Nancy keeps hammering away with her gavel of death.
Yesterday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Donald Trump not to bother showing his raggedy ass at the Capitol later this month for his lie-addled State of the Union address. This is a bummer for those of us looking forward to watching Pelosi roll her eyes and shoot death stares at Trump from her reclaimed seat of honor. Pelosi articulated very reasonable national security concerns for dis-inviting Trump. It's a tremendous undertaking to ensure the safety of everyone present, and most of the folks who do the heavy lifting are furloughed or otherwise victims of Trump's shutdown. Does Trump remember that he shut down the government?
GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy thinks Pelosi's move is "pure politics." He's apparently never watched "Designated Survivor." Pelosi said they could come up with another date for Trump to demonize Democrats and minorities once the government is reopened. Trump could also just lie to to the public from the Oval Office or even submit his address to Congress in writing (this is also how they should handle this year's Academy Awards). However, McCarthy insists that Pelosi inconveniencing Trump in any way during a domestic crisis of his own making is "unbecoming" of the speaker. Yes, he used the word "unbecoming" like he's Lord McCarthy in a regional production of Oscar Wilde's "Lady Windermere's Fan."
Trump demands people work for free as government shutdown enters 26th day. Your morning news brief!
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
Now in its 26th day, Trump's shutdown shows no signs of stopping after Democrats rejected a useless photo op at the White House yesterday (twice). Trump's White House is attempting to peel off Democrats by tricking some into appearing to support his goddamn wall (oops, steel slats -- wait, now it's "a barrier?"). Rather than be used as props, dozens of House Democrats marched over to Mitch McConnell's vacant office and demanded he do his job by bringing House-passed legislation to the Senate floor. Where was he, on a beach in Puerto Rico or something?
The administration is realizing that government shutdowns are hard to win when the government is really shut down, so it's recalling thousands of federal workers to work without pay at the FAA, the DOT, the EPA, HUD, the IRS, and the FDA. Not to mention dozens of Interior Department workers to sell oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, a federal judge has shot down a lawsuit by federal workers' unions over being forced to work without pay. The judge said workers deemed "essential" have to show up in order to avoid creating "chaos and confusion." The judge empathized with workers, but ultimately ruled, "the judiciary is not, and will not, be leverage in the internal struggle between the branches of government." Well...fuck.
A federal judge hilariously smacked down the Trump administration's attempt to put citizenship questions on the 2020 Census, arguing it was a "veritable smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut" violations to the Administrative Procedures Act. The judge then dumped on crooked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's attempt to put the question on the Census, stating Ross had "ignored and violated a clear statutory duty," and "concealed its true basis rather than explaining it."
Nancy Pelosi seems to be getting her revenge on her detractors, blocking them from positions on powerful House committees. Politico gossips that Rep. Kathleen Rice was blocked from a seat on the House Judiciary Committee despite her seniority, with Pelosi instead offering up freshman Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. You come at the queen, you best not miss!
A group of Arizona nerds has launched a petition to get astronaut Mark Kelly to challenge Sen. Martha McSally in 2020. Roll Call and Politico note Kelly has been meeting with Democratic leaders and fundraisers over the last several weeks as he considers boldly going where few astronauts have gone before. The draft Mark Kelly movement is part of a broader push to get science geeks and pencil pushers into positions of politico power.
During an appearance on Colbert last night, Democratic Sen. Kristen Gillibrand announced her intention to run in 2020. Politico reports Gillbrand is making her pitch to female voters, but last night she stated that healthcare was a right, "not a privilege," which if you ask us is an appeal to anybody who likes having health. [Video]
Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum are not only on the shortlist of potential 2020 VEEP candidates, according to Politico, but they're also mulling their own 2020 presidential runs now that they both have a solid network of donors, voters, and volunteers who know how to knock on doors in crucial swing states.
Some yokels in the West Virginia House of Delegates want to give Trump $10 million for his goddamn wall instead of spending their $200 million surplus on the all the things slowly killing the state's population, like alternatives to the dwindling coal and natural gas gigs, ending food deserts, or helping addicts left to rot thanks to the opioid crisis. Gotta have priorities, and the priority is keeping people scared enough to vote R.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit proposal went down in flames yesterday in a disastrous 432 to 202 vote. With calls to hold a second referendum growing in the UK, the EU is now telling Britian to shit or get off the pot. Later this morning the liberal Labour party is expected to call for a vote of "no confidence" in May's leadership, but it too is expected to fail as conservatives would rather have a bumbling, ineffectual idiot helping lead the world towards economic catastrophe than another distasteful political opportunist.
