Cup of Joe – December 3, 2022

The Hill: “Senators voted 80 to 15 for a House-passed bill to implement the labor agreement between freight rail carriers and unionized workers brokered by an emergency board President Biden established in July.”

“But senators rejected a proposal to add seven days of paid sick leave to the agreement, which four rail unions demanded.”

All Democratic Senators voted for the legislation except Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who apparently only cares about unions if they produce coal. Perhaps more embarrassing, even some of the worst Republican Senators like Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Ted Cruz voted for the PTO that Manchin voted against. 

Washington Post: “The deal mirrors the terms the White House brokered with railroads and union bosses this September, clinching what many at the time thought was an end to the standoff.” Under the tentative agreement, which several unions had rejected it because it lacked paid leave time, rail workers will receive a roughly 24% pay increase by 2024, more schedule flexibility, and one paid personal day. The legislation now goes to Biden. It was the first time since the 1990s that Congress has used its power to regulate interstate commerce to intervene in a national rail labor dispute.)

Punchbowl News: “Progressive lawmakers are furious that the deal the White House cut with railroad companies and labor unions has just one day of paid leave for workers. The House passed a separate provision to increase the number of paid leave days to seven, while also clearing the underlying agreement that Biden cut with the unions and railway companies.”

“It seems exceedingly unlikely that enough Senate Republicans will join Democrats to vote to increase the number of paid leave days, even though this episode has scrambled typical partisan alliances. For example, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has found himself in the same position as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in pushing for the seven days of leave for thousands of unionized railroad workers.”

“So now, just a week before a potentially devastating rail strike begins, progressive senators will have to decide whether to try to vote down the agreement because of what they consider a paltry amount of paid leave. Or will they ratify a deal they claim puts cash-rich railroad corporations ahead of workers?”

“As of now, not a single progressive we spoke to seems committed to the fight.”

“Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee deleted their Oct. 6 tweet that appeared supportive of Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, after months of controversy over the rapper’s antisemitic remarks,” NBC News reports.

 “The tweet was deleted Thursday, as Ye was launching a lengthy antisemitic tirade during an appearance on the show InfoWars, hosted by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who is known for promoting falsehoods around events like the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012.”

Philip Bump: “As if to reinforce that point, the Twitter account of the House Judiciary Committee’s Republican caucus — an account weirdly focused on engaging in culture war fights — quietly deleted the tweet it had offered in October praising three men then seen as important anchors of the political right. ‘Kanye. Elon. Trump,’ that tweet said, referring to Ye, the then-new owner of Twitter and the former president.”

“The goal of the tweet, very obviously, was to claim the popularity of those individuals as their own.”

Far right Twitter clone site Parler announces Kanye’s purchase of Parler is off.  From Parler HQ: “Parlement Technologies has confirmed that the company has mutually agreed with Ye to terminate the intent of sale of Parler. This decision was made in the interest of both parties in mid-November. Parler will continue to pursue future opportunities for growth and the evolution of the platform for our vibrant community.”

“Twitter again suspended Kanye West’s account after the musician and designer posted a swastika in a tweet that the social-media platform’s owner, Elon Musk, said violated its rules,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“When Elon Musk wanted to bring Donald Trump’s account back to Twitter, he turned to one of the platform’s most familiar features to legitimize the move—a poll,” Rolling Stone reports. “A narrow 51.8 percent of his audience voted to ‘Reinstate former President Trump,’ leading the billionaire CEO to reinstate the infamous account. A week later, Musk once again turned to a Twitter poll to ask his followers whether to jailbreak the hordes of accounts suspended for posting far-right content, Qanon conspiracy theories, and lies about the 2020 election and the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“There’s just one problem, multiple former Twitter employees say. The social network’s polls are magnets for bots and other inauthentic accounts. They’re literally designed to be spammed and gamed.”

“The Supreme Court on Thursday delayed a decision on whether to grant President Joe Biden’s bid to implement his student loan forgiveness plan, announcing instead that it will hear full oral arguments on an expedited basis,” NBC News reports.

“In a brief order, the court said it would hear arguments in February with a decision soon to follow. In the meantime, the plan remains blocked.” A decision would then come by the end of June. Biden’s blocked plan would cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for more than 40 million borrowers.

Wall Street Journal: “The court, in an unsigned order, didn’t act on the administration’s emergency request that it be allowed to move forward with the debt relief immediately. But the justices set arguments on the matter for this winter, agreeing to the White House’s alternative request that the court take up the case now to decide whether the debt forgiveness is a lawful exercise of presidential power.”

Federal appeals court rules that the U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has no jurisdiction to hear former President Trump’s challenge of the FBI’s seizure of government documents at Mar-a-Lago and orders her to dismiss the case.

“In a major defeat for former President Donald Trump, a federal appeals court on Thursday halted a third-party review of documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate,” CNN reports.

