IT'S ALL FINE. Wonkagenda For Mon., March 11, 2019
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
Trump's 2020 budget will seek $8.6 billion for his goddamn wall, further eviscerate what's left of the social safety net, and spike military spending. In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Trump's TV economist Larry Kudlow doubled down on Trump's national emergency declaration, and admitted that there would be another fight with Congress. Meanwhile, Army officials tell Defense News that it's going to ask for $190 million in FY2020, $8 million more than last year, much of which is reportedly being considered as funding for Trump's Tortilla Curtain.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson is resigning so she can go be President of the University of Texas at El Paso. Wilson was once considered to be a top pick for Secretary of Defense, but she had been a fierce critic of Trump's Space Force, likening it to another billion dollar fuckbungle.
After a little over a year on the job, the Navy leader in charge of housing is resigning. Following reports that the private housing used by many military families comprises toxic, rat-infested shitholes, Assistant Secretary for Energy, Installations & Environment Phyllis Bayer told the Senate Armed Services Committee's Personnel Readiness and Management Support Committee that private landlords "failed to meet the standards" the military required, and then defended the moldy garbage dumps military families are forced to live in.
Fed chair Jerome Powell is saying Trump had no role in the Fed's sudden decision not to raise interest rates even though Trump has railed and and shitposted about rising interest rates. Powell also stated Trump doesn't have the legal authority to "You're Fired" him, and said "he has a duty to speak up" about the looming national debt crisis. [Transcript]
Jonathan Swann is gossiping that Trump plans to start rubber stamping executive orders in order to sidestep congressional authority. In order to give himself something to lie about at his "I'm not a Nazi" rallies, Trump plans to start signing off on commissions and task forces to study veterans suicide and the opioid crisis, but his aides are worried nobody will buy it, let alone give a shit about another study on well known problems.
In a scene that is almost identical to the political satire on the TV show VEEP, Florida Republican legislators Rep. Vern Buchanan and Sen. Marco Rubio have introduced bills to end to daylight savings time. [This will mark the first useful thing either has done.]
In the next few weeks Trump is expected to take his shitshow on the road and start campaigning for 2020. Trump world says the 2020 campaign is expected to be 2016 pt. 2, with the campaign attempting to use troves of voter data to microtarget old white people in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and Latino voters in Florida, and black people where black people might vote (to convince them voting is for squares). Trump is reportedly obsessed with polling data, potential Republican primary opponents, and the Democratic candidates (whom he intends to brand as filthy commies), and will use signs and slogans like "Keep America Great" and "Finish the wall."
During an appearance at SXSW in Austin, freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew a larger crowd than presidential candidates. She defended trends in automation for jobs that are "dull, dirty, and dangerous," railed against political moderates and capitalism, called FDR and Ronald Reagan racists, and received praise from Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Also at SXSW, 2020 Democratic candidates Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar talked about their economic policies on big tech companies. Speaking with Anand Giridharadas, Warren shrugged off criticism from big tech companies bitching about their loss of profits under her proposal by saying, "Boo hoo." In speaking with ReCode's Kara Swisher, Klobuchar proposed taxing companies who sell data, and brushed off #CombGate as "sort of doing a mom thing," saying, "I didn't have a fork. I used a comb to eat a salad very briefly on a plane in a MacGyver move."
CNN held a series of town halls with 2020 Democratic candidates. TLDR: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard continued her defense of Syria's child murdering dictator and blamed her parents for making her say mean things about gaymosexuals (FOR YEARS), while Rep. John Delaney continued to be as interesting as a bowl of cold oatmeal. The highlight was South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg hilariously knocking Mike Pence as being "the cheerleader of the porn star presidency." In an op-ed, Buttigieg writes we should think about abolishing the electoral college, giving DC and Puerto Rico full voting rights, giving people safe drinking water, and giving people better access to affordable healthcare.
The conservative Washington Examiner has a mildly interesting gossip piece about Mike Pence doing "more than he's asked" to help Trump get re-elected. There's some chatter Trump might tap someone else for his VEEP, and Pence sees Trump's re-election as the only way he can make his own run for the White House in 2024 in a crowded field of Republicans that includes Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley, and Sen. Tom Cotton.
The hardcore conservative group Club For Growth is trying to take down Beto O'Rourke with a hilarious mini-doc that says Beto's "white male privilege" is the reason he's white Obama.
