Cup of Joe – October 21, 2022

Liz Truss has resigned as British prime minister after just 45 days in office, The Guardian reports.

“The announcement, made by Truss outside Downing Street, follows the near-complete evaporation of her political authority which has seen her crash the markets, lose two key ministers and shed the confidence of almost all her own MPs.”

“Truss will be the shortest-serving prime minister in UK history.”

New York Times: “Her departure, after only six weeks in office, was a shockingly rapid fall from power, and throws her Conservative Party into further disarray, following the messy departure of Boris Johnson from Downing Street over the summer.”

“Liz Truss’s UK premiership looked on the verge of imploding late Wednesday, after a Parliament vote triggered allegations of government bullying and the resignation of two of the prime minister’s senior officials,” Bloomberg reports.

“Many Conservative lawmakers now want Truss to resign immediately, rather than wait until after the government announces a new economic plan on Oct. 31.”

Asked if the government can survive the night, one Tory MP replied: “I hope not.”

The BBC reports there will be a Conservative leadership election within the next week to replace Truss.

In the Daily Star competition between an aging head of lettuce and Liz Truss, the lettuce won.

“Even though her short, six-week stint as the UK’s prime minister came crashing down on Thursday, Liz Truss will still get to claim a yearly £115,000 allowance reserved for former prime ministers,” Insider reports.

Ian Dunt: “All she needed to do was not mess up. That was all that was required of her. Liz Truss had secured a brief moment of calm. Jeremy Hunt had settled the markets. Tory MPs couldn’t agree on a replacement. There was a window of opportunity. If she could just get through one day without catastrophically ruining everything she put her hand to, she might be able to stabilise her leadership.”

“But that’s a level of accomplishment which we simply cannot expect from her. It requires the most basic possible level of competence and is therefore miles beyond her capacity. So instead, last night provided scenes of needless self-inflicted chaos the likes of which we’ve never seen in Westminster.”

“Boris Johnson is considering running again to be UK prime minister after Liz Truss’s dramatic resignation, with rightwing Conservative MPs and party donors already backing his nascent campaign,” The Guardian reports.

Josh Marshall: I’ve been laughing and really endlessly entertained Liz Truss’s momentary pratfall Prime Ministership. There’s much discussion of the UK’s now apparently chronic political instability. There will soon have been five Tory Prime Ministers in the last seven years. In the 31 years between 1979 and 2010 the country had four Prime Ministers. Having ‘reclaimed its sovereignty’ in 2015 with Brexit the country is now firmly shackled to the judgment of the bond markets. I laugh at this chaos; you may laugh. It’s funny. But any laughter should come in the realization that all of this is the impact and inevitable collateral damage of the Brexit vote in 2015 in which the UK simply decided to light itself on fire for no reason at all.

Liz Truss was merely a foot soldier in this war for self-immolation. Perhaps the greatest single driver was none other than Boris Johnson, though his angling for the top job was delayed for a few years. And he was the one who actually finalized the deal. The political instability was driven by the mandate to enact a policy which condemned the UK to diminished wealth and trade, greater economic vulnerability and the real prospect of the eventual dissolution of the UK itself and do this in such a way as to be able to argue that none of these bad things would happen and that the result would be great. That effort required denial, continual deception and the eventual onset of those challenges once the first crisis arose which of course it did a few years later in the form of COVID.

Prior to Truss’ resignaton, Conservative MP Charles Walker told the BBC he is “absolutely livid” with his “talentless” colleagues. Said Walker: “This whole affair is inexcusable. It is a pitiful reflection on the Conservative parliamentary party at every level.” He added: “Unless we get our act together and behave like grown-ups, I’m afraid many hundreds of my colleagues – perhaps 200 – will be leaving, at the behest of their electorate.”

And yet in this country, so many lawmakers stay silent.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced an agenda last month designed to unify Republicans ahead of the midterm elections. The “Commitment to America” focuses on combating inflation, improving border control, increasing parental involvement in schools, and holding Washington accountable.

But McCarthy’s comments in recent interviews suggest a very different agenda if voters give his party control of the House.

Not surprisingly, none of these items made McCarthy’s formal “Commitment to America.”

He also didn’t mention that he rallied most of his caucus to oppose the two big bipartisan accomplishments of this Congress — a gun deal and an infrastructure plan.

And McCarthy didn’t mention that to become speaker in the first place, he’ll need to empower some of the most fringe players in the GOP, like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO).

None of these positions are popular with voters. But if you listen to McCarthy’s own words, that’s exactly what he plans if voters put Republicans in power.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) recent comments “tell us quite a bit about what he would be like as speaker if Republicans take back the House,” Jonathan Bernstein writes.

“For one, it sounds like he is ready to put the most radical Republicans in charge, even when that means disregarding what the majority of the Republican conference wants. House Republicans supported aid to Ukraine this spring by a better than a 3-to-1 margin, yet McCarthy appears comfortable aligning with the small segment of the party opposing the Ukraine package. It suggests that McCarthy is determined to keep both former President Donald Trump and House radicals on his side, fearing a revolt that could dump him as the Republican leader.”

