Cup of Joe – 5/11/22

Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) said that “he would support legislation that would codify Roe v. Wade into law, a dramatic shift for one of the few remaining Democrats in Congress with relatively conservative views on abortion rights,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Casey: “The real question of the moment is: do you support a categorical ban on abortion? During my time in public office, I have never voted for — nor do I support — such a ban.”

Washington Post: “For the activists who have fought against enormous odds to elevate the issues of abortion and judicial selection, the sudden turnabout is nearly as shocking as Trump’s election was for McConnell. Interviews with more than two dozen movement leaders, Republican officials and operatives describe a half-century journey that only began to settle over the last decade, as the politics of abortion finally polarized itself as a partisan issue and emerged as a top-tier Republican priority.”

“Abortion rights advocates have also been stunned by the transformation, accusing Republicans of hijacking the courts for partisan and unpopular ends.”

New York Times: Are more precedents next?

“As Idahoans plan for a future without abortion rights, a leading Republican in the Idaho House would support holding hearings on legislation banning abortion pills and morning-after pills,” the Idaho Statesman reports.

“House State Affairs Committee Chairman Brent Crane (R) said he would hold hearings on legislation banning emergency contraception and abortion pills during a Friday interview with Idaho Public Television.”

“As Roe vs. Wade teeters, Republicans are fractured about what to do next. The split may turn into a chasm if they take back full control of Washington in 2025,” Politico reports.

“Some in the GOP now acknowledge they may eventually pursue national abortion restrictions should a majority of the Supreme Court follow through on its draft opinion overturning Roe, after spending several days trying to deflect by focusing on the document’s unauthorized disclosure. And there’s a range of opinions among Hill Republicans about what comes next: leave abortion policy to the states, pursue more modest restrictions or go all-out to install a ban nationwide.”

CNN: GOP dismisses talk of legislation to ban abortion after McConnell suggests “it’s possible.”

Axios: “Republicans are deeply split on their abortion strategy, with top officials pushing restraint, even silence, while activist GOP candidates demand an all-out campaign for a national ban and harsher penalties…”

“The takeaway: One thing is certain about modern politics: Rarely does moderation or restraint prevail — especially on cultural, religious or identity issues. In fact, one truism of modern conservatism is: The more the establishment pushes something, the more the base recoils.”

“One week after the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would eliminate the constitutional right to abortion, Republican candidates and strategists are increasingly confident that such a decision would not seriously harm the GOP’s chances of regaining House and Senate majorities come November, as Democrats have suggested it might,” the Washington Post reports.

“That belief is rooted in reams of polling, nearly all of it conducted before the leak, showing that economic challenges, particularly runaway inflation, are by far the most powerful force motivating voters this year, followed by crime and immigration — issues where Republicans believe they will have an enduring advantage.”

Susan Collins called the cops to investigate “defacement of public property” after an unknown person wrote a message in chalk on the sidewalk near her home asking her to codify Roe.

Catherine Rampell: “Republican politicians working to overturn Roe v. Wade say they are pro-life and antiabortion. In fact, they are neither. What they are is pro-forced birth.”

“This distinction is about more than semantics. These officials have drawn a clear line, as evidenced by policies they’ve adopted in conjunction with their opposition to Roe. GOP-led states are making choices, today, that increase the chances of unplanned pregnancies and, therefore, demand for abortions; their choices also limit access to health care and other critical programs for new moms, endangering the lives and welfare of mothers and their children.”

“Traders are hitting the sell button on virtually every key asset class — including stocks, bonds and bitcoin — ratcheting up the fear factor on Wall Street and sending the S&P reeling to its weakest levels in a year,” Axios reports.

“President Biden on Tuesday sought to reassure Americans the administration has a viable plan to fight inflation as gas prices Tuesday surged to a new high despite White House efforts to stabilize them,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Biden: “I know families all across America are hurting because of inflation. I want every American to know that I am taking inflation very seriously.”

The U.S. is experiencing a labor shortage that’s partly fueled by a drop-off in immigration, which ground to a halt during the pandemic, the AP reports.  By some estimates, the U.S. now has 2 million fewer immigrants than it would have if the pace had stayed the same.

New York Times: “For the 158 million who are employed, prospects haven’t been this bright since men landed on the moon. As many as half of those workers have retirement accounts that were fattened by a prolonged bull market in stocks. There are 83 million owner-occupied homes in the United States. At the rate they have been increasing in value, a lot of them are in effect a giant piggy bank that families live inside.”

