Cup of Joe – December 4, 2022

“Donald Trump, the former president and the person that polls show is still the most likely GOP presidential nominee in 2024, today on Truth Social called for the suspension of the Constitution to overturn the 2020 election, citing false conspiracy theories about election fraud,” Politico reports.

This latest fascist outrage is due to Elon Musk’s releasing details about what he characterized as Twitter’s “suppression” of a controversial story about Hunter Biden’s laptop that was published before the 2020 election, Insider reports.

Bloomberg’s Kurt Wagner: “Elon Musk heralded the release of Twitter Inc. executive emails that explore some of the internal debate at the social network over a controversial decision in 2020 to restrict access to a New York Post article about a laptop purportedly owned by Hunter Biden. Writer Matt Taibbi posted a series of tweets and images of what he said were leaked internal Twitter messages and emails … Even as Musk sought to build anticipation for the documents’ release, the materials shared by Taibbi on Friday broke relatively little new ground.”

Josh Marshall: ” was frankly shocked at how underwhelming it was. I really thought they’d come up with more. Any big organization has a large number of idiots within it. I figured you could cherry pick some embarrassing asides from junior employees, at least since they have access to everyone’s emails and chats. Basically it was the responsible executives discussing whether to invoke their post-2016 rule against publishing hacked material. They decided to do so, said they needed to be cautious and most of all find out more information.

Again, people taking their responsibilities seriously, trying to make the right decisions. Shocking stuff.”

“A scathing decision on Thursday by a federal appeals court panel that shut down a lower court judge’s interference in a criminal investigation involving former President Donald J. Trump has highlighted a question: Is there such a thing as a Trump judge?,” the New York Times reports.

“The case pitted one Trump appointee against two others. On one side was Judge Aileen M. Cannon of the Southern District of Florida, who legal experts across the ideological spectrum said showed unusual solicitude to the former president. On the other were two of the three judges who overturned her, Andrew L. Brasher and Britt Grant, who said she had greatly overstepped her authority in getting involved.”

Joyce Vance: 11th Circuit to Trump: You’re Not Above the Law!

George Conway: “To say that the court of appeals today completely eviscerated Judge Cannon’s ruling and Trump’s arguments is an understatement.”

Barb McQuade: “11th Circuit decision dismissing the special master in the Mar-a-Lago case is obviously correct, yet still a relief to see the court get it right. This will clear the way for special counsel Smith to review all of the documents and make a charging decision”

Neal Katyal: “The Mar-a-Lago trump investigation is now going forward with the blessing of the Court of Appeals, in a decision signed by all 3 judges (two of whom were appointed by Trump and one by President George W. Bush) This Trump maneuver backfired spectacularly. Like all he touches.”

As if the Mar-a-Lago loss wasn’t enough, CNN first reported Thursday that Trump also lost his bid to use executive privilege to block the grand jury testimony of his own White House counsel.

In secret proceedings, the chief judge of federal district court in Washington, D.C., has ordered former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy Patrick Philbin to provide additional grand jury testimony in the Jan. 6 investigation.

“Donald Trump’s two top White House lawyers appeared before at least one grand jury Friday, visiting the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., amid multiple criminal probes involving the former president,” Politico reports.

“Former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone exited the courthouse just before 2:30 p.m., spending about six hours behind closed doors. His former deputy, Pat Philbin, appeared just before noon and remained inside the grand jury room as of 2:30 p.m.”

New York Times: “In recent weeks, several witnesses connected to the investigation have appeared in front of a grand jury in Federal District Court in Washington. On Thursday, that included three close aides to Mr. Trump, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The aides included Dan Scavino Jr., Mr. Trump’s former social media guru, William Russell and William B. Harrison, who worked for Mr. Trump when he was in the White House, the people said.”

Former Trump National Security Adviser turned conspiracist Mike Flynn has been ordered by a Florida judge to testify to the Georgia grand jury investigating 2020 election subversion, but he’s appealing that decision trying to avoid having to appear as scheduled on Dec. 8.

Closing arguments in the criminal case highlighted by the testimony of Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg should wrap up today and the case will go the jury.

Ron Brownstein: “The role of extremist white nationalists in the GOP may be approaching an inflection point.”

