Cup of Joe – May 8, 2023

“The White House is deploying a new strategy to guide its judicial nominees through a tricky Senate process that has gotten harder with the prolonged absence of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA),” Axios reports.

“President Biden today will nominate four new judges for openings on federal district courts — and the White House is optimistic about winning confirmation based on behind-the-scenes groundwork.”

“Biden officials are now placing a higher premium on winning home-state senators’ support well before a nomination is public. That has allowed the vetting process to begin for new candidates.”

“Some House Republicans are fretting about whether they’d be able to pass a watered-down version of their debt ceiling bill once the terms are negotiated with Senate Democrats and the White House,” Axios reports.

“House moderates say House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and GOP leadership aren’t doing enough to tamp down expectations with the right-wing Freedom Caucus — harming the chances for any compromise bill.”

Paul Kane: “Someone needs to tell members of Congress: The debt ceiling boogeyman doesn’t really exist.”

“It might help them honestly confront the issues of how to handle the rapidly rising $31 trillion debt, without the over-the-top stakes of one side holding the other politically hostage. In reality, it’s an almost perfunctory vote every 18 months or so that carries very little political risk but could also lead to incredibly horrible consequences if Congress lets the nation default on its debt.”

“In recent years, Republicans have craved the role of hostage taker, believing they can extort a Democratic president into giving into their demands to rein in spending and address the long-term issue of debt. And Democrats have inexplicably cowered at the social-media-cable-news-driven fear that the public cares about the debt ceiling vote.”

“Yet despite repeated examples that neither of those outcomes ever happens — it’s almost impossible to find a congressional career that ended over the debt limit, and these negotiations rarely reduce spending — Congress keeps wrapping itself in knots.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has signed onto a letter stating he and more than 40 members of the Senate GOP conference will not back “any bill that raises the debt ceiling without substantive spending and budget reforms,” The Hill reports.

Wall Street Journal: “Some Biden administration officials increasingly see a short-term extension of the debt limit until later into the summer as the best-case scenario for an agreement with House Republicans in the coming weeks, barring the GOP dropping its demands entirely. That could allow for further talks over spending, which Democrats acknowledge they would eventually do with Republicans anyway.”

However, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said a short-term extension “is a solution that the White House has fever dreams of, but it’s not going to pass Congress.”

“Top officials from the Biden administration have begun calling corporate CEOs about the looming debt limit, urging them to reach out to members of Congress to try to instill some urgency about the crisis,” Punchbowl News reports.

“The extent to which House and Senate Republicans care about this kind of outreach from chief executives is questionable.”

“This does signal a new level of nervousness at the White House in pressuring Congress ahead of a default. And it shows that Wall Street and corporate America are getting antsy about the lack of urgency on Capitol Hill even as the Treasury Department warns that the U.S. government could hit the default deadline as early as June 1. Yields on Treasury bonds have already begun to rise as investors grow concerned about a potential fiscal meltdown.”

New York Times: “Carlson is making it clear to people close to him that he would like to be back on the air somewhere soon. But he first needs Fox News to agree to a deal that would allow him to work elsewhere… leaving it unclear whether he will be able to start a new chapter in his media career before his current contract expires in January 2025.”

A new Morning Consult survey finds that Tucker Carlson’s fan base “is whiter, wealthier, more conservative and more male than the average Fox News fan.”  Also interesting: 75% of his fans expressed interest in watching Carlson on his own hypothetical media network.

“Tucker Carlson is preparing to unleash allies to attack Fox News in an effort to bully the network into letting him work for — or start — a right-wing rival,” Axios reports.

Said Bryan Freedman, the high-powered Hollywood lawyer Carlson retained for the contract dispute: “The idea that anyone is going to silence Tucker and prevent him from speaking to his audience is beyond preposterous.”

“Axios has learned Carlson is busy plotting a media empire of his own. But he needs Fox to let him out of his contract, which expires in January 2025 — after the presidential election. We’re told Carlson has been contacted by outlets — including the right-wing Rumble and Newsmax — that offered to pay him more than his Fox contract.”

“Ukraine’s air force claimed Saturday to have downed a Russian hypersonic missile over Kyiv using newly acquired American Patriot defense systems, the first known time the country has been able to intercept one of Moscow’s most modern missiles,” the AP reports.

