Cup of Joe – March 20, 2023

A possible Donald Trump “hush-money” indictment is on hold until a final witness testifies before a Manhattan grand jury on Monday afternoon, Insider reports.

Said a source: “There is one more witness.”

“Sources have told Insider they expect the top count to be falsifying business records in the first degree, a low-level felony that would allege that Trump and any other co-defendant falsified documents in order to conceal another crime, such as omitting the $130,000 from campaign financial statements.”

Mark Halperin: “Saturday was a preview of what the world will be like until and after the expected indictment is brought against Donald Trump. Most everyone played their preferred roles yesterday, including those who believe Mr. Trump is the worst thing that has ever happened to both the United States and to them personally.”

“I say to that group, again and loudly: You are about to increase the odds that Donald Trump will win another four years in the White House. You could in fact be increasing his chances of winning dramatically, maybe even decisively.”

Former Attorney General William Barr said that the Department of Justice probably has a “basis for legitimately indicting” former President Trump over the classified and sensitive documents law enforcement says were taken to Mar-a-Lago, The Hill reports.

The Washington Post profiles Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, the embattled prosecutor who resurrected what had seemed like a cold case against Donald Trump

“What still remains unclear is why Bragg and his office seemingly pivoted from a probe centered on Trump’s alleged practice of overvaluing his assets to the hush money issue that now appears to be the grand jury’s focus. Within Bragg’s office, this matter had been known in the past as the ‘zombie’ case.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence, in Des Moines on Saturday, said “no one is above the law,” but he also characterized a potential indictment against former President Donald Trump as “politically motivated” and “troubling,” the Iowa Capital Dispatch reports.

Said Pence: “Well, here we go again. Another politically charged prosecution of the former president of the United States.”

Pence also told ABC News: “I’m taken aback at the idea of indicting a former President of the United States, at a time when there’s a crime wave in New York City, that — the fact that the Manhattan DA thinks that indicting President Trump is his top priority, I think is, just tells you everything you need to know about the radical left in this country.”

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy criticized rumors of Donald Trump’s possible looming indictment on Saturday, calling it “un-American” to prosecute the former president, Fox News reports.

Said Ramaswamy: “It is un-American for the ruling party to use police power to arrest its political rivals. If a Republican prosecutor in 2004 had used a campaign finance technicality to arrest then-candidate John Kerry while Bush & Cheney were in power, liberals would have cried foul – and rightly so.”

He added: “This will mark a dark moment in American history and will undermine public trust in our electoral system itself.”

Donald Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina said his client will surrender without a physical altercation, the New York Daily News reports. Said Tocopina: “There won’t be a standoff at Mar-a-Lago with Secret Service and the Manhattan DA’s office.” Trump would be expected to travel to New York to enter a plea to the charges in person.

Trump’s message Saturday urging supporters to protest his expected indictment, telling office employees in an email that “we do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York,” Politico reports.

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the military’s chief of staff on Sunday to contain a wave of protest from within the ranks over a contentious government plan to overhaul the judiciary,” the AP reports.

“Netanyahu’s remarks come as Israel is embroiled in a major crisis that has sent tens of thousands of people into the streets protesting every week for the last two months. The divide over Netanyahu’s plans to change the legal system has not spared the country’s military, its most trusted institution, where many reservists have pledged not to show up for duty under what they see as impending regime change.”

Moisés Naím of El País in English writes about the similarities between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

“Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) and Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) personal histories as well as the countries where they were born in, live in and lead are radically different. So is the cultural, political and economic context in which they were raised. The territory of Mexico is 94 times that of Israel and its population is 14 times larger. Israel’s per capita income is now at the same level as that of France or Germany, while Mexico suffers from chronic economic anemia. Since the 1970s, Israel’s economy has been growing rapidly while Mexico’s has been growing slowly. While Bibi boasts of the high-tech boom during his tenure, AMLO is using public funds to build a railroad and an oil refinery. […]

The surprise is that, despite their many differences, Bibi and AMLO have adopted exactly the same political strategy: a frontal attack on democracy. This attack is not being waged with soldiers and tanks, but with lawyers, journalists and political cronies. Bibi is trying to push a series of reforms through the courts that would dilute laws and institutions designed to prevent the prime minister and his allies from concentrating power.

