Cup of Joe – 7/8/22

“Among tax lawyers, the most invasive type of random audit carried out by the IRS is known, only partly jokingly, as ‘an autopsy without the benefit of death,’” the New York Times reports.

“The odds of being selected for that audit in any given year are tiny — out of nearly 153 million individual returns filed for 2017, for example, the IRS targeted about 5,000, or roughly one out of 30,600.”

“One of the few who received a bureaucratic letter with the news that his 2017 return would be under intensive scrutiny was James Comey, who had been fired as FBI director that year by President Donald Trump. Furious over what he saw as Mr. Comey’s lack of loyalty and his pursuit of the Russia investigation, Mr. Trump had continued to rail against him even after his dismissal, accusing him of treason, calling for his prosecution and publicly complaining about the money Mr. Comey received for a book after his dismissal.”

“Among those who were chosen to have their 2019 returns scrutinized was the man who had been Mr. Comey’s deputy at the bureau: Andrew McCabe, who served several months as acting FBI director after Mr. Comey’s firing.”

“Former President Donald Trump has been trying since March to serve former FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok with a 108-page lawsuit — but hasn’t been able to find either of them, according to new court papers,” Insider reports.

“A New York judge held real estate services giant Cushman & Wakefield in contempt of court for refusing to comply with subpoenas issued as part of the state attorney general’s civil probe into former President Donald Trump’s company,” CNBC reports.

“Boris Johnson wants to stay on as caretaker Tory leader in part to throw a big wedding party at Chequers later this month,” The Mirror reports.

“The Prime Minister and wife Carrie have planned a lavish bash at the grace-and-favour country home to mark their marriage.”

“The couple tied the knot in a secret ceremony at Westminster Cathedral in front of just a handful of guests in May 2021. They then celebrated in the Downing Street garden but were only allowed 30 guests because of Covid restrictions in place at the time.”

“This latest scandal, over a deputy whip in Parliament accused of sexual misconduct, is just one in a long, wearyingly similar series of self-inflicted troubles to befall Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government,” the New York Times reports.

“Mislead, omit, obfuscate, bluster, deny, deflect, attack — the prime minister’s blueprint for dealing with a crisis, his critics say, almost never begins, and rarely ends, with simply telling the truth. Instead, he tends to start with a denial, move through several interim admissions in which his previous falsehoods are recast as honorable efforts at transparency, and then end with a great show of remorse in which he appears to take responsibility for what happened while suggesting that it was not his fault.”

Tom McTague: “The events of the past 24 hours are a sordid and quite extraordinary almost-end to a sordid and quite extraordinary career, one that was profoundly inane in one respect and incontestably historic in another. He is perhaps the worst prime minister in modern British history but also the most consequential, leaving a legacy without an -ism or a following, but one that will outlast anything bequeathed by his recent predecessors.”

As he announced his resignation, a new YouGov poll finds Boris Johnson’s favorability hit a new low of 19% to 72%.

This is priceless: Fox & Friends slammed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this morning for being untrustworthy, refusing to leave office, mishandling the pandemic and overall just creating chaos.

“The herd instinct is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves.” — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, quoted by NPR, referring to the Conservative members of Parliament who turned against him and forced his resignation.

David Frum: “Speaking of peaceful transition of power… whatever happens next for Boris Johnson, there is literally zero chance that he will organize a mob to sack Parliament or incite his supporters to try to hang the heir to the throne.”

George Conway: “It’s not like Boris sent a mob to Buckingham Palace to sack the Queen or something.“

“U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner pleaded guilty in a Russian court on Thursday to drugs charges that could see her face 10 years in prison, a Reuters journalist reported from the courtroom, but said she had not deliberately broken the law,” Reuters reports.

Said Griner: “I’d like to plead guilty, your honour. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law.”

LOL. Not LOL: “A staggering 71 million more people around the world are experiencing poverty as a result of soaring food and energy prices that climbed in the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” the AP reports.

“Gas prices fell two cents Wednesday to $4.779 per gallon, according to AAA data, down 24 cents from its highest-ever recorded level of $5.016 last month, and are on track to continue falling,” Forbes reports.

