Cup of Joe – April 15, 2023

“The Biden administration filed an emergency application to the Supreme Court on Friday asking the justices to pause parts of an appeals court ruling that limited the availability of a common abortion pill,” the New York Times reports.

“The application, in the first major abortion case to reach the justices since they eliminated the constitutional right to abortion in June, asked the court to allow the pill, mifepristone, to remain widely available while the government pursues an appeal.”

“The Supreme Court on Friday temporarily restored full access to a key abortion medication, putting on hold a lower court’s decision suspending government approval of the pill used in more than half of all abortions in the United States,” the Washington Post reports.

As expected, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill last night to ban abortion in his state at 6 weeks.

Orlando Sentinel: “The 70-40 vote in the House came during a daylong hearing where dozens of amendments proposed by Democrats were shot down one by one. The Senate approved the bill earlier this month.”

Politico: “The legislation will upend Florida’s status as an abortion haven in the south, cutting off access for thousands who would otherwise travel from neighboring states each year for the procedure.”

“Florida now joins at least 12 other states — including Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky and Louisiana — that have approved bans on abortions after six weeks, a point at which many people don’t yet know they’re pregnant.”

More from Politico: “DeSantis is banking on support in the primary from anti-abortion voters, particularly those angry at Donald Trump. … But a six-week ban pushes the outer boundary of anti-abortion rights proposals. And it could spell trouble for DeSantis among independents and suburban voters in a general election, if he makes it that far.”

While it may help him marginally in a Republican presidential primary, many think DeSantis has walked right into a general election trap.

Consider some numbers compiled by Playbook:

  • 72%: That’s the percentage of Americans who oppose “laws that make it illegal to use or receive through the mail FDA-approved drugs for a medical abortion,” according to recent polling from PRRI.
  • 63%: That’s the percentage of Americans who oppose “laws that ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around the sixth week of pregnancy.”
  • 52%: That’s the percentage of Americans who “oppose restrictions that make it illegal to obtain an abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.”

These are terrible numbers for Republicans. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) knows it, which is why he had such a tough time answering questions on abortion yesterday.

Donald Trump knows it, which is why he’s holding secret meetings with the religious right to get them to back off talk of a national ban.

“Since late last year, Donald Trump has been holding private meetings with religious right figures in an effort to remind them about his anti-abortion record and ensure their support. But instead of thanking Trump for his role in repealing Roe v Wade, the leaders are pressing for hardcore commitments that go far beyond what he is comfortable with — and what he thinks voters will allow him to get away with,” Rolling Stone reports.

“According to two participants and another source close to Trump, the ex-president has warned leaders in off-the-record conversations that Republicans risk ‘losing big’ — in Trump’s words — unless they follow his lead. He has warned the leaders to shift their own messaging, telling them to emphasize ‘exceptions’ to abortion bans, including in cases of rape, incest, or a threat to the life of the mother.”

Every single Republican running for president — or even those thinking about it — is on the wrong side of public opinion on this issue.

Meanwhile, conservative judges and red state legislatures are pushing more extreme restrictions on abortion. It’s an unmitigated political disaster for Republicans in 2024.

“Federal Reserve economists believe that recent banking turmoil will trigger a mild recession later this year, a potentially ominous sign for President Joe Biden as he heads into an election campaign,” Politico reports.

“U.S. supplier prices fell in March by the most in nearly three years, the latest evidence that inflation is moderating,” the Wall Street Journal reports. 

Reuters: “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits increased more than expected last week, further evidence that labor market conditions were easing as higher borrowing costs dampen demand in the economy.”

New York Times: “Most of the recent data suggests that the economy is strong. The job market is, incredibly, better today than it was in February 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic ripped a hole in the global economy. More people are working. They are paid more. The gaps between them — by race, gender, education or income — are smaller.”

“Even inflation, long the black cloud in the economy’s sunny sky, is showing signs of dissipating. Government data released on Wednesday showed that consumer prices were up 5 percent in March from a year earlier, the slowest pace in nearly two years. Over the past three months, prices have risen at the equivalent of a 3.8 percent annual rate — faster than policymakers would like, but no longer the five-alarm fire it was at its peak last year.”

