Let's Have A War! Wonkagenda For Tues., May 14, 2019
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
Global markets were all over the place last night after Trump threw a tantrum and announced he was slapping additional tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods. Trump spent over two hours shitposting about China this morning in an apparent attempt to keep Wall Street from freaking out again. Anne Lowery 'splainers in the Atlantic that the "Tariff Man" has been using a mixture of lies and bullshit to justify how his trade war isn't screwing US consumers.
As Trump ramps up his trade war, bean counters are warning about a long, slow, recession that could ravage US markets with no end in sight. So far only a few Republicans are starting to talk back against the administration's idiotic trade war by noting the pinch on their constituents. Roll Call notes the administration thinks it can prop up flailing US food producers with a massive expansion to international food aid programs, even though it recently proposed cutting them entirely. In addition, The Military Times reports the Pentagon wants to create public-private patriot partnerships with the government in an attempt to protect various US markets.
Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan has presented a plan to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East should John Bolton start furiously stroking his war boner. Sane people warn sending such a large military force back to the Middle East could provoke another conflict that would spiral out of control (AGAIN). The plan comes amid a report that two Saudi oil tankers, a Norwegian ship, and a UAE ship were attacked with an "act of sabotage" near the Persian Gulf off the coast of the UAE, and reports that Iranian hackers have engaged in a shoddy anti-Western disinformation campaign. Using satellite photos, the AP reports the ships suffered no serious damage.
Before she was "You're Fired" from DHS, Kirstjen Nielsen stopped a half-baked plan by Stephen Miller to round up as many as 10,000 immigrants in large US cities. Nielsen ultimately felt sending government shock troops into cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles would look really shitty, and be hard to pull off.
Bill Barr has opened an investigation into the beginnings of the Trump-Russia investigation. Barr has tapped John H. Durham, the US attorney for Connecticut, to conduct the investigation. This is in addition to two other investigations being conducted by Michael Horowitz and US attorney for Utah John Huber who are, respectively, looking into wiretaps and other random Russian bullshit. I guess none of them have actually read the Mueller Report.
House Democrats are getting ready to throw another round of subpoenas at the DOJ over the administration's constant attempts to kill Obamacare. Politico reports Democrats have been requesting documents from Barr and White House counsel Pat Cipollone for over a month about a decision to stop defending the constitutionality of the ACA, but they've been repeatedly ignored as Barr continues to be Trump's yellow water boy.
Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is calling former FBI head James Comey names. Rosenstein seems to have quickly grown a pair considering he spent the last two years cowering from the wrath of Trump and the conservative echo chamber.
Several recent cases involving religious rights during executions have left legal nerds wondering what the fuck the SCOTUS Jesus freaks are thinking. On top of that, a case involving a prisoner's right to choose his method of execution has rankled the ass hairs of conservatives who argue they have a legal justification to make contradictory rulings.
Payday lenders are begging the Trump administration to relax Obama-era rules on their grifty business practices. A report coming out today cites a number of curious comments in support of repealing rules that many previously called deceptive, and genuinely fucked up. A commenting period ends today.
House Democrats are starting to signal what their policy goals will be in FY 2020. Expect to see policies on student debt relief, Dreamers, paid family leave, climate change, equal pay, the portrayal of Native Americans throughout the Capitol, energy efficient retrofits, raising pay for congressional staffers, and increasing the security for members of Congress.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has an infrastructure plan that's more broken than the nation's schools and bridges. McCarthy's plan to fund infrastructure investment by selling off bad government agriculture loans is sketchy because there's no guarantee how much could be raised. The bill was initially introduced by the Congressional Black Caucus and later abandoned. Georgia Democratic rep and CBC member Hank Johnson tells McClatchy, "I don't think it's gonna result in a lot of money first of all, and secondly, infrastructure off the backs of folks who have lost their property is not palatable to me."
AOC joined Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at Howard University for a Green New Deal rally. AOC said there there should be "no middle ground" about climate change, an apparent dig at former VEEP Joe Biden following a Reuters report that quoted a Biden campaign official saying the candidate was seeking a "middle ground" on climate change. At a rally in New Hampshire last night Biden defended his record by reminding people he was hugging trees and taking Amtrak before it was cool, adding that he would soon make "a major speech in detail" by the end of the month.
In what couldn't possibly be a bad omen for his own 2020 chances, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio held a rally in New York's Trump Tower and was drowned out by loud music blasting from the lobby, and seven really loud MAGAssholes. De Blasio was attempting to unveil new city laws that would force building owners to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, but Eric Trump apparently thought it was "childish."
Beto O'Rourke's reintroduction is in full swing. Last night Beto went on Rachel Maddow to say that he could "do a better job of talking to national audience." Beto noted he prefers the face-to-face town hall style stuff, so I guess we'll still get photos of him in coffee shops. [Morning Maddow]
Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock has (finally) announced #HesRunning (and not for the Senate). Bullock's platform highlights his progressive accomplishments as a red state governor, and he argues that makes him the most capable of beating Trump in 2020. [Montana resident Editrix here: He's termed out as governor, and THIS IS SOME BULLSHIT. RUN FOR SENATE YOU DICK.]
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Yes, the race in the North Carolina Ninth Congressional District is still going on. Today is the Republican primary, so here's a quick round-up of all the shifty bastards running.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with Russian
dictator President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to kvetch about arms control following the death of the INF treaty, and Russia's cozy relationship with Iran and Venezuela.
A shady anti-abortion group was given about $150,000 in free advertising by Google. The Guardian reports Catholic-based Obria Group has for years used deceptive practices to get grants from Google as part of a program to help non-profits, effectively bullshitting its crisis pregnancy centers into the listings of abortions clinics.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp was hacked by an Israeli cyber-intelligence company. According to the Financial Times, NSO Group developed software that spread through calls placed via WhatsApp -- even if users didn't accept the call -- and could let attackers seize total control of an infected device. WhatsApp has since rolled out a patch and a blistering statement in coordination with some very pissed off human rights groups. The NSO Group's hack is believed to have been used by numerous governments to spy on dissidents and activists, including slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Some obnoxious Youtubers have gone into hiding. Lauren Love and Joel Ashley impersonated a high-level manager and filmed themselves "firing" visibly shaken and weeping Walmart staffers in Texas. After the Twitterati spent two days calling them pieces of shit, they quietly deleted the video without comment.
NASA says it needs $1.6 billion in 2020 in order to send #Merica back to the moon by 2024. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine framed this as a "down payment," but NASA officials note this is in addition to the $21 billion NASA already requested, and officials familiar with the planning think the agency will need $6 to $8 billion per year in order to hit the 2024 goal. Science geeks aren't exactly holding their breath as much of the plan revolves around boondoggles and private industry. Political wonks also point out the House Appropriations Committee is chaired by New York Rep. Jose Serrano, a Puerto Rican native who isn't a fan of the Trump administration's spending priorities.
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