Cup of Joe – April 23, 2023

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy is coming up short in support for his first big legislative effort, a bill tying a debt ceiling increase to spending cuts, risking serious damage to both his stature and the US economy,” Bloomberg reports.

“McCarthy needs almost every GOP vote and several remain noncommittal, leaving the speaker without the numbers he needs to pass his plan, according to people familiar with the counting.”

The conservative bubble is real. Look at the actions being taken in many Republican-controlled states over the last couple of weeks:

  • In Tennessee, the response to a horrific school shooting was to shield gun makers and expel two Black Democratic lawmakers who protested.
  • In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) wants to pardon the convicted murderer of a Black Lives Matter protester even though he had posted a slew of racist messages.
  • In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) threatened to build a prison next to Disney World because the company had the nerve to oppose his anti-gay policies.
  • In Oklahoma, a sheriff and other officials were caught on tape reminiscing about when it was acceptable to lynch Black people.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in multiple red states are threatening to defund libraries, ban books and even bring back child labor.

Many Republican elected officials don’t seem to care what Americans want from their government. The feedback they’re getting in their right-wing bubble apparently only encourages them.

As Jennifer Rubin noted in her weekly newsletter this morning, “These politicians act like Democrats’ caricatures of Republicans. They are a gift to Democratic ad makers everywhere.”

“States that have enacted abortion bans saw a 10.5 percent drop in applicants for obstetrics and gynecology residencies in 2023 from the previous year,” the Washington Post reports.

“That decline carries a potential long-term impact on the availability of doctors to care for pregnant people and deliver babies across a large swath of the South and Midwest because medical residents often choose to stay and work where they trained.”

After meeting with special counsel Jack Smith’s office for multiple hours Thursday, top Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn is expected to continue his interview today, ABC News reports.

Sources say that Smith personally sat in on a portion of Epshteyn’s interview Thursday, but did not participate in any of the questioning.

“A coalition of more than 60 progressive grassroots groups claiming to represent more than 100,000 Californians sent a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asking her to resign,” The Hill reports.

“In mid-January 2021, two men hired by former President Donald Trump’s legal team discussed over text message what to do with data obtained from a breached voting machine in a rural county in Georgia, including whether to use it as part of an attempt to decertify the state’s pending Senate runoff results,” CNN reports.

“The texts, sent two weeks after operatives breached a voting machine in Coffee County, Georgia, reveal for the first time that Trump allies considered using voting data not only to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, but also in an effort to keep a Republican hold on the US Senate.”

“Lawyers for Hunter Biden are scheduled to meet next week with US attorney David Weiss and at least one senior career official from Justice Department headquarters to discuss the long-running investigation into the president’s son,” CNN reports. “The Hunter Biden legal team had reached out to Justice officials in recent weeks, asking for an update on the case. As is routine when lawyers request a status update, they were invited to meet next week.”

“After prosecutors narrowed down the possible charges Hunter Biden could face last year, there haven’t been any public developments.”

“When a powerful blast shook a Russian city near the border of Ukraine residents thought it was a Ukrainian attack,” CBS News reports. “But the Russian military quickly acknowledged that it was a bomb accidentally dropped by one of its own warplanes.”

Financial Times: “After 14 months of all-out war, including grinding, months-long battles in the eastern cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, Ukraine’s military has been worn down. It has lost a large portion of its experienced soldiers, who made up the most effective units, and expended massive amounts of weaponry and artillery.”

“Both Ukraine and Russia keep their official casualty figures as state secrets. But the US has estimated Ukraine’s casualties to be around 100,000, possibly as high as 120,000, including between 16,000 and 17,500 soldiers killed in action. Washington estimates that Russia’s overall casualties since its full-scale invasion in February 2022 amount to about 200,000, including between 35,500 and 43,500 troops killed.”

“The combat readiness of Ukraine’s military is vital if it is to achieve its goals of crushing Russian forces on the battlefield, recapturing occupied territory and swinging momentum decidedly in its favor.”