The New York Times has a retrospective on all the times Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin (keepign no detailed record of the meetings) and the curious coincidences that always seem to happen shortly after their little get-togethers, like revelations on the Trump Tower meeting, sanctions, and Trump's disdain for US allies and NATO. NYT even made a fancy infographic!
Robert Mueller's team has delayed sentencing for Rick Gates because he's not done spilling the beans on all the Trump-Russia fuckery he's been privy to. Furthering speculation that the investigation into Trump's ALLEGED COLLUSION with Russia is far from over, Mueller's team filed a 31-page affidavit and 406 pieces of almost entirely blacked-out exhibits showing how Paul Manafort lied his ass off after he cut a deal with federal prosecutors. According to the filings, Manafort's lawyers had to pull him aside several times during questioning and remind him to keep his mountain of lies straight. CNN is also reporting that Manafort's lawyers tried to obscure the fact that Manafort's longtime pollster -- who he brought in to work on the Trump campaign -- met with Mueller's team and acknowledged he gave polling data on the 2016 campaign to Russian while serving as Trump's campaign chairman. LOCK HIM UP!
Don't expect Michael Cohen to say much to the House Oversight Committee next month as Robert Mueller's team of extraordinary investigators still isn't done with him either! People close to Cohen told the Wall Street Journal he intends to gossip about what it's like to work with Trump, and that his testimony will give people "chills," though the WSJ has since yanked those comments from its original story. HHMMMM!
Speaking of Michael Cohen, when he finally does report to jail, he'll be neighbors with one of those jerkoffs from "The Jersey Shore" at the Otisville Federal Correctional Institution.
According to a new survey by City Lab, Chicago has has one of the best public transit systems in the country. Not only is the CTA fairly reliable, it has a cleanliness rating of, "meh, could be worse," something called, "bus justice," and (most importantly) there are taco stands at (almost) every "L" station. That's right, y'all, TACO TRUCKS ON EVERY CORNER!
Treat yourself to some lovely sing-song by the fabulous Randy Rainbow!
And here's your morning Nice Time! OTTERS!
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A plan even stupider than usual!
Much like any former reality TV star who is also a moron, Donald Trump has no idea how government works. Trump treats political negotiations like business deals, which we wouldn't advise even if he were actually any good at business deals. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has outmaneuvered and publicly humiliated Trump repeatedly both before and during this absurd government shutdown because she is, in her own badass words, a "legislative virtuoso." Trump should just say, "No mas!" and see if Pelosi would give him bus fare back to New York, but he's intent on fighting on like some cartoon villain who hasn't noticed that he loses in every episode.
Jonathan Swan at Axios reported Sunday that the White House is desperately searching for an "exit ramp" to all this. Unfortunately, Trump is driving both while drunk and with the brakes cut.
Senior administration officials have discussed inviting rank-and-file Democrats to the White House, hoping they may be willing to negotiate over funding for a barrier, according to two sources privy to the private discussions.
Republican officials involved conceded to me that it's a stretch to imagine the White House can break Nancy Pelosi's strong command of her caucus. But administration officials tell me they're going to try.
So Trump wants to play "House of Cards" but he couldn't beat Pelosi at Uno with all the draw fours in the deck. The speaker sets the agenda, and the freshman congresspeople who are awed by the sight of their own names on their office doors don't have the political muscle mass to force Pelosi to give Trump a dollar for his WALL.
Maybe Trump isn't as stupid as we know he is. If he can get at least some of the Dems to speak out against Pelosi's hardline stance it could prove a chink in her armor. Or something. As Barack Obama pointed out, the Donald is not really a "plans guy."
All Republicans want is a level playing field where Republicans always win. Is that so wrong?
Republicans in several states have decided the problem with American democracy is that it allows for too much democracy, so to protect states from voters with bad ideas like popular sovereignty, they're pursuing measures that would make it much harder for voter initiatives to ever get on the ballot. After all, this fall's elections resulted in a whole bunch of voters stupidly electing Democrats, leaving Republicans to fix that in lame-duck sessions aimed at stripping power from the incoming Dems. And since voters in red states passed initiatives that clearly defied Republican wishes, then for the sake of good government, it's time to knock that shit off, too.
