Cup of Joe – October 11, 2023

“At least nine Americans were killed in the surprise Hamas attack on Israel,” Axios reports.

“The confirmation of American deaths will likely draw the U.S. even further into the crisis.”

“Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Mike Herzog and Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer said Sunday that American citizens were also among those Hamas took hostage and brought to Gaza.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President Biden that Israel does not have any choice but to unleash a ground operation in Gaza, Axios reports.  Said Netanuyahu: “We have to go in.”

Egyptian Intelligence Minister called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ten days before the Hamas attack and warned him of “something unusual, a terrible operation” that was about to take place from Gaza, Middle East Eye reports.  Netanyahu’s office denied the claim, saying that “the report of a warning that came from Egypt before the outbreak of the war is incorrect and false.”

“The White House has been working urgently in the past 24 hours to get a Senate confirmation process in motion for President Joe Biden’s nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Israel,” NBC News reports.

“The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is now expected to hold a confirmation hearing for Jack Lew, a former Treasury secretary and White House chief of staff during the Obama administration, as early as Oct. 18, according to three people familiar with the plans. Biden nominated Lew more than a month ago.”

The United States, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement saying they are committed to defending Israel. “We make clear that the terrorist actions of Hamas have no justification, no legitimacy, and must be universally condemned. There is never any justification for terrorism.”

“The Palestinian militants behind the surprise weekend attack on Israel began planning the assault at least a year ago, with key support from Iranian allies who provided military training and logistical help as well as tens of millions of dollars for weapons, current and former Western and Middle Eastern intelligence officials said Monday,” the Washington Post reports.

“While Iran’s precise role in Saturday’s violence remained unclear, the officials said, the assault reflected Tehran’s years-long ambition to surround Israel with legions of paramilitary fighters armed with increasingly sophisticated weapons systems capable of striking deep inside the Jewish state.”

David Ignatius: Hamas attack is an intelligence failure that may take Israel years to unravel.

“Israel regained control over the towns near Gaza after days of fighting gunmen who had rushed across the border facing little resistance,” the New York Times reports.

“Israeli forces, which had killed about 1,500 Palestinian fighters since the incursion on Saturday morning, were seeking to regain control of the border in the next few hours.”

Wall Street Journal: Israel’s hostage crisis deepens with execution threat.

“President Biden participated in more than two dozen calls, meetings and briefings over the weekend as deadly chaos erupted in Israel and Gaza, triggering one of the most acute and dangerous foreign policy crises of his presidency,” Axios reports.

“Unlike Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Hamas’ surprise assault on Israel came as a shock to the U.S. and its allies — testing Biden’s ability to coordinate an emergency response in real-time.”

Politico: “Pentagon leadership is still in the early stages of evaluating what Israel might need to battle Hamas militants … But whatever Israel needs, those requests will run headlong into the dysfunction and uncertainty enveloping Capitol Hill.”

“Even if Congress approves more money for Israel, it’s still an open question whether the industrial base — already straining from the effort to arm Ukraine — can deliver for Tel Aviv over the long term.”

Politico: “The culminating crises that Biden faces will provide one of the sharpest tests to date of his team’s theory that the public will recognize and ultimately reward a steady, not flashy, hand at the helm…”

“While such a formula hasn’t always translated while he’s been in office, Biden has deployed it time and again, including over the past few days.”

The Messenger: White House lights up in blue and white for Israel.

“The Biden administration and key lawmakers in Congress are actively discussing whether aid to Israel could be linked to more funding for Ukraine as a strategy to pass both spending priorities,” NBC News reports.

“Lawmakers in both parties who support additional aid for Ukraine have suggested the approach as a potential way to secure funding for Kyiv despite opposition from some Republican members in the House and the Senate.”

Associated Press: “Taiwan and Ukraine are effectively rivals for a limited pool of U.S. military assistance. But that’s not necessarily how Taiwan and many of its supporters see it. They view Taiwan’s fate as closely linked to that of Ukraine as it struggles to push back a Russian invasion.”

“They say China is watching closely to see if the United States has the political stamina to support an ally in a prolonged, costly war. The U.S. aid to Ukraine also has led to weapons manufacturers stepping up production — something that could benefit Taiwan in a clash with China.”

