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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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Once upon a time... about ten years ago, a group of entirely ridiculous men burst onto the scene wearing stupid hats and telling men that wearing stupid hats and telling men that walking up to women in bars and insulting ("negging") them would get them laid. This did not last long, as women also had televisions and computers and were completely aware of these tricks as well, so when some ass came up to us in a bar and said "Hey, nice nails, are they real?" we would laugh and laugh and loudly announce "Oh my god, this guy just tried to neg me! Can you believe that shit? HEY EVERYONE, THIS GUY JUST TRIED TO NEG ME!" and then refer to him as "Mystery" the whole night.

Most of the men who tried that shit only did so a few times before realizing that it wasn't going to work, and thus moved on to other things. Perhaps things that did not involve furry hats and coming off as a huge creep. We may never know, because I would assume that those who tried it are now extremely embarrassed and would never, ever admit to this to us.

Still, there were a few men willing to eat that shit up, as well as some grifters willing to take advantage of that. Said grifters tended to be extremely misogynistic and seemed more like they were teaching men how to be as despised by women as they were than teaching them how to actually be liked by women.

Some of them, like Roosh V, a creepy weirdo who actually does live in his mom's basement, actively encouraged men to rape women who were intoxicated to the point of being obviously unable to consent.

However, even that branch of the PUA tree is wilting away. Many "self-help" style PUA forums like Nextasf and RSDnation are shutting down or have already shut down. In March, Chateau Heartiste, a batshit crazy PUA turned White Nationalist/Alt-Right blog was shut down by Wordpress. This week, rape advocate Roosh V (whom you may recall once called yours truly a "Wonkette typist/clown face, would not bang") announced that he was renouncing his PUA ways and devoting himself to Jesus. He explained to the forum he manages that he would no longer be allowing anyone to discuss premarital "fornication."

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'Baby Geniuses' star Jon Voight took to Twitter early this morning to proclaim his undying love for Donald Trump, probably because there is no one left in his life who will listen to him talk about this, or anything else, in person. In this video rant, Voight encouraged members of the Republican Party, whom he apparently thinks are the only real citizens of the United States, to stand by Donald Trump and "acknowledge the truth" that he is the best President since Abraham Lincoln.


Part ONE:

People of the Republican Party, I know you will agree with me when I say our president has our utmost respect and our love. This job is not easy. For he's battling the left and their absurd words of destruction. I've said this once and I'll say this again. That our nation has been built on the solid ground from our forefathers, and there is a moral code of duty that has been passed on from President Lincoln. I'm here today to acknowledge the truth, and I'm here today to tell you my fellow Americans that our country…

Oh no, not our absurd words of destruction!

Part DEUX:

is stronger, safer, and with more jobs because our President has made his every move correct. Don't be fooled by the political left, because we are the people of this nation that is witnessing triumph. So let us stand with our president. Let us stand up for this truth, that President Trump is the greatest president since President Lincoln.

Does Jon Voight not know there have been... other presidents? Can he name them? Because really, it does not sound like it. Does he also not know that a very big chunk of the Republican Party actually does not care very much for Abraham Lincoln? Namely those defenders of Confederate statues that Trump called "very fine people?" Also, did he intentionally diss their beloved Ronald Reagan?

Who can know? Who can even tell what he is trying to say or why he is trying to say it. He doesn't appear to have tweeted much since 2016, so I'm guessing whoever's job it was to keep him from tanking his career quit. Either that... or after filming the seventh season of Ray Donovan, he found out it's going to be canceled or his character is getting killed off or something and he is now free to be a jackass? I don't know, I haven't watched the show, although my parents are very into it and mad that I haven't watched it. Literally all I know about it is that it has something to do with Boston, because they keep mentioning that to me like it's a selling point.

It seems useless at this point to note that the people who scream their faces off about how bad it is for Hollywood celebs to support liberal causes, and how they should keep their politics to themselves, etc. etc. make a way bigger deal than normal people do whenever a Big Time Hollywood Celebrity like Jon Voight or, uh, Scott Baio, supports their cause. Mostly because they're the only ones who have elected a reality TV star and the star of Bedtime for Bonzo (who by the way, also once practically ruined a perfectly good Bette Davis movie with his bad acting. Which is not to say that Dark Victory is not fantastic and probably the best thing to watch if you want to sob your face off, but he was very bad in it.) to run the country.

But we might as well do that anyway, because it actually never stops being funny.

[Jon Voight Twitter]

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