Christmas At Ground Zero. Wonkagenda For Mon., Dec. 17, 2018

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

With the holidays upon us, Republican members of Congress aren't even bothering to show up to procedural votes, making (another) government shutdown almost inevitable. A skeleton crew of Republican legislators are now scrambling to avert crisis before Christmas thanks to Trump's insistence that someone else pay for his goddamn wall by Dec. 21. Over the weekend, Trump's chief White House white supremacist, Stephen Miller, appeared on "Face the Nation" to double down on Trump's border wall shutdown, and highlight the dangers of spray-on hair. [Transcript]

On Sunday, a seemingly sober Rudy Giuliani ran around New York denying Trump committed a crime when he (ALLEGEDLY) conspired with cadre of crime lords and scumbags to steal the 2016 election. First, Giuliani yelled at George Stephanopoulos, calling Michael Cohen "pathetic" and a "serial liar" for snitching about Trump's hush money payments to porn stars. He also engaged in some 'ol fashioned what about-ism. Afterwards, Giuliani ran over to Fox News and tried to gaslight Chris Wallace about the severity of growing investigations into Trump's ALLEGED schemes and crimes. [ABC Transcript / FOX Transcript]

It wasn't just Facebook. Russian election fuckery hit every social media outlet in an effort to brainwash people into supporting Donald Trump, according to a draft document by Oxford University's Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika obtained by the Washington Post. The New York Times reports that Russia was REALLY interested in black people, as well as propping up the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and used American-sounding names and organizations, like the @Blackstagram and the Black Lives Matter movement, to push racial resentment among the black community, and disenfranchise/discourage black voter turnout in 2016. Wired notes that much of this was done by spamming and shitposting memes. The report states that much of this was directed at Facebook (natch), and that many social media companies purposely misled Congress and the American people by denying just how bad Russia's fuckery actually was. Clearly, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg have some 'splaining to do!

The Trump tax cuts (for the super rich) have been a boon for big businesses, allowing them to reinvest in new projects, new equipment, and stock buybacks that increase value without actually hiring more workers, increasing material output, or raising workers' wages. #MAGA

As the Trump family spent decades dodging taxes and buying up cheap property around New York City, tenants in historically lower income buildings in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island began started seeing their rents rise. A New York Times investigation found not only was the rent too damn high, the Trump's were padding invoices for maintenance services, and pocketing the excess cash by laundering the money through shell companies, just like Grandpa Fred taught.

One of Jared Kushner's property companies wants to use new "Opportunity Zones" to snatch up distressed property in gentrified areas of Miami, LA, and Seattle. This would let them make shitloads of money without paying any taxes. Sure, it SOUNDS like a scam, but Jared made sure it was totally legal by sneaking legislation into the Trump tax cuts (for the super rich).

Several years ago The Intercept revealed that in 2011, Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn admitted to murdering an unarmed Afghan man suspected of being a bomb maker. With Maj. Golsteyn now facing murder charges, Trump implied that he may pardon Maj. Golsteyn, creating a mind boggling legal quandary for civilian and military lawyers as Trump's statement technically constitutes unlawful command influence. This fucking guy.

Mitch McConnell's brother-in-law Gordon Hartogensis has been tapped by Trump to head the sprawling Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, but there are real questions about whether or not Hartogensis is even capable, as he has no prior experience, and hasn't held a job for almost 20 years. Ha, like that's ever stopped a Trump nominee!

A handful of former Bush 43 staffers want to start a new political party, the Serve America Movement (SAM). The group hasn't released much information about its political positions, so we're left to assume they want to to make America a filthy, apolitical corporate-controlled police state that indiscriminately invades "shithole countries" and tortures native peoples (again).

Like a dog that's caught the car, the GOP has no fucking clue what it's going to do now that it convinced a federal judge to rule Obamacare is unconstitutional. Incoming House Democrats were already working to nail the GOP's balls to the floor on healthcare ahead of the 2020 election, but now there's a fire under Democrats' ass to protect Obamacare and its provisions with sweeping legislation, and also push for universal healthcare.

House Democrats are moving to push gun control legislation like federal background checks. They haven't even been sworn in yet!

Pennsylvania Republicans are worried they could lose the state entirely in 2020 now that they no longer have a gerrymandered majority. Their every-which-way finger pointing has attracted the attention of Trump's White House, which sees towns like Scranton as the key to its survival.

Susan Collins says she's not at all worried about a 2020 primary challenger to President Burger King, telling Jake Tapper, "It's healthy for our democracy." Collins's comments come amid speculation John Kasich and Jeff Flake are mounting their own 2020 primary challenges to Trump. [Video]

Republican women in Congress are an endangered species, according to Republican women in Congress who say the party's inability to attract female candidates (or voters) is at "crisis level." Who knew President Puss-grab would be so polarizing?

Trump will take a 16-day vacay to Mar-a-Lago for Christmas and New Years starting Dec. 21, the Palm Beach Post reports. That's a lot of executive time during a government shutdown! Fun Fact: Ticket prices for Trump's annual holiday parties have been jacked up (natch), and the only charity event still being held at Mar-a-Lago is the Palm Beach Police Foundation Policeman's ball on Jan. 5.

Blue collar schmoes in South Florida are starting to get worried that the toxic "red tide" algae blooms suffocating the stone crab populations will only get worse as water temperatures rise. Maybe if we give agri-business the benefit of the doubt, and relax more environmental regulations, things will just sort of take care of themselves?

Expect the secret spec ops war in Africa to get more interesting as the Trump administration begins to redefine US presence in Africa's "shithole countries" in an effort to combat terrorism and Russian and Chinese expansion in the region, according to national security mustache, John Bolton. In a speech at the Heritage Foundation, Bolton outlined the three-pronged approach the administration will take towards colonizing Africa even as the Pentagon seeks to consolidate military resources and assets throughout the continent. Right on cue, early this morning, US AFRICOM announced six airstrikes against al-Shabab extremists in Somalia, leaving 62 dead.

The Daily Beast reports that Russia has been shipping weapons, snatching up blood diamonds, murdering journalists, and sending shady oligarchs and mercenaries to influence domestic politics in its favor in the Central African Republic.

Saudi Arabia says the Senate resolution condemning Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for murdering journalist Jamal Khashoggi was a "blatant" interference in the countries internal affairs, and that the Saudi government rejects, "any and all accusations, in any manner, that disrespect its leadership..." Funny how the Saudis call this disrespectful, but their bankrolling of the 9/11 hijackers was simply business as usual.

Amid more calls to scuttle her dodgy negotiations with EU leaders, British Prime Minister Theresa May says a second referendum on Brexit would cause "irreparable damage" to the faith people have in members of Parliament. People have faith in Parliament? Did you see the SNL sketch on Brexit this weekend?

Even though it's spent the better part of a decade violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty by designing and testing banned weapons, and blowing off any discussion about it, the Russian Defense Ministry says it wants to sit down with US officials for "open and specific" talks about the Trump administration's intention to withdraw from the treaty. They even sent a letter to the UN to let the rest of the world know how angry they are at the US playing the gaslight game. That's Russia's job!

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to ban rap music because the musicians always rap about being drug addicted poors suffering from systemic oppression, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Maybe Putin is a fan of The Red Elvises?

A number of lawsuits are beginning to take shape in response to the opioid crisis, potentially costing big pharma billions of Ameros. Last night "60 Minutes" sat down with the glorified ambulance chaser who's made a career going after big tobacco and oil companies, a guy who might be a hero if he didn't admit to being in it for the money.

Human skidmark John Podhoretz stopped whitewashing conservative screw-ups to shitpost about Nazi Republican Rep. Steve King's reblogging of Donald Trump's shitpost bashing the Weekly Standard. In yet another example of the pot calling the kettle black, Podhoretz called King "a foul disgusting liar and a stain on American public life."

Melon Trump's spox Stephanie Grisham wrote a nasty-gram for CNN about all the mean people in the press who won't give Melon a break for X-mas and #BeBest. "I really don't care, do you?"

And here's your morning Nice Time! It's SIMBA, the Savannah Cat nomming on tuna-sicles! NOM-NOM-NOM!

Talking Savannah VS

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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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