Cup of Joe – 5/7/22

“Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), one of two prominent Republican senators who [allegedly] support abortion rights, said Thursday that she does not support a measure that would create statutory right to the procedure, arguing that the legislation does not provide sufficient protection to antiabortion health providers,” the Washington Post reports.  “The statement from Collins comes as the Senate is preparing to vote next week on the legislation.”

“If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade this summer, as a recently leaked draft opinion indicates it will, clinic shutdowns across the country could mean that California ends up being home to nearly 30% of all abortion clinics in the U.S., despite having just 12% of its population,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Chief Justice John Roberts said that the leak of a draft opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade is “absolutely appalling” and stressed that he hopes “one bad apple” would not change “people’s perception” of the nation’s highest court and workforce, CNN reports.  Roberts also said that if “the person” or “people” behind the leak think it will affect the work of the Supreme Court, they are “foolish.”

Ron Brownstein: “Since the 1960s, Congress and federal courts have acted mostly to strengthen the floor of basic civil rights available to citizens in all 50 states, a pattern visible on issues from the dismantling of Jim Crow racial segregation to the right to abortion to the authorization of same-sex marriage.”

“But now, offensives by red-state governments and GOP-appointed federal judges are poised to retrench those common standards across an array of issues. The result through the 2020s could be a dramatic erosion of common national rights and a widening gulf—a ‘great divergence’—between the liberties of Americans in blue states and those in red states.”

“The only lever Democrats have to resist these efforts is their unified control of the White House and Congress. In theory, this allows them to pass federal legislation establishing a new floor of nationwide rights on voting, abortion, LGBTQ issues, and other areas. In practice, that’s proved to be an empty promise.”

“A massive public relations firm, Zeno, is privately advising its high-profile corporate clients to avoid commenting on the draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade,” according to Popular Information

“Zeno is also a subsidiary of Edelman, the world’s largest public relations conglomerate.”

“A group of Republican senators want a new TV rating created so parents can block their children from watching shows with LGBTQ characters,” the New York Post reports.  From their letter: “In recent years, concerning topics of a sexual nature have become aggressively politicized and promoted in children’s programming, including irreversible and harmful experimental treatments for mental disorders like gender dysphoria.”

“Today, former president Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in Pennsylvania with celebrity doctor and GOP Senate hopeful Mehmet Oz,” the Washington Post reports.  “Among the things we’ll be watching: What, if anything, Trump has to say about abortion. Trump, who appointed three of the conservative Supreme Court justices who appear on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade, has been largely silent on the subject.”

Politico: “The former president, never one to shy away from taking credit for accomplishments, real or imagined, has yet to crow about the majority draft opinion. And when asked about it in interviews, he steered clear of anything resembling a victory lap. Instead, he expressed displeasure that the draft leaked and sidestepped weighing in on the issue of abortion rights.”

USA Today: Republicans spent years attacking Roe v. Wade. Now they want to avoid discussing abortion.

“Abortion bans set to take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned could mean lengthy prison sentences for people who have an abortion, the physicians who perform them or those who help people access the procedure,” Politico reports.  “The penalties vary widely by state, and also can include hefty fines or the suspension of a medical license.”

“Even as national Republican leaders, many of whom have worked for decades to outlaw abortion, dismiss fears of prosecutions, state lawmakers have already enacted mandatory minimum sentences that would go into effect if Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion is handed down.”

Michelle Goldberg: The death of Roe is going to tear America apart.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced on Thursday that the Senate will take up the Women’s Health Protection Act on Wednesday to enshrine abortion access into law now that the Supreme Court is ready to strike down Roe v. Wade.

Schumer acknowledged that the vote would be purely symbolic, but at least Republican senators “will not be able to hide from the horror they’ve unleashed on America.” And, well, it’s true that they’ve been trying to hide to some degree by faking outrage over the SCOTUS decision being leaked rather than taking a victory lap over the actual decision.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), one of very few pro-choice Republican senators (yet who helped usher in Roe‘s demise to begin with) doesn’t support the legislation. So even if the filibuster didn’t already doom the bill, it’s not likely Democrats would’ve had the votes for it anyway given that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) helped Republicans block the bill in February.

