Cup of Joe – October 19, 2022

President Biden “will promise that the first bill he’ll send to the next Congress will be legislation to reinstate the abortion protections of Roe v. Wade,” Politico reports.

“Biden’s plans are contingent on Democrats holding the House and increasing their majority in the Senate, a factor acknowledged by the official previewing the remarks. As such, it is a vow that appears aimed at energizing Democrats to turn out in force in the upcoming midterm elections where the party is struggling to keep its slim majorities, as polls show early outrage over the fall of Roe v. Wade this June has been outstripped by economic concerns.”

Wall Street Journal: “Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, ending constitutional protections for abortion, laws banning many or most abortions have taken effect in over a dozen states. All of these laws make some sort of allowance for doctors to end a pregnancy to save the life of the mother, a core tenet of the mainstream antiabortion movement.”

“But some doctors say that in practice these exemptions are so narrow and the penalties for making the wrong decision so harsh that they have to choose between putting patient lives at risk or putting themselves in legal jeopardy.”

The Biden administration officially unrolled its student debt forgiveness program on Monday, which will wipe out up to $20,000 in federal student loans for eligible borrowers. The application form is surprisingly simple: name, Social Security number, date of birth, phone number, and email. That’s it.

“After weeks of waiting, student loan borrowers can now apply for President Biden’s program to receive up to $20,000 in debt cancellation,” the Washington Post reports.

“Biden officially launched the application Monday after the Education Department opened the form over the weekend as part of a beta test, hoping to find and remedy any glitches. Eight million people have applied to date, the president said at a press event Monday. He estimates that the White House has received some 10,000 letters from borrowers praising one of his signature economic policies.”

Conservatives are suing to block the program, including a Wisconsin legal group that’s accusing the plan of being racist against white people (no, really). Six Republican-led states (Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina) have filed a joint lawsuit arguing that Biden overstepped his authority.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Punchbowl News that if Republicans win control of the House the GOP will use raising the debt limit as leverage to force spending cuts and limit additional funding to Ukraine.

McCarthy also wouldn’t rule out cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

Said McCarthy: “You can’t just continue down the path to keep spending and adding to the debt.”

Fiona Hill told Politico that when Elon Musk offered a “peace plan” to end the Ukraine war, he was clearly “transmitting a message for Putin.”

Said Hill: “Now, there are several reasons why Musk’s intervention is interesting and significant. First of all, Putin does this frequently. He uses prominent people as intermediaries to feel out the general political environment, to basically test how people are going to react to ideas.”

She added: “Putin plays the egos of big men, gives them a sense that they can play a role. But in reality, they’re just direct transmitters of messages from Vladimir Putin.”

“The Pentagon is considering paying for the Starlink satellite network — which has been a lifeline for Ukraine — from a fund that has been used to supply weapons and equipment over the long term,” Politico reports.  “A U.S. official involved in the discussions said that there is little confidence that Elon Musk can be trusted.”

Iran has promised to provide Russia with surface to surface missiles, in addition to more drones, a move that is likely to infuriate the United States and other Western powers, Reuters reports.

“As Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv has come under attack by so-called ‘kamikaze’ drones, the Biden administration will factor in Russia’s use of these deadly drones in its future decision-making and planning as it pertains to helping Ukraine,” CNN reports.

“That decision-making notably includes ongoing deliberations about providing Ukraine with air defense systems, which is Kyiv’s top need at this point in the war as Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said.”

Gallup: “More than six months into a war that many around the world (including Russia) thought Ukraine would lose quickly, most Ukrainians are resolved to keep fighting.”

“A clear majority — 70% of all Ukrainians interviewed in early September — say their country should continue fighting until it wins the war with Russia. Just over one in four (26%) favor negotiating to end it as soon as possible.”

A new Redfield & Wilton poll in Great Britain finds the Labour Party leading the Tories by 36 percentage points, 56% to 20%.  And this is stunning: British Prime Minister Liz Truss has a net approval rating of -61%.

A new YouGov poll finds a majority of Conservative party members — 63% — think former British prime minister Boris Johnson would be a good replacement for current prime minister Liz Truss — with 32% putting him as their top candidate, followed by Rishi Sunak at 23%.

