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Cup of Joe – October 6, 2022

A federal appeals court agreed to fast-track an appeal by the Department of Justice over the appointment of a special master to review thousands of pages of government records seized this summer from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.

CNN: “A faster resolution to the Justice Department’s appeal in this case could more quickly bring a resolution to the criminal investigation into the handling of former President Donald Trump’s administration records after his presidency.”

“Donald Trump publicly said that one reason that the FBI found boxes of classified documents improperly stored at his Florida estate was that federal workers had packed up the White House after his 2020 defeat,” Bloomberg reports.

“But documents obtained by Bloomberg News under a Freedom of Information Act request suggest a different story… The boxes were packed when the movers got there.”

“The thousands of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home included a mix of government, business and personal affairs, including analysis about who should get a pardon, call notes marked with a presidential seal, retainer agreements for lawyers and accountants, and legal bills, according to newly disclosed logs created by federal investigators,” Bloomberg reports.

“The detailed lists of seized materials were attached to a recently unsealed Aug. 30 report from the Justice Department. A judge had ordered the logs stay under seal but they appeared to be inadvertently posted to the public court docket. They’re no longer publicly visible.”

Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R) claimed that “national regime media” wanted Hurricane Ian to hit Tampa to “pursue their political agenda” without regard for the people impacted by the storm, Yahoo News reports.

Said DeSantis: “Quite frankly, you have national regime media that they wanted to see Tampa, because they thought that would be worse for Florida. They don’t care about the lives here. If they can use it to pursue their political agenda, they will do it.”

“Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) is imploring Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to reconvene the Senate and pass a supplemental aid package for those impacted by Hurricane Ian — a move that is unlikely with the chamber adjourned until after the midterms,” Politico reports.

“No one fucks with a Biden.”— President Biden, quoted by The Hill, in a seemingly friendly conversation with Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has signed laws that purportedly cement his illegal annexation of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions in Ukraine after Russia’s legislature rubber-stamped fake “treaties” to absorb those areas.

But the Kremlin’s attempted land grab is looking even more bogus by the hour as Ukrainian troops successfully force the Russian military into retreat in the regions Putin now claims to own.

Yahoo News: “To hear pro-Russian military analysts tell it, in the last 72 hours Ukraine has managed to simultaneously recapture about 1,000 square kilometers of terrain in the northeast of the country and 2,200 square kilometers in the south.”

“Although it is difficult to independently confirm these figures, the very fact that they’re coming from cheerleaders of Vladimir Putin’s war highlights just how disastrously things have gone for the Russian president in a month that has seen him resort to a chaotic mobilization to replenish manpower shortages, and a heralded “annexation” of Ukrainian territory that is slipping through his fingers by the hour. And he is losing ground not just in one of the oblasts he has illegally claimed as his own, but in all four.”

Eurointelligence: “Our own assessment is that the likelihood of a nuclear war rises in proportion to the likelihood of a Russian defeat. We are no military experts, but we are trained in logical inference. If we consider the likelihood of a Russian defeat in Ukraine as high, as so many experts now seem to believe, than surely, the likelihood of a nuclear attack cannot be simultaneously low. If we agree with Garry Kasparov that Putin will not personally survive a defeat, then why should he refrain from using nuclear weapons?”

New York Times: “After leaving often well-paying jobs and families in Moscow and Vladivostok and many places in between, tens of thousands of young Russians — terrified of being dragooned into fighting in Ukraine — are pouring into Central Asia by plane, car and bus.”

“The influx has turned a country long scorned in Russia as a source of cheap labor and backward ways into an unlikely and, for the most part, welcoming haven for Russian men, some poor, many relatively affluent and highly educated — but all united by a desperate desire to escape being caught up in President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.”

“United States intelligence agencies believe parts of the Ukrainian government authorized the car bomb attack near Moscow in August that killed Daria Dugina, the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist, an element of a covert campaign that U.S. officials fear could widen the conflict,” the New York Times reports.

