Delaware

Cup of Joe – 4/22/22

“Russia was judged to have breached the terms of two bonds by a derivatives panel, marking another milestone on the nation’s path to its first foreign debt default in a century,” Bloomberg reports.  “The nation could still avert a default if it pays bondholders in dollars before a 30-day grace period ends on May 4.”

“The Kremlin is waging a new influence campaign: persuading Russians to quit Western social-media platforms,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“As part of an expansive effort to control the narrative about its invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin is pushing Russians to embrace homegrown alternatives instead. Russian authorities have put up firewalls around several Western social-media platforms and are threatening more. Now they have to convince Russians used to the freedoms of YouTube and Instagram that censored domestic social networks can deliver moneymaking opportunities and equally large audiences. And that they aren’t just cheap knockoffs.”

Wall Street Journal: “Western governments have levied a barrage of sanctions targeting Russian tycoons with penalties meant to strip away their wealth and financially isolate them. Governments hope they might pressure Russian leader Vladimir Putin into ending the war.”

“Alexey Mordashov, 56, has more at stake than most of his peers. One of Russia’s richest men, his net worth is higher than that of any individual on the EU’s sanctions list.”

“President Biden on Thursday announced a ban on Russian-affiliated ships from U.S. ports and said he would send an additional $800 million in resources to help Ukrainian forces — a package that includes heavy artillery and tactical drones,” the Washington Post reports.

“Biden also announced $500 million in direct economic assistance to the Ukrainian government.”

“Momentum is building in Sweden for the country to apply for NATO membership after its biggest selling newspaper endorsed the move and an opinion poll showed a record number of Swedes supported the idea,” the Financial Times reports.

“The debate over membership of the western military alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been slower to ignite in Sweden than in neighboring Finland, where an application is expected in the coming weeks.”

“The main obstacle to Swedish membership has been the ruling Social Democrat party, which has long been ideologically opposed to Nato and wedded to Sweden’s 200 years of neutrality.”

Financial Times: “Talk of a full-scale embargo on Russian energy is spreading panic in Germany, which until the war received 55 percent of its imported gas from Russia. The fear is that any sudden gas shut-off could paralyze large parts of the country’s industry…”

“Germany also faces the risk that Russia could itself retaliate against western sanctions by unilaterally stopping the flow of gas to Europe. Either way, Berlin is facing a scenario unthinkable even a few weeks ago — a gas supply shock that would force it to ration energy to industry and could shutter some of the country’s largest factories.”

“President Vladimir Putin’s calculated move on Wednesday to test-launch a new intercontinental ballistic missile, declaring it a warning to those in the West who ‘try to threaten our country,’ fed into a growing concern inside the Biden administration: that Russia is now so isolated from the rest of the world that Mr. Putin sees little downside to provocative actions,” the New York Times reports.

“The first launch of the nuclear-capable Sarmat missile was just the latest example of how he has tried to remind the world of his capabilities — in space, in cyberspace and along the coast of Europe — despite early setbacks on the ground in Ukraine.”

“Florida lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that would end a special tax district that allows Walt Disney Co. to govern the land housing its theme parks, sending the measure to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has made clear he would sign it,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

CNBC: “Dissolving the district would mean Reedy Creek employees and infrastructure would be absorbed by the local counties, which would then become responsible for all municipal services.”

This is a great example of the dog catching the car.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) “signed a bill that makes it harder for faculty at state universities to retain tenure, framing the legislation as another way that he and the Legislature are working to prevent educators from bringing their political views into the classroom,” the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Said DeSantis: “I think what tenure does, if anything, it’s created more of an intellectual orthodoxy. For people that have dissenting views, it becomes harder for them to be tenured in the first place and then, once you’re tenured, your productivity really declines, particularly in certain disciplines.”

“Florida’s authoritarian socialist attacks on the private sector are driving businesses away. In Colorado, we don’t meddle in affairs of companies like Disney or Twitter.”  — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), on Twitter.

Rick Wilson: “Even for Floridians, Reedy Creek is obscure; a small, strange legal fiction created by the State of Florida for Walt Disney World in 1972. It was an utterly esoteric remnant in state law until Gov. Ron DeSantis set his sights on breaking Disney to his will…”

“This stunt is all about giving DeSantis more ammunition in his nonstop culture war as he prepares to primary Donald Trump in 2024, and the Florida Legislature has covered itself in infamy for playing his game. Just as Washington Republicans lived in terror of Trump’s horde, Florida House and Senate Republicans live in fear of DeSantis and his mob, including the ones who troll on the taxpayer’s dime.”

“As America’s hottest new dictator-curious Trump-manque, DeSantis signed an instantly notorious ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill this spring as part of his nascent 2024 presidential campaign. Like almost every Republican moral panic and trolling operation (but I repeat myself), it was a divisive piece of legislative arson presented as a response to an imaginary threat.”

“In the days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building, the two top Republicans in Congress, Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Sen. Mitch McConnell, told associates they believed President Trump was responsible for inciting the deadly riot and vowed to drive him from politics,” the New York Times reports.

