Are they Mexican troops? They are not!
We're building the wall! And who's gonna pay for it? That's right, it's our military and their families. PROMISES KEPT!
Last year, after a 35-day shutdown, Donald Trump agreed to accept just $1.4 billion in WALLbux from Congress. After which, he promptly declared a state of emergency to justify raiding military construction funds for another $3.6 billion and demanded that congressional Democrats "backfill" the money to prove they don't "hate the troops." And now he'd like to steal that money again, plus a whole lot more. The Washington Post reports that this year's heist will net $7.2 billion of Pentagon funding that had been allocated to anti-narcotic programming and military construction.
Trump took $2.5 billion from military counterdrug programs for border barrier construction in 2019, but this year his administration is planning to take significantly more — $3.5 billion. Trump administration officials also are planning to take $3.7 billion in military construction funding, slightly more than the $3.6 billion diverted in 2019.
Emboldened by the green light from the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which lifted a lower court stay on spending the filched cash, the White House is racing to get some substantial portion of the border fencing up so that Trump can claim credit for it at his pitchfork rallies. They're no longer even bothering to pretend that Mexico will foot the bill.
And yet here we are.
Oh look, Donald Trump is lying about healthcare again. In tweets posted yesterday, Trump insisted -- falsely, and repeatedly -- that he had "saved preexisting Conditions in your Healthcare," which is of course completely false. His administration is right now supporting a dumb lawsuit that would eliminate the entire Affordable Care Act. The Washington Post notes that as of early December, Trump had made almost 70 false assertions that he has protected patients from being punished by insurers for prior medical conditions, when of course his attempts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act would do the exact opposite. But yesterday's tweets were pretty damned brazen, even for the liar in chief. In the morning, he griped about some ads from Michael Bloomberg, and even made up a very funny name for the billionaire who's trying to buy himself credibility in the Democratic primary.
Apparently Trump was set off by this Bloomberg ad that accurately accuses Trump of repeatedly trying to "undermine coverage for 134 million Americans who have preexisting conditions." Which is what will happen if Trump gets his wish and Obamacare is declared unconstitutional in a federal lawsuit the administration supports. That's what would happen "if Republicans win in court."
To be extremely clear: No, the lawsuit does not say "pretty please throw out every part of the ACA except the protections for people with preexisting conditions."
Mind you, it's not only the lawsuit.
We all know it.
Shoulda known it would all come back to John Bolton! After a weekend where Donald Trump dispatched defense secretary Mark Esper to twist in the wind on national television trying to justify the attack on Qassim Soleimani as arising from some "imminent" threat, NBC reports that we actually planned the hit on the Iranian general a full seven months ago when John Bolton was still the national security advisor.
After Iran shot down a U.S. drone in June, John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser at the time, urged Trump to retaliate by signing off on an operation to kill Soleimani, officials said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also wanted Trump to authorize the assassination, officials said.
But Trump rejected the idea, saying he'd take that step only if Iran crossed his red line: killing an American. The president's message was "that's only on the table if they hit Americans," according to a person briefed on the discussion.
So that would be a targeted killing in response to retrospective Iranian action, not an action to prevent a prospective plot to kill Americans. And perhaps it was the right choice. But who can form a rational opinion when everything that comes out of the administration is a distortion to conform to the president's most recent lie?
Defense Sec Mark Esper, welcome to the Sunday Show rundown!
A lot has happened since last week! After the
assassination targeted killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the Trump administration has been working real hard to justify having done so without consulting Congress. So much so we've had to recap it every few days to ensure everyone keeps up with the new lies.
Last week it was Secretary of State and least popular Pompeo, Mike, lying his ass off on the Sunday shows. This week it's Defense Secretary Mark Esper's turn. Esper began by trying to push the talking points at the top of his dual appearances on CNN's "State Of The Union" and CBS's "Face The Nation." It did not go well!
Grisham fiercely maintains the integrity of doing absolutely nothing.
Donald Trump was impeached last month. Now, he's trying on wars for size to save his own skin... so it's a good time for the White House press secretary to finally meet the press after more than 300 days. Stephanie Grisham's had this job for six months and has yet to hold a single briefing for reporters. She makes $183,000 a year to go on Fox News every once in a while and complain that people keep expecting her to do shit.
