Cup of Joe – May 18, 2023

Punchbowl News: “After several fruitless large-scale meetings between mid-level White House hands and Big Four staffers, President Joe Biden tapped two well-known and trusted aides to work with House Republicans on crafting a deal to raise the debt limit.”

“Steve Ricchetti, a top Biden aide, and OMB Director Shalanda Young will work with Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s staff and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) to strike a debt-limit deal. Louisa Terrell, the top White House legislative affairs hand, will continue to negotiate for Biden.”

“This decision to narrow the group of lead negotiators came after Biden huddled with the Big Four leaders in the Oval Office for the second time in a week.”

Josh Marshall: This doesn’t really tell us one way or another about the merits of what Joe Biden is currently doing or even what he’s doing — negotiating or not. But it’s a key part of this debt ceiling hostage drama that gets way too little attention: Kevin McCarthy isn’t able to negotiate on behalf of the people who run the GOP caucus, namely the House Freedom Caucus. Let’s say Joe Biden negotiates a deal with Kevin McCarthy. That will almost certainly lead to a follow-on stand off in which Freedom Caucus members make further demands which McCarthy has to accede to. I could play this out in 20 different ways. But you get the idea. It also matters since there’s not really time for that further drama before you hit the final cliff. McCarthy is not really operating as the leader of the House but rather the stalking horse of the House Freedom Caucus.

“House Democrats plan to begin collecting signatures Wednesday for a discharge petition to raise the debt ceiling, a long-shot parliamentary maneuver designed to circumvent House Republican leadership and force a vote,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), the top-ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said he plans to initiate the petition in the well of the House when the chamber gavels into session at 10 a.m. and be the first to sign.”

The Los Angeles Times recounts a conversation between a reporter and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who recently returned to the Senate after two months away with a medical issue:

FEINSTEIN: What have I heard about what?

REPORTER: About your return.

FEINSTEIN: I haven’t been gone… I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working.

REPORTER: You’ve been working from home is what you’re saying?

FEINSTEIN: No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting. Please, either know or don’t know.

She was then whisked away in her wheelchair and didn’t respond to other questions.

“Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said she will move to introduce articles of impeachment against Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, over his focus on prosecuting cases arising from the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection,” The Hill reports. LOL.

“If people don’t go to jail for this, the American people should just stand up and say, ‘Listen, enough’s enough, let’s don’t have elections anymore.’”— Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), quoted by, expressing outrage over the Durham report.  Ok, President Biden Forever.  

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy is facing fresh pressure from within his ranks – including from key allies and top lieutenants – to launch impeachment proceedings against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, putting the speaker in a bind as he tries to show they’re taking aggressive action on the border without alienating the party’s moderate, so-called majority makers,” CNN reports.

“Migration to affluent countries is at record highs, and some nations short of workers are overcoming political opposition to open their borders even wider, hoping to fill jobs and ease inflation,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Government actions to attract foreign nationals for skilled and unskilled jobs have spread from Germany to Japan and include countries with longtime immigration restrictions and some with a populist antipathy to streams of foreign workers.”

“The U.S. remains an outlier.”

“Anthony Comstock, a 19th-century crusader against sexual liberty, was mocked as a prude in his own time, but wielded real power. He persuaded Congress in 1873 to pass the Comstock Act, written by and named for him, making it a federal crime to send or deliver ‘obscene, lewd or lascivious’ material through the mail or by other carriers, specifically including items used for abortion or birth control,” the New York Times reports.

“By the 1960s, the Comstock Act had fallen out of use — narrowed by court rulings, partly gutted by congressional repeals — and it was made an unconstitutional relic by the Supreme Court’s decision in 1973 in Roe v. Wade, recognizing a national right to abortion. But it stayed on the books.”

“Now, Comstock is back, once more being wielded as a weapon by social conservatives. Their arguments use the language of the act to target the mailing of abortion pills, and they are pushing judges and the Biden administration to reopen seemingly long-settled questions.”

“Just after House Democrats moved on Tuesday to force a vote on expelling scandal-plagued George Santos from Congress, GOP leaders outlined their thinking in a private meeting with some of the New York Republican’s harshest GOP critics,” Politico reports.

