Cup of Joe – October 25, 2022

“The U.S. economy is expected to have grown robustly in a sharp rebound from the first half of the year, but most Americans are unlikely to notice anything about the turnaround,” the Washington Post reports.

“Persistent inflation continues to weigh heavily on both economic growth and household budgets, and has become a key flash point ahead of the midterm elections. A strong reading on the next gross domestic product report, scheduled to be released Thursday, would be welcome news for Democrats, who have been struggling to convince voters they have a plan to contain rising prices and put the economy on more stable footing.”

“Although the newest numbers are likely to look like improvements on paper, economists say they don’t reflect major changes in the economy, which could be headed for a recession in the next year.”

Politico: “The Federal Reserve’s relentless campaign to crank up interest rates to kill the worst inflation in four decades is also driving up debt costs. The U.S. in the latest fiscal year spent more on interest payments than it did on veterans’ programs and food and nutrition services combined — $475 billion, a 35 percent increase. And the number is only expected to grow.”

“That could limit the government’s ability to respond if the economy tumbles into a recession, potentially throwing millions of Americans out of work, as many economists expect next year.

Rishi Sunak was confirmed as new prime minister after Penny Mordaunt dropped out of the race, The Guardian reports.

Earlier it was announced that “Boris Johnson will not stand in the Conservative leadership race, leaving Rishi Sunak very likely to enter No 10,” The Guardian reports. Johnson claimed that he did have the required support but had decided not to run as “this would simply not be the right thing to do” as “you can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in Parliament.”

Nick Eardley: “This is a huge development. I’ve been on the phone tonight to Boris Johnson backers and they were convinced he’d stand.”

The Tories aim to install a new prime minister within the week. That’s three prime ministers this year.

“The Covid-19 pandemic spared no state or region as it caused historic learning setbacks for America’s children, erasing decades of academic progress and widening racial disparities, according to results of a national test that provide the sharpest look yet at the scale of the crisis,” the AP reports.

“Across the country, math scores saw their largest decreases ever. Reading scores dropped to 1992 levels. Nearly four in 10 eighth graders failed to grasp basic math concepts. Not a single state saw a notable improvement in their average test scores, with some simply treading water at best.”

CNN: Math declines were the largest ever.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson (a champion of the antielites) is reportedly irate that an unnamed source told the Daily Beast that Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) hired Carlson’s son, Buckley Carlson, as one of his staffers because the Indiana congressman wanted to please the GOP establishment and therefore boost his chances of becoming House majority whip if Republicans take back the chamber.

On Friday, Carlson called National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), who’s competing with Banks over the coveted leadership slot, and demanded that he find out which staff member made that comment, according to Axios.

The quote about Banks that reportedly infuriated Carlson: “Deep down, he dies to be liked by the Establishment. He hires Tucker Carlson’s son, a 24-year-old kid, to be his communications director.” Holding a metaphorical flashlight under his face, Carlson reportedly threatened to blame Emmer himself for the quote if the congressman didn’t tattle on the staffer.

The Fox News star reportedly still made it clear he now had beef with Emmer during the call even though the Republican tried to distance himself from the remark.

The Daily Beast didn’t say the source was a staffer, only a “GOP strategist.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) filed a motion on Friday asking the Supreme Court to block the Fulton County district attorney’s subpoena for his testimony in her Trump election interference probe. This was his next move after a panel of judges on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered him to testify the day before.

Graham’s running out of options to avoid testifying on his damning alleged conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) about throwing out ballots in the 2020 election.

“Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday temporarily blocked a subpoena issued by a Georgia grand jury seeking testimony from South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham,” CNBC reports. “Thomas, who is responsible for emergency applications such as Graham’s issued out of the federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, issued the stay on his own accord, without referring the question to the entire Supreme Court.”

This is an administrative step, temporarily staying the order in order to allow the parties to brief the issue before the full U.S. Supreme Court and does not indicate how the Court or even Thomas will evenutally rule.

Today is the first day of the trial in the New York district attorney’s criminal case against the Trump Organization for tax fraud and other charges. The case focuses on the Trump Organization’s years-long tax evasion scheme in which employees would be paid in “perks,” like luxury cars and apartment rent, instead of actual salaries that would require the company to pay payroll taxes. Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, has agreed to testify after pleading guilty to participating in the scheme. Trump himself hasn’t been indicted in the case.

“At the dawn of Donald Trump’s presidency, his family business appeared poised for a windfall: It unveiled new hotel lines, held ribbon-cuttings around the world and attracted major tournaments to its golf clubs, enough for Eric Trump, who ran the company while his father was in the White House, to remark, ‘The stars have all aligned,’” the New York Times reports.

“Five years later, those stars have faded. The former president’s company, grappling with legal and political scrutiny, has halted its expansion to concentrate on its existing properties. It even sold the Trump hotel in Washington, once the center of the MAGA universe.”

“This week will drive home that stark reversal of fortune as the company faces a highly public reckoning: a criminal trial in Manhattan, where the district attorney’s office will accuse it of tax fraud and other crimes.”

Insider reports that there is a big punishment looming if the Organization is found guilty: “Conviction could prompt the government to bar the Trump Organization from doing business as a federal contractor, including cutting off the spigot of Trump’s lucrative — and critics say exorbitant — billing of Secret Service agents who stay at his properties while protecting the former president and his family.”