“The backlash against former President Donald Trump’s meeting with Nick Fuentes, an avowed racist, anti-Semite, and Christian nationalist, has compelled more Republican officeholders than at any point since the Charlottesville riot in 2017 to publicly condemn those extremist views.”

“Yet few GOP officials have criticized the former president personally—much less declared that Trump’s meeting with Fuentes and Ye, the rapper (formerly known as Kanye West) who has become a geyser of anti-Semitic bile, renders him unfit to serve as president again.”

William Saletan: “When Trump crosses a moral line, Republicans find ways to excuse him, deflect the criticism, and move on. Maybe they imagine that our moral boundaries will hold—that racism and antisemitism will remain unacceptable—even when a current, former, and potentially future president is shielded from accountability for ignoring those boundaries.”

“But no true conservative would make that bet.”

“Donald Trump expressed solidarity with the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, sending a video of support to a fundraising event Thursday night hosted by a group called the Patriot Freedom Project that is supporting families of those being prosecuted by the government,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Trump, in a video: “People have been treated unconstitutionally, in my opinion, and very, very unfairly, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it. It’s the weaponization of the Department of Justice, and we can’t let this happen in our country.”

New York Times: “The video underscored just how much the former president has aligned himself with forces that used to be outside the mainstream of American politics as he seeks to reclaim the White House through a rematch with President Biden in 2024. With the Justice Department targeting him as well as some of his violent allies, Mr. Trump’s antigovernment jeremiads lately sound like those once relegated to the outer edges of the political spectrum.”

“He has embraced extremist elements in American society even more unabashedly than in the past. The video comes as Mr. Trump has been using music sounding like a QAnon theme song at recent rallies and hosting for dinner Kanye West, a rap star under fire for antisemitic statements, and Nick Fuentes, a prominent white supremacist.”

“And it comes just two days after the conviction of Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, placed Mr. Trump at the spiritual heart of a seditious conspiracy to illegitimately keep power in a way that is unparalleled in American history.”

“The fact that the former President had dinner with a guy that was SO Nazi, that he disavowed knowing him by saying the dinner was supposed to be with a guy who just said Hitler is dope, is definitely something unimaginable on alternate sane Earth.”— Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), on Twitter.

Benjaman Wittes: “I want to stress that this checklist will not protect you against all dinners with Nazis. Even the great Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest during the war, found himself having dinner with Adolph Eichmann one evening, after all.”

“But the checklist will save you from most common accidental Nazi dining experiences.”

Jim Geraghty: “Watching an ongoing train wreck of a man revel in saying the most abhorrent things he could imagine is spectacularly sad, but I won’t lie. I was genuinely amused by the sight of the legendarily unhinged conspiracy theorist Jones suddenly realizing that he’s the sane one in the conversation.”

“Stand next to Kanye West long enough, and eventually he’ll say something you feel a need to disassociate yourself from, lest he destroy your reputation by mere proximity.”

“Elon Musk’s Twitter is beginning to take shape,” NBC News reports. “A ‘general amnesty’ has restored hundreds of accounts of right-wing activists and QAnon adherents, according to data reviewed by NBC News. The reinstatement of far-right accounts has coincided with a series of bans of left-wing accounts, leaving users unsure of how the company is now applying its rules.”

“Before Elon Musk bought Twitter slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day,” the New York Times reports.

“Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day.”

“And antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site.”x

Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) appeared on a radio show and threw more cold water on Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) bid to become speaker.

Said Cline: “We have to ask what’s going to be different, and if it’s not anything substantive, then why should we be voting for Speaker McCarthy?”

And he had an alternative: “This is the Lee Zeldin majority. Because Zeldin has delivered these New York seats for Republicans in Biden districts.”

“House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and his critics are gearing up for a potential floor fight over the speakership in January, raising the possibility of a messy intraparty showdown that could bring uncertainty and chaos just as Republicans prepare to enter their new majority,” CNN reports.

“McCarthy still insists he will have the 218 votes needed to secure the speakership. Conservative hardliners seeking to plot McCarthy’s ouster say otherwise.”

“And what will happen if he can’t get 218 votes? No one knows.”

