Cup of Joe – January 21, 2023

“The Biden administration began ‘extraordinary measures’ Thursday to prevent the federal government from breaching its debt limit and hurtling toward default, a grim scenario with the potential to destabilize markets and devastate the economy,” the Washington Post reports.

Wall Street Journal: What happens if the debt ceiling isn’t raised?

“As the U.S. government hits its $31.4 trillion borrowing limit today, Wall Street’s Washington veterans are sounding the alarm that after years of brinkmanship, the possibility of an unprecedented default is real this time,” Semafor reports.

“One Wall Street lobbyist said his firm hasn’t started tabletop exercises yet to game out scenarios but when they do, he will recommend including political twists that result in wild market gyrations given the current mood in Washington.”

Bloomberg: In debt limit fight, Trump wants Republicans to play a dangerous game of chicken.

“A senior House Republican who is both an ally to Speaker Kevin McCarthy and a trusted negotiator in the fractured party is emerging as a potential savior in Washington from debt-ceiling economic disaster,” Bloomberg reports.

“Patrick McHenry stood out as one of McCarthy’s most influential advocates in the intra-party battle to elect the California Republican as speaker earlier this month. He also proved key in persuading a handful of conservative holdouts to clear the way for McCarthy to win after 15 rounds of voting.”

“That experience could be pivotal in crafting a legislative solution to raise the federal debt limit.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “Republicans’ ploy is similar to 2011 in another way: Lawmakers are trying to use the debt limit to force policy changes before they have figured out what they are asking for. Hostage-taking is the point; the demands can always be formulated later.”

“The radical faction within the GOP, a group that includes the House Freedom Caucus and other members adding up to around a quarter of the Republican conference, probably can’t be reasoned with.

“Donald Trump issued a warning to Republican lawmakers on Friday: Don’t lay a finger on entitlement programs as part of the debt ceiling showdown with the White House,” Politico reports.

Said Trump: “Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security.”

“The two-minute video — which goes on to lambaste President Joe Biden over the migration crisis at the southern border — is part of a series of policy announcements put out by his campaign. And it comes amid growing brinkmanship between congressional Republicans and the White House over raising the nation’s debt limit.”

“House Republicans from swing districts are flatly rejecting the White House’s position that there be no negotiations with Congress over raising the national debt ceiling, insisting that they won’t bend to the Democrats’ take-it-or-leave-it approach to avoid the first-ever debt default with no conditions attached,” CNN reports.

“The Republicans, many of whom hail from districts that President Joe Biden won or narrowly lost and are seen as the most likely to break ranks with their party’s leadership, said they are not willing to back a “clean” debt ceiling increase, insisting there must be some fiscal agreement first.”

 “The Supreme Court disclosed Thursday that it cannot identify the person who leaked a draft of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade,” the Washington Post reports.

“The leak of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s draft opinion was an extraordinary breach of the decorum and practice at a place that prides itself on keeping internal deliberations of the justices secret. It has been condemned as a harmful disruption by those members who have discussed it publicly.”

“The Supreme Court has never been so slow,” the AP reports.

“For the first time, the justices have gone more than three months without resolving any cases in which they heard arguments, since their term began in early October.”

“By this point, they always had decided at least one case, and usually a handful… But fall turned to winter without any decisions, and not even a three-week holiday break produced any published opinions.”

New York Times: “On Friday, the Supreme Court is expected to discuss whether to hear two cases that challenge laws in Texas and Florida barring online platforms from taking down certain political content. Next month, the court is scheduled to hear a case that questions Section 230, a 1996 statute that protects the platforms from liability for the content posted by their users.”

“The cases could eventually alter the hands-off legal position that the United States has largely taken toward online speech, potentially upending the businesses of TikTok, Twitter, Snap and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.”

“A late addition to the 2023 Sundance Film Festival lineup will be Doug Liman’s documentary debut, Justice, which dives into the 2018 hearings and government investigation into now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh,” the Hollywood Reporter reports.

Donald Trump called for authorities to arrest the journalists who leaked the draft of the almost-finalized Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision.