Grisham started to feel the heat this week. Anderson Cooper explored the many ways Grisham is useless during a full segment of his CNN show. Author Don Winslow offered to donate $100,000 to charity if Grisham did her job for just one hour. Stephen King matched the $100,000. It was suddenly a telethon! Their indecent proposal offended Grisham, who responded in an email to Jake Tapper.
GRISHAM: If you have $200,000 to play with, why not just help children because it's a good thing to do? Donations to charity should never come with strings attached.
Back in 2012, Trump offered Barack Obama a $5 million donation to the charity of his choice if our last legitimate president handed over his college records and passport applications. This was a little different from Winslow and King's offer because they aren't racists who refuse to believe Grisham is who she says she is. They'd also actually come through with the money.
'The Puerto Rico Earthquakes? What sport do they even play? Get back to me if they make the playoffs.'
Puerto Rico was hit by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake Tuesday, followed by a series of aftershocks that have left many residents of the island sleeping outside or in shelters. The territory's still-fragile electrical grid was entirely offline for much of the day following the pre-dawn quake, but is being restored more quickly than following Hurricane Maria in 2017, which left much of Puerto Rico without electricity for months. Guess the grifters from Montana weren't involved this time out. The territory's power authority said today that power had been restored to 80 percent of customers, but NBC News reports it might take a year to fully fix one generating station that provides about a quarter of Puerto Rico's electricity.
Donald Trump has so far not made any public comment on the earthquake, although he may be vaguely aware it happened since he did at least sign an emergency declaration Tuesday evening, and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency to help get emergency aid to people who need it. But no tweets or statements to the press, or at his big slob picnic last night in Ohio, although he did find time to mention he beat Abraham Lincoln as Best President Ever. Today, he found time to retweet a Republican senator's praise for Colorado firefighters heading to Australia, but not a word about the latest American disaster that isn't him.
Stop the news, I want to get off!
Good God, y'all! We have been promoted from Mommyblogger to Warblogger, so buckle up for a roundup of all the military funtimes stories breaking today. We are locked, and also, too, perhaps loaded?
Matt Gaetz ... right about a thing????
Yesterday the House voted on Rep. Elissa Slotkin's non-binding war powers resolution that would revoke the president's power "to engage in hostilities in or against Iran" without specific congressional authorization, unless it becomes "necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack upon the United States." Eight Democrats voted "no," and three Republicans -- Gaetz, Thomas Massie (KY) and Francis Rooney (FL) -- voted "yes." Plus independent Justin Amash (Biceps), who can sit with us now, we guess.
This caused great Sturm and Drang in Wingnuttistan, with Lou Dobbs growing so distracted that he left his Just For Men on for an extra hour, to disastrous effect.
Donald Trump announced yesterday his administration plans to scrap one of the country's most basic environmental laws, making it easier for major infrastructure and energy projects to be built with minimal review of how they'd affect the environment. Through new rules set to be published today, Trump would bypass the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires federal agencies to analyze the long-term environmental implications of major construction projects before approving them.
The new rules would allow more projects to avoid review altogether, and would shorten the time allowed for review. Worse, agencies would no longer have to consider environmental effects of a project beyond the immediate scope of its being built, so highways could be built with no thought as to how they'd pollute a neighborhood over time or how increased traffic would contribute to global warming.
The rules are a great big gift to Trump's pals in the real estate and fossil fuel industries, in the name of removing the "burdens" of regulation. If these rules survive court challenges, a pipeline company could decide to drain an actual swamp -- without filing an environmental impact statement.
This guy thinks he's SLICK.
For people who grift 24/7, these people are so, so bad at it. The Washington Post reports that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is desperately trying to bury info on the cost of Secret Service protection for Trump and his family. And if it absolutely has to come out, he insists America should only find out after the election what we paid for armed guards to squire Trump's large adult children across the planet as they murder defenseless animals and day-drink in Georgetown and hawk tacky condos.
This is an understandable impulse, since it would deprive Democrats of the ability to run attack ads this fall saying DONALD TRUMP CUT FOOD STAMPS WHILE SPENDING $97 MILLION OF YOUR MONEY ON GOLF TRIPS. But someone with decent political acumen would probably have managed this fiasco with a little more finesse. Someone like, say, Senator Dianne Feinstein.
"Secretary Mnuchin came to me last year with a proposal to move the Secret Service to the Treasury Department," Feinstein, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the Post. "As part of that effort, I proposed that the cost of presidential travel be included for greater transparency, accountability and oversight associated with protection during travel of presidents and their families." Which is how an IRL politician talks about the bare-knuckle brawl that is her profession -- the OR ELSE is implied.
Wow, it's like she's as terrible as all the rest of them.
A recent SurveyMonkey/Axios poll of Republican voter preferences for the 2024 presidential election showed Donald Trump Jr. leading Nikki Haley 29 to 26 percent. Republicans can't get enough of the Trumps! Fortunately, the idiot son of a one-term Republican president could never actually win. We think. Still, Haley is probably worried. She's tried cozying up to the Trumps, but now she might have to "go full Trump" if she wants to win the White House. This explains a lot of the dumb, gross things she's said recently.
The dumbest and grossest, or at least the most recent, is Haley's observation this week that Democrats were devastated to learn that Trump had killed their BFF Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. This is a lie, and all reputable news organizations have pointed at Haley's pants and declared them on fire. Unfortunately, like her questionable defense of the Confederate flag, Haley has doubled down on her profile in dumbness. She released this garbage statement to The Dispatch.
HALEY: Mourning comes in different forms. It doesn't have to be literally crying over the casket like Ayatollah Khamenei. Leading Democrats are aggressively arguing that we would be better off if Qassem Suleimani was still alive today. That is effectively mourning his death.
See, Democrats don't have to "literally cry over the casket" like an aunt at a black funeral to "effectively" mourn his passing. Actions don't matter as much as the words Haley misrepresents, and she insists Democrats are playing Clarence the angel to Soleimani's George Bailey. They believe a world without the Iranian general is a horrible, nightmare state with pawn shops and dance halls.
(It is telling them to go fuck themselves, all to 'save' $20 million a year.)
The Trump administration is working on new rules for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program that appear to be designed -- you might want to sit down for this -- to kick people out of the program. (SSDI has long been a target of rightwing assholes who are certain that too many people qualify, and Trump is nothing if not a sloppy gift to rightwing assholes.) HuffPo reviews the draft rules, which were published in November. The public comment period is open until January 17, after which the administration will do as it pleases and then get sued.
As things stand, people who make it through the Sisyphean rigors of actually qualifying for SSDI already have to demonstrate every few years that they're still disabled. The new rules would add one more layer of review for certain recipients by adding a new category of disability classification that would require more frequent re-qualification than under the current system. The goal seems to be to eject people from the system by tossing more bureaucracy at them, all in the name of keeping SSDI "accountable."
And if disabled people end up without the help they need, that's a bummer, but if they didn't get through the paperwork process they must have been faking, right? It's precisely the same logic as red states' hard-on to add work requirements for people on Medicaid. The stated goal is reducing "fraud," but there's very little fraud. But if a lot fewer people get benefits, that's a win, and proof there were too many fraudulent takers living the high life off the hard-working taxpayer.
And Rudy Giuliani's not even his lawyer!
Congratulations to Michael Flynn's nutbag lawyer Sidney Powell on a flawless victory! In December of 2018, federal prosecutors asked for zero jail time for her client. Then the former national security adviser fired his white shoe law firm, hired himself a fancy teevee lawyer who sells T-shirts on her website, and like magic the feds are now recommending he spend up to six months in the pokey. Well-played, everyone!
In December 2017, Gen. Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI about his conversations with the former Russian ambassador. He acknowledged his guilt twice, under oath, in open court. As part of the plea, Flynn gave up any right to further exculpatory evidence and promised to help the Justice Department prosecute his former colleague Bijan Rafiekian for unregistered lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government. So when it came time for him to be sentenced a year ago, prosecutors were willing to overlook all the sniveling bullshit in his pleading about being framed by the mean old FBI.