Awww, they think they're people!
As ever, the new year brings with it a bunch of new laws going into effect and new people in office, so let's take a moment to pet and love some nifty new developments in the states. Maybe not all the states (Bad Georgia! Bad!) but there's some Good Laws and Good Government out there. Here, have a Snausage and celebrate!
California: That Doggie (And Kitty, And Bunny) In The Window Has To Come From A Shelter, Hooray!
A new breed of animal-welfare law went into effect in the Golden State January 1: Pet stores will now be banned from selling dogs, cats, and rabbits from commercial breeders. Instead, those pets will have to come from shelters. The law is the first statewide ban on sales of pets from breeders, and is intended to put "puppy mills" and "kitten factories" (and we guess ..."bunny bodegas"?) out of business. The law was passed in October 2017, but only went into effect now to give pet shops time to adjust to the new rules.
A fact sheet for the 2017 law, AB 485, explained the new regulations were intended to crack down on unregulated breeding facilities that "house animals in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate food, water, socialization or veterinary care." Pet stores violating the law will have to pay a fine of $500 per animal.
You made this!
GREAT JOB, WONKERS! You did it. In 2018, you worked your ass off, you sent your money, you dragged your friends to the polls, and you made that sweet blue wave a reality. It only took a 9 million vote margin in the popular vote, but we are finally back in control of the House of Representatives. Nancy Pelosi is ready to bang that gavel and grind her delicate heel into Trump's flaccid, orange bits.
Yes, we know everything is scary and horrible all the time. But let's not lose sight of what you accomplished. To wit ...
You Picked Up Forty* House Seats
Actually, the real number is probably 41, since Mark Harris vote-frauded the bejeezus out of NC-9 and still only "won" by a margin of 0.6%. And the fat lady hasn't sung yet, with the North Carolina GOP ratfuckers in the state legislature racing to certify Harris before they lose their veto-proof supermajority in the General Assembly next month. Incoming Majority Leader Steny Hoyer promises the House won't seat Harris until the fraud issues are resolved, so this one is anyone's guess.
You kicked Putin's favorite Congressman Dana Rohrabacher to the curb in California. You sent that anti-choice wingnut Karen Handel packing, and replaced her with badass Mother of the Movement Lucy McBath in Georgia. You got all up in Dave Brat's grill in Virginia, and sent him off to spout gibberish in the private sector after RNC goons used his opponent Abigail Spanberger's stolen personnel file to pretend the former CIA agent was part of a terrorist sleeper cell. You sent a younger, browner, more female class of freshmen to Congress who will represent America's vibrant, diverse population and ensure the longterm health of the Democratic party. And you burned the GOP to the ground in California.
MURDERS OVERSIGHT HEARINGS BEGIN!
Karma's a bitch.
It's time to travel back to Georgia to check on some old "friends" we met here last spring. If you recall, we worked tirelessly to report on the many shenanigans, frauds, schemes, and scams cooked up by the Georgia GOP. Some of the interesting things we found were: a shady secretary of State, minorities dropped from voting rolls, an exact match system, janky voting machines, long lines, false claims of hacking, and a stupid ass deportation bus.
Speaking of that deportation bus, guess what happened to the candidate who bought that bus in order to round up "murderers, rapists, kidnappers, child molesters, and other criminals"?
If you said, "LOCK HIM UP!" please enjoy this moment of freshly squeezed schadenfreude, because instead of locking up "criminals" (that means dark people) he will be in JAIL with criminals who prolly won't like him that much.
The charges against the Forsyth County Republican, who will likely remain in office until mid-January, stem from a May incident in which [unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate Michael] Williams reported his Gainesville campaign office was burglarized. At the time, Williams' campaign manager said $300,000 worth of computer servers that were being used to mine cryptocurrency had been taken from the building.
Wait a fucking minute. Mining cryptocurrency? Did his campaign consist of mining bitcoins and driving that dumb ass deportation bus around until it broke the hell down? (It really broke down, lol!) No wonder you came in last place, you lazy bastard. State Senator Michael Williams, of the "Deportation Bus" Williamses, has been charged with Insurance Fraud, Falsely Reporting a Crime, and Making A False statement, and has turned himself in to Hall County Jail.
Trump's not so proud to shut the government down anymore, and Facebook gave away all your shit. Your morning news brief!
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
Good news! One extremely bad idea appears dead for the moment.