Said Trump: “So, go to the reporter and ask him or her who it was. If not given the answer, put whoever in jail until the answer is given. You might add the publisher and editor to the list. Stop playing games, this leaking cannot be allowed to happen. It won’t take long before the name of this slime is revealed!”

A few minutes later he added: “Arrest the reporter, publisher, editor – you’ll get your answer fast. Stop playing games and wasting time!”

“Republicans still haven’t solved the quandary of how to talk to voters about abortion, still stinging from their midterm losses and with the White House at stake in less than two years,” Bloomberg reports.

“Conversations with a dozen GOP candidates, former White House aides, activists and lobbyists show the issue continues to bedevil the party even after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Conservatives who celebrated that ruling are weighing what is politically possible to restrict access to abortion without repelling key voters like suburban women, independents and young people.”

“The GOP ceded this ground in the 2022 midterms to Democrats, whose own furious base was galvanized following the Supreme Court’s decision last summer to end 50 years of constitutionally protected abortion rights.”

New York Times: “The decision by President Biden and his top advisers to keep the discovery of classified documents secret from the public and even most of the White House staff for 68 days was driven by what turned out to be a futile hope that the incident could be quietly disposed of without broader implications for Mr. Biden or his presidency.”

“President Biden said he had ‘no regrets’ on White House handling of the disclosure that classified documents were found at a private office in Washington and at his Delaware home, pledging cooperation with the Justice Department and expressing confidence that the matter would be resolved,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Biden: “I think you’re going to find there’s nothing there.”

He added: “I have no regrets in following what the lawyers have told me what they want me to do — it’s exactly what we’re doing. There’s no there there.”

Susan Glasser: There’s only one thing to call Biden’s new scandal: political malpractice.

CNN: “What is known in intelligence circles as ‘classified spillage’ is, in fact, incredibly common, according to former intelligence officials and attorneys who specialize in cases involving classified information.”

“Most of these cases are simple mistakes that aren’t charged as crimes: a government employee accidentally takes a document home in their briefcase or fails to follow the correct protocol for handling a particular piece of information.”

The White House wants you to believe that an aide to then-Vice President Joe Biden inadvertently packed some classified documents which were then transported to his home and private office at the University of Pennsylvania.

That may be exactly what happened. But here’s what a third or more of the country will believe soon: Joe Biden smuggled classified documents related to China and Ukraine out of the White House in order to protect his son, Hunter, and possibly himself from criminal prosecution.

That will be the theme coming out of the House Oversight Committee as they begin hearings within the next few weeks. The committee will be chaired by Rep. James Comer (R-KY), who has made it a hobby to discuss Hunter Biden on Fox News. His hearings will resemble shows hosted by Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. But he’ll now get assistance from his fellow committee members, including Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, and Scott Perry.

Greene already put Biden on notice: “Joe Biden, be prepared. We are going to uncover every corrupt business dealing, every foreign entanglement, every abuse of power.” It will be a circus but that will guarantee heavy media coverage, not only from Fox News but on more mainstream networks, too.

The White House’s best hope is that it will end up backfiring on Republicans as we head into the 2024 election cycle.

Molly Jong-Fast: “While Santos may take lying to another level, his willingness to deceive the public for power—along with Republicans tolerating or even excusing such behavior—isn’t out of character with today’s GOP. Remember, McCarthy, along with 138 other House Republicans, were willing to overturn the will of the American people to validate Trump’s ‘stolen’ election lies, while also looking the other way for four years as the former president made more than 30,000 false or misleading claims.”

“The message Republicans sent even before Santos is that lying to Americans is acceptable if it’s in the pursuit of power.”

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) “shot down claims that he once performed as a drag queen, the latest allegation about the freshman member whose fabrications on his own resume have embroiled him in scandal in recent weeks,” Politico reports.

Said Santos: “The media continues to make outrageous claims about my life while I am working to deliver results. I will not be distracted nor fazed by this.”

However, Reuters says the original report that Santos performed in drag has now been confirmed by others in Brazil.

Daily Beast: “Republicans are clamoring to find a candidate with an immaculate, bulletproof résumé who can patch up the Long Island GOP’s scarred reputation. Democrats are looking for someone who can lead their comeback—an emboldened move to flip the district back to blue after Santos dyed it red.”

