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'No Cave!' Wonkagenda For Tues., Jan. 22, 2019

Trump's shutdown drags on, and Rudy doesn't care what you put on his grave. Your morning news brief!

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

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Culture

MAGA KIDS INNOCENT! Or Hadn't You Heard They're White?

Does this mean they don't get to spend the summer at a reservation?

When the story broke this weekend about the MAGA hat-wearing Covington Catholic kids showing up at the March for Forced Birth in D.C. and taunting Native American elder and veteran Nathan Phillips, we figured it'd be only a matter of time before the white kid rapid response team was called in to exonerate them.

Back in 1992, four Los Angeles police officers were acquitted on charges of excessive force in the arrest of Rodney King. The verdict appalled those of us whose sight-producing eyes viewed the video footage of the officers beating King like he was a piñata. However, the mostly white jury pointed out that they'd seen the "whole" video, which presumably ended with an off-screen director shouting, "Cut!" and handing King a check for his performance.

The "whole" video of last Friday's incident came out Sunday, and the New York Times claims it paints a "fuller and more complicated picture" of the encounter. It looks like these students won't get their trip to Be Nice to Minorities Fantasy Camp after all. It's completely unnecessary as they are probably the true victims.

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Russia

Giuliani: Of Course Trump Negotiated With The Russians Up 'Til The Election. WHY EVER NOT?

What even is he doing up there?

Does Rudy Giuliani have a plan? Or is he just a demented squid lawyer who expels clouds of inky nonsense as he wriggles off into the murk? We just watched the Old Roods make the Sunday rounds again, and the answer is ... FUCK IF WE KNOW.

He started Sunday morning promising Jake Tapper that Donald Trump never spoke to any Russians ever, and also that he was negotiating to build Trump Tower Moscow ALL THE WAY UP UNTIL THE 2016 ELECTION. And if you think those things sound contradictory, just shout BUZZFEED five or six times to yourself, until the confusion goes away.

GIULIANI: [I]t was an early stage proposal that never got beyond a nonbinding letter of intent that was being run by -- by Michael Cohen. It was his project. And it was being done while Donald Trump was running for president of the United States, and wasn't focused on that at all.

TAPPER: Sure. OK, but he said, I have no business there. I have no business there. I have no deals there.

GIULIANI: OK.

TAPPER: That's not true. He did...

GIULIANI: No, that is not inaccurate. That is not acc -- what you are saying is not accurate. I run a business. We do it in a lot of countries. I have proposals right now in six different countries. Two of them have been accepted. I'm doing business in the two that are accepted, not the four in which I have proposals.

Look here, Jake, Rudy Giuliani is a giant whore who'll take money from any murderous oligarch whose check clears, a fact he confirmed more or less verbatim to Chuck Todd in the 10 o'clock hour. So, just because Donald Trump signs a letter of intent in October of 2015 and his agent continues to negotiate with Kremlin agents up through the election and keeps Trump and his children minutely apprised doesn't mean Trump "has business" in Russia, okay? Also, BUZZFEED.

Asked about Michael Cohen's false testimony to Congress -- testimony he had reviewed in advance with Trump and which aligned almost perfectly with Don Jr.'s testimony -- Giuliani readily admitted that his client, the president, reviewed that false congressional testimony in advance. And isn't it a shame that a rough character like Cohen would lead poor, innocent Donald Trump down the garden path!

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News

'We Shall Override.' Wonkagenda For Mon., Jan. 21, 2019

Trump's shutdown enters day 31, Mike Pence gaslights MLK Day, and Rudy drunkenly stumbles on Trump-Russia (again). Your morning news brief.

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

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Russia

Relax, Everyone: Donald Trump Is Still A F*cking Criminal

WTF does tonight's special message from Robert Mueller tell us? Wonkette tries to answer that question!

HOLY ACHTUNG TWITTER IS FREAKING OUT! Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office (SCO) has issued a statement, almost 24 full hours after Buzzfeed's story on Donald Trump ordering Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the failed Trump Tower Moscow deal started blowing everybody's minds. Mueller's spokesman says actually BuzzFeed got it a bit wrong. This is significant because 1) Mueller's office NEVER talks, and B) well, they're not actually saying BuzzFeed got it WRONG wrong. Just, you know, kinda wrong.

Wow, that statement is lawyered as fuck. BuzzFeed described "specific statements" wrong, and its "characterization of documents and testimony" was just an eensy bit off, and maybe if BuzzFeed moved this sofa over here it would take advantage of more natural light in the room, and honestly, BuzzFeed should trim up this one paragraph of its article, because those sentences DO NOT SPARK MARIE KONDO'S JOY.

Otherwise, it's great!

First of all, we want everybody to relax. Donald Trump is still a criminal.

