Cup of Joe – June 22, 2023

Justice Samuel Alito took a luxury fishing trip with a Republican billionaire who later had cases before the Supreme Court, ProPublica reports.

Last evening a head-scratcher of an op-ed appeared in the conservative-friendly confines of the WSJ opinion page, authored by Justice Samuel Alito himself.

It turned out to be an effort by Alito to get ahead of an as-then-yet-to-be-published ProPublica investigative piece about unreported travel and accommodations Alito received on an Alaska fishing trip while a justice. ProPublica published its report later in the evening.

Rather than commenting to ProPublica when it reached out to him for its story, Alito ran to his buddies at the WSJ and launched his defense there, which included a broadside against ProPublica.

“I was invited shortly before the event, and I was asked whether I would like to fly there in a seat that, as far as I am aware, would have otherwise been vacant.”— Justice Samuel Alito, writing in the Wall Street Journal, defending taking a flight on the private jet of a Republican billionaire donor.

“The House will vote this week on a pair of resolutions impeaching President Biden and censuring Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA),” Axios reports.

“Both measures were introduced by members of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, who have proven increasingly willing to try to force votes that could divide their party.”

House Republicans are privately “cringing” at plans by Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to force votes on impeaching President Biden and members of his Cabinet, Politico  reports. Many Republicans think it’s too early for such measures.

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy urged House Republicans to vote against the resolution brought forward by GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado forcing a vote to impeach President Joe Biden this week, arguing now is not the right time,” CNN reports.

“McCarthy argued that Republicans should let committee investigations play out and warning that jumping to impeachment now could threaten their slim majority… The speaker noted that House Republicans have taken back the House five times in the last 100 years, and two of those times lost the majority the next cycle.”

“House members across the ideological spectrum are getting tired of focusing almost entirely on legislation whose only role is to fire up the base,” Axios reports.

“Those ‘messaging bills’ constitute much of what the House Republican majority has focused on over the last six months — and there’s no sign GOP leaders intend to change course.”

Associated Press: “In his first televised interview since his arraignment last week on federal charges, the former president acknowledged that he delayed turning over boxes of documents despite being asked to do so, drew factually incorrect parallels between his case and classified document probes concerning other politicians, and claimed he didn’t actually have a Pentagon attack plan that the indictment says he boasted about to others.”

“Those comments — like any remarks made by a defendant about an ongoing case — could complicate his lawyers’ work, potentially precluding defenses they might have otherwise wanted to make or alternately boxing them into certain arguments so as to remain consistent with their clients’ claims. The interview could give the Justice Department compelling, and admissible, insight into Trump’s state of mind as the case moves forward, allowing prosecutors to preemptively attack defenses he might intend to invoke.”

“The indictment was, frankly, even stronger than I expected, and by stronger I mean the evidence of obstructive conduct — failure to cooperate, failure to return classified information that had been requested, was far more fulsome than even I had imagined and went back much further in time. So my reaction was, first of all, ‘Wow, Mr. Trump was in this from the beginning.’ That whole defense that was floated by his attorneys that in the rush of getting out of the White House, this was all by mistake, and he was cooperative later on — the indictment, if the allegations can be proved, really puts the lie to that.”— Former federal prosecutor Mary McCord, in an interview with the Washington Post.

“The problem for Donald Trump’s rivals with the wall-to-wall media coverage of his indictment isn’t just that Trump is once again drawing all the attention in the presidential primary,” Politico reports.

“It’s that, more than ever before, there appears to be no end in sight, with the prospect of a prolonged legal battle reducing his competitors to commentators on his legal troubles — or drowning them out entirely.”

“Hunter Biden and his baby mama have privately settled their child support dispute in Arkansas,“ the New York Post reports.

“Lunden Roberts, 32, the mother of Hunter’s long-unacknowledged 4-year-old daughter, agreed to her $20,000 monthly child support payments being slashed after she showed up in person to his deposition in Little Rock last week.”

From a Los Angeles Times profile of sex cub entrepreneur Damon Lawner: “On Tuesday, after Hunter Biden reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors, Lawner said on Instagram that the president’s son had once been a Snctm member.”

Donald Trump said his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner will not serve in his administration if he is elected president again in 2024 because it was “too painful for the family” last time, the HuffPost reports.  Said Trump: “I said, that’s enough for the family. You know why? It’s too painful for the family.”

“On a remote site at the edge of the Gulf of Oman, thousands of migrant laborers from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are at work in 103-degree heat, toiling in shifts from dawn until nightfall to build a new city, a multibillion-dollar project backed by Oman’s oil-rich government that has an unusual partner: former President Donald J. Trump,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Trump’s name is plastered on signs at the entrance of the project and in the lobby of the InterContinental Hotel in Muscat, the nearby capital of Oman, where a team of sales agents is invoking Mr. Trump’s name to help sell luxury villas at prices of up to $13 million, mostly targeting superrich buyers from around the world, including from Russia, Iran and India.”

“Mr. Trump has been selling his name to global real estate developers for more than a decade. But the Oman deal has taken his financial stake in one of the world’s most strategically important and volatile regions to a new level, underscoring how his business and his politics intersect as he runs for president again amid intensifying legal and ethical troubles.”

The disbarment proceedings against Trump coup architect John Eastman got underway Tuesday in California and are expected to last a couple of weeks.

“The fringe legal theory that former President Donald Trump deployed to subvert the 2020 election faced withering scrutiny Tuesday from California legal authorities who want to disbar its key architect: attorney John Eastman,” Politico reports.