“Yet for all the good news, economists remain worried that a recession is on the way or that the Federal Reserve will cause one in trying to rein in inflation.”

Shortly after the arrest of 21-year-old air national guardsman Jack Teixeira for allegedly distributing classified documents in an online group for gamers, notable conservatives immediately jumped to his defense.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) hailed Teixeira as “white, male, christian, and antiwar.” She then noted the “real enemy” is the “Biden regime” which waging war against Russia.

Later that night, Tucker Carlson told his viewers that what happened to Teixeira will happen to other truth-tellers against the “national security state.” Carlson also accused Biden of covering up the Kennedy assassination. Shockingly, I’m not making any of this up.

The logic, such as it is, seemed to be some rough approximation of: Teixeira’s leaks included classified info about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and we’re against the Biden policy in Ukraine, ergo Teixeira is a freedom-loving whistleblower and the media is complicit with the national security state for tracking him down and identifying him.

“Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell has been out of the public eye for weeks, following a serious fall that hospitalized him,” The Spectator reports.

“Now multiple sources confirm that Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, John Cornyn of Texas and John Thune of South Dakota are actively reaching out to fellow Republican senators in efforts to prepare for an anticipated leadership vote — a vote that would occur upon announcement that McConnell would be retiring from his duties as leader, and presumably the Senate itself.”

“One source says that Cornyn has been particularly active in his preparations, taking fellow senators with whom he has little in common to lunch in attempts to court them.”

“McConnell announced on Twitter that he will return to work in person next week after being hospitalized for a concussion in March,” NBC News reports.

“Former President Donald Trump was grilled for nearly seven hours Thursday during his second deposition in the $250 million civil case brought against him by New York Attorney General Letitia James,” the New York Post reports.

“The openness to talk is a staunch reversal from Trump’s previous deposition in the civil case last year when he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights hundreds of times in order to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination.”

Former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell testified Thursday before a grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents, CNN reports.

Donald Trump’s former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe testified Thursday before a DC grand jury investigating Jan. 6.

Donald Trump’s lawyers claim that LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman provided legal funding for writer E. Jean Carroll’s sexual assault lawsuit against Trump, Axios reports.

A lawyer for Carroll dismissed the allegations as “baseless.”

NBC News: “Replacing Feinstein on the panel, even on a short-term basis, would require approval from the full Senate. Schumer could ask for unanimous consent on a resolution to make that happen, but any one Republican member could object and block it.”

“In that case, Democrats would have to go through a lengthy process to garner the 60 votes required to break a filibuster — meaning 10 Republicans would have to join the other 50 Democratic members to allow Feinstein’s replacement.”

“Five Republican aides involved in the process say GOP senators have not formalized a plan to address the Democratic request. But there appears to be broad consensus that Schumer and his colleagues will need to negotiate some sort of deal that Republicans would be willing to go along with, according to the aides.”

“President Biden stood in a lavishly decorated room at the Irish president’s residence on Thursday, declaring just how comfortable he feels during this visit to his ancestral homeland,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Biden: “I’m not going home. I’m staying here because — isn’t this an incredible place?”

Mark Halperin: “Can anyone recall a president of the U.S.A. spending this many consecutive days in an allied country on official business?”

Tennessee Republicans want to end the national scrutiny they received for expelling two Democratic lawmakers and are scrambling to end the current legislative session sooner than expected, the Tennessee Holler reports.

Billionaire Harlan Crow bought property from Justice Clarence Thomas — two vacant lots and the house where Thomas’ mother was living — which was not disclosed, ProPublica reports.

“The purchase put Crow in an unusual position: He now owned the house where the justice’s elderly mother was living. Soon after the sale was completed, contractors began work on tens of thousands of dollars of improvements on the two-bedroom, one-bathroom home, which looks out onto a patch of orange trees. The renovations included a carport, a repaired roof and a new fence and gates, according to city permit records and blueprints.”

