Cup of Joe – September 29, 2022

President Biden warned Florida residents to heed precautions and listen to officials as the “incredibly dangerous” Hurricane Ian barrels toward the Sunshine State, CNN reports.

Said Biden: “This storm is incredibly dangerous, to state the obvious. It’s life-threatening. You should obey all warnings and directions from emergency officials. Don’t take anything for granted. Use their judgment, not yours. Evacuate when ordered. Be prepared. Storm warnings are real, the evacuation notices are real, the danger is real.”

“Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, and four other members of the far-right group prepared to present a novel and risky defense as they went on trial on Tuesday for seditious conspiracy in the attack on the Capitol last year, charged with plotting to use force against the government.,” the New York Times reports.

“They intend to tell the jury that when armed teams of Oath Keepers made plans to rush into Washington from Virginia on Jan. 6, 2021, they believed they would be following legal orders from the president himself.”

“Lawyers for the five defendants are set to argue at the trial — which began on Tuesday with jury selection — that the Oath Keepers were waiting on Jan. 6 for President Donald Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, a Revolutionary-era law that grants the president wide powers to deploy the military to quell unrest in emergencies.”

“A high-ranking member of the far-right Oath Keepers organization who has been charged in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol exchanged messages in November 2020 with former Trump White House aide Andrew Giuliani about election issues,” NBC News reports.

“Shortly after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, as authorities began arresting people across the country in connection with the violence, the political operative Roger Stone Jr. started texting with a lawyer representing President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, seeking a pardon,” the New York Times reports.  Said Stone: “There will be mass prosecutions. Mark my words.”

“A Donald Trump fan who brought his teenage son along as he assaulted then-D.C. police officer Mike Fanone and another officer at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was sentenced to more than seven years in prison on Tuesday,” NBC News reports.

Fanone told CNN he was called a “piece of shit” by the mother of one of the men who attacked him during the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Said Fanone: “His mother stood up and tried to apologize to me in the courtroom. And then later on, as I was leaving the courthouse, his mother and several other individuals who were seated with her in the courtroom again called me a piece of shit.”

He added: “So I think it’s just another example of a January 6 defendant begging for leniency, but in reality there’s no remorse there.”

“As president, Donald Trump weighed bombing drug labs in Mexico after one of his leading public health officials came into the Oval Office, wearing a dress uniform, and said such facilities should be handled by putting ‘lead to target’ to stop the flow of illicit substances across the border into the United States,” the Washington Post reports.

“He raised it several times, eventually asking a stunned Defense Secretary Mark Esper whether the United States could indeed bomb the labs,” according to a new book by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.

“White House officials said the official, Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, often wore his dress uniform for meetings with Trump, which confused him. The response from White House aides was not to try to change Trump’s view, but to consider asking Giroir not to wear his uniform to the Oval Office anymore.”

“Then-President Donald Trump nearly fired his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner from the White House via tweet, according to new book from New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman,” CNN reports.

“Trump raised the prospect of firing Ivanka Trump and Kushner, who were both senior White House aides, during meetings with then-chief of staff John Kelly and then-White House counsel Don McGahn, Haberman writes. At one point, he was about to tweet that his daughter and son-in-law were leaving the White House – but he was stopped by Kelly, who told Trump he had to speak with them directly first.”

U.S. home prices — for the first time in a decade — are falling, Bloomberg reports. “A national measure of prices in 20 large cities fell 0.44% in July, the first drop since March 2012… The last real estate crash ended in 2012, ushering in 10 years of price gains, capped off by the two-year pandemic buying frenzy.”

“For the first time in a decade, Americans will pay less next year on monthly premiums for Medicare’s Part B plan, which covers routine doctors’ visits and other outpatient care,” AP reports.  “The rare 3% decrease in monthly premiums is likely to be coupled with a historically high cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits — perhaps 9% or 10% — putting hundreds of dollars directly into the pockets of millions of people.”

“The Kremlin has dispatched still more forces to shore up its faltering war effort, but the units are headed not to Ukraine but to Russia’s borders with other countries, where on Tuesday they were confronting young Russian men trying to join an exodus out of the country,” the New York Times reports.

“As the avenues for Russians to escape a draft order issued last week narrowed, the Federal Security Service sent armored vehicles to the frontiers, where some men waiting to flee were being served military call-up papers, the state news media reported.”

As expected, the Russian government declared victory on Tuesday in the purported referendums it held in four Ukrainian regions (Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia) on whether to join Russia.

The Kremlin didn’t bother making the results look plausible in any way; it claimed that more than 95 percent of the voters supported being absorbed by Russia.

Russia doesn’t fully control those four regions, and Putin’s partial mobilization order continues to be a disaster.

“Explosions under the Baltic Sea and the rupture of major natural gas pipelines from Russia to Germany appeared to be a deliberate attack, deepening uncertainty about European energy security amid soaring prices and fears of running short of fuel over the winter,” the New York Times reports.

“The U.S. embassy in Russia is urging any Americans in the country to leave and for U.S. citizens to not travel to Russia as Russian President Vladimir Putin orders a call up of 300,000 reservists to aid depleted forces in Ukraine,” The Hill reports.

