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Liveblogging Bill Barr's Boot Scootin' MAGA Rally, We Mean Press Conference

This is bullshit, we're going back to bed.

Good morning, America! Attorney General Bill Barr is doing a presser at 9:30 AM EDT about the Mueller report, which nobody will be able to see until around noon or after, once Congress gets the redacted report on CDs. Seeing as that is bullshit, there's no reason to watch this thing, as journalists won't be able to ask him questions about a document they haven't seen. So ... go back to bed, everyone!

Ugh, fine, we guess we will do this, and that is because we care, even though we are quite certain HGTV is doing some kind of very important "Property Brothers" marathon that adds much more of value to the national discourse, and also covers it up with shiplap accent walls. Does Bill Barr do cover-ups with shiplap? No, because he doesn't have the good taste for that.

Reportedly, we are going to hear from Barr why certain things were redacted, including why he thinks certain facts are subject to executive privilege, which is funny because he is not the president and therefore cannot invoke executive privilege. But oh whatever! Details! Robert Mueller won't be there and none of his team will be there, which tells you something about how they feel about this whole process. If they felt like this was on the up-and-up, you'd imagine they might show up to present a united front. As that is not happening, assume the entire thing is a bullshit act meant to help Donald Trump set the narrative for what will otherwise be a very bad day for him.

The New York Times reported last night that the White House has already been briefed on significant portions of the report, because Bill Barr is a rightwing scam artist piece of shit who gives the Trump White House reacharounds. The briefings have reportedly been very helpful for the White House in coming up with how to rebut today's report, which is funny because we thought Trump said this report was a full exoneration, NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION. (Actually nope on both counts, since Mueller didn't decide the obstruction question, and even according to Barr's mash notes, he took a very limited view of the conspiracy question, focusing on the Russian government's hack and dump WikiLeaks operation.)

Anyway, assuming Trump is right about full exoneration, we guess Rudy Giuliani's rebuttal will state that Trump is guilty, full stop. Because that's what "rebuttal" means, correct?

Committee chairs in the House including Jerry Nadler, Adam Schiff and Maxine Waters have called upon Bill Barr to cancel today's briefing, as it is useless horseshit. Because Barr literally gives zero fucks about his reputation and apparently is OK with going down in history as a fecal stain on our institutions and the rule of law, the show will go on.

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Now What? Wonkagenda For Thurs., April 18, 2019

Bill Barr's book report, the NRA is doomed, and Johnny Cash will watch over the Capitol. Your morning news brief!

Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.

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Hey Aaron Schock, What'd You Find Down That Dude's Pants At Coachella?

AIN'T THIS JUST ALWAYS THE WAY?

You're a young-ish gay bro with a smokin' hot body, and you've gone to Coachella with your young-ish gay bro friends with smokin-hot bodies (you are WeHo gays, because of course you are). Your shirts are off, you're glistening with sweat as you grind to the music, maaaaaaaybe there are some illegal drugs coursing through your veins and some poppers in your fanny pack for later, and before you know it somebody puts a picture of you on the internet with your tongue in some dude's mouth and your hands down his pants. Whatcha lookin' for in there, young-ish gay bro with the smokin' hot body? Buried treasure? Or maybe just D-I-K? (Not gonna lie, we have been in similar situations.)

Did we mention you are Aaron Schock, former anti-gay congressman from Peoria, Illinois, the quote-unquote "metrosexual" dude who resigned in disgrace in a corruption scandal and proceeded to be indicted in 2016 on 24 counts? (The one who you -- different "you," Editrix Rebecca "you," not the Aaron Schock "you" -- had thought was already out of the closet and didn't understand why this was a post, and you were like "why is this a post, Evan, dude isn't even in Congress anymore, so, he kissed a guy, big fuckin' whoop" and THEN you realized that oh, that bitch has been lying this whooooole time, and in fact was still "metrosexual" and "straight" and "a big fucking gaybasher" up until now:thirty? -- Ed.)