Codifying abortion rights into law isn’t a silver bullet, as TPM’s Kate Riga reports.

“If you are Black or Hispanic in a conservative state that already limits access to abortions, you are far more likely than a white woman to have one,” the AP reports.  “And if the U.S. Supreme court allows states to further restrict or even ban abortions, minority women will bear the brunt of it.”

“The U.S. economy added slightly more jobs than expected in April amid an increasingly tight labor market and despite surging inflation and fears of a growth slowdown,” CNBC reports.  “The unemployment rate was 3.6%, slightly higher than the estimate for 3.5%.”

Associated Press: “The economy now has, on average, two available jobs for every unemployed person. That’s the highest such proportion on record.”

As a point of confirmation, there are many new job listings on Political Job Hunt.

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper told 60 Minutes that he personally killed a “ridiculous” plan from Trump White House adviser Stephen Miller to deploy 250,000 troops to the southern border as a migrant caravan approached.  Said Esper: “I was just flabbergasted.”

“Former President Donald Trump asked Mark Esper, his defense secretary, about the possibility of launching missiles into Mexico to ‘destroy the drug labs’ and wipe out the cartels, maintaining that the United States’ involvement in a strike against its southern neighbor could be kept secret, Mr. Esper recounts in his upcoming memoir,” the New York Times reports.

“Those remarkable discussions in 2020 were among several moments that Mr. Esper described in the book, A Sacred Oath, as leaving him all but speechless when he served the 45th president.”

“Mr. Esper, the last Senate-confirmed defense secretary under Mr. Trump, also had concerns about speculation that the president might misuse the military around Election Day by, for instance, having soldiers seize ballot boxes.”

According to a copy of former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s memoir, A Sacred Oath, former President Donald Trump demanded that former Gen. Stan McChrystal and former Navy Admiral William  McRaven be recalled into active duty so that they could be court-martialed for criticizing the president, TPM  reports.

New York Times: “In October 2019, after members of the national security team assembled in the Situation Room to watch a feed of the raid that killed the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Stephen Miller proposed securing Mr. al-Baghdadi’s head, dipping it in pig’s blood and parading it around to warn other terrorists, Mr. Esper writes. That would be a ‘war crime,’ Mr. Esper shot “back.”

“Mr. Miller flatly denied the episode and called Mr. Esper ‘a moron.’”

“Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said that his political party will seek to audit the electronic voting system before the upcoming election amid concerns he is actively sowing distrust in its eventual results,” the AP reports.

Boris Johnson has admitted the Tories suffered a “tough night in some parts of the country” at the local elections after the Conservative Party lost control of three key London councils, the Telegraph reports.

“The Irish nationalist party, Sinn Fein, was on track Friday night to emerge as the largest party in Northern Ireland after legislative elections, a seismic political shift that could kindle hopes for Irish unity but also sow unrest in a territory where delicate power-sharing arrangements have kept the peace for two decades,” the New York Times reports.

“With much of the vote counted on Friday evening, Sinn Fein was on track to win the most seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly, a distinction that will allow it to name the first minister in the territory’s government.”

Politico: “A bipartisan super-majority of senators voted late Wednesday to endorse a Republican-led measure stating that any nuclear agreement with Tehran should also address Iran’s support for terrorism in the region, and that the U.S. should not lift sanctions on an elite branch of the Iranian military, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

“European officials are preparing to make a fresh push to salvage a nuclear deal with Iran, offering to send a top European Union negotiator to Tehran in an effort to break a stalemate in talks,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Russian fighters have been sharing tips with one another about how to deliberately damage their own equipment and hamper Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war plans in Ukraine, according to recordings of alleged Russian troops’ phone calls that the Security Service of Ukraine intercepted,” the Daily Beast reports.

“Intelligence shared by the U.S. helped Ukraine sink the Russian cruiser Moskva, confirming an American role in perhaps the most embarrassing blow to Vladimir Putin’s troubled invasion of Ukraine,” NBC News reports.

Fiji officials, on behalf of the United States, have seized a massive Russian-owned yacht worth more than $300 million, CBS News reports.  Ken Dilanian: “What’s so interesting about all these seizures is that they are not based on new law. Only thing one thing has changed: political will.”