McCarthy went so far as to say he would push Mr. Trump to resign immediately: “I’ve had it with this guy.”

Said McConnell to top advisers: “The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us.”

“But within weeks both men backed off an all-out fight with Mr. Trump because they feared retribution from him and his political movement. Their drive to act faded fast as it became clear it would mean difficult votes that would put them at odds with most of their colleagues.”

Former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who is under investigation by North Carolina election officials for registering to vote at a false address, told the Charleston Post & Courier that he is now officially a South Carolina resident.

“A federal judge has rejected bids by three top promoters of President Donald Trump’s election fraud claims to throw out defamation lawsuits they face over a slew of allegedly false statements they made about the election-technology firm Dominion,” Politico reports.

The Republican National Committee paid law firms representing former President Donald Trump’s personal interests another $350,000 in March, Forbes  reports.

“The federal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election appears to be gaining traction, with the Justice Department having brought in a well-regarded new prosecutor to help run the inquiry and a high-profile witness seeking a deal to provide information,” the New York Times reports.

“Alex Jones, the host of the conspiracy-driven media outlet Infowars and a key player in the pro-Trump ‘Stop the Steal’ movement, is in discussions with the Justice Department about an agreement to detail his role in the rally near the White House last Jan. 6 that preceded the attack on the Capitol.”

It’s certainly interesting, but Jones is hardly a reliable witness.

“Congressional investigators entering the last stage of their probe are gathering new evidence about a crucial moment on the Jan. 6 timeline: the final, fateful phone call between Donald Trump and Mike Pence before a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol,” Politico reports.

“They’ve had a lot of success on that front — court records and Jan. 6 select committee documents reveal that the panel has obtained significant details about that call. In recent weeks, they’ve learned even more from several high-profile witnesses who were in the Oval Office while Trump berated Pence for refusing to overturn the election.”

“Yet one crucial gap remains. Top Pence aides say the former vice president was in his residence when the call came in. He then left the room and was out of earshot for 15 to 20 minutes.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) “says the text messages he sent to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows after the 2020 election don’t signal advocacy for overturning the results in favor of Donald Trump,” the Deseret News reports. Said Lee: “He knows that when I said things like ‘Tell me what we ought to be saying,’ what I was just trying to figure out was ‘What is your message?’ He knows me well enough to know that that doesn’t mean I will do your bidding, whatever it is.”

He added: “Conversations I had with him at the time on the phone and in person, he knew that. He knew I was not there to do his bidding.”

Lee “again refused to answer questions from reporters about text messages showing his efforts to assist former President Donald Trump’s efforts to undo his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 election,” the Salt Lake Tribune reports. “Lee twice brushed past reporters who attempted to ask him about the contradiction between Lee’s public statements and his behind-the-scenes maneuvering.”

“Lee publicly said that Joe Biden had won the 2020 election and that he did not go along with the effort to stop the certification of results from battleground states won by Biden. Lee also voted to certify the results on Jan. 6, 2021.”

The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack is expected to meet with Donald Trump Jr. in the coming days, ABC News reports.

“A California man who stormed the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection was arrested after his Uber driver tipped off the FBI,” Axios reports. “Jerry Daniel Braun allegedly told the Uber driver during a trip to his hotel on Jan. 6, 2021 that he tore down a barricade at the Capitol. The encounter was recorded by the driver’s dashboard-mounted camera; the footage ultimately allowed the FBI to track him down.”

“Former President Donald Trump does not have any documents subpoenaed by the New York attorney general’s office as part of its civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s finances and shouldn’t be held in contempt, he told a state court,” CNN reports.

“Lest there remain any doubt, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell knocked it down Thursday: The Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates half a percentage point at its policy meeting in two weeks, the first such move in 22 years,” Axios reports.

“The White House sees more risks to U.S. economic activity in the months ahead thanks to rising prices and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but still expects healthy GDP growth in 2022,” CNBC reports.

“U.S. home prices soared to a new record in March while mortgage rates continued to rise rapidly, slowing home sales in what has been the hottest housing market in more than 15 years,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

The CDC has recommended that the Justice Department appeal a federal judge’s decision that struck down the mask mandate on public transportation, the Washington Post reports.

“The Biden administration may now wait until as late as June to authorize a coronavirus vaccine for the nation’s youngest children,” Politico reports.

“The move marks yet another delay in the government’s effort to vaccinate children under the age of five, and comes even as the U.S. lifts broader public health measures meant to protect Americans from the still-raging pandemic.”

Philip Bump: “New analysis from the Peterson Center on Healthcare and Kaiser Family Foundation quantifies the effects of vaccination. Since June 2021, the point at which every American adult had access to coronavirus vaccines, they estimate that just over 234,000 unvaccinated Americans died who could have lived had they been immunized against the virus.”

“That’s nearly a quarter of the total death toll from the pandemic.”

“President Xi Jinping defended China’s lockdown-dependent approach to fighting the pandemic, even as he sought to reassure the world that the country was still committed to opening its economy,” Bloomberg reports.  Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports Shanghai reported “a sharp increase in its number of seriously-ill Covid patients.”

