News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: Harvey Pummels, NKorea Launches, ACLU Files and Much, Much More

People push a stalled pickup through a flooded street in Houston, after Tropical Storm Harvey dumped heavy rains, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017. The remnants of Harvey sent devastating floods pouring into Houston on Sunday as rising water chased thousands of people to rooftops or higher ground. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Good Tuesday Morning.

Here is what’s on the President’s agenda today:

  • In the morning, President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will depart the White House for Joint Base Andrews, en route to Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • The President will then speak with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore by telephone aboard Air Force One.
  • Later in the morning, the President and the First Lady will arrive in Corpus Christi, Texas, and will receive a briefing on Hurricane Harvey relief efforts with local leadership and relief organizations.
  • The President and the First Lady will then depart Corpus Christi, Texas, en route to Austin, Texas.
  • In the afternoon, the President and the First Lady will arrive in Austin, Texas, and will participate in a tour of the Emergency Operations Center.
  • The President and the First Lady will then participate in a briefing on Hurricane Harvey with State leadership.
  • Later in the afternoon, the President and the First Lady will depart Austin, Texas, for Washington, D.C., en route to the White House.

The latest on Hurricane Harvey

Harvey continues to wreak havoc in Texas. The Houston Chronicle reports that the rain continues to fall at a rate of 1-2 inches an hour.

Forecasters said Harvey is moving at a slow speed to the northeast, causing the catastrophic flooding to continue possibly over the next couple of days. Harvey could produce an additional 10 to 20 inches through Thursday over parts of the upper Texas coast into southwestern Louisiana. Isolated storm totals could reach 50 inches over the upper Texas coast.

Louisiana is next. New Orleans officials ordered cities and schools closed. “Based on the weather, and out of an abundance of caution, I am recommending that everybody stay home tomorrow,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Monday afternoon. The city could get 4-6 inches of rain. “If all goes well, we won’t see catastrophic flooding like in Houston,” Ward said. “We’ll only see minor flooding.”

Some have claimed Harvey is the consequence of “climate change” or “global warming.” But a University of Tampa professor had a different idea.

“I don’t believe in instant Karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas,” Ken Storey wrote in the original tweet, according to Campus Reform. “Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesn’t care about them.”

The professor agreed that those who voted for Trump in Florida deserve the same fate as the Texans. “Yep, those who voted for him here deserve it as well.”

On Monday, Professor Ken Storey walked back his comments. “I deeply regret a statement I posted yesterday. I never meant to wish ill will upon any group. I hope all affected by Harvey recover quickly.”

If you read one thing today

Read Ambassador John Bolton’s National Review piece on Iran.

Although candidate Donald Trump repeatedly criticized Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear agreement, his administration has twice decided to remain in the deal. It so certified to Congress, most recently in July, as required by law. Before the second certification, Trump asked repeatedly for alternatives to acquiescing yet again in a policy he clearly abhorred. But no such options were forthcoming, despite “a sharp series of exchanges” between the president and his advisers, as the New York Times and similar press reports characterized it.

Many outside the administration wondered how this was possible: Was Trump in control, or were his advisers? Defining a compelling rationale to exit Obama’s failed nuclear deal and elaborating a game plan to do so are quite easy. In fact, Steve Bannon asked me in late July to draw up just such a game plan for the president — the option he didn’t have — which I did.

Here it is. It is only five pages long, but like instant coffee, it can be readily expanded to a comprehensive, hundred-page playbook if the administration were to decide to leave the Iran agreement. There is no need to wait for the next certification deadline in October. Trump can and should free America from this execrable deal at the earliest opportunity.

I offer the Iran nonpaper now as a public service, since staff changes at the White House have made presenting it to President Trump impossible. Although he was once kind enough to tell me “come in and see me any time,” those days are now over.

NorKs launch missile over Japan

The Pentagon has confirmed that yesterday North Korea launched a missile that flew over Japan.

“We assess North Korea conducted a missile launch within the last 90 minutes,” Col. Rob Manning, the director of press operations at the Department of Defense, said Monday evening in a statement. “We can confirm that the missile launch by North Korea flew over Japan. We are in the process of assessing this launch.

