Cup of Joe – July 6, 2023

A federal judge in Louisiana who has been a favorite of Republican attorneys general looking to make a name for themselves by turning right-wing conspiracy theories into legal actions against the Biden administration has struck again.

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty of the Western District of Louisiana took the unusual step of releasing a ruling on the Fourth of July – when federal courts are closed – in a closely-watched case that is trying to validate made-up far-right claims about a massive Deep State effort to censor conservative voices on social media.

Doughty totally embraced the conspiricizing and enjoined several components of the federal government from communicating with social media companies about problematic online content: “If the allegations made by plaintiffs are true, the present case arguably involves the most massive attack against free speech in United States’ history,” the judge ruled. “The plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits in establishing that the government has used its power to silence the opposition.”

It was a “win’ for the GOP attorneys general in Louisiana and Missouri, and a loss for the rule of law, common sense, and sentient beings everywhere.

Another sample of the tone of Doughty’s ruling: [T]he evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a period perhaps best characterized by widespread doubt and uncertainty, the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.”

The ruling by Doughty, a Trump appointee, is likely to be quickly appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which already slapped him down once in this case.

A federal judge has blocked Florida’s new law imposing restrictions on voter registration groups, Politico reports.

“The life of Mikhail Fridman, one of Russia’s original oligarchs, was ‘destroyed’ after he was hit by European Union sanctions following the Kremlin-led invasion of Ukraine, his attorney told an EU court,” Bloomberg reports.

“The Kremlin on Tuesday held the door open for contacts with the U.S. regarding a possible prisoner exchange that could potentially involve jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, but reaffirmed that such talks must be held out of the public eye,” the AP reports.

“Xi Jinping personally warned Vladimir Putin against using nuclear weapons in Ukraine, indicating Beijing harbours concerns about Russia’s war even as it offers tacit backing to Moscow,” the Financial Times reports.

“The Russian army has lost half of its combat effectiveness in Ukraine, including as many as 2,500 tanks, and the main push of Kyiv’s counter-offensive is still to come, the head of Britain’s armed forces has said,” the Financial Times reports.

Said Admiral Sir Tony Radakin: “Russia is now so weak that it does not have the strength for its own counter-offensive.”

“The prime minister of Sweden will meet with President Biden on Wednesday, beginning a week of diplomacy by the two leaders to persuade opponents to allow the Nordic nation to join NATO,” the New York Times reports.

“A small amount of a white powdery substance was found in the White House on Sunday evening, according to a person familiar with the episode, and an initial test by emergency response workers determined that it was cocaine,” the New York Times reports.

“President Biden and his family were away at Camp David when a uniformed Secret Service agent found the substance during a patrol of the West Wing around 6 p.m. on Sunday, the person said, prompting a brief shutdown of some of the White House campus as response workers assessed whether the substance was hazardous.”

Punchbowl News: “Cocaine was found in the White House on Sunday. The incident — Biden wasn’t there when it happened — prompted a brief evacuation. We don’t know much right now and the Secret Service is investigating, but it’s never a good thing when an illegal substance is found in the president’s home.”

Headline from the Daily Mail: “Joe invites recovering drug addict Hunter and family onto Truman balcony to watch July 4th celebrations — two days after cocaine was found in the West Wing.”

“As Democrats reel from another painful set of defeats at the Supreme Court in recent weeks, President Biden is facing renewed pressure from a range of elements in his party, from liberal lawmakers to abortion rights activists, to more forcefully embrace far-reaching changes to the high court,” the Washington Post reports.

“Biden has harshly criticized the Supreme Court’s sharp pivot to the right, but he has stayed away from endorsing any of the broad array of reforms — including court expansion, term limits and mandatory retirements — that are being pushed by the left flank of his party and increasingly backed by core parts of his base.”

Wall Street Journal: Biden’s base wants Supreme Court reform.

NBC News: “In the four years since DeSantis took office, his administration has routinely stonewalled the release of public records, approved a slew of new legal exceptions aimed at keeping more information out of the public eye, and waged legal battles against open government advocates, the press and other watchdogs.”

Politico: “European leaders have devoted tens of billions of dollars toward encouraging production of hydrogen, a clean-burning fuel that advocates say will create jobs and help fight climate change. But now, many of those jobs will be going to the United States instead.”