“By the numbers, Shanghai has been an exemplar of how to save lives during a pandemic. Despite the city’s more than 400,000 Covid-19 infections, just 17 people have died, according to officials, statistics they have touted as proof that their strategy of strict lockdowns and mass quarantines works,” the New York Times reports.

“But those numbers may not give a complete picture of the outbreak’s toll. China typically classifies Covid-related deaths more narrowly than many other countries, labeling some chronically ill patients who die while infected as victims of those other conditions.”

David Corn: “It’s damn hard to not see the $2 billion investment as either a payoff for past services rendered or a preemptive bribe should Trump manage to regain the White House. And it could be both.”

“It’s a wonder that the disclosure of this deal hasn’t created more of a fuss and prompted congressional investigations. (Imagine what Republicans and Fox News would be doing if Hunter Biden received $2 billion from a Ukrainian government leader who was responsible for the gruesome murder of an American resident.)”

“A 10-figure payment to a relative of a former president who is essentially the current (though undeclared) GOP frontrunner in the 2024 contest and possibly the next inhabitant of the White House is a major scandal.”

The Nation: Kushner’s Saudi side-hustle merits a full-on criminal inquiry.

Republican Accountability Project: “This is what Republicans should have said about Jared Kushner’s Saudi deal.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “Republicans are happy to put anyone in office as long as they’ll be a reliable vote. Democrats are looking more for substance from politicians. That didn’t used to be the case — as recently as the 1980s, neither party had a reputation for politicians who were more prepared or took the job more seriously. Then Republicans nominated George W. Bush for the presidency with far too limited experience. And then they nominated Trump.”

“Of course, there are Republicans in Congress — and in statehouses and other positions — who take governing seriously, and Democrats who don’t. But the parties are no longer equal in that respect.”

“One of the sad things about all of this is that partisan polarization among voters has actually made candidates less important. Theoretically, at least, that should give parties more freedom to nominate candidates based on experience and an expressed interest in public affairs. Parties still care about any small potential advantages they can get, and in a close campaign even very small factors matter. So that may sometimes argue for a know-nothing celebrity candidate. But the truth is, Republicans could really use some legislative talent in Congress — especially if they win control of it in November.”

“WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has moved one step closer to being extradited to the United States, where he is set to be tried under the Espionage Act, after a London court sent his handover order to the British government for approval,” CNN reports.

“The sprawling lawsuit that former President Donald Trump filed recently against former rival Hillary Clinton could, perversely, boost Clinton allies’ ongoing legal efforts to shield details of their anti-Trump political efforts from public scrutiny,” Politico reports.

“Lawyers for private investigation firm Fusion GPS argued in court filings released Tuesday that Trump’s newly filed racketeering suit bolsters their effort to conceal specifics of the firm’s work with the 2016 Clinton campaign via attorney-client privilege.”

“A court arbitrator has ordered former President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to pay nearly $1.3 million in legal fees to Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former Apprentice star, White House aide and author of the first tell-all book about the Trump White House,” the New York Times reports.

“The award, handed down on Tuesday, concludes a protracted legal fight after Mr. Trump unsuccessfully sued Ms. Manigault Newman over her book, Unhinged, arguing that she had violated a nondisclosure agreement she had signed while working for his campaign in 2016.”

“More than 50 Republicans who once joined a lawsuit claiming the House’s pandemic-era proxy voting was unconstitutional have themselves voted by proxy this year, remotely without showing up,” the AP reports.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) falsely claimed one billion migrants have been apprehended at the U.S. border in the last six months, Mediaite reports.

Vice President Kamala Harris is planning to officiate New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s (D) wedding next month, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

“The Biden administration is launching a $6 billion effort to rescue nuclear power plants at risk of closing, citing the need to continue nuclear energy as a carbon-free source of power that helps to combat climate change,” the AP reports.

“President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 30, the White House Correspondents’ Association announced Wednesday, continuing a tradition eschewed during the Trump administration,” CNN reports.

“It will be the first time that the sitting President has attended the black-tie dinner, which usually draws a crowd of reporters, media executives, administration officials, lawmakers, and sometimes, celebrities, since 2016.”

South Carolina’s highest court on Wednesday issued a temporary stay blocking the state from carrying out what was set to be its first-ever firing squad execution, the AP reports.

Ex-Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan’s (D) “campaign fund paid $4 million last month to the legal firm defending him in his federal racketeering case, nearly doubling the total amount he’s sent to the firm over the last four years,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

“The scuffle over the Biden administration’s decision to end Title 42 is already complicating the White House’s request for pandemic relief money — not to mention causing political headaches for Dems writ large. Now it appears that the situation could become even more dire due to looming funding problems at the border,” Politico reports.

NBC News: “According to internal predictions, some operations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection could be completely out of funds by as early as July. Those projections are based on predictions that as many as 14,000 migrants could begin crossing the U.S.-Mexico border per day after Title 42 ends on May 23, nearly doubling last month’s record high number of migrant encounters.”

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

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