Cup of Joe – 5/25/22

At least 18 students and three adults, including a teacher, are dead after a teenage gunman ran onto the grounds of an elementary school in Texas while fleeing from cops on Tuesday afternoon. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who personaly promotes gun purchases and opposes any and all gun safety measures, said the horrific incident at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde was carried out by a local 18-year-old student who also died.

The assailant abandoned his vehicle and entered into the school with a handgun and possibly a rifle, Abbott said. “He shot and killed, horrifically and incomprehensibly, 14 students and killed a teacher,” Abbott said. He also fatally shot his grandmother, Abbott added.

First, Greg Abbott can go fuck himself. He is singularly responsible for the lack of any gun safety laws in Texas and has reveled in being the leader of opposition to national gun safety of all kinds.

Second, if guns make America safe, we’d be the safest country in the world. But we are not.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) slammed his colleagues for doing “nothing” to address gun violence, hours after a gunman shot and killed at least 18 kids and one teacher at a Texas elementary school, Axios reports.

Said Murphy: “Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate … if your answer is as the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives — we do nothing?”

He added: “Why are you here, if not to solve a problem as existential as this? This isn’t inevitable. These kids weren’t unlucky. This only happens in this country, nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking they might be shot that day.”

A clearly emotional Biden spoke to the nation from the White House Roosevelt Room about an hour after arriving back from a five-day trip to Asia and about two hours after ordering, from Air Force One, that the flag flying above the White House be lowered to half-staff.

“I’d hoped, when I became president, I would not have to do this again. Another massacre. Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful, second, third, fourth graders,” he said.

“As a nation we have to ask when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby,” he said raising his voice.

“I am sick and tired of it — we have to act,’ he said.

A short time before Biden was scheduled to speak, Vice President Kamala Harris, fighting back tears, commented on the shooting as she began her pre-scheduled remarks at a Washington gala.

“Tonight is a rough night, we planned for a great celebration, but I’m sure most of you have heard the tragic news about what happened in Texas,” she said.

“Every time a tragedy like this happens, our hearts break. And our broken hearts are nothing compared to the broken hearts of those families — and yet it keeps happening. So, I think we all know and have said many times with each other: Enough is enough. Enough is enough,” she said.

“As a nation, we have to have the courage to take action and understand the nexus between what makes for reasonable and sensible public policy to ensure something like this never happens again,” she said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky compared Russia’s repeated attempts to take his life to the film “Groundhog Day,” Axios reports.  Said Zelensky: “I wake up in the morning and it’s still the same.” 

The New York Times has this interactive map showing just how poorly Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is going for the Kremlin right now.

“Viktor Orbán has ruled out discussing the EU’s proposed oil embargo of Russia at next week’s summit of leaders, in a fresh blow to the union’s efforts to win backing for its landmark sanctions package,” the Financial Times reports.

“Henry Kissinger has urged the West to stop trying to inflict a crushing defeat on Russian forces in Ukraine, warning that it would have disastrous consequences for the long term stability of Europe,” the Telegraph reports.

Said Kissinger: “Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome. Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante. Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself.”

Henry Kissinger is proof that Satan exists and it is clear that the former has made a deal with the latter. Kissinger was an old fat man in 1972. How is he still alive? He must 130 years old now. He needs to go away, both figuratively and literally.

“President Biden said he would maintain longstanding U.S. policy toward Taiwan, a day after triggering global confusion when he said the U.S. would respond militarily to any effort by China to take the island by force,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Said Biden: “My policy has not changed at all.”

The New York Times notes this is the third time Biden has suggested that the U.S. would defend Taiwan if China attacked — and in each instance, his remarks prompted a staff scramble to clean it up.

“The Supreme Court said Monday that state prisoners may not present new evidence in federal court in support of a claim that their post-conviction counsel in state court was ineffective in violation of the Constitution,” CNN reports.

“The ruling is a major defeat for two inmates on death row who said they had compelling claims that their state lawyers failed to pursue.”

“Democrats are set to blow through the soft Memorial Day deadline for reaching a deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on a slimmed-down budget reconciliation bill to raise taxes, fight climate change and lower the cost of prescription drugs,” The Hill reports.  “Senate Democratic sources say there’s no chance of getting a deal this week but they argue that doesn’t necessarily mean the negotiations over a long-awaited budget reconciliation package are doomed.”

Former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) slammed Democrats on his podcast for failing to pass the Build Back Better Act.