Well, far be it from us to say people shouldn't have second chances, or that there's anything wrong with throwin' hips with a gay bro of the same gender -- or several in the same weekend! -- but on the same day when the first legitimately openly gay presidential candidate is being mocked by protesters dressing up as him and BEATING JESUS CHRIST (because that's what gays do!) and screaming at him about Sodom and Gomorrah, we kind of give a shit.

Smile, Aaron Schock, you seem to be on candid camera!

OH RLY?

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Immigrant Andrew Sullivan Haaaaate Immigrants. How Ever Could That Be?

Andrew Sullivan is a vocal opponent of Donald Trump, but maybe all he really disapproves of is the president's fondness for Big Macs. Like David Frum, he mostly agrees with Trump on his signature issue, immigration. Both Frum and Sullivan are themselves immigrants but the white kind that ensures cultural stability in a nation that has technically always been multicultural. Last year, Sullivan wrote a piece for New York Magazine explaining why we should start worrying and love WALL. This month, Sullivan again called for WALL because it would give white people a sense of security like a racist child's blanket. He also wants to limit immigration, specifically from brown people too rude to ask true Americans if they mind further dilution of the nation's white potency.

Sullivan has been a not-so-stealth white supremacist for as long as black people have been disappointed to discover copies of "The Bell Curve" on their white friends' bookshelves. Still, he took it all to next-level grossness during his appearance Tuesday night on "Hardball with Chris Matthews." Sullivan and former RNC chair Michael Steele were discussing how Trump would run for re-election on a platform of bald-faced lies about Democrats. Then Zerlina Maxwell had the audacity to make words with her black lady mouth.

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A Very Smart Post About Evangelicals, Trump, Michele Bachmann, AND A SURPRISE

Whoa hey you guys, blast from the past, but Michele Bachmann A) is still a tree that falls in the forest even if literally nobody is around to hear it make a sound and B) TIMBERRRRRRRR!

She was on one o' them prophesyin' radio shows, little outfit called "Understanding the Times," and she said:

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Culture Wars

Hey Aaron Schock, What'd You Find Down That Dude's Pants At Coachella?

DICK, I RECKON!

AIN'T THIS JUST ALWAYS THE WAY?

You're a young-ish gay bro with a smokin' hot body, and you've gone to Coachella with your young-ish gay bro friends with smokin-hot bodies (you are WeHo gays, because of course you are). Your shirts are off, you're glistening with sweat as you grind to the music, maaaaaaaybe there are some illegal drugs coursing through your veins and some poppers in your fanny pack for later, and before you know it somebody puts a picture of you on the internet with your tongue in some dude's mouth and your hands down his pants. Whatcha lookin' for in there, young-ish gay bro with the smokin' hot body? Buried treasure? Or maybe just D-I-K? (Not gonna lie, we have been in similar situations.)

Did we mention you are Aaron Schock, former anti-gay congressman from Peoria, Illinois, the quote-unquote "metrosexual" dude who resigned in disgrace in a corruption scandal and proceeded to be indicted in 2016 on 24 counts? (The one who you -- different "you," Editrix Rebecca "you," not the Aaron Schock "you" -- had thought was already out of the closet and didn't understand why this was a post, and you were like "why is this a post, Evan, dude isn't even in Congress anymore, so, he kissed a guy, big fuckin' whoop" and THEN you realized that oh, that bitch has been lying this whooooole time, and in fact was still "metrosexual" and "straight" and "a big fucking gaybasher" up until now:thirty? -- Ed.)

Well, far be it from us to say people shouldn't have second chances, or that there's anything wrong with throwin' hips with a gay bro of the same gender -- or several in the same weekend! -- but on the same day when the first legitimately openly gay presidential candidate is being mocked by protesters dressing up as him and BEATING JESUS CHRIST (because that's what gays do!) and screaming at him about Sodom and Gomorrah, we kind of give a shit.

Smile, Aaron Schock, you seem to be on candid camera!

OH RLY?

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Congress

Is It Physically Possible To Be Worse Than Ryan Zinke?

Interior Department inspectors are already JUST CURIOUS!