An aide to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand suddenly resigned in protest last summer over Gillibrand's handling of a sexual harassment complaint. According to Politico, the former staffer alleges a close senior aide to Gillibrand "repeatedly made unwelcome advances after the senator had told him he would be promoted to a supervisory role," and "regularly made misogynistic remarks in the office about his female colleagues and potential female hires." The staffer claims she was retaliated against by the aide after reporting the incident, and resigned three weeks later in a letter stating, "You need to draw a line in the sand and none of it is OK."
SURPRISE! Some people in the uber posh Northern Virginia suburbs of DC aren't happy Amazon wants to move in, and during a recent Arlington County Board meeting residents sounded off about all the sweet deals Amazon is getting. According to WaPo, officials have been trying to ease the fears of the community by talking about how many jobs Amazon will bring to the area, but many are scoffing at the millions the company stands to make at the expense of taxpayers.
Alaskans are worried the Trump administration's rush to rape the Pacific Northwest with open-pit copper and gold mines in Bristol Bay isn't considering the impact to local wildlife. Locals are warning the mine could seriously damage half the world's supply of salmon, and arguing that a recent Army Corps of Engineers report doesn't consider the impact of sulfuric acid flooding in the event of a tailings dam collapse.
Jared Kushner's Middle East peace plan is destined to fail, but that might be the point. Barak Ravid reports the administration has been schmoozing crazy Evangelical leaders ahead the big reveal. The TLDR here is the Palestinians are going to get screwed royally so the Israelis can forge ties with the Saudi and Egyptian dictators. In related news, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who's about to be indicted for corruption, is defending Qatar's funding of Hamas as a strategy to keep Palestinians divided.
Erik Prince must have thought that an interview with Al Jazeera's Mehdi Hasan would be just another puff piece he could parlay into a nicer apartment in Dubai, not that he'd admit to having a role in THAT Trump Tower meeting. When Hasan, holding a transcript of Prince's congressional testimony, asked why Prince seemed to have lied to Congress, Prince claimed the transcript was wrong (it's not). In an appearance on Meet the Press, House Intel chair Rep. Adam Schiff said, "There's nothing wrong with our transcript," adding Prince was "certainly not telling the truth." LOCK 'EM UP!
The Daily Beast reports poor Paul Manafort is getting a boost by a sympathetic Trump who feels "very badly," defending him as "brave" for not being a "rat" or a "coward" like that lying liar Michael Cohen.
Keith Davidson, the grifty lawyer who helped engineer the hush money payments for Stormy Daniels, is attacking Michael Cohen for being the lyinest mook in the history of wise guys.
That lady who founded the Florida massage parlors where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft got busted getting hand jobs has links to the Trump administration and the Chinese government. According to a blockbuster story in Mother Jones, Cindy Yang was advertising access to the Trump family and GOP power players at Mar-a-Lago while she was also tied to senior Chinese leaders. It's a good business strategy: handys and hand-outs for a hundo in 30 minutes or less!
The Guardian decided to follow the money from Trump's inauguration and found Not Americans setting up poorly disguised shell companies so they could make it rain Benjamins at his inauguration. Most of the donations were in $25,000 lumps, and the Guardian notes the FEC remains understaffed with only four of six commissioners thanks to the Trump administration's refusal to fill vacant seats.
Over the weekend Trump was yelling at rich old people at Mar-a-Lago about how "Democrats hate Jewish people." Axios gossips that Trump also referred to Secret Service agents wearing night vision goggles as wearing "blackface," and joked, "they have to take them away," while rambling about all the business he was businessing on Christmas while putting around Mar-a-Lago. Trump also apparently denied calling Apple CEO Tim Cook "Tim Apple" despite video evidence, and has taken to calling former VEEP Joe Biden "the dummy," and Sen. Bernie Sanders "the nutty professor."
We are shocked -- SHOCKED -- to find audio tapes of Tucker Carlson calling into a radio shock jock and making misogynist comments about women. Who would have thought Carlson would see women as "extremely primitive," and that they enjoy being told to "be quiet and kind of do what you're told"? There's also the time Tucker called Britney Spears and Paris Hilton "the biggest white whores in America," and defended cult leader Warren Jeffs for his arranged marriages with underage girls, and his nasty habit of statutory rape.
John Oliver splainered robocalling, and to prove how easy it is for a business to make robocalls, he revealed a Rube Goldberg-like device that makes robocalls to the FCC asking it to end robocalls.
Robocalls: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)www.youtube.com
And here's your morning Nice Time! ELEPHANTS!
Caring for Oregon Zoo Elephants in Winterwww.youtube.com
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