Wired: “While all major world events are now accompanied almost instantly by a deluge of disinformation aimed at controlling the narrative, the scale and speed at which disinformation was being seeded about the Israel-Hamas conflict is unprecedented—particularly on X.”

“House Republicans remain badly divided over their two choices for speaker in the aftermath of the ouster of Kevin McCarthy from the speakership – and are bracing for the possibility that neither House Majority Leader Steve Scalise nor House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan can get the 217 votes needed to be elected speaker,” CNN reports.

“The deep uncertainty has heightened talk in GOP circles that a dark-horse candidate could emerge, as McCarthy himself refused on Monday to rule out a return to the speakership if Scalise or Jordan fail to win the votes to assume the most powerful position in Congress.”

Punchbowl News: “House Republicans are entering a critical two-day stretch in their quest to elect a new speaker, and they’re mired in a state of total confusion.”

“Neither candidate — House Majority Leader Steve Scalise nor Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — has anywhere near the requisite support to win a majority inside the Republican conference or on the House floor.”

“Three GOP lawmakers — Rep. John Duarte of California plus Reps. Carlos Giménez and John Rutherford of Florida — stood up during the meeting to vow that they’d only vote for McCarthy for the chamber’s top job. Rutherford even declared he’d vote for McCarthy on the House floor no matter who emerges as the party’s nominee for speaker.”

Playbook: “The race for the speaker’s gavel is set to take real shape today following a GOP conference meeting last night that might best be described as a bitch session.”

Wall Street Journal: Onetime House rebel Jim Jordan now wants to run the place.

Punchbowl News: “[In] Monday’s closed-door meeting, House Republicans are planning to talk about a proposal that would force a GOP candidate for speaker to garner 217 votes in a closed-party meeting before advancing any nomination to the floor.”

“House Republicans want to avoid another embarrassing voting episode on the floor akin to what they went through in January. Neither candidate is sniffing 217 at this point, according to public vote counts. There’s serious doubt they will ever get there”

Key takeaway: “Scalise world expects he’ll win the closed election Wednesday – but fall short of 217. But once someone wins the internal election, there will be intense pressure to get behind the nominee, even if he does not get 217.”

New York Times: “A key plank of Mr. Scalise’s pitch to his colleagues is that he is a fund-raising powerhouse, second only to Mr. McCarthy. He has raised nearly $170 million over the course of his congressional career to help Republicans win elections. In the 2022 midterm elections, Mr. Scalise spent 112 days on the road campaigning for members and candidates. Over the past five years, his office said, he has given $7.2 million directly to Republican members and candidates and transferred $50 million to the National Republican Campaign Committee.”

Also adding to Scalise’s bid is the belief among his allies that “the fact that he was not involved in the debt ceiling negotiations with President Biden, which ultimately proved to be a catalyst for Mr. McCarthy’s downfall, could make him a viable option for the hard-right members who rebelled against the former speaker.”

Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Hugh Hewitt he would not rule out returning to the post if the House Republican Conference cannot decide on a replacement. 

Said McCarthy: “Look, whatever the conference wants, I will do. I think we need to be strong. I think we need to be united. The eight, in my view, don’t look to be — it was a personal thing.”

Jake Sherman: “It’s very clear from this news conference that McCarthy wants to be speaker again. He says he’ll let the conference decide who unites them. He isn’t directly addressing what he would do if nominating, saying it’s a decision for the conference.”

“Many of McCarthy’s allies have endorsed other candidates. But McCarthy is doing nothing to discourage his allies from nominating him.”

Punchbowl News: “Kevin McCarthy just hurled a wrench into the speaker race, teasing that he’s open to serving in the chamber’s top job once again. This isn’t a huge surprise as we previewed it last week. Plus, moderates have been telling us not to count McCarthy out.”

“But McCarthy is now publicly saying that it’s up to the conference to decide whether he should return to the speaker’s chair.”

“It’s not quite a three-way race between House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan and McCarthy. But McCarthy left his supporters plenty of room to hold off on backing Scalise or Jordan and hope for the California Republican’s return.”

