Cup of Joe – 5/12/22

“The Senate on Wednesday failed to advance legislation that would write the constitutional right to abortion into federal law — a symbolic gesture that Democrats promise will be only a first step in a larger strategy to mobilize Americans around reproductive rights as the Supreme Court considers overturning Roe v. Wade and related decisions,” the Washington Post reports.

“Wednesday’s vote — which failed 49-51, well short of the 60 votes necessary under Senate rules — was largely a reprise of a failed February vote staged by Senate Democratic leaders.”

Axios: “Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME), two Republican senators who generally oppose abortion restrictions, also voted no on the measure, saying it’s too expansive.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he would oppose a Democratic bill to guarantee abortion access nationwide, indicating that it was too broad to get his vote, The Hill reports.

Said Manchin: “But I would vote for a Roe v. Wade codification if it was today. I was hopeful for that but I found out yesterday in caucus that that wasn’t going to be.”

Politico: “With Manchin’s opposition, Senate Democrats will demonstrate there’s a bipartisan majority that opposes their proposal, though they seem unworried by that result.”

With the Senate on track to vote today on the Women’s Health Protection Act, a likely doomed bill to codify abortion access into law, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) took to the floor to rail against the legislation with the argument that if eggs belonging to certain animals are protected by law, why can’t women be banned from ending unwanted pregnancies, hmm??

“When you destroy an egg, you’re killing a pre-born baby sea turtle or a pre-born baby eagle,” Daines ranted. “Yet when it comes to a pre-born human baby—rather than a sea turtle—that baby would be stripped of all protections in all 50 states under the Democrats’ bill that we’ll be voting on tomorrow.”

“The Supreme Court is set to gather Thursday for the first time since the disclosure that it voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, and there’s no sign that the court is changing course from issuing that ruling by the end of June,” Politico reports.

“Justice Samuel Alito’s sweeping and blunt draft majority opinion from February overturning Roe remains the court’s only circulated draft in the pending Mississippi abortion case, Politico has learned, and none of the conservative justices who initially sided with Alito have to date switched their votes. No dissenting draft opinions have circulated from any justice, including the three liberals.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) downplayed the possibility that a Republican-controlled Senate would pass a federal abortion ban, The Hill reports.

Said McConnell: “Historically there have been abortion votes on the floor of the Senate none of them have achieved 60 votes… I think it’s safe to say there aren’t 60 votes there at the federal level. No matter who happens to be in the majority. No matter who happens to be in the White House.”

Jeffrey Toobin: “As Thomas settles into his fourth decade on the Supreme Court, his influence, even his control, is ascendant. Thomas began his career as a justice as a near outcast – an ideological fringe figure and a scarred veteran of a brutal confirmation fight. Today, he is a revered figure in the conservative movement, and he is watching ideas he championed from the margins turn into the law of the land.”

“South Carolina legislators plan to return to Columbia this summer for a special session to debate further restrictions to abortion access as the U.S. Supreme Court readies to issue an opinion that could wipe out its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling,” the Columbia State reports.

“About 64 million women and girls of reproductive age live in the United States, and more than half of them live in states that could seek to ban or further restrict access to abortion if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade,” the New York Times reports.

“Many of the millions of people who live in these states would be able to seek legal abortions elsewhere, but the barriers to access — including financial resources, time off work and child care — may be hard for some to overcome.”

Tim Alberta: “Having grown up just down the road, the son of the senior pastor at another church in town, I’ve spent my life watching evangelicalism morph from a spiritual disposition into a political identity. It’s heartbreaking. So many people who love the Lord, who give their time and money to the poor and the mourning and the persecuted, have been reduced to a caricature.”

“But I understand why. Evangelicals—including my own father—became compulsively political, allowing specific ethical arguments to snowball into full-blown partisan advocacy, often in ways that distracted from their mission of evangelizing for Christ.”

New York Times: As a “seismic shift” fractures evangelicals, an Arkansas pastor leaves home.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced on Tuesday that she had directed state government agencies to launch a $25 million fund for abortion providers and separately use $10 million to help beef up security at abortion clinics with the Supreme Court on the cusp of striking down Roe v. Wade.