While Bibi attacks the judiciary, AMLO attacks the electoral system. The Mexican president has launched an offensive against the National Electoral Institute (INE), the public body in charge of organizing elections in Mexico and preventing fraud. The INE is recognized worldwide as an independent institution that defends democracy and – unlike many countries these days – does not give a rubber stamp to elections rigged by the resident autocrat. Similar to Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, AMLO has continually criticized the INE, calling it “rotten,” “corrupt” and biased. His most recent attack has been to slash its budget. Lorenzo Córdova, the institute’s president, told journalist Anne Applebaum that AMLO’s reforms would force them to lay off 85 percent of their staff, severely limiting INE’s ability to carry out its mission.”

Mike Pence indicated that he is not challenging all aspects of the subpoena issued last month by special counsel Jack Smith in his probe of the failed attempt by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election, ABC News reports.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called for an investigation into the recent failures of two U.S. regional banks, Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The banking sector is poised to head into a third week of existential questions and whipsaw volatility, despite official efforts to stabilize markets and reassure depositors,” Axios reports.

Two decades after the U.S. invaded Iraq, 61% of Americans do not believe the U.S. made the right decision by invading Iraq, according to a new Axios/Ipsos poll.

Former Texas Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes, compelled by the news of President Jimmy Carter entering hospice care, has told the New York Times that there was, in fact, a secret GOP effort in 1980 to prevent Iran from releasing 53 American hostages until after that year’s presidential election.

Barnes said that in the summer of 1980, he accompanied former Texas governor John Connally, on a trip to the Middle East during which Connally asked Arab leaders to communicate to Iranian officials that they should not release the hostages before Election Day because if they waited, Ronald Reagan would offer them a better deal.

“House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Saturday announced a congressional investigation into the local prosecutors reportedly preparing to indict former President Trump,” Axios reports.

McCarthy accused Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg of “an outrageous abuse of power” and of “pursuing political vengeance against President Trump.”

Erick Erickson: “The people who want to lock him up, do not appreciate the backlash to arresting Trump that’ll happen.”

Heather Cox Richardson writing for her Letters from an American Substack extrapolating Trump’s disturbing and apocalyptic-sounding post on Truth Social about his coming indictment to Russian “political technology.”

“Trump’s false and dystopian portrait of the nation takes to its logical conclusion the narrative Republicans have pushed since the 1980s. Since the days of Reagan, Republicans have argued that people who believe that the government should regulate business, provide a basic social safety net, protect civil rights, and promote infrastructure are destroying the country by trying to redistribute wealth from hardworking white Americans to undeserving minorities and women. Now Trump has taken that argument to its logical conclusion: the country has been destroyed by women, Black Americans, Indigenous people, and people of color, who have taken it over and are persecuting people like him.

This old Republican narrative created a false image of the nation and of its politics, an image pushed to a generation of Americans by right-wing media, a vision that MAGA Republicans have now absorbed as part of their identity. It reflects a manipulation of politics that Russian political theorists called “political technology.”

Russian “political technologists” developed a series of techniques to pervert democracy by creating a virtual political reality through modern media. They blackmailed opponents, abused state power to help favored candidates, sponsored “double” candidates with names similar to those of opponents in order to split their voters and thus open the way for their own candidates, created false parties to create opposition, and, finally, created a false narrative around an election or other event that enabled them to control public debate.”

“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) urged the Texas state bar to carefully consider the fitness of certain Stanford University law school graduates after a protest over a conservative judge’s speaking engagement on the campus,” The Hill reports.

