You Know What To Do. Wonkagenda For Wed., March 13, 2019


Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today!

Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee has introduced a bill to curb presidential national emergency declarations in an attempt to help save Trump from embarrassing himself (again). The bill would give Senate Republicans cover from the House resolution rebuking Trump's declaration without retroactively defeating it, thus allowing Republicans to have their cake and eat it too. Mike Pence went to the Hill again to get yelled at by Republicans who are teeter-tottering between voting against Trump and not doing that.

The administration wants to close all international offices of the Citizenship and Immigration Service and move their operations stateside. Aside from helping refugees and investigating fraud, USCIS satellite offices offer information to travelers in foreign languages, often staffing up with local foreign nationals. The administration says the penny pinching State Department can save some money without hurting America's "swagger," but immigration advocates argue this is another attempt by the administration to keep war-weary brown people from invading our borders with taco trucks and anchor babies.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie wants to be secretary of defense. Since acting Defense Secretary and former Boeing exec Pat Shanahan has rankled Republican asses across the Hill due to his inability to comprehend federal bureaucracy and the basic premise of government service, Wilkie has been running around reminding everyone he was "born in khaki diapers."

The House Progressive Caucus wants to renegotiate Trump's NAFTA 2: Milk Mafia Boogaloo, with caucus chair Mark Pocan stating, "We want to make sure we have a bill that works for labor, for the environment, for consumers," and added there were serious concerns about carve outs for big pharma. With the caucus threatening to sink the the entire agreement, Trump's neo-nationalist trade advisor, Robert Lighthizer, has been attempting to sell Democrats on the Trump branded deal. Politico reports Nancy Pelosi has no reason to hold a floor vote until economic impact studies are released next month, likely kicking the damn thing into the 2020 campaign.

Betsy DeVos has announced private schools can now get tax-payer funded religious services that were previously barred after declaring the provision unconstitutional. Legal nerds aren't sure if DeVos even has the authority to declare anything unconstitutional because there's never been an education secretary dumb/bold enough to start making sweeping declarations (that might benefit themselves).

Conservative groups are hailing Sen. Elizabeth Warren's call to break up big tech monopolies. According to the Daily Beast, people like DJTJ and Matt Gaetz (R, Florida Man), think reducing big tech's influence will allow them to make racist shitposts without fear of being slapped down by banhammers or shadow-bans.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere went to the Hill to deny that he was trying to buy influence with the Trump administration through constant stays at Trump hotels. When asked how spending almost $200,000 at Trump properties looked, Legere babeled about hoping his $26.5 billion purchase of Sprint would be judged "on the merits" by Trump's FCC.

"It's looks like you're trying to purchase influence." (C-SPAN)

With news cycles moving at the speed of Trump, members of Congress are finding it increasingly difficult to make their voices heard unless they have a few million Twitter followers. Democrats are now hoping traditional campaign tactics like "simplicity plus repetition" will help remind constituents that the party is moving ahead to expand civil liberties for the LGBQT, restore voting rights, and help immigrants regardless of this hour's Twitter tantrum.

The dash for the cash is on for Democratic 2020 candidates, and they've all got their own gimmick. With former Gov. Jay Inslee the only candidate with a Super PAC, candidates are either crossing their fingers for small dollar donations at the grassroots level, or quietly leaning on big money donors.

Bernie Sanders's national deputy press secretary apologized for saying dumb shit about Jewish people on Facebook while defending Rep. Ilhan Omar.

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order halting state executions indefinitely. Newsom states, "I do not believe that a civilized society can claim to be a leader in the world as long as its government continues to sanction the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people." And, yes, Trump shitposted about it this morning.

Take some time to have your heart broken by reading this Propublica piece on how Baltimore's violent crime rate has risen in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray in 2015. Then go outside and get some fresh air, or pet kittens, or both.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's latest Brexit deal was trashed by Parliament yesterday. MPs are expected to shoot down a "no deal" Brexit scenario later this morning, but with 16 days before Brexit, British markets are tanking at the thought of a "no deal" scenario that will see the UK crashing out of the EU. Complicating matters is a new poll showing a majority of Britons want Theresa May to resign. The whole thing is so mind bendingly insane that we respectfully present the following.

