Welcome to America’s Newsletter from Tag The Flag, the best morning newsletter on the internet, bringing you nonpartisan news and every view of the Red, White, and Blue. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
📌 BULLETIN BOARD
🎾 To Be Franc: The Swiss government says it will produce a 20 franc silver coin with Roger Federer’s image on it. The government says it’s the first time it has dedicated a commemorative coin to a living person.
🦅 U.S. NEWS
To Infinity and Beyond: More Than Just Ukraine
After starting the day with some choice words, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler then presided over his committee’s first impeachment hearing Wedesday, featuring three constitutional lawyers called by Democrats and one called by Republicans.
- From the Left, per The Guardian: The Democratic judges claimed that “Trump’s misconduct is a textbook case of impeachable offenses” while the Republicans’ witness offered an opposing view, saying that the impeachment process was being rushed.
- From the Right, per Fox News: First lady Melania Trump said Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan, one of the Democrats’ lawyers, “should be ashamed” for invoking her 13-year-old son’s name as the butt of a joke during testimony. Karlan used Barron Trump’s name to illustrate her point that President Trump can’t rule like a king.
The major takeaway is that Nadler’s opening statement suggested that Democrats are strongly considering linking Mueller’s findings to impeachment, broadening the scope of the inquiry beyond Ukraine.
Food Stamps Cause an Appetite for Debate
The Trump administration Wednesday formalized work requirements for recipients of food stamps, a move that will cause hundreds of thousands of people to lose access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. Details Per NBC: “The new rule impacts able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents. Under current rules, this group is required to work at least 20 hours a week for more than three months over a 36-month period to qualify for food stamps, but states have been able to create waivers for areas that face high unemployment. The new rule would limit states from waiving those standards. This could cause roughly 688,000 people to lose access to food stamps.”
- From the right with the New York Post quoting Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue: “Americans are generous people who believe it is their responsibility to help their fellow citizens when they encounter a difficult stretch. That’s the commitment behind SNAP, but, like other welfare programs, it was never intended to be a way of life.”
- From the Left via Arthur Delaney in The Huffington Post: “The rule is set to take effect next April. Democrats in Congress have already said they’ll sue to block the regulation, and anti-hunger advocacy groups have said they’ll sue as well.”
Giuliani Jets to Europe
Despite the brouhaha on Capitol Hill over whether or not President Trump should be impeached, the President’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, has taken a trip overseas. According to the New York Times, Giuliani met this week with a former Ukrainian prosecutor who made claims about former Vice President Joe Biden and the 2016 election that are now central to the House’s impeachment inquiry. Here’s how it’s playing.
- On the right, The Blaze’s Aaron Colen writes that Giuliani is “combatting the impeachment narrative by working on a documentary presenting the alternative side of the saga” filmed by One America News.
- On the left Steve Benen of MSNBC writes that “common sense suggests Rudy Giuliani should probably take it easy for a while, and perhaps consider a lower profile” calling his trip to Europe “kooky” and “misguided”.
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🌎 WORLD NEWS
President Donald Trump on Wednesday abruptly canceled a news conference that was scheduled to cap a contentious trip to the U.K. for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 70th-anniversary meeting. How come: yesterday we mentioned that hours before one of his press conferences was supposed to start a video emerged of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caught on a hot mic apparently mocking the U.S. President. How it’s playing:
- On the right from James Jay Carafano of Fox News: “There is nothing new about elitists trashing presidents who don’t act and think like they do. Faced with a president that is actually batting above 500 on the world stage, critics are grasping at any straw they can find.”
- From the left via Max Boot of The Washington Post: “NATO may not be brain-dead, but it is certainly on life support — and Trump, more than anyone else, is responsible for its infirmity.”
The Trump administration is considering a significant expansion of the U.S. military footprint in the Middle East, including dozens more ships, other military hardware and as many as 14,000 additional troops to counter Iran the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Thought Bubble: The Wall Street Journal is a reliable, center source, but the outlet discloses that Trump could approve a smaller number, and has not made that decision yet. Why it matters: Look at Trump’s decision to exit Syria. The President has long sought to exit foreign entanglements and avoid new conflicts even in light of international and bipartisan condemnation. So What Gives? Per the WSJ, “on Iran—and partly at the behest of Israel—he is convinced of the need to counter the threat his aides say Tehran poses. There is growing fear among U.S. military and other administration officials that an attack on U.S. interests and forces could leave the U.S. with few options in the region.” – Wall Street Journal (subscription)
Back on the Brink: Italy
Most Americans don’t know this, but the Europeans have something called the “European Stability Mechanism”, or ESM. In a nutshell, it’s the EU’s bailout fund for eurozone countries in case one of them is having trouble paying their bills or facing general instability. Speaking of being unstable, Italy is back in the spotlight after a makeshift coalition between various parties might be on the verge of crumbling. Be Smart: in reality, there won’t be any major headlines touching on Italy’s troubles but the country has to pass a complicated budget law by December 31, undergo key regional elections next month and remains on the EU’s watchlist for a potential breach of the bloc’s fiscal rules. Why it matters: countries like Italy and Spain, who can’t seem to form cohesive government coalitions are not only paralyzed in terms of making any political progress, but also on the verge of fiscal failure. – Politico / Tag The Flag
Packing Their Bags: A Permanent Vacation for Expedia’s CEO & CFO
It was a rough day for members of Expedia Group’s C-Suit team on Wednesday. After clashing with Chairman Barry Diller and the board over the direction of the travel company, CEO Mark Okerstrom and financial chief Alan Pickerill were tossed to the street. For context: Expedia’s brands include Hotels.com, Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire and CarRentals.com. What’s going on: Blame Google. Digital travel companies like Expedia are losing the battle against the search giant in terms of how consumers are looking for flights and hotels. Case & Point per the WSJ, “Expedia’s stock had fallen 12% in 2019 through Tuesday. Last month, its shares dropped 27% in one day after the company reported disappointing third-quarter results and gave a muted financial forecast.” – WSJ / Financial Times
Met Present Value: Wilpons May Be Walking Away
According to Bloomberg, Sterling Partners, the business of the Wilpon family, is in negotiations to sell 80 percent of the Mets to hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen. Why it matters: “New York Mets fans may finally be getting their wish” the New York Post writes. The Mets have long been criticized for an unwillingness to spend the dollars necessary to keep the team competitive, despite being in the New York market. One more thing: The team’s finances have been especially scrutinized since the collapse of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme in 2008, which some of the Wilpon family invested in. – Bloomberg / NY Post
Pai’s Problem: Bringing 5G to Rural Areas
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday said he will propose $9 billion in funding over 10 years to boost next-generation 5G wireless coverage in rural U.S. areas, which generally lag behind in terms of rollouts of new national technology. For context, this is roughly double the amount he proposed last year. The Goal: bring 5G networks to sparsely populated rural areas that often struggle to get access to wireless services or the internet. Anything Else? Yes, according to Ars Technica, Verizon, T-Mobile, and US Cellular exaggerated their 4G coverage in previous filings. Pai does not plan to punish the three carriers in any way. – Reuters / Ars Technica
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
1945: Aircraft squadron disappears in the Bermuda Triangle
At 2:10 p.m., five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo-bombers comprising Flight 19 take off from the Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station in Florida on a routine three-hour training mission. Flight 19 was scheduled to take them due east for 120 miles, north for 73 miles, and then back over a final 120-mile leg that would return them to the naval base. They never returned.