Cup of Joe – 4/16/22

Russia formally protested the ongoing shipment of U.S. weapons to Ukraine, sending a diplomatic note to the State Department warning of “unpredictable consequences” should the support continue, CNN reports. LOL. Try and stop us.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN that “all of the countries of the world” should be prepared for the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin could use tactical nuclear weapons in his war on Ukraine.

Washington Post: “The Biden administration, meanwhile, has vastly expanded the types of weapons it will provide to the Ukrainian military, with the next phase of the conflict expected to include large clashes in the open fields of the Donbas region. An additional $800 million in security assistance will for the first time include anti-personnel mines, long-range artillery, armored vehicles and radar defense equipment.”

“And the top U.S. commander in Europe and his staff are developing training for Ukrainian forces that will take place on the continent and teach the soldiers about weapons new to the country’s arsenal.”

CIA Director William Burns “said on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ‘potential desperation’ to extract the semblance of a victory in Ukraine could tempt him to order the use of a tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon, publicly discussing for the first time a concern that has coursed through the White House during seven weeks of conflict,” the New York Times reports.

“But he quickly cautioned that so far, despite Mr. Putin’s frequent invocation of nuclear threats, he had seen no ‘practical evidence’ of the kinds of military deployments or movement of weapons that would suggest such a move was imminent.”

Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov mocked Russia over the loss of its “flagship” warship Moskva promising to scuba dive to the sunken vessel after the war.

“Ukrainian authorities announced Thursday that they had seized a sum of 154 assets from pro-Kremlin opposition politician and mogul Viktor Medvedchuk, who was captured this week following an escape from house arrest shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine,” the Washington Post reports.

“Among the long list of property seized from Medvedchuk and his family: 30 plots of land, 23 houses, 32 apartments, 26 cars and one yacht.”

Max Boot: “Israel, to be sure, is not as bad as India, Brazil and South Africa, which abstained, along with America’s Arab allies, on a motion in the United Nations General Assembly on April 7 to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council. Israel supported the resolution, just as it supported an earlier motion to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Israel can be proud of the humanitarian aid it has provided Ukraine, including sending a field hospital, and it can be proud of all of the Ukrainian refugees — many of them not Jewish — that it is taking in.”

“But Israel refuses to send arms to Ukraine or impose sanctions on Russia. Israel provides Arab dictatorships with its powerful Pegasus spyware but refuses to sell it to Ukraine, an embattled fellow democracy. Israel also won’t send Ukraine its Iron Dome missile-defense system or sufficiently crack down on Russian oligarchs, many of whom have ties to the Jewish state.”

“Ukrainian officials have run more than 8,600 facial recognition searches on dead or captured Russian soldiers in the 50 days since Moscow’s invasion began, using the scans to identify bodies and contact hundreds of their families in what may be one of the most gruesome applications of the technology to date,” the Washington Post reports.  “The country’s IT Army, a volunteer force of hackers and activists that takes its direction from the Ukrainian government, says it has used those identifications to inform the families of the deaths of 582 Russians, including by sending them photos of the abandoned corpses.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told Pod Save America that President Biden is not planning to visit Ukraine.  Said Psaki: “That is not in the plans for the president of the United States. We should all be maybe relieved about that.”

“When some leaders ask me what weapons I need, I need a moment to calm myself, because I already told them the week before. It’s Groundhog Day. I feel like Bill Murray.”  — Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky, quoted by The Atlantic.

“In the weeks between the 2020 election and the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, almost 100 text messages from two staunch GOP allies of then-President Donald Trump reveal an aggressive attempt to lobby, encourage and eventually warn the White House over its efforts to overturn the election,“ CNN reports.

“The texts, which have not been previously reported, were sent by Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The text exchanges show that both members of Congress initially supported legal challenges to the election but ultimately came to sour on the effort and the tactics deployed by Trump and his team.”

“Newly released text messages between Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows show Lee was advising and assisting former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election,” the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

“The messages also reveal Lee was aware of a legally dubious strategy to have then-Vice President Mike Pence throw out Electoral College votes much earlier than he had claimed.”

Jonathan Chait: Republican Senator blurts out that he hates democracy.

“A January 6 rioter who claimed he was following ‘presidential orders’ when he stormed the US Capitol and stole liquor and a coat rack was convicted Thursday on all charges by a jury in Washington, DC,” CNN reports.

“The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol spent roughly eight hours on Thursday questioning Stephen Miller, a top White House adviser to former President Donald Trump, in an at times contentious exchange that included queries about Mr. Trump’s speech before a crowd the morning of the riot,” the New York Times reports.

“Investigators asked Mr. Miller repeatedly about the use of the word ‘we’ throughout Mr. Trump’s speech on the Ellipse, outside the White House, on Jan. 6, 2021, the people said, in an apparent effort to ascertain whether the former president had been directing supporters to join him in taking action to stop Congress from certifying his defeat.”

“Federal prosecutors appear to have made their biggest breakthrough yet in their sprawling investigation into the violent riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. A high-ranking Proud Boy has flipped, agreeing to testify in any and all cases where his testimony might be ‘deemed relevant by the government,’” Vice News reports.

“It’s the latest example of the government strengthening its case against the far-right street-fighting gang that’s become a national household name since its leaders and dozens of members have been charged in relation to the Capitol riot.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) drew right-wing ire after he stated that House Republicans, if they win the House majority in this year’s midterm elections, will not impeach President Joe Biden for “political purposes,” The Hill reports.