“The timing is complicated. Santos could resign any day now. And if he did, it’d spark a special election, where party leaders would pick their own candidates. Santos has remained adamant he won’t resign unless all 142,673 voters who voted for him call on him to do so—a purposefully impossible goalpost to track.”

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) was asked about Rep. George Santos (R-NY) by Victor Blackwell on CNN:

BLACKWELL: You haven’t called for Santos to resign.

DONALDS: I don’t think that’s the job of another member of Congress.

BLACKWELL: Well, I will say you called for Biden to resign.

A new video has emerged showing Rep. George Santos (R-NY) boasting about performing as a drag queen in Rio de Janeiro — despite his claims Thursday morning that he had never done any such thing, the New York Post reports.

The video shows Santos, clad in a black dress and sunglasses, speaking in Portuguese to an interviewer at the Pride parade in 2005.

A secret video shows Twitter managers shrugging off staff warnings of coming violence — one day before the attack on the Capitol, Rolling Stone reports.

“The exchange, captured in a video that was recorded for the benefit of Twitter employees, now sits unreleased in the archives of the Jan. 6 Committee, along with other unreleased evidence obtained from the social media company by congressional investigators.”

“For many cooks, waiters and bartenders, it is an annoying entrance fee to the food-service business: Before starting a new job, they pay around $15 to a company called ServSafe for an online class in food safety,” the New York Times reports.

“But in taking the class, the workers — largely unbeknown to them — are also helping to fund a nationwide lobbying campaign to keep their own wages from increasing.”

Olivier Knox: “Last month, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene confidently insisted she was the face of the ‘base’ of the GOP, not its ‘fringe.’ House Republicans may have settled the matter in her favor, voting unanimously Tuesday to seat the notorious rhetorical bomb-thrower on two important committees.”

“The incendiary Georgia lawmaker will now serve on the Homeland Security Committee and the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. Republicans have very publicly planned to use their new majority’s investigative powers on President Biden, his administration and his family.”

Despite trying to remain in office, a new book reveals that Donald Trump actually left a “shockingly gracious” letter to Joe Biden upon leaving, The Forward reports.  That’s how Biden described it to his aides. Jared Kushner told the book’s author that Trump spent three days composing it.

Donald Trump claimed that President Biden was getting the “white glove treatment” with an “establishment hack” special counsel after classified documents were found in his home.

In contrast, he said his case was being handled by a “Trump-deranged” prosecutor.

Said Trump: “There are two standards of justice in our country: One for people like you and me, and one for the corrupt political class of which there are many.”

“Donald Trump mistook his sexual assault accuser E. Jean Carroll for his ex-wife Marla Maples when shown a photograph from the 1990s in a deposition at Mar-a-Lago last year, potentially undermining one of the common defenses he has used to deny an attack,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump, who is being sued by Carroll, an author and advice columnist, for defamation and sexual assault stemming from the same alleged encounter, has repeatedly said Carroll is not his ‘type,’ suggesting an assault could not have occurred because he would not have pursued her romantically.”

A federal judge imposed nearly $1 million in sanctions on former President Donald Trump and his lawyers for filing a “frivolous” lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and others, CNBC reports.

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is seeking information on university students who have sought gender-affirming treatment,” the New York Daily News reports.

“In a request sent to 12 state universities, top officials with the Republican governor requested data on the number of students who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria or who have received treatment in university clinics across the state.”

 “The Manhattan district attorney’s office said Wednesday that an upcoming book by a former top prosecutor could compromise its continuing investigation of former President Donald Trump, warning that the author could be unlawfully using confidential information for his personal advantage,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

A letter to Simon & Schuster said the book’s author, Mark Pomerantz, “who resigned from the office last February, had neither sought nor received permission from the district attorney’s office to make disclosures relating to ongoing matters.”

 “Books containing ‘sexually explicit’ content — including depictions of sexual or gender identity — would be banned from North Dakota public libraries under legislation that state lawmakers began considering Tuesday,” the AP reports.

“The GOP-dominated state House Judiciary Committee heard arguments but did not take a vote on the measure, which applies to visual depictions of ‘sexually explicit’ content and proposes up to 30 days imprisonment for librarians who refuse to remove the offending books.”

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

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