It's a day ending in existential dread, so we have more updates for you on the squalid carnival of election fuckery in North Carolina. As you'll recall, it looks fairly certain a Republican operative illegally messed with the absentee votes in at least one county (probably two), putting in doubt the 905-vote "win" by Mark Harris in the state's ninth congressional district. The state board of elections refused to certify the results, and last week, Democratic candidate Dan McCready withdrew his concession in the race, calling on Harris to tell what he knew about the absentee ballot scheme and when he knew it. The operative accused of illegal ballot tampering, Leslie McCrae Dowless, worked for a campaign consulting firm hired by the Harris campaign, and has a long history of shady absentee-ballot operations. It's kind of his speciality.
Next you'll be saying all eligible voters should be allowed to vote.
More tales of voting madness from the Sunshine State, part ninety-jillion: Following last month's What-The-Clusterfuck of attempts to accurately count, then recount, the votes from the midterm elections in Florida, state officials now have at least a pretty good tally of just how many absentee votes didn't get counted because they arrived in the mail after Election Day. Bad news: It was thousands of votes -- 6,670 ballots which were mailed before the election but not counted because they didn't arrive by the November 6 deadline. Sorta-Good News: This year, at least, it doesn't look like the results in any races would have been any different if those rejected ballots had been included in the statewide totals. Weird News: Two counties -- Polk in central Florida and Palm Beach, one of the state's most populous -- still haven't reported their uncounted absentee ballot totals to the state, so who knows how accurate the previous statement will be once they do, particularly since Palm Beach County is heavily Democratic. Forget it, Jake, it's Floridatown.
So here is Florida's stupid, stupid absentee voting law: Unlike in sane states which will count votes postmarked by election day, ballots sent within the USA have to arrive at county offices by 7:00 p.m. local time on election night in order to be counted. Yes, no matter how well in advance of the election they were postmarked or who was responsible for the delay, like maybe a Post Office that was shuttered for a while thanks to that pipe bomb investigation. Absentee ballots from military personnel or civilians living overseas will still get counted if they arrive up to 10 days after election. But even if you mailed your ballot from Yeehaw Junction two weeks ahead of time, it won't be counted if it didn't get delivered in time, sucks to be youhaw.
If you see a Republican state legislator, DO NOT TOUCH! Get away! Call an adult!
It's a fine day for the idea of bipartisanship, as all the somber editorials remember what a swell guy George H.W. Bush supposedly was, reaching out to both parties for bipartisan consensus now and then, at least when it came to confirming David Souter and going to war in Kuwait. (Let's not talk about the cramming of Clarence Thomas unto America's throat.) To mark the passing of Poppy Bush, that gentle statesman, the Republican legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin, where the GOP held on to legislative majorities through the magic pixie dust of extreme gerrymandering, are doing their best to demonstrate that the era of 'peaceful transfer of power' truly has gone straight down the shitter. Both legislatures are using special lame-duck sessions to wrest as much power away from the Democrats who voters foolishly elected last month before they take office and start appointing members of MS-13 to your local school board.
Fine, so maybe it's more of a tribute to the Lee Atwater side of ol' Poppy.
So far, the fuckery in Michigan has just been getting started, since Republicans there were busy getting ready to screw with voter-passed initiatives they didn't like. With that important correction of the voters' silly mistakes taken care of, now the Rs can focus on more efforts to provide an undertow to the Blue Wave. With Democrats set to become governor, secretary of state, and attorney general, the Rs want to shift some of the powers of each office to the legislature, because after all, those Democrats might govern wrong:
GOP doesn't care much for democracy.
It's normal for a political party to conduct an "autopsy" after suffering significant electoral losses. However, instead of altering their platform or messaging, Republicans have chosen instead to just dissect democracy as it squirms on the operating table. They've done this in broad daylight, aided by a media that's intent on covering their corruption as simply politics as usual.
The headline for Monday's New York Times article about Republicans' attacks on democracy reads like a press release from the RNC: "Stung by Election Losses, Republicans in the States Seek a Way to Neutralize Democrats." Boo-hoo, voters rejected Republicans in the midterms and they're all up in their feels about it. That's not relevant. What's relevant is that Republicans are cheating. Cheating is not an electoral strategy. This isn't a high-stakes poker game between card sharps.
