Cup of Joe – February 23, 2023

“Russia carried out a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears to have failed while President Joe Biden was in Ukraine on Monday,“ CNN reports.

“Russia notified the United States in advance of the launch through deconfliction lines, one official said. Another official said that the test did not pose a risk to the United States and that the US did not view the test as an anomaly or an escalation.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “Normally, when a president does something voters approve of, out-party politicians either go along or just talk about something else. Indeed, sometimes out-party politicians will support the president during foreign policy crises even if it represents a policy failure by the administration; if US troops or other citizens are in danger or an unpopular nation is doing something ugly, politicians are usually wary of using rhetoric that sounds as if they are siding with an enemy.”

“Supporting the president can hurt the out-party in the short term. ‘Rally around the flag’ effects — in which the president’s approval ratings shoot up — happen when politicians from both parties support the president’s actions in a high-profile foreign affairs event. But the bounce generally doesn’t last long, so while it’s nice for a president to get a temporary lift, the out-party loses little from just waiting out the moment…”

“But traditional political incentives don’t carry a lot of weight with the Republican extremist faction in Congress, whose main goal is to differentiate themselves from mainstream conservatives. Under that formula, something a Democratic president does that is not only popular and successful but also generally aligns with Republican policy positions isn’t a challenge for these lawmakers — it’s an opportunity.”

“Accounts pushing Kremlin propaganda are using Twitter’s new paid verification system to appear more prominently on the global platform, another sign that Elon Musk’s takeover is accelerating the spread of politically charged misinformation,” the Washington Post reports.


“As the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine approaches, the Republican Party finds itself bitterly divided on Capitol Hill over whether the US should continue aiding Ukraine – a dispute that is only expected to intensify in the months ahead even as GOP leaders have sought to downplay it,” CNN reports.

The Hill: Biden’s Ukraine visit exposes GOP fault lines.

“Now and then, he does something I agree with and I consider laudatory. His trip to Kyiv to be with President Zelensky and to stand firm for the principle of liberty is something which I salute. It was courageous and the right thing to do, and I appreciate him doing that and recognizing that the people of the United States of America stand on the side of liberty.” — Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), quoted by the Salt Lake Tribune, praising President Biden.

David Ignatius: “War reveals the essential traits of human character that shape events. Who could have imagined that a Ukrainian comic actor named Volodymyr Zelensky would prove to be the first truly heroic leader of the 21st century. Who would have bet that Putin, the canny and cynical ex-KGB officer, would grossly misread both intelligence and history and ransom his country to what amounted to a fairy tale about the “oneness” of Russia and Ukraine.”

“Perhaps most surprising of all, who would have bet that an 80-year-old U.S. president, a man who was garrulous, sentimental and sometimes appeared senescent, would turn out to the most undervalued American leader in modern times. President Biden’s brave visit Monday to Kyiv was a defining moment in his presidency. Even conservative commentators who make a living trashing him had to be stirred by the sight of him standing in St. Michael’s Square while air raid sirens wailed.”

“The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group accused the country’s defense minister and its highest-ranking general of treason on Tuesday, intensifying the most high-profile dispute in the Russian forces since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began,” the New York Times reports.

“When President Vladimir Putin announced at the end of a 100-minute speech on Tuesday that he would suspend Russia’s participation in the New START treaty — the last surviving arms control agreement between the two largest nuclear-armed powers — it was one more indication that the era of formal arms control may be dying,” the New York Times reports.

“Even before Mr. Putin dismissed the implementation of the treaty’s required inspections as ‘nonsense,’ it was already in deep trouble.”

“Chinese leader Xi Jinping is preparing to visit Moscow for a summit with Russia’s president in the coming months, as Vladimir Putin wages war in Ukraine and portrays himself as a standard-bearer against a U.S.-led global order,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Beijing says it wants to play a more active role aimed at ending the conflict, and the people familiar with Mr. Xi’s trip plans said a meeting with Mr. Putin would be part of a push for multiparty peace talks and allow China to reiterate its calls that nuclear weapons not be used.”

“Arrangements for the visit are at an early stage and the timing hasn’t been finalized.”

“A special grand jury that investigated election interference by former President Donald Trump and his allies in Georgia recommended indictments of multiple people on a range of charges in its report, most of which remains sealed,” the New York Times reports.

Asked whether the jurors had recommended indicting Trump, jury forewoman Emily Kohrs gave a cryptic answer: “You’re not going to be shocked. It’s not rocket science… you won’t be too surprised.”

She added: “I will tell you that if the judge releases the recommendations, it is not going to be some giant plot twist. You probably have a fair idea of what may be in there. I’m trying very hard to say that delicately.”