“Cruz in a letter to Texas officials said there is a ‘fundamental’ question over whether the students who protested the appearance by Kyle Duncan, a circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, are ‘fit to practice law’ in Texas.”

“President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia traveled to Mariupol, a Ukrainian city his forces captured after a devastating siege, in a defiant and highly symbolic move that came two days after an international court issued a warrant for his arrest,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Putin flew by helicopter to Mariupol, a city on the Azov Sea that was a major industrial hub before the invasion, the Kremlin said in a statement on Sunday. In the city, Mr. Putin drove from the airport through several neighborhoods, the Kremlin said, inspecting reconstruction works with a top Russian official responsible for infrastructure. The Kremlin also said that Mr. Putin spoke with some local residents.”

North Korea claims that about 800,000 of its citizens volunteered to join or reenlist in the nation’s military to fight against the United States, Reuters reports.

“The Infowars conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones, who faces more than $1.4 billion in legal damages for defaming the families of the Sandy Hook shooting victims, has devised a new way to taunt them: wriggling out of paying them the money they are owed,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Jones, who has an estimated net worth as high as $270 million, declared both business and personal bankruptcy last year as the families won historic verdicts in two lawsuits over his lies about the 2012 shooting that killed 20 first graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.”

Elizabeth Bird, writing for the Tampa Bay Times, about opportunistic Republican politicians making villains out of drag artists.

“When Danny La Rue glided onto the stage at the annual Royal Variety Performance in front of Queen Elizabeth II and a nationwide family TV audience, he was one of Britain’s most popular entertainers. Fabulous in full makeup, form-fitting gown and sky-high wig, he launched into a series of affectionate homages to show biz legends, each with a more lavish and glittering outfit.

Her Majesty reportedly complimented him: “My gosh, your costume changes were fantastic. I only wish I could dress as quickly as you.” The year was 1969.[…]

Since La Rue, drag artists have been beloved figures in British entertainment, and it seemed the same was quietly happening this side of the pond, with the rise of RuPaul and other mainstream artists.

And yet here we are — watching the stunning demonization of drag by opportunistic politicians and hard-right activists. Republican legislators seem to be competing to file the most draconian bills, ostensibly aimed at activities like drag queen story hours, but extending to any public performances where minors might be present. Tennessee’s governor signed the first law, banning cross-gender impersonators who appeal to a “prurient interest.” It’s unclear how it will be applied, but lawbreakers face criminal penalties.”

Margaret Sullivan of the Guardian is disgusted by Fox News attempts to defend itself by relying on first amendment protections.

“As it tries to defend itself against the accusation that it knowingly spread lies about the 2020 presidential election, Fox News has touted some lofty notions about the role of journalism in a democratic society.

“There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners,” said a recent company statement, “but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v Sullivan.” […]

Don’t get me wrong. I believe press rights belong to a wide spectrum of media organizations, whatever their political leanings.

But Fox’s reliance on first amendment protections – while part of a legal strategy that may prove successful in court – is the height of hypocrisy. America’s founders believed it was essential that American citizens be well-informed about the behavior of public officials and other powerful entities, and thus be capable of self-governance.”

“Republican legislators in Kentucky passed an anti-transgender bill that would allow teachers to misgender their students and bans gender-affirming care for transgender youth in what advocates called the latest among a string of GOP-pushed anti-transgender legislation,” the Washington Post reports.

“The new bill not only forbids trans youth from receiving gender-affirming care, a practice that professional medical associations have deemed safe and effective for children with gender dysphoria, but takes it a step further by mandating doctors set a timeline to de-transition children already taking puberty blockers or undergoing hormone therapy.”

Donald Trump and E. Jean Carroll have agreed to a single trial on whether Trump defamed the former Elle magazine columnist by denying he raped her in the mid-1990s, Reuters reports.

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

0 comments on “Cup of Joe – March 20, 2023

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: