'Endless Wars.' Wonkagenda For Fri., June 21, 2019
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
Trump actually green-lit airstrikes against targets in Iran, but at the last second (potentially for the first time ever) he pulled out. Reuters reports that Trump passed a note to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei via Oman requesting to "talk to Tehran about various issues" last night. Omani officials said they'd pass along the message, but conceded the Iranians feel Trump is (more or less) a loudmouthed and double-dealing asshole who can't be trusted. All this comes following the downing of a US drone that ALLEGEDLY flew into Iranian air space and was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile over commercial waterways in the Strait of Hormuz. This morning Trump shitposted that "we were cocked & loaded" but he stopped it because he didn't feel it was "proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone."
The administration briefed members of Congress on the situation, but during a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump downplayed the incident as the move of "loose and stupid" rouge actors within the Iranian regime, adding that he found it "hard to believe it was intentional," though he did stress it was a "very big mistake." Pentagon officials are warning John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to keep their war boners in their pants, but a lack of leadership at the Pentagon could make a hot war inevitable. The military is now on a 72-hour standby, and last night the FAA issued an emergency order prohibiting all US flights in the area.
Barak Ravid reports Israeli officials are pushing the administration for some kind of attack, even a measured one, as they believe the Iranians think Trump is a wuss. National security mustache John Bolton was already headed to Jerusalem for trilateral meeting with his Russian and Israeli counterparts to discuss Syria, but it's likely the topic of conversation has changed.
A number of Democrats are pissed that Trump authorized the airstrike, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeting that there's "no justification" for further escalating a crisis that Trump himself started. The New York Times Editorial Board has an op-ed saying everyone needs to calm the fuck down and curb this mission creep bullshit. It's Congress who decides whether or not the US gets into another pointless oil war, not the Executive Branch.
STOP RIGHT THERE and enjoy some water sausage nice time!
River Otter Pups Take Their First Steps & Swims Lessons Outside www.youtube.com
Migrant pre-teens have been forced to care for toddlers at a filthy baby jail in El Paso where the kids say they haven't bathed in weeks. Lawyers warn that the 250 children don't have enough food or water, and have been fed nothing but instant noodles, burritos and oatmeal. NOTE: This story is graphic, and rage inducing.
A new piece by David Fahrenthold details how Trump's gaudy trash palaces have reshaped GOP fundraising efforts and turned the federal government into Trump's personal vendor, forcing donors and taxpayers to to pay tribute to the God-Emperor (whether they like it or not).
Eric Blankenstein, a Trumpian stooge who was quit-fired from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after WaPo dug up his old blog posts questioning whether or not using the N-word was "racist," has been given a six-figure job at the Department of Housing and Urban Development overseeing fair lending laws. In a statement to Politico, Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown says HUD "should be working to address housing discrimination across the country, not serving as a dumping ground for a disgraced, racist Trump appointee."
Hope Hicks's House testimony will be memorable for what wasn't said. White House lawyers told Hicks they were claiming executive privilege on 155 questions related to her time in the White House, and thus had immunity. House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler says the administration just fell into a legal trap: "We knew this was going to to happen ... In effect what it's saying is, you can't really investigate fraud, waste, abuse of power in the White House because anyone in a position to talk about it, we're blocking." [Morning Maddow]
Hope Hicks Transcript Provides Window On 2016 Dual Trump Tape Crises | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC www.youtube.com
ALLEGED pedophile Roy Moore announced another run for the Senate in Alabama again yesterday, much to the dismay of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Bewildered Senate Republicans have been running to reporters and offering up truly hilarious quotes, like Arizona Sen. Martha McSally who says, "This place has enough creepy old men." The GOP fears Moore could ultimately drag the ticket down and they're going out of their way to block him. To add insult to injury, Donald Trump Jr. shitposted that he'd "stay away from that" after Moore told Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur that he'd "like to make more personal contact with people."
Politico has a sobering "what-if" piece on the possibility of Trump losing reelection and refusing to leave office. Republicans have tried to downplay this kind of talk, but Trump has repeatedly bragged about blowing up constitutional term limits.
WaPo's Dave Weigel has a neat little mini-doc about how conservatives have cast liberals as "socialist" for 70 years as it's much easier and politically expedient for them to call people names than to acknowledge the popularity of programs like Social Security and Medicaid.
The decades-long Republican strategy of tying Democratic proposals to 'socialism' www.youtube.com
We're finally getting a better idea of just how many people came out to protest in Hong Kong on Sunday. The New York Times has a brilliant infographic of aerial photos that suggests organizers may be correct in claiming as many as two million of the country's seven million people turned up to protest a bill that would allow extradition to mainland China. The Times reports that business leaders are now leaning on the autocratic Chinese government despite the fear of political retaliation, a move Fareed Zakaria opines shows a stark weakness in China's ruling elites. Facing threats of more police brutality, protesters took to the streets again this morning over the refusal of the city's chief executive, Carrie Lam, to withdraw the extradition bill and step down. The protests have largely been led by students and young people (many of whom are actually studying for finals while marching), who accuse the Chinese government of meddling in the affairs and political reforms of the former British colony. [Photos / Popular Front Podcast]
If You Don't Know, Now You Know: Sudan | The Daily Show www.youtube.com
The Daily Beast has an interesting piece on Iran's cyber army. They've been flying under the radar for the last several years, primarily using phishing attacks and social engineering in order to gain access to their platforms where they can then go apeshit. Unfortunately for them, geeks got wise to their chickenshit outfit and have started hitting back.
The trial of Navy Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward "Eddie" Gallagher took a turn for the holy shit yesterday when Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Corey Scott took the stand and claimed HE was the one who killed a wounded teenaged ISIS prisoner, not Gallagher. Initially Scott tried to plead the Fifth, but he was granted immunity and ordered to testify. When the prosecutor accused Scott of being unable to handle the truth, Scott replied, "[Gallagher has] got a wife and a family. I don't think he should be spending his life in jail." Later in the trial, another former SEAL sniper who served with Gallagher said Gallagher stabbed the prisoner, posed with the body for a photo, then texted it to a fellow SEAL with the caption, "Got him with my hunting knife."
NICE TIME: The US Women's Soccer team is kicking all sorts of ass in the FIFA Women's World Cup right now. Yesterday they dominated Sweden, ultimately defeating their arch rivals 2-0. 538 is now theorizing USWNT is one of the most likely teams to win, along with France, England, and Germany.
And here's your morning Nice Time: BABY GOATS IN THE RAIN!
When it's pouring and all the kids are home for summer www.youtube.com
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