Less than 24 hours after he was confirmed as Interior Secretary on Thursday, David Bernhardt was facing multiple ethics investigations for shaping federal environmental policy to benefit his former clients. And for covering it up, of course. He's no Scott "Jizz Mattress" Pruitt, but Bernhardt's strong entry puts him in pole position to overtake his predecessor Ryan Zinke in the Swampland Olympiad. Dream Big, Swamp Man!

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White Nonsense

Immigrant Andrew Sullivan Haaaaate Immigrants. How Ever Could That Be?

Not , fond of black people either. Take it away Zerlina Maxwell!

Andrew Sullivan is a vocal opponent of Donald Trump, but maybe all he really disapproves of is the president's fondness for Big Macs. Like David Frum, he mostly agrees with Trump on his signature issue, immigration. Both Frum and Sullivan are themselves immigrants but the white kind that ensures cultural stability in a nation that has technically always been multicultural. Last year, Sullivan wrote a piece for New York Magazine explaining why we should start worrying and love WALL. This month, Sullivan again called for WALL because it would give white people a sense of security like a racist child's blanket. He also wants to limit immigration, specifically from brown people too rude to ask true Americans if they mind further dilution of the nation's white potency.

Sullivan has been a not-so-stealth white supremacist for as long as black people have been disappointed to discover copies of "The Bell Curve" on their white friends' bookshelves. Still, he took it all to next-level grossness during his appearance Tuesday night on "Hardball with Chris Matthews." Sullivan and former RNC chair Michael Steele were discussing how Trump would run for re-election on a platform of bald-faced lies about Democrats. Then Zerlina Maxwell had the audacity to make words with her black lady mouth.

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Education

Paul Ryan To Burn Down Notre Dame (University)

He's got fire in the belly!

In a dazzling demonstration of failing upwards, Paul Ryan has secured himself a sweet teaching gig at the University of Notre Dame for the 2019-2020 academic year, the university announced Monday. The former speaker of the House and devotee of starving grannies for their own good will be a guest lecturer in economics and politics. Ryan is one of three "professor-of-the-practice" appointments, and will teach on "the fundamentals of American government, the current state of political polarization, and Catholicism and economics, among other topics."

Sounds like a good fit -- if anyone has practice in political polarization, it'd be the guy who dreamed of dismantling the social safety net since he was attending fraternity beer parties in college.

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popular

Republicans Push Against Vaccines In Middle Of Epidemic, Because F*ck Science And F*ck YOU!

If they let 'science' win this one, what's next?

The CDC has confirmed 555 cases of measles this year -- 90 in the last week alone -- making this the second largest outbreak since the disease was declared "eliminated" in the United States in 2000. The largest was in 2013, when an outbreak that started at Disneyland led to 667 confirmed cases of the disease. Two more weeks like last week and 2013 is getting knocked right out of the park. Heck, maybe we could end up with measles killing 1200 children, as is happening in Madagascar RIGHT NOW.

Anyone with half a brain might think, "Hey, this is bad! We should probably do some stuff to make sure this outbreak doesn't spread!" -- and that's exactly what Democrats across the country are doing right now. They are pushing legislation that makes it harder for parents to send their kids to school without getting them vaccinated first. This seems a lot nicer than sending them to some kind of quarantined island like the one Henry Fonda and Bette Davis had to go to at the end of Jezebel because he got Yellow Fever and she had to go with him in order to atone for having worn a red dress one time.

Predictably, Arthur Allen of Politico points out, opposition to this kind of life-saving legislation has come from the Republicans, and Republicans in states like Mississippi and West Virginia are currently pushing for more exemptions from laws requiring you to vaccinate your kids.

Mississippi, by the way, has the worst doctor shortage situation in the country, so why not throw a measles outbreak into the mix? What could possibly go wrong?

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News

Fox Two-Timing With Bernie Sanders And Donald Trump Is PISSED

More perfectly rational behavior from the Commander in Chief.

Donald Trump isn't happy that Fox News hosted a town hall for Bernie Sanders and let him leave with all his limbs. He whined about it on Twitter for most of Tuesday. First, there was the general question of why Sanders was even on the friendly state media outlet that tells him what bills to sign.

