photo via @WhiteHouse

Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.

Grover Norquist has slithered out of his mud puddle with the rest of the House Freedom crazies and anti-government nut jobs to cheer Trump's shutdown as the ultimate hack and slash to government spending. With the shutdown in its 25th day, some Senate Republicans are desperate to reopen the government, but Mitch McConnell is afraid to piss off Trump and his base of sycophants. Politico reports he'd rather preside over a shutdown and deadlocked Senate than push through a veto override that could shatter their already broken party.

With more and more TSA employees suddenly calling in sick rather than working without pay, the TSA and major airports are scrambling to keep air travel from becoming any worse than it already is. Throughout the country thousands of federal workers are now filing for unemployment and food stamp benefits as construction projects are paused, federal investigations stall, fire prevention stops, farmers can't get loans to prepare for spring planting, the FDA can't certify meat and produce for safe eating, and now the goddamn stink bugs are preparing to invade our attics and food supplies!

White supremacist Rep. Steve King has been stripped of his committee assignments after Republican leaders (finally) realized he might be kind of racist. Several House Democrats are moving to censure King, the most serious condemnation short of expulsion. In introducing his measure to censure King, Illinois Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush bluntly stated, "He has become too comfortable with proudly insulting, disrespecting, and denigrating people of color," adding, "As with any animal that is rabid, Steve King should be set aside and isolated."

WaPo was snooping around Mick Mulvaney's nether regions in South Carolina and discovered a shady land deal where Mulvaney seems to have been trying to grift an old man out of millions of dollars. The deal was effectively vaporware, and served as nothing more than a windy way of bilking investors. The now 83-year-old man tells WaPo that he tried to call Mulvaney, but, "He never called me back. I had thought Mick was an ethical person."

William Barr, Trump's pick to replace acting AG and human meatball Matthew Whitaker, will head to the Hill today to 'splainer how he can reconcile his unsolicited rants against the Trump-Russia investigation and simultaneously pledge not to obstruct justice or perjure himself in the process. (EVAN WILL BE LIVEBLOGGING ALL DAY, come see him at 9:30 eastern!)

Roll Call stared deep into its crystal ball and came back with its first predictions for the 2020 Senate races, if you're into that sort of thing. TLDR: There's 22 Republicans up for reelection, and a very good possibility that Democrats pick up enough seats to claim a majority, but it's early and anything can happen between now and next November.

The robots at Axios wiped the brown from their noses and noticed there's a lot of women who might be running in 2020. They gossip that Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar are kicking their campaigns into gear earlier than expected. #ShesRunning.

The 2020 race might be getting dominated by women, but Politico reports Bernie Sanders is staffing up for his own 2020 run. He's tapping the best 2018 ad wizards, and personally apologizing for all the gross Bernie Bro bullshit back in 2016, but even that may not be enough to woo staunch liberals and progressives.

Slogging through a cold rain, around 32,000 teachers in Los Angeles went on strike yesterday. Like similar teacher strikes throughout 2018, the teachers are fighting for increased staff, pay raises, and a reduction in class sizes. The teachers, city and state all agree the situation is bad, and the state recently brought in number crunching nerds to find a way to "eliminate deficit spending and restore required financial reserve levels."

To celebrate Clemson University winning a sportsball thing for the first time in whenever, Trump ordered 1,000 cheeseburgers and pizzas. During his initial remarks, Trump noted that he didn't want women, like Melon, serving up some wimpy salads for college athletes who count their calories, and quipped that Steve Mnuchin would "never make the team." Speaking with reporters earlier in the evening, Trump said he wanted to serve them his favorite all-American meat-based food products with grease-soaked carbs, salt, fat, and sugar. He even broke out the fancy serving dishes and the candelabras, and reportedly paid for everything himself as, thanks to his government shutdown, there wasn't any White House staff around to cater the meal, or clean up the trash.

In the middle of a rambling speech to farmers about keeping the government shut down yesterday, Trump demanded the crowd of filthy poors and big agri-business applaud and praise him for noticing gas prices from the safety of the presidential limo, stating, "I'm riding in this incredible car, and I'm driving and I'm looking at gas stations to see how much is the gas. You think Hillary Clinton would've done that? I don't think so. I'm in the Beast. The world's most expensive car. It's like being in an army tank that goes 50 miles per hour. I'm in the Beast and I'm looking at the gas station. I say, 'fellas, slow up, I can't see.' I say, '$1.75!' That didn't happen by accident, folks."