“The Georgia grand jury that investigated possible interference in the 2020 election by Donald Trump and his allies recommended indicting over a dozen people, the jury foreperson said Tuesday — a list she said ‘might’ include the former president,” NBC News reports. Said jury forewoman Emil Kohrs: “There are certainly names that you will recognize, yes. There are names also you might not recognize… There are definitely some names you expect.”

Emily Kohrs, the forewoman of the Georgia special grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn in the 2020 election, made news yesterday in a flurry of media interviews.

The big headline was that the grand jury’s report made recommendations to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to potentially indict a dozen or more people.

Here’s what else we learned:

  • Kohrs told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that there was more than one audio recording of Trump: “We heard a lot of recordings of President Trump on the phone.” 
  • Kohrs suggested to NBC News that perjury charges were likely: “I remember at least one and probably more than one moment where an answer made me pause, because it did not match something that either I had heard previously or something that I had seen.”
  • Kohrs gave hints to the Washington Post about Trump being indicted and found it amusing that Trump claimed the grand jury report proved “total exoneration” of him: “Did he really say that? Oh, that’s fantastic. That’s phenomenal. I love it.”
  • Kohrs told CNN she would be upset if there were no indictments: “The only thing I would be disappointed in, at this point, is if this whole thing just disappears. That’s the only thing that would make me sad.”

Anderson Cooper and Elie Honig discussed the multiple awkward media appearances by the forewoman of the grand jury that will reportedly recommend indictments in a case involving Donald Trump:

COOPER: First of all why this person is talking on TV, I do not understand. Because, she’s clearly enjoying herself, but I mean, is this responsible? She was the foreperson of this grand jury!

HONIG: This is a horrible idea. And I guarantee you that prosecutors are wincing, watching her go on this…

COOPER: I was wincing just watching her eagerness to like, hint at stuff.

HONIG: It’s painful in that respect. That’s a very serious prospect here. We’re talking about – indicting any person, you’re talking about potentially taking away that person’s liberty – we’re talking about potentially former president for the first time in this nation of history. She does not seem to be taking that very seriously.

COOPER: There’s no reason for her to be out talking.

HONIG: No. It’s a prosecutor’s nightmare. Mark my words, Donald Trump’s team is going to make a motion if there’s an indictment to dismiss that indictment base on grand jury impropriety. She’s not supposed to be talking about anything, really. But she’s really not supposed to be talking about the deliberations. She’s talking about what specific witnesses they saw, what the grand jury thought of them. She says some of them we found credible, some we found funny. I don’t know why that’s relevant, but she’s been saying we found this guy funny or interesting. I think she’s potentially crossing a line here. It’s gonna be a real problem for prosecutors.

Alaska state Rep. David Eastman (R) “sparked outrage after asking whether there could be economic benefits from the death of abused children,” the Anchorage Daily News reports.

“Eastman said that he had heard an argument, on occasion, that when child abuse is fatal, it could economically benefit a society.”

Said Eastman: “It can be argued, periodically, that it’s actually a cost savings because that child is not going to need any of those government services that they might otherwise be entitled to receive and need based on growing up in this type of environment.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) doubled-down on her call for a “national divorce.”

Said Greene: “Why the left and right should consider a national divorce, not a civil war but a legal agreement to separate our ideological and political disagreements by states while maintaining our legal union.” She added: “A national divorce would require a much smaller federal government with more power given to the states.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) suggested in an interview that if Democrats moved to a red state, they shouldn’t be allowed to vote for five years.

Said Greene: “You can live there and you can work there, but you don’t get to bring your values.”

Former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot (R) — a former Republican National Committee chair — said that the Montana Republican Party recently informed him of a resolution approved by party leadership declaring he is no longer considered a Republican, the Helena Independent Record reports.

Racicot said that he was not warned or informed of the resolution before it was voted on and sent to him.

“The United States faces a default sometime this summer or early fall if Congress does not raise or suspend the debt ceiling, a Washington think tank warned on Wednesday,” the New York Times reports.

Mike Pence said that cuts to Medicare and Social Security should be “on the table for the long term,” differentiating himself from Donald Trump as he considers a run for the Oval Office, NBC News reports.

Said Pence: “We’re looking at a debt crisis in this country over the next 25 years that’s driven by entitlements, and nobody in Washington, D.C., wants to talk about it.”

“Almost exactly a month before a Norfolk Southern train derailed and spewed hazardous materials in eastern Ohio, the company gave the maximum $10,000 to help bankroll Gov. Mike DeWine’s inaugural festivities,” WSYX reports.

