Every crazy day in August

August 31,
2017

August 31
Did you know that Houston has no zoning laws? Or that the flooding of roads in Houston is by design, as the roads were built below grade to turn them into giant gutters, and that the city really doesn't know what to do about the incessant flooding? Or that federal flood insurance is not actuarially sound (meaning that in effect construction in flood zones is often federally subsidized)? Did you know that Texas Senator Ted Cruz voted against funding Hurricane Sandy relief?
In the aftermath of Harvey there are no simple answers. There's a lot to think about in terms of the federal government's role, what should be rebuilt, and how the U.S. should approach flood insurance as we descent into the Athropocene epoch.

August 30,
2017

August 30
We know that, as POTUS, Trump has the ability to pardon federal crimes. Special counsel Mueller knows that too, and is aware that Trump could seriously undermine his investigation by pardoning those whom Mueller subpoenas.
Because of that, Mueller is working with New York's attorney general to find leverage to get Manafort to cooperate. The state of New York could still send Manafort's ass to prison, pardon power be damned.
Mueller is not here to play.

August 29,
2017

August 29
Trump visited Hurricane Harvey-affected areas in Texas and boasted, "What a crowd. What a turnout" as if it were a campaign rally. Rather than fit the mold established by earlier presidents and express empathy and call those who are able to volunteer or donate, he jumped ahead to his legacy. "We want to be looked at in five years and 10 years from now as this is the way to do it."

August 28,
2017

August 28
Obviously, the news of the day is the ongoing horror of Harvey, but that is too much to chew right now. Let's instead take a moment to note that North Korea launched a ballistic missile over northern Japan.
This is beyond NoKo's usual level of provocation, prompting Japan PM Abe to not only speak of the action, but to interrupt television with a warning, and you know Japan hates to acknowledge NoKo's trolling.
Unrelated: Did you know that when washing radioactive material off your body, you should shampoo but not condition your hair as that would bind the matter to your hair?

August 27,
2017

August 27
Circa late 2015, Trump's company was trying to pull together a Trump Tower in Moscow. This is a story that is going to need a little bit of time to fully shake out, but the gist is that Trump really did have active commercial interests in Russia while he was tooting Putin's horn on the campaign trail.

August 26,
2017

August 26
So, there's this meagastorm floating around Texas, threatening to drench it in feet of water, and Trump is like, "Quick! Everyone is distracted. Let's do a news dump!"
And news dump he did: Seb Gorka is out (which was pretty predictable since he's a Bannon lackey), former-sheriff and noted purveyor of cruelty Joe Arpaio is pardoned, and trans people are hereby banned from enlisting in the military.
Oh, and don't forget, North Korea tested another missile yesterday!

August 25,
2017

August 25
Treasury Secretary Seven Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton, posted a suuuupppeer tacky Instagram pic of her and her husband getting off a plane near Fort Knox in which she added hashtags for all of her designer clothes. When a commenter mocked her, Linton dug into her in the smuggest, most condescending, least self-aware way, calling her "adorably out of touch."
Then, as a result of this story blowing up, an ethics watch group. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, was like, "Hold up. Did the Treasury Secretary get the government to pay for a family trip to watch the eclipse in the path of totality?" So they're FoIA'ing the hell out of him to find out.

August 24,
2017

August 24
Remember Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke? He who rode into Trump's inaguration on horseback? Trump dispatched him to find some National Parks to shrink so now he's recommending that land be removed from four national monuments, including Bears Ears in Utah.
The good news is that it is maybe not legal for a president to reduce the size of national monuments? Looks like we'll find out.

August 23,
2017

August 23
Last night Trump gave an... interesting... speech in Phoenix. He said too many things to recount here, but the WaPo took excellent notes.
Among the highlights was a threat to shut down the government if he doesn't get funding for his border wall; a savaging of both of Arizona's senators, one of whom is an octogenarian war hero with brain cancer; a general lack of coherence; and his usual undermining all non-Fox News media.

August 22,
2017

August 22
Senator Mitch McConnell and and Trump are having an internecine spat, which is bad for Trump because Sen. McConnell is a boss-level opponent who holds the keys to legislative progress for Trump's agenda.
The two are publicly and privately feuding, in part because Trump has been attacking Republican senators, which is basically like pouring a beer on Mitch's weave. Mitch is firing up his super PAC to combat Trump's attempts to primary his colleagues.
We have a long way to go before the 2018 elections and it's already getting nasty.

August 21,
2017

August 21
The United States' longest war continues. Trump has announced a modest increase of troops in Afghanistan because the U.S. has been losing ground to Al Qaeda over the last few years. This response is likely encouraged by his more hawkish advisers and contradicts his isolationist campaign rhetoric.

August 20,
2017

August 20
A lotta-lotta people are calling for Trump's impeachment — a few lawmakers have even already drawn up the articles. Others are saying that it's time to invoke the 25th Amendment and have Trump's Cabinet remove him. Senior Democratic leadership has been more cautious, including Rep. Adam Schiff, Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
That said, Rep. Schiff talked hella shit about Trump on CNN. He did not ask for his formal ouster, but he did suggest some staffing changes, notably the removal of Seb Gorka and "C+ Santa Monica Fascist" (© Jon Lovett) Stephen Miller as solid candidates to be eliminated on next week's Apprentice.

August 19,
2017

August 19
Right wing organizers put on a "free speech" rally in Boston that was attended by "dozens." The counterprotest was attended by 40,000.