British prime minister Liz Truss issued a “grovelling apology” for her chaotic first weeks in office in a “painful TV mea culpa” last night, the Daily Mail reports. Meanwhile, more than half of Tory members now want her to resign.

BBC: How could the prime minister be replaced?

ABC News: “There’s been discussion among committee members and staff for months about whether they would want Trump to testify in a live setting. There’s no doubt they want him to testify under oath, as committee members made clear in the hearing.”

“Some members are hesitant to give Trump a live stage, while others view it as beneficial to their investigation as they would get to question him under oath. And there appears to be more of an openness among committee members to have him appear live.”

New York Times: “It is not clear whether the committee will follow through and take the largely symbolic step of issuing a criminal referral for former President Donald J. Trump or anyone who worked with him to overturn the election and encourage the mob of his supporters who entered the Capitol seeking to block or delay certification of his defeat.”

“But throughout its investigation and hearings, the committee has operated with a prosecutorial style, using the possibility of criminality like a cudgel in extraordinary ways. It has penetrated Mr. Trump’s inner circle, surfaced considerable new evidence and laid out a detailed narrative that could be useful to the Justice Department in deciding whether to bring charges.”

The White House called Donald Trump’s attack on American Jews antisemitic after the former president wrote online that American Jews need to “get their act together” and show more appreciation for the state of Israel “before it is too late,” the Washington Post reports.

Said press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: “Donald Trump’s comments were antisemitic, as you all know, and insulting both to Jews and to our Israeli allies.”

She added: “But let’s be clear, for years, for years now, Donald Trump has aligned with extremist and antisemitic figures… We need to root out antisemitism everywhere it rears its ugly head. We need to call this out. With respect to Israel, our relationship is ironclad and it’s rooted in shared values and interests. Donald Trump clearly doesn’t understand that either.”

“Donald Trump spoke with Kanye West over the phone following the rapper’s decision to buy his own social media platform,” Politico reports.

“The call comes shortly after it was announced that West would be buying Parler, the social media app that is dominated by conservatives, and as the rapper faces criticism for a round of highly antisemitic comments, including from Trump-allied conservatives.”

Donald Trump has told multiple people that Kanye West — who he once said would make a great presidential candidate — is too “crazy” and that he needs some professional “help,” Rolling Stone reports.

Tampa Bay Times: “Body-worn camera footage recorded by local police captured the confusion and outrage of Hillsborough County residents who found themselves in handcuffs for casting a ballot following investigations by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new Office of Election Crimes and Security.”

“The Aug. 18 arrests — conducted hours before DeSantis called a news conference to tout his crackdown on alleged voter fraud — were carried out by state police officers accompanied by local law enforcement.”

“The Biden administration is moving toward a release of at least another 10 million to 15 million barrels of oil from the nation’s emergency stockpile in a bid to balance markets and keep gasoline prices from climbing further,” Bloomberg reports.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) told Robert Draper for his new book that she wants a seat on the high-profile House Oversight and Judiciary committees if Republicans win control of the House in November.

When Draper suggested that might be a big ask, Greene shot back: “I completely deserve it. I’ve been treated like shit. I have been treated like garbage.”

Rolling Stone: “As he lays the groundwork for a 2024 presidential run, Trump has talked to close associates about who he’d tap for top government positions should he win back the White House, and Greene has repeatedly made his list.”

Said Trump: “Wouldn’t she be great?”

“It is unclear what specifically Trump has in mind for the severely MAGAfied Georgia Republican, be it a White House staff position, cabinet post, or agency appointment.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “You can be excused for thinking [Tulsi Gabbard’s] announcement amounted to nothing more than an effort by an oddball political figure to grab a bit of attention amid a fading career.”

“I think that misses something important, which is that Democrats tend not to tolerate demagogues. Gabbard has been selling unorthodox views of various types for some time. She never quite lived down a 2017 meeting with brutal Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. While she was able to hold on to her House seat, it turned out there simply wasn’t much of a market in the Democratic Party  for indulging authoritarians.”