“McCarthy appears to be going down the same path as former Speaker Paul Ryan, who was unwilling to play the crucial role of serving as a pin cushion for critics. This is something that former Speaker John Boehner was very good at — as are current Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) “is downplaying the prospect of impeaching President Biden if Republicans take control of the House next year, throwing cold water on the efforts of some in the GOP who have been clamoring to impeach the president and others in the Biden administration,” the Washington Post reports.

Said McCarthy: “I think the country doesn’t like impeachment used for political purposes at all. If anyone ever rises to that occasion, you have to, but I think the country wants to heal and … start to see the system that actually works.”

Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele warned his party against legitimizing some Trump-aligned figures as political leaders, calling them “fleas,” “lice” and “blood-sucking ticks” whom potential House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), would have to “lay down with,” Fox News reports.

“Donald Trump’s legal team is weighing whether to allow federal agents to return to the former President’s Florida residence, and potentially conduct a supervised search, to satisfy the Justice Department’s demands that all sensitive government documents are returned,” CNN reports.

“In private discussions with Trump’s team as well as court filings, the Justice Department has made clear that it believes Trump failed to comply with a May subpoena ordering the return of all documents marked as classified and that more government records remain missing.”

“There’s a reason White House chief of staff Ron Klain checks AAA’s survey of gas prices every single morning,” Politico reports.

“For all the well-informed punditry about whether this or that issue will be the terrain upon which 2022 rises and falls, today — with 19 days left until Election Day — it seems that the most salient issue in the election for most voters could be pretty straightforward: It’s the gas prices, stupid.”

“Look closely at so many of the metrics people have suggested are determinative in the campaign — from inflation rates to President Joe Biden’s approval number — and it becomes clear: Gas rules everything around me. As prices went down in the summer, Democrats’ fortunes improved to the extent that it seemed like they could buck history and hold onto power this November. Now that they’ve inched back upward, polls have tilted in the GOP’s favor.”

“Over half of working Americans have considered holding multiple jobs to pay their living expenses as inflation remained stubbornly high in September and real wages fell,” Bloomberg reports.

“About 38% of workers have looked for a second job, while an additional 14% have plans to do so, according to a survey of more than 1,000 full-time US employees by Qualtrics International Inc., which makes software used by over 16,000 organizations. At the same time, 18% of working adults said they had moved to an area with a lower cost of living to cut expenses, and another 13% plan to do so.”

U.S. mortgage rates hit 6.94% last week, the highest they’ve reached since 2002, Bloomberg reports.

“Ukrainian officials have expressed ‘shock’ over Republican suggestions that future assistance for Kyiv could be limited if the party wins the House of Representatives in November’s US midterm elections, calling on Washington to continue providing bipartisan support,” the Financial Times reports.

“Giorgia Meloni has vowed Italy will never be ‘the weak link’ in the western alliance against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, after her prospective government coalition partner Silvio Berlusconi was recorded blaming Kyiv for the war,” the Financial Times reports.

Said Meloni: “Italy is fully, and with its head held high, part of Europe and NATO. Anyone who does not agree with this cornerstone cannot be part of the government — even if it means not forming the government.”

“Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, campaigned to be the protector of democratic, pro-European values in a new right-wing coalition that is expected to take power in days after winning elections last month,” the New York Times reports.

“But even before a government can be sworn in, the 86-year-old billionaire media mogul has proved himself to be less of a stable, moderating force, than the source of renewed anxiety after the leak of surreptitiously recorded remarks revealed that he blamed Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky for forcing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to invade Ukraine.”

New York Times: “Across the capital, there are noticeably fewer men at restaurants, stores and social gatherings. Many have been called up to fight in Ukraine. Others have fled to avoid being drafted.”

House Republicans introduced a bill that would prohibit using federal funds to teach children under 10 about LGBTQ+ issues, a sign of the party’s planned agenda if they retake Congress in the midterms, The Guardian reports.

The bill also gives parents the ability to sue in federal court if their child is exposed to the barred material that is funded “in whole or in part” by federal funds.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) introduced a bill “which would restrict gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers and hormone therapies, for individuals under 18 years old,” Semafor reports. Said Greene: “It’s not about anyone’s chosen sexuality or what adults choose to do with their bodies. It’s just about protecting kids and letting them grow up before they make permanent changes.”

Greene (R-GA) tried to show herself standing up for Confederate soldiers and defending “our nation’s history” in photos on social media last night, the Daily Beast reports. However, the monument she posed in front of actually pays tribute to Union troops that battled the Confederates.

“The Jan. 6 committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol has yet to formally subpoena former President Donald Trump, in part because investigators are still trying to find someone authorized to accept service of it,” ABC News reports.

“Former President Donald Trump has hired a firm to engage with the Jan. 6 select committee on its forthcoming subpoena of him,” Politico reports.

“The firm, The Dhillon Law Group, already represents multiple witnesses who have appeared before the committee, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Trump ally Seb Gorka and Women for America First co-founder Amy Kremer. A person familiar with the situation said it is now being tasked with negotiating the terms of the Trump subpoena, which the committee voted to issue last week.”