“The Federal Reserve, determined to choke off rapid inflation before it becomes a permanent feature of the American economy, is steering toward another three-quarter-point interest rate increase later this month even as the economy shows early signs of slowing and recession fears mount,” the New York Times reports.

Wall Street Journal: “The minutes showed an unusual level of agreement among the 18 officials who participate in the policy-setting meetings: All but one supported the 0.75-point increase.”

Axios: Fed officials worried about inflation becoming “entrenched.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that people will begin to work once they run out of savings, USA Today reports.

Said McConnell: “You’ve got a whole lot of people sitting on the sidelines because, frankly, they’re flush for the moment. What we’ve got to hope is once they run out of money, they’ll start concluding it’s better to work than not to work.”

It’s been two months since the wave of infections from the new Omicron variants began, but there’s not been an associated wave of deaths so far.

Jonathan Chait: “In the Trump era, a small slice of Republican elites has commanded an enormous share of political coverage. Those Republican officials have found themselves caught between their personal revulsion for Trump and their professional incentive to placate the barbaric champion selected by their party’s voters.”

“The obsessive attention paid to those Republican elites is fully warranted. As Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky’s How Democracies Die found, the key variable determining whether a democracy can fight off an authoritarian challenge is whether the aspiring dictator’s coalitional allies stay with him and exploit the fruits of power or defeat him to form a pro-democracy coalition with their ideological adversaries. As we now know, they have overwhelmingly placed their bets with Trump and the movement he has built, which refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of Democratic political success in any form.”

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) “caused a stir this week when she took the floor of the House to oppose a gun safety bill and in the process seemed to vow to shoot her own grandchildren,” the Daily Beast reports.

Filmmaker Alex Holder’s documentary on the final days of the Trump administration, Unprecedented, will be streaming Sunday on Discovery+.

Holder’s Trump family docuseries, which has never-before-seen footage of the Trumps and the Capitol insurrection that’s drawn the House Jan. 6 Committee’s attention, is slated to premiere Sunday, July 10 on Discovery+, two days before the House Jan. 6 Committee’s next public hearing.

The committee subpoenaed Holder for his testimony and raw footage of his project, which covers the last six weeks of Trump’s reelection campaign and the Capitol attack. The filmmaker testified in front of the committee two weeks ago.

Holder is also cooperating with the Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ investigation in Georgia. Like the Jan. 6 committee, Willis had subpoenaed Holder for raw footage of his series, though she’s putting her focus on footage of Trump’s comments about Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R).

“House Republicans are weighing what kind of national-level abortion ban legislation to pursue if they win the House majority next year, with a 15-week ban or further on the table,” The Hill reports.

Peggy Nienaber, an executive director at evangelical organization Liberty Counsel, was caught on a hot mic claiming that some justices “will pray with us, those that like us to pray with them,” and that “we’re the only people who do that.”

Nienaber’s comments were made last week during a celebration evangelicals were holding in front of the Supreme Court over its dismantling of Roe v. Wade.

Nienaber bragged that she and other evangelicals “actually go in there” for the prayer sessions, not at her office or at the justices’ homes.

One of Nienaber’s prayer sessions with the justices happened the Monday after SCOTUS struck down Roe, the evangelical leader said.

Not only does Liberty Counsel frequently bring cases in front of SCOTUS, the conservative justices actually cited its amicus brief while striking down Roe. Which is probably why Nienaber insisted that her comments be “totally off the record.” Oops.

Nienaber didn’t identify the justices by name, but Rolling Stone noted that she’s taken pictures with Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas. She also referred to Thomas as a “friend” and praised the conservative justice for “passing by our ministry center to attend church and always taking time to say hello” in a Facebook post, according to Rolling Stone.

Katherine Stewart: “The shape of the Christian nationalist movement in the post-Roe future is coming into view, and it should terrify anyone concerned for the future of constitutional democracy.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision to rescind the reproductive rights that American women have enjoyed over the past half-century will not lead America’s homegrown religious authoritarians to retire from the culture wars and enjoy a sweet moment of triumph. On the contrary, movement leaders are already preparing for a new and more brutal phase of their assault on individual rights and democratic self-governance. Breaking American democracy isn’t an unintended side effect of Christian nationalism. It is the point of the project.”

