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Cup of Joe – October 20, 2022

“Jim Jordan made his name on Capitol Hill by nudging his own party from the right while pushing Democrats even harder. He may well return to that dynamic next year in a GOP-controlled House,” Politico reports.

“The eight-term Ohio Republican is on the brink of leadership-blessed power in a Republican majority, set to wield the Judiciary Committee’s powerful mallet should the GOP flip the House in November, as is likely. Jordan’s ascension will mark a new pinnacle not only for himself but for the pro-Trump Freedom Caucus — empowering its last original co-founder still in Congress to handle impeachments, immigration and more.”

“Jordan mapped out ‘four big moments’ in 2023 where he sees opportunities for Republicans to legislatively fight the political riptide (namely, a Democratic White House and possibly Senate) that’s likely to wash away much of their recently rolled-out Commitment to America agenda: the debt ceiling, surveillance reform, funding the government and the farm bill.”

Catherine Rampell says Kevin McCarthy’s threat to hold the debt ceiling hostage if Republicans win control of the House could lead to a global financial crisis.

“If lawmakers dine-and-dash on behalf of Uncle Sam, they tarnish the creditworthiness of the United States and can make it more expensive for the federal government to borrow in the future because investors don’t trust us. Worse, they might accidentally blow up every other financial market on Earth, too.”

“That’s because U.S. debt is now viewed as the safest of safe assets. Virtually all other assets around the world are benchmarked against U.S. Treasury securities. If we default on our debt obligations — or even come close to default — that raises the question of the riskiness of everything else investors buy and can send shockwaves of panic through every other market.”

Contrary to GOP messaging, the debt ceiling is not about excessive spending. It’s about paying for what’s already been spent.

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) created a “new rule” on his committee for people like Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Insider reports.

When one of her “flurry of nonsensical amendments turned out to be reasonable,” McGovern blocked it from going to the House floor and a Republican committee member wanted to know why, according to Robert Draper’s new book, Weapons of Mass Delusion.

Said McGovern: “We have a new rule in the Rules Committee. If you’re batshit crazy, you’re not getting an amendment. I’m sorry. We’re not doing this. We’re not doing this. I’m not going down that road. I’m not going to be part of any effort to legitimize people who are fucking lunatics.”

“Russian President Vladimir Putin declared martial law Wednesday in the four regions of Ukraine that Moscow annexed and gave additional emergency powers to the heads of all regions of Russia,” the AP reports.

New York Times: “The Iranian trainers are operating from a Russian military base in Crimea where many of the drones have been based since being delivered from Iran. The trainers are from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a branch of the Iranian military designated as a terrorist organization by the United States.”

Wall Street Journal: Russia’s top Ukraine commander sees invasion faltering in South.

“President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are slated to attend next month’s G-20 summit in Indonesia, setting up the possibility of a high-stakes face off in the midst of an increasingly deadly Moscow invasion of Ukraine,” Politico reports.

“U.S. officials are taking steps to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

“It can’t be ruled out that Biden and Putin might cross paths at some point during the November summit, according to officials who note that the two men may, at some point, attend the same large plenary gathering. But U.S. officials have ruled out a formal meeting and are taking steps to ensure that the American president does not encounter his Russian counterpart in a hallway or even in a leaders’ group photo.”

“Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), the chair of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, floated to colleagues the idea of laying the groundwork for an investigation into the Biden administration’s approach to Russia-Ukraine peace talks,” Axios reports.

“Republican criticism of President Biden’s approach to the conflict has splintered as the conflict has dragged on. While establishment GOP senators have urged Biden to speed up and diversify weapon sales to Ukraine, MAGA-aligned Republicans have demanded Kyiv enter negotiations to avert the risk of nuclear escalation.”

The Week: McCarthy signals Republican weariness over aid to Ukraine.

“For two years, coronavirus variants emerged, one by one, sweeping the globe,” the Washington Post reports.

“But this fall and winter are expected to be different: Instead of a single ominous variant lurking on the horizon, experts are nervously eyeing a swarm of viruses — and a new evolutionary phase in the pandemic.“

“This time, it’s unlikely we will be barraged with a new collection of Greek alphabet variants. Instead, one or more of the multiple versions of the omicron variant that keep popping up could drive the next wave. They are different flavors of omicron, but eerily alike — adorned with a similar combination of mutations. Each new subvariant seems to outdo the last in its ability to dodge immune defenses.”

“Top Biden health officials are increasingly concerned about the rise of new Covid variants in the U.S. that appear to evade existing treatments used to protect immunocompromised people from severe illness,” Politico reports.

“The variants — known as BQ1 and BQ1.1 — have spread swiftly throughout the U.S. over the past few weeks, and now account for more than 11 percent of all cases nationwide.”

