Cup of Joe – July 2, 2023

Politico: “Moves by Chief Justice John Roberts in the weeks leading up to the grand finale seemed to signal an eagerness on his part to project an air of moderation.”

“But if Roberts amassed some political capital from those decisions, he swiftly spent it on Thursday and Friday. In the three most politically divisive cases of the term, the court issued polarized 6-3 decisions — two of which Roberts wrote himself, and all of which delivered sweeping conservative victories on issues that are high priorities for the right.”

“The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to consider whether the government may forbid people subject to domestic violence orders from having guns, setting the stage for a major test of its ruling last year vastly expanding people’s right to arm themselves in public,” the New York Times reports.

“The case will turn on the scope of a new legal standard established in that decision, one whose reliance on historical practices has sown confusion across the country as courts have struggled to apply it.”

“A ruling by Indiana’s highest court on Friday cleared the way for a ban in the state on most abortions from conception,” the New York Times reports.

“The court said that the state Constitution guarantees a limited right to abortion, but not a fundamental one — that means allowing abortion only when it is necessary to save a woman’s life or protect her from a serious health risk.”

“The decisions this week on affirmative action and student loans give Democrats a way to make a case on class and appeal to voters who have drifted away from the party,” the New York Times reports.

Politico reports the decisions move Biden “incrementally closer to his party’s base, even pleasing some of the progressive activists who have pushed him to adopt hardline changes to the court — and who will be a key part of any successful coalition for him in the 2024 presidential election.”

The Washington Post notes the anger expressed from the left this week “indicated that Democrats are gearing up for a more robust — and direct — battle against a court that many of them believe has become an illegitimate outgrowth of the Republican Party.”

“A series of Supreme Court rulings gave Democrats a needed jolt to shore up their ranks in the South heading into the pivotal 2024 election. But those rulings also set up a game of musical chairs that could end the political careers of a couple of young Republicans considered future party leaders,” the Washington Post reports.

“By upholding a section of the Voting Rights Act, the court has essentially forced the legislatures in Alabama and Louisiana to redraw congressional districts in a manner to give Black voters more power, beyond just the single district in each state currently held by Reps. Troy Carter (D-LA) and Terri Sewell (D-AL).”

Saying the Supreme Court “misinterpreted the Constitution,” President Joe Biden said his administration will attempt to resurrect his student debt relief program using different legal authority after the high court blocked the effort from moving forward, Punchbowl News reports.

“In a phone call in late 2020, President Donald Trump tried to pressure Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to overturn the state’s presidential election results, saying that if enough fraudulent votes could be found it would overcome Trump’s narrow loss in Arizona, according to three people familiar with the call,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump also repeatedly asked Vice President Mike Pence to call Ducey and prod him to find the evidence to substantiate Trump’s claims of fraud, according to two of these people. Pence called Ducey several times to discuss the election, they said, though he did not follow Trump’s directions to pressure the governor.”

“The extent of Trump’s efforts to cajole Ducey into helping him stay in power have not before been reported, even as other efforts by Trump’s lawyer and allies to pressure Arizona officials have been made public.”

“Five weeks after Russia trumpeted the capture of the small eastern city of Bakhmut, where the longest and bloodiest engagement of the war has played out, Ukrainian troops are clawing back high ground on its northern and southern edges in a bid to encircle Russian troops there,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“During a secret visit to Ukraine by CIA Director William Burns earlier this month, Ukrainian officials revealed an ambitious strategy to retake Russian-occupied territory and open cease-fire negotiations with Moscow by the end of the year,” the Washington Post reports.

The trip by Burns, which has not been previously reported, included meetings with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukraine’s top intelligence officials. It came at a critical moment in the conflict as Ukrainian forces struggle to gain an early advantage in their long-awaited counteroffensive but have yet to deploy most of their Western-trained and -equipped assault brigades.”

“Nearly 18 months into the Russian invasion of Ukraine now, amidst last week’s failed coup attempt, battlefield setbacks, and global diplomatic condemnation, Putin is coming under increasing strain to finance his increasingly-expensive war—and there’s a history lesson for how this will all end,” Time reports.

“Far from the prevailing narrative on how Putin funds his invasion, Putin’s financial lifeline has his merciless cannibalization of Russian economic productivity. He has been burning the living room furniture to fuel his battles in Ukraine, but that is now starting to backfire amidst a deafening silence and dearth of public support. That is far from the prevailing narrative on how Putin funds his invasion. Ample western commentators posit that Putin is pulling in billions from trade to finance the invasion thanks to high commodity prices, weak western sanctions, and sanctions evasion.”

“CIA Director William Burns quietly reached out to his Russian counterpart in the aftermath of a failed mutiny by Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, delivering a message that the U.S. had no involvement in Russia’s internal chaos,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“David Weiss, the US attorney in Delaware overseeing the criminal probe into Hunter Biden, has pushed back on claims that he had been unable to bring charges against President Joe Biden’s son in certain areas and reiterated that he had ultimate authority over the investigation,” CNN reports.