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Russia

'Make It Happen.' Wonkagenda For Fri., Jan. 18, 2019

Trump's shutdown enters day 28, and Michael Cohen was ordered to lie to Congress. Your morning news brief!

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

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Media/Entertainment

So Are We Just Gonna Let Bustle CEO Bryan Goldberg Ruin The Internet?

He's relaunching both Gawker and Mic.

Once upon a time, in 2013, Bryan Goldberg, owner of Bleacher Report, made an announcement. He, a man, was going to invent the world's very first website for women. Sure! There was already Jezebel, XOJane, The Toast, Bitch, Bust, The Hairpin, The Frisky, Slate's XX, Autostraddle, Refinery29, Feministe, Feministing, Clutch, Crunk Feminist Collective and approximately 25,000 other women's sites out there at the time, but he had never heard of any of those. So he was going to make the first women's site ever. Particularly the first ever site that combined both politics and fashion tips.

Isn't it time for a women's publication that puts world news and politics alongside beauty tips? What about a site that takes an introspective look at the celebrity world, while also having a lot of fun covering it? How about a site that offers career advice and book reviews, while also reporting on fashion trends and popular memes?

Oh wow, what an amazing brand new idea he had! And following that were reports that he did not intend to pay writers very much, as well as later reports that the writers were making very little for the amount of work they were expected to do. There was that time there was a picture in the New Yorker of Goldberg using a female employee's legs as a desk. Oh! And read this bit from a former employee who helped him find women to write for the site:

"We had a big database with hundreds of names of potential writers. He specifically wanted ones from small towns who would work for less than people based in SF or NY... he asked me to search for talented writers in Poughkeepsie or Pittsburgh or "other crappy cities that begin with P." In one of our meetings we went through some of the writers I picked... some from Jezebel, HelloGiggles, xoJane, etc. He had them up on the projector and we went to their sites and rated them on a 1-5 scale. There was a list of criteria — 'good grammar,' 'frequently updates blog.' Then there were qualities he didn't want — i.e. 'angry,' 'man-hating.' And everyone was rated on this scale. He told me not to contact so many "smart" writers (I think he meant something very specific by "smart") and that many of the ones I liked seemed to have big chips on their shoulders. He'd never heard of Bitch or xoJane, and I don't think he knew about Bust magazine before I told him about it... I told him about Bitch and he snarked on the name and said 'advertisers must love that.'"

Are you screaming now?

Late last year, Goldberg acquired Gawker -- a site that had continually reported on his awfulness throughout the years -- and is now relaunching it. He also acquired Mic, immediately firing everyone on its unionized staff. Nice!

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Russia

Game Of 'You're Boned.' Wonkagenda For Wed., Jan. 16, 2019

Trump demands people work for free as government shutdown enters 26th day. Your morning news brief!

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

Now in its 26th day, Trump's shutdown shows no signs of stopping after Democrats rejected a useless photo op at the White House yesterday (twice). Trump's White House is attempting to peel off Democrats by tricking some into appearing to support his goddamn wall (oops, steel slats -- wait, now it's "a barrier?"). Rather than be used as props, dozens of House Democrats marched over to Mitch McConnell's vacant office and demanded he do his job by bringing House-passed legislation to the Senate floor. Where was he, on a beach in Puerto Rico or something?

The administration is realizing that government shutdowns are hard to win when the government is really shut down, so it's recalling thousands of federal workers to work without pay at the FAA, the DOT, the EPA, HUD, the IRS, and the FDA. Not to mention dozens of Interior Department workers to sell oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, a federal judge has shot down a lawsuit by federal workers' unions over being forced to work without pay. The judge said workers deemed "essential" have to show up in order to avoid creating "chaos and confusion." The judge empathized with workers, but ultimately ruled, "the judiciary is not, and will not, be leverage in the internal struggle between the branches of government." Well...fuck.

A federal judge hilariously smacked down the Trump administration's attempt to put citizenship questions on the 2020 Census, arguing it was a "veritable smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut" violations to the Administrative Procedures Act. The judge then dumped on crooked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's attempt to put the question on the Census, stating Ross had "ignored and violated a clear statutory duty," and "concealed its true basis rather than explaining it."

Nancy Pelosi seems to be getting her revenge on her detractors, blocking them from positions on powerful House committees. Politico gossips that Rep. Kathleen Rice was blocked from a seat on the House Judiciary Committee despite her seniority, with Pelosi instead offering up freshman Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. You come at the queen, you best not miss!

A group of Arizona nerds has launched a petition to get astronaut Mark Kelly to challenge Sen. Martha McSally in 2020. Roll Call and Politico note Kelly has been meeting with Democratic leaders and fundraisers over the last several weeks as he considers boldly going where few astronauts have gone before. The draft Mark Kelly movement is part of a broader push to get science geeks and pencil pushers into positions of politico power.

