'A Free Vacation For Bureaucrats.' Wonkagenda For Dec. 12, 2018

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

In a new interview with Reuters, Trump rambles that he has "10, 12 -- 12 people" that really want to implicate themselves in his crimes by serving as his chief of staff, and he, "could do it immediately" if he wanted because "everybody wants it." Trump implied he would use the arrest Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou as a bargaining chip in his trade war with China, then falsely claimed that the Chinese were "buying tremendous amounts of soybeans." He also praised his "very good ally," Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, brushing off the notion MbS ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Finally, Trump said that he was not concerned with the possibility of impeachment, called investigations into his ALLEGED conspiracy with Russia in the 2016 election, "peanut stuff," and whined about Hillary Clinton (again).

WaPo reports that Republicans are NOT HAPPY with Trump's Oval Office meltdown with Chuck 'n' Nancy, particularly because it happened on camera. There's concern that Trump played himself in admitting his eagerness to accept responsibility for another government shutdown over his goddamn wall. Reports about his off-camera tantrums aren't exactly helping either, as the LA Times notes, forcing Trump to prepare his base for the possibility that Mexico might not pay for the wall after all. Whoa if true.

While Hannity immediately started calling a government shutdown "a free vacation for bureaucrats," late night TV mocked Trump's tantrum. Ana Navarro chomped on popcorn, Trevor Noah likened it to "The Office," and Colbert wondered what the hell was Mike Pence thinking.

All of a sudden Mitch McConnell wants to bring Jared's white-collar prison reform bill (aka the "First Step Act") to the Senate floor for a vote. For months McConnell has said that he had more important things to do, and wouldn't bother bringing the bill to the floor because it would never have enough votes. Strangely, Roll Call reports McConnell was floating the idea of holding a holiday session to pass the bill, but Sen. Tom Cotton is threatening to block the bill, or kill it with race-baiting amendments aimed at "violent felons." This prompted Chuck Grassley to state, "It sounds to me like he wants to teach us a lesson from the 1988...George HW Bush campaign."

Don't let anyone tell you that hemp legalization was decades of hard work from scrappy young lobbyists and filthy hippies stomping around DC in leather sandals. Nope, it was all Mitch McConnell! He single-handedly pushed for hemp legalization in the 2019 farm bill (so corporate agriculture industry would give him money for reelection in 2020). You're welcome, Kentucky!

Speaking of the farm bill, the GOP finally gave up on their attempts to add harsh work requirements for food stamps. We'll just add this to the list of things Paul Ryan never accomplished, solidifying Ryan's legacy as a pathetic failure and a poor-fucking liar. It he was smart, Ryan would pass the farm bill and leave the political arena with whatever shred of dignity he has left.

Tucked deep inside of the Trump tax cuts (for the super rich) was a provision for real estate developers to build in distressed communities dubbed "Opportunity Zones." Coincidentally, JaVanka own a lot of real estate in "Opportunity Zones," and they spearheaded that legislation in the Trump tax cuts (for the super rich). Now JaVanka properties stand to rake in hundreds of millions in tax deductionsthrough 2026. Even more curious, many of the JaVanka properties are in areas being gentrified, as evidenced by the LuLuLemon yoga stores and posh Italian restaurants.

Jarvanka are essentially Trump's shadow chiefs of staff, blocking any potential candidates who might want to implicate themselves in Trump's past, present, and future crimes. Politico says they're less interested in sleazy Republican mudslingers and insiders like David Bossie and Mark Meadows, and favor more "cosmopolitan political moderates," like Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and "The Mooch."

In a new puff piece, Nikki Haley dodges lots and lots of questions about her time dealing with Trump's crap at the UN, Jared's role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and North Korea's nuclear ambitions. #ShesRunning.

Mike Pompeo embarrassed himself this morning during an interview with Fox and Friends where he lied, wriggled and squirmed around the torture and death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Hey, he said, Saudi Arabia "already paid a price." On Monday, The Independent reported that, according to a transcript, Khashoggi's last words were, "I can't breathe," followed by, "Scream. Scream. Gasping. Saw. Cutting." Then Dr. Bonesaw advises someone to, "Put your headphones in, or listen to music like me."

