Delaware

Cup of Joe – November 20, 2022

“Elon Musk restored the Twitter account of former president Donald Trump on Saturday, a pivotal move that could help the platform’s once loudest, bluntest force regain online attention just as a new presidential election begins,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump’s account was repopulating with old tweets and followers Saturday night, though the former president had not tweeted immediately after being restored. He said Saturday he remained focused on his Twitter clone, Truth Social, signaling he would not return to the site right away.”

Josh Marshall says not to whine about it: “Put simply, it makes the supporters of civic democracy and Americanism sound weak, helpless, lacking the courage of their convictions and beliefs, afraid. Much of this stems from the really wrongheaded idea that Trump leapfrogged to the commanding heights of American politics in 2015 because he got so much TV coverage or because people engaged with his tweets on Twitter. That was never true. All sorts of bad conclusions flow from that misapprehension. […] To me it is reminiscent of Democrats’ over-reliance on courts. To vindicate rights, democratic process and civic democracy in general you have to win elections. Courts won’t do it over the long run though they certainly play an important role in our system of government. Keeping Donald Trump off Twitter is no substitute for beating him and his movement at the ballot box.”

I agree with that. Also, all of Trump’s press release statements and Truth Social “Truths” were posted on Twitter over the last two years anyway, so what’s the difference.

Donald Trump said he sees “a lot of problems at Twitter” and will stick to his own social-media platform, offering an initial response to Elon Musk’s poll on whether to reinstate the former president’s account, Bloomberg reports.

Said Trump: “I hear we’re getting a big vote to also go back on Twitter. I don’t see it because I don’t see any reason for it. It may make it, it may not make it.”

Lighting $44 billion on fire would be so much easier, no?The billionaire man-child has temper-tantrumed his way into a death spiral that seems almost impossible to recover from. Twitter offices are closed until Monday, the workforce is resigning in droves, and this morning there are real questions about whether the platform will survive the weekend without fundamentally breaking down.

Dystopian late capitalism has a mordant sense of humor:

The Verge: Hundreds of employees say no to being part of Elon Musk’s ‘extremely hardcore’ Twitter

NBC News: Twitter to temporarily close offices amid wave of new resignations after Musk’s ultimatum

MIT Technology Review: Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

Bloomberg: “Multiple teams that were critical for keeping the service up and running are completely gone, or borrowing engineers from other groups, according to people familiar with the matter. That includes infrastructure teams to keep the main feed operational and maintain tweet databases…”

“That doesn’t mean that Twitter will shut down completely and unexpectedly. More likely, remaining employees will be unable to fix issues in the code and the site will start to lose some functionality, or be vulnerable to a major hack, technologists said.”

Washington Post: “Several critical teams essential to keeping the site functioning were cut to a single engineer or none by the departures Thursday, leaving the company partially on autopilot and likely to crash sooner or later, engineers said.”

New York Times: What employees does Twitter need anyway?

“Facebook’s fact-checkers will need to stop fact-checking former President Donald Trump if he announces that he is running for president,” according to a company memo obtained by CNN.

“While Trump is currently banned from Facebook, the fact-check ban applies to anything Trump says and false statements made by Trump can be posted to the platform by others. Despite Trump’s ban, ‘Team Trump,’ a page run by Trump’s political group, is still active and has 2.3 million followers.”

A former evangelical activist claimed in a letter to the Chief Justice that he knew about the outcome of a 2014 Supreme Court decision involving contraception and the Affordable Care Act prior to the formal announcement, the New York Times reports.

Washington Post: “Justice Samuel Alito denied an allegation from a former antiabortion activist that Alito or his wife disclosed to conservative donors the outcome of a pending 2014 case regarding contraceptives and religious rights.”

“The episode added to growing debate over the legitimacy and behind-the-scenes operations of the Supreme Court at a time when public approval of the court has sunk to historic lows.”

“Naomi Biden married Peter Neal on the South Lawn of the White House late Saturday morning, in the first wedding for a presidential family member held on the grounds since the Clinton era,” the Washington Post reports.

“In appointing a special counsel to investigate former President Donald Trump, Attorney General Merrick Garland was, in theory at least, trying to insulate the matter from politics as much as possible,” the New York Times reports.

“That notion, of course, did not even last the day. Within hours, the newly named special counsel, Jack Smith, came under fire from the Trump team as just another partisan inquisitor.”

“The reality is that a special counsel was never going to be accepted by Mr. Trump or his most fervent supporters as a credible, independent investigator, which the attorney general surely knew. Mr. Garland, who has spent more than three decades as a federal prosecutor and judge, was applying an old-fashioned method in a new-fashioned world, following what he felt was the clear mandate of the traditional rules even if they no longer seem adequate to the political moment.”

“I personally think that they probably have the basis for legitimately indicting him.”— Former Attorney General Bill Barr, on PBS, about Donald Trump’s legal issues.  It’s not great for Trump when his own Attorney General thinks he should be indicted.

The good folks at JustSecurity have published a model prosecution memo for Trump’s improper retention of government documents. This is the kind of memo the Justice Department would prepare internally before making its prosecution decision, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the case.

