Cup of Joe – November 22, 2022

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll found that fewer “than 3 in 10 voters said Congress should focus on a presidential impeachment investigation … or the first son’s politically uncomfortable business dealings — though there is zeal among over half of the GOP electorate for such probes.”

Playbook: “The sentiment shines through anecdotally, too. The market research firm Engagious conducted a focus group with Trump-to-Biden swing voters in Georgia just days after the election. ‘In what should be a massive red flag to Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team, none of the respondents thinks it’s necessary to investigate Hunter Biden,’ reported Engagious President Rich Thau.”

An interesting side note: “Thanks to Trump’s stonewalling posture — remember him vowing to ignore ‘all the subpoenas’ sent by House Democrats? — Biden now has a precedent for totally snubbing Congress.”

NPR: Republicans have won the House. Now, they’re promising to investigate the Bidens.

With the House Judiciary Committee’s gavel and subpoena power close at hand, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is getting ready to launch his first investigations of the Biden administration, starting Friday with what he has recently referred to as the administration’s “anti-parent directives,” CBS News reports.

Rep. Jim Comer (R-KY), likely the next chairman of the House Oversight Committee and slated to take over the chamber’s investigation into classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago, told CNN it “will not be a priority” in the new Congress.

Politico: “House Republicans’ smaller-than-hoped-for margin — they’re expected to control the chamber by only a handful of votes — means any impeachment votes would require near-unanimity from a conference that sharply divides over even simple issues, such as infrastructure funding or keeping the government’s lights on.”

“Conservatives have made their demands known to Kevin McCarthy as he rounds up votes for speaker. Now centrists are next in line,” Politico reports.

“The unexpectedly small majority McCarthy will be working with next year as he seeks the top gavel has undoubtedly bolstered the leverage of his right flank. But the House Freedom Caucus’ vocal criticism is drowning out clear signals from some members of his more moderate wing: They say McCarthy should know that any deal with rebellious conservatives could face resistance from centrists who see themselves as the GOP’s ‘majority makers.’”

Evan Coren has an excellent and detailed look at the upcoming vote for House speaker.

One key consideration: “The vote for Speaker will be a roll call vote, with the votes publicly recorded. The 188-31 vote to back Kevin McCarthy was a secret ballot vote within the Republican caucus.”

“It would take a huge political risk for any Republican to oppose the winning Republican candidate for Speaker in an open vote.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) vowed during an appearance on Fox News to remove several prominent House Democrats from their committee assignments if he becomes speaker of the House, Axios reports. McCarthy also said that Republicans would “not allow” Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) to serve on the House Intelligence Committee.

He added that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) wouldn’t be allowed to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, citing her “antisemitic comments.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) fired back at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) after he vowed to remove Omar from her committee posts if elected Speaker, The Hill reports. Said Omar: “From the moment I was elected, the Republican Party has made it their mission to use fear, xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism to target me on the House Floor and through millions of dollars of campaign ads.”

She added: “Whether it is Marjorie Taylor Greene holding a gun next to my head in campaign ads or Donald Trump threatening to ‘send me back’ to my country (despite the fact that I have been a proud citizen of the United States for more than 20 years), this constant stream of hate has led to hundreds of death threats and credible plots against me and my family.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) predicted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) won’t “last very long” if he becomes Speaker when Republicans take control of the lower chamber in January, The Hill reports.

Said Kinzinger: “I think he has cut so many deals with bad people to get to this position that I think he’s not going to be a leader at all.”

The 22-year-old man arrested early Sunday as the suspected gunman in a deadly mass shooting at a LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado is the grandson of California state Assemblyman Randy Voepel (R), the San Diego Union Tribune reports.

Last year, Voepel faced criticism after he compared the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol to the American Revolutionary War.

Dan Savage with a deeply moving response to the Colorado Springs gay bar shooting.

America’s slow-motion civil war grinds on:

Colorado Springs: A 22-year-old man is the suspected gunman in a Saturday night shooting at a gay bar that left five dead and 25 injured.

New York City: Two men, ages 22 and 21, were arrested at Penn Station Saturday in connection with a probe into threats against the Jewish community. “Searches of the suspects, their belongings, and a residence turned up a Glock semiautomatic handgun, a large hunting knife, and a swastika armband,” two senior law enforcement sources told NBC News.

North Carolina: A 42-year-old man was arrested for threatening to kill a FBI agent and vowing to execute members of a fact-checking organization if they didn’t leave MAGA World alone.