President Surfer Dude thinks it's, like, sooo weird that Sanders would try to reach the cranky old white people demo. He suggests that Bret Baier assembled an "audience" (no, we don't know either) of shiny, happy Stepford residents. He ignores co-moderator Martha MacCallum and ends with a non-sequitur dig at former DNC chair Donna Brazile. Trump's always boasting about the record low black unemployment rate, so he really shouldn't begrudge the sister having a job, even if it is on Fox.

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Legal

AG Bill Barr Welcomes Your Huddled Masses TO JAIL

Next, they'll declare Hillary Clinton an asylum seeker.

Attorney General William Barr would like to remind you that fuxxoring the Mueller report isn't his only duty as AG, even if that does remain his first love. Yesterday, Barr issued an order telling immigration courts that certain classes of people seeking asylum in the USA have to be kept locked up until their asylum cases are decided, and therefore cannot apply for release on bond. Does the Executive Branch have that power? You bet your due-process-loving ass it acts like it does, because the immigration courts are run by the Department of "Justice," not the judicial branch. Whether Barr's ruling is constitutional is another matter, and the American Civil Liberties Union is gearing up to challenge the ruling in court as soon as possible.

We'll let the New York Times 'splainer how Barr's order attempts to remake a huge part of immigration law so that some asylum seekers can be jailed forever:

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News

Tucker Carlson's New Bonermaker: 'Pete Buttigieg Dressed As Can Of Slutty Dinty Moore Beef Stew'

Class, Tucker Carlson has issues again.

If you are a man or a lady of letters, and are also versed in all internet traditions, you are likely aware of the famous satirical online web essay "Why Do All These Homosexuals Keep Sucking My Cock?" It's a monologue from The Onion, in the voice of a man who is just really fine with gay guys, he's just fine, but he's not gay, which leads to the conundrum in question. It's just that "wherever [he goes] these days" -- locker rooms, cruising spots in the woods -- he'd be just shooting the breeze, and before he knew it, a homosexual was sucking his cock! The narrator ends by saying that he really doesn't want to do this, but if it keeps happening, he's going to have to teach those homosexuals a lesson by fuckin' them right in their gay butt!

We wanted that great work of internet to be on your mind as you watch this video of Tucker Carlson talking about Pete Buttigieg last night. The words in all caps below the video are the actual words he said, and the clip is only eight seconds long, but luckily, it's looped, so that you may watch it for the rest of your natural life, if you so choose:

THEY WANT TO CONSUME HIM LIKE A HEARTY STEW.

EVERY LAST DROP OF BUTTIGIEG.

YUM.

THEY'RE ALL IN.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez apparently has the day off from living rent-free in Tucker Carlson's disturbing psychosexual fantasies, and the role will be played by her understudy Pete Buttigieg dressed up for Halloween as a can of Slutty Dinty Moore Beef Stew.

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Culture

A Very Smart Post About Evangelicals, Trump, Michele Bachmann, AND A SURPRISE

It's so good, you're gonna love it so much.

Whoa hey you guys, blast from the past, but Michele Bachmann A) is still a tree that falls in the forest even if literally nobody is around to hear it make a sound and B) TIMBERRRRRRRR!

She was on one o' them prophesyin' radio shows, little outfit called "Understanding the Times," and she said:

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Environment

Elizabeth Warren Has A Fever, And The Only Prescription Is THIS POLICY!

Elizabeth Warren policy proposal: Public Lands Edition!

In yet another policy proposal -- she just can't seem to stop herself! -- Elizabeth Warren pledges to fix the damage Donald Trump has done to America's public lands, and then some. Restoring the national monuments Trump cut back to almost nothing (so they could be mined and drilled for oil) is just a start. Warren promises to sign an executive order her first day in office to end offshore oil drilling. Might not be quite as sexy as taxing the super rich, but it's a beautiful proposal for class warfare on interests that have been despoiling our natural resources and making the planet uninhabitable. Plus, it's going to piss off the Bundy family no end, so that's nice, too.

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popular

Wonkagenda For Wed., April 17, Is All You!

So, nu?

Dom's out sick, and we're not sure that's legal!