“McCarthy’s message to Santos skeptics in his conference: We have to do this properly.”

“During that meeting, the four Republicans said, McCarthy laid out three options to handle the Santos expulsion resolution and explained that leadership is only considering one: referring Garcia’s proposal to the Ethics Committee. The GOP’s two other options are tabling the proposal and bringing it to the floor; McCarthy warned that those paths risked dividing his members.”

“McCarthy explained in the meeting that modern precedent for attempted expulsion of a House member involves waiting for an ethics panel report or a criminal conviction.”

“New abortion restrictions will go into effect in North Carolina after the General Assembly overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) veto of its bill Tuesday night,” the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

“The bill will repeal current law that bans most abortions after 20 weeks, and will instead put in place a 12-week ban.”

“The White House says it is not currently planning to ask Congress for new Ukraine funding before the end of the fiscal year at the end of September, pitting administration officials against some lawmakers and congressional staffers who are concerned that the funds could run out by mid-summer,” CNN reports.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed Germany is supporting Ukraine as it seeks to fend off Moscow’s attacks because today’s German leaders “inherited Nazi genes” the Daily Beast reports.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) is using his position as chair of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee to summon senior U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf, a Reagan appointee from the District of Massachusetts, for a hearing today titled: “Review of Federal Judicial Ethics Processes at the Judicial Conference of the United States.”

As Bloomberg’s Zoe Tillman first reported a couple of weeks ago, Wolf objected to the handling of a financial disclosure omission by Justice Clarence Thomas all the way back in 2012. Whitehouse seems poised to explore that episode as a way of coming at the current Thomas scandal over failure to report gifts and financial dealings.

Joyce Vance has more of the backstory.

“An IRS whistleblower who claims the Justice Department interfered with the Hunter Biden criminal probe says ‘he and his entire investigative team are being removed’ from the investigation,” CBS News reports.

Tim Miller: “For conservative media consumers what Bartiromo et al. are trying to get across is unmistakable. It is part of a long history of vague and not-so-vague accusations that Democratic political elites and the Deep State are willing to go so far as murder in order to silence whistleblowers who might harm the Democratic Party. This tactic was employed most notably against the Clintons with the ‘Kill List’ rumormongering in the 1990s. In the last decade, it was most prominent in the slander surrounding the Seth Rich murder in 2016.”

“That this was not missed by its intended audience is clear by the response you can see in certain corners of the MAGA internet.”

Atlanta DA Fani Willis is asking a court to dismiss former President Donald Trump’s pre-indictment nonsense as premature and legally insufficient.

“Timothy Parlatore, an attorney for Donald Trump who played a key role in the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation and once testified before the grand jury, is leaving the former president’s legal team,” CNN reports.

“Pakistan’s army said it will no longer show ‘restraint’ with groups attacking its property and vowed action against those who were part of protests after Imran Khan’s arrest last week, escalating a showdown with the former premier,” Bloomberg reports.

“President Biden vetoed a resolution that would have restored tariffs on solar panels imported from certain Southeast Asian countries, saying that the resolution would undermine his administration’s efforts to create a strong domestic solar supply chain,” the Washington Post reports.

“The resolution, which passed the House and Senate in bipartisan votes, would have undone a Department of Commerce rule that suspended tariffs on solar panels imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The rule went into effect in November, after Biden in June had ordered tariffs on solar panels from those Southeast Asian countries waived for two years.”

The Village People sent a cease and desist letter to Donald Trump over his use of the song “Macho Man.”

 “Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has signed off on additional protections for gun and ammunition dealers, manufacturers and sellers against lawsuits within a bill that lawmakers passed after a deadly school shooting in March,” the AP reports.

“The Republican governor quietly signed the legislation Thursday. Its provisions kick in on July 1.”

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, the company that developed ChatGPT, said the U.S. “should require companies to be licensed by the government if they want to develop powerful artificial intelligence systems,” NBC News reports.

“But there’s little consensus on what broad regulations would look like, and Congress and federal agencies have struggled to figure out their role.”

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

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