Washington Post: “The documents record meetings between Kremlin officials and Russian political strategists, and the Kremlin’s orders for the strategists to focus on Germany to build antiwar sentiment in Europe and dampen support for Ukraine. The files also chronicle the strategists’ efforts to implement these plans and their reports back to the Kremlin.”

Bloomberg: “The nine Supreme Court justices in total are worth at least $24 million. Or it might be closer to $68 million.”

“It’s impossible to get more specific than that. That’s because federal ethics laws require justices to disclose only those assets that might pose a conflict of interest. As a result, the public can only assess part of each justice’s holdings, valued in a broad range.”

“The federal government has burned through more than $1 billion to study long Covid, an effort to help the millions of Americans who experience brain fog, fatigue, and other symptoms after recovering from a coronavirus infection,” Stat News reports.  “There’s basically nothing to show for it.”

“The National Institutes of Health hasn’t signed up a single patient to test any potential treatments — despite a clear mandate from Congress to study them. And the few trials it is planning have already drawn a firestorm of criticism…”

“Instead, the NIH spent the majority of its money on broader, observational research that won’t directly bring relief to patients. But it still hasn’t published any findings from the patients who joined that study, almost two years after it started. There’s no sense of urgency to do more or to speed things up, either.”

“SpaceX’s Starship rocket exploded above the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, minutes after lifting off from a launchpad in South Texas. The spacecraft failed to reach orbit, but it was not a fatal failure,” the New York Times reports. “Before the launch, Elon Musk, the company’s founder, had tamped down expectations, saying it might take several tries before Starship succeeds at this test flight, which was to reach speeds fast enough to enter orbit before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) “is paying tens of thousands in legal fees and is setting up a legal defense fund in connection with a federal criminal probe,” NBC News reports. “Sources have said Menendez is under investigation in connection with a Weehawken, New Jersey, meat company that won an exclusive contract with the government of Egypt to certify halal exports worldwide.”

“U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab resigned Friday after an independent investigation found he bullied civil servants,” the AP reports. “Raab’s announcement came the day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak received findings into eight formal complaints that Raab, who is also justice secretary, had been abusive toward staff members during a previous stint in that office and while serving as Britain’s foreign secretary and Brexit secretary.”

“China is building sophisticated cyber weapons to ‘seize control’ of enemy satellites, rendering them useless for data signals or surveillance during wartime,” the Financial Times reports.

“Treasury secretary Janet Yellen has warned any effort to decouple from China would be ‘disastrous,’ saying national security measures targeted at Beijing were not designed to ‘stifle’ the Chinese economy,” the Financial Times reports.

The Biden administration is leaning toward evacuating U.S. government personnel from Sudan, after nearly a week of heavy fighting between the army and a rival paramilitary group in the capital city of Khartoum, NBC News reports.

“The U.S. is setting a record pace for mass killings in 2023, replaying the horror on a loop roughly once a week so far this year,” the AP reports. “The carnage has taken 88 lives in 17 mass killings over 111 days. Each time, the killers wielded firearms. Only 2009 was marked by as many such tragedies in the same period of time.”

“In the 100 years since Calvin Coolidge was first elected, only Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan held as few news conferences each year as the current occupant of the Oval Office,” the New York Times reports.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tweeted yesterday about how “they” haven’t solved a gas shortage in southern Florida. On the same day, Rubio told Semafor that he hasn’t spoken to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) “in a number of months.”

“The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are now losing more than three times as much ice a year as they were 30 years ago,” the AP reports.

Los Angles Times: “Officially designated XBB.1.16, the subvariant also has attracted attention after anecdotal reports linking it to what has been a rare Covid-19 symptom: pink eye.”

“However, it remains unclear whether this symptom is more pronounced in Arcturus than earlier Omicron strains. The latest subvariant has not been shown to cause more severe illness.”

“Among the most eyebrow-raising promises that Rep. George Santos made during his campaign was his pledge to donate the entirety of his $174,000 congressional salary,” Insider reports.  “It suggested that the now scandal-plagued New York Republican is personally wealthy, despite a history of theft, failing to pay debts, evictions, and even stiffing fellow Republican campaigns.”

But Santos isn’t talking about it now: “I owe you no explanation to what I do with my salary.”

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

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