President America First will be ... Making China Great Again! Just as he promised the forgotten men and women in Real Murika on the campaign trail.

What the hell are we looking at here?

Funny story! In March the Commerce Department slapped a $1.19 billion fine on China's second largest telecommunications producer, ZTE, after finding that it massively violated US sanctions on North Korea and Iran.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross got to play Tough Grandpa:

We are putting the world on notice: The games are over. [...] Those who flout our economic sanctions and export control laws will not go unpunished – they will suffer the harshest of consequences. Under President Trump’s leadership, we will be aggressively enforcing strong trade policies with the dual purpose of protecting American national security and protecting American workers.

Then he nodded off for his afternoon nap. But the message was clear. The US is not going to take shit from China no more!

Except ... sometimes they punch back!

Remember how trade wars were going to be so awesome and easy to win?

Trump announced tariffs on solar panels and washing machines in January. Followed by steel and aluminum tariffs in March. GRRRR! MAGA!

Because we are governed by dipshits, these tariffs had a greater impact on our European allies than on China. But the Chinese are not governed by dipshits, so their retaliatory tariffs hit Trump with surgical precision.

Oh, you wanna fuck with us, they said. Well, how about we slap a 25 percent levy on pork, soybeans, and aircraft parts? And just for good measure, a 15 percent tariff on all that lovely ginseng those farmers in Wisconsin ship to us. Good luck in those midterms!

Be cool, dude!

Last month, the Commerce Department barred US companies from exporting parts to ZTE for seven years, finding that it continued to violate sanctions by shipping product to North Korea and Iran.

There is also serious concern that the Chinese government forces producers to build backdoors into all their technology to allow for government spying. Which is why the Defense Department banned the sale of Huawei and ZTE phones on military bases, and GOP Rep. Mike Conaway introduced a bill to bar US government agencies from using their equipment.

You tell 'em, Marco! And then you go sit in the corner and think about what you've done when they inevitably make you take it all back tomorrow.

WHATEVER! Donald Trump doesn't need those Deep State Obama holdover nerds to tell him what's good for America. Trump and Xi Jinping had a long talk over chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago. So now he understands how important it is to save those Chinese factory jobs.

Yeah, guys. CHILL OUT!

But ... can he do that?

Well, shit! None of those spineless idiots in Congress are going to stop him, right?

The answer is, NO, IT IS VERY NOT OKAY FOR A PRESIDENT TO INTERVENE IN A LEGAL REGULATORY ACTION! The Commerce Department determined that ZTE violated sanctions, and now Trump is ordering them to change their conclusions of fact and law to offer Trump an off-ramp in the escalating trade war.

Which is why Sarah Huckabee Sanders was dispatched to say that Trump would not be ordering the Commerce Department "to get it done." What he meant was, he'd ask Wilbur Ross "to exercise his independent resolve the regulatory action involving ZTE based on its facts."

Be cool, Sarah!

And no, both sides do not do this.


Oh, fine! The US government sanctioned this huge Chinese phone company for selling to the Iranians and the North Koreans. The CIA, NSA and DOD don't want Americans to buy the phones, which probably allow the Chinese to spy on us. But the Chinese government threatened to kick Trump in the soybeans by pissing off redstate farmers, so now Trump says we'd BIGLY LOVE to buy those beautiful Chinese phones. Even though the company is still selling to the Iranians.

Also, the Iranians are terrible, and we are pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement and ramping up sanctions on them.


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[ / The Verge / WaPo / Politico]

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Republicans are devouring each other's carcasses, and we are here for it! Especially when one of those Republicans is King Kris of the Kansas Votefucker Klan ... errr, Clan! It's been a week since Kansans cast their votes in the gubernatorial primary, and the GOP looks to be rolling up its sleeves for a slugfest.

As we type, Kobach leads by 298 votes out of more than 314,000 cast -- a whopping 0.00095 percent, if you round up! The Kansas GOP begged Donald Trump to stay out of the race and leave the field clear for sitting governor Jeff Colyer, who took over when Sam Brownback wandered off to bring Jesus to the Hottentots on behalf of the US government. Safe bet that Colyer would be gearing up for the general election now if President Twitterthumbs hadn't flapped his yap. So thanks for that, Donny!

No, really, THANKS!

Remember the hanging chad debacle in Florida? Now picture it in a landlocked state with more cows than people. It's like fantasy island for Devin Nunes, ALLEGEDLY.

Oh, but we are to kid!

After first insisting he wasn't going to recuse from the counting, Secretary of State Kris Kobach (one and the same!) wrote Colyer a fabulously bitchy letter agreeing to hand off the tabulation to his deputy, Eric Rucker. Colyer had made the shocking suggestion that Kobach delegate responsibility to the Kansas attorney general, rather than his own political appointee, and Kobach was stretched out on the settee with a fit of the vapors at the gross impropriety of it all!

I will not breach the public trust and arbitrarily assign my responsibilities to another office that is not granted such authority by the laws of Kansas.

After several anguished paragraphs, Kobach closed by remonstrating that Colyer was betraying his office by destroying the faith of Kansans in the sacred integrity of their electoral process.

As governor of Kansas, your unrestrained rhetoric has the potential to undermine the public's confidence in the election process. May I suggest that you trust the people of Kansas have made the right decision at the polls and that our election officials will properly determine the result as they do in every election.

Said the guy whose entire adult life has been dedicated to whipping up panic about millions of imaginary illegal alien voters.

So now these two princes can kick the crap out of each other WITH VOTES, specifically, provisional ballots cast by unaffiliated voters under the supervision of poorly trained poll workers. Kansas holds closed primaries, meaning only registered Republicans can vote to select the GOP candidate, BUT an unaffiliated voter can cast a vote by checking a box identifying as a Democrat or a Republican at the polling place. This was news to some poll workers, who mistakenly directed over one thousand unaffiliated voters to use provisional ballots without checking the box indicating party preference. Whoops!

So, will those provisional ballots be counted based on voter intent? Or tossed based on strict interpretation of the statute? And does Kansas law mandate tossing mail-in ballots that arrive without a postmark on Wednesday, since there's no forensic proof that they were mailed before midnight on Tuesday? And how disgusted will the Kansas electorate be when one of these assholes emerges from the melée holding the other one's scalp? And how many millions of dollars are going to be spent on litigating the Republican primary while this nice lady Laura Kelly, the Democratic minority whip of the Kansas Senate, is out campaigning for November?

Even before this debacle, Kobach looked significantly weaker against Kelly than Colyer, with self-funded Libertarian Jeff Orman threatening to throw a wrench in the works. The Wichita Eagle reports on a Remington Research Poll conducted in July:

In a Kelly-Orman-Kobach race, the poll puts Kelly and Kobach effectively in a dead heat — 36 percent for Kelly and 35 percent for Kobach, with Kelly's lead within the margin of error. Orman has 12 percent.

Colyer leads in a three-way race with Kelly and Orman, according to the poll. In that scenario, Colyer receives 38 percent of the vote, while Kelly gets 28 percent and Orman receives 10 percent.

Which is ONE POLL, in a deeply red state, but ... Kobach is a crap candidate who's likely to emerge from this fight with two black eyes and a pissed off base. If there's anyone who can blow this election, it's Kris Kobach.

Keep fighting, Kris! You can do it! (And now we need a shower.)

And YOU need an OPEN THREAD!

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[Kobach letter / Wichita Eagle / Mother Jones / Kansas City Star]

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While most people spent this weekend telling Nazi punks to fuck off, a couple 11-year-olds were in Las Vegas hacking into voting machines. Why? BECAUSE IT'S FUN!

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