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Jiminy Fucking Christmas, these people are stupid! Axios got hold of a draft law cooked up by the White House Brain Trust called The Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act (FART). (Yes, really.) And it reeks!

The plan is for Congress to grant Trump blanket authority to impose tariffs on individual countries at will. So if Chile pisses us off, we'll tax Chilean grapes. If Angela Merkel looks at Trump sideways, we'll slap tariffs on BMWs. And if Bangladesh wants to sell us cheap clothes, they need to cough up for some Chevy Tahoes OR ELSE. Because trade wars are "easy to win," so why not weaponize our tariff system to beat the shit out of smaller countries?


The problem with this plan is that it violates every trade agreement America ever signed. The US is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which bars countries from singling out one country for higher or lower tariffs than the others. We can enact multilateral agreements like NAFTA, where we agree to a system of tariffs across the continent, but we can't just decide we're going to whack Canada by taxing the shit out of their steel. Which is why the Trump administration has at least made half-hearted efforts to pretend that these latest steel tariffs are because of -- ahem, cough, eyeroll -- "national security."

Moreover, the WTO puts a ceiling on tariffs by product, and we agreed to abide by those rules. But Trump would like Congress to please sign this permission slip allowing him to ignore all our treaty obligations and hit countries with a 1000 percent tariff if they dare to piss us off. That way we can nominally remain in the WTO, receiving benefits when other countries follow the rules, while picking off member states and bullying them individually to buy shit from us. Cool, huh?

We're already trying to murder the WTO by blocking replacement of retiring trade judges. By next year, the WTO will lack a quorum and be unable to adjudicate trade disputes at all. Can't be found in violation of WTO rules if there's no policeman, right? And if we destabilize the international order and small countries get taken advantage of by their neighbors, well, not our problem. Because we are psychopathic assholes!

Sentient persons in the White House point out that the GOP is already getting hammered on steel tariffs, with GM and Toyota promising the cost of each car will go up by a thousand dollars. GOP senators are already making noises about curtailing the president's tariff powers. So how does the White House plan to get this POS bill through Congress? Never fear! That crank Peter Navarro, Trump's Director of the National Trade Council, has A PLAN.

In a White House meeting to discuss the bill earlier this year, Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short bluntly told Navarro the bill was "dead on arrival" and would receive zero support on Capitol Hill, according to sources familiar with the exchange.

Navarro replied to Short that he thought the bill would get plenty of support, particularly from Democrats, but Short told Navarro he didn't think Democrats were in much of a mood to hand over more authority to Trump.

That's right, they're going to pass it with Democratic support. Forget about the Pedophile Wrestling Coach Rule and the fact that the GOP controls both Houses of Congress. Democrats will be only too delighted to hand Trump a blank check to blow up international trade and destabilize the world economy right before the midterms. It's so obvious!

GALAXY BRAIN.

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Please click here to fund us! Could this week be crazier than last week? Probably!

[Axios / FART Act]

Five Dollar Feminist

Your FDF lives in Baltimore under an assumed identity as an upstanding member of the PTA. Shhh, don't tell anyone she makes swears on the internet!

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Yeah, that's definitely a repurposed animatronic Hillary (YouTube)

A whole bunch of protests were held today against the fake "president's" fake "emergency" declaration, with people turning out in cold crappy weather to call attention to the general nastiness of the guy who claims he absolutely had to do that declaration that wasn't necessary. Organizers with MoveOn.org said over 250 rallies were planned nationwide. So far, the national State Of Emergency doesn't appear to have caused any of the rallies to be cancelled, despite the very real possibility that terrified Honduran refugees fleeing violence in Central America might suddenly show up and ask for asylum.

Are there still actions taking place in your area? Check at MoveOn!

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WHAT. IS. PAUL. MANAFORT. HIDING?

Before Manafort pleaded guilty and signed up as a cooperating witness who didn't actually cooperate, we wrote this:

We have always kind of figured that Paul Manafort is the one who knows the whole Trump-Russia conspiracy story. He was the first big fish indicted, and they hit him for A LOT. Also note that just about all the other prosecutions that have come from the Mueller investigation so far have been farmed out by Mueller to different jurisdictions. Manafort, on the other hand, Mueller has kept squarely in his office. There has to be a reason for that.

Perhaps it's because, as this Josh Marshall podcast suggests, Paul Manafort, a foreign agent who worked for Oleg Deripaska, AKA Putin's favorite oligarch, and who got sideways financially with Deripaska, was literally sent into the Trump campaign by the Kremlin to do its dirty work. Perhaps the Steele Dossier is right when it suggests that the entire Trump-Russia election-stealing conspiracy was run by Manafort on the Trump side, and that others like (perhaps!) Michael Cohen only had to take over when Manafort's shit started to stink and the news media started reporting on his weird-ass Russian connections in the summer of 2016.

If it's possible, we are beginning to suspect it may be even worse than that.

On Friday, special counsel Robert Mueller issued his sentencing recommendations for Manafort, after DC district court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled conclusively that the shady motherfucker very intentionally lied and blew up his cooperating agreement. Because Manafort defaulted, Mueller is no longer bound to recommend that Manafort's sentence be reduced, and is free to throw the book right at Manafort's face. HARD.

And that is what Mueller did! To be clear, the sentencing memo is harsh.

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