Wall Street Journal: “The average cost of regular unleaded gasoline fell to $3.45 a gallon on Thursday…That is among the lowest levels since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and a more than 30% drop from a record above $5 in June.”

“The cost of gasoline is falling so fast that it is beginning to put real money back in the pockets of drivers, defying earlier projections and offering an unexpected gift for the holidays,” the Washington Post reports.

“Filling up is now as cheap as it was in February, just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine touched off a global energy crisis.”

Bloomberg: “The world is emerging from the cheap-money era with a mountain of debt that’s now getting painfully expensive. All around the globe, there are borrowers deeper in the red than ever before.”

“The total owed by households, businesses and governments stands at $290 trillion, up by more than one-third from a decade ago.”

“Job growth was much better than expected in November despite the Federal Reserve’s aggressive efforts to slow the labor market and tackle inflation,” CNBC reports.

“Nonfarm payrolls increased 263,000 for the month while the unemployment rate was 3.7%, the Labor Department reported Friday.”

“President Biden said he would talk with President Vladimir Putin if the Russian leader expresses a desire to end his invasion of Ukraine, but Mr. Biden said he would only do so in consultation with NATO allies,” the New York Times reports.

However, Biden “no immediate plans” to do so as Putin has shown no indication of interest in a resolution. Although the French and American leaders are largely aligned on the conflict, Macron has spoken far more frequently with Putin than Biden has, and he reported to Biden that he sees willingness in Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to negotiate, though Zelenskyy’s conditions for negotiations have not yet been met by Russia. 

“Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who leaked information about U.S. surveillance programs, swore an oath of allegiance to Russia and has collected his Russian passport,” the Washington Post reports.

Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin said Europe is “not strong enough” to stand up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on its own, and has had to rely on U.S. support, the BBC reports.

Said Marin: “I must be brutally honest with you, Europe isn’t strong enough right now. We would be in trouble without the United States.”

Washington Post: “In polarized, post-Roe America, the experiences that draw widespread attention are often the most harrowing: a 10-year-old rape victim forced to leave her state to end her pregnancy, or a woman denied an abortion for a fetus without a skull.”

“Often lost in the discussion are the more routine stories. The mother of two who can’t afford a third child. The teenager who can’t tell her parents she’s pregnant. The 25-year-old who isn’t ready to be a mom.”

“Over the next decade, if recent trends hold, more than a million people with unwanted pregnancies are likely to run up against an abortion ban. Some will find a way, traveling hundreds of miles or securing illegal pills through the mail. Others will resign themselves to parenthood.”

“A federal judge scolded the Justice Department on Wednesday over what he characterized as slow-moving investigations during a hearing for one of GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz’s former associates, saying the probes have “no end in sight,” CNN reports.

“The Gaetz associate, former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, has pleaded guilty to underage sex trafficking and five other felonies, and is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in Orlando. As part of his plea deal, Greenberg cooperated extensively with prosecutors, including by providing information about Gaetz related to the sex-trafficking probe.”

Teddy Schleifer: “I find it very hard to believe that SBF’s giving to Republicans matched his donations to Democrats—he was the second-largest disclosed donor to Democrats in the 2020 cycle at $40 million—and sources close to SBF don’t think this is true, either. In fact, an SBF adviser told a source of mine that the recent claim from SBF was flatly untrue. More likely, SBF was speaking loosely and hyperbolically, as he is prone to do.”

“But it is true that in the sprint, SBF’s aides at FTX and on his personal donor-advisory team began moving major money to G.O.P.-aligned groups, generally to entities affiliated with Republican leadership, I’m told. Some of that money was through disclosed vehicles, like McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund. But some of it was not.”

ProPublica: “A private border wall built along the Rio Grande in South Texas could collapse during extreme flooding, according to a federally commissioned inspection report that the government sought to keep secret for more than a year.”

NBC News: “As of Oct. 24, just days after the policy was enacted, there was an 80% drop in Venezuelans crossing the border. According to new numbers that have not yet been made public, however, the policy did not depress the overall daily total of migrants crossing. New nationalities, including Mexicans and Central Americans, took the place of the Venezuelans.”