CNN: “US inflation took a breather last month for the first time since August. Prices still increased, but at a slower pace than in previous months. The Consumer Price Index was up 8.3% in the 12 months ended in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday, slightly higher than economists had predicted. It was a decrease from the 8.5% recorded in March, which had been the highest level in more than 40 years.Stripping out more volatile product categories like food and energy, the CPI stood at 6.2% over the same period, less than the 6.5% reported in March.”

“President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that his administration is currently evaluating how to best move forward on existing tariffs on China enacted during the Trump administration, but he cautioned that no decision has been made,” CNN reports.  “Some experts and business groups have called on Biden to get rid of the tariffs as a way to combat inflation.”

“Biden argued Tuesday that congressional Republicans would worsen inflation and raise taxes on American families, part of a growing effort to cast the GOP as obstructing his agenda and fixated on culture wars instead of governing,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“With midterm elections looming, Mr. Biden remains weighed down by low approval ratings and rising public frustration with high prices fueled by the pandemic, government spending and the war in Ukraine. Now he is eager to take the offensive and put pressure on Republicans to defend their own plans.”

“I never expected the ultra-MAGA Republicans who seemed to control the Republican Party now… I never anticipated that happening.”  — President Biden, quoted by Politico, admitting to being surprised by the state of the Republican Party.

“Some Federal Reserve officials have begun to acknowledge that they were too slow to respond to rapid inflation last year, a delay that is forcing them to constrain the economy more abruptly now — and one that could hold lessons for the policy path ahead,” the New York Times reports.

“Inflation began to accelerate last spring, but Fed policymakers and most private-sector forecasters initially thought price gains would quickly fade. It became clear in early fall that fast inflation was proving to be more lasting — but the Fed pivoted toward rapidly removing policy support only in late November and did not raise rates until March.”

Wall Street Journal: Senate confirms Lisa Cook to Federal Reserve Board.

“Only after Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) put bacon in her cart at her local grocery store recently did she notice that its price had spiked to $9.99 a pound. Reluctantly, she put the package back,” Politico reports.

“When Porter gave an emotional speech about how inflation has been hitting her family for months during a private House Democratic Caucus meeting last week, she said it seemed like the first time the personal toll of high consumer prices had sunk in for some lawmakers in the room.”

Said Porter: “Too often, Congress recognizes issues too late. I had a colleague mention to me, ‘We’re not seeing it in the polls’ … Well, you don’t know what to ask.”

The House voted to approve an additional $39.8 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine on Tuesday as the country fights to fend off Russia’s invasion. The Senate will likely take up the proposal as soon as this week, where it’s also expected to pass. The total amount of the U.S. government’s Ukraine aid since the invasion will be more than $53 billion if this latest measure passes.

Politico: “About five dozen House Republicans voted down a nearly $40 billion aid package to help Ukraine in a late-night Monday vote. They cited a mix of process problems and a desire for the U.S. to remain focused on domestic issues.”

It’s interesting that every House Democrat — including The Squad — supported the aid package.

“Russia’s nearly three-month-old invasion of neighboring Ukraine has been punctuated by flawed planning, poor intelligence, barbarity and wanton destruction,” the New York Times reports. “But obscured in the daily fighting is the geographic reality that Russia has made gains on the ground.”

“It’s been 75 days since Russia invaded Ukraine, and as the battle becomes a grinding war of attrition, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be preparing for ‘a prolonged conflict,’ a top U.S. intelligence official said Tuesday,” the Washington Post reports.

Wall Street Journal: “U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told lawmakers Tuesday. U.S. spy agencies, she said, see a lengthy war of attrition that is unlikely to be settled by the current fighting in eastern Ukraine, and little chance of a near-term negotiated solution.

“In what is perhaps a disturbing sign of the effectiveness of Russian propaganda over the past two months, the wife of a Russian soldier in Ukraine has reportedly been caught urging him to torture Ukrainian children who refuse to support Moscow,” the Daily Beast reports.