Which means NO WONKAGENDA TODAY, except whatever tabs I've got open and what you leave in the comments. My don't we have fun!

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News

It's Time For 'TALKIN' GAY,' With Rachel Maddow And Mayor Pete!

This was just a really good interview.

That's right, Wonkers, it is time for another post about Mayor Pete Buttigieg, because everybody is feeling the BUTT-MENTUM, and you're just along for the ride! Yesterday, we all watched Mayor Pete's official campaign announcement speech, which made everybody cry a lot or something (FULL DISCLOSURE have not watched actually). On Monday night, Buttigieg was Rachel Maddow's guest, and they talked about pretty much everything, but what was most interesting to us, from our own gay perspective, was their rather personal talk about coming out and what that means just in general, and now especially for somebody who is legit running for president of the United States.

Maddow acknowledged at the beginning of the conversation that it was a bit different from other times when she's questioned candidates, because of how she herself is a lesbian and has personal experience with coming out. Maddow also noted that she and Buttigieg were both Rhodes scholars, and that she was the first openly gay American Rhodes scholar. Buttigieg, meanwhile, came out much later at 33. How did that work for him? Maddow said for her, personally, it would have killed her to stay in the closet so long. Her question, specifically, was was it hurtful to experience that much time in the closet.

Like we said, it's a different conversation from the one you're going to see with any of the other candidates, or a conversation with another journalist. It's almost a moment that, if we're being honest, as a gay person, feels intensely familiar. So it's more than a little bit surreal that it's a conversation with one of the higher-polling candidates in the Democratic primary:

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State/Local Politics

Texas Hates It When You Vote :(

'How about if we just send all Democrats to jail?'

Just a little more than a month after a federal judge told Texas not to try purging its voter rolls of suspiciously brown people based on very bad drivers license data, the state Senate is back with a whole NEW load of voter-suppressing fuckery, once again in the name of fighting "voter fraud," which is exceedingly rare to start with. This time the vehicle for reducing turnout is a steaming pile called Senate Bill 9, which passed Monday and will now head to the state House. SB 9 will treat submitting "false information" on a voter registration form as a "state jail felony," even if the incorrect information is an honest error -- like writing the wrong zip code. And that's just for starters!

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Congress

Jim Jordan Knows What Is Illegal And It Is CONGRESS!

Really, Ohio? This guy is the best you've got?

A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing, and Congressman Jim Jordan has a very, very little bit of knowledge. He may not be smart enough to realize that a doctor groping the genitals of wrestlers is a crime, but Jordan is pretty good at taking orders. So when the word came down that the newest GOP strategy requires everyone to jump up and down shouting CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATIONS ARE NOW ILLEGAL!!!!1!, Jim Jordan got right down to business.

Just this morning we told you about Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jordan encouraging Trump's accountants to flout a congressional subpoena because investigating Trump's financial documents is ILLEGAL. Last week he told Big Pharma execs not to cooperate with an ILLEGAL congressional investigation into drug pricing. And now he's trying to put an inquiry into vote suppression into a full nelson because, you guessed it, helping people vote is ILLEGAL.

It's almost enough to make us miss Trey Gowdy. But not quite.

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Elections

Should Elizabeth Warren's Republican Past Disqualify Her? No, That Is Stupid.

She probably hasn't been pretending to be a progressive for the last 20 years just to Manchurian Candidate us all.

Within the last few weeks, Elizabeth Warren has churned out a number of absolutely fantastic and incredibly progressive policy ideas -- from plans for universal child care and affordable housing and breaking up big tech to plans to actually tax the super wealthy and the large corporations that are currently paying no income tax. Functionally, at this moment, they are better, more numerous and more specific than anyone else's policies. If your primary concern is what actually gets us from Point A to Point B, Elizabeth Warren is your gal.

Also, within the last few weeks, we have heard a lot about how Elizabeth Warren used to be a Republican. A fairly apolitical and noncommittal Republican who only ever voted for Gerald Ford and Arlen Specter, but a Republican nonetheless. (No, according to her, she did not vote for Ronald Reagan.)