“This boom does not get celebrated much. It was a slow-build phenomenon in a country where news is stale within hours. It has happened during a time of fascination with the schemes of the truly wealthy (see: Musk, Elon) and against a backdrop of increased inequality. If you were unable to buy a house because of spiraling prices, the soaring amount of homeowners’ equity is not a comfort.”

New York Times: “A combination of flush state budget coffers and rapid inflation has lawmakers across the country looking for ways to ease the pain of rising prices, with nearly three dozen states enacting or considering some form of tax relief, according to the Tax Foundation, a right-leaning think tank.”

“The efforts are blurring typical party lines when it comes to tax policy. In many cases, Democrats are joining Republicans in supporting permanently lower taxes or temporary cuts, including for high earners.”

“But while the policies are aimed at helping Americans weather the fastest pace of inflation in 40 years, economists warn that, paradoxically, cutting taxes could exacerbate the very problem lawmakers are trying to address. By putting more money in people’s pockets, policymakers risk further stimulating already rampant consumer demand, pushing prices higher nationally.”

“President Joe Biden urged Congress on Monday to quickly approve a multibillion-dollar aid package for Ukraine before trying to pass a new round of Covid-19 funding, warning that U.S. aid for Ukraine’s fighters has nearly been exhausted,” CNBC reports.

“Biden’s new position marked a reversal from his prior insistence last month that the military aid and the pandemic funding be bundled together.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “Congress still hasn’t approved supplemental funding for Covid-19 vaccines, booster shots, treatments, tests and scientific work in a bill it’s been sitting on for months. Democrats have the tools to make it happen, but they aren’t using them, and I don’t understand why.”

“It’s not clear from the reporting whether the strategic muddle originates in the White House, Senate Democratic leadership or the Senate rank-and-file. But the stalemate has lasted far too long. Whoever was responsible for the flawed tactics, or lack of them, it’s time — it’s been time for a while — for the White House to step in and come up with a plan to get it done, and then keep on it until the bill passes.”

Walter Shapiro: “The worst pandemic in a century has outlasted our attention span. By this standard, we would have stopped following World War II in early 1944 because all those battle reports from tiny islands in the Pacific were getting so tiresome.”

“A relative and close adviser to Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) has pocketed more than $141,000 from taxpayers and campaign donors since 2020,” WRAL reports.

“The documents also show a roughly eight-month period during which the 26-year-old North Carolina congressman paid Stephen Smith, his second cousin, simultaneously from Cawthorn’s congressional office and campaign. The payments were addressed to Smith at a Hendersonville address. The address matches that of Cawthorn’s, state voter registration records show.”

President Joe Biden said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has no exit strategy for the Ukraine war – and that is a problem for the West, USA Today reports.

He said Putin is a very calculating man who “doesn’t have a way out right now, and I’m trying to figure out what we do about that.”

“The director of the CIA said that Chinese president Xi Jinping has been ‘unsettled’ by the war in Ukraine, which had demonstrated that the friendship between Beijing and Moscow had “limits” at a time when western allies were moving closer together,” the Financial Times reports.

“China’s armed forces carried out another round of exercises near Taiwan last week to improve joint combat operations,” Reuters reports.

“Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva officially launched his bid to return to Brazil’s presidency on Saturday more than a decade after he left office,” Bloomberg  reports.  “The widely expected announcement, marked by an official event in Sao Paulo, kicks off a new phase of the campaign, in which Lula and his running mate Geraldo Alckmin will start traveling across the nation trying to gather broad support to defeat President Jair Bolsonaro in the October vote.”

“Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers on Saturday ordered all Afghan women to wear head-to-toe clothing in public, a sharp hard-line pivot that confirmed the worst fears of rights activists and was bound to further complicate Taliban dealings with an already distrustful international community,” Bloomberg reports.

“The decree, which calls for women to only show their eyes and recommends they wear the head-to-toe burqa, evoked similar restrictions on women during the Taliban’s previous rule between 1996 and 2001.”

“The United States will take steps to increase pressure on Afghanistan’s Taliban government to reverse some of its recent decisions restricting the rights of women and girls if the hardline group shows no sign of rescinding the actions on its own,” Reuters reports.

“Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is eclipsing President Biden with endorsements and, at times, as the Democrats’ leading voice on major issues, including abortion and canceling student debt,” Axios reports.