From the recording: “I would inject them with drugs, and if it worked, I’d look into their eyes and say ‘Die, suffer.’ I would cut their wee wees and carve stars out of their backs, and actually cut out parts of their ear every day, their finger, so that they’d hurt so bad.”

When even her husband appears taken aback, she shoots back: “I just hate these Ukrainians, I hate them.”

The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection “doesn’t just have testimony and documents. It also has tapes – and lots of them,” Politico  reports. “It’s quite possible that excerpts of the Jan. 6 select committee’s witness depositions eventually become public.”

“A month before it kicks off a series of high-profile public hearings, the House select committee investigating January 6 is still finalizing its witness list and preparing to reach out to people it wants to testify publicly,” CNN reports.

“The first hearing, set for June 9, will be a broad overview of the panel’s 10-month investigation and set the stage for subsequent hearings, which are expected to cover certain topics or themes including what President Donald Trump was doing as the riot unfolded, the pushing of baseless election fraud claims that motivated rioters, how law enforcement responded to the attack, and the organizing and financing behind the January 6 rallies.”

“Attorney John Eastman urged Republican legislators in Pennsylvania to retabulate the state’s popular vote — and throw out tens of thousands of absentee ballots — in order to show Donald Trump with a lead, according to newly unearthed emails sent in December 2020,” Politico reports.

Several of the sham Trump electors from Georgia are cooperating in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ investigation into Trump’s election steal scheme, according to CNN. Those electors have reportedly been told that they’re considered witnesses, not subjects, of the investigation.

One of those electors, Georgia Republican Party chair David Shafer, has reportedly spoken to the House Jan. 6 Committee too. He reportedly testified that the Trump campaign had directed the Georgia GOP to put together a slate of fake electors.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) blasted Donald Trump for “playing the TV game” and called Joe Biden “the best person to have” coming to the White House in an interview right after the Jan. 6 riot, according to leaked audio.

David Leonhardt: “Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, was so appalled by Donald Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack that he signaled to colleagues shortly afterward that he was open to convicting Trump in an impeachment trial — and barring him from holding office again. A month later, however, McConnell voted to acquit him.”

“Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House, told colleagues in the days after Jan. 6 that he was going to call Trump and urge him to resign. But McCarthy soon changed his mind and instead told House members to stop criticizing Trump in public.”

“By now, this pattern is familiar. (It’s a central theme of This Will Not Pass, a new book about the end of Trump’s presidency, by my colleagues Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin, which broke the news of McCarthy’s comments.)”

Both the Daily Beast and Washington Post put out stories on the GOP’s mission to vanquish Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), and both stories include details of the North Carolina lawmaker’s former allies who are positively delighted to participate in his downfall.

A leader of the anti-Cawthorn “Fire Madison” PAC, which has been publishing embarrassing content about the lawmaker on the regular, told the Daily Beast that he gets the dirt from “folks who used to work with him,” not D.C. people.

Politico reported that it got the photos of the GOP lawmaker in lingerie from “a person formerly close to Cawthorn and his campaign,” then a second person “formerly close” to the Republican confirmed “the origin of the photos.”

One anecdote is when Cawthorn texted Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) about a nasty tweet from the senator’s wife.

CAWTHORN: Why is your wife attacking me on Twitter?

TILLIS: Just spit ballin here, but maybe because you’ve attacked her husband?

“Elon Musk said he would reverse Twitter’s ban on former president Donald Trump,” the Washington Post reports.  Musk told the Financial Times that the ban “was morally wrong and flat out stupid.”  He added: “It alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial board isn’t concerned about Donald Trump potentially being back on Twitter:

“If Mr. Trump is back in public view, picking fights on an hourly basis and blaming everyone else for his election defeat, he might remind voters why they grew tired of his antics and made him a one-term President.”

“The House of Representatives will officially allow congressional staffers to unionize, marking a historic milestone following years of workplace complaints on Capitol Hill,” the Washington Post reports.

