A Category 5 Shitstorm in Syria, and a Florida Man crowdfunds The Wall. Your morning news brief!
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
Dude, no. Just no.
Hello Wonks! Welcome to the Sunday Rundown!, where we look at all the stupid, dumb and outrageous lies people say on the Sunday shows. Rudy Giuliani went batshit crazy on pretty much all the shows, which earned him his own column by Wonkette's Five Dollar Feminist. Herein, we'll look at all the rest of the Sunday fuckery!
Let's focus on the second worst/stupidest person on this Sunday's shows, current Trump adviser and former Time Wraith Stephen Miller.
At least as far as forgiving defrauded students their loan debts goes!
Thursday, the Trump administration decided out of the goodness of its court-ordered heart to follow Obama-era policy and cancel thousands of borrowers' federal student loans. This was a bummer for so-called Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who had fought against protections for student loan borrowers because she (allegedly) gets off on watching people go bankrupt like some Disney villain. A federal judge ruled in September that her efforts to stop the "borrower defense" regulations from taking effect were illegal. DeVos will have to take comfort now in one of her 17 yachts and her Tim Burton-designed summer house.
These borrowers aren't, as Fox News might lead you to believe, avoiding repayment of the loans they took out to study advanced pottery and women's "herstory." Most of these borrowers were affected by school closures or outright defrauded by a lousy for-profit "college." The Education Department today will start notifying around 15,000 borrowers that they qualify for loan discharges. The debt totals approximately $150 million, or about four of DeVos's best yachts.
Not yet threatening to tear-gas any 'Obama judges.'
Since the courts keep telling him he can't actually rewrite US immigration law all by himself, Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to swoop in and review his idiotic asylum ban, which attempts to bar anyone crossing the border outside official ports of entry from qualifying for asylum. Lower courts have held that until the matter is resolved, the administration can't put the new restrictions into effect, and even Trump's own immigration bureaucracy is unsure how to implement the policy, but Trump really wants to screw asylum-seekers, since that's the only thing that can help his supporters get it up.
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.
Wants compensation for FM station broadcasting in his teeth, too.
Somebody must have told supergenius Investigative Reporter and Expert on Hitler Escaping After WW II Jerome Corsi, Ph.D., that even if you call it a "criminal complaint," a grumpy incoherent mess of words thrown at the DOJ Ethics Suggestion Box has no legal standing. So Corsi and his "lawyer," wingnut very smart man Larry Klayman, have filed an actual lawsuit accusing Robert Mueller of doing very bad things and breaking laws, and while it's still full of nonsense, it at least has this going for it: Even though it's essentially another version of his dumb criminal complaint from last week, this time it was submitted to the US District Court in Washington. Get ready for this amazing legal bombshell to blow open the whole criminal fraud of the Mueller investigation, just like that time Klayman sued the blacks for conspiring to elect Barack Obama.
In his lawsuit, Corsi accuses Mueller of trying to force him to give false testimony that Mueller knows damn well is false, by threatening to send Corsi to prison for the rest of his life!!! The complaint also accuses the FBI, CIA, NSA, and DOJ of conspiring to do illegal wire tapps to Corsi, and also accuses Mueller's office of illegally leaking details of Mueller's investigation related to all the stuff Corsi won't stop talking to every media outlet in the world about. Wow Double Wow!
You know it's a hell of a good case, because Google Chrome wanted to know if I wanted it to translate the complaint into English:
The Wall Street Journal is displeased!
It's tough being the Senate's sole black Republican. You don't get to eat lunch and trade mix tapes with Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. You have to sit at the dork table with Lindsey Graham and Cindy Hyde-Smith. That's the plight of South Carolina's Tim Scott. He normally takes it all in stride, but maybe he's finally had enough.
Scott recently killed the nomination of Thomas Farr to the federal bench. Farr used to work for North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, which is frankly disqualifying in itself, but Scott specifically opposed Farr because of his involvement in "ballot security" activities for Helms's 1984 and 1990 campaigns. The reason "ballot security" appears in quotes here is because it was actually a scurrilous attempt to suppress the black vote through intimidation and deceit.
"I am ready and willing to support strong candidates for our judicial vacancies that do not have lingering concerns about issues that could affect their decision-making process as a federal judge," Scott said in his statement. This seems reasonable advice for what it would take to gain Scott's consent. But it's not good enough for Bill Zuppinger from Greenville, SC. He slammed Scott's decision in a letter to the editor published in Saturday's Greenville News.
