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Cup of Joe – October 2, 2022

Tom Friedman: “With his annexation of parts of Ukraine on Friday, Vladimir Putin has set in motion forces that are turning Russia into a giant North Korea. It will be a paranoid, angry, isolated state, but unlike North Korea, the Russian version will be spread over 11 time zones — from the Arctic Sea to the Black Sea and from the edge of free Europe to the edge of Alaska — with thousands of nuclear warheads.”

“None of us have ever known the Russia that a now desperate, back-against-the-wall Putin seems hellbent on delivering — a pariah Russia; a big, humiliated Russia; a Russia that has sent many of its most talented engineers, programmers and scientists fleeing through any exit they can find. This would be a Russia that has already lost so many trading partners that it can survive only as an oil and natural gas colony of China, a Russia that is a failed state, spewing out instability from every pore.”

“Such a Russia would not be just a geopolitical threat. It would be a human tragedy of mammoth proportions.”

“Even by Mr. Putin’s increasingly confrontational standards, it was an extraordinary speech, mixing riffs against Western attitudes on gender identity with an appeal to the world to see Russia as the leader of an uprising against American power,” the New York Times reports.

Politico: “Several former diplomats and historians likened Putin’s strategy to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, when he seized German-speaking regions of Czechoslovakia and Poland and similarly held predetermined plebiscites.”

“Ukrainian troops appeared to be bearing down on the strategic eastern city of Lyman and inching closer to recapturing it on Saturday, just a day after President Vladimir Putin’s internationally derided declaration that the region where it lies and three others in Ukraine were now part of Russia,” the New York Times reports.

“The battle for Lyman, a city in Donetsk Province with a pre-war population of 20,000, is particularly poorly timed for the Kremlin after it illegally declared its annexation of swaths of Ukraine and Kyiv’s stunning victories in the country’s northeast last month.”

“Russian forces withdrew from the strategic eastern city of Lyman on Saturday, just a day after President Vladimir Putin’s internationally derided declaration that the region where it lies and three others in Ukraine were now part of Russia,” the New York Times reports.

“The battle for Lyman, a city in Donetsk Province with a pre-war population of 20,000, is particularly poorly timed for the Kremlin after it illegally declared its annexation of swaths of Ukraine and Kyiv’s stunning victories in the country’s northeast last month.”

“For the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, top government leaders in Moscow are making explicit nuclear threats and officials in Washington are gaming out scenarios should President Vladimir V. Putin decide to use a tactical nuclear weapon to make up for the failings of Russian troops in Ukraine,” the New York Times reports.

“Senior American officials say they think the chances that Mr. Putin would employ a nuclear weapon remain low. They say they have seen no evidence that he is moving any of his nuclear assets, and a recent Pentagon analysis suggests the military benefits would be few. And the cost for Mr. Putin — in a furious international response, perhaps even from the Chinese, whose support he needs most — could be tremendous.”

“But they are far more worried about the possibility now than they were at the beginning of the Ukraine conflict in February.”

The Hill: Ukrainian intel shows Russian nuclear threat is “very high.”

“The House passed a short-term government funding patch on Friday, sending the measure to President Joe Biden hours before a shutdown would’ve kicked in at midnight,” Politico reports.

“The lower chamber cleared the measure in a 230-201 vote, with only 10 Republicans supporting it. The stopgap funds the government through the midterm elections until Dec. 16, in addition to providing billions in additional Ukraine aid and disaster relief.”

Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, helped negotiate the short term funding bill to avert a government shutdown but then joined the swath of GOP members who opposed it, Politico reports.

When asked if she could explain why she voted against it, the Texas lawmaker replied Friday: “No, I can’t.”

Donald Trump took aim at Sen. Mitch McConnell late last night for “approving all of these Trillions of Dollars worth of Democrat sponsored Bills, without even the slightest bit of negotiation.”

Trump suggested McConnell was supporting these bills “because he hates Donald J. Trump and he knows I am strongly opposed to them” or because he “believes in the Fake and Highly Destructive Green New Deal, and is willing to take the Country down with him.”