“The ruling removes a major obstacle to the Justice Department’s investigation into the mishandling of government records from Trump’s time in the White House.”

“A federal judge has ordered former top Trump White House lawyers to provide additional grand jury testimony, rejecting former President Donald Trump’s privilege claims in the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of his effort to overturn the 2020 election,” CNN reports.

“Pat Cipollone, the Trump White House counsel, and his deputy, Patrick Philbin, appeared in September before the grand jury in Washington, DC, as part of the Justice Department probe, which is now being overseen by newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith.”

“Cipollone and Philbin declined to answer some questions at that time, citing Trump’s claims of executive and attorney-client privilege.”

“President Biden has asked leaders of the Democratic National Committee to make South Carolina the nation’s first primary state, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada a week later, and hold subsequent weekly primaries in Georgia and Michigan,” the Washington Post reports.

“The tectonic decision to radically remake his party’s presidential nominating calendar for 2024 came as a shock to party officials and state leaders who had been lobbying hard in recent weeks to gain a place in the early calendar, which historically attracts millions of dollars in candidate spending and attention.”

“The proposal is likely to win approval from the Democratic officials, given the support from the leader of the party. By breaking with decades of tradition, Biden’s move is meant to signal his party’s commitment to elevating more variety — demographic, geographic and economic — in the early nominating process.”

“Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who is attempting to become the next House speaker, on Wednesday warned the special committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol that members of his party planned to launch an inquiry of their own into the panel’s work next year when Republicans assume control of the chamber,” the New York Times reports.

“In a letter sent to the committee’s chairman, Mr. McCarthy instructed the panel to preserve its records — an action already required under House rules — including any recorded transcripts of its more than 1,000 interviews. The missive was the first official indication that newly empowered House Republicans plan not only to end the inquiry at the start of the new Congress, but also to attempt to dismantle and discredit its findings — the latest piece of a broader effort the party has undertaken over the past two years to deny, downplay or shift blame for the deadly attack by a pro-Trump mob.”

Meanwhile, CNN reports Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) said “the panel’s work will be released in its entirety later this month so Republicans cannot cherry-pick evidence when they take over the majority.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) “is sending a renewed set of requests to four current and former government officials on Thursday, providing a window into how the highest-ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee is zeroing in on his first top targets ahead of the next Congress when he obtains subpoena power,” CNN reports.

A.B. Stoddard: “What’s odd is that Republicans are behaving as if Trump will take the hint, react appropriately to the roast they have coordinated, and go away. Team Normal even seems to think they can create a virtual smoke-filled room and convince the other potential 2024 contenders to keep the field small so Trump can’t win the nomination with a plurality of the vote like he did in 2016.”

“Given what they have experienced since 2015, and what they have consented to, why do Republicans think this can work?”

Charlie Sykes: “Republicans who have never—ever—seen Donald Trump motivated by shame cannot base their plan to exile him on shame. In 2016, he accused Ben Carson of having a pathological temper and showed up to debate Hillary Clinton with women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment and assault. Complete and utter imperviousness to shame is one of Trump’s superpowers.”

“A rural Arizona county’s refusal to certify the results of the November election could cost Republicans a seat in the US House of Representatives, where they hold a narrow seven-seat majority,” Bloomberg reports.

“If the county refuses to certify by Dec. 8, the ballots of more than 47,000 county residents will not be included in the final tally. That would flip the results of the race for Arizona’s Sixth Congressional District, where Republican Juan Ciscomani holds a 5,232-vote lead over Democrat Kirsten Engel in unofficial results.”

This would be a truly remarkable own goal for Republicans.

“I wish somebody would say, ‘You know what? Arrest me then. I don’t care.’ We need people with courage to say, ‘class what felony? Go ahead, go for it, arrest me.’ Because this is a botched election.”— Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R), on Steve Bannon’s podcast.

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in D.C. for a state visit with President Biden last night, and the two leaders had a lot to discuss. 

President Biden welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife to the White House for an official state visit this week, stressing the centuries-long relationship of our two countries and calling France “our first ally.” Biden honored Macron with a grand state dinner Thursday evening, the first such event the president has hosted for a foreign leader, with Covid restrictions incrementally easing. But Biden and Macron’s relationship had an icy start after the French president recalled the country’s ambassador to the United States last year following the White House’s announcement of a deal to sell nuclear submarines to Australia that undermined France’s contract with the country. 

Macron has also been critical of what is thus far president Biden’s signature policy achievement: the Inflation Reduction Act. France and other members of the European Union have expressed concerns that the IRA, passed in August of this year, is anti-competitive and gives the United States an unfair advantage at the expense of European jobs, specifically in the energy and automotive sectors. Biden admitted that there are “glitches” in the legislation but none of which were meant to disadvantage European workers. In a joint press conference, Biden reiterated, “We’re going to continue to create manufacturing jobs, but not at the expense of Europe,” and noted that France and the United States share a goal of rebuilding their respective domestic manufacturing bases after a half-century in decline. 

