Graphic: Quino Al via Unsplash (mod by Rayne)

Day 34+12H: Ermahgerd, an Ermahgency

[NB: As you can see from the byline, you can blame me and not Marcy./~Rayne]

Brace yourselves, kiddies, there’s still more roller coaster ahead. On the agenda besides Roger Stone’s indictment:

— Another day into the shutdown, and a second pay period without a paycheck for furloughed federal workers, contractors, and those employees forced back to work without pay. FAA has already closed LaGuardia (LGA) airport to inbound flights due to a staff shortage and Reagan National (DCA), Newark Liberty International (EWR), Philadelphia Intl (PHL) and Tampa Intl (TPA) are now getting backed up heavily.

— One lone asshole, GOP state house delegate Mark Cole, is going to attempt to stop the state of Virginia from ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, though his party has already passed the ERA in the state senate. Not clear what status is at this moment, only that the bill is not yet dead. Virginians can take action to boost this bill.

— An anticipated declaration of a state of emergency at the border by Trump in which he is expected to tell the public how he scraped up $7 billion dollars Congress didn’t allocate for a “fucken wall.” May depend on how the cascading effect of the airport shutdown(s) plays out.

Yesterday’s vote in the Senate on both Trump’s POS proposal (voted down ) and the Democrats’ alternate bill (voted down 52-44) showed that more Republican senators preferred the Democratic version over Trumps.

The GOP senators who broke with Trump were:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN) — Class II, retiring at the end of 2020
Susan Collins (R-ME) — Class II, has at least two Democratic opponents waiting
Cory Gardner (R-CO) — Class II
Johnny Isakson (R-GA) — Class III
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — Class III
Mitt Romney (R-UT) — Class I (least threatened, 2024 re-election)

Recall that Class II senators are up for re-election in 2020. Class III in 2022 and Class I in 2024.

Clearly the GOP caucus is feeling the heat.

McConnell and Schumer are talking — the airport shutdown(s) will also affect their discussion.

Keep the heat on your senators because it’s working if they’re yelling at McConnell. If you’re a Wisconsinite, thank your senator Ron Johnson for pushing McConnell.

We also need to take note of this guy who has plenty of time to develop a track record before re-election in 2024 and yet voted with the GOP now to fund the wall and reopen government.

Joe Manchin (D-WV) — Class I

Party line is No Wall, buddy. Trump wants it badly enough he can negotiate instead of having a tantrum and shutting down government.

West Virginians, I hope you are working hard on grooming a Democratic candidate for a senate primary race. You have about four years.

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121

This is an open thread. Bring non-Trump-Russia/Special Counsel’s Office comments here.

68 replies
  1. Cathy says:

    Was in Wisconsin over winter holidays and took great pleasure in watching a staunch FoxNews viewer’s introduction to Rachel Maddow. The cracks are showing and I enjoy being an ice wedge.

    The Beat Goes On!

  2. Alan says:

    President Trump is expected to endorse a short-term funding bill to reopen the government and end the partial shutdown, CBS News reports.  The announcement is expected this afternoon.

    • P J Evans says:

      I’ll believe it when I see what he’s demanding this time. (He’s likely to change his mind when Coulter/Limbaugh/Hannity call him and tell him how stupid he is for doing it.)

      No effing wall. Period.

  3. Cathy says:

    @Alan – It must be getting ever more difficult for WH to tell which is bad news and which distraction

    • Alan says:

      I don’t see it.  AFAIK, they can quit anytime they like, so that doesn’t sound like slavery nor involuntary servitude (at best, voluntary servitude ;-).  On top of that, the gov’t has promised to pay them for their work as soon as funds are appropriated–I don’t think the Constitution makes any guarantees about the timing or frequency of your paycheck.

      That doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t look like a violation of the 13th Amendment.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        When I was a civil servant in local gov., I could address grievances related to “conditions” of employment which covered a broad spectrum.

        If I negotiated thru the union, it didn’t seem like it would provide a make whole option. I chose to go thru the Civil Service Board which I believed would qualify as exhausting my administrative remedies. Then I could sue, which I did.

        Because the city also received federal funds, I could go to fed court. Think I missed some things here…

        When I was a federal employee, there also were Civil Service remedies or Union remedies. But I never had a reason to need to file a grievance there.

  4. Trip says:

    The indictment, the let ’em cake brigade, and the slow down at airports, might’ve pushed McConnell along. Twisting Trump’s arm to go out and make it look like he solved it (shutdown), or the congress would go another route around him, I’m suspecting.

