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Cup of Joe – October 4, 2022

“The Supreme Court on Monday struggled with how to resolve a high-stakes case that could narrow the government’s power to protect wetlands and waterways,” the Washington Post reports.

“Several of the court’s conservative justices expressed concern about the unpredictability and broad reach of the landmark Clean Water Act for property owners seeking to develop their land, while the court’s liberals seemed to seek a compromise that would retain the government’s authority to regulate wetlands adjacent to lakes, rivers and other waterways.”

Vox: The Supreme Court appears determined to shrink the Clean Water Act.

“The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge from 10 mostly conservative states that sued the Biden administration over its Covid-19 vaccine mandate for health care facilities that receive federal funding,” USA Today reports.

“The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a pair of challenges to a federal ban on bump stocks, a device that lets a shooter fire a semi-automatic rifle more like a machine gun – avoiding a chance to put guns on the high court’s docket for the second time in as many years,” USA Today reports.

“While the ban is opposed by gun rights advocates, the legal question in the cases dealt not with the Second Amendment but rather with whether the Trump administration exceeded its authority under a 1986 law. In that sense, the case could have had broad implications for decisions made by federal agencies on a host of other issues.”

“The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from a prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump who is trying to fend off a defamation suit from a voting company he falsely accused of rigging the 2020 election,” USA Today reports.

Ruth Marcus: “The cataclysmic Supreme Court term that included the unprecedented leak of a draft opinion and the end of constitutional protection for abortion would, in the normal ebb and flow, be followed by a period of quiet, to let internal wounds heal and public opinion settle.”

“That doesn’t appear likely in the term set to start Monday. Nothing in the behavior of the court’s emboldened majority suggests any inclination to pull back on the throttle. The Supreme Court is master of its docket, which means that it controls what cases it will hear, subject to the agreement of four justices. Already, with its calendar only partly filled, the justices have once again piled onto their agenda cases that embroil the court in some of the most inflammatory issues confronting the nation — and more are on the way.”

FiveThirtyEight: The Supreme Court is on the verge of killing the Voting Rights Act.

“The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a challenge to the sweeping legal immunity that shields internet companies from lawsuits over user-generated content, a case with potentially enormous consequences for social media,” USA Today reports.

“A provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act known as Section 230 was intended to protect free expression on the internet by shielding internet companies from liability for much of the content their users post on their platforms. The law also protects the companies from lawsuits for removing content that violates their policies.”

“Russian forces in Ukraine were on the run Monday across a broad swath of the frontline, as the Ukrainian military pressed its blitz offensive in the east and made gains in the south, belying President Vladimir V. Putin’s claims to absorb into Russia territories that his armies are steadily losing,” the New York Times reports.

“Following their capture over the weekend of Lyman, a strategic rail hub and gateway to the eastern Donbas region, Ukrainian forces showed no sign of stopping, pushing eastward toward the city of Lysychansk, which Russia seized over the summer following weeks of bloody fighting.”

“Ukrainian forces have broken through Moscow’s defenses in the strategic southern Kherson region, the Russian military acknowledged Monday, an achievement that delivers a sharp blow to one of the four areas in Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed last week,” the AP reports.

The founder of the far-right Oath Keepers was recorded days after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol saying his “only regret” about that day is that the group “should have brought rifles,” NBC News reports.

A group of inmates who participated in the January 6 Capitol riot are asking to be transferred from the Washington, D.C., jail to Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. I agree, terrorists belong there.

Amid the search for survivors after Hurricane Ian tore through Florida, local officials have confirmed that at least 76 people were killed by the Category 4 storm. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses still don’t have power.

“President Biden will travel to Puerto Rico on Monday and announce $60 million in funding to help the storm-damaged territory repair levees, mend storm walls and create a flood warning system to prepare for future storms,” the New York Times reports.

Said Biden: “I’m heading to Puerto Rico because they haven’t been taken very good care of.”

“Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) says he wants Congress to approve additional funds to help his state recover from Hurricane Ian after voting against a government funding measure last week that freed up $18.8 billion in federal disaster aid,” The Hill reports.

New York Times: “The flights last month, carrying 48 migrants, attracted international attention and drew condemnation from Democrats as well as several legal challenges. Mr. DeSantis immediately claimed credit for what appeared to be a political maneuver — dumping dozens of asylum seekers on the doorstep of Northeastern Democrats who have resisted calls to clamp down on immigration.”