Make room, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, and Ohio! Political strategists are adding Arizona and Georgia to the list of swing states in the 2020 election. LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

After Nancy Pelosi finished punching Donald Trump in his baby dick on live TV, she went back to the Hill and wrangled a couple more Democrats in the whippersnapper caucus to sign-off on her speakership in exchange for term limits for Democratic leaders. Under the proposed rule, Democrats could only serve four terms in a leadership role, and anyone seeking a fourth term would need a two-thirds majority vote in the caucus. Senior Democratic leaders like Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn hate this idea as it effectively ends their leadership positions, but it does give cover for Democrats who campaigned against voting for Pelosi, AND makes grandstanders, like Tim Ryan and Seth Moulton, sit down, shut up, and get back to work. THIS IS HOW POLITICS WORKS!!

The North Carolina Republican Party wants to hold a new election for the 9th district after new reporting revealed MORE electoral fuckery! Election officials reportedly viewed early voting results in one county before election day, possibly gaming get out the vote strategy for election day. The ALLEGED winner of the race, Mark Harris, says nothing hinkey was going on, and he is shocked -- SHOCKED -- to find electoral fuckery in the race.

Later today British conservatives will hold a vote of "no confidence" for Prime Minister Theresa May following the disaster of her failed Brexit deal. May is telling them all to fuck right off and that she won't resign, but if enough members of her party vote against her leadership she won't have a choice. Yesterday, the news gods graced us with the perfect metaphor for Brexit: when PM May went to Brussels to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, May ended up locked in a limo upon her arrival.

WaPo has a fantastic deep dive about Russian disinformation campaigns designed specifically for social media. The idea is pretty simple: rather than craft one elaborate narrative, they dump dozens of bogus stories and red herrings on unsuspecting people until they get bored and move on to the next shiny object.

Richard Burr, Mark Warner, and Dianne Feinstein have urged a federal judge not to give James Wolfe prison time for lying to the FBI about leaking info to the young journalist he was banging at the time.

If you missed the House Judiciary Committee telling Google's Sundar Pichai that they were aware of this...internet "apparatus," I got you covered. It started with Alex Jones and Roger Stone attempting to crash the hearing, but nobody really cared once the Monopoly Guy showed up. Steve King tripped over his limp dick, and Jim Jordan tried to spread "fake news" about Latino voters. While Tea Party crackpots like Louie Gohmert admitted they were aware of the internet and bitched about a perceived conservative bias, Rep. Ted Lieu schooled them saying, "If you're getting bad press articles and bad search results, don't blame Google or Facebook or Twitter, -- consider blaming yourself." In the end, this was a big win for Google, even if it still has an even bigger problem with conspiracies and white supremacy.

Greedy corporate doucheweasels at the MPAA and RIAA hope you'll be too busy to notice they're reintroducing PIPA and SOPA laws. Once again, they're trying to ram through horrifying updates to copyright laws all over the world in an attempt to cut the creative balls off the musicians and artists who are able to eke out a living and follow their dreams on the internet.

PolitiFact's Lie of the Year goes to the internet hate machine that branded survivors of the Parkland massacre "crisis actors." Politifact lays out how the wingnuttosphere quickly spread santorum all over the political spectrum in an effort to discredit the very real mass murder, and how the the shooting and the backlash forced the country to reconsider gun laws and how we deal with hate speech.

CBS is still dealing with the fallout from former CEO Les Moonves. Yesterday a testy board meeting with investors featured rich, disgruntled old men who weren't happy about braving the cold, and a phalanx of rightfully pissed off women. In an exclusive SCOOPLET, my own sources tell me there's MOAR terrible news about to drop in the saga of Moonves's grifty grab-ass cover up.

Kathy Lee Gifford is leaving the Today Show's happy hour. Page Six gossips Jenna Bush Hager or Sheinelle Jones could replace her. We really don't care.

Recently unionized writers and editors at Slate have green-lit a strike. Workers are arguing for more diversity policies, a cost of living increase, and killing the "right-to-work" bullshit being pushed by management. If they walk off the job, it would be the first full-scale workers' strike in the increasingly unionized digital media industry. SOLIDARITY FOREVER!

And here's your morning Nice Time! IT'S LINCOLN! Prince of the sea otter puppers!

One Year with Lincolnwww.youtube.com

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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 in a gutter taking photos.


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