“The criminal tax fraud case against a pair of Trump Organization companies playing out in a Manhattan courtroom this month went all the way to trial because of one man: Donald Trump,” Bloomberg reports.

“Companies under criminal investigation often cut deals to lessen or avoid prosecution in exchange for paying a penalty and changing their conduct. But because the two Trump business units would have had to say their employees knowingly committed tax fraud, the boss wouldn’t let them strike a plea deal with prosecutors.”

Barbara Jones, the former federal judge appointed to monitor Trump Org finances during the massive civil lawsuit against the company by the New York attorney general, has been the authority to keep Trump’s business under a very close microscope for any unusual, suspicious, or fraudulent activity.

Jonathan Chait: “If it were possible for a criminal suspect to simply decline to participate in the process — like an extracurricular activity you simply quit — then this would also open up a gigantic loophole in the legal system. In fact, the Justice Department does not give criminal suspects an option of whether or not to partake in being charged with a crime.”

“Trump’s instinctive response that he ‘won’t partake‘ in charges reveals so much about his view of the legal system. He believes the law is optional, and that people like him don’t need to participate in it. It is why he committed the crime in the first place.”

“They tried it in the Senate, they went through the whole process. And we won, we won through the whole process… We went through two of them. And isn’t this sort of like double jeopardy?”— Donald Trump, complaining to a crowd at Mar-a-Lago about the appointment of a special counsel.

God, he is so fucking stupid. I mean, a fourth grader knows more about our legal system and political system than him. No, Donnie, a political and constitutional process known as impeachment is not the same thing as the criminal process.

Geraldo Rivera tweeted that President Biden should pardon Donald Trump “for the good of the nation,” just as Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. LOL. No.

“I was described by Steve Bannon (and, sigh, many others) as a pit bull. Jack Smith makes me look like a golden retriever puppy. So tenacious and fearless. And apolitical and ethical.”— Andrew Weissmann, former lead prosecutor on the Mueller probe, on Twitter.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) argued that Republicans should impeach Attorney General Merrick Garland and insisted that her party “refuse to appropriate any funding to Merrick Garland’s Special Counsel and defund any part of the DOJ acting on behalf of the Democrat party as a taxpayer funded campaign arm for the Democrat’s 2024 presidential nominee.”

Playbook: “It sets up a new and explosive spending clash that could easily prompt a government shutdown in the next Congress. Why? MTG and like-minded Trump loyalists will press Kevin McCarthy (or whoever else manages to become speaker) to toe a hard line while Democrats will absolutely refuse to defund the investigations. Watch this space.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Saturday urged the Republican Party to move on from Donald Trump, The Hill reports. Said Christie: “It is time to stop whispering. It is time to stop being afraid of any one person. It is time to stand up for the principles and the beliefs that we have founded this party on and this country on.” He added: “We keep losing and losing and losing. And the fact of the matter is the reason we’re losing is because Donald Trump has put himself before everyone else.”

“We were told we’d get tired of winning. But I’m tired of losing. And so are most Republicans.”— Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, taking a swipe at Donald Trump on Twitter.

John Harris: “People have long predicted that Donald Trump would lose currency as a politician when he lost his capacity to outrage.”

“It is true enough that, like an overused narcotic, the effect of did-he-really-go-there rhetoric and norm-shattering behavior wears off after a while. It is true also that Trump has been more innovative than many imagined possible in forever finding new lines to cross.”

“There is another way that is less appreciated — perhaps even by the candidate himself — of how Trump and his movement will lose steam. It is when Trump loses his capacity for delight.”

Liam Kerr: “There has long been a debate over whether or not ‘Never Trump’ Republicans are a meaningful cohort. Election results keep suggesting that, at the electoral level, they are. Never Trumpers propelled the Democratic House victory in 2018 and Joe Biden’s victory in 2020, and they were also behind some of the Democrats who overperformed last week.”

“GOP megadonors Robert and Rebekah Mercer have no current plans to help former President Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign for the White House,” CNBC reports.

“The Mercers, a father and daughter who were one of Trump’s major benefactors during his first run for president in 2016, are distancing themselves from the ex-president’s third White House bid and cutting back their overall campaign fundraising.”

Wall Street Journal: “Increasingly vocal GOP elected officials, strategists, major donors and prospective 2024 candidates are citing losses in the midterm elections as a reason to finally move past him. It won’t be easy.”

“Some Republicans distanced themselves from Mr. Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol, just as with previous controversies. But the separation, for most, was short-lived as he firmly held on to his core supporters and kept or brought back into his orbit most key Republican figures.”

“Now a more pragmatic approach is emerging following losses in several key Senate and governor races by Mr. Trump’s endorsed candidates and his subsequent announcement of another presidential bid: Republicans want to win and they view him as an impediment to their future.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “Nancy Pelosi has been simply the best speaker of the House of the modern era. She is probably the best speaker in US history. It was time for her to step down from her leadership role, but it likely will be a long time before we see someone of either party master the job as well as she did.”