Washington Post: “On Monday, the CIA published instructions for how Russians can covertly volunteer information using an encrypted conduit to the agency’s website. The hope is to attract intelligence — and potentially gain more access to official Russian secrets — from disaffected people who have been trying to contact the CIA since the war began.”

“To ensure the would-be informants are not caught by Russian state security, the CIA spelled out detailed Russian-language instructions in three social media posts on how to use the Tor Internet browser, which lets users move online anonymously, as well as virtual private networks, or VPNs. The steps will open a dedicated channel to the CIA that is more secure than navigating to the agency using an ordinary Web browser or Internet connection.”

“Second gentleman Doug Emhoff has emerged as a go-to fundraiser for the Democratic Party leading into the 2022 midterms,” McClatchy reports.

“Emhoff has racked up more appearances at fundraisers benefiting the Democratic National Committee than any other White House principal besides his wife, Vice President Kamala Harris, and is expected to appear this summer at a number of state party political functions.”

“In an effort to address rising crime rates, 19 mostly moderate House Democrats are urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold a vote soon on bipartisan legislation that would increase funding for police departments across the country,” NBC News reports.  “The letter is the latest sign that Democrats, fighting to preserve their fragile majority this fall, are concerned about rising crime and the ‘defund the police’ messaging from progressives that contributed to the party’s loss of 13 House seats in the 2020 election.”

Ex-Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani suddenly canceled his interview with the House Jan. 6 Committee that was scheduled for today because the panel rejected his demand to be allowed to videotape the discussion, according to his attorney.

A spokesperson for the committee indicated in a statement that Giuliani could be held in contempt for the stunt, saying that the panel “will consider all enforcement options” if he doesn’t comply with their subpoena. That would make him the fifth Trump crony the panel recommended for contempt charges.

Giuliani’s testimony isn’t off the table, but he won’t do it unless the committee agrees to his demand, his lawyer said.

The committee has already interviewed more than 970 people, per the New York Times.

A New York City judge’s son who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 wearing a furry “caveman” costume was sentenced to eight months in prison, the AP reports.

President Biden is considering former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to replace Cedric Richmond as the head of the White House Office of Public Engagement, Axios reports.

“Inflation in Turkey soared to an annual rate of almost 70 per cent in April as high global energy prices and the weak lira fuelled a surge in the cost of food, transport and other basic needs,” the Financial Times reports. Here, it is only 7%. See, it could be worse.

“The Michigan State Police has expanded its investigation into whether third parties gained unauthorized access to voting machine data after the 2020 election, and is now examining potential breaches in at least one new county,” CNN reports.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said he’s “deeply skeptical” that Sen. Joe Manchin’s bipartisan energy and climate talks will result in anything he can support, Politico reports.

A state administrative judge ruled that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) “should be allowed to run for another term in office despite a push to remove her from the ballot,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

The decision “is a blow to Greene’s critics, who sought to block her on grounds she violated a 14th Amendment clause that bars members of Congress from serving if they tried to overthrow the government.”

Rep. Mary Miller’s (R-IL) campaign could not explain why a man convicted of luring a young boy for sex is so actively involved in her campaign to get re-elected, KSDK reports.  “Brad Graven enjoyed virtually unlimited access to Miller, served as her personal chauffeur at public events and raised money for her campaign. Miller trusted Graven with her family vehicle, which is adorned with campaign stickers and legislative license plates.”

Federal agents searched the home of North Dakota state Sen. Ray Holmberg (R) “and seized several items in November, less than three months after he exchanged text messages with a jailed child porn and child sex abuse suspect,” the Fargo Forum reports.

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi will announce this morning that she’s setting a minimum salary for House staffers, a gigantic boon for a workforce that historically has been underpaid and overworked,” Punchbowl News reports.  “The new minimum annual salary for staffers is $45,000. It goes into effect on Sept. 1.”

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in a letter to her colleagues Friday morning the chamber will vote on legislation that would allow Capitol Hill staffers to unionize next week, a major development for labor activists who have pushed for the option for years,” CNN reports.

“While it’s unlikely the Senate will be able to pass similar legislation because of the 60-vote threshold needed to break the filibuster and the lack of Republican support, the expected-House passage of the bill would mean it would go into effect in the chamber because of the Congressional Accountability Act.”

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

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