The Biden administration is urging eligible borrowers to keep applying for student loan forgiveness after an appeals court temporarily blocked the program in six GOP states’ joint lawsuit against it on Friday (you can apply for forgiveness here).

The court’s ruling only prevents the administration from erasing the debt; it doesn’t halt the application process.

The Education Department is “moving full speed ahead with preparations for the lawful implementation” of the plan, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona declared in a USA Today op-ed on Saturday.

Philip Bump: “The system tolerated claims of widespread fraud for years in part because the effects were limited in scope or abstract. America’s elections are a mishmash of local administrators and tools, varying state laws and differing political outcomes. It’s imperfect both in general and at the local level, but it is distributed in a way that people could retain confidence in their own elections even if they were skeptical of them broadly — or, say, in heavily Black cities like Philadelphia, far from where they lived.”

“In the Trump era, doubt rooted in false claims of fraud has infected those local systems. By design. A rickety process dependent on old bureaucracy and volunteers has come under attack from both the outside and the inside, both nationally and at the county level. As the midterm elections loom, we see increasing reports of an effort to overwhelm elections systems and break confidence in their reported results with an obvious desired outcome: Seizing power whatever those results say.”

Rolling Stone: “In recent months, Trump has convened a series of in-person meetings and conference calls to discuss laying the groundwork to challenge the 2022 midterm election results… In these conversations, pro-Trump groups, attorneys, Republican Party activists, and MAGA diehards often discuss the type of scorched-earth legal tactics they could deploy.”

“And they’ve gamed out scenarios for how to aggressively challenge elections, particularly ones in which a winner is not declared on Election Night. If there’s any hint of doubt about the winners, the teams plan to wage aggressive court campaigns and launch a media blitz. Trump himself set the blueprint for this on Election Night 2020, when — with the race far from decided — he went on national television to declare: ‘Frankly, we did win this election.’”

“President Joe Biden joked that it’s difficult acknowledging he’s about to turn 80, but said he’s physically and mentally capable of serving a potential second term in the White House,” the AP reports.

“Biden, who turns 80 on Nov. 20, said it’s ‘totally legitimate’ for voters to question whether someone his age can manage the demanding stresses of the American presidency… He said people should judge for themselves whether he is up to the task as polls show that voters would rather not see a rematch with Donald Trump, the Republican ousted by Biden in 2020.”

“As the GOP prepares to take back the House, its right flank is raring to gut spending, upend the federal safety net and make Trump-era tax cuts permanent — ambitions that threaten to give leadership a two-year headache,” Politico reports.

“Regaining the House majority in two weeks would undoubtedly lend Republicans more leverage in next year’s biggest budget and spending battles, including an already messy fight with Democrats over lifting the debt ceiling. Some conservatives are already hellbent on using the debt limit and government funding to extract major concessions from Democrats, such as restoring federal spending caps or overhauling Social Security and Medicare.”

New York Times: “A shrinking white share of the population is a hallmark of the congressional districts held by the House Republicans who voted to challenge Mr. Trump’s defeat, a New York Times analysis found — a pattern political scientists say shows how white fear of losing status shaped the movement to keep him in power.”

“The portion of white residents dropped about 35 percent more over the last three decades in those districts than in territory represented by other Republicans, the analysis found, and constituents also lagged behind in income and education. Rates of so-called deaths of despair, such as suicide, drug overdose and alcohol-related liver failure, were notably higher as well.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Donald Trump is too much of a coward to obey a subpoena from the U.S. Congress compelling him to testify to a special committee investigating his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, Reuters reports.

Said Pelosi: “I don’t think he’s man enough to show up.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has revealed in his new book that he was in a “a supply closet with stacked chairs” during part of the January 6 storming of Congress, Newsweek reports.

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and conservative lawmakers are trying to make it illegal to publish polls that later do not match the election results, the New York Times reports.

“A Brazilian politician attacked federal police officers seeking to arrest him in his home on Sunday, prompting an hours-long siege that caused alarm and a scramble for a response at the highest level of government,” the AP reports.

“Roberto Jefferson, a former lawmaker and an ally of President Jair Bolsonaro, fired a rifle at police and threw grenades, wounding two officers in the rural municipality Comendador Levy Gasparian, in Rio de Janeiro state. He said in a video message sent to supporters on WhatsApp that he refused to surrender, though by early evening he was in custody.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “To begin with, no party has had a former president run for their nomination since Teddy Roosevelt did it in 1912. And even that isn’t an ideal comparison because Roosevelt was running as a third-party challenger against a sitting Republican president, William Howard Taft…”

“Then there is the unprecedented fact that Trump is the first-ever frontrunner to be in deep legal trouble. It’s true that in 2016 Hillary Clinton was under investigation (as was, it turned out, Trump himself, multiple times). But it simply doesn’t compare. The 19-item list of criminal and civil trouble Trump faces right now is simply far more serious and extensive than … well, it’s probably more legal trouble for a presidential candidate than all other candidates combined over the last 50 years. Perhaps throughout US history.”

“That’s not all! Trump remains a rare and perhaps unique case of a nomination frontrunner who can’t be counted on to be loyal to the party regardless of what happens.”

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

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