Hunter Biden’s lawyer sent a blistering letter Friday to the Republican chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, accusing him of trying to undermine the law and feeding “the misinformation campaign to harm our client, Hunter Biden, as a vehicle to attack his father,” Axios reports.

“Fox News has agreed to pay $12 million to Abby Grossberg, a former Fox News producer who had accused the network of operating a hostile and discriminatory workplace and of coercing her into providing false testimony in a deposition,” the New York Times reports.

Wall Street Journal: “The children of military families make up the majority of new recruits in the U.S. military. That pipeline is now under threat, which is bad news for the Pentagon’s already acute recruitment problems, as well as America’s military readiness.”

“After the patriotic boost to recruiting that followed 9/11, the U.S. military has endured 20 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan with no decisive victories, scandals over shoddy military housing and healthcare, poor pay for lower ranks that forces many military families to turn to food stamps, and rising rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide.”

“At the same time, the labor market is the tightest it has been in decades, meaning plenty of other options exist for young people right out of school.”

Bloomberg: “The entire South, stretching from Florida north to Kentucky and west to Texas, is where businesses are moving to, jobs are being created and homes are being bought. The uplift isn’t happening equally everywhere, or equally for everyone. But the implications for the entire country are enormous.”

“The numbers tell the story. For the first time, six fast-growing states in the South — Florida, Texas, Georgia, the Carolinas and Tennessee — are contributing more to the national GDP than the Northeast, with its Washington-New York-Boston corridor, according to government figures going back to the 1990s.”

“Fresh signs of labor market strength reinforced a picture of an economy with broad-based momentum despite rising interest rates,” the Wall Street Journal reports.  “Layoffs retreated last week and economic growth was stronger than initially reported in the first quarter, the government reported Thursday. Other recent data showed rising new home sales, orders for long-lasting goods and consumer confidence.”

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) “is set to return to court Friday for the first time since pleading not guilty last month to charges that he duped donors, stole from his campaign, collected fraudulent unemployment benefits and lied to Congress about being a millionaire,” the AP reports.

“The hearing is expected to focus on the timing of future court dates as the case against the Republican congressman moves forward.”

“In one of the largest corruption cases in Ohio history, former state House Speaker Larry Householder (R) was sentenced Thursday to the maximum 20 years in prison for orchestrating a nearly $60 million illegal bribery scheme that fueled his return to political power,” the Columbus Dispatch reports.  “Once one of the most powerful politicians in Ohio, Householder is now a convicted felon, guilty of racketeering conspiracy and breaking the public’s trust. He was immediately taken into custody in federal court in Cincinnati.”

“Hakeem Jeffries’ path to winning the majority and becoming speaker runs through his backyard in New York, and he is methodically staging a takeover of Democratic House campaigns in the state to make it happen,” CNN reports.  “Jeffries, a New York Democrat, is installing his own loyalists in key positions as he effectively takes over much of the state party operations that would usually be controlled by Gov. Kathy Hochul.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said in a classified briefing to Israeli lawmakers that China’s growing involvement in the Middle East “could be useful” because it “will compel” the U.S. to increase its engagement in the region, Axios reports.

“The Chinese spy balloon that was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean in early February was built — at least partly — using American off-the-shelf parts,” a U.S. official has confirmed to ABC News.  “A second U.S. official was also able to confirm that the balloon did not appear to have transmitted any of the data it collected on its journey above North America.”

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would drop the most controversial part of his plan to remake the country’s court system, which sparked large-scale unrest earlier this year,” the Wall Street Journal reports.  “Netanyahu will push ahead with legislation but will strip it of a provision that would have given the national legislature the power to overturn rulings by the Supreme Court.”

“A man with materials to make explosives and an active Jan. 6-related warrant was arrested by law enforcement in former President Barack Obama’s Washington, D.C., neighborhood,” CBS News reports.

“Rob Malley, the US special envoy on Iran, has been placed on leave without pay, which occurred after his security clearance was suspended earlier this year amid an investigation into his handling of classified material,” CNN reports.

Wall Street Journal: “The FBI is trying to determine the origin of more than 100 suspicious letters containing apparently harmless white powder that have been sent to public officials in at least seven states in recent weeks, some with muddled messages and bearing the return addresses of dead transgender people, law-enforcement officials said.”

“French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday postponed a long-planned state visit to Germany to deal with the worsening turmoil in France, in a clear sign of the gravity of the violent protests gripping the country,” Politico reports.

“South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has stepped up his pressure campaign against North Korea by appointing a hawk who called for the destruction of Kim Jong Un’s regime to lead his ministry charged with engaging Pyongyang,” Bloomberg reports.

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

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