“The OPEC Plus coalition said the cut in production would take effect in November. This would be the first time the group cut oil production targets since the beginning of the pandemic,” the Washington Post reports. The move is a “rebuke to President Biden that could push up gas prices worldwide and worsen fears of a global recession.”

“Saudi Arabia is seeking to raise oil prices at a crucial meeting in Vienna, in a move set to anger the US and aid Russia,” the Financial Times reports.

“Riyadh, Moscow and other producers are poised to announce deep cuts at a meeting of the Opec+ cartel on Wednesday.”

New York Times: “An output cut by Saudi Arabia and its allies would reinforce the growing perception that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia are working closely together to manage oil markets.”

“Investors and Wall Street analysts are sounding the alarm about a possible ‘market accident,’ as successive bouts of tumult in US stocks and bonds and a surging dollar cause rising levels of stress in the financial system,” the Financial Times reports.

“A gauge of strain in US markets — produced by the Treasury’s Office of Financial Research — has soared to its highest level since the coronavirus pandemic ructions of May 2020.”

Bloomberg: “Over the past seven weeks, mortgage rates have soared 1.30 percentage points, the largest surge over a comparable period since 2003 and illustrating the abrupt upswing in borrowing costs as the Federal Reserve intensifies its inflation fight.”

“America’s gross national debt exceeded $31 trillion for the first time on Tuesday, a grim financial milestone that arrived just as the nation’s long-term fiscal picture has darkened amid rising interest rates,” the New York Times reports.

“The breach of the threshold, which was revealed in a Treasury Department report, comes at an inopportune moment, as historically low interest rates are being replaced with higher borrowing costs as the Federal Reserve tries to combat rapid inflation.”

In a massive U-turn, Tesla CEO Elon Musk proposed to buy Twitter on Monday at the price of $54.20 per share, the amount he’d originally agreed to months ago before abruptly trying to worm his way out of the $44 billion deal. Musk was scheduled to go to trial this month in Twitter’s lawsuit against him in response to the billionaire, who had claimed the social media giant had misled him about spam bots, trying to backtrack on the deal.

Playbook: “Twitter is enormously consequential to American politics and media, and the takeover by Musk will have major implications…”

“Signs point to a radically different Twitter, where Trump is back — he has said he won’t return but who believes that? — where content moderation is drastically dialed back, where the site, fairly or not, is seen as right-leaning and hostile to progressives, and where addictive TikTok-style content, which is not especially interesting to the media and politics-junkies who made the site essential, becomes more important.”

“A lot of this could be wrong. Trump might stick with his flailing Truth Social. Musk might solve the extraordinarily difficult issues around free speech and moderation. He might attract ideologically diverse users. And he might backtrack on his TikTok comments. But get ready for a lot of change, and very soon: He could control the platform as soon as this weekend.”

Axios: Musk’s Twitter To-Do List.

For Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), killing Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) permitting reform bill was personal, The Hill reports.

“McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, looked like he’d been hoodwinked when Manchin announced a deal with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the Inflation Reduction Act.”

“Sixteen Republicans had just backed a major semiconductor bill — thinking the sweeping tax, climate and health care legislation Democrats had been trying to pass for more than a year was dead. McConnell had vowed to withhold GOP support from the semiconductor legislation, also known as the CHIPS bill, if the larger measure moved forward.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) husband, Perry Greene, “has moved to withdraw a motion seeking to seal documents in their ongoing divorce case, meaning the matter could remain public,” the Daily Beast reports.

Gen Z advocacy group Voters of Tomorrow announced on Monday that it would be filing a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) for apparently kicking one of its activists as she tried to ask the far-right congresswoman about gun control.

Speaking of Greene, her husband moved to make their divorce proceedings public record yesterday.

“American officials are intensifying efforts to build a giant stockpile of weapons in Taiwan after studying recent naval and air force exercises by the Chinese military around the island,” the New York Times reports.

“The exercises showed that China would probably blockade the island as a prelude to any attempted invasion, and Taiwan would have to hold out on its own until the United States or other nations intervened, if they decided to do that.”