The CDC bowed to the Trump administration’s demands to change the editorial process of its weekly scientific journal after warnings from then health secretary Alex Azar to “get in line,” Bloomberg reports.

Inflation in the U.K. rose higher than expected to 10.1 percent in September from 9.9 percent in August, adding pressure to the Bank of England to continue raising interest rates to bring down prices, the Times of London reports.

A new YouGov poll finds British prime minister Liz Truss is now viewed unfavourably by 80 percent of voters, of which 62 percent see her very unfavorably. The result represents a 14 point drop overall within a week and makes Truss the most unpopular leader ever tracked by the pollster.

“Suella Braverman is understood to have departed as UK home secretary after Liz Truss cleared her diary and called off a planned visit amid desperate attempts to save her premiership,” the Guardian reports.

Boris Johnson’s tenure as prime minister was stable in comparison to this.

Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s lead over President Jair Bolsonaro has shrunk to 5 percentage points ahead of a runoff vote set for Oct. 30, Reuters reports.

“The US State Department confirmed that 72-year-old American citizen Saad Ibrahim Almadi has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia after being given a 16-year sentence for tweets critical of the Saudi government,” CNN reports.

House Jan. 6 Committee vice chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) said during an event at the Harvard Institute of Politics yesterday that the panel will be issuing a subpoena to Trump “shortly,” though she didn’t give a precise timeline. The committee had voted unanimously to subpoena Trump during what was probably its final public hearing last week. The panel is seeking both Trump’s testimony and documents related to Jan. 6.

“One of the issues being discussed internally is a response date for the subpoena. The select committee is seeking documents and testimony from Trump. Usually there’s one date for documents and another for testimony. The response date for both in this case will be after the Nov. 8 elections. However, the exact dates haven’t been agreed upon yet.”

A new Monmouth poll finds that 60% of Americans think Donald Trump should have to appear before the January 6 Committee and 77% say any such testimony should happen in public. However, only 36% at this time think Trump is “directly responsible” for the insurrection and just 40% think he should be criminally charged.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told MSNBC yesterday that she wasn’t sure if then-Vice President Mike Pence “could trust” the Secret Service to “take him to a safe place” as the pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), one of the only two Republicans on the House Jan. 6 Committee, seems to similarly distrust the Secret Service on some level, telling CNN on Monday that there’s “something going on” at the agency, either “pure incompetence, all the way on the scale to potentially very criminal activity” or having a “preference for one side.”

On the topic of the Secret Service: Here’s a timeline of what we know about the agency’s texts around Jan. 6 that went missing.

“A jury on Tuesday found Igor Danchenko — a private researcher who was a primary source for a 2016 dossier of allegations about former president Donald Trump’s ties to Russia — not guilty of lying to the FBI about where he got his information,” the Washington Post reports.

“The verdict in federal court in Alexandria, Va., is another blow for special counsel John Durham, who has now lost both cases that have gone to trial as part of his nearly 3½-year investigation.”

New York Times: “Mr. Trump and his supporters have long insisted the inquiry would prove a ‘deep state’ conspiracy against him, but after pursuing various baseless theories, Mr. Durham never found and charged one. Instead he developed two narrow cases accusing people involved in outside efforts to scrutinize purported links between Mr. Trump and Russia of making false statements.”

So much for finding the “crime of the century” as Trump predicted.

Fox News host Sean Hannity isn’t letting a pesky “not guilty” verdict ruin the anti-Trump “Deep State” conspiracy theory he’s worked so darn hard to sell to his viewers. “This ruling is meaningless to me,” Hannity announced during his radio program yesterday.

Fox News’ Gregg Jarrett stayed on message, opining: “[T]he not guilty verdicts are a minor footnote in the sordid story of the greatest mass delusion in American political history.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told Punchbowl News that Democrats need better messaging on inflation.

Said Pelosi: “Inflation’s an issue, but it’s global. It’s global… What’s the Republicans’ plan? They ain’t got nothing. When you bring down unemployment, inflation goes up.”

She added: “Inflation is there but it’s global and not as bad as it is in some countries. We’ll have to message it better in the next three weeks ahead. I think we’re in great shape. Other people don’t want to believe that.”

“The Internal Revenue Service adjusted key tax code parameters for 2023 to reflect higher inflation, raising the standard deduction and the income thresholds where tax rates take effect,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The 37% top marginal tax rate will apply to individual income above $578,125 and married couples’ income above $693,750 next year, as those thresholds go up 7% from 2022 under inflation adjustments announced by the agency on Tuesday.”

“The standard deduction will climb to $27,700 for married couples and $13,850 for individuals, both also up about 7% from this year, letting taxpayers shield more of their earnings from income taxes.”