“Democratic leaders are racing to finalize a revised proposal to tackle climate change and jump-start the nation’s transition to clean energy, part of a larger sprint to strike a deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) on their stalled spending bill this month,” the Washington Post reports.

“The frenzied deliberations reflect weeks of private talks between Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Manchin, a centrist who scuttled negotiations over the party’s last attempt at a broader spending package in December. A climate agreement would help the country meet President Biden’s ambitious clean-energy goals, even as Manchin pursues policies that would still promote fossil fuels.”

“While top Manchin aides say they are far from a deal, some Democrats are still hoping to finalize a retooled climate proposal as soon as next week, when lawmakers are set to return from recess.”

“President Joe Biden accused former President Donald Trump of ‘dismissing and ignoring the forgotten people he promised to help’ in a unusually blunt attack on Wednesday, indicating that the White House may be trying to turn the midterm elections into a referendum on his predecessor,” Bloomberg reports.

“The president has largely avoided addressing his predecessor by name, and in previous speeches had obliquely attacked Republican congressional candidates as ‘ultra MAGA’ — a reference to Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan — without mentioning him directly.”

“But on Wednesday, Biden repeatedly called Trump out by name, even joking as a mobile phone rang that the former president was calling to complain.”

New York Times: “At a moment of broad political tumult and economic distress, Mr. Biden has appeared far less engaged than many of his supporters had hoped. While many Democrats are pleading for a fighter who gives voice to their anger, Mr. Biden has chosen a more passive path — blaming Congress, urging people to vote and avoiding heated rhetorical battles.”

“The president came into office promising competence and deliberative action after four years in which his predecessor governed by angry Twitter posts and frequent tirades. By contrast, Mr. Biden touted his sober experience as a legislator, saying it would help him bridge ideological divides. And he campaigned on knowing how to wield the authority of the presidency after serving eight years as vice president.”

“White House communications director Kate Bedingfield, a longtime aide to President Biden who played an instrumental role in his 2020 campaign, will be departing the administration later this summer,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Politico: “Democrats have grown openly critical of the Biden team’s communications strategy in recent weeks and months. Longtime Biden aide Anita Dunn recently returned to the White House as a senior adviser and has been working to shore up the operation.”

“The Biden administration on Thursday announced nearly $1 billion in spending to improve 85 airports across the country,” the Washington Post reports.

“The allocation taps funding authorized last year in the bipartisan infrastructure law in what administration officials say is a sorely needed infusion to upgrade terminals, baggage screening and air traffic control towers.”

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin told CNN he’s lost faith in Texas leaders investigating how law enforcement responded to the shooting at his town’s elementary school that killed 19 children and two adults.  Said McLaughlin: “I’m not confident… I think it’s a cover-up.”

Mona Charen: “Massacres at supermarkets, churches, classrooms, shopping malls, and good God, July Fourth parades are not like other violence. They shatter our sense of safety. They destroy our sense of normal life. Who among us has not wondered whether we might fall victim to this madness at a ball game or a concert? This epidemic of mass random shootings is not like gang killings in cities. It’s like terrorism. It invades the normal, peaceful world—the places in which we must feel secure.”

“You need police. You need parents for sure…. But you know, you may need an exorcist, too. Before your audience shakes its head on that, if you look at these boys, these men, these young men, they have deeply spiritual problems.”

— Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett, explaining to Fox News about how to stop mass shootings.

“Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday hailed a month-long federal operation that led to the arrest of 1,500 fugitives, sex offenders and gang members in 10 large U.S. cities, pledging that the Justice Department will do more to confront surging rates of violent crime,” the Washington Post reports.

“The effort aimed to apprehend those who committed the most violent offenses, prioritizing suspects who used firearms.”

“On Wednesday evening, after some of the last patients to receive a legal abortion in Mississippi had left Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in the state closed its doors,” the Jackson Clarion Ledger reports.

“The next day, abortion would become illegal in Mississippi, with few exceptions.”

Washington Post: “A judge on Tuesday denied an injunction to stop a near-total abortion ban from taking effect Thursday.”

CNN: Where state abortion bans stand amid legal challenges.

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

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