A federal judge said that former President Donald Trump signed legal documents describing evidence of election fraud that he knew were false, Politico reports.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution obtained 59 pages worth of texts from Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s (R-GA) iPhone, offering a rare peek into Loeffler’s private deliberations during her final weeks in office as she fought to hold onto her Senate seat.

Former President Donald Trump inquired whether a documentary filmmaker recording an interview with him last year was a “good Jewish character,” described Persians as “very good salesmen” and complained that Israeli Jews favored him more than Jews in the United States, the New York Times reports.

Said Trump: “In Israel, I’m at like 94 percent, but I got 27, 28 percent.”

At one point in the recording, Trump asked if the camera was rolling, then added, “Don’t let it roll.”

Associated Press: “While sifting through pages, pen in hand and cameras rolling, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey stopped to silence the ‘hail to the chief’ ringtone on his cell phone. It was a call from President Donald Trump, who was in the midst of a frenetic fight to reverse the results of the election he had lost. Ducey continued signing the papers, in what some saw as a dramatic affirmation of democracy at work.”

“How a similar scene would play out in 2024 if the three Republicans running for the top statewide offices win in November is anyone’s guess. Each has said they would not have signed off on the 2020 results if they had held office at the time. Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor, and Mark Finchem, running for secretary of state, have signaled support for vastly overhauling election rules.”

Reuters: “Ten of Nevada’s 17 counties, including Washoe, have seen their top election official resign, retire or decline to seek re-election since the 2020 vote… Four of the officials told Reuters that harassment or sustained efforts to challenge the 2020 election results were among their reasons for leaving.”

FiveThirtyEight: It’s hard to run elections these days. Just ask Nevada’s election officials.

New York Times: “Mr. Biden has not held a campaign rally since before Labor Day, even as the future of his agenda and his own political career are at stake in the midterm elections. His low profile on the campaign trail reflects his low approval rating, and White House officials say the president has made a point of delivering speeches on the party’s accomplishments, rather than taking part in rallies sponsored by political campaigns.”

“With less than three weeks until Election Day and polls suggesting Democratic enthusiasm is waning, Mr. Biden’s strategy is clear: He will help Democrats raise money and will continue to hopscotch the country talking about infrastructure, negotiated drug prices, student debt relief and investments in computer chip manufacturing. But his decision not to participate, so far at least, in rallies that are normally a staple of campaign season highlights how little the president can do to help his fellow Democrats, even with the megaphone of the Oval Office.”

“Democrats pushed through climate change legislation this year that earmarked tens of billions of dollars to create a U.S. supply chain for electric vehicles . Republicans and the states they represent are poised to cash in on much of the political and economic windfall,” the New York Times reports.

“For Republican members of Congress, none of whom voted for the climate law, it’s the best of both worlds. They can call the spending wasteful, while benefiting politically from the jobs and money that car and battery factories bring to their districts.”

“Former Vice President Mike Pence sounded alarm about the growing populist strain gaining influence within the Republican party, urging the GOP to hold steadfast to its traditional values of small government and a robust national defense,” Bloomberg reports.

Said Pence: “Our movement cannot forsake the foundational commitment that we have to security, to limited government, to liberty and to life. But nor can we allow our movement to be led astray by the siren song of unprincipled populism that’s unmoored from our oldest traditions and most cherished values.”

John Harris: “The notion of being a Trump-like leader with discipline, or without what the Times called Trump’s “baggage,” is a logical contradiction. That baggage — or more precisely the way Trump thrills his supporters with breezy indifference to what political opponents or the media, applying conventional standards, call baggage — is one essential source of Trump’s appeal. The lack of discipline — the breathtaking, moment-by-moment improvisation of a narcissist at large — is another.”

“A politician calculating how to mimic Trump’s appeal by definition is faking it. Trump of course utters falsehoods with ease. But on the subject that matters most to him he is not faking it. He is presenting his genuine self. The raucously self-confident, clinically self-involved performer who became president in 2017 had been practicing for this role for 71 years. Since then he’s had five more years of practice.”

John Daniel Davidson argues that “the conservative project has failed, and conservatives need to forge a new political identity that reflects our revolutionary moment.”

“Less than two weeks ahead of Brazil’s presidential election, incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and his leftist rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva are battling to portray themselves as closest to one particularly influential figure: God,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Brazil’s rapidly growing evangelical Christian movement, which accounts for a third of its population, has emerged as a driving force in the race, helping to elect scores of conservative candidates in the first round of voting in concurrent legislative and state elections earlier this month.”

“Cheering crowds mobbed Tehran’s international airport today to greet the return of Elnaz Rekabi, a professional climber who was filmed competing without a headscarf,” the Times of London reports.

“Rekabi, 33, had disappeared after the competition in South Korea at the weekend before making a public apology. She reiterated to state media that leaving off her hijab for the competition, in violation of the country’s strict Islamic dress code, had been an ‘accident.’”

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

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