Cup of Joe – November 2, 2023

“The White House on Tuesday warned that President Joe Biden would veto a bill for standalone Israel aid that House Republicans are gearing up to introduce,” The Messenger reports.

“The push for a standalone aid measure is being headed by newly minted House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA).

Punchbowl News: “Congress’ window to approve more aid for Ukraine is quickly closing. And no one on Capitol Hill may feel this moment more acutely than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

“The next few weeks will test not only McConnell’s fraying relationship with his right flank but also his willingness to partner with President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats to muscle a huge Ukraine aid package through the chamber.”

“We can’t emphasize this enough — support for Ukraine among Republicans is eroding quickly. Senate Republicans tell us they believe the Nov. 17 government funding deadline could be their last chance to pass a significant aid package for the war-torn country.”

“Speaker Mike Johnson’s Israel aid strategy isn’t shaking Mitch McConnell’s alignment with Chuck Schumer on the issue,” Politico reports.

“The two Senate leaders, while they differ on critical policy details, are not wavering from their preference for a large aid package covering both Israel and Ukraine, despite the crosscurrents between the House and Senate — and within McConnell’s party. Schumer and McConnell also met recently on the topic, according to Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), marking what he called the ‘first step’ toward discussion about what can pass the Senate.”

House Republicans have decided to tie the $14 billion military aid package for Israel to “offsets” gained by rolling back funding for IRS efforts to go after tax cheats. Though it’s pitched as a “fiscally responsible” approach for a nation deeply in debt, it’s actually worse than just borrowing the $14 billion.

As the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget outlined: “Paying for new spending by defunding tax enforcement is worse than not paying for it at all. Instead of costing $14 billion, the House bill will add upward of $30 billion to the debt. Instead of avoiding new borrowing, this plan doubles down on it.”

Funding the IRS to reduce the tax gap has a long history of bipartisan support and has been proposed by every President from Reagan through Biden. It is one of the few ways to raise revenue without raising taxes. The only point of the House bill is to pick a fight with Democrats over an otherwise popular funding bill.

It has nothing to do with reducing the nation’s debt — or with helping Israel.

 “We’ve got three weeks to get this done. If we don’t, we’re telling Russia they can go have Ukraine.”— An unnamed Republican senator, quoted by Punchbowl News, on the stalled Ukraine aid package.

“If Democrats want a big foreign aid package for Israel and Ukraine, they’ll need to swallow some major concessions on border security,” Semafor reports.

“That’s the message Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans sent on Tuesday, as Washington headed for a showdown over overseas military spending.”

David Firestone: “It didn’t take long for the new House speaker, Mike Johnson, to demonstrate to the world that he will not be a serious partner for American allies or for those who still believe that governing is not a petty little game.”

“On Monday, only five days after being elevated to one of the most important leadership roles in the country, he upended a major foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, meekly obeying those Republican House members who see their main role as disengaging from the world and taking self-destructive potshots at Democrats. Nothing in Mr. Johnson’s record suggested he might try to shore up America’s leadership in the world, but his actions show that his new position has not added any gravitas to his thinking; he’s just pandering to his cronies in the far right wing.”

Washington Post: “The relationships between Trump and his three eldest children are likely to be on display over the next two weeks, as Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka are all scheduled to take the witness stand in the civil fraud trial in New York over the Trump Organization’s business practices. Donald Jr., 45, is up first, scheduled to appear on Wednesday; Eric Trump, 39, is scheduled to appear the following day, and Ivanka Trump, 42, on Nov. 8. Trump himself is scheduled to testify on Monday.”

“Close allies of Donald Trump are preparing to populate a new administration with a more aggressive breed of right-wing lawyer, dispensing with traditional conservatives who they believe stymied his agenda in his first term,” the New York Times reports.

“The allies have been drawing up lists of lawyers they view as ideologically and temperamentally suited to serve in a second Trump administration. Their aim is to reduce the chances that politically appointed lawyers would frustrate a more radical White House agenda — as they sometimes did when Mr. Trump was in office, by raising objections to his desires for certain harsher immigration policies or for greater personal control over the Justice Department, among others.”

Normally, a presidency starts with a A team, and by the end of the first term you’re down to the B team. A second term can often struggle with C-team-caliber talent. But as we all know, Trump started his first term with, at best, B-team-level talent that quickly was supplanted by C-team players and cycled through them so rapidly that by the end, some D teamers were at the top of the ranks. But in MAGA world, that’s a feature not a bug!

All of which means, that Trump II would start with the D team and go downhill from there. I’m not being flip. It’s almost impossible to imagine how bad it will be – and the implications are dire.

