Breathe. Just Breathe. Wonkagenda For Wed., March 27, 2019
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today!
In the wake of the Barr Report, Nancy Pelosi is rallying House Democrats. During a closed door meeting with the caucus, Pelosi stated, "Be calm. Take a deep breath. Don't become like them. We have to handle this professionally, officially, patriotically, strategically," adding that the goal now would be to secure the Mueller report. Meanwhile, WaPo reports that House intel chair Adam Schiff, whom Trump has labeled "pencil neck," isn't backing down from his investigation into Trump World. With Democrats pressing for the full Mueller Report, Republicans have begun erecting roadblocks while Mitch McConnell sheds crocodile tears about throwing "innocent people under the bus," like that guy Ben Ghazi.
George Conway has an op-ed thinkering about how the Barr report was always going to be a big, boiling crock, and noting it's disingenuous to say Trump is innocent of high crimes and misdemeanors since Mueller's mandate was to prove links between Trump and Russia (which it did), not to exonerate the campaign of any wrongdoing (which it didn't).
The Trump administration's sudden attempt to strip health care from millions of Americans (again) has sent shockwaves on the Hill and inside Trump's White House. According to Politico, AG Bill Barr and HHS Secretary Alex Azar warned Trump that killing Obamacare was a stupid idea as far back as December, but Trump overruled them after Mick Mulvaney started packing the Oval Office full of more "Yes Men." In response, Republicans are freaking out as Democrats have already started using Trump's attempt to kill protections on pre-existing conditions and the expansion of Medicaid as a defining issue for 2020, just like they did in 2018.
Puerto Rico might be be starving for food stamps, but Trump apparently didn't get that memo as he was busy yelling at congressional Republicans. During a self-invited victory lap on the Hill, Trump railed about "two years of bullshit," NATO, NAFTA, Obamacare, the Green New Deal, and then complained the amount of aid the US gave the island territory after Hurricane Maria was too damn high, erroneously claiming the US sent $91 billion, and adding the whole country could have been bought four times over.
Mitch McConnell attempted to shove the Green New Deal down the throats of Democratic lawmakers yesterday by holding what Democrats called a "sham" vote. A procedural motion to bring the GND to the floor went down 0-57 after almost every Democrat and independent voted "present" in protest of McConnell's shenanigans. There was one silver lining, as noted by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, "For the first time, I heard Leader McConnell admit that climate change is real and caused by humans."
Mike Pence declared the US NEEDS to land a man (or, ugh, a woman!) on the Moon within the next five years in order to fight the forces of communism, or "complacency," or something. Since The Bible doesn't have a chapter on rocket science, Pence neglected to say how our questionably funded and increasingly militarized space program would go where lots of men have gone before, but he did threaten to "change the organization" if NASA didn't shape up. Note that NASA doesn't have any manned missions planned for several years as progress on space exploration has been hobbled due to a historic amount of budget cuts, cost overruns, and general corporate fuckery.
In related news, House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith rejected the Pentagon's Space Force proposal. Smith cited a top-heavy bureaucracy, a bunch of questionable (and potentially illegal) resource and personnel transfers, and violations of the rights of civilian personnel inside the DOD as the main reasons he was scrapping it. Nevertheless, acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan defended the proposal during an HASC hearing yesterday, just as Air Force Gen. John "Jay" Raymond was nominated to head up the Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado -- potentially putting him first in line to head up the Space Force (assuming it doesn't die in Congress).
The US Court of Appeals removed the last few injunctions keeping Trump's trans ban from taking effect. The DOD will start enforcing Trump's trans ban on April 12; after that anyone who's not already out and proud will be forced to stay in the closet. #MAGA
The Army is slowly unveiling its new WWII-inspired dress green uniforms. Skirts and pumps are optional (for women only) presumably so as not to offend Mike Pence ... or Trump.
The Muslim ban -- AKA travel restrictions against Muslim-majority AND "shithole countries" -- is still working its way through the court system thanks to a fresh round of lawsuits seeking to invalidate the law. The crux of the argument hangs on fairness and religious equality, and they're using the State Department's rejection of 94 percent of visa waivers as an example that the ban is unconstitutional.
Betsy DeVos got chewed out by House Democrats for proposing $7 billion in cuts to education programs that include defunding all $18 million in federal funds for the Special Olympics. There's no joke here, this is just heartless. [Video]
A US District Judge in North Carolina struck down the state's 20-week abortion. State Republicans had hoped to use the ruling as a precursor to banning abortions after 13 weeks, mirroring efforts in other Republican state legislatures to call empowered women sinful WHO-OORES, likely setting up a Bible-thumping SCOTUS fight over Roe v. Wade (again).
Remember how one week ago (to the day!) Trump waddled out to the South Lawn of the White House and waved around a map of ISIS territory like a common Geraldo and claimed ISIS/ISIL/whatever had been 100 percent defeated in Syria? Funny story about that -- the AP reports ISIS is claiming responsibility for killing seven US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters at a checkpoint in Manbij. #MissionAccomplished
Russia has deployed nearly 100 military personnel in Venezuela that, according to Reuters, includes a detachment of "cyber security personnel." Nerds think Russia is helping Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro resist "regime change" in exchange for access to its oil markets. The US responded by beating its chest and saying mean words about the Maduro regime, and Russia.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel deserves an Oscar after he choked back tears and bitched about prosecutors dropping charges against Jussie Smollett in exchange for community service and Smollett forfeiting his $10,000 bond. At two hastily assembled press gaggles, Smollett (poorly) acted like he didn't falsify a hate crime for a fat paycheck, and Rahm complained about needing to stand up for the rights of all the little black and LGBQT kids CPD hasn't shot or shaken down (yet). Rahm then characterized Smollett's getting off scot-free as a "whitewash of justice" (as if he didn't have blood on his hands).
A man was detained at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport after he somehow got down on to the tarmac, ripped off his clothes, and began strolling around like Gene Kelly on Broadway. Chicago police say the man was suffering from a mental health crisis, and was taken in for a psych eval. Yes, there's SFW video.
Susan Page has a book about the late Barbara Bush, but the only reason we're bringing it up is this nugget about Poppy Bush voting for Hillary in 2016, and JEB!'s "angst."
Three Russian sailors had to be rescued from a deserted island off of Wales after they got piss drunk in a bar, commandeered a boat, and got lost in some London fog. The dumb bastards were eventually deemed fit (and sober) enough to be rescued.
And here's your morning Nice Time! ORPHANED ORANGUTANS!
Forest School for Orangutans www.youtube.com
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