To many people out there in social media land, whom I am far too gracious to call out as individuals, this means that she is not a real liberal or a real progressive. That she is, to revive a term, a poseur. That, hypothetically, were she to become president, she would immediately turn her back on everything she has been doing and saying for the last couple decades and suddenly, I don't know, morph into Rush Limbaugh. That she is simply not to be trusted.

In terms of people who might have room to talk in this regard, I would rank pretty high. There is almost no present-day lefty purity test that I would not have passed with flying colors when I was in elementary school in the late '80s and early '90s. This includes support for single payer health care, reparations, and gay rights and never, ever, sitting quietly while some other kid was getting bullied. This wasn't because I was magically born an incredibly authentic progressive, it was because I had a super smart and super politically and socially aware mother whom one might describe as very far left, though she prefers the term "prematurely correct."

Now, it took a lot of people -- presumably many of those "concerned" about Elizabeth Warren's past life as a Republican -- a long ass time to get to where I was when I was a child. Lots of people who are now saying, at least in their delightful conversations in my mind, "Wow, Robyn, you were right all along! Health care is a human right, labor rights are totally important, and it is very weird that anyone ever thought that 'civil unions' made any sense to begin with." I could easily judge all of them, but this is not 9th grade and I'm not going to sneer at someone's Doc Martins because I was listening to The Ramones while they were still listening to Debbie Gibson. In the words of another '80s pop singer -- I don't care how you get here, get here if you can.

After all, it sure would be hard to get any of this stuff done by myself.

That is how I feel about Elizabeth Warren having been a Republican prior to 1996. She took a longer path? So what? She's here now and she's doing good shit. Why would I complain about that? That's good! The whole point of everything is to get people and things to change.

Rather than being concerned that her change -- for the last 20+ years -- was not truly authentic, I happen to appreciate the fact that she was convinced by evidence that her previous views were wrong. That is a good thing! Right now we have a president who could be shown all the evidence in the world that he is wrong and still stick to his story, and that is terrifying.

And jeez, haven't people ever heard the line "fire of the converted" before? People who go through the whole "Oh man, everything I thought was right my entire life was a lie!" thing tend to be really devout. They're also the ones who are going to be able to effectively persuade others while people like me are standing around being like "It sure is weird that you hate poor people so much and want them to die."

When someone tells me, "Oh, that guy acts like an asshole, but deep down he's a really good guy" or "Sure, what this one person said or did is racist or sexist, but I know they are not racist or sexist in their heart," I believe that person is full of shit. I do not believe in a "deep down," I do not believe in an "in their heart," I believe people are defined by their actions. What someone does is what defines "who they are," not the other way around. In fancy terms, this is called existentialism.

I believe the opposite is true as well. If someone does good things, they are a good person. If someone changes what they do and what they think, that is who they are now.

Let me tell you what I think, as the purest of the pure -- I do not give a flying shit who gets the shit done as long as the shit gets done. I don't care if the person getting everyone healthcare and childcare was a Republican 25 years ago. Hell, I don't care if they are a Republican right now, at this very moment. I don't care if their voice is grating or if they yelled weird one time or, frankly, whatever the hell else they have done in their lives, assuming they have not murdered or sexually assaulted anyone. And honestly, depending on the scenario, murder might not even bother me that much at this point. I could be persuaded.

Once things are not a giant garbage fire, we can talk. We can disqualify people for stupid mistakes and for things they thought 20 years ago. We can be super judgy about their voice or their dorky hair or what they eat or whether or not they gesticulate in a way someone finds off-putting, we can talk about the indefinable thing that makes you not trust them, and we can speculate wildly about how all or any of those things actually reveal that they are secretly bad in some way. Right now, we do not have that luxury, Right now, we do triage.

If you don't think Elizabeth Warren is the one with the best plan to get shit done, that's fine. Talk about what you don't like in her policies, and why you like about someone else's policies better. That is what is important right now. And if you truly don't trust her because she was a Republican 20 years ago, save that hot take for the voting booth and your own kitchen table because it is helping no one and, frankly, it makes you sound stupid.

[Politico]

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