Trump is leaving, but he's going to break a whole lot of shit on the way out the door. And some of that shit might just be the GOP!

The president has not backed off his threat to veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the $740 billion defense spending bill. In normal times, no Congress would ever fail to pass a defense bill, and no president would ever threaten to veto it because failing to "support the troops" is the kiss of death in politics. That's why they call it "must pass" legislation. But these are not normal times.

Leave aside for the moment your own feelings about military spending, Wonkers. Because whatever objections you have to the size of the defense allocation, Donald Trump's reasons for threatening a veto are NOT THAT. Two and a half weeks ago, Trump tweetsplained ... this.

This morning he repeated the claim, tweeting, "I will Veto the Defense Bill, which will make China very unhappy. They love it. Must have Section 230 termination, protect our National Monuments and allow for removal of military from far away, and very unappreciative, lands. Thank you!"

Well. It's a lot.


First of all, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the provision that shields media companies from liability for user-generated content on their sites, has nothing whatsoever to do with the NDAA. And it's got nothing whatsoever to do with conservatives getting "censored" by tech platforms either, much as Senators Hawley and Cruz enjoy lying about it. In fact, the only thing Republicans and Democrats agree on is that Section 230 repeal should in no wise be attached to the defense bill.

"The president knows that I agree with him 100 percent on the need for a full repeal of Section 230. I've made that clear publically [sic] as well," Senate Armed Services Chair Jim Inhofe said. "It's unfortunate that Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle disagree with the need for a full repeal – but, because of that, it is impossible to add a repeal of Section 230 to the defense authorization bill. The only other option would mean that for the first time in 60 years, we would not have an NDAA. Without an NDAA, our troops would not get flight pay. They wouldn't get hazard pay or any other specialty pay that requires annual authorization for our service members overseas get what they need."

So, why is Trump going on about it? Who the hell even knows!

As for the "National Monuments," President Addlepate is referring to a commission to consider rechristening military bases that currently bear the names of traitorous Confederate generals.

Presumably he thinks this stance will appeal to his racist base? But, again, who the hell even knows!

As for the business about China, who the ... well, you know. Perhaps Xi Jinping harbors a deep-seated loathing of Braxton Bragg, and renaming the base in North Carolina will be seen as a great victory for the Asian superpower. But that seems unlikely.

Vox made a valiant effort to retcon a logical explanation, although trying to work out a rational basis for the nonsense that falls out of Trump's mouth is always a dicey proposition. It's possible that the president is exercised because the US will still be allowed to buy Chinese-made drones under the new law. But it's equally likely that he really does believe that China benefits from Section 230 because some wingnut on OANN shoved that little nugget into his skull cavity.

The Daily Beast has an interesting column suggesting that the real reason Trump wants to torpedo the NDAA is because of a specific anti-money laundering provision that might hurt him and his cronies. But that would require the president to have actually read and understood the NDAA — and no one should ever bet on the president reading anything. There's also the minor matter that there will be a defense bill eventually, come hell or high water, so objecting to one section in order to get a wholly different section excised seems like a stupid strategy, even for Trump.

We'll probably never know why the president is so adamantly opposed to the bill. But it passed in the House 335-78, and the Senate by a margin of 84-13, setting up a veto fight if he actually makes good on his threat. Two-thirds of both chambers would have to vote to override a veto, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says his members won't do it. But House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney has voiced support for the override, while simultaneously calling Rand Paul a tiny asshole.

Uhhhh ...

The Senate is hoping like hell to dodge that bullet, with Republican Whip John Thune telling reporters that his members won't be voting if McCarthy manages to keep his members on-side. "If the House overrides, we will come back. If they sustain it with their vote, we won't," he said.

Meanwhile, no one knows when Trump will actually do what he's promised — he has 10 days to act on the legislation — so Congress has no idea if or when the members will have to come back to DC to deal with this bullshit. And, not for nothing, but Christmas is next week.

Will Republicans finally grow a pair in the last few minutes of the Trump presidency and say no to the Lunatic in Chief's manic sabotaging of the government? That really would be a Christmas miracle! But Kevin McCarthy is no Santa Claus, so safe money is on those spineless sumbitches kowtowing to the Dear Leader, safe in the knowledge that Joe Biden will be behind "the very beautiful Resolute Desk" in a month, acting like a goddamn adult.

Happy Holidays, ya bunch of craven eunuchs.

[CNN / CBS / Vox / Beast]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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