Politico: “The jolt from Upton’s retirement is less about protecting his seat, as it will likely stay in GOP hands, and more about the question before the House minority leader: What will the exodus of his centrists, as well as other senior Republicans who don’t see negotiation as a dirty word, mean for him next year?”

“Republicans say McCarthy, the minority leader and undisputed frontrunner for speaker if the House flips, has begun conversations with his leadership team and other lawmakers about how to wrangle the conference on a smattering of issues after the chamber flips.”

“President Biden is facing a growing mutiny from Democratic candidates — including five vulnerable senators — who are questioning his administration’s decision to lift a pandemic health order that has drastically curtailed migrants’ ability to seek asylum at the southern border,” the Washington Post reports.

“The internal dissension is an early acknowledgment from many Democrats that worries about border security and immigration could become a major obstacle for them in this year’s midterm elections. Polls show the topic to be a leading concern for voters, and one on which Biden has received low marks. Now, candidates are openly warning that the Biden administration’s decision to stop using the public health order, known as Title 42, could lead to chaotic conditions at the border and refocus public attention on an issue that has challenged president after president.”

“Republicans are accusing the Biden administration of hypocrisy after extending a mask mandate for public transportation —right after ending Title 42, a provision that would restrict immigration at the southern border due to the pandemic,” Politico reports.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) tweets: “If Americans are still bound by Covid policies shouldn’t our border be too???“

“Federal prosecutors in New York on Thursday unsealed an indictment charging a member of Russia’s legislature and two of his staffers with orchestrating a propaganda and disinformation campaign targeting US lawmakers,” CNN reports.

“As part of the alleged scheme, in 2017, prosecutors said the men allegedly violated US sanctions laws by seeking to recruit at least one US businessman and at least one congressman with an all-expenses paid trip to attend a conference in Yalta, an area in Russian-controlled Crimea, for the benefit of Sergey Aksyonov, a Russian placed on the US sanctions list following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.”

“The congressman, who was not identified, did not accept the invitation, the indictment said.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) “defended her position as senior senator representing California following a news report published Thursday that lawmakers she serves with are concerned about her memory and ability to serve in the Senate,” CNN reports.  Said Feinstein: “I remain committed to do what I said I would when I was re-elected in 2018: fight for Californians, especially on the economy and the key issues for California of water and fire.”

She added: “While I have focused for much of the past year on my husband’s health and ultimate passing, I have remained committed to achieving results and I’d put my record up against anyone’s.”

“Public unhappiness with the pandemic response is nearly universal and is taking a toll on approval ratings of every state’s governor as well as the president,” Axios reports.

“It’s a startling fall from grace for governors compared to early in the pandemic, when 38 of them registered approval ratings higher than 60%.”

“Republican voter approval is at an all-time low, at 44% for Republican governors and 19% for Democratic governors. Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is a notable exception at 64%, and has maintained steady GOP support throughout the pandemic.”

“A second group of asylum seekers arrived in Washington, D.C., Thursday on a charter bus after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to transport migrants from Texas to D.C.,” ABC News reports.

“Grocery stores in some parts of the U.S. are expected to start running out of certain perishable goods as soon as this weekend because of a Mexican truckers’ blockade that has stranded millions of dollars worth of fresh produce,” Bloomberg reports.

“Roughly $150 million worth of fruit and vegetables are stalled south of the U.S.-Mexico border amid a protest over Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s controversial vehicle-inspection program… The blockade, which entered its fourth day on Thursday, is impeding delivery of things like avocados, limes, tomatoes, cucumbers and mangoes.”

“New claims for unemployment benefits are trending at their lowest levels since 1968, a sign of how few layoffs are happening in the tightest labor market in half a century,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Job security today, by some measures, is even better than it was in the economic halcyon days of the late 1960s.”

“The House Committee on Ethics has announced it’s continuing to look into one of its own members, Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL),” Politico reports. “It’s pretty rare for ethics panels to begin investigations into their own members. If the Rutherford inquiry proceeds, it’s expected he will recuse himself from the committee’s decision-making.”

“The FBI on Thursday blamed hackers associated with the North Korean government for stealing more than $600 million in cryptocurrency last month from a video gaming company — the latest in a string of audacious cyber heists tied to Pyongyang,” CNN reports.

Rep. Kai Kahele (D-HI) “is benefiting from a unique arrangement with Hawaiian Airlines that has allowed him to work and earn income as a part-time pilot while also serving in Congress,” Civil Beat reports.  “After Kahele was elected to Congress in November 2020, Hawaiian Airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association, which is the national labor union that represents the company’s pilots, crafted a new leave policy that would allow the first-term congressman to maintain his flight status, seniority and longevity with the company while he represented Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District in Washington.”

A major conflict: Kahele serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which oversees air travel.

Missouri state Rep. Ian Mackey (D) gave a powerful speech on the House floor yesterday that may restore some of your faith in our politics — or at least make you want to fight.

Tennessee state Sen. Frank Niceley (R) cited Adolf Hitler as someone people struggling with homelessness should aspire to during debate on a bill on unauthorized camping, WTVC reports.

Said Nicely: “I wanna give you a little history lesson on homelessness. In 1910, Hitler decided to live on the streets for a while. So for two years, Hitler lived on the streets and practice his oratory and body language and how to connect with the masses and then went on to lead a life that got him in the history books. So a lot of these people, it’s not a dead-end. They can come out of this. These homeless camps and have a productive life… or in Hitler’s case a very unproductive life.”

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

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