“Eastman’s bar trial, on charges that he committed professional misconduct by fomenting efforts to obstruct the election of President Joe Biden, comes as both he and Trump await word on whether they’ll be criminally charged for the scheme. But on Tuesday, California bar authorities made sure that Eastman’s legal theory itself would face its own thorough reckoning for the first time since Jan. 6, 2021.”

“The Pentagon said Tuesday that it overestimated the value of the weapons it has sent to Ukraine by $6.2 billion over the past two years — about double early estimates — resulting in a surplus that will be used for future security packages,” the AP reports.

Washington Post: “[Florida Governor Ron DeSantis] repeatedly points to his overhaul of the state court as a sign of how he would approach the judiciary if elected. He has called Justice Clarence Thomas “our greatest living justice” and pledged to move the U.S.Supreme Court even further to the right than President Donald Trump did.”

“In Florida, the governor’s confidential vetting process for the high court was one of the earliest examples of what would become a signature tactic of his administration — testing the boundaries of executive authority, while defying protocols aimed at transparency and accountability. It also foreshadowed the governor’s allegiance to the Federalist Society, the organization led by Leo that worked behind the scenes at the national level to build the conservative Supreme Court supermajority that overturned the right to abortion.”

“When China suddenly dismantled its lockdowns and other Covid precautions last December, officials in Beijing and many investors expected the economy to spring back to life,” the New York Times reports. “It has not worked out that way.”

“Investment in China has stagnated this spring after a flurry of activity in late winter. Exports are shrinking. Fewer and fewer new housing projects are being started. Prices are falling. More than one in five young people is unemployed.”

“An increasingly sluggish Chinese economy could increase the prospect of a military crisis in the Taiwan Strait as Chinese President Xi Jinping may further embrace nationalism in his unprecedented third term, a prominent U.S. think tank has warned,” Nikkei Asia reports.

“A bipartisan pair of senators hopes to limit China’s ability to purchase farmland in the U.S. and force the U.S. government to consider stripping some Chinese and foreign landowners of their real estate,” NBC News reports.

Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said they “are taking action as a response to reports of China threatening America’s food supply and posing an even greater national security risk by acquiring U.S. farmland near military installations.”

“China and Cuba are negotiating to establish a new joint military training facility on the island, sparking alarm in Washington that it could lead to the stationing of Chinese troops and other security and intelligence operations just 100 miles off Florida’s coast,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Discussions for the facility on Cuba’s northern coast are at an advanced stage but not concluded, U.S. intelligence reports suggest. The Biden administration has contacted Cuban officials to try to forestall the deal, seeking to tap in to what it thinks might be Cuban concerns about ceding sovereignty. Beijing’s effort to establish a military training facility in Cuba hasn’t been previously reported.”

Wall Street Journal: “Across affluent countries, central bankers are sharply lifting inflation forecasts, penciling in further interest-rate increases and warning investors that interest rates will stay high for some time. Some have set aside plans to keep interest rates on hold.”

“Roughly a year into their campaign against high inflation, policy makers are some way from being able to declare victory. In the U.S. and Europe, underlying inflation is still around 5% or higher even as last year’s heady increases in energy and food prices fade from view. On both sides of the Atlantic, wage growth has stabilized at high levels and shows few signs of steady declines.”

Gideon Rachman: “The Ukraine war has revived the transatlantic alliance. But the relationship between the US and its European allies is increasingly lopsided.”

“The US economy is now considerably richer and more dynamic than the EU or Britain — and the gap is growing. That will have an impact well beyond relative living standards. Europe’s dependence on the US for technology, energy, capital and military protection is steadily undermining any aspirations the EU might have for ‘strategic autonomy.’”

New York Times: “In most of the country, state and local laws require public announcements — about town meetings, elections, land sales and dozens of other routine occurrences — to be published in old-fashioned, print-and-ink newspapers, as well as online, so that citizens are aware of matters of public note. The payments for publishing these notices are among the steadiest sources of revenue left for local papers.”

“Sometimes, though, public officials revoke the contracts in an effort to punish their hometown newspapers for aggressive coverage of local politics.”

“Such retaliation is not new, but it appears to be occurring more frequently now, when terms like ‘fake news’ have become part of the popular lexicon.”

“UK lawmakers endorsed the findings of a probe that concluded former Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeatedly and deliberately misled lawmakers, and stripped him of the right to the automatic access to Parliament enjoyed by former members,” Bloomberg reports.

A federal judge ruled that Arkansas’ ban on gender-affirming care for minors was unconstitutional.

“National test scores plummeted for 13-year-olds, according to new data that shows the single largest drop in math in 50 years and no signs of academic recovery following the disruptions of the pandemic,” the Washington Post reports.

“The identities of the people who guaranteed Rep. George Santos’ $500,000 bond in his criminal fraud case will be revealed Thursday at noon,” CNBC reports.

Actor Samuel L. Jackson told Rolling Stone that Donald Trump reminds him of the same racist “rednecks” who taunted him as a child. Said Jackson: “That’s what the Republican Party is to me. They’re doing it to young people, gay people. They don’t care who you are. If you’re not them, you’re the enemy.”

“Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves traveled to Alabama for a Republican fundraising event as people in his state were still reeling from back-to-back tornadoes that killed one person, injured dozens and destroyed homes and businesses, and in the midst of lingering power outages from severe thunderstorms,” the AP reports.

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

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