Shutdown Shitshow Season Finale. Wonkagenda For Fri., Dec. 21, 2018

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

Defense Sec. Jim Mattis suddenly resigned in protest following Trump's insistence on pulling US forces out of Syria and Afghanistan. In a sternly worded letter of resignation, Mattis essentially called Trump a fucking idiot for ceding reconstruction and stabilization efforts to regional assholes like Iran, Syria, and ISIS/ISIL/whatever. In a not at all subtle dig, Mattis noted Russia and China are seeking "veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic and security decisions," and warned the US should really take threats from Putin and Winnie the Pooh seriously.

Senate Republicans seem to be suffering buyer's remorse as Mitch McConnell calls the Mattis resignation "regrettable," while Marco Rubio griped the US may be headed for "a series of grave policy errors" that could really screw up what little respect the world still has for US. The Wall Street Journal reports several Republican legislators, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Tom Cotton, and Rep. Mac Thornberry, are in the running to replace Mattis, along with David McCormick, a super rich guy (natch). [Resignation Letter]

Yesterday, Trump ordered a massive withdrawal of 7,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan, about half the force currently there, shocking the bejesus out of Kabul and US defense officials, and leaving NATO allies holding their dicks in the desert. The Pentagon is declining to comment, but whispers leaking from the West Wing tell the New York Times that the US withdrawal could spur Taliban forces negotiating with a US envoy to cut a deal for control of Afghanistan. Yep, Trump negotiates with terrorists.

BREAKING: WaPo is reporting that Trump has delayed pulling US forces from Syria, and notes Turkey is still planning to ethnically "cleanse" the region of Syrian Kurds. And ISIS fighters too, so a little genocide seems a fair trade. Hold on, didn't we "defeat" ISIS?

WE'RE HEADED FOR A SHUTDOWN! With rightwing talking heads screeching about saving fly-over country from a border thousands of miles away, Trump continued to demand someone give him $5 billion for his goddamn WALL (now made with steel sluts slats!) after the House Freedom fuckers gave him a tongue lashing. Politico reports Trump suddenly backed away from backing away, told Paul Ryan to cancel his flight back to Janesville, and tried to blame everything on Democrats (again). House Republicans then found an extra $5.7 billion under their couch cushions, and promptly added it to the Senate's stopgap spending bill. This new poison pill is likely dead on arrival in the Senate, setting the stage for a Mexican standoff between Democrats, Republicans, and the crackpot Trump caucus. Early this morning Trump began ceaselessly shitposting on Twitter and threatening to shut the government down "for a very long time" if nobody gives him money. And Tea Party asswipe Sen. Steve Daines suggested using the "nuclear option" to build Trump's goddamn WALL. Wouldn't that make it more of a crater?

It's unclear if the Florida man scamming people into crowdfunding Trump's WALL can legally give the money to the federal government without congressional approval. So far he's bilked more than $10 million Ameros from almost 200,000 people, an average donation of about $55. Last night, Laura Ingraham brought the con artist on her show so he could whine about being banned on Facebook (for being a con artist).

The Trump administration hath decreed new "Migrant Protection Protocols!" Individuals seeking asylum from Central American "shithole countries" like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador shall henceforth reside in Mexico until our gracious king figures out a way to squeeze them in for asylum hearings. Maybe between "Executive Time" and lunch Time, but certainly not after "Policy Time" or during Hannity.

During a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, DHS Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen began suffering from what can only be described as a series of blonde moments. Nielsen was unable (or unwilling) to answer basic questions about border security operations, like the number of people who've died in Trump's baby jails and tent cities, or the number of legal entry points along the US-Mexican border. Nielsen ultimately told Congress, "I would ask for WALL -- we need WALL."

For whatever reason, Stephen Miller screamed at CNN's Wolf Blitzer after he was asked questions about the administration's free fall into the mouth of madness. He then began stammering and shouting that Trump will continue killing babies until he gets WALL.

Just like everything else Trump touches, the stock market tanked (again) yesterday. The "Tariff Man" is pissed that people are blaming the market collapse on him, but geeks are quick to point out he's the one who started a trade war, gave tax cuts (to the super rich), raided government coffers, insulted the Fed, and throws tantrums that shutdown the government. WaPo reports that Trump is now worried he won't be able to make the stock market a cornerstone of his 2020 campaign as people grow increasingly pessimistic about the economy. SAD! A recession might even affect other people, too.

Congressional Democrats are determined to get their hands on Trump's tax returns by using a 1924 provision created in the fallout of the Teapot Dome scandal. TLDR: The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee can get anyone's tax returns, but it's unclear if they can actually release that information without a full House vote. Vanity Fair gossips that Trump is terrified people might find out how poor he is, and plans to fight "tooth and nail."

It's anyone's guess who Trump will actually nominate to run the Interior Department now that Ryan Zinke is out. Roll Call reports that Cathy McMorris Rodgers already turned the job down, but lame duck Sen. Dean Heller needs a job after voters You're Fired him last month. He's facing competition from Rep. Jeff Denham and Rep. Rob Bishop who are gossiping to local news outlets they'd like new jobs too.

The DNC says it will hold 12 debates for the 2020 elections since everyone and their Mom is running.

In a rare showing of international cooperation, the Trump administration is forming a coalition with the UK and Canada to stop Chinese cyber attacks and economic espionage. Yesterday the DOJ unsealed indictments revealing two Chinese hackers spent a decade hacking computer networks in a dozen different countries, stealing major trade and defense industry secrets while working for China's state-sponsored hacking group, APT 10. The Chinese government is denying the allegations, calling the US hypocrites, and telling everyone to fuck off now that they've been caught. Sounds like a US "president" we know!

And here's your morning Nice Time! Today we celebrate the life of EDDIE THE OTTER! He was known throughout the world for dunking little basketballs to combat old age and arthritis (on top of being adorable)! Eddie was rescued off the California coast in 1998 when he was just a wee water sausage, and nursed back to health at the Oregon Zoo. Eddie spent the rest of his days shooting hoops and training other orphaned otters how to be super cute.

Remembering Eddie

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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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