Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
As the dumbest government shutdown in memory drags into its third week, it’s hard to see how this all comes to an end. Donald Trump seems to have painted himself into a corner by first agreeing to a short-term funding bill with no money for the wall that he always swore that Mexico would pay for, and only after it passed Congress with big bipartisan majorities did he decide that he couldn’t take the heat he was getting over it from Ann Coulter and the dolts on Fox and Friends. So he kicked off this contrived budget crisis by taking full responsibility for the shutdown on national TV, and now believes, perhaps rightly, that his base will be forever demoralized if he backs down.
Meanwhile, Democrats – including the kind you would normally expect to be getting a bit panicky right about now – have zero incentive to offer him a single centavo for some dumb wall given these circumstances, and how badly Trump’s position polls. Dems know that they would face an uprising from their base if they cave in this situation, and don’t see an extended standoff blowing back on them after Trump said over and over again for two years that Mexico would pick up the tab.
Now, Congress could simply pass a budget and then override Trump’s veto, but the GOP knows that would be a crushing blow to the Trump regime and result in an uprising from their base. Meanwhile, Democrats know that if they let Trump blow up a deal after he signed onto its terms and it passed the Senate unanimously, then Ann Coulter and the dolts on Fox and Friends will have a veto going forward and even governing in a minimal sense – keeping the lights turned on – will be impossible. Five billion dollars may be a rounding error in the federal budget, but they can’t let him have it given the road we took to get to this point.
So far, the pain from the shutdown has been pretty abstract on Capitol Hill. Unlike the low-wage workers employed by federal contractors who will be completely screwed by this, most public employees will be made whole. But it’s going to get bad pretty quickly, as millions of households face delays in their tax refunds and other services. TSA workers are calling in sick all over the country, so expect long security lines while traveling. Soon, it will start showing some bad ripple effects across the economy.
Maybe we shouldn’t have put a mediocre reality TV star in charge of the world’s most powerful country, is what we’re saying here.
Under Obama, some conservatives falsely claimed that the administration was closing down national parks unnecessarily in order to punish Congressional Republicans. It was a popular conspiracy theory for a while back in 2013.
So given Trump’s penchant for doing the opposite of whatever Obama did, his regime is just keeping the parks open. Without staff.
In addition to the “garbage, feces” and “bad behavior” that have been piling up in parks across the country, The Washington Post reports that three people have died “as the Interior Department has halted most of its operations.”
The hypocrisy of this, via The NYT, is just stunning.
A former employee of the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey said that her name was removed from a list of workers to be vetted by the Secret Service after she reminded management that she was unlawfully in the United States, the latest worker to assert that supervisors at the elite resort were aware that some members of their work force were undocumented.
A pretty good example of things that are shocking but not at all surprising.
Last month, Donald Trump surprised pretty much everyone by announcing an immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Syria. Russia and Iran rejoiced at the news, Congressional Republicans and other governments panicked and Trump’s Secretary of Defense quit.
This week, multiple outlets reported that while the “President” hasn’t reversed his position, the Pentagon is saying that “troops could remain in southern Syria for an undetermined amount of time even as American forces withdraw in coming months from the northern part of the country,” according to NBC. Whatever one thinks of the merits of pulling out our troops, it seems problematic that the military doesn’t appear to be taking the Commander-in-Chief’s orders very seriously. It’s a pattern we’ve seen before.
“Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie did not disclose his associations with Confederate groups on a questionnaire submitted to the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee prior to his confirmation hearing last year,” according to CNN.
Wilkie was required to disclose in a sworn statement submitted to the Senate committee his public statements, published materials and memberships he held in organizations over the past decade. Wilkie, however, did not disclose any of his ties to Confederate groups. Wilkie signed the questionnaire affirming that the information provided is "to the best of his/her knowledge and belief, current, accurate, and complete."
We refer to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as “Scott Pruitt 2.0,” but perhaps we’ve been giving him too little credit as a grifter in his own right.
So Ryan Zinke may have committed a criminal violation... https://t.co/Tjqz8PFsQ9— Citizens for Ethics (@Citizens for Ethics) 1546704047.0
We’ll leave you with some good news this week out of Maine, where elections have consequences…
Democrat Janet Mills used her first executive order as governor of Maine to implement an Obamacare expansion of the Medicaid program to the poor.
The action puts into effect a ballot measure that state voters supported in 2017, which makes the government-funded insurance available to anyone making less than roughly $17,000 a year. The expansion of Medicaid, a major part of Obamacare, had been held up by former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who said that he would block it until the legislature found a way to fund it. He continued to delay the expansion despite a judge's orders to implement it. [Via: The Washington Examiner]