During an appearance on Colbert last night, Democratic Sen. Kristen Gillibrand announced her intention to run in 2020. Politico reports Gillbrand is making her pitch to female voters, but last night she stated that healthcare was a right, "not a privilege," which if you ask us is an appeal to anybody who likes having health. [Video]

Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum are not only on the shortlist of potential 2020 VEEP candidates, according to Politico, but they're also mulling their own 2020 presidential runs now that they both have a solid network of donors, voters, and volunteers who know how to knock on doors in crucial swing states.

Some yokels in the West Virginia House of Delegates want to give Trump $10 million for his goddamn wall instead of spending their $200 million surplus on the all the things slowly killing the state's population, like alternatives to the dwindling coal and natural gas gigs, ending food deserts, or helping addicts left to rot thanks to the opioid crisis. Gotta have priorities, and the priority is keeping people scared enough to vote R.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit proposal went down in flames yesterday in a disastrous 432 to 202 vote. With calls to hold a second referendum growing in the UK, the EU is now telling Britian to shit or get off the pot. Later this morning the liberal Labour party is expected to call for a vote of "no confidence" in May's leadership, but it too is expected to fail as conservatives would rather have a bumbling, ineffectual idiot helping lead the world towards economic catastrophe than another distasteful political opportunist.

The New York Times has a retrospective on all the times Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin (keepign no detailed record of the meetings) and the curious coincidences that always seem to happen shortly after their little get-togethers, like revelations on the Trump Tower meeting, sanctions, and Trump's disdain for US allies and NATO. NYT even made a fancy infographic!

Robert Mueller's team has delayed sentencing for Rick Gates because he's not done spilling the beans on all the Trump-Russia fuckery he's been privy to. Furthering speculation that the investigation into Trump's ALLEGED COLLUSION with Russia is far from over, Mueller's team filed a 31-page affidavit and 406 pieces of almost entirely blacked-out exhibits showing how Paul Manafort lied his ass off after he cut a deal with federal prosecutors. According to the filings, Manafort's lawyers had to pull him aside several times during questioning and remind him to keep his mountain of lies straight. CNN is also reporting that Manafort's lawyers tried to obscure the fact that Manafort's longtime pollster -- who he brought in to work on the Trump campaign -- met with Mueller's team and acknowledged he gave polling data on the 2016 campaign to Russian while serving as Trump's campaign chairman. LOCK HIM UP!

Don't expect Michael Cohen to say much to the House Oversight Committee next month as Robert Mueller's team of extraordinary investigators still isn't done with him either! People close to Cohen told the Wall Street Journal he intends to gossip about what it's like to work with Trump, and that his testimony will give people "chills," though the WSJ has since yanked those comments from its original story. HHMMMM!

Speaking of Michael Cohen, when he finally does report to jail, he'll be neighbors with one of those jerkoffs from "The Jersey Shore" at the Otisville Federal Correctional Institution.

According to a new survey by City Lab, Chicago has has one of the best public transit systems in the country. Not only is the CTA fairly reliable, it has a cleanliness rating of, "meh, could be worse," something called, "bus justice," and (most importantly) there are taco stands at (almost) every "L" station. That's right, y'all, TACO TRUCKS ON EVERY CORNER!

Treat yourself to some lovely sing-song by the fabulous Randy Rainbow!

And here's your morning Nice Time! OTTERS!

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Russia

'I Served Them Massive Amounts Of Fast Food.' Wonkagenda For Tues., Jan. 15, 2019

Trump gorges himself on cheeseburgers and pizza as his shutdown enters Day 25. Your morning news brief!

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

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News

'I Couldn't Care Less.' Wonkagenda For Mon. Jan., 14, 2019

The FBI has been interested in Trump-Russia for a long time, and the government shutdown drags on. Your morning news brief!

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

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Elections

'I'm Still Doing It.' Wonkagenda For Wed., Jan. 9, 2019

Buncha bullshit about Trump's wall, but many other stories too! Your morning news brief!

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

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News

VP Pence Says Ex-Presidents Talking To Trump Through The TV

So that's reassuring then.

Mike Pence is a gross fraud. For the past two years, he has debased himself for Donald Trump, constantly sacrificing virtue to ambition like your average religious hypocrite. Trump is a demanding master, though. I think he secretly delights in forcing his vice president to explain away his constant stream of lies with shameless obfuscation.

Pence was on the "Today" show this morning with Hallie Jackson, who confronted him on Trump's most recent laughable lie that former presidents confided in him their secret, forbidden desires for WALL. This is what Trump said: "This should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me and they all know it. Some of them have told me that we should have done it." Now here comes the veep.

JACKSON: Which former presidents told President Trump, as he said, that he should've built a wall? All their representatives have denied that that was the case.

PENCE: I know the president has said that that was his impression from previous presidents, previous administrations.