Said Franken: “My feeling is that this wasn’t about Build Back Better is just the worst name for a bill ever. It was that we didn’t put what was in this bill before the people. And all they kept hearing was from the press. It was at 3 trillion is at 1.5 trillion? It was inside baseball. It was, it was a horse race.”

He added: “The fail here was that we, the American people never knew what was in the bill. And this is why I argued for putting these, these bills on the floor individually.”

“A private Christian university is considering strictly limiting the free speech rights of its students when it comes to sexuality and gender, from how they behave to what they wear and what they can say on campus or even online,“ the AP reports.  “The policy also forbids sex between unmarried heterosexuals.”

“Congressional ethics investigators said on Monday that they had gathered “substantial” evidence that Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) improperly used campaign donations to pay for unlimited access for himself and his wife to a private dining club in Amarillo, Texas,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Jackson, who gained national attention as the White House doctor to former President Donald Trump and went on to win election to the House, is accused of using campaign money for the Amarillo Club, in violation of Federal Election Commission regulations prohibiting the use of campaign funds for such purposes.”

The House Ethics Committee is furthering its review of alleged ethics violations by Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) — a top ally of Donald Trump — after receiving new allegations, including a family trip to Aruba covered by a company tied to the congressman, the West Virginia Metro News reports.  The office also alleges Mooney “routinely diverted official resources and staff time away from his constituents and official duties in favor of his and his family’s personal needs and sometimes for campaign activities.”

The House Ethics Committee announced it is investigating embattled Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) over a potentially “improper relationship” with a staffer and his promotion of an anti-Joe Biden-themed cryptocurrency,  Insider reports.  The committee, which rarely makes public statements, said it voted unanimously to establish an investigation.

The cryptocurrency at the heart of the probe is likely the “Let’s Go Brandon” coin that Cawthorn promoted … as did Trump and his eldest son, Don Jr.

Amid the firestorm over his repeated regurgitation of the racist “great replacement” theory that allegedly inspired the deadly Buffalo shooting, Fox News host Tucker Carlson went with the troll route on Monday night:

“A notorious Hungarian racist who has called Jews ‘stinking excrement,’ referred to Roma as ‘animals’ and used racial epithets to describe Black people, was a featured speaker at a major gathering of US Republicans in Budapest,” The Guardian reports.

“A Florida law intended to punish social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, dealing a major victory to companies who had been accused by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis of discriminating against conservative thought,” the AP reports.

“An impassioned effort by some Arizona Senate Republicans to ban the use of ballot drop boxes failed,” the AP reports.

“About 90% of Arizona voters cast early ballots, either through the mail, at early voting sites or by using drop boxes put in place by county election officials. Those boxes are most important in the week before an election, when there is doubt a mail-in ballot will reach the local election department in time.”

Texas Tribune: “Fourteen Republican members of the state House of Representatives have pledged to introduce bills in the coming legislative session that would bar corporations from doing business in Texas if they pay for abortions in states where the procedure is legal.”

“This would explicitly prevent firms from offering employees access to abortion-related care through health insurance benefits. It would also expose executives to criminal prosecution under pre-Roe anti-abortion laws the Legislature never repealed, the legislators say.”

“Rudy Giuliani testified to the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack at length on Friday but declined to discuss the involvement of congressional Republicans in efforts to overturn the 2020 election result,” The Guardian reports.

“A North Carolina man is accused of striking a police officer with a large metal pole and punching others with his fists during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol,” the Charlotte Observer reports.

“For David Gietzen, however, that may have only been Act One.”

“After joining the unprecedented mob assault on U.S. democracy on Jan. 6, the 38-year-old… returned to the Capitol two weeks later on Inauguration Day planning to take part in a second violent attempt to keep Donald Trump in office.”

A month ago, House January 6 Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) told reporters his panel would hold at least eight public hearings during the month of June to unveil the findings of its investigation. Now, The Guardian reports there will be six public hearings over two weeks, with just two airing on television in prime time. In contrast, the Senate Watergate Committee held 51 public hearings, over six months.

As Jonathan Bernstein points out: “The Watergate hearings were such a cultural event in part because of their length. People didn’t watch every moment. Many probably didn’t watch at all. But because it was so thorough, and just so long, it was impossible to avoid it.

The Watergate hearings also worked as TV in part because they weren’t polished, and didn’t appear to be scripted. Witnesses were generally interviewed in private before the public sessions, and the committee certainly cared about the public case it was making, but the actual sessions consisted of lawyers and senators asking questions of witnesses, rather than (as is expected in June) presentations by the committee carefully designed to tell a specific story.”