Key takeaway: “Part of this McCarthy boomlet – spurred on by McCarthy himself and some of his dissatisfied and angry allies – is due to discontent from House GOP lawmakers over the choice of Scalise and Jordan. Moderates don’t like their options.”

“Let’s be honest about our conference. Is our conference just going to elect somebody to throw them out in another 35 days?”— Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), quoted by the New York Times.

Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) should be reinstated as Speaker, NBC News reports.

Said Lawler: “I believe he is the right person to lead.”

Asked about his troubles getting 217 votes, Lawler said: “Well, who can? Does anybody have the votes? No.”

Abby Livingston: “It hardly bears repeating, but Kevin McCarthy had many, many weaknesses as speaker. But he was also indisputably the most active political animal in this generation’s House G.O.P. conference. He was an active recruiter, strategist, mentor, and fundraiser, and nobody in the conference demonstrated his level of interest or work ethic when it came to electing House members. So what happens now that this force has been neutralized?”

“I’m wary of drawing sweeping conclusions about how this present chaos will impact the House races next year. (Most analysts say the fight for the majority is a pure tossup, if not slightly leaning toward Democrats.) Of course, when John Boehner resigned in 2015, Republicans were concerned that his exit would destabilize the N.R.C.C. and the G.O.P.-aligned super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund. But then Paul Ryan ascended to the speakership, and raised even more money than Boehner. The problem for the House G.O.P. is that they’ve burned through all of their Paul Ryans.”

Playbook: “Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel this weekend has prompted a wave of speculation about whether the House is capable of responding — including whether Acting Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry needs to be given more authority to move legislation… Many House Republicans are hoping the tragedy provides a rally-around-the-flag moment for the party.”

Said one senior GOP aide: “Our hope is that this whole situation would be clarifying for our membership, that we need to get our shit together and elect a new speaker. Because stuff like this can happen … and we’re rudderless and leaderless.”

“The current morass is also posing a bigger question: What if there were a bona fide national emergency here in the States? McHenry, after all, was appointed under a relatively new rule instituted after the 9/11 attacks to provide continuity of government. Limiting his powers to simply running an election, some wonks are suggesting, would seem to run counter to the intent of that rule.”

ABC News: Who is interim House speaker Rep. Patrick McHenry and what can he do?

Rolling Stone: “In the weeks leading up to the start of his $250 million civil fraud trial in New York, Donald Trump and his attorneys privately discussed how they believed defeat in this trial was preordained. Their best chance — and it wasn’t much, according to two sources familiar with the matter and another two people briefed on internal deliberations — would be to fight the case on appeal.”

“This belief led to the development of an approach to the case that centers around chaos and cacophony, rather than any attempt to win it on the merits. One person close to Trump describes it as the ‘Fyre Festival strategies.’”

“That approach — ‘let’s just do it and be legends,’ in the words of the festival’s founder —  famously turned Fyre Fest into a scandal-riddled disaster. But Trump and his lawyers are hoping that their legal strategy in their ongoing courtroom “suicide mission” will score some political and public-relations points for Trump, kick up as much dirt as possible, enrage the judge, gratuitously trash some of the witnesses, and turn the process into a media circus.”

Prosecutors see a link between campaign treasurer Nancy Marks’s criminal activity and Rep. George Santos (R-NY), the New York Times reports.

“The same team of U.S. attorneys handled their cases; the proceedings share the same court docket number and were overseen by the same judge, Joanna Seybert. Mr. Santos has not been charged with falsifying the loan or with other campaign finance violations, and Ms. Marks’s lawyer has said that she is not cooperating with prosecutors. But Mr. Santos’s proximity to the criminal activity admitted by Ms. Marks would seem to leave him vulnerable to additional charges.”

“The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to consider overturning a landmark case that gives protections to news organizations facing defamation claims by rejecting an appeal brought by West Virginia coal baron Don Blankenship,” NBC News reports.

“Blankenship, also an erstwhile Republican Senate candidate, sued various news organizations for referring to him as a convicted felon when in fact he was convicted of a misdemeanor in relation to a mining disaster in 2010 that killed 29 miners.”

