Cup of Joe – October 1, 2022

President Biden said that Hurricane Ian could be the “deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history,” vowing the federal government will provide assistance “however long it takes” to ensure a full recovery, USA Today reports.

Said Biden: “The numbers are still unclear, but we’re hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life.”

“As a freshman congressman in 2013, Ron DeSantis was unambiguous: A federal bailout for the New York region after Hurricane Sandy was an irresponsible boondoggle, a symbol of the ‘put it on the credit card mentality’ he had come to Washington to oppose,” the New York Times reports.

“Nearly a decade later, as his state confronts the devastation and costly destruction wrought by Hurricane Ian, Mr. DeSantis is appealing to the nation’s better angels — and betting on its short memory.”

Washington Post: Biden, DeSantis and how leaders can be defined by hurricanes.

Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday threw out special master Judge Raymond Dearie’s order that would’ve required Trump to actually substantiate his accusations that the FBI planted evidence in its Mar-a-Lago raid. Cannon also gave Trump another boost by extending the deadline for Dearie to wrap up his review to Dec. 16. 

“Lawyers for former President Donald Trump are resisting a federal judge’s instruction to submit a sworn declaration on whether they believe the government’s list of property taken from Trump’s Florida estate is accurate,” Reuters reports.

“According to a letter publicly filed by Trump’s lawyers on Wednesday, the former president’s legal team told Senior U.S. Judge Raymond Dearie, who is reviewing the materials taken in the federal raid of the Florida property, that they don’t believe Dearie has the authority to require them to make such a filing.”

Russian leader Vladimir Putin gave a speech and held a ceremony today to sign what the Kremlin calls “accession treaties” that would illegally annex the four regions in Ukraine (Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia) where Russia held fake referendums.

“[It’s a] signal that the Russian leader is prepared to raise the stakes in the seven-month-old war against Ukraine,” the New York Times reports. “It is not clear whether even Russia’s staunchest allies will recognize Mr. Putin’s move, and Russian forces only partly control the land he plans to claim.”

Putin on Friday asserted that Russia would take control of four Ukrainian regions and decried the United States for “Satanism” and “neocolonial hegemony” in a speech that marked a new escalation in Moscow’s seven-month war against Ukraine and positioned Russia, in starkly confrontational terms, as fighting an existential battle with Western elites he deemed “the enemy,” the New York Times reports.

“Even by Mr. Putin’s increasingly antagonistic standards, the speech was extraordinary, mixing riffs against Western attitudes on gender identity with an appeal to the world to see Russia as the leader of an uprising against American power.”

“The U.S. on Friday sanctioned more than 1,000 people and firms connected to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including its Central Bank governor and families of Security Council members, after President Vladimir Putin signed treaties absorbing occupied regions of Ukraine into Russia in defiance of international law,” the AP reports.

CNN: “US officials have been working behind the scenes to coordinate their response with allies over the course of the last several days and deploy it immediately after Putin’s official action… The response marks an escalation and expansion of the most sweeping sanctions regime ever to target a major economy, one that has been steadily ramped up throughout the more than seven months since Russia’s invasion.”

NATO said that a series of crippling leaks to gas pipelines running from Russia to Europe were the result of “deliberate, reckless and irresponsible acts of sabotage,” the Times of London reports.

“The Pentagon is preparing to overhaul how the United States and its allies train and equip the Ukrainian military, reflecting what officials say is the Biden administration’s long-term commitment to support Ukraine in its war with Russia,” the New York Times reports.

The U.S. charged Russian Oligrarch Oleg Deripaska — a longtime ally and colleague of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort — with sanctions violations and obstruction of justice.

“President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization of Russian men to fight in Ukraine has brought home the reality of war to ordinary Russian families,” the New York Times reports.

“For months, Russian voices of dissent were largely silent. Initial antiwar demonstrations were quickly crushed and there were only small displays of defiance in major cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg. But that all changed after Putin’s announcement on Sept. 21.”

“Through angry protests, acts of violence and an exodus of more than 200,000 citizens, Russians are rebelling against the prospect of further escalation of the war and the steep price they will probably pay.”

Susan Glasser: “Nuclear blackmail, illegal annexation of territory, hundreds of thousands of Russian men rounded up and sent to the front lines in Ukraine, undersea gas pipelines to Europe mysteriously blowing up. After endless speculation, we can now say it for sure: this is how Vladimir Putin responds when he is backed into a corner.”