Biden and Macron’s relationship strengthened in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Macron emerging as one of the most prominent allies in the Western response to the war. The agenda for the two heads of state was long: they discussed Iran’s nuclear program, China’s increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific, and growing security concerns in Africa’s Sahel region. But at the center of the talks is the war in Ukraine. With a Republican House Majority on Biden’s doorstep come January and increasing energy costs across Europe causing EU members to shift in their seats, both leaders face immense challenges in maintaining a united front on continuing to provide aid to Ukraine.  

Punchbowl News: “That’s the issue befuddling Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee, led by Rep. Richie Neal (D-MA), with just a month left in their majority.”

“Neal is facing pressure from Ways and Means Democrats to move quickly to analyze Trump’s returns – and possibly release them to the public – before Republicans take over and make the whole question moot.”

“But Neal is providing little detail about how he plans to spend the next 32 days. In fact, the Massachusetts Democrat wouldn’t even acknowledge gaining access to six years of Trump’s tax returns, citing privacy laws.”

“House Democrats elected Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina as assistant to the party leader, keeping him in the leadership ranks but at a lower position than in the current structure, after a last-minute challenger for the post dropped out of the running,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector who sources say agreed to cooperate in the federal probe into his one-time close associate, Rep. Matt Gaetz, was sentenced Thursday to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to crimes ranging from wire fraud to sex trafficking a minor,” ABC News reports.

“Greenberg pleaded guilty last May to six of the 33 federal charges he was facing, including charges of stalking, identity theft, wire fraud, and conspiracy to bribe a public official, as well as one charge of sex trafficking.”

New York Times: “The tax collector, Joel Greenberg, had faced up to almost three decades in prison for a litany of crimes he had committed, including sex trafficking a 17-year-old girl, stalking a political rival and stealing $400,000 in taxpayer money to buy cryptocurrencies and purchase sports memorabilia. But in the hopes of receiving a lesser sentence, he had cooperated with the government in a series of investigations, including into Mr. Gaetz.”

“At a moment when Congress is finally debating whether and how to seriously regulate the cryptocurrency industry, a split appears to have formed in the Democratic Party. Some of its lawmakers are contemplating how to harness blockchain technology into a force for innovation, while scaling back its early excesses,” Semafor reports.

“Then there’s a group you might call the ‘bullshit caucus.’”

Said Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT): “It’s all bullshit. I don’t think it passes the smell test. I can’t figure out what supports it.”

Added Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): “Finally, there are more people blowing the bullshit whistle. There’s been a lot of lobbying around Congress and an effort to try to scare off lawmakers. To say ‘Oh, crypto is just so complicated. No one can understand it. Let the crypto world remain unregulated.’ That is precisely the argument that was made in the run-up to the 2008 crash.”

Amanda Carpenter: “If you want to know how bad things are for the Republican party, consider this: The person most likely to be selected next month to chair the Republican National Committee has already overseen the loss of the House in 2018, the loss of the Senate and White House in 2020, vastly underperformed in the 2022 midterm elections, and may very well lose the Georgia Senate runoff elections for the second year in a row.”

“Here’s the real rub: She’s the Republicans’ best available option…”

“Ronna McDaniel is, apparently, one of only two people in the entire universe of Republicans willing and dopey enough to want the job in the current iteration of Donald Trump’s Republican party. Keep in mind, this is supposed to be a prestigious job—a first-class ticket into the fat-cat GOP donor world. She gets to raise and deploy hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle! What power! What influence! Yet the only other person openly challenging her for the position is election denier extraordinaire, Hardee’s parking lot search-warrant recipient, and perpetual Bannon ‘War Room’ guest MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.”

Rick Wilson: “Ron DeSantis is a strange no-eye-contact oddball. Is he smart? At least academically, but smart and electable aren’t an overlapping Venn diagram. Is he a great candidate? Get the fuck out of here. A conservative governor with infinite financial resources at his disposal running in a conservative state against a spent-force three-time loser hated by both his old party and his new party?”

“Winning Florida isn’t the flex DeSantis and his stans think it is.”

“There was a key moment that ensured Donald Trump would re-enter the 2024 race, and it came courtesy of Charlie Crist. There was a moment in the one debate between DeSantis and Crist where Charlie knocked Ron back hard. DeSantis stood there for a noticeably long pause before he could respond. Trump saw that. He processed that. He knew and assessed the weaknesses of DeSantis on the debate stage and in the media space, where he is the unquestionable master. He smelled blood. DeSantis of 2024 is the Jeb Bush of 2016; inevitable, beloved of the money people and the conservative intellectual class…until he’s not.”

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

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