Mr. Vice President, what you "know" is that the president has lied ... again. This isn't even your normal "you rubes look pretty gullible" political lie, like whenever Paul Ryan talked about the GOP health care or tax scam bills. This is an easily disproven lie. All the living former presidents -- and even some recently dead ones -- hate Trump and would gladly tell the world he's full of shit, which is what immediately happened. Trump had to know this. He just can't help himself. He's literally compelled to lie, especially when it provides the mental comfort of a "safe space" where highly regarded people don't think he's a gibbering idiot.

Pence's defense is even worse. He says Trump was under the "impression" that previous presidents longed for a WALL. It was several paragraphs ago, so let's have a refresher: "This should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me and they all know it. Some of them have told me that we should have done it."

See the part in bold? Trump plainly states that a conversation took place between him and more than one former president on this really dumb subject. Maybe Pence is suggesting Trump was fooled by someone doing an "impression" of previous presidents. Rich Little visited the White House and went through his whole repertoire. He's pretty convincing, especially his Obama.

PENCE: I know I've seen clips of previous presidents talking about the importance of border security.

Starting sentences with "I know" while shifting uncomfortably in his seat like he's crapped his pants is emerging as Pence's subtle "tell" that he's also lying. I should challenge him to a high-stakes poker game: "I know, Stephen, that you've just dealt me a solid hand, so I'll raise you 20 Jesus dollars." Pence is trying to shift the discussion away from Trump's obvious and pathetic lie, but instead he raises the 25th Amendment-invoking concern that Trump thinks people are speaking directly to him from the TV set. That's probably true if he's watching Sean Hannity, but the majority of the time, the TV isn't participating in conversation.

JACKSON: That's different from telling the president, though, right?

PENCE: Honestly...

Nothing he's about to say will be honest. I see his 20 Jesus dollars and raise him another 10 Marys. Pence also repeated the lie Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to get past Chris Wallace that more terrorists are coming into the country each day than tech bros moving to Seattle.

In case there's any temptation to feel sorry for Pence, please keep in mind that this pious, anti-queer and anti-woman sleaze has lied for Trump before he was even president. During the 2016 vice presidential debate, Pence ran interference for Trump and pretended he was someone else entirely, like Karen Pence did when she suggested pushing the beds together after the family saw Aquaman.

Senator Tim Kaine shrewdly quoted the Gospel at Pence regarding his running mate: "From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks." Pence just looked at Kaine like he'd reminded him to empty the dishwasher. There was zero enthusiasm. I don't care who you are -- if you start throwing Kander and Ebb lyrics at me, I'm gonna at least smile, maybe hum along. I'm not saying Pence doesn't truly believe in the faith he invokes so much. I just think he believes in being vice president more. Even if it means serving as vice president for the lead antagonist in Revelation.

Follow Stephen Robinson on Twitter.

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Journamalism

Fraudy NC Election Pastor Man Sets Land-Speed Record Out Fire Door

Exit, stage-left even!

Mark Harris, the Baptist preacher turned Republican politician who "won" the fraud-soaked election for the US Congress in North Carolina's Ninth District, was in such a hurry to get away from local reporters that he fled a county building last night through an emergency exit, triggering a fire alarm. The state elections board refused to certify the outcome of the November race after credible allegations emerged that a skeevy contractor working for the Harris campaign had manipulated absentee ballots to throw the election to Harris over Democrat Dan McCready.

Naturally enough, when Harris showed up at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center to address the Mecklenburg County Republicans last night, political reporters were keen to ask him how he was doing in his efforts to be accepted as the true winner -- just in case the answer had changed from NOT WELL. Instead, when journalism reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled.

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Crime

How To Write Badly About The Shutdown And Prison, By A Doctor Of Rhetoric

Today in 'People Who Should Know Better Write Stupid Shit Anyway.'

Just in case anyone was under the impression that the news media were "liberal," check out the recent wad of lame stories about the supposed irony -- or even injustice!!! -- of federal prisoners being fed one half-decent meal for Christmas while their guards went without pay. OMG shocking! Outrageous! Proof that Democrats love criminals! Or maybe proof that the correctional officers' union is really good at pumping a misleading narrative to media outlets that should know better. Still, because the media are fucking lazy, we were treated to a whole bunch of seriously bad takes implying that since Donald Trump shut down the government, then by golly, we shoulda cancelled Christmas dinner in prisons, even though it was budgeted and paid for long before December.

The pure awfulness of blaming prisoners for Donald Trump's shutdown was pointed out by Atlantic journalist Vann Newkirk in a good and pissed-off thread on Twitter:

And oh, criminy they're awful. According to NBC News, prisoners ATE LIKE KINGS, YUM!

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News

President Sh*tmouth. Wonkagenda For Tues., Jan. 8, 2019

Trump to make TV worse with prime time address, and the government shutdown gets worse. Your morning news brief!

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

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