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

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


Later today William Barr will FINALLY release Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia report, but not before he holds his own press conference to reinforce Trump World's narrative that there was "NO COLLUSION" and "NO OBSTRUCTION" (again). The report, expected to be released to the public sometime after noon, is said to be "lightly redacted" (per "people familiar with the matter," that is DOJ political appointees) though select members of Congress are said to be given the chance to view a less redacted version. Last night, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler held a hastily assembled press gaggle to say that Barr was attempting to "bake in the narrative to the benefit of the White House," adding the House Judiciary Committee might drag Mueller and his team up to the Hill after his committee has time to read all 400 or so pages of the Mueller report -- which has since been echoed by Democratic leadership. In a less than shocking turn of events, the New York Times reports Barr's DOJ has been briefing Trump's White House lawyers about details in the report, scaring the piss out of White House officials who are terrified of being called a rat for answering Mueller's questions. [Morning Maddow]

The White House is making all sorts of contingency plans for what's in the Mueller report, but Trump threatens to derail them all thanks to his unmatched ability to fuck everything up. For several days, Trump's TV lawyers have been talking up a "counter report" to bitch and moan about "NO COLLUSION," but they can't exactly release anything until the Mueller report drops. Similarly, Politico reports that Trump's DOJ is intent on chasing down the author of THE DOSSIER, former MI6 operative Christopher Steele. As usual, Trump has spent this morning shitposting on Twitter.

WaPo's Editorial Board released a brutal op-ed stating Barr's redactions don't deserve the benefit of the doubt, and we should take anything he says (or doesn't say) with a grain of salt and some tequila.

In a bizarre interview with the AP, Ivanka Trump says she's not afraid of what's in the Mueller report. With a look similar to a deer in the headlights, Ivanka then starts screaming "NO COLLUSION" over and over and over.

AWWW SHUCKY DUCKY! Hermain Cain is back on his bullshit this morning, telling the WSJ he's not withdrawing his name from consideration for an open seat on the Fed board. Cain says Trump directly asked him about the Fed raising rates "too quick," to which Cain agreed -- an opinion sane and rational economists feel Trump is dead wrong about. Cain hasn't been formally nominated (yet), but Trump's White House has stood by the former head of the diarrhea factory known as "Godfather's Pizza."

The Military Times got its hands on a nastygram sent by California reps Ted Lieu and Ken Calvert to acting Defense Sec. Pat Shanahan that argues moving elements of the Air Force Space Command into Trump's Space Force is astronomically stupid. Lieu, a Democrat, and Calvert, a Republican, skeptically write, "A new name on the door and less proximity to innovators and expertise will not help..." Lieu and Calvert's letter echoes the concerns of many in the space industry who keep screaming the Space Force is an interplanetary farce.

One of Trump's proudest achievements has been creating the VA's Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, but that office is now under investigation for intimidating VA whistleblowers. One administrative officer says, "It's a crooked system where literally the fox is guarding the hen house," and another VA whistleblower says OWAP officials were "so crooked they swallow nails and spit up corkscrews." The irony here is that the OWAP seems to be violating the very law that created the agency.

Rather than eat more shit sandwiches as Defense secretary, or the head of Homeland Security or Veterans Affairs, Energy Secretary Rick Perry is rumored to be leaving the Trump administration altogether.

Roger Severino, the director of the HHS Office of Civil Rights, says he wants to investigate states that cover abortion, train people how to give abortions, and hurt the fee fees of anti-vaxxers. This story just gets worse, so here's an adorable newborn river otter pup!

The New Yorker's Mike Spies has a brilliant longass investigation into the NRA's imminent doom. According to the story, the NRA's wanton abuse of donor cash has caused serious drama between members of its board (something we mentioned Monday), but things are apparently so bad the NRA may be at risk of losing its non-profit status. [If you like stories about accounting ("ACCRUAL METHOD!!!") and shaaaaameless grifting and HOLY SHIT, then this is the story for you.]

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says #HesNOTrunning so he can help with election outreach, fundraising, and boozy spots on Morning Joe. According to political wizards, McAuliffe bowing out is a sign Joe Biden is clearing a wide path ahead before announcing his own 2020 run.

Sen. Kamala Harris is winning the big money primary for 2020 contenders, hauling in oodles of Ameros from Obama and Clinton bundlers with deep roots in the Democratic party. While a number of candidates have sworn off big money donations, candidates like Pete Buttigieg, Corey Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar are all courting donors with big check books and expansive networks as they hustle to keep their campaigns afloat.

After a runoff and several recounts, Chicago democratic socialist Rossana Rodríguez-Sánchez beat incumbent Alderman Deb Mell for a City Council seat by 13 votes, ending the Mell family's longtime hold on the seat of Chicago's 33rd ward. With Rodríguez-Sánchez's victory, socialist politicos on the Chicago City Council increases to six.