Not even your birth certificate can save you.
The Trump administration's efforts to deport all the nasty horrible criming foreigners just keeps scoring wins! Along with all the undocumented moms and dads scooped up while dropping the kids off at school (total threats to the nation), the New Cruelty makes the occasional error, like targeting US citizens for deportation, which is quite the regrettable oopsie, but is really just the sort of thing that will happen from time to time. Isn't Making America Great Again worth a little overreach now and then? Still, troublemakers like the American Civil Liberties Union seem to think people have "rights," and now the ACLU is suing a county sheriff's office in Florida for having held a Philadelphia-born US citizen, Peter S. Brown, for three weeks while refusing to even check his repeated offers to prove his citizenship. After all, Immigration and Customs Enforcement had asked the Monroe County Sheriff''s Office to hold "Peter Brown" for deportation to Jamaica, and that was that. Serves the US-born Brown right for having such an exotic name.
Tim Scott and Lisa Murkowski: You really want your names linked to this guy? Or that pun?
The US Senate voted this afternoon to advance the nomination of Thomas Farr to be a federal judge for the Eastern District in North Carolina, even though Farr has a sterling record of suppressing African-American votes. And in a completely unsurprising bit of trivia, that judicial district is home to some of the state's highest concentrations of black voters. What a coincidence!
The good news is that with Democrats unified in opposition to Farr and Jeff Flake pledging not to vote for any judicial nominees unless the Mueller investigation is protected from the whims of the "president," Democrats only needed just one Republican to break ranks and stop the guy.
The bad news is that Democrats had to find one Republican willing to break ranks, in a party that insists keeping black people from voting is good.
Being good enough for Jesse Helms is a good enough reason to reject him.
Mitch McConnell is using the lame duck session of the Senate to push through yet another crop of rightwing federal judiciary nominees picked for Donald Trump by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society. This latest group includes yet another dipshit the American Bar Association has designated as "not qualified" -- the sixth Trump nominee to get that lowest-possible rating ... so far. Also among the nominees is Thomas Alvin Farr, whom Trump picked for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Although the ABA rates him as "well-qualified," there are one or two minor issues with Farr's record that have led every single Democrat in the Senate to oppose his confirmation, like the fact that the NAACP has called Farr North Carolina's "vote-suppressor in chief." Oh dear, he IS a nasty piece of work.
Trump has locked himself in his room, an alt-right nutjob is arrested, and Nancy Pelosi gets ready for war. Your morning news brief.
Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.
Oh, he'll have a legacy all right!
It's easy to blame Georgia's Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a less charming Boss Hogg-style villain, for the blatant voter suppression efforts in the state: electronic voting machines not working because someone "forgot" to send electrical cords for them, and the four-and-a-half hour lines in black districts as if the polling places were holding one-night-only concerts with the ghosts of Prince, Michael Jackson, and Aretha Franklin. It may be a winning campaign strategy: "I'm not racist. I'm just incompetent. Hell, I'm probably both. Make me governor." But Kemp was only in position for such large-scale corruption because the Supreme Court in 2013 ruled to make Jim Crow great again and gutted the Voting Rights Act.
"Our country has changed," Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. "While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions."
Roberts was correct the the country had changed. Barack Obama won re-election in 2012 with a smaller percentage of the white vote than Michael Dukakis in 1988. Racial demographics had changed dramatically in almost a quarter century: White voters had gone from 85 percent of the electorate to 72, with a corresponding -- and concerning for Republicans -- increase in the electorate for blacks and Hispanics. After Mitt Romney's defeat, there were "autopsies" that argued the GOP would have to expand its tent and reach out to minorities. This was all superficial talk. Immigration reform flopped in the Senate the same month the Supreme Court gave Republicans an easier path to retaining power: cheating.
Republicans expect Brett Kavanaugh to be Donald Trump's personal justice concierge. We should believe them.
Is there anybody besides Donald Trump who wears his contempt for American institutions on his sleeve more than Newt Gingrich? We are not sure, because there are just so many Republicans willing to burn it all down to preserve their power these days, but we can say with certainty that CHRIST, Newt Gingrich is an asshole.
