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Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.


National weather geeks warn that Hurricane Florence will hit the Carolinas and Georgia later today. Last night the storm was downgraded to a Category 2, but officials caution that's a measure of wind speed, not a measure of potential devastation caused by flooding and storm surge. Florence is expected to stall along coastal areas due to its increased size, and now has an eye four times the size of Ohio. If you're along the coast of the storm, NOAA says it's it's time pack your shit and go.

Here's photos from the ISS by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst showing the sheer size and scope of Hurricane Florence.


Florence is already battering the Trump administration before it's even made landfall. Trump continues to deny his administration's responsibility in the deaths of 3,000 US citizens in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. WaPo's Josh Dawsey has a fascinating read about how Trump doubles down whenever he's called a miserable failure -- like this morning when he denied being responsible for all 3,000 deaths.

Fun: Dawsey grabbed a copy of the invite to Trump's $100,000 fundraiser at his DC trash palace on the eve of Florence slamming into the East Coast. #MAGA

FEMA administrator Brock Long is now the target of a DHS IG investigation over misusing government vehicles. Politico reports that Long got bitched out by Kirstjen Nielsen after she noticed he was never in his office and wrecked a Suburban while constantly running away to North Carolina. Long has also been charging Uncle Sam to put a cadre of staffers in hotels.

It wasn't just the FEMA budget that was raided, Trump took a total of $200 million from various agencies, including the Coast Guard and the TSA, to pay for his baby jails and deportations. Vox has an interesting 'splainer on how ICE regularly burns through money like a college kid who can't balance a checkbook. [Morning Maddow]

In an effort to expedite deportations of undocumented immigrants, the Trump administration is going to take $20 million of foreign assistance funding to buy bus and plane tickets. Priorities, people!

Trump's baby jails are filled to capacity with thousands of undocumented immigrant children who are crossing the border without parents. HHS data suggests the baby jails are full because the administration refuses to release children to sponsors and family members.

Brett Kavanaugh's responses to written questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee came out last night, and again he dodges just about every question, from refusing to shake hands with the father of a Parkland shooting victim, contraception, gambling, fantasy football, even lying under oath. We're not saying Brett Kavanaugh is a fucking liar, but he sure has an interesting relationship with the truth.

Yesterday NBC News released audio of threatening phone calls to bolster Collins's claim that liberals and progressives are being dicks. Remember: We threaten them with votes, not violence!

Kavanaugh is refusing to let reporters talk about the off-the-record or background conversations he had while working with Ken Starr 20 years ago, arguing that he's somehow defending reporters First Amendment rights. Of course, reporters could just leak these conversations ...

A US District Court has ruled Betsy DeVos's delay of Obama-era rules to help people with student loans is "unlawful," and called her move "arbitrary and capricious." Thanks, Obama!

Planned Parenthood has chosen Baltimore Health Commissioner Leana Wen as it's new president! As a child of immigrants, Wen became an ER doctor before moving into public health, then became an outspoken critic of Trump policies. Wen will also head PP's advocacy outreach on reproductive health issues and increasing access to abortion.

Super rich people can now retroactively write off buying new and used private jets thanks to new tax fuckery enacted by Trump. Really working for the regular Joes, isn't he?

Georgia officials are rebuffing a lawsuit from election security advocates who want paper ballots by saying it's impossible for them to abandon their sketchy voting machines that have a well-documented history of being hacked.

CBS reports that 60 Minutes correspondent Jericka Duncan received threats on Sunday from a former executive producer as she was set to report on sexual harassment allegations revealed in the New Yorker. The EP, Jeff Fager, was fired yesterday when CBS realized how incredibly fucked the following text message is: "If you repeat these false accusations without any of your own reporting to back them up you will be held responsible for harming me. Be careful."

A new lawsuit claims Michigan State University officials tried to hide a video tape of Larry Nassar drugging, raping, and impregnating a 17-year-old student on a field hockey scholarship. According to the suit, the girl knew it was Nassar because she was a virgin, and upon reporting the the rape, her NCAA scholarship was taken away. This story gets worse...

The New Mexico Sunspot Observatory was suddenly closed when the FBI dropped in on Blackhawk helicopters. Nobody is saying it's aliens, but ...

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance dropped more than 3,000 open marijuana cases dating back to the late 1970s, telling the court, "We made the decision that it is really in the interest of justice."

Pussy Riot member Pyotr Verzilov has been hospitalized and is in "very serious condition" following a suspected poisoning.

Marc Ribot and Tom Waits quietly dropped this cover of anti-fascist Italian folk song Bella Ciao (Goodbye Beautiful). It is sad, but oh so good!


And here's your morning Nice Time! KITTENS!

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or lying in a gutter taking photos.

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There could still be a partial shutdown of the government starting Saturday if Congress doesn't pass a budget bill in time, but at least Donald Trump has caved, yet again, on what last week he insisted was absolutely completely necessary to keep the government open. You might remember it -- dude said he'd be PROUD to shut down the government and take credit for it if he didn't get $5 billion to build the thing. Today, he's more like MEH, what wall, he can fund it some other way, maybe, honestly, who cares, it's time for golf, isn't it? Whatever his thinking, Trump has dropped the wall-funding ultimatum, though there's still no budget deal, because congressional Democrats aren't about to take Mitch McConnell's crappy alternative offer, either.

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December 18. One week before Christmas. In a normal and just and sane world, the news cycle would be dying and we'd be decking the halls and trying to find dumb things to write about just to make YOU DINGBATS happy. (Christmas week in 2015 we wrote about an idiot rightwing Christian extremist named Bryan Fischer, who thinks dinosaurs in the Bible were really just VERY OLD GRANDMA BIBLE LIZARDS.) But alas, Barack Obama is no longer president, so the shitshow continues.

Donald Trump is, of course, about to head off on vacation, from his ... paid vacation in Washington. Basically he's just transferring his voluminous ass to a different gold-plated toilet so he can do his Twitter-shits in a sunnier climate. Regardless, Gabe Sherman reports that the White House is on edge, because OH SHIT, PRESIDENT TINKLE SMELLS WILL BE WITHOUT AN ADULT CHAPERONE FOR TWO WEEKS, THIS IS VERY, VERY BAD.

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