“Some U.S. and European officials said they believe that Ukraine’s planned spring offensive could pave the way for negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow by the end of the year, and that China could help bring Russia to the table,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The willingness to encourage negotiations and seek out a role for China in talks represents a shift in Western thinking, particularly in the U.S., which has been highly skeptical of any involvement for Beijing given China’s longstanding support for Moscow. Secretary of State Antony Blinken publicly expressed cautious optimism recently that Beijing could help defuse the conflict.”

Washington Post: “The Ukrainian military has spent nearly 15 months exceeding the world’s expectations. Now, senior leaders are trying to lower those hopes, fearing that the outcome of an imminent counteroffensive aimed at turning the tide of the war with Russia may not live up to the hype.”

“Special counsel Jack Smith is racing through a roster of interviews in his wide-ranging investigations related to former President Donald Trump, including with former Vice President Mike Pence and other top aides, as he contemplates filing charges,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The steps prosecutors are taking suggest Mr. Smith is in the late stages of his inquiry into Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in power after the 2020 election. The special counsel is also considering whether the former president tried to obstruct a separate probe into the handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort by withholding material sought by the Justice Department.”

“The testimony by some witnesses, often a second or third session and sometimes brief, appears to point to efforts by Mr. Smith’s team to determine whether a crime was committed and decide whether to file charges in the coming months.”

“At least eight of the 16 Georgia Republicans who convened in December 2020 to declare Donald Trump the winner of the presidential contest despite his loss in the state have accepted immunity deals from Atlanta-area prosecutors investigating alleged election interference,” the Washington Post reports.

“Prosecutors with the office of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told the eight that they will not be charged with crimes if they testify truthfully in her sprawling investigation into efforts by Trump, his campaign and his allies to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia.”

The Supreme Court on Friday put on hold the execution of Richard Glossip, an Oklahoma death row inmate whose capital conviction the state attorney general has said he could no longer support, CNN reports.

Common Dreams: “Newly released tax filings by Schwab Charitable—one of the nation’s largest sponsors of what are called donor-advised funds—offers another major piece of information on how this ‘dark money‘ moves.”

“Jurors who convicted four Proud Boys leaders of seditious conspiracy reviewed thousands upon thousands of text messages and private chats that the defendants sent in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, 2021 — exchanges prosecutors described as the prelude to a violent effort to keep Donald Trump in power,” Politico reports.

“But paradoxically, it may have been the absence of key messages that sealed the case for prosecutors.”

“The thousands of messages they reviewed — extracted from the phones of Enrique Tarrio and his co-defendants — were peppered with blank slots where exchanges had been deleted.”

Wall Street Journal: “The Proud Boys organization has proved resilient even as its legal woes mount. The group’s growth is due to its nonhierarchical power structure, which has allowed it to withstand the jailing of leaders.”

“As the Proud Boys organization has expanded, another right-wing group involved in the Jan. 6 attack has shrunk. The Oath Keepers militia has ‘virtually disappeared,’ one expert says.”

“U.S. prosecutors on Friday asked a federal judge to sentence Oath Keepers founder and leader Stewart Rhodes to 25 years in prison and eight of his followers to at least 10 years behind bars starting later this month, in the first punishments to be handed down to far-right extremist group members convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol,” the Washington Post reports.

“A Pennsylvania man who threw a folding chair at law enforcement and repeatedly used pepper spray on police during the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol was sentenced Friday to more than 14 years in prison – the longest of any January 6 defendant so far,” CNN reports.

“The White House is bracing for the political fallout from the charging decision in the Hunter Biden case,” Politico reports.

“And they’ve concluded that Republicans will attack them over it whether President Joe Biden’s son is criminally indicted or not.”

“In conversations, Democrats and senior West Wing aides are downplaying the potential impact, arguing Hunter Biden was a factor in the 2020 election and voters elected his father anyway. They point out the president’s top rival, Donald Trump, was just indicted himself.”

“But people close to Biden still worry about the personal toll it will take on a father who has already felt anguish about a son’s struggles amid a long history of family tragedy. And they wonder how long he can compartmentalize personal anger with the attacks on Hunter and the political calculation that he’s better off not responding to it.”

“President Joe Biden defended his son Hunter as federal prosecutors are said to be nearing a decision on whether to charge the president’s son with tax and firearms violations after a four-year criminal investigation,” NBC News reports.

Said Biden: “First of all, my son has done nothing wrong. I trust him. I have faith in him.”