Here’s a point of reference for you. By the end of Trump I, a D-teamer – 30something John McEntee – was the director of White House personnel office, an important gatekeeper who oversees the political appointee process throughout the executive branch. Here’s what McEntee is up to now, according to the NYT:

“At Project 2025, a well-funded effort by the Heritage Foundation to prepare personnel and policy for the next conservative administration, John McEntee, one of Mr. Trump’s most trusted aides, is part of a team searching for potential lawyers.”

McEntee and Stephen Miller are among those leading the charge on stocking a Trump II administration with more radical Trump loyalists. What are they looking for exactly? While it won’t surprise you that the consequences of four more years of D-teamers and worse would be a disaster for the country, it might catch your attention that the Trump loyalists involved in these efforts see the Federalist Society as too timid and traditional:

“People close to the former president say they are seeking out a different type of lawyer committed to his “America First” ideology and willing to endure the personal and professional risks of association with Mr. Trump. They want lawyers in federal agencies and in the White House who are willing to use theories that more establishment lawyers would reject to advance his cause. This new mind-set matches Mr. Trump’s declaration that he is waging a “final battle” against demonic “enemies” populating a “deep state” within the government that is bent on destroying America.”

“The House Ethics Committee said Tuesday it will announce its ‘next course of action’ in its investigation into embattled Rep. George Santos by Nov. 17,” CBS News reports.

“The update from committee leaders comes ahead of a possible floor vote on a resolution to expel the New York Republican from Congress as federal charges against him accumulate.”

“House Republicans leading the impeachment investigation into President Joe Biden have an ally in their new speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson, whose leadership stands to rekindle the fizzled probe,” The Messenger reports.

“The impeachment inquiry faded to the background for a month, overshadowed by GOP infighting and a historic battle to choose a replacement for ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who launched the impeachment inquiry in September. McCarthy’s downfall raised questions about whether the probe would continue without the California Republican in power.”

“But as the dust settles on the party’s internal firestorm, it is becoming clear that Johnson is ready to steer the impeachment train full-throttled into the presidential election year — with his personal friend, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) at the helm.”

“An Israeli strike targeting a Hamas commander in the densely populated Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza has left catastrophic damage and killed a large number of people, according to eyewitnesses and medics in the enclave,” CNN reports.

Lt. Col. Richard Hecht of the Israel Defense Forces said the airstrike was targeting a Hamas commander, whom he accused of “hiding, as they do, behind civilians.”

“Some of the Hamas militants who attacked southern Israel on October 7 were fueled by a synthetic amphetamine called Captagon, which U.S. and Israeli officials believe was used to suppress fear and anxiety during the rampage and stimulate their willingness to attack, kill and, in some cases, torture, civilians,” Semafor reports.

“The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Jack Lew to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel at a critical moment in U.S.-Israeli relations, despite vocal opposition to President Biden’s nominee by Republican senators over his defense of the Obama-era Iran nuclear agreement,” the Washington Post reports.

“Lew’s nomination was approved 53-43, largely along party lines.”

Matthew Continetti: “After weeks of chaos, the House Republicans have settled on the unknown Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) to replace Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). The well-liked Johnson is thoroughly in line with nationalist-populist Republicans such as Matt Gaetz, who engineered McCarthy’s fall. The episode was another sign that the GOP is no longer Ronald Reagan’s party. It is Donald Trump’s.”

“Since Reagan left office 35 years ago, the GOP has defined itself negatively. The coalition comes together not based on an affirmative program but in protest over someone else’s. The party’s greatest moments have been acts of rebuke.”

No more “happy warrior” in the GOP.

Matthew Taylor: “There is no contradiction in observing that Mike Johnson is both a mild-mannered, courteous, conservative evangelical Christian and a politically extreme ideologue. He has surrounded himself with some of the most dangerous, anti-democratic Christian leaders in the country—the same people who theologized the January 6th insurrection—and offered them his public support and praise.”

“Is there any doubt about the flock to which he belongs?”

Daily Beast: “Over the course of seven years, Johnson has never reported a checking or savings account in his name, nor in the name of his wife or any of his children, disclosures show. In fact, he doesn’t appear to have money stashed in any investments, with his latest filing—covering 2022—showing no assets whatsoever.”

“Of course, it’s unlikely Johnson doesn’t actually have a bank account. What’s more likely is Johnson lives paycheck to paycheck—so much so that he doesn’t have enough money in his bank account to trigger the checking account disclosure rules for members of Congress.”

“House Ethics Committee filing guidelines state that members must disclose bank accounts they have at every financial institution, as long as the account holds at least $1,000 and the combined value of all accounts—including those belonging to their spouse and dependent children—exceeds $5,000.”