“An examination of state records shows this contribution, which is part of $29,000 the Virginia-based corporation has contributed to DeWine’s political funds since he first ran for governor in 2018, is merely one piece of an extensive, ongoing effort to influence statewide officials and Ohio lawmakers.”

NBC News: EPA orders Norfolk Southern to clean up Ohio train derailment site and pay all costs.

“Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will travel Thursday to the site of a toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, according to a person familiar with his plans — 20 days after a 150-car train carrying oil and toxic chemicals derailed, setting the region on edge and stirring a national furor over rail and chemical safety,” Politico reports.

Former President Trump will travel to East Palestine, Ohio and is set to donate thousands of gallons of cleaning supplies and more than a dozen pallets of water to the community as it grapples with the aftermath of the train derailment that led to a large release of toxic chemicals, Fox News reports.

Bloomberg: “The visit to the former battleground state that Trump easily won twice is also casting light on one of the former president’s regulatory rollbacks: The repeal of new braking requirements for certain trains hauling highly hazardous freight put in place by the Obama administration.”

“The braking requirement, put in place in 2015 as part of a suite of new safety rules following a number of fiery high-profile crude oil train derailments, required railroads to install more responsive electronic braking systems on trains carrying hazardous materials.”

“Supreme Court justices suggested Tuesday that they might move cautiously in their first examination of the federal law that protects internet companies from lawsuits concerning the platforms’ posting of content from third parties,” the Washington Post reports.

“A lawsuit from a trio of Utah brothers seeking to kick President Joe Biden out of the White House and return Donald Trump to the presidency will not be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court,” the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

“The high court again rejected the brother’s case on Tuesday.”

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) blasted Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for handing over tens of thousands of hours of riot footage from Jan. 6, 2021, to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, The Hill reports.

Said Thompson: “It’s hard to overstate the potential security risks if this material were to be used irresponsibly.”

“One of George Santos’ first acts as a candidate for Congress in 2019, according to his campaign finance filings, was making a series of four-figure donations from his campaign to a pair of local Republican groups and President Donald Trump’s reelection committee,” Politico reports.

“But according to those groups’ own filings, the contributions were never received — and may not have been donated.”

A new Forbes investigation finds:

  • Property records show that Donald Trump has been lying about the financial performance of Trump Tower since it first opened in 1983.
  • Tax and lending documents indicate that Trump lied about the square footage of the office and retail space at the base of the property (not to be confused with his lying about size of the penthouse atop the building, which Forbes previously exposed).
  • Portions of a 2015 audio recording, released here for the first time, prove that Trump was personally involved in the efforts to lie about the value of Trump Tower’s commercial space.

“Combined with earlier reporting and stacks of documents now in prosecutors’ hands, all point to a simple conclusion: The Trump Organization lied about the value of its properties to lenders for years, and although multiple people inside the firm participated in those efforts, the person at the center of the deceit was Donald Trump.”

Politico: “Operation Warp Speed, the public-private partnership that developed a coronavirus vaccine in record time and which Trump once called a ‘miracle,’ has become vilified among a group of conservatives. And the toppling of Roe v. Wade by Trump-appointed Supreme Court justices has turned into a political Rorschach test for Republicans.”

“Navigating those twin achievements from his time in office could become tricky to handle over the course of a potential primary and general election run. Trump has begun taking steps to try and maneuver that political landscape.”

“The Biden administration Tuesday announced its most restrictive border control measures to date, issuing plans for a temporary rule that will penalize asylum seekers who cross the border illegally or fail to apply for protection in other nations they transit on their way to the United States,” the Washington Post reports.

“Under U.S. immigration law, migrants fleeing persecution can request asylum regardless of how they arrive on U.S. soil. Biden’s rule, which could become active in May and expire after two years, would presume asylum ineligibility for those who enter illegally.”

“Extortion payments from ransomware, a hacking scourge that has crippled hospitals, schools and public infrastructure, fell significantly last year, according to federal officials, cybersecurity analysts and blockchain firms,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“After ballooning for years, the amount of money being paid to ransomware criminals dropped in 2022, as did the odds that a victim would pay the criminals who installed the ransomware. With ransomware, hackers lock up a victim’s computer network, encrypting hard drives until victims pay.”

Axios: “The Biden administration is courting a wave of private investments as a multiplier for the nearly $2 trillion in spending and tax incentives Congress approved in the past two years.”

“Team Biden’s goal is to leverage those massive packages — only about 5% of which have been spent — to scale up projects designed to improve the nation’s power grid, help wean the U.S. off oil and gas, stimulate the chip industry, and more.”

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

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