“Her four terms as speaker, two during unified Democratic government and two under Republican presidents and divided government, were unusually productive. During President Barack Obama’s first term, when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, she steered the Affordable Care Act into law. When her party operated with a fragile majority over the last two years, she somehow again found ways to pass liberal priorities, sometimes on party-line votes and sometimes with bipartisan support.”

“None of this was assured. Unified government wasn’t nearly as productive during the tenure of Democratic Speaker Tom Foley in the 1990s or under Republicans Dennis Hastert in the 2000s or Paul Ryan in the 2010s. Presidents matter too, as does the Senate, and the speaker is only the leader of the majority party. But Pelosi proved to be a genius of process and people.”

Jonathan Last: “One of the many remarkable things about Nancy Pelosi is that she was the first woman to become speaker of the House and yet this historic accomplishment isn’t anywhere near the top of her resumé. She wasn’t a token or a barrier breaker. She was an uncommonly effective speaker.”

“She practiced good politics. The Democrats had a long, successful run under her leadership. She kept her caucus mostly in the center of where the Democratic party was. None of that is really up for debate. It’s the shared opinion of basically everyone who pays attention to this stuff seriously, on both sides of the aisle.”

“Democrats and Republicans differ in their value judgments about the merits of the policies Pelosi helped enact. But if the question is: Was Nancy Pelosi an effective leader and do you wish your party had someone like her? Well, there’s no difference of opinion on that.”

“And besides all that, Pelosi might be the single most self-aware politician of her era. In 2017, when some Democrats tried to unseat her, she explained, ‘I’m worth the trouble.’”

As expected, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) announced a bid for House Democratic leader in a generational shift that would make history, the Washington Post reports.

“If elected by fellow House Democrats — as expected — the 52-year-old New Yorker would be the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress. He would replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who announced Thursday she would relinquish her party leadership post.”

“House Democrats are increasingly likely to elect their troika of top leaders for the next Congress without any major confrontation, ensuring a show of unity as they enter the minority,” Politico reports.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) writes for American Greatness that he cannot vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as Speaker of the House.  Writes Biggs: “I do not believe he will ever get to 218 votes, and I refuse to assist him in his effort to get those votes.”  Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has also said he won’t ever vote for McCarthy.

“It’s not every day that a senator quotes a famous mob movie to describe the state of his political party after a week of infighting,” Politico reports.

Said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), quoting The Godfather: “You’ve gotta have a war every five or 10 years to get rid of the bad blood. And then you start over.”

“Tension built within the Senate GOP for nearly two years, from former President Donald Trump’s post-insurrection impeachment through a host of bipartisan Biden-era deals that many Republicans opposed. And after the party’s midterm election losses, those cracks turned into a chasm.”

“Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has so far paid more than $1.5 million to a politically connected contractor for a program to fly migrants from Texas to northeastern states — but the private jets chartered by the contractor cost only a fraction of that sum,” the Miami Herald reports.

“That leaves about $1.4 million in Florida taxpayer funds unaccounted for.”

“Donald Trump’s decision to jump into the 2024 race could help give Joe Biden a second term in the White House, the Democratic president and his aides believe, viewing his Republican predecessor as a vulnerable and defeated politician even as they fret about the impact a bitter campaign could have on America,” Reuters reports.

Associated Press: “Conservative groups that sought to get hundreds of ‘parents’ rights’ activists elected to local school boards largely fell short in last week’s midterm elections, notching notable wins in some Republican strongholds but failing to gain a groundswell of support among moderate voters.”

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a filmmaker and the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), took the stand in Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial in Los Angeles, at times breaking into tears while alleging he raped her in a hotel room in 2005, CNN reports.

At least 50 women have won election to the state legislature, and a 51st is leading in her bid for a state Senate seat in Colorado Springs. That would make Colorado the second state — after Nevada — to have elected a majority-female legislature, Pluribus News reports.

Washington Post: “From the burst of the dot-com bubble at the turn of the millennium to the rampant privacy mishaps at Facebook decades later, federal policymakers historically have been slow to anticipate the troubles of the digital age. Only after massive, costly scandals have lawmakers and regulators been stirred to action, sometimes with less-than-desirable results.”

“The nascent world of cryptocurrency — where digital tokens replace dollars, investments and payments, all without the need for traders, governments or banks — has presented perhaps the most complicated challenge to date.”

“North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed near Japanese waters Friday in its second major weapons test this month that showed a potential ability to launch nuclear strikes on all of the U.S. mainland,” the AP reports.

“Aleksei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader jailed after surviving an assassination attempt, said on Thursday that he has been transferred permanently to a solitary confinement cell that would limit his contact with other prisoners and the outside world,” the New York Times reports.

“The U.S. government is looking to buy an icebreaker from a private energy services company to bolster its presence in the waters around Alaska,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The planned purchase reflects a growing concern over delays in the U.S. government’s effort to replace and augment its two aging polar icebreakers with new ones to patrol increasingly contested waters in the Arctic and break a path for supplies to Antarctica. It also comes amid Pentagon worries over the capacity of a shrinking industrial base to meet the military’s needs.”

“Prime Minister-in-waiting Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual confab, in a rare explicit example of a foreign leader addressing an advocacy group so closely associated with a political party,” Haaretz reports.

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

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