“The progressive’s prominence is pressuring the incumbent president and White House to move left. It’s also raising questions about her ambitions, especially as the Democratic Party faces electoral apocalypse this fall and questions about whose voice — and issues — are best to rebound.”

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper says in his new book that “leaks were a chronic problem” in the Trump administration and Donald Trump was the “biggest leaker of all,” Insider reports.

Writes Esper: “The individual motivations for the leaks ranged from advancing a preferred policy outcome to enhancing the leaker’s own role or credentials to currying favor with the president. It was a noxious behavior learned from the top. The president was the biggest leaker of all. It turned colleague against colleague, department against department, and it was generally bad for the administration and the country.”

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper was interviewed by Brett Baier on Fox News:

BAIER: Do you think Donald Trump was a threat to democracy?

ESPER: I think that given the events of January 6th, given how he has undermined the election results, he incited people to come to D.C., stirred them that morning, and failed to call them off. To me, that threatens our democracy.”

BAIER: So, yes?

ESPER: What else can you conclude, Bret?

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper told MSNBC that he wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump if he ran again for president in 2024.

To let the administration simply off the hook, given all that they’ve done, all that I think we’re gonna hear that they did — that’s very dangerous for our nation.”  — Former Attorney General Eric Holder, quoted by MSNBC, on the Trump administration.

Documents in the case against former Maine gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler (I) were unsealed, revealing a disturbing pattern of child pornography consumption, the Bangor Daily News reports.

“After being forwarded a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, police in January found a video of an adult man sexually assaulting a girl who was between 4 and 6 years old in an online storage account belonging to Cutler… Dropbox, the provider of the storage account, had notified the national organization about the existence of the video in December.”

“In a second-floor bedroom of Cutler’s Brooklin home, police later found flash storage cards with ‘literally thousands of videos of very young children being sexually abused.’”

“Queen Elizabeth II will miss the state opening of Parliament for only the third time on Tuesday, casting a shadow over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s attempt to reboot his flagging U.K. premiership,” Bloomberg reports.

“The 96-year-old monarch is suffering ‘episodic mobility problems’ and the Queen’s Speech laying out the government’s agenda for the next parliamentary session will now be delivered for the first time by her son and heir, Prince Charles.”

“The Queen has pulled out of several public events in recent months, and has also been seen walking with the aid of a stick. She’s previously skipped the near-annual parliamentary set-piece just twice in her 70 years on the throne — both because of pregnancy. The announcement that she’ll miss it again provides Britons with a reminder that the reign of the country’s longest-ruling monarch won’t last forever.”

“Public school teachers in Florida will soon be required to dedicate at least 45 minutes of instruction on ‘Victims of Communism Day’ to teach students about communist leaders around the world and how people suffered under those regimes,” the Miami Herald reports.

“The bill, which Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed along with two street designations in honor of Cuban exiles, would require the instruction to begin in the 2023-2024 school year. It would require teaching of Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro, as well as ‘poverty, starvation, migration, systemic lethal violence, and suppression of speech’ endured under those regimes.”

The father of Trevor Reed, a Texas marine recently released from detention in Russia, told the Dallas Morning News that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) “didn’t do anything” to help negotiate the release.

Said Joey Reed: “He’s an embarrassment to the state of Texas. I don’t care what or who runs against him, I will work for their campaign to defeat that son of a bitch.”

“When Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson was recently asked on Fox News about immigration reform, he floated a conspiracy theory that’s quickly becoming gospel on the right: that Democrats want a flood of immigrants to remake America and keep them in power,” Vice News reports.

“He’s far from the only Republican who espouses these beliefs. And he may soon have more colleagues in the Senate who believe that Democrats’ plan is to import enough eventual voters to take over control of the electorate for good: At least a half-dozen Republican Senate candidates have voiced similar sentiments on the campaign trail in recent weeks, a sign of how mainstream and deeply ingrained in modern Republican orthodoxy this conspiracy theory has become.”

“It’s similar to, though not exactly the same as, the ‘great replacement’ theory, a white supremacist conspiracy theory that’s been popularized by the alt-right over the past decade.”

New York Times: “Mr. Frank, a QAnon influencer whose Facebook page in recent months has shown him pictured with such conservative celebrities as Donald J. Trump Jr., Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell, has fashioned his team into a new style of border enforcers, motivated not so much by halting immigration as by guarding the country from other perceived threats — in this case, an unfounded conspiracy theory that migrant children are being funneled into pedophilia rings.”

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

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