Cup of Joe – May 4, 2023

“The deadline to avert a catastrophic debt default is nearing, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is refusing to get involved in finding a solution, instead putting the onus on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden to resolve it,” NBC News reports.

“McConnell is hesitating to get involved as he faces conflicting pressures about the way forward… On one hand, he feels duty-bound not to undercut McCarthy — and it doesn’t help that he’s already distrusted by much of the GOP base. On the other hand, he has a history of brokering debt limit deals and has been outspoken about the need to avoid default.”

The Hill: Biden tries to suck McConnell “into the vortex” on debt ceiling.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he will attend the May 9 meeting at the White House on raising the debt ceiling, Punchbowl News reports. “But the Senate minority leader made clear that’s where his role ends.” Said McConnell: “There is no solution in the Senate. The Senate is not a relevant player this time… The sooner the president and the speaker get about it, the better the country will be.”

“White House officials are leaving the door open to a compromise with House Republicans on government spending that also resolves the impasse over the federal debt ceiling — a strategy that could allow both parties to claim victory while averting a national economic catastrophe,” the Washington Post reports.

“President Biden has been adamant that he will not acquiesce to Republicans’ proposed spending cuts to secure their support to raise the debt limit, arguing that he cannot reward the GOP for taking the U.S. economy hostage. But Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has been equally adamant that the House won’t lift the debt limit without securing cuts.”

“One way out of this logjam — widely discussed on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue — would be reaching an agreement that each party then defines differently, with Biden claiming he gave up nothing for the debt limit hike and McCarthy claiming he won concessions on spending.”

Playbook: “Expect the staring contest, in fact, to continue well into May — testing the nerves of political leaders, Wall Street investors and everyday Americans alike.”

Punchbowl News: “From the dealmakers and moderates to hardline conservatives, GOP senators are in lockstep behind Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hands-off approach to the debt-limit crisis. President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy must take the lead in resolving this crisis, McConnell insists, and the Senate should play a rare supporting role.”

“It’s a surprising show of unity for a GOP leader who six months ago faced the first real challenge to his role atop the Republican conference. McConnell was criticized by conservatives for working too closely with Democrats in the last Congress.”

“There’s zero appetite among Senate Republicans to do anything that would undermine McCarthy’s negotiating position ahead of a May 9 White House meeting between Biden and the Big Four leaders.”

Meanwhile, Playbook notes Republicans are looking to Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) to break ranks with the Democratic caucus on the issue.

“The Kremlin claimed on Wednesday that Ukraine had launched a drone strike at President Vladimir Putin’s residence overnight,” the New York Times reports.

“It was not immediately possible to verify the Russian claim.”

“If confirmed, it would be the most audacious attempted strike on Russian soil since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year.”

Ukraine has denied that it is involved in the claimed attack.

Politico: “The jury, however, will hear from Trump, albeit not live or in person. An attorney for Carroll said she expects to play about 45 minutes of a videotaped deposition of Trump for jurors.”

Donald Trump said “it is great to be home” as he arrived in Aberdeen on a visit to his Scottish golf properties, the BBC reports.

“A text message sent by Tucker Carlson that set off a panic at the highest levels of Fox on the eve of its billion-dollar defamation trial showed its most popular host sharing his private, inflammatory views about violence and race,” the New York Times reports.

“The discovery of the message contributed to a chain of events that ultimately led to Mr. Carlson’s firing.”

From the text message: “A couple of weeks ago, I was watching video of people fighting on the street in Washington. A group of Trump guys surrounded an Antifa kid and started pounding the living shit out of him. It was three against one, at least. Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It’s not how white men fight. Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they’d hit him harder, kill him. I really wanted them to hurt the kid. I could taste it.”

“Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the transgender state lawmaker silenced after telling Republicans they would have blood on their hands for opposing gender-affirming health care for kids, was barred from returning to the Montana House floor in a Tuesday court ruling that came just hours before the Legislature planned to wrap up its biennial session,” the AP reports.

“U.S. and Mexican officials have agreed on new immigration policies meant to deter illegal border crossings while also opening up other pathways ahead of an expected increase in migrants following the end of pandemic restrictions next week,” the AP reports.

Washington Post: “U.S. officials blame the flood of fentanyl crossing the border primarily on Mexican crime groups, and are pressing the government to do more to stop them.”

“President Andres Manual Obrador, however, insists that the main source of the synthetic drug is Asia. Mexican criminals, he says, merely stamp fentanyl powder into pills as it transits the country.”

Google computer scientist Geoffrey Hinton told the BBC he has left the technology giant to warn the world of the “existential risk” posed by artificial intelligence systems to humans.  He noted he does not believe that AI systems are yet as intelligent as humans, but added: “I think they soon may be.”  Hinton told the New York Times: “I thought it was 30 to 50 years or even longer away. Obviously, I no longer think that.”

“Partisan cannon fire dominated Senate Democrats’ high-profile hearing Tuesday on Supreme Court ethics, but behind the bluster, some Republicans acknowledged the high court needed to address a spate of controversies about justices’ conduct,” Politico reports.