From The Trump Tapes: “In December 2019, after then-President Donald Trump had shared with journalist Bob Woodward the fawning letters that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had written to him, the U.S. leader seems to acknowledge he should not be showing them around,” the Washington Post reports.

After urging Woodward to “treat them with respect,” Trump warns in an interview, “and don’t say I gave them to you, okay?”

“The special master reviewing materials seized by the FBI from former President Donald Trump’s compound in Florida expressed skepticism on Tuesday about early claims by Mr. Trump’s lawyers that certain documents were privileged and thus could be withheld from a Justice Department investigation,” the New York Times reports.

“In a phone conference, the special master, Judge Raymond Dearie of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, complained that the log of an initial batch of documents over which Mr. Trump is seeking to claim privilege lacked sufficient information to determine whether the arguments were valid.”

Said Drearie: “It’s a little perplexing as I go through the log. What’s the expression — ‘Where’s the beef?’ I need some beef.”

New York Times: “Candidates for senator or governor routinely used to participate in two or three debates. Now some are skipping them altogether. Retail politicking at diners and state fairs is no longer the cliché it was for generations. And town-hall-style meetings, where citizens get to question their elected leaders and those running to replace them, have given way to the online echo chamber.”

“In midterm campaigns across the country, direct political engagement has been falling away, victim to security concerns, pandemic-era workarounds and Republican hostility to the mainstream media.”

“Former President Donald Trump is set to answer questions under oath Wednesday as part of the defamation lawsuit brought by former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll,” CNN reports.

“The White House is intensifying a pressure campaign against the oil industry over rebounding gas prices as it tries to contain the political fallout of rising fuel costs just ahead of the midterms,” Politico reports.

“Top Biden administration officials in recent weeks have publicly warned companies against inflating prices. In private, their message has been even more direct. They’ve aired complaints to executives over their ballooning profits and threatened drastic new restrictions — such as limits on companies’ fuel exports — if the industry refuses to help ease the price at the pump.”

Said former Biden adviser Ton Marcus: “Political narratives function best when there’s an identifiable villain.”

Katrina vanden Heuvel: “As early voting gets started in some states, Republicans are focusing their closing argument on the economy, American voters’ biggest concern and the subject of the majority of GOP ad buys. The Democrats’ closing argument, meanwhile, features abortion, the stripping away of women’s right to choose.”

“But a recent New York Times-Siena College poll shows economic concerns driving a significant shift of independent voters — including women — toward Republicans. The message to Democrats should be loud and clear: Change course, now.”

Playbook: “Twenty days out from Election Day, voters are overwhelmingly focused on the economy and inflation, Republicans are more trusted to handle those issues, and crime beats out abortion as a second-tier issue. In our poll, as in others, the GOP has also gained on the congressional ballot test.”

Washington Post: “The emerging network — fueled by the widespread availability of medication abortion — has made the illegal abortions of today simpler and safer than those of the pre-Roe era, remembered for its back alleys and coat hangers. Distinct from services that sell pills to patients on the internet, a growing army of community-based distributors is reaching pregnant women through word of mouth or social media to supply pills for free — though typically without the safeguards of medical oversight.”

“This account of the illegal abortion movement that has grown quickly since the Supreme Court ruling is based on interviews with 16 people with firsthand knowledge of the operation, and includes on-the-ground reporting in four U.S. cities and Mexico.”

Jonathan Last: “Now put these two scenarios together. Republican take control of both houses of Congress with Republicans claiming a mandate to rebuke Democrats… Meanwhile, Donald Trump is running for president while on criminal trial. The Republican majorities will be pouring gasoline on the fire daily, not just on Fox and Newsmax, but from Congress, where they will have many legislative and bureaucratic tools with which to attack the Department of Justice and the Biden administration.”

“And meanwhile, the sitting president is a 79-year-old man who is beating the actuarial odds on health events, for now.”

“What do you think would happen?”

“I don’t have a prediction myself because the scenario I just outlined for you is weapons-grade chaos. If it comes to pass, then a lot of unthinkable outcomes start becoming very thinkable. Some of them even become likely.”

“As migrant encounters along the southern border continue to set records, frustration is mounting inside the Biden administration with the head of Customs and Border Protection,” Politico reports.

“Five current administration officials who work with CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus portrayed him as unengaged in his job, saying he often doesn’t attend White House meetings on the situation on the border, badmouths other agencies to colleagues and superiors, and has not built relationships within CBP and across other agencies to address the influx of migrants at the border.”

“A former 3rd Special Forces Group soldier accused of assaulting officers with a flagpole during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot is blaming President Joe Biden for impacting his ability to receive a fair trial,” the Fayetteville Observer reports.

“Three people who were on Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 stand a serious chance of returning to the site of the deadly riot next January — this time as duly elected Republican members of Congress,” Axios reports.

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

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