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WHATCHU TALKIN' BOUT MICHAEL COHEN. Wonkagenda For Thurs., March 7, 2019

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


Michael Cohen's former legal team MAY have reached out to Trump's lawyers about a pardon, and now nobody is sure if Cohen lied to Congress AGAIN! (TON of conflicting reports, yo.) Trump's TV lawyer Jay Sekulow denies the allegation, calling it "not true," while Rudy Giuliani is gibbering on about attorney client privilege. Yesterday, Cohen left his meeting with the House Intel Committee saying "it went very well." I personally can't even begin to unfuck the sheer legal craziness because I'm not a lawyer like Five Dollar Feminist, who is just shaking her head and pacing the room like the mom in The Yellow Wallpaper.

Despite pledging that he alone can fix "it," Trump is failing miserably at every campaign promise, according to a new analysis in WaPo. The few signature policies he has been able to enact, such as court packing, baby jails, and his tax cuts (for the super rich) have forced the economic analysis to project an economy in doom and gloom as US trade and housing markets slump thanks to stagnant wages, a lack of affordable housing, Trump's trade war, and a 35 day government shutdown on top of all the useless neo-nationalist rhetoric being injected into political discussions. Of course, Trump says, "It's not my fault," and blames his failures in North Korea, his Muslim ban, the border wall, repealing the ACA, and inability to reinvigorate the Midwest manufacturing sector are all the fault of ... someone else.

Citing leaked documents, NBC reports CBP has created a list of 59 journalists, attorneys and activists border agents should detain and harass at San Diego-area checkpoints along the US-Mexican border. Titled "San Diego Sector Foreign Operations Branch: Migrant Caravan FY-2019 Suspected Organizers, Coordinators, Instigators, and Media," the list includes photos, labels like "instigators," and in some cases dossiers, compiled with the help of Mexican officials, that include details such as vehicles, parents' names, and work and travel history. The report confirms the suspicions of many journalists who've been repeatedly stopped, screened and searched with a roto-rooter. [The List]

House Democrats are threatening to strip the Pentagon's ability to move money around in order to combat the Trump administration's $2.5 billion border wall cash grab. In a new interview with Bloomberg Government, House Armed Services chair Rep. Adam Smith says, "We will zero out their reprogramming authority for fiscal year 2020," effectively forcing the DOD to choose between following questionable orders from the Executive Branch, and upholding their oath to defend the Constitution just before the FY2020 budget hits the presses. Incoming shitshow, stand by!

Since the National Emergencies Act requires a reapproval vote every six months, congressional Democrats intend to force Republicans into Trump loyalty tests over and over and over until they kill Trump's wall. With the first vote expected to come next week before the March recess, one Republican nervously tells Politico, "Why make people walk the plank?" Oh, I dunno, WHY?

A number of Senate Democrats plan to vote "present" for the Green New Deal in order to avoid a trap by the GOP. Yesterday, Senate Republicans bemoaned the death of fossil fuels on the Senate floor, calling the road map to a less shitty future "wildly unrealistic" and a "travesty." Rebuking Republicans, Minority leader Chuck Schumer stated, "I understand my friends on the other side of the aisle don't like the Green New Deal. Okay, that's fine. What's your plan? Maybe a lot of members think they can get away without having to answer that question. They won't."

BONUS: This morning "The Daily" podcast from the New York Times looks at some of the arguments surrounding the Green New Deal.

The Trump White House is hoping to sell Democrats on NAFTA 2: The Milk Mafia Boogaloo, but both Republicans and Democrats have been less than receptive. Politico reports Jared Kushner is taking the lead on whipping legislators in meetings with half a dozen influential caucuses, though many are waiting to see economic projections and expressing concern on the enforcement of new labor and environmental standards.

The House Oversight Committee will investigate allegations of election fuckery in the Georgia's midterm election. Yesterday, reps Elijah Cummings and Jamie Raskin sent nastygrams to Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp saying that they were "concerned by reports that Georgians faced unprecedented challenges with registering to vote and significant barriers to casting their votes during the 2018 election." Kemp responded by stating, "They need to quit playing politics up there," adding, "Elijah Cummings and his colleagues in the House are hung up on giving more money to Puerto Rico when we have our own farmers who are fixing to lose their farm."

Arizona Republican Sen. Martha McSally said that she was raped by a senior officer during the course of her 26-year military career at a Senate hearing on the military's efforts to prevent sexual assault. McSally says she never reported the incident because she did not trust the system, and expressed gratitude to the women who had come forward to the committee.

Prosecutors have dropped their corruption case against disgraced former Republican Rep. Aaron Schock after Schock agreed to pay $110,000 in restitution and taxes and keep his nose clean for six months in exchange for no criminal convictions. As per the agreement, Schock conceded in court that "his actions or inaction may have caused his campaign committees and the House to pay expenses that Schock knew or should have known were not properly charged to those entities." The agreement shifts blame to Schock's campaign committee, which pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for his 24 felony counts of grifting tax payers for Super Bowl tickets, travel expenses, camera equipment, and remodeling his congressional office to look like the set of Downton Abbey. In an appearance on Morning Joe this morning, Schock expressed regret for not overseeing his campaign's grift, and for appearing on "Men's Health," then cast himself as a pariah and victim of the criminal justice system.

