Stolen Valor. Wait, No. Stolen WALL. Wonkagenda For Wed., Sept. 4, 2019
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he'll root around the Pentagon for 127 different military construction projects for $3.6 billion so Trump can build his goddamn wall (that Mexico was supposed to pay for). The Pentagon still hasn't said whose coffers Trump is raiding this time, but Politico notes that this is in addition to the $2.5 billion Trump already stole from the Pentagon, and reports Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer was told some of the money will come from West Point Military Academy. Among the areas set to receive 175 miles of big, black, wall (with spikes, or steel slats, and/or peaches) is a large, desolate stretch of the Arizona desert poetically known as the Barry M. Goldwater Bombing Range.
Another former Trump-appointed Interior Department official is telling the Washington Post that he's now working for a Not American oil-hunting company. Joe Balash worked for Interior at Land and Minerals Management for almost two years dealing with oil and gas drilling on federal lands, but on Friday he suddenly quit. Coincidentally, Balash oversaw area of Alaska where the oil company has been trying to drill, baby drill, but he does say he'll honor his toothless Trump World ethics pledge not to be a grifter (who gets caught).
The new head of US Space Command (which is not "SPACE FORCE!") Gen. Jay Raymond wants to play nice with Not America in the final frontier. Raymond says that we need to be working with all our friends who've been quietly sending their own people out to infinity (and beyond), like France, Germany, Japan, Israel, Poland, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. In space, no one can hear you scream your national anthem.
Some damn dirty lefties want the Treasury Department's IG to investigate whether the Treasury Department broke federal disclosure laws when it coordinated with Fox News talking heads. Members of Democracy Forward say Trump's Treasury officials have an "extremely close" relationship with Fox News, and, "This kind of cozy, behind-the-scenes interaction between government employees and members of the media raises alarm bells."
Despite the protests from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a bunch of states are moving ahead with election security measures by buying machines that create paper ballots, but they're being stymied by lazy old folks who haven't learned about Russia's electoral tricks.
Tonight CNN will host a climate change town hall with 10 Democratic presidential candidates. The whole shebang will start at 5 p.m. ET and run until around 11:20 p.m. ET.
The Cherokee Nation has named its first official representative to Congress, Kimberly Teehee. Teehee's appointment still requires congressional approval, and she's likely to remain a non-voting member of Congress, but at least we're finally honoring our part of of a 200-year-old treaty.
West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin says #HesNOTRunning for governor in 2020. Maybe after he fracks the funk out of Appalachia, and all the mountain tops have been chopped off, he'll let Elon Musk put in a solar panel or two.
Ten of vulnerable freshman Democrats in the House are pushing PAYGO reinstatement. The measure is being led by Rep. Sharice Davids, and is asking committee leaders to fund bills "with responsible pay-fors that are considered early in the legislative process."
A unanimous panel of judges in North Carolina seems to have done what Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts deemed impossible in ruling that North Carolina's Republican-led legislature has been gerrymandering (again). The judges ruled state districts had been drawn to give Republicans a disproportionate advantage in the General Assembly, and gave the legislature two weeks to draw new a map, warning that the court would just reschedule the state-level 2020 elections if General Assembly is too stupid to unfuck the maps before election deadlines.
Senators Chuck Grassley and Mark Warner want to know why the hell the FBI seems to be giving them the run-around in the Park Police shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar in November of 2017. Ghaisar was rear-ended while driving on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, just outside DC-proper, and chased by the US Park Police. Video footage from the local Fairfax County police show Ghaisar stopping several times only to drive away as Park Police drew their weapons when approaching his vehicle. Even more curious is that police reports from Fairfax County show no drugs or weapons when Ghaisar's body was removed from his vehicle, and the US attorney's office in the Eastern District of Virginia has been recused from the case.
Britain is likely headed for snap elections after Prime Minister Boris Johnson suddenly lost his conservative majority in Parliament yesterday. Right now MPs are trying to stop a "no-deal" Brexit. Political wizards think Johnson's Trumpian approach may be backfiring and could ultimately cut his unelected premiership short, however there's a very real fear that snap elections could leave the UK with someone even worse, like Nigel Farage. During a session in Parliament this morning, Johnson was criticized by a fellow MP for "derogatory and racist remarks" he made comparing Muslim women in hijbabs to "bank robbbers" and mailboxes. Johnson responded in typical fashion by claiming he had Sikh and Muslim ancestry, then called liberals anti-semites.
MPs applaud, as Labour's Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi tells Boris Johnson to apologise for "derogatory and racist remarks… https://t.co/kGYH4YTpb9— BBC Politics (@BBC Politics)1567598372.0
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has announced she'll fully withdraw a bill to extradite people to mainland China. Lam refused to concede to four other demands from protesters in Hong Kong, including independent investigations into reported police brutality, and democratic reforms. Lam said her new task would be to restore law and order. Earlier this week Lam denied that she offered to resign in a private phone call to business leaders, despite an audio tape published by Reuters.
Here's a sobering infographic about the wildfires raging across the planet. There's a big difference between the fires in the African Savannah and the Brazilian Amazon, and it's worth your time to see how much of the world is literally on fire right now.
A spox for Jeremy Hammond, the hacker who in 2011 dumped tons of personal client data from security think-tank Stratfor on Wikileaks, says he has been brought been asked to testify against shit-smearing bad house guest Julian Assange. We don't really know what Hammond is saying (if anything) about Assange, but it's probably not a good sign for Assange if Uncle Sam is reaching into the Way-Back Machine to tap convicted hackers in order to nail his smug balls to the wall.
The Washington Post Editorial Board published a full-page op-ed calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell do something to stop the mass shootings plaguing America. The op-ed suggests #MoscowMitch consider the names and ages of people murdered in 36 mass shootings, from Columbine to Dayton, Ohio.
After Walmart announced it would stop selling certain types of guns yesterday, the rightwing-nut-sphere started freaking out like it was the end of the world, and that nobody would ever be able to defend themselves from all the other crazy assholes with semi-automatic assault weapons. To add insult to life threatening injury, Tucker Carlson channeled 19th century rednecks and claimed gun buyback programs are a call for civil war, and "an incitement to violence." Whatever.
Judge Jeanine was on Sebastian Gorka's talk-a-thon when she admitted on a hot mic that she was suspended by Fox, and is worried about getting "You're Fired." Sad.
A judge has preliminarily ruled that the White House screwed up when it suspended the hard pass of Playboy's senior White House correspondent Brian Karem, ordering the White House to restore Karem's press pass. Trump's White House naturally disagreed with the judge's decision, and for the first time anyone can remember bitched about "well-understood norms of professional conduct."
God bless the Constitution, free speech, due process and @BoutrousTed and his great legal team. https://t.co/MaYjSzh2IY— Brian J. Karem (@Brian J. Karem)1567552270.0
And here's your morning Nice Time: A baby gorilla!
Baby Gorilla Saambili is a Climber | Dallas Zoo www.youtube.com
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