Conspiracy peddling conservative crackpot Jerome Corsi is blubbering that Robert Mueller subpoenaed his stepson over ALLEGED text message that show he was instrumental in helping Corsi delete HIS EMAILS.

Investigators are wondering what exactly Rep. Devin Nunes was doing with Mike Flynn at a fancy breakfast at Trump's DC trash palace just before Trump was crowned God Emperor of America. The Daily Beast reports that investigators noticed the breakfast, while not unusual in DC, seemed to have the same shady Not Americans from Arab Gulf states and the former-Soviet bloc that keep popping up in Trump world. Further complicating matters is the murky money trail, and Flynn's close ties with Nunes (before he was "You're Fired" from Trump's White House).

The Times reports that Trump's inaugural committee spend well over $100 million dollars, which is excessive, but technically not a crime. HOWEVER, millions upon millions of Ameros have gone missing while other expenditures seem grossly over their normal cost. Compounding suspicions are allegations of Not American money flowing into Trump's coffers. Of course, Trump world says there was NO COLLUSION.

A lack of adults watching the overgrown manbabies in Trump's White House has foreign policy and defense hawks nervously drinking and smoking amid new fears that Trump wants to pull the US out of NATO (again).

The UK Parliament will vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal later today. The deal is expected to go down in flames, and economists are predicting a catastrophe in the global markets and supply chains as this could send the UK crashing out of the EU without any plan for border crossings, food imports, or basic medicines, likely triggering panic on the streets of London.

DANCE PARTY! Kamala Harris sat down with the Stephen Colbert and the folks at the Late Show to spill the beans on her favorite Mood Music.

Mood Mix With Senator Kamala Harris

And here's your morning Nice Time! OFFICE KITTIES!

Office Cats

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or lying in a gutter taking photos.

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You guys, hi, hello, it is almost the holiday weekend, so we are going to share you a real video posted last night by "Doctor" Sebastian "Don't Call Me A Nazi" Gorka, that hilarious old knucklecuck. We guess now that he had to give up (or gave up voluntarily!) his Fox News contract, he just makes videos for the Twitter. Hoo ... ray?

Anyway, Gorka is super-excited that Donald Trump issued that order last night, giving Bill Barr all kinds of new powers to expose the Deep State for what it is and PROVE once and for all that the gremlins who live inside Trump's diarrhea are correct when they say Hillary ordered the Deep State to do an illegal witch hunt to Trump, yadda yadda yadda, you've seen these people huff paint before, we don't have to type it all.

Here is the video, after which Wonkette will either transcribe it OR we will provide our own dramatic interpretation. Which one will it be? We don't know! Would you be able to tell the difference between the two? We don't know!

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We want to say right here at the outset that we hate Julian Assange. Aside from the sexual assault allegations against him, and aside from the fact that he's just a generally stinky and loathsome person who reportedly smeared poop on the walls at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, while reportedly not taking care of his cat, an innocent creature, he acted as Russia's handmaiden during the 2016 election, in order to further Russia's campaign to steal it for Donald Trump. All signs point to his campaign being a success!

So we are justifiably happy when bad things happen to Julian Assange. We are happy his name is shit the world over, and that any reputation WikiLeaks used to have for being on the side of freedom and transparency has been stuffed down the toilet where it belongs. We are happy he looked like such a sad-ass loser when the Ecuadorian embassy finally kicked him out and he was arrested.

And quite frankly, we were OK with the initial charge against him recently unsealed in the Eastern District of Virginia. If you'll remember, he was charged with trying to help Chelsea Manning hack a password into the Defense Department, which is not what journalists do. Journalists do not drive the get-away car for sources. Journalists do not hold their sources' hair back while they're stealing classified intel. Assange is essentially accused of doing all that.

Now, put all that aside. Because -- and this is key -- journalists do publish secrets they are provided by sources. That's First Amendment, chapter and verse, American as fucking apple pie and fast-food-induced diabetes. And that is what much of the superseding indictment of Assange unsealed yesterday was about. (And nope, it wasn't about anything regarding Assange's ratfucking the 2016 election or Hillary's emails. Why would the Trump Justice Department prosecute anything about that? It's all about the older Chelsea Manning stuff, the stuff the Obama Justice Department considered charging Assange with, but ultimately declined, because of that little thing called the First Amendment.)

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