Meanwhile, the Texas legislature is preparing an all-out war on trans people’s existence.

“Memories of the tumultuous 2016 Republican primary hung over the Las Vegas ballroom this weekend during the first major gathering of the party’s potential contenders for the 2024 nomination,” the AP reports.

“No fewer than 10 White House prospects stepped onto the stage to pitch their plans to fix the nation — and their party. The details varied, but within most speeches was an extraordinary sense of defiance rarely seen since former President Donald Trump seized control of the Republican Party six years ago.”

“Their central message: Trump can and should be beaten.”

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insists he hasn’t moved away from Donald Trump but tells Semafor he might run against him for president anyway.

Said Pompeo: “I haven’t shifted. Tell me what the shift is? I’m contemplating presenting myself as the potential president of the United States to the citizens of America. There’s no shift. The things that worked, we should continue to go do.”

He added: “But I also think times are different. Right? There are moments when we need massive disruption, and there’s moments when you have to go piece it back together. That requires organization and strategy and planning and execution against the plan and measuring your progress against the plan — you know, like I did when I was a small businessperson.”

Former Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) told the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre that he will not support Donald Trump in 2024, citing the former president’s lack of “good judgement,” as well as disloyalty toward him personally.  Said Marino: “In fact, I will campaign against him. Trump has no idea what loyalty means. More importantly, he is not a good person. Trump severely lacks character. Our country deserves mature leadership.”

Former Attorney General William Barr, writing for Common Sense: “For many, supporting Trump was an act of defiance—a protest. The more over the top he was, the more they savored the horrified reaction of the elites, especially the media. Arguments that Trump wasn’t presidential missed the point. Trump’s supporters wanted a disrupter. His voters felt that the left was taking a wrecking ball to the country, and they wanted to strike back with their own.”

“I worried that no one could govern effectively in constant wrecking-ball mode. Still, I hoped that Trump would rise to the seriousness of the office and the moment. So once he became the GOP’s nominee, I supported him.”

“Unfortunately, after he was elected, Trump brought his wrecking-ball style to the task of governing the nation. He did not temper his disruptiveness and penchant for chaos. While his basic policy judgments were usually sound, his impulsiveness meant that things were almost always about to fly off the rails. When he became fixated on bad ideas or wanted to take things too far, it took his senior staff and cabinet secretaries an ungodly amount of maneuvering to keep him on track.”

“If former President Donald Trump thought his early 2024 announcement would cow prospective Republican primary rivals into submission, he clearly miscalculated,” Politico reports.  “At this weekend’s Republican Jewish Coalition conference, a parade of ambitious Republicans hit all the notes that politicians eyeing future campaigns for the White House typically do. Their tones and messages varied — few called out Trump by name — but collectively they made clear they are not going to back down to the former president after a third consecutive poor election with him at the helm.”

Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s U.N. ambassador who said last year she wouldn’t run if her former boss did, has apparently changed her mind, Politico reports.  She used her Saturday evening speech here to say she was looking at running in a “serious way,” and to call for “a younger generation to lead across the board.”

“We have at least 30% of the Republican primary electorate that will do anything to support the president. And the value of their votes becomes proportionately higher if a bunch of others pile in the race and dilute the not-Trump vote and divide it up between them.”— A campaign strategist for Donald Trump, speaking anonymously to NBC News.

Trump can’t clear the Republican field, so the bigger the field the better.

Associated Press: “Trump’s team believes, as do a growing number of anxious donors and Republican operatives, that the GOP’s emboldened 2024 class may already be unintentionally re-creating the conditions that enabled Trump’s success in 2016. That year, a crowded Republican field splintered the primary electorate and allowed Trump to become the party’s presidential nominee despite winning just 35% or less of the vote in each of the three opening primary contests.”

“In the earliest days of the 2024 season, the 2016 parallels are eerie.”

David Frum: “In 2006 and 2018, Democrats won control of the U.S. House of Representatives on the way to winning the presidency two years later.”

“In 1994 and 2010, Republicans won control of the U.S. House of Representatives. They then lost the presidency two years later.”

“The difference? Discipline.”

“The leader of the Democratic majority elected in 2006 and 2018 was Nancy Pelosi. She restrained emotions in her caucus. After 2006, many Democrats burned with anger against the Bush administration—some even talked of impeaching George W. Bush over the Iraq War. Speaker Pelosi would not allow it. Her vision was to use control of the House to prepare the way for the impending presidential election so that Democrats could then legislate. The passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 rewarded her strategy.”