“Florida officials have provided little information about the program or how it was engineered. But details have begun to emerge of the clandestine mission that was carried out without the knowledge of even the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, a fellow Republican: flights paid for with state money in possible violation of the state law that allocated the money; a charter airline company with political ties to the Florida governor.”

“And, in the middle of it all, a woman with a background in military counterintelligence who investigators believe was sent to Texas from Tampa in order to fill the planes.”

Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro performed way better in his country’s presidential election on Sunday than polls had predicted, and now he and left-wing challenger Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will face off again in a runoff.

Neither candidate made it past 50 percent of the vote: da Silva won 48.4 percent while Bolsonaro won 43.23 percent.

The runoff will be held on Oct. 30. If Bolsonaro (who, like Trump, had been trying to delegitimize the election results with baseless voter fraud conspiracy theories months before the actual election) loses, he’d be the first Brazilian president to fail to be reelected since Brazil became a democracy in 1988.

Wall Street Journal: “The U.K. government Monday said it won’t proceed with the removal of a 45% top rate of income tax, scrapping a key element of a plan announced late last month that triggered turmoil in the country’s financial markets and an intervention by the Bank of England.”

“The U-turn is a major setback for new Prime Minister Liz Truss, who based her nascent leadership on a sweeping revamp of the British economy.”

Jonathan Chait: “One of the important phenomena of this current era that has been weirdly hiding in plain sight is Donald Trump’s habit of saying racist things in public. These episodes tend to go underanalyzed in part because American intellectuals are riven by disputes over much subtler forms of racism.”

“Progressive intellectuals are debating structural racism embedded in American history and its social systems and tearing each other to shreds over questions like whether journalists should be fired for vocalizing a racial slur as part of a discussion about it. Meanwhile, Trump just blurts out wildly racist comments on the regular.”

From the Wall Street Journal editorial page: “The ‘death wish’ rhetoric is ugly even by Mr. Trump’s standards and deserves to be condemned. Mr. Trump’s apologists claim he merely meant Mr. McConnell has a political death wish, but that isn’t what he wrote. It’s all too easy to imagine some fanatic taking Mr. Trump seriously and literally, and attempting to kill Mr. McConnell.”

Associated Press: “Trump’s rallies have always attracted a broad swath of supporters, from first timers taking advantage of their chance to see a president in person, to devotees who camp out for days and follow him around the country like rock band groupies.”

“But after spending much of the last two years obsessively peddling false claims of a stolen election, Trump is increasingly attracting those who have broken with reality, including adherents of the baseless QAnon conspiracy, which began in the dark corners of the internet and is premised on the belief that the country is run by a ring of child sex traffickers, satanic pedophiles and cannibals that only Trump can defeat.”

“As he eyes another White House bid, Trump is increasingly flirting with the conspiracy. He’s reposted Q memes on his social media platform and amplified users who have have promoted the movement’s slogans, videos and imagery. And in recent weeks, he has been closing out his rally speeches with an instrumental song that QAnon adherents have claimed as their anthem.”

Axios has this excerpt from Maggie Haberman’s new book, Confidence Man, as Donald Trump was about to be discharged from the hospital after having Covid:

“He came up with a plan he told associates was inspired by the singer James Brown, whom he loved watching toss off his cape while onstage, but it was in line with his love of professional wrestling as well.”

“He would be wheeled out of Walter Reed in a chair and, once outdoors, he would dramatically stand up, then open his button-down dress shirt to reveal a Superman logo beneath it. (Trump was so serious about it that he called the campaign headquarters to instruct an aide, Max Miller, to procure the Superman shirts; Miller was sent to a Virginia big-box store.)”

Maggie Haberman, whose new book is out this week, tells Politico that she think Donald Trump will run for president in 2024. Said Haberman: “The second he says he’s not, he’s irrelevant. Everyone I speak to around him says that they believe he’s going to run. And, not all of them, but many of them say his heart isn’t quite in it.”

She adds: “Now, those two things are not mutually exclusive. You can run and have your heart not be in it. However, we have seen with other people who run when their heart isn’t in it, voters actually can tell you it has an impact on how you run.”

The Economist has a very favorable review of Confidence Man by Maggie Haberman.