“U.S. and allied intelligence agencies are stepping up efforts to detect any Russian military moves or communications that might signal that Vladimir Putin has ordered the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” Politico reports.

The Senate voted Tuesday to move forward with funding the government through mid-December, 72 to 23, ahead of a Friday deadline to avert a shutdown, NBC News reports.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday announced on the Senate floor his support for the bipartisan legislation aimed at plugging the many holes in the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act (ECA) that Trump and his cronies tried to exploit in the MAGA election steal plot.

But the fate of the House’s broader version of the bill, which passed the chamber last week, is looking shakier. McConnell said the House’s legislation was a “non-starter” because hardly any GOP members had voted for it (save for nine Republicans who won’t be in Congress next year).

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was the only Republican on the Senate Rules Committee (where the legislation was being considered on Tuesday) who voted against the reforms. It’s not hard to guess why.

Punchbowl News: “House Democrats’ new bill to ban stock trading will be expansive, applying to members of Congress, their spouses and dependent children, senior aides, federal judges including the Supreme Court, and senior executive branch officials.”

“Lawmakers, judges and all other government officials covered by the ban will have to choose between divesting their investment portfolios or putting their assets in a qualified blind trust. Members of the judicial branch will have to file more detailed financial disclosures, as we reported was under consideration.”  But the key takeaway: “The House leadership doesn’t currently have the votes to pass the bill given the number of rank-and-file Democrats who are actively opposed.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said former President Trump is pushing himself toward a “self-inflicted indictment” with his combative public statements on his legal battle with the Justice Department, The Hill reports.

Said Christie: “The more you absolutely antagonize with nonsense arguments on television that your lawyers won’t make in court — because they’re afraid they’ll be sanctioned if they do because they have no evidence — you’re pushing yourself closer to a self-inflicted indictment.”  He added: “And I don’t want to see that happen just because I don’t think it’s good for our country, but he’s pushing himself in that direction.”

“The newest addition to former President Donald Trump’s legal team, Chris Kise, has been sidelined from the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation less than a month after he was brought on to represent Trump in the matter,” CNN reports.

“Kise is expected to remain on Trump’s legal team but is not leading the work related to the federal government’s investigation into how the former President handled 11,000 documents seized from his Florida home in August following a lengthy effort by the government to retrieve them. The reason for the shift in Kise’s role remains unclear and he may instead focus his efforts on the other investigations Trump is facing, which range from his business practices to the January 6 insurrection.”

I’m willing to bet the client didn’t like the advice he was given.

“President Joe Biden [announced] a new initiative Monday that would eventually allow consumers to see a more complete price on airline tickets — including baggage and change fees — before they buy, as the White House continues to search for ways to lower costs for Americans amid persistently high inflation,” the AP reports.

President Biden is scheduled to host his first state dinner at the White House for French President Emmanuel Macron on December 1, CNN reports.

The Conference of Chief Justices, a group representing the top state judicial officers in the nation, filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court urging the court to reject “a legal theory pressed by Republicans that would give state legislatures extraordinary power,” the New York Times reports. “If the Supreme Court adopts the theory, it will radically reshape how federal elections are conducted by giving state lawmakers independent authority, not subject to review by state courts, to set election rules in conflict with state constitutions.”

“A federal judge delivered a blistering rebuke of Republican Party leaders Tuesday for what she said was a cynical attempt to stoke false claims of election fraud of the kind that fueled the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol,” Politico reports.

Said U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson: “The judiciary has to make it clear: It is not patriotism, it is not standing up for America to stand up for one man — who knows full well that he lost — instead of the Constitution he was trying to subvert.”

She added: “Some prominent figures in the Republican Party are cagily predicting or even outright calling for violence in the streets if one of the multiple investigations doesn’t go his way.”

Jeffery Moore, a Gadsden County commissioner who was appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), suddenly resigned on Friday after a photo that appeared to show him in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood emerged.

Gadsen County is the only predominantly Black county in Florida. Moore was also the only Republican commissioner on the board.

Moore didn’t explain in his resignation letter why he was leaving, only that he was doing so for “personal reasons.”

This is the photo:

Politico: “Biden is aware — and increasingly comfortable — with the reality that he isn’t wanted everywhere. White House officials are supplementing his campaign travel with events closer to home they believe still allow him to respond to Republicans and capitalize on the bully pulpit.”

“But they’re not in the business of taking too many chances. Biden himself has, to this point, been comfortable with the lighter public footprint, telling advisers that what matters is holding onto the Senate and that, if he would do more harm than help in certain races, he’d stay away. That’s an evolution from earlier this year, when the president hit a low-water mark, and he complained to aides that he was not in demand on the campaign trail, pointing to his successful efforts as a draw and even a closer in 2018, particularly in tight contests.”

An Iranian lawmaker on Tuesday labeled women who have taken off mandatory headscarves to protest against the death of Mahsa Amini as “rioters” who are “out to prostitute themselves,” Deutsche Welle reports.  He suggested that taking off the hijab, or headscarf, was akin to being naked in public.

“Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Tuesday named his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as prime minister Tuesday, boosting the profile of the 37-year-old, day-to-day ruler of the kingdom as he tries to end years of international isolation over a journalist’s killing,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

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

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