Based on the leaks so far, the January 6 Committee has done an enormous amount of work. Perhaps the committee’s findings will be turned over to the Department of Justice and maybe they will result in historic prosecutions. 

But the public side of the committee’s work has been virtually non-existent. That seems to be a political misstep.

“As federal investigators weigh the potential criminality of former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, legal experts say a decades-old ethics law — one routinely violated by members of Trump’s inner circle — could provide them a glide path to prosecution,” The Hill reports.

“The Hatch Act prohibits electioneering by executive branch officials, including the promotion of the president’s political interests, during the course of their formal duties. The law was regularly flouted by the Trump administration while in office…”

“While the ethics law has been used almost entirely administratively since it was passed in the 1930s, experts say a rarely used criminal provision of the law could be a novel and relatively straightforward strategy to ensure consequences for Trump in what is sure to be a challenging atmosphere.”

Katherine Wu: “For the past year and a half, since the Covid-19 vaccines first became available—even as last summer’s reprieve gave way to Delta’s surge, then Omicron’s; even as the coronavirus continued to rack up mutations that lifted its speed and its stealth; even as millions of vaccinated Americans caught the pathogen and passed it on—there’s been one huge slice of solace to cling to: The shots we have are still doing an excellent job of staving off severe disease and death.”

“An alleged ISIS-linked operative in the U.S. was plotting to kill George W. Bush, going so far as to travel to Dallas in November to take video around the former president’s home and recruiting help from a team of compatriots he hoped to smuggle into the country over the Mexican border,” Forbes reports.

“Photographs obtained by ITV News cast fresh doubt on the Prime Minister’s claims that he was unaware of rule-breaking in Downing Street during the pandemic,” ITV News reports.  “The four images show the Prime Minister raising a glass at a leaving party on November 13, 2020, with bottles of alcohol and party food on the table in front of him.”

Nikkei Asia: “While little has changed in the Taliban’s ways between its collapse in 2001 and its stunning return last August, everything has changed for Afghanistan’s women in that time. On May 7, the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice announced a draft law ‘advising’ women and girls to stay at home. If they step out, they are to cover themselves entirely, preferably with a garment that only shows their eyes — essentially, a burqa.”

“If a woman or girl fails to obey this rule, her closest male relative, or as the Taliban would have it, her guardian, will be punished or jailed.”

Science: “The sudden appearance of monkeypox in 13 countries on four continents has jolted the public health community into action. A much milder cousin of smallpox that sporadically causes small outbreaks in Africa, monkeypox is thought to spread slowly and is unlikely to be a pandemic in the making. But scientists worry about the spread among men who have sex with men, who make up a disproportionate number of the cases so far.”

“The outbreak is a strange and unsettling return to the spotlight for poxviruses, a largely forgotten threat since the World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated in 1980.”

A senior member of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard was killed outside his home in Tehran on Sunday by unidentified gunmen on a motorbike,” the Los Angeles Times reports.  “Although the Guard gave only scant detail about the attack that occurred in broad daylight in the heart of Iran’s capital, the group blamed the killing on ‘global arrogance,’ typically code for the United States and Israel.”

“That accusation, as well as the style of the brazen killing, raised the possibility of a link with other motorbike slayings previously attributed to Israel in Iran, such as those targeting the country’s nuclear scientists. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.”

“Interesting, all these people telling me what to do, and they just got here.”  — Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), quoted by the Wall Street Journal, on criticism that the Democratic Party leadership is too old.

Roughly one third of the U.S. Senate has reported testing positive for Covid-19 at some point, with Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) testing positive twice, Bloomberg reports.

Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY) will be sworn in as lieutenant governor on Wednesday, WNYC reports. That allows Gov. Kathy Hochul to call the special election to replace him in Congress for Aug. 23, the same day as the primary.

Oregon taxpayers are on track to receive a record $3 billion, personal tax kicker, in 2024 powered by “unprecedented” income tax returns, the Salem Statesman Journal reports.

“Republican lawmakers — following former President Trump’s lead — are working with a wide range of conservative groups to pull back American support for Ukraine, the Middle East and Europe,” Axios reports.

“Tens of thousands of seemingly hacked files from China’s remote Xinjiang region provide fresh evidence of the abuse of mostly Muslim ethnic Uyghurs in mass detention camps there, which included a shoot-to-kill policy for escapees,” Bloomberg reports.

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

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