“Throughout seven awful months of war in Ukraine, President Joe Biden has held to a steadfast line when it comes to the Russian invasion: his goal is to help Ukraine win while also insuring that victory does not trigger a Third World War. But as Russian forces have experienced U.S.-aided battlefield setbacks in recent days, Putin has reacted by ratcheting up the pressure. It’s far from clear how Washington will be able to continue to pursue both goals simultaneously, given that Putin is holding Ukraine—and the rest of the world—hostage to his demands.”

David Ignatius: “Think of Putin as a gambler who took the biggest risk of his career when he invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. None of his big bets have turned out right since, and he has lost nearly every hand. Yet he has chained himself to the table, and he appears ready to wager everything to intimidate his adversaries and make them fold.”

“Putin’s annexation of four regions in Ukraine, likely to be announced Friday, is a desperation ploy. He may try to dress it up as victory, claiming that he has now achieved the aims of his “special military operation” and can pause for the winter to regroup. Nonsense. This is the most blatantly illegal attempt to seize territory since Adolf Hitler tried to swallow Europe in World War II.“

“Simple advice to Ukraine and its allies in the United States and Europe: Hunker down. Ride out the short-term pain. Don’t fold, but don’t shoot for the moon, either. Resist the pressure to match Putin’s wild nuclear threats. The truth is that he’s holding a weak hand. The longer he stays in, the worse his situation will become. His compulsive addiction to Ukraine will eventually be fatal. Patience is the West’s secret weapon.”

“Applications for US unemployment insurance dropped unexpectedly to a five-month low, led by a sizable decline in Michigan, suggesting robust demand for workers amid economic uncertainty,” Bloomberg reports.

“Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is waging a relentless battle against inflation that threatens to leave a path of destruction on the global economy in its wake,” Politico reports.

“The Fed — carrying out its steepest interest rate hikes in three decades — has fueled market turmoil by boosting the value of the dollar and feeding higher borrowing costs from the U.K. to Japan to Latin America. But Powell’s No. 1 enemy is inflation at home, and he has signaled that the Fed will do what’s best for the U.S., no matter what.”

The Economist: “The world’s financial markets are going through their most painful adjustment since the global financial crisis. Adapting to the prospect of higher American interest rates, the ten-year Treasury yield briefly hit 4% this week, its highest level since 2010. Global stock markets have sold off sharply, and bond portfolios have lost an astonishing 21% this year.”

“The dollar is crushing all comers. The greenback is up by 5.5% since mid-August on a trade-weighted basis, partly because the Fed is raising rates but also because investors are backing away from risk. Across Asia, governments are intervening to resist the depreciation of their currencies. In Europe Britain has poured the fuel of reckless fiscal policy on the fire, causing it to lose the confidence of investors. And as bond yields surge, the euro zone’s indebted economies are looking their most fragile since the sovereign-debt crisis a decade ago.”

Meanwhile, in a Bloomberg interview, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers likened the array of risks confronting the global economy to the pre-crisis summer of 2007.

“A persistent economic puzzle is why labor is still so tight amid slowing growth, high inflation and growing fears of recession,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Gross domestic product growth slipped into negative territory in the first half of the year. Borrowing costs have risen steeply as the Federal Reserve boosts interest rates in an attempt to reduce inflation. Even so, monthly payrolls have grown an average of 438,000 from January through August, nearly three times their 2019 prepandemic pace.”

“Many employers say they continue to struggle with large staffing shortages that built up during the pandemic and are reluctant to cut head count. In many cases, they are still hiring.”

“Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, repeated claims the 2020 election was stolen, despite a lack of evidence, while testifying Thursday before the House committee investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021,” USA Today reports.

“Boris Epshteyn, one of former President Donald Trump’s most prominent lawyers, testified on Thursday before a special grand jury in Atlanta that has been convened as part of a criminal investigation into election interference by Mr. Trump and his allies,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Epshteyn played a central role in efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power despite his loss in the 2020 election. He now serves as an in-house counsel for the former president, helping coordinate the Trump team’s various legal defense efforts; a separate federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s mishandling of classified documents is underway, along with the inquiry by the Congressional committee investigating the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021.”

Donald Trump’s first national security adviser Michael Flynn warned at an Arizona campaign event that governors may soon “declare war.”

Said Flynn: “States’ rights. Did you know that a governor can declare war? A governor can declare war. And we’re going to probably see that.” To be clear, Governors cannot declare war.

Americans’ trust in the Supreme Court is plummeting to historic lows, according to a new Gallup poll, which notes that people’s opinions of the high court overall in terms of trust, job approval and confidence are “the worst they have been in 50 years of polling.”

