Cup of Joe – June 4, 2023

Playbook: “Somehow, both McCarthy and Biden emerged from the potential economic debacle in better political shape. Politics is often zero sum, but the FRA accomplished the chief political goals of both men.”

“McCarthy, who faced a humiliating path to the speakership, needed to strengthen his position within the House GOP conference.”

“Biden, whose job approval trendline has veered uncomfortably close to sinking below 40%, needed to strengthen his position with American voters.”

New York Times: “In pursuit of an agreement, the Biden team was willing to give Republicans victory after victory on political talking points, which they realized Mr. McCarthy needed to sell the bill to his conference. They let Mr. McCarthy’s team claim in the end that the deal included deep spending cuts, huge clawbacks of unspent federal coronavirus relief money and stringent work requirements for recipients of federal aid.”

“But in the details of the text and the many side deals that accompanied it, the Biden team wanted to win on substance. With one large exception — a $20 billion cut in enforcement funding for the Internal Revenue Service — they believe they did.”

“The way administration officials see it, the full final agreement’s spending cuts are nothing worse than they would have expected in regular appropriations bills passed by a divided Congress.”

New York Times: “Government investigators almost never obtain a clear lens into a lawyer’s private dealings with their clients, let alone with such a prominent one as Mr. Trump. A recording like the voice memo Mr. Corcoran made last year — during a long car drive for a family event the morning after the meeting in May, according to two people briefed on the recording — is typically shielded by attorney-client or work-product privilege.”

“But in March, a federal judge ordered Mr. Corcoran’s recorded recollections — now transcribed onto dozens of pages — to be given to the office of the special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the documents investigation.”

“A federal judge says Tennessee’s first-in-the-nation law designed to place strict limits on drag shows is unconstitutional,” the AP reports. U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, wrote that the law was both “unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad.” He also added that the statute encouraged “discriminatory enforcement.”

From the opinion: “There is no question that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. But there is a difference between material that is ‘obscene’ in the vernacular, and material that is ‘obscene’ under the law. Simply put, no majority of the Supreme Court has held that sexually explicit — but not obscene — speech receives less protection than political, artistic, or scientific speech.”

“North Korea’s attempt to put the country’s first spy satellite into space failed Wednesday in a setback to leader Kim Jong Un’s push to boost his military capabilities as tensions with the United States and South Korea rise,” the AP reports. “After an unusually quick admission of failure, North Korea vowed to conduct a second launch after learning what went wrong with its rocket liftoff.”

“Iran’s stockpile of highly enriched uranium grew by over a quarter in the three months to May, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported, adding to concerns over the speed with which Tehran is accumulating 60% highly enriched uranium that can be quickly converted into weapons-grade material for nuclear weapons,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

A Chinese fighter jet swerved within a few hundred feet of the nose of a U.S. reconnaissance plane in what the Pentagon termed an “unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” in international airspace over the South China Sea, Bloomberg reports. The incident was captured on video.

“The Qatari prime minister held secret talks with the supreme leader of the Taliban this month on resolving tension with the international community, a source briefed on the meeting said, signaling a new willingness by Afghanistan’s rulers to discuss ways to end their isolation,” Reuters reports.

Kim Jong Un’s heavy smoking, alcohol use and apparent weight gain has led South Korean intelligence officials to question the North Korean leader’s health, Reuters reports.  He is believed to weigh over 308 pounds.

Central Intelligence Agency Director Bill Burns traveled secretly to China last month for official meetings with Chinese intelligence officials, the Financial Times reports.  It’s the highest-level trip a U.S. official has taken to the country during the Biden administration.

Utah. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) came under fire Thursday after his 2023 Pride Month declaration eliminated all mention of LGBTQ+ people, Axios reports.  Meanwhile, conservatives lambasted Cox as “woke” for making the declaration in the first place.

A Utah parent filed a challenge to have the Bible removed from public school libraries, citing passages describing sex and violence, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

The committee appointed to review the complaint said the Bible may remain in high school libraries, but it will be removed from elementary and middle schools for containing “vulgarity or violence.”

North Carolina’s Fort Bragg will become Fort Liberty, with the US Army on Friday set to redesignate one of the largest military installations in the world,” CNN reports. “The change follows a branch-wide push to rename bases that bear the name of Confederate leaders. It is currently named after Gen. Braxton Bragg, an unpopular Confederate general who garnered a lot of criticism for his hot temper, combative personality and often subpar performance on the field.”

“Hunter Biden’s lawyer on Wednesday deposed John Paul Mac Isaac, the Delaware computer repair shop owner who says Biden left behind a laptop in 2019 that later became public,” Axios reports.  “The deposition is the latest move by Hunter Biden and new members of his legal team to fight more aggressively against conservatives and those who spread his personal data across the Internet.”

“Hunter Biden is nearing judgment day in an Arkansas lawsuit to reduce his child support and prevent his daughter from taking his last name,” USA Today reports.

“The president’s son faces a deposition this month and a July trial against a woman, Lunden Roberts, who had his daughter Aug. 28, 2018. Biden was ordered in March 2020 to pay child support, but he asked in September 2022 to reduce the amount because of his changing income, which led to the pending trial.”

“Another point of contention deals with the child’s name. Roberts wants the child to have Biden’s last name because of the family’s political prominence and business success, but he is opposed because of the ‘political warfare’ she could face.”

“A key cooperator in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of former President Donald Trump is pleading for leniency for a convicted Jan. 6 felon: his cousin,” Politico reports.

“It’s a bizarre only-in-Washington tale. Sam Patten, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to acting as an unregistered lobbyist for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, is the cousin of Noah Bacon, a Massachusetts resident found guilty in March by a jury for obstructing Congress’ Jan. 6 proceedings.”

Donald Trump compared himself to the Mona Lisa in a bizarre interview with a Welsh-language TV channel, the Mirror reports.

Said Trump: “You have people that go to the Mona Lisa — they love the Mona Lisa and they’ll see it hundreds and hundreds of times and it gets better every time. You have people that follow the rock bands and they listen to the same songs over and over and over.”

He then compared fans returning to his rallies like theater-goers going to “a Broadway play where they will see it 20 times.”

“Fears of military conflict and increasing security worries have some U.S. manufacturers re-evaluating their reliance on China,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Executives are plotting alternate supply chains or devising products that can be made elsewhere should China’s hundreds of thousands of factories become inaccessible. That prospect became more conceivable, they said, after the 2022 invasion of Ukraine prompted companies to sever ties with Russia, sometimes taking huge write-downs.”

“Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Wednesday announced that the state is sending National Guard troops to the southern border in order to aid Texas with the ongoing crisis at its border with Mexico — becoming the latest in a number of GOP-led states to send resources and troops,” Fox News reports.

In acquiring church status for tax purposes, the Family Resource Council told the IRS it holds chapel services at its office, averaging more than 65 people, ProPublica reports. But when a reporter called to inquire about service times, a staffer who answered the phone responded, “We don’t have church service.”

“A member of the far-right Oath Keepers extremist group who was part of a security detail for former President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone before storming the U.S. Capitol was sentenced on Thursday to more than four years in prison,” the AP reports.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) “hosted a 2018 meeting in his Washington, D.C., office with a New Jersey businessman who is a focus of a federal public-corruption probe of the Democratic lawmaker that has broadened in recent weeks,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Fox News host Mark Levin said that a January 6 rioter convicted of threatening to hang then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) and accosting police “didn’t do anything,” the HuffPost reports.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has changed her position on the public release of the tapes documenting the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, warning Friday that their release could “put the security of the Capitol at risk,” The Hill reports.

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

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