He added: “In any event, either reason is unacceptable. He has a DEATH WISH.”

“Barack Obama told reporters in his last days as president that he wasn’t worried about a single Donald Trump term, but was concerned about a ‘sustained period’ of political norms being undermined if he served two terms,” according to newly released documents obtained by Bloomberg News.

“Obama met with reporters three days before Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 17, 2017, for an off-the-record conversation. A White House transcript of the meeting — which was never reported under the ground rules agreed upon by the journalists — was included in a cache of documents released by the Justice Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.”

Obama during the waning days of his presidency told reporters in off-the-record conversations that the Republican Party had become “ideologically completely incoherent,” according to Bloomberg.

Said Obama: “So what’s bound them together is opposition to me, opposition to a fantastical creature called the liberal who looks down on them and just feeds all that regional resentment. And there are a handful of issues, like guns, that trigger that sense of ‘these folks aren’t like us and they don’t like us and act like us.’ And there’s obviously some racial elements that get put out into that stew.”

Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was welcomed there with a traditional investiture ceremony attended by President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses, CNBC reports.

A new Monmouth poll finds 59% of Americans say the current Supreme Court is out of touch with the values and beliefs of most Americans.

“With public confidence diminished and justices sparring openly over the institution’s legitimacy, the Supreme Court on Monday will begin a new term that could push American law to the right on issues of race, voting and the environment,” the AP reports.

“Following June’s momentous overturning of nearly 50 years of constitutional protections for abortion rights, the court is diving back in with an aggressive agenda that seems likely to split its six conservative justices from its three liberals.”

“After attorney Christopher Kise accepted $3 million to represent Donald Trump in the FBI’s investigation of government documents stored at Mar-a-Lago, the veteran litigator argued that Trump should adopt a new strategy,” the Washington Post reports.

“Turn down the temperature with the Department of Justice, Kise — a former Florida solicitor general — counseled his famously combative client… But quiet has never been Trump’s style — nor has harmony within his orbit.”

“Instead, just a few weeks after Kise was brought aboard, he finds himself in a battle, trying to convince Trump to go along with his legal strategy and fighting with some other advisers who have counseled a more aggressive posture. The dispute has raged for at least a week, Trump advisers say, with the former president listening as various lawyers make their best arguments.”

USA Today: Judge gives Trump more time to challenge Mar-a-Lago documents.

“The Justice Department moved to quickly dismantle the independent review of documents seized from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, contending that the review — ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon — is impeding its criminal investigation,” Politico reports.

“In a 15-page filing asking a federal appeals court to speed its consideration of the issue, prosecutors complained the “special master” review prevents DOJ from accessing thousands of non-classified records recovered from the former president’s estate.”

“The National Archives and Records Administration said that it hasn’t recovered all the presidential records that were supposed to be turned over at the end of the Trump administration,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Some White House staff had conducted official business using accounts that weren’t forwarded to their official electronic accounts, the National Archives said in a Sept. 30 letter to House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).”

“During the 2020 election, Jared Kushner tried to artificially ‘inflate’ Donald Trump’s sinking numbers in the polls against Joe Biden, according to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s new book. Within Team Trump, Haberman reports, the purpose of Kushner’s request was clear — he just wanted to juke the survey numbers, in the hopes of keeping his father-in-law from flying into a rage,” Rolling Stone reports.

From the book: “Kushner, who oversaw reelection strategy from his post as a White House senior adviser, advised a campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, to inflate Trump’s standing in surveys that would be shown to the candidate by adding percentage points to his position in the horse race.”

In the final days of his presidency, Donald Trump’s team “took steps to sabotage their successors,” Politico reports.

Maggie Haberman reports in her new book that “an employee of John McEntee, who served as Trump’s director of the Presidential Personnel Office, stuffed copies of photos of Hunter Biden into an air conditioning unit at the White House, breaking it.”

“The moment was a particularly petty representation of the disregard even rank-and-file staff had for the people who would soon be taking their jobs.”

“According to a new book, Donald Trump came up with his famous excuse for not releasing his tax returns on the fly – literally, while riding his campaign plane during the 2016 Republican primary,” The Guardian reports.