“Leonard Leo, who helped to choose judicial nominees for former President Donald Trump, obtained a historic $1.6 billion gift for his conservative legal network via an introduction through the Federalist Society, whose tax status forbids political activism,” Politico reports.  “The unusual arrangement in which Leo met his top donor through the prestigious Federalist Society — which describes itself as a nonpartisan educational organization — suggests closer ties between the society and Leo’s activist network than previously known.”

“A wide-ranging selection of papers that belonged to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is opening to researchers Tuesday at the Library of Congress, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the justices’ deliberations in important cases including Bush v. Gore,” the AP reports.

The Economist: “Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s magic is not working. With less than three weeks until the elections, Turkey’s populist leader has made up little ground against Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the candidate of the main opposition alliance, in the presidential race. (Parliament will also be up for grabs.)”

“Most polls give Mr Kilicdaroglu an edge in the first round on May 14th and see him winning a run-off two weeks later. Mr Erdogan is trying to regain popularity by dipping into the public purse. But he is also looking for help abroad, balancing, as he has done over the past decade, between NATO allies, Russia and other autocracies, all while flexing his muscles at home.”

“From statehouses to the presidential campaign trail, Republicans are escalating their political attacks on transgender people – a reflection of what they see as a cultural fight their base is eager to wage,” CNN reports.  “Despite a poorer-than-expected showing in last fall’s midterm elections when various GOP candidates campaigned on anti-transgender rhetoric, many conservatives have only amplified their attacks this year.”

“The Republican secretaries of state in Ohio, West Virginia and Missouri have promoted their states’ elections as fair and secure. Yet each also is navigating a fine line on how to address election fraud conspiracies as they gear up campaigns for U.S. Senate or governor in 2024,” the AP reports.

“The split-screen messaging of Ohio’s Frank LaRose, West Virginia’s Mac Warner and Missouri’s Jay Ashcroft shows just how deeply election lies have burrowed into the Republican Party, where more than half of voters believe Democrat Joe Biden was not legitimately elected president. Even election officials who tout running clean elections at home are routinely pushing for more voting restrictions and additional scrutiny on the process as they prepare to face GOP primary voters next year.”

Michelle Cottle: “Here’s a head scratcher for you: What happens when the leadership of a political party becomes so extreme, so out of touch with its voters, that it alienates many of its own activists and elected officials? And what happens when some of those officials set up a parallel infrastructure that lets them circumvent the party for campaign essentials such as fund-raising and voter turnout? At what point does this party become mostly a bastion of wingnuts, spiraling into chaos and irrelevance?”

“No need to waste time guessing. Just cast your eyes upon Georgia, one of the nation’s electoral battlegrounds, where the state Republican Party has gone so far down the MAGA rabbit hole that many of its officeholders — including Gov. Brian Kemp, who romped to re-election last year despite being targeted for removal by Donald Trump — are steering clear of it as if it’s their gassy grandpa at Sunday supper.”

“Republicans elsewhere should keep watch. Democrats too. What’s happening in Georgia is a cautionary tale for pluralism, an example of how the soul of a party can become warped and wrecked when its leadership veers toward narrow extremism. And while every state’s political dynamics are unique, a variation of the Peach State drama could be headed your way soon — if it hasn’t begun already.”

“To call what’s happening in the oceans right now an anomaly is a bit of an understatement. Since March, average sea surface temperatures have been climbing to record highs,” Wired reports.

Associated Press: “Some researchers think the jump in sea surface temperatures stems from a brewing and possibly strong natural El Nino warming weather condition plus a rebound from three years of a cooling La Nina, all on top of steady global warming that is heating deeper water below. If that’s the case, they said, record-breaking ocean temperatures this month could be the first in many heat records to shatter.”

“Every month for decades Iran’s statistics authorities have published the country’s latest inflation data,” the Financial Times reports.  “But for the past two months they have kept the figures under wraps — fuelling accusations that the regime is concealing evidence that prices are spiralling to record levels.”

“Public transit companies in Germany say more than 3 million people have already snapped up a new ticket being launched Monday that allows them to use all local and regional trains, buses and metros across the country for 49 euros ($53.90) a month,” the AP reports.  “The new Germany Ticket is intended to encourage people to ditch their cars in favor of more environmentally friendly forms of transportation.”

 “China’s coronavirus lockdowns mean its economic growth may undershoot the US for the first time since 1976, in a role reversal with potential political reverberations in both Beijing and Washington,” Bloomberg reports.  “The world’s second-largest economy will grow just 2% this year… By comparison, US gross domestic product will increase 2.8% this year.”

“A large blimp developed by the Chinese military has been spotted for the first time at a remote base in the desert of northwestern China,” CNN reports.  “Aerospace experts say the images, taken three months before a Chinese spy balloon was shot down off the coast of South Carolina, could signal a notable advancement in China’s airship program, demonstrating a more versatile and maneuverable craft than previously seen or known.”

 “Republican-controlled legislatures around the country have moved to erect new barriers to voting for high school and college students in what state lawmakers describe as an effort to clamp down on potential voter fraud. Critics call it a blatant attempt to suppress the youth vote as young people increasingly bolster Democratic candidates and liberal causes at the ballot box,” CNN reports.  “As turnout among young voters grows, new proposals that change photo ID requirements or impose other limits have emerged.”

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

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