A Denver, Colorado, suburb voted to change its name to "Old Cherry Hills" from its century-old name, "Swastika Acres." A local CBS affiliate reports many residents weren't aware of the subdivision's original name, and held no opinion. The AP notes that the area was named for the Denver Land Swastika Company "that divided the area land into plots near the 20th Century," long before the Nazis were a thing.

North Korea is SO BUTTHURT that nobody is paying attention to it anymore that they test-fired a new "tactical guided weapon." The launch was followed by Dear Leader throwing a tantrum over Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, demanding Pompeo be removed from ongoing "de-nuke" talks.

Buzzfeed reports Russia has been trying to buy tear gas and riot gear in Malta, likely in an attempt to boost its military presence in Venezuela. Officials in Malta grew suspicious of a Russian request to dock a large anti-submarine Russian navy ship after US officials warned them something was hinky. Russia has recently been airlifting supplies to Venezuela via airstrips in Syria while a number of Russian military contractors flock to provide security for the Venezuelan dictator.

Of all the states, Utah became the first to ban warrantless searches of digital data with the passage of the Electronic Information or Data Privacy Act. The new law also requires authorities to notify people within 14 days if the cops start snooping around their Google Docs, prevents the government from using illegally obtained digital evidence in court, and authorizes police to get location-tracking info without a warrant in the event of an "imminent risk" to death, serious injury, kidnapping, sexual abuse/exploitation, or human trafficking.

A federal judge has lifted a stay on the military's "JEDI" contract. The $10 billion cloud computing contract has divided tech geeks and ethics nerds who worry about the military creating killer robots, forcing the biggest names in tech to do some serious soul searching.

GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE! Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a law replacing racist and Confederate statues in the US Capitol with statues of Johnny Cash and civil rights icon Daisy Gatson Bates. Some members of the state legislature objected to using Cash due to his abuse of drugs, alcohol, and women and implored people to think of the children, but they ultimately decided he was a better representative of the state because he'd been everywhere, man.

Pornhub has launched a new campaign to save the bees with some fairly safe for work videos about how nature is "beesexual." The site says that it will donate some proceeds of every click to "bee-saving charities."

And here's your morning Nice Time: IT'S NATHAN AND WINNIE, THE BEACH CATS!

Adorable cats swimming together for the first time! www.youtube.com

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or lying in a gutter taking photos.

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Just this past week, US News ranked Alabama 49th in the nation for education, with the lowest overall reading and math scores. They probably would have ranked 50th, but there was no data for their high school graduation rates.

The five states ranked best in the country for education were Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut, in that order.

Also, this week, the Alabama House passed a bill that would make it a punishable crime for doctors to refuse to treat babies "born alive" after abortion.

HB 491 reads:

If a child is born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion, the physician who performed the abortion or attempted the abortion shall exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious physician would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age. Failure to do so is a Class 23 B felony and is punishable by not less than 20 years in state prison and a fine of not less than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).

More than 90 percent of abortions occur before 13 weeks. Only 1.3 percent of abortions occur after 21 weeks. The current law in Alabama -- not the horrorshow that just passed -- prohibits abortion after 23 weeks. Premature births at 22 weeks have a 0-3 percent survival rate, and premature "births" at 21 weeks have a survival rate of 0 percent.

There are not babies being "born alive" after abortions and then left to die because no one wants them. That's not a damn thing, and even when pressed, Alabama Republicans could not come up with a single example of this having happened. They just feel in their hearts that it does.

What can happen, rarely, is a medical situation where doctors must induce labor because the mother's life is at risk. In these cases, the children are wanted, but do not always survive because -- as mentioned just one paragraph ago -- the survival rates on premature babies are not great. That being said, federal law states that as soon as someone is born, they're a person, and therefore entitled to all rights thereof. One of those rights is that no one can kill you, legally. Doctors have an obligation to save lives, but when there is a situation—regardless of how old the person is!!!—where the patient has no chance of survival, the next of kin is given the option to continue or not continue with life-saving efforts. That is how things work.

It's almost as if there is some kind of connection between passing a law this stupid and having the worst reading comprehension skills in the nation.

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Well, lordy Jesus, that was 10 minutes of our life we're never going to get back.

A few minutes ago, all the reporters on Twitter started saying, "Um, we are getting called to the Rose Garden and we don't know why." Democrats were supposed to be meeting with Trump about Infrastructure Week, but instead, this was happening:

Hooray! There was a sign in the Rose Garden! It said how big the Mueller Investigation was! And most importantly the Mueller Investigation said NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION, PREZNIT TRUMP GOOD, NOT A RUSSIAN.

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