 “Speaker of the House Mike Johnson closely collaborated with a group in the mid-to-late 2000s that promoted ‘conversion therapy,’ a discredited practice that asserted it could change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian individuals,” CNN reports.

“The Supreme Court is delving into a legal issue left unresolved when then-President Donald Trump prevented critics from following his posts on Twitter: whether public officials can be sued for blocking or muting unwelcome voices,” NBC News reports.

“The justices are hearing oral arguments in two cases involving school board members in Southern California and a city manager in Michigan. While the officials are far less prominent than Trump, the legal dispute is the same as in the claim he faced — namely, does blocking someone on social media give rise to a free speech violation under the Constitution’s First Amendment?”

Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said he was disowned by some family members because of his criticism of Donald Trump, The Messenger reports.

Said Kinzinger: “So, I had family that sent a certified letter disowning me. They said I’ve lost the trust of great men like Sean Hannity, which is funny, but they believe that. They said I was a member of the devil’s army.”

Wall Street Journal: “The weeks since the Hamas attacks have riven the liberal coalition, pitting erstwhile allies against each other as ugly accusations fly in both directions. From the halls of power in Washington to street protests and social media, progressives find themselves at odds with those they once saw as kindred spirits.”

“Both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian advocates describe a feeling of disillusionment as relationships fracture and harsh words are exchanged. The result, many predict, could be a breach that splits Democrats for a generation with untold political consequences.”

 “The growing and personal Democratic split over the Israel-Hamas war is about to spill onto the House floor, with leaders bracing for fights on Israel-related legislation between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel members of Congress,” Axios reports.

Said one House Democrat: “Things could not possibly be any worse than they are right now.”

“Some Muslim and Arab American groups are threatening to withhold donations and votes towards President Joe Biden’s 2024 reelection unless he takes immediate steps to secure a Gaza ceasefire,” Reuters reports.

“The National Muslim Democratic Council, which includes Democratic Party leaders from hotly contested states that can decide elections, such as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, urged Biden to use his influence with Israel to broker a ceasefire by 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday.”

The Justice Department charged a Las Vegas man, John Anthony Miller, who had left voicemails threatening to kill Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) over the the war in Gaza, the Washington Post reports.

According to the indictment, Miller allegedly threatened to finish “what Hitler started” and asked Rosen whether she had relatives who were Israeli settlers.

North Carolina’s Gov. Roy Cooper (D) promised he would challenge the new Republican-drawn congressional maps which could flip four congressional seats to the GOP, the Washington Post reports.

Said Cooper: “This is gerrymandering on steroids.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) told RealClearPolitics that he wants to reverse the Citizens United decision on campaign finance. Said Hawley: “I am an originalist and I don’t think you can make an originalist case for business corporations being treated like individuals when it comes to the right to political speech.”

FBI director Christopher Wray warned U.S. senators on Tuesday that the violence between Israel and Hamas has raised the potential for an attack against Americans in the United States to “a whole other level,” the New York Times reports.

Said Wray: “We assess that the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration the likes of which we haven’t seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate several years ago.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray: Anti-Semitism is reaching a “historic level” in the United States. “In fact, our statistics would indicate that for a group that represents only about 2.4% of the American public, they account for something like 60% of all religious-based hate crimes,” Wray told a House committee Tuesday.

Frank Hogue, the attorney for former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the surprise guilty pleas of Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro laid the groundwork for her own deal with prosecutors.

Hogue also said Rudy Giuliani should be concerned: “I think there’s enough for Mayor Giuliani to worry about that wouldn’t have anything to do with Jenna Ellis. I mean, she wouldn’t be a help to him, I don’t think, if she was to be called as a witness. But I think his troubles extend far beyond her.”

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

2 comments on “Cup of Joe – November 2, 2023

  1. cassandram

    “(But also what a massive error Dems made by embracing college vs worker power as the means of economic uplift)”

    I don’t know how you get this observation. Dems have been embracing both for as long as I can remember. With the 45 win in 2020, it has been a matter of media narrative that working class people are no longer Dem voters. Which is wrong unless you further define working class to white working class. And then, you aren’t talking about economic concerns.

  2. cassandram

    Sean Fain asks other unions to align their contract expatiations in 2028 to set the stage for a large scale General Strike:

    ““It’s a call to action,” he said in a speech announcing the Ford deal. “We invite unions around the country to align your contact expirations with our own so that together we can begin to flex our collective muscles if we’re going to truly take on the billionaire class and rebuild the economy so that it starts to work for the benefit of the many and not the few.” Fain added that this would allow for UAW and other unions to strike on May Day, which is also International Workers Day. Stellantis is a European conglomerate that owns Fiat Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, and a handful of other brands.”

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