August 18,
2017

August 18
Maggie Haberman, who breaks all the juiciest stories and is basically a superhero, is reporting that Bannon will no longer be chief strategist. It's unclear if Bannon quit first or if Trump is pushing him out.
This seemed inevitable as earlier this week, Bannon gave an interview to a progressive outlet in which he undermined Trump's warlord mentality on North Korea and dismissed white nationalists as "losers."
Who knows where this leaves Javanka, who have been in Vermont all week while Trump sided with Nazis. Note that Jared's grandparents are Holocaust survivors.

August 17,
2017

August 17
Another person drove a truck into a crowd of people, this time pedestrians in a touristy area of Barcelona. At least 13 people are dead and many more injured. The Islamic State has already claimed the attack.

August 16,
2017

August 16
Good news! In the middle of the night, Baltimore just up and went on a tear, removing monuments peacefully before the "alt-right" could plan destructive and potentially violent protests.

August 15,
2017

August 15
First Trump condemned the violence in Charlottesville "on many sides" — spreading the blame among the white supremacists and the counter protesters.
Then he was like, Naw, guys; I'm super against Nazis and that biz was not okay.
But today he finally made his position clear: JK about condemning Nazis. Let's talk about the "alt-left"! What's next, taking down statues of George Washington because he owned slaves?
And all of America face-palmed at once.

August 14,
2017

August 14
Kenneth C. Frazier, CEO of Merck, quit the President's American Manufacturing Council in protest of Trump's "many sides" quote, "America’s leaders must honor our fundamental views by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal."
Trump, who apparently can issue strong statements about things and people he opposes, tweeted, "Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!"

August 13,
2017

August 13
Trump, rather than do a normal politician thing like condemn the KKK, issued a statement that condemned the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”
Heaps of politicians of all persuasions have found a way to more forcefully condemn the violence, but let's be honest: the chewy center of his support are white supremacists, and that he relies on their online vitriol to keep his enemies occupied and a little bit afraid.

August 12,
2017

August 12
Friday night a bunch of dudes in dad khakis, white polos and MAGA hats decided enough was enough and marched through UVA armed with Tiki torches, exhibiting pretty much every single negative stereotype about Americans at once. According to WaPo, they "chanted 'White lives matter!' 'You will not replace us!' and 'Jews will not replace us!'"
Today, the riot segment of the show began and it's about time that we accept that we are somehow relitigating the 1960s... in 2017.
ETA: As you surely know, the planning "gathering" of Nationalist Nazis was dispersed before it could begin and a domestic terrorist drove his car into a crowd of anti-Nazis and killed a woman.

August 11,
2017

August 11
Let's ignore the Pyongyang drama for a day and instead talk about weird things we've learned about Trump and Kim Jung Un.
Trump: We knew he holds grudges, but when Priebus was let go, we learned that part of it was that Trump never forgave him for not immediately standing by Trump after the whole "grab 'em by the " thing. Fun fact: you know who else paused (paws'ed? no? sorry.) after the thing? Pence.
Dear Leader: He's got a thing about PhotoShopping his ears.

August 10,
2017

mushroom cloud

August 10
Yesterday we learned that Trump's "fire and fury" comments were fo' sure off the cuff and not made in consultation with the State Department or the Pentagon. That was pretty obvious already. Maybe though, some of those "adults in the room" got to him to put his rhetoric in check?
Nope! Trump said his remarks the other day weren't "tough enough."
Kim Jung Un says he's thinking about sending some nukes Guam's way, but he's probably just showboating. Right? It's probably going to be alright. Right? Yeah. Maybe? Let's just go with .

August 9,
2017

August 9
Paul Manafort is a super un-cool dude with ties not just to Russia, but to Turkey, which is the latest place where Democracy has driven its car off a cliff.
Former CIA Director John Brennan said to the House Intelligence Committee, "People on a treasonous path ....don't always realize they're on that path until it's too late." It's hard to know yet if Manafort realized what he was doing or not.
Photo by Disney.

August 8,
2017

August 8
North Korea is all, “We can hella nuke you.” Sensible government officials are like, “Let’s find a way to deescalate.” Trump: “I TRIPLE DOG DARE YA.”
A nation cowers.

August 7,
2017

August 7
So, it preeeettty much looks like Pence has plans for a promotion, or so says The New York Times. He totally swears that he doesn't have any such plans, but dude is knee-deep in Koch Brothers.
Because no one can just talk to Trump, Pence issued a statement directed solely at him saying that it was bogus and he's hella VP4Lyfe.

August 6,
2017

August 6
While Trump claims that Mueller's probe is "a total fabrication" and says that it would be inappropriate for the investigation to include his family and finances, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says that actually, Mueller can look into whatever he wants.

August 5,
2017

August 5
Trump begins a 17-day working vacation today at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey. Remember that time he was obsessed with Obama playing golf and tweeted about it 27 times?

August 4,
2017

August 4
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has been sitting uncomfortably in Trump's cross hairs, with the president tweeting about his intense displeasure for a while now. Just in case Trump was planning on firing Sessions and then sticking in a replacement during the Senate's vacay, the Senate unanimously blocked him from making recess appointments, but making their recess not technically a recess.

August 3,
2017

August 3
Special Investigator Robert Mueller is impaneling a grand jury to investigate Trump. This is a sign that his investigation is advancing, and that he will need to start throwing around some subpoenas.

August 2,
2017

August 2
Trump's Justice Department is addressing racism in college admissions... against white people.

August 1,
2017

August 1
Don, Jr., met with a Russian lawyer hoping to get some dirt on Hillary. His first statement undermining the importance of the meeting turns out to have been written by the president himself, which is not normally the sort of things that a president dirties his hands with and will potentially bite him in the ass later down the line.