Judge Emmet Sullivan was not willing to overlook it, however. In fact, he was furious that Michael Flynn, a man who spent decades in the military and held one of the highest offices in the land, would come into his court and try to pull some shit about not knowing it's bad to lie to the FBI. His Honor made it very clear that Michael Flynn was going to spend a whole lotta time in the hoosegow if he didn't go back and cooperate a whole lot more with prosecutors. Crystal clear. Pellucid.
So what did Michael Flynn do?
What the hell was that?
To call what happened yesterday at the Defense Department a dumpster fire would be a massive understatement. Truly it was such an epic clusterfuck that, in any normal administration, half the leadership would have hired lawyers already amid bipartisan congressional demands for an independent investigation. But with Commander Crazypants going apeshit in the Oval, it'll probably wind up being just a one-day story.
As best we can work out, around noon in DC an Iraqi media outlet run by the pro-Iranian militia group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, which has fought Americans in Iraq and Syria for more than a decade, published a letter from United States Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William H. Seely III, commander of America's Iraq Task Force, to his counterpart in the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. In an apparent reference to Sunday's parliamentary vote to ask America to withdraw its military, it read, "Sir, in due deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement."
By 2:40, Agence France Presse reported that the US was pulling out of Iraq, and by 3 p.m., every major news outlet in the world had the story.
Lopez makes light of Iran's $80 million bounty on Trump.
The US assassinated Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani Friday and some Iranians are real mad about it. The Daily Mirror claimed that during Soleimani's televised funeral, an $80 million bounty was placed on Donald Trump's Tribble-infested head. (It's unclear if this officially came from the Iranian government or just state media.) The figure isn't based on the current market rate for presidential assassins but rather on the number of people living in Iran.
"Iran has 80 million inhabitants. Based on the Iranian population, we want to raise $80million (£61million) which is a reward for those who get close to the head of President Trump," it was announced, according to en24.
The crowdsourcing effort seeks to raise $1 from every Iranian. That's less than a cup of coffee. The Chicano Worldstar shared the story on Instagram, and George Lopez, a comedian who tells jokes professionally, responded cheekily, "We'll do it for half."
Mike Pompeo offers to throw in the undercoating AND a set of steak knives?
Memo to the Trump Administration: This ain't 2002, and you guys don't even have a guy like Colin Powell whose cred you can borrow to sell another forever war. American got conned into one Middle Eastern quagmire based on shit intel from a CIA source nicknamed "Curveball" -- yes, literally -- and we won't get fooled again. Particularly when the 2020 Curveballers are a bunch of lying hacks and toadies who dutifully go on television to swear that war crimes are normal, congressional oversight is illegal, and Donald Trump's inauguration was bigger than Obama's, PERIOD.
It took less than a day for the media to dismantle Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's bullshit about needing to assassinate Iranian general Qassem Suleimani to save American lives from "imminent threats," because the secretary of State and the rest of the warmongers in Trumpland never had any credibility to squander. Not that he didn't try to kite that check! This weekend the secretary of State did a full McCain on the Sunday talk shows, telling CNN's Jake Tapper that AKSHULLY it was Barack Obama's fault the US killed an Iranian government official on sovereign Iraqi territory without informing our hosts:
We're trying to restore deterrence that frankly is a need that results directly from the fact that the previous administration left us in a terrible place with respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran ... we have developed a strategy to convince the Iranian regime to behave like a normal nation. That's what our strategy is about. We've been executing it.
No one on earth denies that Suleimani spent 20 years trying to attack Americans, but when pressed to define exactly what he meant by an "imminent attack," Pompeo huffed, "If you're an American in the region, days and weeks, this is not something that's relevant. We have to prepare, we have to be ready, and we took a bad guy off the battlefield."
It's your Sunday Show Rundown Post-Christmas Special!!
Everybody, it's a Sunday Show Rundown miracle! Welcome to this appearance by
unqualified nepotistic senior White House advisor and First Lady Daughter Ivanka Trump. In a pre-taped interview (of course) on CBS's "Face The Nation," host Margaret Brennan sat down to go over three main topics: impeachment, Ivanka Trump's "paid family leave" scam, and her possible return in 2020.
Ivanka was first asked about her father's impeachment and, in typical Trumpian fashion, lied.
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