“Trump thought for a second about how to ‘get myself out of this’, as he said. He leaned back, before snapping up to a sudden thought.”

“‘Well, you know my taxes are under audit. I always get audited,’ Trump said … ‘So what I mean is, well I could just say, ‘I’ll release them when I’m no longer under audit. ‘Cause I’ll never not be under audit.’”

“As Hurricane Ian charged toward the western coast of Florida this week, the warnings from forecasters were growing more urgent. Life-threatening storm surge threatened to deluge the region from Tampa all the way to Fort Myers,” the New York Times reports.

“But while officials along much of that coastline responded with orders to evacuate on Monday, emergency managers in Lee County held off, pondering during the day whether to tell people to flee, but then deciding to see how the forecast evolved overnight.”

“The delay, an apparent violation of the meticulous evacuation strategy the county had crafted for just such an emergency, may have contributed to catastrophic consequences that are still coming into focus as the death toll continues to climb.”

“I would not want to chance that if I were you — given that we’re a Second Amendment state.” — Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), quoted by Fox News, publicly warning potential looters after the hurricane.

“The new, redesigned Covid booster, which now protects against Omicron and its extremely contagious subvariants, appears to have a visibility problem,” the New York Times reports.

“Federal authorities authorized the shot at the end of August, but by mid- to late September, nearly half of adults had heard little or nothing about it, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, based on the latest of its monthly surveys about attitudes toward the Covid vaccines.”

An election worker in a western Michigan town has been charged with two felonies after allegedly inserting a flash drive into a computer containing confidential voter registration data during an election in August, Reuters reports.

A Jan. 6 rioter who filmed himself assaulting a police officer pleaded guilty Friday to a pair of felony charges, Axios reports.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) staff this month “quietly dropped a series of human trafficking and child sexual assault cases after losing track of one of the victims, a stumble in open court emblematic of broader dysfunction inside one of America’s most prominent law offices,” the AP reports.

“The Republican has elevated his national profile in recent years, energizing the right by rushing into contentious court battles that have affected people far beyond Texas. He has fought access to abortion, Democratic immigration policy and the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.”

“But as Paxton seeks to fend off legal troubles and win a third term as Texas’ top law enforcement official, his agency has come unmoored by disarray behind the scenes, with seasoned lawyers quitting over practices they say aim to slant legal work, reward loyalists and drum out dissent.”

“The Internal Revenue Service sent $1.1 billion in advanced child tax credit payments during 2021 to people who shouldn’t have gotten them, and failed to send $3.7 billion to eligible households,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Congress expanded the child tax credit and authorized monthly payments in the March 2021 relief law signed by President Biden, giving a tax agency accustomed to annual refund payments an unprecedented test in administering monthly benefits.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) husband is seeking a divorce, TMZ reports. “It’s unclear what led to the split, but in the docs, MTG’s husband says they have previously separated… and he wants the court to split up their assets and debts equally.”

Reporter Katie Couric revealed on Wednesday that she was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in July and had the tumor removed several weeks afterward. She said she finished her last round of radiation on Tuesday.

“A company that organized a lucrative series of post-White House paid speeches for former president Donald Trump is now struggling to pay vendors, investors and employees, angering Trump allies who supported the effort,” the Washington Post reports.

“The American Freedom Tour, which struck a multimillion-dollar deal with Trump after he left office, has lost two top executives and canceled events in a number of locations as it has failed to pay its bills… Its founder and owner, who has a history of bankruptcy filings, recently sought bankruptcy protection again.”

“The group has promised events in a number of locales but canceled them before they began and appears to be banking on a large event at Mar-a-Lago in December to turn its financial position around.”

“Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to be deposed in the defamation lawsuit brought by a former magazine columnist on October 19,” CNN reports.

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) “outlined his path back from the political wilderness a year after resigning in disgrace: He plans to host a weekly podcast, establish a gun-safety initiative and start a political action committee,” the New York Times reports.

Alaska’s U.S. senators want to rename an active volcano in the Aleutian Islands after the late Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the Anchorage Daily News reports.

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

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