  5. Rugger9 says:

    The transcript one is one of the reasons IIRC our lawyers think Cohen shouldn’t testify to either house of Congress.  Back in the day we had a colonel named Oliver North who (according to the scuttlebutt) only wore his uniform at his Congressional hearings into Iran-Contra and FWIW I think Daniel Inouye (whose boots Ollie shouldn’t have even be able to lick) went too easy on him.  Anyhow, because the committee gave him immunity for his testimony (shred me, Ollie!) he escaped punishment for what was clearly conspiracy to commit illegal acts.

    Our parallel here is that Cohen in the Senate could be placed under an immunity agreement by Lindsey Graham, for example, and can be protected from Mueller even if it’s a closed hearing.  I’m kind of surprised Manafort hasn’t tried that route yet.  Or, the GOP asking questions could muddy the waters enough to make it harder for Mueller to punish him later and those would be in the transcript.

    If Mickey Medallions is going to prison in March, why not hold the hearings later since he’ll be able to be found?

    • bmaz says:

      The media (and maybe some clucks in Congress too) seem to think Cohen “has to” testify before reporting to Otisville. This is bullshit. All you need is a properly executed order to get him produced from a BOP facility. A little bit of a pain in the ass for the five hour transport time? Sure, but it can be done and certainly has been in the past. He could also appear via video conference too from Otisville.

    • BobCon says:

      Immunity needs the agreement of the minority. No way does the Democratic side sign off on anything Mueller doesn’t agree with.

  6. OldTulsaDude says:

    I was in my early twenties during Watergate.  This feels worse.  At least in the early 70s there were a few statesmen around who placed country above party.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Give CO Sen Michael Bennet’s 1-24-19 Senate floor exasperation with Ted Cruz a listen.  The whole thing.  He touches key topics, including how the Freedom Caucus and Hastert Rule have allowed ‘a minority of a minority’ to hold the entire federal legislative branch hostage.

      And give a listen to his mention of Eminent Domain: one of the things about Trump’s oligarch patrons that is deeply alarming is that they are probably going to try and claim Eminent Domain.  Trump will do it on a Wall, and that will plant a legal precedent.

      For farmers and ranchers, whose livelihoods depend on their land, Eminent Domain is insidious.  If the federal government can’t protect people’s property rights, we really will have a revolution.  Bennet clearly understands that dynamic.

  7. Eureka says:

    Trump speaking now

    deal to reopen gov for 3w with prompt backpay, asking McConnell to bring it to floor immediately

    more ADD
    fucken wall, our walls, Israel’s wall…

    oh fucking a- see-thru steel

    • Eureka says:

      Oh shit now he is talking about women being duct-taped and tied up in vans…

      they make a “left or right” into the US

      Isn’t he using a teleprompter?

      He went on at length about this.

      Now onto MS-13… the drugs…into our schools and communities… costing 700 billion dollars (the cost segue was unclear re attribution) next, he notes health problems.

      Then backups in immigration courts…time to shift over to Daniel Dale’s twitter, he must be live fact-checking all this…

      • harpie says:

        Daniel Dale says it’s a regular Trump immigration speech.

        1:26 AM – 25 Jan 2019 Trump is telling his “four women” “duct tape” “backs or cars or trucks” “desert areas” human trafficking tale again. Again, human trafficking experts tells me they’ve never heard of this happening; just isn’t how it usually works. […] This has turned into a regular Trump immigration speech, filled with talk of murder and disease and duct tape. He hasn’t attempted to offer an extended explanation for why he rejected this kind of deal for weeks and is now accepting it.

        I never listen to Trump speak, just read Dale’s fact-check-in-real-time live threads.

        • Eureka says:

          Thanks, harpie- the Dale thread also quotes this tweet, which answers another question I had:

          Jordan Fabian: “The prompter said “[Talk about Human Trafficking]” then stopped. Trump ad libbed the entire thing”

          Adding: I vaguely recall him saying this stuff in stump speeches, but remain shocked he is choosing daytime national television to repeat this awfulness.

          • Arj says:

            The most shocking (if unsurprising) thing is that – if that’s true about the prompter recusing itself – what you’re hearing/reading is ‘pure’ Trump.  Instead of the psychiatrist’s couch, he’s using the WH lawn for this stuff.

          • harpie says:

            I hope it backfires because it’s on daytime tv [from the Rose Garden!]. It certainly does NOT backfire at his regular campaign rallies.

            He is one very sick creep.