47 percent say they have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in SCOTUS, the lowest number recorded. It’s a staggering 20-point drop from 2020.

SCOTUS’ job approval figures are astonishingly terrible too: Disapproval is at 58 percent, an all-time high. People are seeing the right-wing partisan hackery that’s infected the high court: A record high number of Americans say SCOTUS is “too conservative.”

But don’t you dare suggest the high court is losing its legitimacy, or else Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito will wag his finger at you for crossing what he calls “an important line.”

The Economist: “Three months after scrapping abortion rights, fortifying the right to bear arms and bulldozing the church-state wall, the Supreme Court’s six-justice conservative majority will take to the bench on October 3rd to reconsider more areas of American law and life. Sprinkled among the 27 cases the court has agreed to hear in its new term (about half of its eventual docket) are a few that—like last year’s crop—offer opportunities to overhaul decades-old principles.”

“Among the longest-enduring precedents under review are decisions permitting universities to consider race in admissions.”

The Senate on Thursday approved must-pass legislation in a bipartisan vote to keep the government funded until ​​Dec. 16.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) was forced to cut his proposed permitting reform from the bill after Republicans abruptly dropped their support for it out of spite over his deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on climate and drug pricing legislation.

Insider reports a troubling moment with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) right before the vote in which the 89-year-old Democrat (who’s been increasingly struggling with her cognitive health) got frustrated with her aides as they tried to prepare her for the vote. At one point, Feinstein reportedly snapped, “I don’t even know what that is” when they asked if she had questions about the measure.

The House is expected to take up the spending bill Friday before government funding expires at midnight.

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman reports in her book, Confidence Man, out Tuesday — that former President Trump had threatened internally to go after her phone records to expose leakers, Axios reports.

Writes Haberman: “Trump, angry about my published stories, would bellow that he wanted administration officials to obtain my phone records and identify my sources. It did not appear that anyone ever acted on it.”

“Even if I did move on, I don’t get to move on, because at this point I am so publicly associated with this story — so, until he stops being a story, I think I’m stuck.” — Maggie Haberman, quoted by Politico, on covering Donald Trump.

Dan Drezner: “What is a little surprising is the vitriol that Haberman currently inspires on social media. Over the past five years I have interacted with a lot of political reporters on Twitter. While all White House press reporters attracted their trolls, with Haberman there was an order-of-magnitude difference. A sizable faction of very online folks clearly believe that Haberman was not covering Trump, but rather covering for Trump.”

“This sentiment has bubbled to the surface again in the run-up to the October 4th release of Haberman’s book Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America. Like all authors trying to sell books, Haberman has teased Confidence Man in a variety of ways.”

“For months, officials in Brazil and across the international community have watched President Jair Bolsonaro cast doubt on Brazil’s voting systems, growing increasingly worried that the far-right leader was setting the stage to dispute an election loss,” the New York Times reports.

“Late Wednesday, the president gave them more reason to worry. In a surprise move less than four days before the vote, Mr. Bolsonaro’s political party released a document that claimed, without evidence, that a group of government employees and contractors had the ‘absolute power to manipulate election results without leaving a trace.’”

The backdrop from the Financial Times: “Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has taken a dominant lead heading into Brazil’s presidential election, with polls suggesting the leftwing former leader is within the margin of error for a first-round victory.”

On Sunday, Brazilians will head to the polls to choose between President Jair Bolsonaro, the right wing nationalist incumbent, and the leftist politician and former union leader known simply as “Lula.”

Consider this from the New York Times: “In 2019, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was spending 23 hours a day in an isolated cell with a treadmill in a federal penitentiary. The former president of Brazil was sentenced to 22 years on corruption charges, a conviction that appeared to end the storied career of the man who had once been the lion of the Latin American left. Now, freed from prison, Mr. da Silva is on the brink of becoming Brazil’s president once again, an incredible political resurrection that at one time seemed unthinkable.”

Lula has led in the polls for more than a year and a surge over the last month suggests he could possibly win the election outright and avoid a late October runoff. When Lula left office in 2011, his approval rate topped 80% and Barack Obama called him “the most popular politician on Earth.” But Lula became enmeshed in a massive bribery and kickback scandal that led to more than 300 arrests and is considered by some to be the biggest government corruption scandal in history. Lula insists the charges were false. He was released from prison when courts threw out his conviction.

Of course, it helps that Lula is facing a deeply unpopular incumbent. But the political comeback of a former metal worker with a fifth-grade education and son of illiterate farm workers is still nothing short of remarkable.