Nancy Pelosi is caught between Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar and a hard place as she decides just how far the House should go in condemning remarks that some see as anti-Semitic. The progressive and black caucuses have rallied to Omar's defense, arguing that Omar shouldn't receive any punishment as she herself has been the target of hate speech while some senior Jewish lawmakers demand that she, at the very least, make another public apology. The uproar is now spreading to 2020 candidates with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris insisting on condemnation of all forms of hate speech. In addition, Sens. Warren and Harris expressed concern for Rep. Omar's safety, Sen. Bernie Sanders called for a debate on Middle Eastern policy, and Harris stated there's a difference between criticizing US policy and being anti-Semitic. For their part, the GOP is attempting to take the moral high ground as if members of their own party aren't tweeting anti-Semitic tropes, openly preaching white nationalism, or blowing dog whistles.

Joe Biden won't say if #HesRunning (yet), but he's sure as hell making some power plays! Yesterday Biden secured the backing of Cristóbal Alex, head of the Latino Victory Fund and Hillary Clinton's 2016 National Deputy Director of Voter Outreach and Mobilization. It's not exactly clear what Alex will do, but the same could be said for Biden.

Citing Jane Mayer's explosive New Yorker piece linking Fox News to the White House, the DNC has barred Fox News from airing any of its 2019 or 2020 debates. Fox News fired back, expressing its commitment to "ultimate journalistic integrity and professionalism," (PFFF!), while Trump shitposted he'd "do the same thing with Fake News Networks and the Radical Left Democrats in the General Election debates!" [sic]

Two longshot 2020 Democratic presidential candidates say they're on track to qualify for the debates. Andrew Yang and Marianne Williamson say they'll meet the DNC's strict new debate rules, giving them the ability to inject policies like a universal basic income or reparations for African-Americans into the general consciousness (provided anyone bothers to watch the undercard debates).

The US Army is shifting from its counter-insurgency strategy to combating adversaries in the growing "gray zone." TLDR: The Army doesn't see opium-addicted sheep farmers in "shithole countries" as the greatest threat to democracy in the world because they're eyeballing Russia and China. Meanwhile, Senators Tim Kaine and Todd Young have introduced legislation to repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force (AUMFs) in Iraq to make sure nobody else decides to go on another freedom crusade or "zombie war" in a sandbox.

Chelsea Manning's lost her fight against a grand jury subpoena to testify in an investigation surrounding Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The case is believed to be related to Manning's leak of classified military documents and diplomatic cables to Wikileaks during the early years of Obama administration, and not the sprawling Trump-Russia investigation.

Digital game distributor Valve has pulled "Rape Day," a rape simulation set to be released next month on its Steam platform. In a blog post, Valve says the game violated its murky policy of acceptable content by posing "unknown costs and risks." Valve didn't specify what those costs and risks might be as its policy is to let everyone upload whatever awful crap they want, sans child exploitation.

House Democrats have introduced the Save the Internet Act, a bill to restore net neutrality and make piece of shit FCC chair Ajit Pai do his goddamn job. The bill would reclassify the internet as an "information service" under Title I of the Communications Act, voiding Pai's (and Republicans') attempt to hand the internet over to greedy telecoms. Democrats expect the legislation to move swiftly through the House, and are already pressuring Republicans in the Senate who supported and passed a similar bill during the last congressional session. Pai has released a statement bitching and moaning for his corporate puppet masters. [Bill]

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he is pivoting the company to focus on encrypted messaging platforms. In a 3,200-word blog post of vague neurotic rambling and jargon, Zuckerberg likened the switch to conversations in a public square to a living room, essentially voiding Facebook's entire business model of sucking up data and selling it to advertisers. Skeptics are already casting doubt about Facebook's motives, noting the potential threats to public safety and the ability to spread massive amounts of misinformation. The move comes as Facebook battles a deluge of privacy scandals, data breaches, the continued fallout of Cambridge Analytica, government regulation on at least two continents, a push into Chinese markets, AND an attempt to turn its messaging platforms (WhatsApp and Messenger) into the de facto system for e-commerce and sexting.

Trump brain farted at some dumbass White House advisory meeting and called the Apple CEO Tim Cook, "Tim Apple," and referred to Ivanka as "honey." The Verge notes that this isn't the first time Trump has done this, as he once called Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin, Marillyn Lockheed, while boasting about the "invisible" F-35.

Randy Rainbow is singing about all the wonderful guys Trump is in love with, and ... oh, Crom, it's not good.

HE'S IN LOVE (and we're all gonna die) - Randy Rainbow Song Parody www.youtube.com

And here's your morning Nice Time! DOGS AND CATS living together? Mass hysteria!

Muji looks after Mumaru: หมาเลี้ยงแมว www.youtube.com

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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 in a gutter taking photos.

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