“This isn’t because rank-and-file Democrats automatically reject extremism. Instead, it’s because influential Democrats enforce something like a minimal level of responsible behavior. Those who can’t abide by it find themselves ostracized by both the party and media organizations such as MSNBC.”

This isn’t the case in the Republican Party — and hasn’t been for a while.

“China has made a decision to seize Taiwan on a ‘much faster timeline’ than previously thought, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday, shortly after China’s leader reiterated his intent to take the island by force if necessary,” Bloomberg reports.

“President Xi Jinping is firmly in control of China’s twice-a-decade leadership reshuffle, which could see bigger-than-expected changes as he builds a new supporting team for his unprecedented third term,” the South China Morning Post reports.

“As many as four top positions on the Politburo Standing Committee could change hands and nearly half the Central Committee will be replaced.”

Bill Bishop on the message Xi delivered: “The report is a mixture of triumphalism, aspiration, a sense of besiegement and global ambition.”

“Former President Donald Trump is increasingly focused on changing voting rules in Pennsylvania, joining efforts to whip Republicans against a bipartisan mail-in voting law that’s become a Trump world obsession since he lost the state by over 80,000 votes,” Semafor reports. “Trump has spoken in recent weeks with allies who are leading a campaign to overturn the law, known as Act 77.”

“To work for Donald Trump is to be in a perpetual state of limbo. Aides don’t have long shelf-lives. Some leave in fits of frustration. Others are pushed out amid staff squabbles. A fair number have found legal troubles along the way,” Politico reports.

“But among the crew of Trump hands that have gone in and out of his orbit, a few remain lifers. And among those lifers, Boris Epshteyn doesn’t just reside, he’s risen.”

“Prosecutors on Monday entered the sex, guns and road trip portion of their sprawling seditious conspiracy case against five leaders of the far-right Oath Keepers, presenting a new pile of vivid, granular and, at times, R-rated evidence to the jury,” Politico reports.

“Justice Department attorneys, who have charged Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and several allies with plotting to forcibly prevent Joe Biden from taking office, reconstructed the group’s movements in the days before Jan. 6, 2021, as members from across the country drove to Washington, D.C., with a massive arsenal of firearms in tow.”

“Rhodes and the far-right militia group’s lawyer sent each other sexually explicit text messages in the days leading up to the Capitol Riot,” the Daily Beast reports. Said Rhodes in a text to general counsel Kellye SoRelle: “Speaking of fucking… if you need some come on over. Maybe I’ll drag you into my hotel room and throw you on the bed then.”  She responded: “See that’s how I know you’re trouble. You’re too good at what you do. Whole bad boy thing. I am a damn moth to a [flame emoji].”

“Oath Keepers members spent tens of thousands of dollars in January 2021 on firearms, bullets and other equipment, according to prosecutors in Washington, DC, trying to prove members of the far-right extremist group were building an arsenal as it prepared to try to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power,” CNN reports.

“In all, prosecutors said Monday in federal court that nearly $200,000 in withdrawals were made from bank accounts connected to the Oath Keepers that month used for a wide variety of purchases, including guns. Prosecutors used evidence of the withdrawals, coupled with shopping receipts and text messages, to show how some members allegedly stockpiled the weapons.”

Staffers in Rep. Andy Levin’s (D-MI) office signed their first union contract, Roll Call reports.

U.S. life expectancy fell by a total of 2.7 years between 2019 and 2021 to 76.1 years—the lowest it has been since 1996, Scientific American reports.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) received $555,000 from his campaign account two months ago to cover old personal loans, Insider reports.  It comes after Cruz successfully challenged a law that capped the amount candidates could repay themselves.

“I was very touched that he would remember me and that he would wish me well. And I was very touched by his remembrance of me.”  — Convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, quoted by the Daily Mail, saying she was flattered by Donald Trump’s well wishes after she was arrested.

In an escalation of recent tensions with the U.S., Saudi Arabia has arrested and sentenced an American citizen to 16 years in prison over tweets that criticized the regime for corruption and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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

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