“By contrast, the Republican majority elected in 1994 and 2010 lunged immediately into total war. In 1994, the leaders, Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay, wanted and led the total war. In 2010, Speaker John Boehner opposed the lunge and tried, largely in vain, to control it. In both cases, the result was the same: a government shutdown in 1995, a near default on U.S. debt obligations in 2011, and a conspiratorial extremism that frightened mainstream voters back to the party of the president.”

“The signs strongly indicate that the next Republican House majority will follow the pattern of its predecessors.”

The Pennsylvania Senator-elect’s wife talks to the New Republic about the nonstop attacks and threats she gets from Republicans.

Said Giselle Fetterman: “The right-wing hates women. They especially hate strong women, and I think that’s what you’re seeing. The fact that a spouse of a senator-elect has been attacked nonstop for the past 24 hours and everyone’s okay with it and everyone thinks it’s normal … it’s not normal.”

She added: “My inbox has been completely filled with threats and horrible things. And that’s because I’ve been a non-stop loop on Fox News. Hopefully it’s not like this forever and hopefully it’s not like this for the next young Latina or person of color or spouse who enters this space.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “Fresh off an unexpectedly resilient performance in the midterms, the Democrats appear to be bungling things right off the block by making a major political miscalculation on how to handle the debt ceiling.”

“Democratic leaders have signaled that they don’t intend to address the borrowing limit in the current lame-duck session of Congress, when their majorities in the House and the Senate would theoretically give them a shot at raising or even eliminating the cap entirely without the help of Republican votes.”

“If there is a debt crisis or, even worse, a government default caused by breaching the borrowing cap, the blame should indeed fall on Republicans. But Democrats are kidding themselves if they think that they won’t be held responsible for the eventual economic fallout.”

Michael Tomasky: “It was all teed up to be an unmitigated disaster. The coming red wave in the 2022 midterms was going to bring 30, 40, maybe even 50 new Republicans to the House of Representatives—and an extra two or three seats for the party in the Senate. A sizable chunk of the new GOP class was poised to be raging MAGA-heads and Marjorie Taylor Greene wannabes. Joe Biden’s presidency was going to be effectively over.”

“The right would have had a field day, casting Biden as a senile old fool and failed president. The centrist pundits and Blue Dog Democrats would have wagged their collective finger at Biden for having gone ‘too far left’ on economics and brayed that wokery had consumed the Democratic Party. The left would have been on the defensive, trying to prove to anyone who’d listen—which, in Washington, wouldn’t have been many people—that they weren’t the ones who cost their party the election.”

“None of it happened.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) “announced Monday that she is issuing a pardon for Oregonians who have been convicted of simple possession of marijuana,” the Oregonian reports.

“The pardon is for people convicted of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana, in pre-2016 cases, in which the person was 21 years or older. Brown’s pardon applies in cases where possession was the only charge, and there were no victims.”

The NYT blew things up Saturday with its exhaustive report outlining (i) a long-running stealth lobbying campaign of Supreme Court justices by abortion foes; and relatedly (ii) all but pointed the finger at Justice Samuel Alito for allegedly revealing to abortion foes in advance the ruling in the majority decision he authored in the 2014 Hobby Lobby case.

The Times report comes as Chief Justice John Roberts continues to oversee an opaque internal investigation into the leak earlier this year of a draft of Alito’s majority opinion in the Dobbs case.

Two leading Democrats sent a letter Sunday to Roberts demanding answers about the new revelations and continuing to press their case for the Supreme Court to be bound by ethics guidelines.

“The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away an appeal by Black and Hispanic voters accusing the Republican-led Texas legislature of intentionally redrawing a state Senate district to diminish their political clout, part of broader challenge to congressional and state legislative maps in the state,” Reuters reports.

“The justices declined to review a ruling by a three-judge federal district court panel denying an injunction against the reconfigured state Senate district sought by the challengers. The plaintiffs have argued that the district’s redrawn boundaries resulted from intentional racial discrimination against them in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law.”

Twitter reinstated the personal account for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) Monday, reversing the ban put in place in January over Greene violating the platform’s COVID-19 misinformation policy, The Hill reports.