Right now, Republicans are making efforts to overturn recent elections in Wisconsin and Michigan that didn't go their way. They plan to achieve this through barely legal trickery where they strip the incoming Democratic governors of any executive powers they find inconvenient. This morning, the Wisconsin state Senate approved its power-stripping bill on a 17-16 vote with all Democrats and a single scruple-possessing Republican voting against it.
HI. DO YOU LIKE ELECTIONS? GO VOTE.
Georgia voters have a chance today to start fixing the multiple trainwrecks of fuckery that have led to voter suppression, long waits at the polls due to "technical issues," and concerns about the security of election computers and voting machines. Or they could elect another damn Republican and keep the trainwrecks, because look, cool twisted metal! A month after former Secretary of State Brian Kemp engineered a "win" against Stacey Abrams, voters go to the polls today in a runoff election to replace Kemp as secretary of state. The Democrat, former congressman John Barrow, has pledged to replace the state's hinky touchscreen voting machines with paper ballots and end the arbitrary purges that have removed millions from the voter rolls since 2012. The Republican, state Rep. Brad Raffensperger, thinks everything about Georgia's current voting system is just nifty.
Nancy Pelosi gonna stick em up Mitch McConnell's ass.
A big plus from throwing House Republicans out on their ears is that we don't have to worry as much about them trying to kill us. As recently as this summer, they were still planning another go at repealing the Affordable Care Act if they managed to unexpectedly survive midterms like the masked psychopath in a slasher movie. Now, after a bonafide blue wave, we not only can breathe easier, but our shiny new blue House might actually pass positive, non-citizen-murdering legislation.
Friday, Democratic leaders unveiled a sweeping political overhaul bill. It's been in the works for month, as part of the "For the People" campaign platform. People like to argue that Democrats have no message other than "Donald Trump sucks," but there was always something on their Web site. Once and future Speaker Nancy Pelosi has designated the bill "H.R. 1." Other bills might receive a House vote before H.R. 1 but it's still technically the "first one," sort of like Star Wars: The Phantom Menace but not garbage.
Pelosi and John Sarbanes, the plan's principal author, detailed specifics of the bill in a Washington Post op-ed titled "The Democratic majority's first order of business: Restore democracy." That's usually just political hyperbole but these days, it's a pretty sober assessment of the situation on the ground.
You guys didn't really want a Democratic governor, did you? That's OK, we got it.
One of several Nice Times in this year's midterms was the defeat of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by Tony Evers, just in time for a Hanukkah where, for the first time since 2014, the state's governor won't be wishing a hearty "Molotov!" to those observing Jewish Christmas. Fortunately, because Wisconsin is the traditional home of good-government types like the famous Robert La Follette, the orderly transition of power will go smoothly and without any partisan rancor, just as soon as the Republican-controlled legislature passes a few bills to prevent the new Democratic governor from governing too much.
You know it's going to be a great package of measures when the Republican state senate majority leader, Scott Fitzgerald, announces that the rare lame-duck session of the state lege isn't even worth looking at:
"It's real kind of inside baseball, kind of legislative stuff that it's hard for me to believe people will get too excited about," Fitzgerald said three days before the plan was released.
Nothing to see here! Just a few little piddling mechanical tweaks to make sure the new Democrat governor won't wreck all the great stuff done under the Walker administration. Oh, and while they're at it, the Republicans are also going to do what they can to hamstring Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, another Democrat. Look, democracy is all fine and dandy, but there's no reason folks should expect the people they elected to be able to do anything. The midterms didn't return Republicans to the top spots, so obviously the vote was some weird fit of irrational choices.
MOTHERFUCKER THAT WAS A FOR REAL EARTHQUAKE.
Welcome to Alaska! A state where elections are won by dead people via a coin toss that they were not alive to shout out "Heads!" for. So, don't get happy, we only visit the Last Frontier when we have a situation where, once again, Alaska behaves like Florida's frigid northern cousin and completely fucks up an election. As an Alaska resident -- yes, I live here. Yes, I'm cold --I expect nothing but pure fuckery anytime Alaska starts trending in the news.
You are now very curious about just why there seems to be a bit of negativity, yes? Well, have you ever had control of your state legislature come down to ONE BALLOT that hasn't been counted because someone happened to find it just chillin somewhere on a precinct table, leading to a bunch of adults spending weeks deciding whether to count it, not count it, open it, not open it, or just say fuck it and have an asteroid hit the earth so nobody had to make a decision? Welcome to Alaska!! It's dumber than Florida.
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