The Morning Roundup: An Oil Spill in the Swamp | News
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Monday, December 12, 2016

The Morning Roundup: An Oil Spill in the Swamp

Posted by on Mon, Dec 12, 2016 at 8:30 AM

Good morning. Here's what you missed over the weekend.

1. Trump nominating (???) Exxon CEO for Secretary of State.

Over the weekend, The New York Times broke the story that the president-elect would select Rex Tillerson, whose name sounds exactly like the villainous oil baron you'd expect, to be the nation's top diplomat. In a shocking twist, he's got a million conflicts of interest and he's also never been a diplomat. In an actual shocking twist, Senate Republicans have actually been willing to voice their displeasure with their King. From The New York Times:
Mr. Tillerson has close ties with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whom he has known for more than two decades. Russia awarded Mr. Tillerson its Order of Friendship in 2013, the year before Washington’s relationship with Moscow sank into a deep freeze over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its shadow war in Eastern Ukraine.

Relations with Russia have grown only more troubled since American intelligence agencies formally determined shortly after the November election that Russia had taken steps intended to help Mr. Trump win.

Mr. Tillerson, with no background in diplomacy outside the energy arena, would inherit those problems. He would also face the question of whether to maintain sanctions on Russia — penalties he has criticized for slowing Exxon’s investments in that country.

His connections to Russia are sure to come under scrutiny during a Senate confirmation hearing.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said on Saturday that Mr. Tillerson’s ties to Mr. Putin were “a matter of concern to me.” “I’d have to examine it,” he said on Fox News, adding that “Vladimir Putin is a thug, bully and a murderer, and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying.”
Hell, even Marco Rubio piped up:
Under pressure from Republicans and the media, Trump did exactly what you expected him to do: tweet through it and also act like this entire thing is one big reality show.
So I guess we don't actually know who the pick is going to be. Fantastic.

While this shitshow of a transition rumbles on, the Washington Post has an interesting story where unnamed U.S. officials leaked to them that a 'secret CIA assessment' concluded that Russia "intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency."
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”
Trump's team, of course, dismissed it.
The Trump transition team dismissed the findings in a short statement issued Friday evening. “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again,’ ” the statement read.
He's not wrong about the U.S. intelligence community completely dropping the ball on Iraq — a war he supported, by the way — but it sure is weird to see a president-elect taking potshots at the CIA.

Sigh. At least FEMA administrator Pat McCrory isn't a done deal. Yet.

2. Special session set for Tuesday, still no word on if the Republicans plan to subvert democracy.

Speaking of Pat, that special session on emergency relief for people affected by Hurricane Matthew and the western NC wildfires is happening tomorrow, and aside from what will most likely be an inadequate funding package, Republicans can pretty much do whatever the hell they want. From the N&O:

McCrory called the session to allocate disaster funding to help victims of Hurricane Matthew flooding and wildfires in Western North Carolina. But the governor left Tuesday’s agenda open-ended: The proclamation says the purpose also includes “addressing any other matters” legislators want to consider.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger won’t say what else might be on the agenda, but their recent comments haven’t ruled out an attempt to add two seats to the N.C. Supreme Court. And a high-ranking Republican House member said a deregulation bill from earlier this year could resurface.

Legislators have been told the session will last two or three days. While the March special session that passed House Bill 2 took just one day, there are procedural obstacles to moving so fast this time. The legislature’s adjournment this summer effectively killed all remaining bills – meaning lawmakers can’t bypass the committee review process by amending an existing piece of proposed legislation.

Meanwhile, longtime NC GOP strategist Carter Wrenn floated a rumor on Thursday that's sure as hell interesting, even if it doesn't amount to much:
Since the election there’s been a story – more of a rumor than a story – floating around the backrooms in Raleigh about court packing. The story may not be true. And I hesitate to repeat it. But it’s a good story so here goes: About two weeks after the election Governor McCrory sent an aide over to the General Assembly who asked the powers that be, Are you thinking of packing the Supreme Court?

It’s on the table, was the non-committal reply.

The Governor wants you to know, the aide said, He won’t appoint the two new justices. He’ll leave the appointments for Roy Cooper to fill.
We'll be covering the special session, so stay tuned for more.

3. Your daily reminder that climate change is going to one day kill us all anyway.

Exhibit A:
Seventeen years ago, Ms. Cobb decided to rebuild, here in a town that has a special place in American history. Princeville, population 2,100, is believed to be the oldest town chartered by freed slaves, who founded a community that has survived numerous floods and the Jim Crow era. It remains 96 percent black.

Ms. Cobb, 69, is now considering a question looming over many homeowners: After two devastating floods, does she want the option to sell her home to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, something that the town’s leaders voted down in 1999, fearing it would lead to the end of their community?

“This is home, this is what I know,” said Ms. Cobb, who was leaning toward staying but worried about taking out a loan to rebuild. “I really don’t know.”
Exhibit B:
click to enlarge screen_shot_2016-12-11_at_11.37.10_pm.png
(Seriously, read the NYT story about Princeville, N.C. quoted above. It's heartbreaking.)

4. Former Senator Kay Hagan is in the hospital.

N&O has the story:
Former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan has been in an intensive care unit for about two days since she suddenly became ill and was taken to a Washington, D.C., hospital.

[...]

Hagan’s family released a statement Saturday thanking people for their prayers and well-wishes.

“Kay is receiving the best possible medical care and we are very thankful for her doctors and nurses who are working tirelessly to help her get well,” the statement said.

Hagan’s family has asked for privacy and declined to release specifics of her condition.

That's all for today. On a lighter note, enjoy this great video of the Scotland County Christmas Parade.


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