“How could a man who lies so transparently and exhibits such incompetence be so successful? Respectable people have been asking versions of that question since Mr Trump was in real estate, and as he moved on to entertainment and politics, or to all three at once. The answer says as much about them, or about all of us, as it does about him.”

“Ms Haberman, of the New York Times and CNN, stands out among journalists who have followed Mr Trump, and not only because she has covered him since he was a developer in New York and she was at the New York Post, a tabloid. Ms Haberman has always taken Mr Trump seriously, as someone, she writes here, who was ‘shrewd and smarter than his critics gave him credit for, possessed of a survival instinct that was likely unmatched in American political history.’”

“Ms Haberman makes a particular contribution with this book by describing how the annealing interplay of politics and commerce in the New York of the 1970s and 1980s equipped Mr Trump with the low expectations and cynical convictions that would carry him so far: that racial politics is a zero-sum contest among tribes; that allies as well as enemies must be dominated; that everything in life can be treated as a transaction; that rapidly topping one lie or controversy with the next will tie the media in knots; that celebrity confers power; that not only politicians but even prosecutors are malleable.”

“Congressional Republicans are talking more openly about their desire to investigate every aspect of the Biden administration — and family — should they regain control of one or both houses of Congress,” Politico reports.

“Inside Biden world, aides and allies aren’t entirely displeased with the chatter.”

“There is a growing confidence in the White House that the House Republicans clamoring for a hodgepodge of investigations will overreach — and that their attempts will backfire politically, with key voters recoiling at blatant partisan rancor. Officials believe they can use GOP efforts to their political advantage heading into the 2024 cycle, betting a pro-Trump Republican conference fixated on Biden will elevate ‘ultra-MAGA Republicans’ and provide a useful foil for Biden, allowing him to draw sharp contrasts between his governing and their obfuscating.”

The Bulwark: Kevin McCarthy’s plan to Benghazi the Bidens.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) told House Oversight Committee chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) on Friday that the agency still doesn’t have all of the documents that Trump administration officials were legally required to hand over, per NARA’s letter to Maloney that was obtained by the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal

The missing documents were tied to “non-official electronic messaging accounts that were not copied or forwarded into their official electronic messaging accounts,” NARA reported.

NARA pointed to the DOJ’s ongoing court battle against ex-Trump adviser Peter Navarro, who’s still clutching the government records he kept on his private email server in violation of the Presidential Records Act. 

NARA said it will consult with the Justice Department on whether to “initiate an action” to get the records back, according to the Post.

Maloney reported in September that NARA wasn’t sure if Trump had given back all the documents he’d taken even after the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid. The committee chair asked the agency to hold an “urgent review” to see which records were still missing.

“I don’t believe that Trump is going to plea bargain. I think he could go to prison, but it is more likely that he will serve home confinement. In all likelihood, he will be convicted of multiple felonies.”— George Conway, in an interview with Salon.

It was pretty painful to watch Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), the National Republican Senatorial Committee chair, respond on Sunday to Trump taking his usual attacks against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to an even more deranged level by screeching that the GOP leader had a “DEATH WISH” for supposedly backing what the ex-president called “Democrat sponsored [sic]” bills.

Trump also directed some racist drivel at McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who’s Taiwanese-American and served as Trump’s transportation secretary. The ex-president mocked her as McConnell’s “China loving wife, Coco Chow.”

Pressed by CNN’s Dana Bash on Trump’s attack, Scott tried to brush it off by commenting that Trump “likes to give people nicknames” and “I’m sure he has a nickname for me.”

‘Twas just as sad on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” when Scott similarly bent over backwards to avoid criticizing Trump and tried to deflect to “spending” by Democrats.

Michael Fanone -– the former Washington police officer who was seriously hurt at the US Capitol during the January 6 attack -– had some choice words for the Republican House leader, The Guardian reports.

Said Fanone: “I think at night, when the lights are turned off, Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan have some pretty choice words to say about the fact that they have to hang on Kevin McCarthy’s wall.”

He continued: “They did some fucking above-average things. And they’ve got to adorn the wall of this fucking weasel bitch named Kevin McCarthy, with his fake fucking spray-on tan, whose fucking claim to fame, at least in my eyes, is the fact that he amassed a collection of Donald Trump’s favorite-flavored Starburst, put them in a Mason jar, and presented them to fucking Donald Trump. What the fuck, dude?”

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

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