            • Arj says:

              Apologies: lawn/rose garden – I’m English, woddoo I know about horticulture?  You would hope it’d backfire, but you’re right: his preferred audience has yet to show any sign of resistance to whatever he throws at them.  Sometimes it’s like the end of the Roman Empire.

              • harpie says:

                That rose garden comment was not related to anything you said…it’s just that it’s traditionally a place for addressing serious matters and not campaigning.

                • Arj says:

                  Understood.  I doubt he sees the distinction – what could be more serious than his re-election campaign?

        • e.a.f. says:

          when politicians I don’t like are speaking turning off the sound is much better, than watch the body language.  Its much more informative.  You can always listen later, to confirm, but Trump’s body language says way more than his words.

          The way Trump shapes his mouth, also seems to have a lot to say about what he is saying.  His “tell” is his lips.  definite lies, means the top lip is moving differently than normal.

          Not surprised at all this morning when I awoke to air traffic jams, well we’re 3 hours behind on the left coast, but after Michael Moore’s “act” lst night on Corbett’s show, nothing was going to surprise me in the morning.

          Trump isn’t going to get his wall and the government is going to stay open.  the Republican senators aren’t interested in loosing their jobs and once the air traffic controllers aren’t working, not much in the U.S.A. is either.

          The air traffic controllers got even and Pelosi held her ground.  It will serve her well in the months to come.

          • harpie says:

            The air traffic controllers got even and Pelosi held her ground.  It will serve her well in the months to come.

            Agreed…very good outcome. :-)

    • P J Evans says:

      see-thru steel – is that anything like “transparent aluminum” or is he babbling about slats again?

  8. P J Evans says:

    @Eureka at 2:32 pm
    Jeebus, that tells us more about his fantasies than I really wanted to know. (I read “romances” where consent is a Big Thing. They’re better than his cr*p.)
    (He needs help. That’s just sick.)

    • Eureka says:

      PJ- we overlapped (mine is below), but note many the striking similarities in our keywords… sick indeed

  9. Eureka says:

    @ Arj, I’m still shocked that he chose to fact-check himself on they make a “left _or right_”…of all the updates he could make.
    However, his bizarre pornographic violence fantasies might backfire with ‘the base.’ I gather they are gassing up to drive towards that Mexican air in a hurry after what Trump promised would be waiting (oh, duh- THAT’s why the walls will be see through).
    Sick fucker.

    • Arj says:

      Um, yes.  Even after all this time, don’t you find yourself suddenly realising this is actually happening, and this unconvincing approximation of a human being is pr*s*d*nt of the USA?  How will normality ever be restored?

        • Arj says:

          Right so.  ‘I’ve got a little list’ when you need more.  This thing spreads like spilt wine on a tablecloth, only uglier.  ‘Pubs should be looking to rebrand under a new name once it’s over.

    • Eureka says:

      (In this instance, “backfire with ‘the base'” means they would eschew the wall in favor of the crimes which he purports the wall would obviate.  Because sick:  cf. the misogynist/supremacist crew Stone gathered together.)

  10. Rapier says:

    The deficit now averages near $100bn a month. The shutdown coincidentally saved the Treasury from sending out about $100bn. The Treasuries ‘checking account’ rose a bit during the shutdown to about $370bn now.

    The Treasury can have a big balance in its checking account because it borrows money and deposits it in its checking account. During the shutdown the Treasury didn’t borrow much money at all in the Treasury Bill, short term market. This was very very good for stocks because the institutions and people who run the money for very rich people didn’t have a supply of new T Bills they love to buy because it is the safest and most liquid financial asset in the world, so lots of that money went into stocks.

    That $370bn balance in the Treasuries bank account will now drop by $100bn almost instantly. If they decide to borrow most of that back quickly it will be bad for stocks as that will suck up all the liquidity, money, that has been flowing to stocks back into Treasury paper.

    The Treasury does not ‘need’ a gigantic balance in its ‘checking account’. It has been building one for a couple of years because TBAC has advised the Treasury to build up a $500bn account balance for a ‘rainy day’.

    • JD12 says:

      That’s probably seen in this cabinet as a positive. It reminds me of when Cohn told Trump that interest rates would have to go up, and Trump wanted to borrow a bunch of money to “sell” once the Fed raised the rates to “make” a bunch of money.

      • P J Evans says:

        I’m pretty sure that he thinks that government is just like one of his businesses, and the Treasury is just like a bank that he can go to for cash.

        The guy is so very very ignorant of the real world.

      • Rapier says:

        None of the 3 responses make any sense to me.  I suppose it is because my post makes no sense to anyone else. I’ve spent 18 years unlearning what I thought I knew about money.  It took me 10 years alone to finally totally understand that money is created by debt.  I mean I could say the words but really knowing it in my bones, as an automatic thing, took years.

