Cup of Joe – February 20, 2023

“The United States has determined that Russia is committing crimes against humanity in Ukraine, Vice President Kamala Harris announced Saturday, the latest salvo in the West’s effort to hold Moscow accountable for its wartime atrocities,” Politico reports.

“In a marquee address at the Munich Security Conference, Harris detailed that Russia is responsible for a ‘widespread and systematic attack’ against Ukraine’s civilian population, citing evidence of execution-style killings, rape, torture and forceful deportations — sometimes perpetrated against children. As a result, Russia has not only committed war crimes, as the administration formally concluded in March, but also illegal acts against non-combatants.”

“Russia’s death toll from the war in Ukraine has reached as high as 60,000, the U.K. said, an estimate that draws attention to Moscow’s strategy of sending poorly protected soldiers on near-suicidal missions to break through Ukrainian lines,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In its daily intelligence briefing Friday, the U.K.’s Defense Ministry said the Russian armed forces and private military contractors fighting alongside them as paramilitary forces had lost 40,000 to 60,000 troops and suffered up to 200,000 casualties, which includes troops killed or wounded in action.”

“As Russian troops stormed into Ukraine last February, sending millions of Ukrainians fleeing for their lives, thousands of Russians also raced to pack their bags and leave home, fearing the Kremlin would shut the borders and impose martial law,” the Washington Post reports.

“Some had long opposed rising authoritarianism, and the invasion was a last straw. Others were driven by economic interest, to preserve livelihoods or escape the bite of sanctions. Then, last autumn, a military mobilization spurred hundreds of thousands of men to run.”

“If you jump on the Putin train now, you’re dumber than dirt. It would be like buying a ticket on the Titanic after you saw the movie. Don’t do this. The most catastrophic thing that could happen to the U.S.-China relationship, in my opinion, is for China to start to give lethal weapons to Putin in his crime against humanity.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), quoted by Politico.

“The White House will next week hold secret talks with Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu and national security adviser Wellington Koo as part of a special diplomatic dialogue intended to remain private to avoid sparking an angry reaction from China,” the Financial Times reports.

“South Korea’s military said North Korea on Saturday fired one suspected long-range missile from its capital toward the sea, a day after it threatened to take strong measures against South Korea and the U.S. over their joint military exercises,” the AP reports.

“Secretary of State Antony Blinken held what American officials described as a confrontational meeting with his Chinese counterpart on Saturday night in Munich, warning him that the flight of a Chinese surveillance balloon across the United States ‘must never happen again,’” the New York Times reports.

“He also cautioned Beijing against providing ‘material support’ to Russia’s war in Ukraine, a prospect he later suggested China was now ‘strongly’ considering.”

“The U.S. description of the meeting, which resumed diplomatic contact between Washington and Beijing after it broke down over the balloon episode, said nothing about how the Chinese official, Wang Yi, responded. But a brief summary on official Chinese state media described an equally sharp exchange.”

Brian Stelter: “The basic story of Fox News and the 2020 election is well understood. Fox’s relatively small news operation covered the vote count accurately; this coverage infuriated President Donald Trump, the MAGA base, and Fox’s opinion stars; some viewers temporarily flipped to further-right outlets, such as Newsmax; and Fox panicked…”

“Some of Fox’s top shows began broadcasting a better story, one that its viewers did want to watch: a conspiracy-laden tale about crooked Democrats stealing an election. Dominion is arguing that Fox knew full well that Trumpworld’s voter-fraud allegations were bunk but promoted the lies anyway. Whether or not Dominion prevails in court, and many experts believe it will, the lawsuit is already forcing an ethical reckoning over Fox’s disrespect of its audience. Hour after hour, day after day, Fox stars kept signaling to viewers that Trump might still win the election not because they thought he would, but because they were worried about their ratings. And we all witnessed the consequences on January 6.”

“A court filing in a lawsuit against Fox News lays bare a panic at the network that it had alienated its viewers and damaged its brand by not lining up with President Donald Trump’s false claims that he had won the 2020 presidential election,” the AP reports.

“That worry — a real one, judging by Fox’s ratings in the election’s aftermath — played a key role in Fox not setting the record straight about unfounded fraud claims, the network’s accuser contends.”

“The Social Security Administration’s already faltering services will further erode this year despite a $785 million boost to its budget, the agency’s acting head has told lawmakers,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump loyalists are expected to cement their takeover of Michigan’s Republican Party during its leadership vote on Saturday, most likely elevating one of two election deniers whose failed bids for office in November were emblematic of the party’s midterm drubbing in the state,” the New York Times reports.

“Republicans here, reeling from a midterm election rout that many blamed on the influence of former president Donald Trump, responded Saturday by spurning the former president’s choice for state party chair — and choosing someone even more extreme,” the Washington Post reports.

“Kristina Karamo, who refused to concede her 14-point loss for secretary of state in 2022, beat former attorney general candidate Matt DePerno, who had Trump’s endorsement, in three rounds of contentious voting. The chaotic 11-hour convention, featuring a rowdy standoff over voting procedures and 10 candidates who all ran under a pro-Trump banner, left no doubt that the bulk of the party’s activists in this key battleground state remain firmly committed to election denial and showed no interest in moderating their message to appeal to the political center.”

CNN on a recent attempted cyberattack on the FBI: “FBI officials have worked to isolate the malicious cyber activity, which two of the sources said involved the FBI New York Field Office – one of the bureau’s biggest and highest profile offices.”

“The origin of the hacking incident is still being investigated, according to one source.”

Matthew Continetti: “If Republicans are serious about winning the Senate, and potentially gaining unified control of the federal government, they need to select candidates for office who appeal not only to the grassroots but also to independent voters, and who understand that Americans want common-sense answers for pressing economic and social problems, not conspiracy theories, harsh rhetoric, and spite.”

“If Republicans are serious about winning the Senate, they need to get serious about who represents their party. They’ve blown it before. Will they blow it again?”

“As Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Republican leaders explore alternatives to the College Board’s AP classes and tests, top state officials have been meeting with the founder of an education testing company supporters say is focused on the ‘great classical and Christian tradition,’” the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Steve Schmidt: “The CNN morning experiment has come to its end, even if Don Lemon survives for a few more days or weeks. His thoughtlessness revealed his callousness and objectification of half the population and a majority of his audience — many trapped on airplanes forced to watch on the small screens. He demonstrated his untrustworthiness to them by showing his disregard.”

“If ever there was a dumber utterance made on CNN about something having nothing to do with Trump, it should be put forward, otherwise, Lemon is incontestably the gold medalist for dumb by leaps and bounds.”

“Republican presidential hopefuls are firing up crowds with attacks on President Biden’s age, his spending and border policies, and ‘wokeness’ writ large. But one go-to applause line from the last several campaigns has gone missing: Obamacare,” Semafor reports.

“The 2024 Republican primary is likely to be the first in which the Affordable Care Act is treated as settled law over a decade into its embattled existence.”

Washington Post: “Their emerging rivalry is the latest twist on a years-long public alliance that belied private misgivings and suspicions, according to interviews with more than a dozen people, many of whom were present for key decisions and conversations, and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private interactions.”

“Despite basking in each other’s reflected glow, Trump and DeSantis had a relationship based on mutual advantage rather than genuine closeness — ‘an alliance of convenience,’ in the words of one person who knows both men.”

Four more states are reviewing the new AP African American studies course following Florida’s battle over the teachings, the Washington Post reports.

Officials in Arkansas, North Dakota, Mississippi and Virginia will review the curriculum to check if it conflicts with their policies and laws restricting the teaching of race.

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

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