The DOD has signed off on Trump's trans ban, forcing transgender troops and recruits to serve out their contracts as their birth gender. The new rules say anyone currently taking hormones or transitioning will be allowed to enlist through April 12. Speaker Pelosi trashed the move, stating, "The President's years-long insistence on his cowardly ban makes clear that prejudice, not patriotism, guides his decisions." The policy had stopped cold, but a federal judge in Maryland lifted an injunction last week, and the administration immediately put the rule into effect.

Last week Navy Secretary Richard Spencer quietly told the Senate Armed Services committee that US military contractors are under constant cyber attacks of increasing severity because the Navy brass never turns on the goddamn emergency lights and sirens. In a 57-page report cited by the WSJ, Spencer pointed fingers squarely at China and Russia and says the DOD is maybe aware of half the cyberfuckery going on, ultimately concluding, "People think it's much like a deathly virus—if we don't do anything, we could die."

In related news, nerds are growing concerned about Chinese company Huawei digging into the backbone of the internet like a bloated tick. Earlier this week the US warned allies in Germany and the EU not to use any tech from the Chinese telecom giant because they were probably full of spyware. Huawei has repeatedly denied spying charges, though it's not like they'd have a choice if the government started asking.

Mike Pompeo told a room full of international officials, US government employees, and energy executives that the US should use what's left of its oil and gas reserves to exert soft power on Not America. Pompeo also sent dozens of State Department minions -- who don't normally attend such conferences -- to go out and schmooze suits in the oil and gas industry, and personally hosted a private meeting with 20 energy executives.

The Senate is expected to vote later today to end US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen (again). The same measure passed in the last Senate, but died in the then-Republican controlled House. IF it passes the Senate, the bill is expected to sail through the the House, but Politico notes Trump's White House has signaled it intends to veto the resolution claiming it "would harm bilateral relationships" between Jared and Dr. Bonesaw.

US negotiations with Taliban forces in Afghanistan have ended without any progress on troop withdrawal, according to Reuters. The Taliban refused to speak with the Afghan government throughout the talks, believing it to be a puppet regime, and would not agree to a ceasefire.

Later today Mike Flynn is expected in court to face the music (again). Documents released late list night from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office say Mueller is done with Flynn, and doesn't care what the court does with the grifty traitor. LOCK HIM UP! [Morning Maddow]

And because the news gods love/hate us, Paul Manafort is also expected to be sentenced after pleading guilty to stashing millions of bloody Ameros from dictators in an effort to avoid paying taxes. LOCK HIM UP!

Transcripts from Lisa Page, one of the FBI agents investigating HER EMAILS, show senior FBI officials wanted them "to get her," but Page pushed back and told them all to take a flying fuck at a rolling donut.

How shitty was Paul Manafort? Shitty enough to get involved with a guy claiming to be the Vatican CFO living in a Trump Tower apartment (natch) and selling fake Vatican property under the premise that the Church needed quick cash to pay off child sex scandals.

That little MAGA shit who harassed Native American protesters and then cried about it on national television is suing CNN for $275 million, according to the Daily Beast. The suit accuses CNN of bullying, and bringing down "the full force of its corporate power, influence, and wealth" by saying mean things about said little shit, and not punishing an analyst who implied he should be "punched in the face."

The boycott against Fox News couldn't come at a worse time as Fox executives pitch companies to buy ad time across its media properties. Everyone is now piling on Tucker Carlson, including The Intercept -- which unearthed Tucker bragging about being "extraordinarily loaded, just like from money [he] inherited from [his] number of trust funds," and being "100 percent" Rupert Murdoch's "bitch." Last night Tuck-tuck railed against his critics, and called CNN's Brian Stelter "the house eunuch."

And here's your morning Nice Time! BABY GOATS!

Goats in sweaters practice their hops!

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or in a gutter taking photos.


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