“But the effort to transform Taiwan into a weapons depot faces challenges. The United States and its allies have prioritized sending weapons to Ukraine, which is reducing those countries’ stockpiles, and arms makers are reluctant to open new production lines without a steady stream of long-term orders.”

“Taiwan warned it would treat any Chinese incursion into the island’s airspace as a ‘first strike,’ as Taipei seeks to deter Beijing from ratcheting up military pressure around the island,” Bloomberg reports.

“North Korea on Tuesday fired a ballistic missile that was believed to have flown over Japan, prompting a rare warning by the Japanese government for residents in two northern prefectures to seek shelter,” the New York Times reports.

“If the missile’s path over Japan is confirmed, it would be the first such launch by North Korea since 2017, and represent a major escalation as Pyongyang has conducted a flurry of missile tests in recent days.”

“Election officials are growing concerned about a new danger in November: that groups looking to undermine election results will try to install their supporters as poll workers,” Politico reports.

“The frontline election workers do everything from checking people in at voting locations to helping process mail ballots — in other words, they are the face of American elections for most voters. And now, some prominent incidents involving poll workers have worried election officials that a bigger wave of trouble could be on the horizon.”

Tim Alberta: “The great threat is no longer machines malfunctioning or ballots being spoiled. It is the actual theft of an election.”

“Federal authorities have identified no credible threats to U.S. election systems despite persistent efforts by foreign adversaries, including Russia, to amplify disinformation about voter fraud and election integrity,” USA Today reports.

“A Montana judge struck down as unconstitutional three laws that restricted voting in the state, saying there was no evidence of the widespread voter fraud that the 2021 Republican-sponsored laws ostensibly were targeting,” the AP reports.  “The laws ended same-day voter registration, imposed new identification requirements on students and restricted third-party ballot collections. The restrictions were put on hold in April under a temporary injunction later upheld by the Montana Supreme Court.”

Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl made the photo ID he used to vote in at least two recent elections, AL.com reports.

Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward, a leader in Trump’s fake elector scheme in her state who was a fake elector herself, pleaded the Fifth and refused to answer “every substantive question” she was asked during her deposition with the House Jan. 6 Committee, an attorney for the committee said during a court hearing on Tuesday.

The hearing was part of the committee’s court battle with Ward over her phone records from Nov. 3, 2020 to Jan. 20, 2021.

Ward has also been subpoenaed in the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 probe, as have the rest of her fellow sham electors in Arizona.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) on Tuesday signed off on the Republican-controlled state legislature’s restriction on giving federal pandemic relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to hospitals that offer gender-affirming care.

Under the provision, the state’s OU Health system won’t receive the funds if its Oklahoma Children’s Hospital continues to provide young transgender patients with gender-affirming treatment.

It’s an unprecedented line of attack in conservatives’ manufactured (and science-free) moral panic over transgender care to feed the MAGA base ahead of the midterms.

New York Times: “She has called him a ‘moron.’”

“He has mused publicly — purely in jest, his aides later insisted — about wanting to hit her with the oversized wooden gavel used to keep order in the House.”

“The relationship between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the man who is most likely to succeed her should Republicans win control of the House in next month’s elections is barely civil. And as the moment of the possible succession draws closer, she has become less and less interested in masking her contempt for Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the top Republican.”

A new Missouri law is causing some schools to remove a much wider array of books from library shelves, including Slaughterhouse-FiveWatchmen and The Handmaid’s Tale, the Kansas City Star reports.

“The law, which bans sexually explicit material from schools and went into effect in late August, is tucked into a larger bill addressing sexual assault survivors’ rights. Librarians or other school employees who violate the law could be charged with a misdemeanor, risking up to a year in jail or a $2,000 fine.”

“No, several large Colorado school districts said Tuesday, they are not having issues with students identifying as cats or other animals, as Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl has repeatedly claimed is happening in schools across the state,” the Denver Post reports.

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

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