“The clean energy subsidies that undergird President Joe Biden’s climate agenda have just prompted one Norwegian manufacturer to choose Michigan, not Europe, as the site of a nearly $500 million factory… and other European-based companies are being tempted to follow suit.”

 “Speaker Kevin McCarthy has expanded the use of cameras in the House chamber after his own contested speaker’s race turned into a riveting reality TV show,” Semafor reports.

“Viewers now get a broader glimpse of Congress in action… There are nine different cameras inside the House chamber operated by the House Recording Studio, under the purview of the office of the Chief Administrative Officer, an appointed position determined by a majority vote at the start of every Congress.”

“House Republicans are taking their fight with the FBI and Justice Department to a new level — weighing punitive steps against both agencies that would have been unfathomable a decade ago,” Politico reports.

“Half a year into their majority, and with an increasingly restless right flank, the House GOP is ready for a confrontation after a spate of recent decisions it sees as either anti-Trump or pro-Biden. At the top of the list: Hunter Biden’s plea deal with federal investigators and Donald Trump’s indictment over his handling of classified documents.”

“Former Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman of Virginia — who served as a senior technical adviser to the House select committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol — is working with the legal team advising President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who is facing increasing scrutiny from House Republicans over his business dealings,” CBS News reports.

Politico: “Leading economists at big banks like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase have lowered their odds of an imminent recession, pointing to a resilient labor market and steady household finances as signs that the U.S. can weather the storm as the Federal Reserve continues to drive up borrowing costs.”

“The world’s 500 richest people added $852 billion to their fortunes in the first half of 2023,” Bloomberg reports. “Each member of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index made an average of $14 million per day over the past six months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.”

Monday, July 3, was the hottest day ever recorded globally, Reuters reports. And then July 4 was the next hottest day ever recorded globally.

“Global temperatures have smashed through records this week, underscoring the dangers of ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions generated from burning fossil fuels,” Bloomberg reports.

“The new highs illustrate the extremity of 2023’s summer in the northern hemisphere, and bring into focus the slow pace of global progress on curbing emissions.”

“Republicans are deeply divided over impeaching President Biden, with newly energized lawmakers on the far right applying pressure to do so and leaders and rank-and-file members concerned they have undertaken a politically risky battle that they cannot win,” the New York Times reports.

“An intensive drive by right-wing Republicans in Congress to vilify the F.B.I. with charges of political bias has imperiled a program allowing spy agencies to conduct warrantless surveillance on foreign targets, sapping support for a premier intelligence tool and amplifying demands for stricter limits,” the New York Times reports.

“The once-secret program — created after the 9/11 attacks and described by intelligence officials as crucial to stopping overseas hackers, spy services and terrorists — has long faced resistance by Democrats concerned that it could trample on Americans’ civil liberties. But the law authorizing it is set to expire in December, and opposition among Republicans, who have historically championed it, has grown as the G.O.P. has stepped up its attacks on the F.B.I., taking a page from former President Donald Trump and his supporters.”

“Beauty salons in Afghanistan have been given one month to close as the country’s Taliban leaders extend their repressive rule over women, who are already largely confined to their homes with bans on most work and study,” CNN reports.

Foreign Policy: “In the decade since the party first entered the German political scene, it has won seats in the Bundestag and in state-level parliaments across the country—but, in large part due to long-standing taboos against collaborating with the far right, it had never won any executive governing positions. Although there had been a number of close calls in AfD strongholds at the local and regional levels, particularly in eastern Germany, where the party does best, AfD candidates always fell short of a majority in runoff votes against other parties.”

“But that changed with a pair of back-to-back local-level elections in recent weeks: On Sunday, the town of Raguhn-Jessnitz in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt elected Germany’s first-ever AfD full-time mayor. Hannes Loth, a 42-year-old lawmaker, defeated an independent candidate backed by other parties with 51 percent of the vote. Just a week earlier in Sonneberg, a small district in the nearby state of Thuringia, AfD candidate Robert Sesselmann became the first candidate from the far-right party to win a district administrator’s post, taking almost 53 percent of the vote against a candidate from the conservative Christian Democratic Union.”

“The leaders represented the three biggest powers bidding to reshape a global order dominated by the United States, convening over video feeds at a virtual summit meeting on Tuesday,” the New York Times reports.  “But beyond the unity implied by their joint appearance, each seemed focused on his own, different aim.”

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

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