Believe In Me. Wonkagenda For Tues., Aug. 20, 2019
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
Trump World thinks the bean counters warning about the possibility of a recession may be on to something, so they're thinking about a payroll tax cut to blunt the damage. Nerds note that this would require congressional approval, add to the already skyrocketing deficit, and is further evidence that Trump and his TV economists have no idea on what they're doing. On top of that, the New York Times reports there's murmurs Trump might
retreat tactically withdraw from his trade war by yanking taxes tariffs on "shithole countries" caught up in his trade war.
US Steel will lay off hundreds of workers in the Midwest. The company says low demand and steel prices have hobbled them, even though just last week Trump claimed his trade war had revived the "dead" business.
ICYMI: The AP reports many of the people at Trump's Pennsylvania rally last week were paid to attend by Shell. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette goes on to clarify that employees were told attendance wasn't mandatory, and anyone who decided show up at 7 a.m. would get an excused absence, but not qualify for the overtime pay they'd get, meaning attendees to Trump's rally Tuesday got time and a half on Friday. Workers who attended the rally say they were promised lunch by union leaders, but never got anything to eat.
Bank regulators are quietly rolling back regulations put in place after the 2008 financial clusterfuck in order to make life easier on the poor banksters who caused the debt crisis.
New York Republican Rep. Peter King is the first Republican to sign on to the Democratic-led effort to ban assault weapons, calling them "weapons of mass slaughter." King added the he saw no "need for them in everyday society."
New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján, the No. 4 Democrat in the House, thinks we should #IMPEACH. Luján says he supports an inquiry to "continue to uncover the facts for the American people and hold this president accountable," adding that Trump is "abdicating his responsibility to defend our nation from Russian attacks and is putting his own personal and political interests ahead of the American people." Politico thinks that this could swing even other Democrats into coming out in favor of an impeachment inquiry.
The chair of the Federal Election Commission, Ellen Weintraub, is pushing back against Trump's renewed claims of voter fraud in the 2016 election. "People have studied this," Weintraub tells CNN, "Academics have studied this. Lawyers have studied this. The government has studied this. Democrats have studied this. Republicans have studied this, and no one can find any evidence of rampant voter fraud either historically or particularly in the 2016 elections." On Friday, Weintraub sent a letter to Trump asking him to fucking prove it, adding, "To put it in terms a former casino operator should understand: There comes a time when you need to lay your cards on the table or fold."
Trump's latest conspiracy theory is that Google stole the election from him. Trump's laughably stupid conspiracy comes from some dumbass segment on Fox Business Channel, and claims a a sketchy AF study whose data is based on the responses of ONLY 21 undecided voters. WaPo's Phillip Bump and CNN's Daniel Dale note the study's conclusions are dubious and inaccurate (at best), but the rightwing echo chamber is still running the narrative that this is evidence of a DEEP STATE conspiracy.
The administration's effort to roll back auto-emissions standards seems to have been driven into a ditch after a bunch of car companies said, "Fuck that noise," and decided that green is good
The US Capitol Police have told self-described "Florida Man" Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz not to hold any outdoor campaign events in fear that protesters will throw more milk shakes at him. For the uninitiated, "Milkshaking" is a tactic used by leftwing protesters to paint far-right jackoffs as white supremacists, and nobody put concrete mix in them, that was a weird Proud Boy made up lie.
In case you forgot, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is still running for president, and she's pushing back against people who think she won't make the next debate. This morning Gillibrand is taking some heat for saying that people like Al Franken and Mark Halperin deserve a "path to redemption," adding, "It's not for me to judge."
Politico reports science bozos think efforts to swift boat Joe Biden over his age and brain meat are a load of MALARKY. Nerds calculate that Biden, statistically speaking, is in similar shape to all the other old white guys running for president in 2020. In related stories, Biden's camp just launched a new 60-second teevee ad in Iowa, and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, told a crowd you should vote for ol' Uncle Joe even if you don't want to.
The AP reports super rich guys and regular schmoes are donating megabucks to down-ballot Democratic races in the hopes that they can vote conservative bums out in 2020. The focus on state and local elections is intended to give Democrats an edge in crafting new districts now that the Supreme Court thinks gerrymandering is as American as an apple pie with a dickhole in it.
Two Proud Boys have been found guilty on multiple assault charges after they ran around New York trying to beat up random people and anti-fascist (Antifa) protesters last year.
Los Angeles has declared war on homelessness (again) by reinstating a law that fines people living in cars in residential areas, or near parks, schools, or a day care. Supporters tell NPR that they're glad mobile shanty owners are being told to buy some property or get out, but homeless advocates say these kinds of laws make it harder for families suffering from extreme poverty to recover.
Local government officials in Malheur County, Oregon, are accusing a local paper of criming after reporters started pestering a local official on their personal email account and cell phone. The paper reports the official actually gave out his "personal" cell phone number and encouraged constituents to "call" him "directly," adding that he was available "24/7," and that he has listed the number on official press releases along with his title as a state legislator.
A new Pentagon report has found that ISIS/ISIL/whatever is getting stronger now that Trump has declared Mission Accomplished. The report specifically blames Trump's sudden and rapid pullout of US troops and diplomatic staff. It goes on to say that ISIS has around $400 million in cash, and continues to make shitloads of money selling weed, fish, and cars. The group's influence has now spread from West Africa to Sinai, but they're mostly hiding out in the middle of nowhere (where nobody can see the massive number of bombs we're quietly dropping). [IG Report]
Twitter and Facebook are accusing the Chinese government of spreading disinformation about the Hong Kong protests, and booted a bunch of accounts. Facebook says it will still take money from the Chinese government (natch), but Twitter is threatening to ban the Chinese government from advertising all together. Since both services are actually banned in China (and widely used in Hong Kong), nerds think the goal of the disinfo campaign is similar to the election fuckery Russia pioneered in the 2016 US elections. Casey Newton takes a deeper dive, and adds that this is a good sign both companies are at least TRYING to stop brainwashing on their platforms. Or ... not?
FACT CHECK: The AFP took a gander at some gun violence statistics in Not America and found that not defining a "mass shooting" has made tracking incidents difficult. Incidents of violent crime involving guns in Mexico and Brazil often go unseen by science bozos due to nit-picking details and body counts.
The Columbia Journalism Review started poking around at all web traffic post-2016 and found rightwing tabloids and bullshit artists are sucking up a lot more eyeballs, but they pale in comparison to Foxnews.com. CJR notes Foxnews.com "will cover literally anything" it thinks will distract people from the grim realities of our world.
Media Matters made a list of all the books Trump has promoted (and will likely never read) shortly after the authors appeared on Fox and Fox Business.
The Daily Beast reports local news affiliates owned by Sinclair Broadcasting have been posting MAGA hats with links that go straight to the Trump campaign's online store. Sinclair tells Brian Stelter that there's NO COLLUSION, and that this is all just a strange coincidence.
Former Speaker Paul Ryan is moving (back) to the DC area so he can continue being a dirty, disgusting swamp monster on K Street. Politico notes that Ryan made a point throughout his 20 year political career to yammer on about how much he hated Washington, and loved living in the posh Wisconsin suburbs.
And here's your morning Nice Time: KITTENS!
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