“North American Aerospsace Defense Command, or NORAD, determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America. We are working closely with Pacific Command, Strategic Command and NORAD, and we’ll provide an update as soon as possible,” he added.

The missile did not hit Japan and landed in the ocean.

Travel ban comes to the 9th Circus court

America’s favorite clown court heard arguments yesterday about what refugees can be exempted from President Trump’s travel ban.

The 9th Circuit will now hear arguments that are expected to focus on the conditions under which refugees could be exempt from the ban. The Supreme Court’s June ruling found that the ban couldn’t be enforced against people with a “bona fide relationship” to the U.S.

A Hawaii-based district court judge later ruled in July that refugees currently assigned to U.S. resettlement programs provide a sufficient tie to a U.S.-based organization to qualify for exemption from the ban. The administration will now be arguing to overturn that ruling, forcing refugees to be included in the ban.

The Supreme Court will hear the same arguments in October.

ACLU files suit against ban on transgender service in the military

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit over the Trump administration’s ban on transgendered people serving in the military.

The lawsuit, obtained by LawNewz.com, was filed on behalf of five current members of the military who are transgender. The lawsuit claims that the Trump ban violates the Constitution by singling out “transgender individuals for unequal and discriminatory treatment.” The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.

News of the intended ban was announced on Twitter. Later the administration moved to formalize the President’s wishes.

In his memorandum, he instructed the Secretary of Defense to not move forward with an Obama-era plan to allow transgender service members to be recruited into the armed forces. The memo also instructed the Secretary of Defense “to determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving based on military effectiveness and lethality, unitary cohesion, budgetary constraints, applicable law, and all factors that may be relevant.” The memo also banned the use of military resources to fund sex-reassignment procedures.

“Each and every claim made by the President Trump to justify this ban can be easily debunked by the conclusions drawn from the Department of Defense’s own review process. Allowing men and women who are transgender to serve openly and providing them with necessary health care does nothing to harm military readiness or unit cohesion,” Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU said in a statement obtained by LawNewz.com “Men and women who are transgender with the courage and capacity to serve deserve more from their commander-in-chief.”

There will presumably be more lawsuits filed.

Long but worth a read

Exiles on Pennsylvania Avenue: How Jared and Ivanka were repelled by Washington’s elite

Once, when Priebus asked Kushner what his team of Cordish and Liddell had been up to, Kushner retorted, according to someone who heard the exchange, “Reince, we aren’t getting paid. What the f*ck do you care?”

Picture of the day:

A man reaches to take a small dog from a rescue truck at the east Sam Houston Tollway as evacuations continue from flooding in Houston, Texas, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, following Tropical Storm Harvey. Floodwaters reached the rooflines of single-story homes Monday and people could be heard pleading for help from inside as Harvey poured rain on the Houston area for a fourth consecutive day after a chaotic weekend of rising water and rescues. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Other morsels:

Netanyahu criticizes UN, claims Iran building missile sites in Syria, Lebanon

Kathy Griffin ends her friendship with Anderson Cooper after he waited months to reach out about Trump photo

Boston airport to start charging fliers arriving, leaving by car?

‘He’s an a——, but he’s our a——‘: California congressman gives blunt assessment of Trump

Illinois becomes 10th state to automatically register voters, a Democratic Party goal

Clinton Announces ‘Hillary Clinton Live’ Book Tour in 15 Cities This Fall

Bug eating festival comes to Brooklyn Labor Day weekend

Heller leads primary by 22 points in internal poll

Joe Scarborough thinks Arpaio pardon will be listed in articles of impeachment for Trump

German Nurse Is Thought to Have Killed at Least 86, Officials Say

Rat delays long haul flight by 10 hours

Study says four cups of coffee per day can lower risk of death

Two dead, four wounded after gunman opens fire at New Mexico library

Chris Young announces $100K donation for Hurricane Harvey relief

Gators take up residence in Texas woman’s fenced-in yard during Harvey

Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor Failed Live Streams Subject of Lawsuit

Fire ants are banding together as floating, stinging rafts to survive Hurricane Harvey’s flooding

And that’s all I’ve got, now go beat back the angry mob!