During the fight over whether we should put Brett Kavanaugh -- a likely sexual predator with one thousand foreheads and bad skin who lies a lot -- on the Supreme Court for life, there were a lot of questions about whether Trump had picked him because of his weird Daddy Issues about executive power. Basically, if the president is a Republican, Kavanaugh thinks that president should be treated with the deference of a king. (If it's a Democrat, of course, Kavanaugh wants to ask the president salacious questions about his jizz, maybe because it gives him a miniature stiffy.)
People especially focused on Kavanaugh's seeming belief that sitting (Republican) presidents shouldn't even be investigated, much less prosecuted. After Mitch McConnell told Trump this summer not to nominate Kavanaugh, as he would be very difficult to confirm, Trump did it anyway, and people wondered if Kavanaugh might be viewed as one of the only federal judges in America willing to protect Trump from the Robert Mueller investigation no questions asked. Hell, he might have even signed a loyalty oath! Maybe Trump and Kavanaugh did "Devil's Triangle" together and now they are BROTHERS 4 LIFE!
Back to Gingrich, who opened his fat fucking shitmouth and gave away the game during an interview with the Washington Post on Thursday. Asked what would happen if the Democrats retake power (VOTE!) and subpoena Trump's tax returns, Gingrich said the quiet part loud:
Remember that judicial nominee deal from LAST WEEK? Yeah. LOL.
While Yr Wonkette would never want to be accused of admiring nasty old hate-tortoise Mitch McConnell and his gang of thugs, we do have to admit a grudging respect for his amoral efficiency at using his position as Senate majority leader to Achieve Republican Goals. He stymied much of Barack Obama's legislative agenda with singleminded efficiency, and has harnessed Donald Trump's "presidency" as an engine to ram as many rightwingers as possible into federal judgeships. Sure, Trump and other Rs may occasionally condemn McConnell as insufficiently committed to creating a white ethnostate, but Mitch don't care, he's building a rightwing judiciary that will fuck over the poors and minorities and women for decades.
So you can see why we sometimes wish Senate Democrats could be, if not exactly ruthless like McConnell, at least not quite as ruthful as Chuck Goddamned Schumer, who agreed to fast track 15 Trump nominees in exchange for a bit more campaigning time in the run-up to the midterms. (This was not a popular "deal" at Wonkette HQ!) And now, big surprise, along comes Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley, saying "DEAL? WHAT DEAL."
Grassley insists that even though the Senate is in recess for October because of -- we repeat -- the "deal" struck by Schumer and McConnell, there MUST be hearings on two additional Trump nominees. Dianne Feinstein and other Democrats on Judiciary complained yesterday, saying, hey, dude, RECESS. Grassley gotta cut a bitch?
When not making the news might be better.
What a cruddy month for Native people and their rights, as if "Columbus Day" weren't insult enough. So far, we've had the Republican-dominated Supreme Court taking a dump on Native voting rights in North Dakota, and some shitty Republican idiot in Kansas vowing to send congressional candidate Sharice Davids "back to the reservation" (at least he resigned). Now it turns out the month started with a federal court judge in Texas declaring the Indian Child Welfare Act unconstitutional in a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is a Republican. Gosh, it's almost as if there were some factor other than "Native Americans" and "October" at work in all three.
Chuck Schumer did that thing again, the thing where he agrees to fast-track a basket full of deplorable Federalist Society-selected federal judges to lifetime appointments, in exchange for allowing the Senate to recess so Democrats could go home and campaign in the last four weeks before the midterms. It's the same thing Schumer pulled in August, and for much the same reason: Republicans would be able to force through the nominations anyway, no matter how many parliamentary delaying tactics Democrats pulled, so better to cut the carnage and at least have time to campaign. And yet, it still feels like a chickenshit move, mostly because when Mitch McConnell grinned his death's head leer and dared Schumer to use every trick in the book, Schumer shrugged and settled for the shit sandwich McConnell offered. You just don't reward that bastard and say Welp, we tried. You coulda done more, but now we'll have 15 new rightwing judges -- all men; good gender politics there, Republicans.
Yes, yes, it's imperative Dems do all they can to retake the Senate, and to do that, at least four to six Dems in extremely tight races in red states have to hold their seats. And yes, we know, a Republican majority is a Republican majority, and anyone pretending Bart O'Kavefish could have been defeated needs to LEARN A MATH, PIGFUCK. But as Politico's Burgess Everett points out, Schumer wouldn't have to keep ALL the Democratic senators in Washington to make the Rs work for those 15 judges:
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