        The one thing everyone knows is more money is better. China has proven it. By doubling and doubling again and doubling again and doubling again it’s total credit outstanding it has built giant cities and tens of thousands of factories, and  miles of roads and rail line and on and on. The old fuddy duddy in me thinks there will be a problem when enough of the debt goes bad. Is defaulted on, there and everywhere.  I used to be certain. Now not so much. The last gasp of the old view was the crisis of 08. Perhaps the last gasp of the old view is best summarized in Margret Atwood’s book Pabyback:  Debt and the Shadow side of Wealth which was coincident with the 08 crisis but made no pretense of predicting it. She is so very wise.

        Those ruminations are separate from my original post on the machinations of the Treasury and I left out the role of the central bank and its balance sheet.

  11. Frank says:

    In regards to reopening the government and affected employees receiving back pay, I was an essential govt employee during a previous shutdown. When it ended, I visualized a big lump sum check in my hot hands. Wrong. The backpay was trickled back in increments over the folowing months. Maybe the system is different now..

    • Trip says:

      Thanks for the inside info. That makes Wilbur Ross’ talk of ‘go out and get loans’ much worse. The way you described it leaves workers in the hole for a while.

      • Jenny says:

        Just spoke to two friends who are relieved.  This unnecessary shutdown casing financial stress, emotional stress and stress upon stress is unhealthy.  It is a wake up call.

        Just proved to me the lack of value, respect and compassion for federal employees by the occupant in the White House and the GOP.

        The good news is those who cared stepped up to help those in need, fought against the shutdown, protested and brought to light the inequality of the haves and have nots in our society.

        The federal workers providing essential services should be commended.  Thank a TSA employee at the airport.  Thank a security guard at the Smithsonian Institute.  Thank the National Park employees who are the stewards of our land.

        Thank federal employees who showed up to work for their country.  They need to know they are respected and valued.  Because when we value and respect ourselves, we value and respect others.  It starts with the self.

  12. Tom says:

    As soon as Trump mentioned duct tape, the theme music from The Red Green Show started going through my mind, which in a way makes sense because his whole administration has been like one long Handyman’s Corner sketch.     Even Red’s motto–“If it ain’t broke, you’re not trying”–applies to how Trump has been managing the government.

  13. JD12 says:

    So the shutdown is almost over, thank God. What’s next though? This was a disaster for Trump and Republicans, could they even consider doing it again in three weeks? Will Trump just go and declare an emergency without a shutdown? Or will he just drop the subject for a while like he did the last few times?

  14. JD12 says:

    (Response to O/T thread on different post re: Trump wagging the dog.)

    This administration would love a war with Iran but they’ve failed to recruit their “coalition of the willing” and Iran is too smart to give them provocation. Even with the coalition Iraq was a tough row to hoe, and Iran has 2x the population and 4x the area.

    Venezuela on the other hand is quite vulnerable. Society still has the cold-war tendency to see socialism as an existential threat, so there may be domestic opposition to use of force but it probably won’t be as strong as it otherwise should be. Maduro’s survival is probably linked to Russia like Assad’s, except I’m not sure Russia is in position to defend Caracas.

    • harpie says:

      With regard to Venezuela:

      1] 1:30 PM – 25 Jan 2019 In deciding to recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s president Pompeo and Trump overruled the State Department’s Western hemisphere bureau. Now Pompeo has effectively sidelined WHA by appointing Elliott Abrams as a special envoy. That said, Abrams is very smart and capable.

      2]That said” … 1:42 PM – 25 Jan 2019 Abrams was one of the architects of the U.S. invasion of Panama to remove Manuel Noriega in 1989. Maduro frequently cites “Operation Just Cause” as the mold the US is following to oust him. US denies it is coup-mongering.

  15. punaise says:

    O/T: Josh Marshall just rolled out an ad-free version of Prime called Prime+, which I went for. Since I spend at least as much time here – to my improved edification – I figured I should make a matching donation to help keep the spokes of the empty wheel tuned. In celebration of Indictment Friday: Done!