The only reason to not include this in your financial disclosures is if you want to hide it.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) “has exercised his executive powers to advance elements of his aggressive conservative agenda, drawing on appointees, boards and the state Constitution in a deliberate manner as he builds toward an expected presidential candidacy,” the AP reports.

“The approach displays the Republican’s willingness to leverage his office to notch political wins and punish political enemies, even as the GOP-dominated Legislature has sped his proposals through the statehouse. It also signals the meticulous style that underpins his brash public persona and offers hints about how he could govern if elected president.”

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is heading to D.C. next week, marking a rare return to the nation’s capital as he ramps up for an expected run for president,” Politico  reports.  “The governor is set to meet with Republican members of Congress and conservative leaders for an event dubbed as a ‘meet and greet policy discussion.’ It will be held on April 18.”

“China approved ‘provision of lethal aid’ to Russia in its war in Ukraine earlier this year and planned to disguise military equipment as civilian items, according to a U.S. intercept of Russian intelligence revealed in leaked secret documents,” the Washington Post reports.

“The war in Ukraine has gutted Russia’s clandestine spetsnaz forces, and it will take Moscow years to rebuild them,” according to classified U.S. assessments obtained by the Washington Post.

“The finding, which has not been previously reported, is among a cache of sensitive materials leaked online through the messaging platform Discord. U.S. officials attributed their assessments to Russian commanders’ overreliance on the specialized units, which have been put to use as part of front-line infantry formations. Those formations, like the Ukrainians, have suffered massive numbers of dead and wounded.”

“A senior Russian military spy has been inundated with sex toys after his personal email was hacked,” The Sun reports.

“Ukrainian hackers claimed they gained access to the account of Sergey Morgachev, Putin’s Lieutenant Colonel at Moscow’s military intelligence service, GRU.”

“The hackers claimed they managed to obtain personal information including copies of Morgachev’s driver’s license and lease agreements, as well as family photos and scanned copies of security clearance renewal applications.”

“And in an embarrassing twist, the hackers accessed Mogachev’s AliExpress account and ordered several sex toys and gay pride flags in his name, as ‘a symbolic act of moral humiliation.’”

David French: “While Trumpism is a complex phenomenon, there are three ideas or principles that are consistently present: First, that before Trump the G.O.P. was a political doormat, helplessly walked over by Democrats time and again. Second, that we live in a state of cultural emergency where the right has lost everywhere and must turn to politics to reverse this cultural momentum. And third, that in this state of emergency, all conservatives must rally together. There can be no enemies to the right.”

“Add these three ideas together, and you have a near-perfect formula for extremism and authoritarianism.”

“Daniel Perry, who was recently convicted of murdering a Black Lives Matter protester and is making national headlines in the wake of Gov. Greg Abbott saying he wants to pardon him, sent private messages for years containing racist memes and defending the killing of protesters and Muslims, a newly unsealed set of court documents shows,” the Houston Chronicle reports.

“The 76 pages filed by Travis County prosecutors also reveal messages dating back years in which Perry, an Army sergeant, talked about killing people — several times referencing a desire to kill Muslims.”

Austin American-Statesman: Daniel Perry’s social media posts reveal racist comments, anti-protester views.

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) announced on Tuesday that she has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, CNN reports. Said Wexton: “If there’s one thing that Democrats and Republicans can agree on, it’s that Parkinson’s Disease sucks. Today, on World Parkinson’s Day, I’m here to tell you that I’ve come to learn this firsthand.”

Joel Koskan (R), who ran unsuccessfully for the South Dakota state Senate in 2022 and days before the election was arrested on charges relating to child abuse, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony incest, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

New York Times: “Republicans abandoned the blue-slip process for appeals court judges after gaining control of the Senate in 2015… But the practice was retained for district court judges, and Durbin has been reluctant to jettison it, fearing Republicans would retaliate by bringing the confirmation process to a standstill.”

In the midst of discussions with federal regulatory bodies last month, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) purchased stock in a bank that then took over the assets of the failing Signature Bank — sending the value of her new stocks soaring, Brooklyn Paper reports.

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

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