet the committee has not been able to uncover precisely what Trump planned to do upon arriving at the Capitol, a source familiar with its investigation says, and attributes the gap in knowledge to the limited subpoena power of the committee. It also has been unable to definitively conclude if Trump had a plan. Instead, the committee has developed a number of working theories.”

Los Angeles Times: January 6 still has the power to shock. But will it drive voters’ decisions?

“The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is postponing its highly anticipated hearing because of Hurricane Ian, which is expected to barrel into the western coast of Florida on Wednesday,” the Washington Post reports.

“It’s unclear when the daytime hearing, which seeks to recapture the nation’s attention with what is likely to be the panel’s final public hearing before the release of a final report, will be rescheduled.”

“The Justice Department has asked a judge to order former Trump White House trade adviser Peter Navarro to return federal records they say he wrongfully kept after leaving the administration,” CNN reports.

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft plowed into an asteroid on Monday, a major breakthrough in scientists’ study of how to defend the Earth from a potential asteroid crash.

Gerard Baker: “A perilous war rages in Europe, as a failing tyrant with nuclear weapons launches desperate new waves of cannon fodder against a nation whose defense we are financing and reinforcing. In Asia, the emerging Chinese superpower is in the throes of a significant economic and social upheaval that may propel it toward the full-scale confrontation it increasingly threatens with Taiwan, an island whose people we are pledged to defend.”

“At home we are caught in the worst of economic traps—as the Federal Reserve inflicts unavoidable monetary pain to kill the surging inflation incurred by its avoidable mistake. Meanwhile the global economy seems to be sliding into a potentially serious recession, and financial markets are eroding our wealth at a dizzying pace.”

“But at a time when the need for quiet, calm deliberation has never been greater, the U.S. is engaged in a conversation that sounds less like the Constitutional Convention of 1787 than the game room of a psychiatric institution.”

“The White House’s plan to cancel student loan debt for tens of millions of American borrowers will cost roughly $400 billion over 10 years, according to a new estimate released by Congress’ nonpartisan scorekeeper,” the Washington Post reports.  “The new estimate will fuel the debate over President Biden’s student debt decision, which was cheered by advocates but immediately assailed by Republican lawmakers as a wasteful and inefficient waste of government spending. Biden announced in August that his administration would cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for lower- and middle-class borrowers.”

“A public interest lawyer in Indiana is suing to block President Biden’s plan to cancel some student debt, arguing that the policy will force him to pay state taxes on the forgiven amount,” the Washington Post reports.

“The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana Tuesday, is the first significant legal action seeking to invalidate Biden’s policy before it takes effect.”

“U.S. consumer confidence rose for a second month in September to the highest since April, indicating a strong job market and lower gas prices are contributing to more optimistic views of the economy,” Bloomberg reports.

“China’s economic output will lag behind the rest of Asia for the first time since 1990, according to new World Bank forecasts that highlight the damage wrought by President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policies and the meltdown of the world’s biggest property market,” the Financial Times reports.  Related from the Wall Street Journal: “China has spent a trillion dollars to expand its influence across Asia, Africa and Latin America through its Belt and Road infrastructure program. Now, Beijing is working on an overhaul of the troubled initiative.”

The Economist: “Around the world, financial markets look increasingly distressed. In Britain government-bond yields have surged (see chart) and sterling has slumped, prompting the Treasury and Bank of England to issue statements attempting to soothe markets. In Japan the government has intervened in foreign-exchange markets to stem the fall in the yen for the first time since 1998. In China the central bank has increased reserve requirements for foreign-exchange trading, in a bid to restrain currency outflows. At the heart of the turmoil is the relentless rise of the American dollar and global interest rates. There is little relief on the horizon.”

“Each market has its own idiosyncrasies. Britain’s new government plans the country’s largest tax cuts in half a century. Japan is attempting to keep interest rates at rock-bottom levels, bucking the global trend. China’s government is struggling with the consequences of a ‘zero-covid’ policy that has isolated it from the world.”

“But all face a shared set of challenges. Most of the world’s currencies have weakened markedly against the dollar. The DXY, an index of the dollar’s worth against a basket of rich-world currencies, has climbed 18% this year, reaching its highest in two decades. Persistent inflation in America and the simultaneous tightening of monetary policy are making markets febrile.”

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated Giorgia Meloni for her party’s victory in yesterday’s parliamentary elections in Italy.  Meloni is set to head the most right-wing government in the country since Mussolini.

Steve Bannon celebrated Giorgia Meloni’s victory in Italy, becoming the country’s most far-right prime minister since Benito Mussolini.   Said Bannon: “This is the rise of Christian nationalism. You watch.”

Giorgia Meloni, who is poised to become Italy’s first female prime minister, posted a suggestive video in which she held two melons in front of her chest and declared, “I’ve said it all.”

“The earthquake in Italy has sent tremors that could be felt in the White House,” Politico reports.  “The victory of Italian far-right leader Giorgia Meloni rattled Europe, furthering fears about a new right-wing shift on the continent as it battles economic hardship and nervously watches a raging war on its Eastern flank. It also was met with deep, if private, worry within President Joe Biden’s administration.”  “The White House put a brave public face on it, noting that Meloni’s win was the will of the Italian people while expressing confidence that Italy would remain a steadfast partner with the West.”

New York Times: “It has also underscored divisions within the United States, as members of the Trump wing of the Republican Party embraced the rise of a nationalist whose party has roots in Mussolini-era fascism.”

CNN: How the far-right is surging in Europe.

Playbook: “For all the shock about Meloni having a seat at the table in the G-7, NATO and the EU, you would be hard-pressed to find anything she has said about globalism, immigration, or nearly any other issue animating the global populist right that is more controversial than what’s been uttered by the last American president. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be deeply concerning that her party has neo-facist roots and embraces the tri-color flame symbol associated with Mussolini.”

“But in terms of the issues that the U.S. cares about — keeping the anti-Putin coalition intact and keeping Rome as a constructive force inside the EU — Meloni is either already on board or unlikely to make waves. Italy is reliant on billions of dollars in aid from the EU, and most analysts here believe that alone will curtail any anti-Europe backsliding.”

A former staffer for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) tells Vanity Fair that DeSantis regularly criticizes Donald Trump in private conversations, calling him a “moron who has no business running for president.”

“The University of Idaho’s general counsel issued new guidance on Friday about the state’s near-total abortion ban, alerting faculty and staff that the school should no longer offer birth control for students, a rare move for a state university,” the Washington Post reports.

“University employees were also advised not to speak in support of abortion at work. If an employee appears to promote abortion, counsel in favor of abortion, or refer a student for an abortion procedure, they could face a felony conviction and be permanently barred from all future state employment.”

“As the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus plots how to exert its influence on next year’s likely GOP majority, its members are poised to holster a potent political weapon: Challenging Kevin McCarthy,” Politico reports.  “With the California Republican still the uncontested frontrunner for speaker next year, his biggest potential threat — aside from a November collapse that leaves him with a threadbare majority — is a Freedom Caucus-backed rival. But interviews with more than a dozen members of the conservative group indicate they’re not moving to coalesce against the GOP leader as they have in the past.”

Washington Post: “Targeting Cawthorn was part of a larger behind-the-scenes effort by top GOP donors and senior strategists to purge the influence of Republican factions that seek disruption and grandstanding, often at the expense of their GOP colleagues. The political machine around McCarthy has spent millions of dollars this year in a sometimes secretive effort to systematically weed out GOP candidates who could either cause McCarthy trouble if he becomes House speaker or jeopardize GOP victories in districts where more moderate candidate might have a better chance at winning.”

“The allies close to McCarthy have sometimes taken steps to conceal their efforts, as they did in the Cawthorn case, with money passing from top GOP donors through organizations that do not disclose their donors or have limited public records, federal disclosures show.”

“Look, back before we had all the crazies here, just some crazies. You know, every vote we took, we had to somehow defund Obamacare… That’s going to look like child’s play in terms of what Marjorie Taylor Greene is going to demand of Kevin McCarthy. They’re going to demand an impeachment vote on President Biden every week. They’re going to demand things like, you know, let’s make abortion illegal in all circumstances.”  — Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), in a CNN interview, on what will happen if Republicans take control of the House.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) unrolled the red carpet for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) on Monday at his eponymous McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, where the Arizona senator bragged that not only was she “committed” to keeping the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold, she also had an “incredibly unpopular view” about the threshold.

Are you ready to hear it, America? Are you? Okay, here it is: The 60-vote threshold ought to be restored for votes where it’s been eliminated (and now only require a simple majority), like judicial confirmations, because doing so would create “middle ground” in “all parts of our governance,” Sinema argued as McConnell salivated several feet away from the podium.

Sinema also boasted that she’s “never really wanted to fit in, not in Washington, and not anywhere else.”

It’s still not clear who exactly Sinema’s trying to win over by proudly stonewalling her own party’s agenda (assuming it has anything to do with running for president or reelection instead of just pleasing donors). According to this new AARP-commissioned poll, her disapproval figures are at double digits across every Arizona voter demographic that got included in the survey.

“A blank-check company that plans to take Donald Trump’s media business public has changed its listed address to a mailbox at a UPS Store, the latest sign that the company is trying to preserve cash as it struggles to keep the deal alive,” the Financial Times reports.

A newly filed affidavit describes how Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and his wife fled their home in a truck on Monday morning when a process server tried to serve the attorney general a subpoena in a lawsuit by nonprofits working to help Texans receive out-of-state abortion care.

Here’s how part of the scene played out, according to the process server in the affidavit: “I walked up the driveway approaching Mr. Paxton and called him by his name. As soon as he saw me and heard me call his name out, he turned around and RAN back inside the house through the same door in the garage.”

The process server said he put the documents near the truck on the ground, only for Paxton to drive away–but not before the process server told the official he was being served.

Paxton claimed later via Twitter that he ran away out of “concern about the safety and well-being of my family.”

“Texas banned more books from school libraries this past year than any other state in the nation, targeting titles centering on race, racism, abortion and LGBTQ representation and issues,” the Texas Tribune reports.

A school district in Pennsylvania has banned the Girls Who Code book series, The Guardian reports.  “The series features a group of girls who become friends in their school’s coding club. The series is in partnership with Girls Who Code, a non-profit that runs computer coding clubs and programming in schools for girls.”

New York Times: “Previous protests — over fraudulent elections in 2009, economic mismanagement in 2017 and fuel price hikes in 2019 — have been ruthlessly suppressed by Iran’s security forces, and this time may be no different. Yet, for the first time since the founding of the Iranian Republic, the current uprising has united rich Iranians descending from high-rise apartments in northern Tehran with struggling bazaar vendors in its working-class south, and Kurds, Turks and other ethnic minorities with members of the Fars majority.”

“The sheer diversity of the protesters reflects the breadth of Iranians’ grievances, analysts say, from a sickly economy and in-your-face corruption, to political repression and social restrictions — frustrations Iran’s government has repeatedly tried, and failed, to quash.”

A new Times of London/YouGov poll finds Labour has surged to “its largest poll lead over the Conservatives in more than two decades, with voters turning against Kwasi Kwarteng’s tax-cutting budget.” The poll puts Labour 17 points clear of the Tories — “a level of support not seen since Tony Blair won his landslide victory in 2001.”

“Brazil presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva slightly widened his lead over President Jair Bolsonaro less than a week before the South American country’s election, a poll by IPEC released on Monday showed,” Reuters reports.

“Cubans have approved a sweeping ‘family law’ code that will allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt as well as redefining rights for children and grandparents, though opposition in the national referendum was unusually strong on the Communist Party-governed island,” the AP reports.

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

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