New York Times: “The vote came amid pressure from aides, particularly junior staff members, who have become increasingly open about their frustrations with the low pay, long hours and notoriously difficult work environment on Capitol Hill.”

Politico: “The move comes amid a swelling tidal wave of grievances from staff, along with efforts by leadership and lawmakers to stem burnout and brain drain among employees who serve vital roles in the legislative branch, including serving constituents, conducting oversight of federal agencies and drafting legislation.”

Rolling Stone: “Near the beginning of Donald Trump’s time in office, the then-president had a pressing question for his national-security aides and administration officials: Does China have the secret technology — a weapon, even — to create large, man-made hurricanes and then launch them at the United States? And if so, would this constitute an act of war by a foreign power, and could the U.S. retaliate militarily? Then-President Trump repeatedly asked about this.”

Said a former Trump official: “It was almost too stupid for words. I did not get the sense he was joking at all.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) called on President Biden to resign, alleging that Biden is mentally unfit to carry out his duties as president, Fox News reports.

Said Scott: “Let’s be honest here. Joe Biden is unwell. He’s unfit for office. He’s incoherent, incapacitated and confused. He doesn’t know where he is half the time. He’s incapable of leading and he’s incapable of carrying out his duties.”

“Two Senate Democratic leaders say they are willing to give Republicans a vote on reversing President Joe Biden’s move to end pandemic-era border restrictions, provided that the GOP then agrees to move a stalled $10 billion coronavirus aid deal,” Politico reports.

“It’s a notable shift in Democratic strategy, weeks after the Covid aid package was sidetracked amid Republican demands for an amendment vote on Biden’s decision to lift the public health-related border restrictions.”

“A bipartisan push in Congress to adopt another round of coronavirus aid is in fresh political peril, as Republicans continue to block Democrats from swiftly approving as much as the Biden administration believes is necessary to prepare for an expected new surge,” the Washington Post reports.

“Five days after federal health officials warned a new wave could infect 100 million people, lawmakers still find themselves struggling to overcome familiar partisan divides. There appears to be no immediate pathway in the Senate for a long-stalled agreement to spend $10 billion to boost the availability of tests, therapeutics and vaccines nationwide.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) “introduced a bill on Tuesday that aims to revoke Disney’s copyrights, as Republicans are seeking to outdo each other in attacking the ‘woke’ corporation,” Variety reports.

“Hawley’s bill would dramatically rewrite U.S. copyright law, shortening the total term available to all copyright holders going forward by several decades. It would also seek to retroactively limit Disney’s copyrights, effectively stripping the company of much of its intellectual property, in a move that would face several legal obstacles.”

Right-wing internet personality “Baked Alaska” — who live-streamed himself storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — was set to plead guilty to a federal charge on Wednesday as part of a plea deal reached with federal prosecutors, but the plea deal went up in smoke after he declared himself innocent, NBC News reports.

“The Salvadoran experiment to make bitcoin legal currency has hit a wall,” El Pais reports.  “As a result of the fall in global markets caused by the uncertainty of the war in Ukraine, rising inflation and the US Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates, the price of the most popular cryptocurrency in the world has plummeted more than 50% from its all-time highs. And with it, so too have the bonds of the government of El Salvador, which are trading at 40% of their original value, as investors start to doubt whether the country can meet its next debt payment.”

“Hong Kong’s national security police arrested Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, former opposition lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee and singer Denise Ho Wan-sze on Wednesday, accusing the three opposition activists of colluding with foreign forces,” the South China Morning Post reports.

Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee asked the Justice Department to investigate whether a Trump administration Interior Secretary David Bernhardt engaged in possible criminal conduct while helping an Arizona developer get a crucial permit for a housing project, the AP reports.

“Donald Trump was released from a judicial order holding him in contempt of court on Wednesday, ending an embarrassing two-week period for the former president, whose business practices are under civil investigation by the New York state attorney general,” the New York Times reports.

“President Biden has authorized the National Archives and Records Administration to hand over an eighth tranche of presidential records from the Trump White House to the House committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol,” the Washington Post reports.

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

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