“Six Republican-led states are suing the Biden administration in an effort to halt its plan to forgive student loan debt for tens of millions of Americans, accusing it of overstepping its executive powers,” the AP reports.

“It’s at least the second legal challenge this week to the sweeping proposal laid out by President Joe Biden in late August, when he said his administration would cancel up to $20,000 in education debt for huge numbers of borrowers.”

“The Biden administration is curtailing its sweeping student debt relief program for several million Americans whose federal student loans are owned by private companies over concerns the industry would challenge it in court,” Politico reports.

“The Education Department will no longer allow borrowers with privately held federal student loans to receive loan forgiveness under the administration’s plan… The administration had previously said that those debt-holders would have a path to receive the administration’s relief of $10,000 or $20,000 per borrower.”

Consumer prices in the 19-country eurozone rose a record 10% in September from a year earlier, up from an annual 9.1% in August, the AP reports.  Only a year ago, inflation was as low as 3.4%.

“In a single week, Britain has gone from being one among many nations facing fierce economic headwinds to being a financial basket case, its currency plunging, bond yields and mortgage rates rising and pension funds scrambling to stay afloat,” the Financial Times reports.

A new YouGov poll in the United Kingdom finds Labour has surged to a 33-point poll lead over the Conservatives after a week of market turmoil triggered by Liz Truss’s tax-cutting budget.

The poll finds Tory support has fallen by seven points in the past four days amid fears the government’s plans will lead to spiraling interest rate rises.

Jonathan Bernstein: “People are already talking about the possibility of a government default next year if Republicans win a House majority in November. According to Axios, one of the Republicans most likely to take over the House Budget Committee is not averse using debt-limit negotiations to win concessions from President Joe Biden on such issues as immigration policy.”

“The basics are simple: The US will reach the statutory debt limit, last raised earlier this year, in 2023 unless Congress acts to increase it. The obvious move for Democrats is to eliminate the limit altogether during the upcoming lame-duck session, when Democrats still have majorities in both chambers of Congress and can use the reconciliation procedure to do so with simple majorities.”

“So far, however, there’s no sign that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer intend to do so.”

“House Republicans have introduced more than a dozen impeachment resolutions against President Biden and his officials, far outpacing Democrats’ formal impeachment efforts at this point in former President Trump’s term,” Axios reports.

“The failed impeachment efforts provide a roadmap for the investigations that Republicans — eager to make the rest of Biden’s term a living nightmare — will likely pursue if they retake the majority after the midterms.”

“A former U.S. Army major and his anesthesiologist wife have been criminally charged for allegedly plotting to leak highly sensitive healthcare data about military patients to Russia,” Reuters reports.

A secnd Maryland couple “who tried to sell sensitive submarine nuclear propulsion secrets to a foreign country again pleaded guilty on Tuesday, accepting the prospect of longer prison sentences after a federal judge threw out their original deal as too lenient,” the New York Times reports.

“The Toebbes’ case had fascinated many in the public, raising questions about why a couple with a comfortable suburban life would have risked everything they had with a poorly thought out endeavor to sell nuclear secrets.”

Hang them all for treason.

CBS News: “More than 18 months after the rioting at the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, an estimated 13 million U.S. adults, or 5% of the adult population, agree that force would be justified to restore former President Donald Trump to the White House and an estimated 15 million Americans believe force would be justified to prevent Trump from being prosecuted , should he be indicted for mishandling classified documents, according to a new study from the University of Chicago.”

North Carolina sheriff Jody Greene was taped on a phone call complaining about a “snitch” in his office who happened to be African-American, WECT reports.

Said Greene: “I’m sick of it. I’m sick of these black bastards. I’m going to clean house and be done with it. And we’ll start from there.”

He added: “Tomorrow’s gonna be a new fucking day. I’m still the motherfucking sheriff, and I’ll go up and fire every goddamn [inaudible]. Fuck them black bastards. They think I’m scared? They’re stupid. I don’t know what else to do it. So it’s just time to clean them out. There’s a snitch in there somewhere tellin’ what we are doing. And I’m not gonna have it. I’m not going to have it.”

The Intercept: “History often unfolds through the collision of structural forces that operate independently of any specific decision or decision maker. But once in a while, a real moment of contingency arises in which a single person, choosing between several genuinely viable options within their reach, can set history on a different course.”

“One such moment arose on the night of January 6, 2021. According to the new book Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump, leading Democrats pushed hard to impeach then-President Donald Trump the day of the insurrection. But they were beaten back by a reluctant House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who instead decided to gavel the chamber out of session once it had finished the business at hand — certifying the election — in the early hours of January 7.”

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

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