Politico: “Planned Parenthood is launching an effort to put abortion on the Florida ballot next year — setting the stage for a high-profile battle with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis as he prepares to run for president.”

“The multi-million-dollar initiative, the details of which were confirmed to Politico ahead of an announcement next week, would roll back one of DeSantis’ signature policies by allowing abortion until a fetus is viable at about 24 weeks of pregnancy.”

New York Times: “The Sisters, as they call themselves, are the women in the South Carolina State Senate — the only women, three Republicans, one Independent and one Democrat, in a legislature that ranks 47th among states in the proportion of women. As a block, they are refusing to allow the legislature to pass a near-total ban on abortion, despite a Republican supermajority.”

“Three times in eight months, Republican leaders in the chamber have tried to ban abortion beginning at conception. Three times, the women have resisted, even as fellow Republicans have threatened primary challenges and anti-abortion activists have paraded empty strollers and groups of children heckling the women as ‘baby killers.’”

 “In the days since state Sen. Merv Riepe (R) cast the lone vote that blocked a near-total abortion ban in his conservative state, he’s faced protests at his office, the cold shoulder from irate colleagues and calls for his resignation. A stranger left an angry note inside his home mailbox,” the Washington Post reports.

“Yet, the 80-year-old Republican has also raked in accolades, becoming an unlikely hero for those fighting to protect abortion access in Nebraska and around the country…”

“Riepe’s vote reflects a growing realization among some Republicans that staking extreme positions on abortion might be politically perilous.”

Washington Post: “The White House recently received a sobering warning about the potential for the coronavirus to come roaring back, with experts reaching a consensus that there’s a roughly 20 percent chance during the next two years of an outbreak rivaling the onslaught of illness inflicted by the omicron variant.”

“A forecast from one widely regarded scientist pegged the risk at a more alarming level, suggesting a 40 percent chance.”

“Republicans blocking votes on bills about abortion, gun control and gender-affirming health care in Oregon this week have based their boycott on an obscure, 44-year-old state law that requires bill summaries to be written at the reading level of an eighth- or ninth-grader,” the AP reports.

“GOP leadership says their walkout — now entering day three — is about ‘every bill’ but that two bills that would expand protections for abortions and transgender health care and place more limitations on gun ownership ‘specifically don’t qualify’ under the 1979 law.”

“Democrats say Republicans didn’t take issue with the writing style of bipartisan bills they backed earlier in the session until hot button issues were on the table.”

Heather Cox Richardson: “For years now, after one massacre or another, I have written some version of the same article, explaining that the nation’s current gun free-for-all is not traditional but, rather, is a symptom of the takeover of our nation by a radical extremist minority. The idea that massacres are ‘the price of freedom,’ as right-wing personality Bill O’Reilly said in 2017 after the Mandalay Bay massacre in Las Vegas, in which a gunman killed 60 people and wounded 411 others, is new, and it is about politics, not our history.”

“A Texas hospital’s care for transgender minors is being investigated by state Attorney General Ken Paxton, who said Friday he’s seeking evidence of alleged ‘potentially illegal activity’ but did not elaborate,” the AP reports.

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed legislation that effectively voids the development agreements Disney struck shortly before the governor chose a new board of supervisors to oversee the company’s Orlando parks,” CNBC reports.

Wall Street Journal: “The White House faces a series of wrenching issues that could weaken his political standing and distract from his effort to sell his accomplishments, including a clash with Republicans over raising the debt ceiling and an expected surge of migrants along the U.S. southern border as the pandemic-era Title 42 policy comes to an end May 11. The recent seizure of another failing bank could add to voters’ uncertainty about the health of the economy.”

“The policy headaches come as early 2024 polling shows Mr. Biden in a virtual tie with former President Donald Trump, his 2020 rival, who has been leading in surveys of Republican primary voters. Polls also show many Democrats are skeptical on whether the 80-year-old president should run again.”

“President Biden’s former executive assistant said she wasn’t aware that any classified documents were among the papers she packed for the then-vice president as he was leaving office,” CNN reports.

“The assistant, Kathy Chung, also said she did not notice any classified documents when she unpacked boxes at the Biden’s private office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, DC, saying she didn’t sort through or closely examine the contents that included family photos, policy papers and challenge coins.”

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

0 comments on “Cup of Joe – May 8, 2023

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: