'So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish.' Wonkagenda For Thurs., Dec 20, 2018
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
Donald Trump's sudden decision to
retreat tactically withdraw all US forces in Syria hit Washington like like a barrel bomb in Aleppo. Foreign policy nerds, defense hawks, allied nations, and members of Congress are all screaming (to Mike Pence) that this is a catastrophically bad idea as it cedes more geopolitical influence to Russia, regional control to Iran, and alienates the few friends we have left. A number of news outlets are reporting the decision may stem from personal threats by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Trump that Turkey might attack US spec ops ninjas working with the US-backed Kurdish fighters in a planned offensive against the Syrian Kurds this week. Yesterday, Turkey issued a spiteful warning to the Kurds, stating they "will be buried in their ditches when the time comes." Trump then released a smug and ignorant video where he complains about calling the families of dead soldiers and claims, "We beat ISIS." He then points to the sky and says "There is nobody happier."
Trump has been up incessantly shitposting since Zero Dark Thirty about his decision to pull US troops out of Syria. He's simply delighted by statements from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who during his annual year-end news conference stated, "On this, Donald is right. I agree with him." May as well invite Vlad to the White House, huh?
Repudiations of Trump's early withdrawal are coming from all over the right-wing echo chamber. Last night Mike Huckabee called on Trump to "reconsider." This morning, Brian Kilmeade went apeshit on Fox and Friends, calling the move "stunning and irresponsible." ET TU, KILMEADE?!
WaPo reports Defense Sec. Jim Mattis has been sidelined by Cadet Bonespurs, as are the rest of the members of the "My Generals" club, because Trump simply doesn't trust all the generals he once bragged about being smarter than him. SAD!
FUN FACT: Trump still hasn't been to a combat zone to hashtag support our troops.
Earlier this year, Trump's new attorney general pick William Barr randomly sent a 20-page memo to the Justice Department whining about Robert Mueller and his league of extraordinary investigators. Barr stated the Trump-Russia investigations could have "potentially disastrous implications" and called Mueller "grossly irresponsible" for investigating potential obstruction of justice allegations. He also added, "Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction." At least we now know why Trump tapped him.
Robert Mueller has asked the House Intel Committee for an official transcript of Roger Stone's testimony on the Trump-Russia investigation. This move suggests Stone has more than just a tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back, and that he may have lied to Congress about his involvement with Wikileaks and HER EMAILS.
A federal judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit against Buzzfeed by a shady Russian business creep named in THE DOSSIER. Aleksej Gubarev had claimed Buzzfeed damaged his delicate constitution when it published Christopher Steele's investigation into Trump-Russia fuckery, but the court felt that Buzzfeed was only reproducing THE DOSSIER. Further, the court found Buzzfeed had covered its ass by using hyperlinks to other news outlets to corroborate its reporting. Silly old First Amendment, we love ya!
Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings must be getting new stationery for Christmas because he just sent 50 requests to the Trump White House seeking information on Ivanka's emails, Trump's baby jails, and the paper towel party in Puerto Rico. The administration had been able to blow off these requests while Republicans were in charge, but Cummings is about to get subpoena power as the chair of the House Oversight Committee and he's clearly not waiting until next month to use it.
Once again Senate Republicans blocked a bipartisan bill to protect Mueller from Republican Sen. Jeff Flake and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons. In response to Mitch McConnell blocking his bill for the third time, Flake renewed his boycott of Trump judicial nominees. So they'll have to wait a whole month until Flake is gone.
As usual, the Senate kicked the can of government funding down the road with a short-term spending bill that funds the government through Feb. 8. Despite assurances from the White House that Trump wouldn't "back down," Trump has (again) backed down from his threat to shutdown the government over his wall. The bill now moves on to the House where it's expected to pass since nobody wants to be dealing with crap over the holidays.
Since Congress refuses to give him $5 billion, Trump is claiming the military will build his goddamn wall, and that YOOGE economic growth from his NAFTA 2 means Mexico will pay for its construction, by MAGIC. Luckily, a Florida Man has started a crowdfunding campaign to help Trump get his money. The Florida man says if all 63 million Americans chip in $80, we can build that goddamn wall. As crazy as it sounds (and it is crazy), it's not the first time a crowdfunding campaign has been undertaken. The pedestal for the Statue of Liberty was built in part with small-dollar donations. Except it actually got built.
Since congressional Republicans refused to make poor people work for food, the Trump administration is unveiling a plan to force SNAP recipients to get jobs if they want to keep receiving food stamps. The dubiously legal proposal doesn't affect the elderly or people with kids, but it does affect 2.8 million people, 755,000 of whom live in flyover country where there are no jobs.
A new report by the GAO has found veteran suicides are skyrocketing under the Trump administration. The report blames a lack of leadership in the VA, and a drastic reduction in spending to reduce suicide among veterans. The Trump administration is blaming former VA Sec. David Shulkin, but data shows that under Shulkin's leadership the number of veterans taking their own lives declined as spending on a media campaign of suicide prevention increased. Thanks, Obama.
Kathy Kraninger, the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has scuttled Mick Mulvaney's plan to rename the organization to the "Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection." Citing cost concerns, Kraninger says that the the CFPB will continue to use its original name, but keep Mulvaney's nonsensical jumble for legal documents. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has sent a letter requesting an investigation into the name change, stating, "Changing the agency's name and acronym would make it harder for consumers to find the agency's website, file complaints, and seek help." Well, yes. Of course it would!
Aside from giving Donald Trump a reacharound during his year-end press conference, (again) Vladimir Putin started kicking around the idea of nuclear war (again), stating, "There are currently certain specifics, there is a danger... We are essentially witnessing the breakdown of the international order of arms control."
Sec. of State Mike Pompeo is going to Cairo, Egypt January 10 to deliver a speech about the US role in the Middle East. The State Department says that this is not at all like Obama's address to the Muslim world in 2009, because Obama wasn't besties with Dr. Bonesaw. For all we know, Pompeo is getting chummy with Egypt's dictator-in-training, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Politico has an in depth and BATSHIT interview with Trump's former social media adviser, Justin McConney. He's the jerkoff who taught Trump to tweet. McConney recalls the moment he found Trump could tweet "was comparable to the moment in Jurassic Park when Dr. Grant realized that velociraptors could open doors. I was like, 'Oh no.'" I guess he was more preoccupied with whether or not he could, and never stopped to think if he should.
Your favorite secret Muslin, B. Barry Bamz put on his socialist Santa hat and handed out presents at Children's National Hospital in DC yesterday. Bamz then redistributed toys to sick kids, and filled their heads with anti-American propaganda by advising them, "Even the cool kids don't have it all figured out."
And here's your morning Nice Time! MOUNTAIN KITTIES!
Cameras Reveal the Secret Lives of a Mountain Lion Family | Short Film Showcase www.youtube.com
We're 100% ad-free and reader supported, so consider buying us coffee, or get a subscription!