“CBP agents and officers are now apprehending migrants 7,500 to 8,000 times a day, the sources familiar with the data said, which is at or close to the record levels before Venezuelans became subject to Title 42.”

President Biden “has signed a deal to avert a potential rail strike after he had pushed for an eleventh-hour agreement between companies and worker unions, angering some of his supporters in the labor movement in the process,” the Financial Times reports.

“Christians now account for less than half of the UK population for the first time in census history,” The Telegraph reports.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa faced calls to resign today after a parliamentary panel inquiry found he may have violated anti-corruption laws by allegedly stealing a large amount of money from his game farm and stuffing it in his couch. That’s the kind of fun, old-school political corruption we love to see. 

Human rights groups have reported that an Iranian man named Mehran Samak was shot in the head on Tuesday evening, allegedly killed by Iranian state forces while he was celebrating the country’s loss against the United States in the World Cup in the northwestern Iranian city of Bandar Anzali. The Center for Human Rights in Iran shared a video yesterday showing Samak’s funeral, where mourners chanted protest slogans like, “Death to the dictator,” which refers to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Mass public protests against the government continue in the country following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September at the hands of the country’s morality police. Iran launched a brutal state crackdown on protests, where over 450 civilians have reportedly been killed and hundreds more imprisoned.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told European Council President Charles Michel that people protesting against the country’s strict Covid-19 measures are “mainly students” who are “frustrated” after three years of the pandemic, the South China Morning Post reports.

Washington Post: The latest projections from the Bureau of Reclamation show that by July water levels at Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest reservoir, could fall to the point that the dam no longer has enough water to generate hydroelectricity for 4.5 million people.

Lake Powell is currently a quarter of its original size with water levels having fallen 170 feet amid the warming climate and historic drought. If water levels drop another 38 feet, the surface would approach the tops of eight underwater openings, which allow the Colorado River water to pass through to the Glen Canyon Dam. This is known as “minimum power pool” status, and in addition to being unable to produce power, the dam would have limited ability to pass water downstream to the cities and farms in Arizona, Nevada, and California. The Glen Canyon Dam already generates about 40% less power than it originally did, and the Colorado River is the region’s most important waterway, serving roughly 1 in 10 Americans.

“A complete doomsday scenario,” the deputy power manager at Glen Canyon Dam said.

“Alex Jones filed for bankruptcy on Friday, less than two months after a jury ordered him and the parent company of his Infowars website to pay nearly $1 billion in compensatory damages to relatives of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting,” Reuters reports.

Mike Pence recounted the first time he spoke to Donald Trump after the January 6 Capitol riot and told Trump he was “angry,” Insider reports.  Said Pence: “When he returned in the months later to the rhetoric he was using before January 6, arguing that I had the right to overturn the election, I just decided it’d be best we went our separate ways, and we have.”

“A rural Arizona county certified its midterm election results on Thursday, following the orders of a judge who ruled that Republican supervisors broke the law when they refused to sign off on the vote count by this week’s deadline,” the AP reports.

The Congressional Integrity Project says it will be “educating the public” about Rep. James Comer’s (R-WY) record each day this month before he takes over as chairman of the House Oversight Committee.  Comer has promised to launch an investigation into Hunter Biden.

Playbook says Comer was chosen as a target “because he is relatively unknown to most Americans.”

The Justice Department has reached agreement with the city of Jackson and the state of Mississippi to allow third party oversight of the broken municipal water system. The latest step is a stopgap measure while DOJ negotiates a consent decree to bring stability to the chronically deficient water system. A federal judge will need to approve both measures.

“In an extremely rare move, the Democratic-led state Assembly is preparing to vote against seating the Republican winner of an Assembly race in Brooklyn, Lester Chang, because he may not have moved into the borough one year prior to the election as required by law,” NY1 reports.

“The New York Times and four European news organizations called on the United States government on Monday to drop its charges against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, for obtaining and publishing classified diplomatic and military secrets,” the New York Times reports.

President Biden announced announce Wednesday that he supports a push by the Fort Mojave and 11 other tribes, along with environmentalists and local residents, to protect a broad swath of land in southern Nevada, the Washington Post reports.

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

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