  16. Eureka says:

    emptywheel: “Roger Stone gets the “coffee boy” treatment from a long dead disgraced President.”
    Nixon Foundation: “Mr. Stone, during his time as a student at George Washington University, was a junior scheduler on the Nixon reelection committee. Mr. Stone was not a campaign aide or adviser. Nowhere in the Presidential Daily Diaries from 1972 to 1974 does the name “Roger Stone” appear. 2/2″
    also ;) :
    Art Or Not Art: “Art. ”

  17. Eureka says:

    Also, Diplomat Nancy Pelosi is earning her way to a Nobel for Peace. If I catch a transcript of their press conference I’ll append it here: ample use of ‘bipartisan,’ ‘bicameral,’ and refused to humiliate Trump in response to a press question. Thank you (including in advance) for keeping us alive, Speaker Pelosi. Three more weeks, anyway.

  18. Taxidermist says:

    If you’re up for another call to your representatives, there was a bill proposed to back-pay the low-wage federal workers who are contracted, including cafeteria workers, janitors, security guards etc. because they aren’t included in the current CR.
    Sen. Tina Smith said: [low-wage federal contractors] have never been reimbursed for the wages that they lost because of a government shutdown.
    The proposed bills are getting no attention or movement.
    These are our tax dollars. It’s bad enough our government won’t hire these folks as regular employees and give them a legal wage and benefits, they deserve to be paid for the last 35 days. Please make one more call! Thank you

  19. Taxidermist says:

    @ Rayne 7:57

    On Jan. 16th a group of dems introduced the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act. It is a shit plan that doesn’t provide adequate back pay, in my somewhat currently-hostile-to-our-leaders opinion, but it’s as good as it gets, apparently.

    I’m leaving messages saying we should be embarrassed about our contract labor workforce,  but the least they can do right now is get them paid.

    Thank you for asking and taking the time.

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for the info. Drives me bonkers when members of Congress run around touting a bill, posting a description of the bill (but not its actual text) in a non-governmental dropbox, but don’t give a bill number. Makes it harder to find bill status especially since .gov sites fight with my VPN. Anyhow…

      These are the two corresponding bills for contractors’ back pay:

      House: H.R. 339 – Low-Wage Federal Contractor Employee Back Pay Act of 2019
      Senate: S.B. ??? – Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act

      Also important is a bill submitted to allow fed employees and contractors to draw down on tax-deferred retirement savings during the shutdown without subsequent penalty:

      House: H.R. 545 – Financial Relief for Feds Act
      Senate: S.B. ??? – No name out there yet?

      I’ll try to post something about this tomorrow and hope some more info comes up on the SB numbers. These bills will be the focus of next batch of phone calls to Congress.

  20. P J Evans says:

    @Rayne January 25, 2019 at 9:46 pm
    I think the first Senate bill is S.162, currently in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
    I can’t pin the second one down, but there’s S.72 which relieves other penalties and fines.

  21. Trip says:

    Open thread/ OT Topic/Khashoggi:

    Spy vs. Spy
    Citizen Lab was approached by people pretending to be something other than what they were. This sounds a lot like another Black Cube set-up. Both “FlameTech” and “CPW-Consulting” who initiated contact with Citizen Lab were fake companies. Tracing them led nowhere after only surface references. To recap: It is believed that the NSO spyware allowed the Saudis to listen in on Khashoggi’s conversations with dissidents (and any criticism of MbS). I wonder whether the NSO software is being sold/marketed merely as a product for profit (to any state), if there are/were any limitations on who can buy/use it, or if there were any ‘diplomatic’ calculations in its circulation.

    Undercover agents target cybersecurity watchdog

    The researchers who reported that Israeli software was used to spy on Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s inner circle before his gruesome death are being targeted in turn by international undercover operatives….men masquerading as socially conscious investors have lured members of the Citizen Lab internet watchdog group to meetings at luxury hotels to quiz them for hours about their work exposing Israeli surveillance and the details of their personal lives. In both cases, the researchers believe they were secretly recorded…the group has drawn attention for its repeated exposés of an Israeli surveillance software vendor called the NSO Group, a firm whose wares have been used by governments to target journalists in Mexico, opposition figures in Panama and human rights activists in the Middle East.

    In a statement, NSO denied having anything to do with the undercover operations targeting Citizen Lab..Scott-Railton and Abdul Razzak said they didn’t want to speculate about who was involved. But both said they believed they were being steered toward making controversial comments that could be used to blacken Citizen Lab’s reputation.

    Twitter page:

  22. Trip says:

    Not sure if this has been covered, apologies if so

    Scott Stedman‏ @ScottMStedman

    EXCLUSIVE: The Trump Tower Moscow developer received a loan from the Russian state-owned Sberbank weeks after signing the deal with Trump in 2015 – and then approximately $90,000,000 of that loan essentially went missing:

    Some people in the comments mentioned that this is close to the amount Parscal made, not sure if that element is a goose chase though.

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