Wall Street Journal on the scandal surrounding Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “The scandal—dubbed ‘PodiumGate’ on social media by those still confused about the difference between a podium and a lectern—centers on her office’s purchase of a seemingly expensive piece of furniture to stand behind while speaking.”

“Records show Sanders’s office bought the lectern for $19,000 from a firm owned by a known Republican operative in a no-bid purchase. Lecterns seemingly identical to the simple, wood-paneled model Sanders’s office purchased appear to sell online for a fraction of that price.”

Politico: “Biden’s national security review of the [Tik Tok social media] app is still frozen by legal concerns and Congress’ headline TikTok bill — the RESTRICT Act — is stuck in the mud despite backing from senior members of both parties. In an effort to break the logjam, the administration is now throwing its support behind alternative legislation that has yet to be released.”

“The impasse highlights a core dilemma for Biden on China: How much to separate the U.S. from Chinese tech companies that are deeply intertwined into American lifestyles but are under the likely control of an increasingly authoritarian and adversarial government.”

“There should be no effort to impeach a liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court justice based on what is known now, a former justice advised the Republican legislative leader who asked him to review the issue,” the AP reports.

“Some Republicans had raised the prospect of impeaching newly elected Justice Janet Protasiewicz if she did not recuse from a redistricting lawsuit seeking to toss GOP-drawn legislative district boundary maps. On Friday, she declined to recuse herself, and the court voted 4-3 along partisan lines to hear the redistricting challenge.”

“President Biden was interviewed over the last two days as part of the investigation being led by special counsel Robert Hur into the discovery of classified documents at Biden’s private office and Delaware home,“ the Washington Post reports.

“A person familiar with the matter, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss it, said the interview was conducted by Hur himself.”

Donald Trump lashed out at Forbes after the magazine cut him from its list of the wealthiest 400 people in America last week, the Daily Beast reports.

Trump complained that the magazine had “taken me off their Fake Forbes 400 list just by a ‘whisker,’ even though they know that I should be high up on that now very dated and discredited ‘antique.’”

He also accused the company of being owned by China and called the magazine a “Chinese propaganda machine.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin “has long cast himself as a friend of Israel and the Jewish people,” the New York Times reports.

“But amid the worst attack on Israel in 50 years, the high regard that Mr. Putin has shown for Israel in the past appears remarkably absent. More than three days after the start of the incursion by Hamas, there has been no message of condolence from the Kremlin, even though Mr. Putin previously published such notes of sympathy in the wake of terrorist attacks in Israel.”

“And he has not yet called Mr. Netanyahu, even though he spoke with Israeli leaders at least 11 times in 2022 and developed a close relationship with Mr. Netanyahu over more than a decade of meetings and phone calls.”

“President Xi Jinping’s first meeting with US congressional leaders in eight years was colored with tension Monday, as the Chinese leader was confronted over his nation’s failure to condemn Hamas’ incursion into Israel,” Bloomberg reports.

Said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY): “I urge you and the Chinese people to stand with the Israeli people and condemn the cowardly and vicious attacks upon them.”

“Vietnamese government agents tried to plant spyware on the phones of members of Congress, American policy experts and U.S. journalists this year in a brazen campaign that underscores the rapid proliferation of state-of-the-art hacking tools,” the Washington Post reports.

“Targeted were two of the most influential foreign policy voices on Capitol Hill: Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and chair of its subcommittee on the Middle East. Also targeted were Asia experts at Washington think tanks and journalists from CNN, including Jim Sciutto, the outlet’s chief national security analyst, and two Asia-based reporters.”

“Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had a vision for the Middle East that placed shared economic benefits at its heart — including an historic alliance with Israel,” Bloomberg reports.

“After last weekend’s deadly attacks by militant group Hamas on Israel, those hopes have been upended. The incursion also turns attention toward Iran, which has never wavered from its policy of armed resistance to Israel and is a financial and military backer to Hamas.”

“And Crown Prince Mohammed appears to be already tempering his enthusiasm for a deal with Israel in the short-term by defaulting to the kingdom’s more solemn official stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

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

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