Twitter impresario Elon Musk reinstated Ye and invited Trump back, and that’s really all you need to know about the weekend’s Twitter drama.  The GOP minority on the House Judiciary Committee, ahem, saw this coming last month.

“Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates has confirmed that he moved to an undisclosed location for his safety after security concerns connected to the 2022 midterm elections,” KSAZ reports.

“Gates, a Republican and one of the leaders of the Maricopa County Elections Department, has been a fierce defender of the county’s election system and an outspoken critic of false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.”

“The Manhattan district attorney’s office has moved to jump-start its criminal investigation into Donald Trump, seeking to breathe new life into an inquiry that once seemed to have reached a dead end,” the New York Times reports.

“Under the new district attorney, Alvin Bragg, the prosecutors have returned to the long-running investigation’s original focus: a hush-money payment to a porn star who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.”

“The district attorney’s office first examined the payment to the actress, Stormy Daniels, years ago before changing direction to scrutinize Mr. Trump’s broader business practices. But Mr. Bragg and some of his deputies have recently indicated to associates, supporters and at least one lawyer involved in the matter that they are newly optimistic about building a case against Mr. Trump, the people said.”

Wall Street Journal: “In one of the early flashpoints of the tournament, FIFA on Sunday notified seven European teams that players would be subject to sporting sanctions, including automatic yellow cards, for wearing the ‘One Love’ armbands, which were designed to send a message against discrimination. The target was widely understood to be anti-homosexuality laws in Qatar.”

Tim Nichols: “November has been a good month for democracy. Brazil’s autocratic president, Jair Bolsonaro, authorized the transfer of power after losing in national elections to a left-wing challenger. Russia’s murderous army is literally on the run in Ukraine. And American voters went to the polls and defied both history and expectation: They left the Senate in the hands of Democrats, gave the House to the Republicans by only a tiny majority, and crushed the electoral aspirations of a ragtag coalition of election deniers, Christian nationalists, and general weirdos.”

“That’s the good news. But as relieved as I am that some of my darkest worries did not come to pass last week, democracy is still in danger. What happened last week was an important electoral victory that allows all of us to fight another day—specifically, two years from now. Without the defeat of the deniers in 2022, the 2024 elections would likely have fallen into chaos and perhaps even violence. Both are still possibilities. But voters rallied and turned back the worst and most immediate threats to the American system of government.”

“Think of last week as American democracy’s Dunkirk: an improvised but crucial escape from disaster.”

“When former President Donald Trump returned briefly last week to his office at Trump Tower in New York, he was joined by his son Eric Trump and the top executive of a Saudi Arabian real estate company to sign a deal that creates new conflict-of-interest questions for his just-launched presidential campaign,” the New York Times reports.

“The deal is with a Saudi real estate company, which intends to build a Trump-branded hotel, villas and a golf course as part of a $4 billion real estate project in Oman. The agreement continues a practice that had been popular for the Trump family business until Mr. Trump was elected president — selling branding rights to an overseas project in exchange for a generous licensing fee.”

“But what makes this project unusual — and is sure to intensify the questions over this newest transaction — is that by teaming up with the Saudi company, Mr. Trump is also becoming part of a project backed by the government of Oman itself.”

“A union representing rail conductors narrowly voted to reject a collective bargaining agreement orchestrated by the Biden administration, moving one step closer to a freight rail strike that appeared averted two months ago,” USA Today reports.

“The split among the two largest rail unions comes after three smaller unions already rejected the agreement with rail companies that was brokered by the White House in September. All 12 freight rail unions must approve a new contract for ratification.”

“A rail strike or lockout in December could paralyze the economy by halting the shipment of many foods and other critical goods before the holiday season.”

“Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sacked his internal affairs minister on Sunday over funding irregularities, in a blow to his scandal-prone Cabinet that has already lost two ministers in one month,” the AP reports.

“New Zealand’s highest court ruled on Monday that the country’s current voting age of 18 was discriminatory, forcing parliament to discuss whether it should be lowered,” Reuters reports.

“The case, which has been going through the courts since 2020, was bought by advocacy group Make It 16, which wants the age lowered to include 16 and 17 year olds.”

New York Times: “The kingdom’s plan for keeping oil at the center of the global economy is playing out around the world in Saudi financial and diplomatic activities, as well as in the realms of research, technology and even education.”

“It is a strategy at odds with the scientific consensus that the world must swiftly move away from fossil fuels, including oil and gas, to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.”

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

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