Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I Think Danger Bred A Different Kind Of Gay Back Then

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I was lucky; I came out when I was living in Amsterdam. I worried there was something wrong with me so I went to see a psychiatrist. I told him I thought I could be gay. He asked me why I was coming to him and if I was looking for addresses of gay bars and other places where gay people met. I didn't. I lived right across the street-- literally, 30 steps-- from a side gate into Amsterdam's biggest park (like their version of Central Park or Griffith Park). And it was a special entrance, as it turns out. At night there were always gay men in that park of the park eager to meet other men. So much better than a bar!

Being gay is easy and almost without a sense of social opprobrium nowadays. Gays can get married. It's no biggie. When I was a kid it was very different. And... well-- how do I put this? If you were gay, you were an outlaw, a rebel... like Jean Genet, like Truman Capote, William Burroughs, John Rechy, James Baldwin, Gertrude Stein, Gore Vidal, Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsberg, Paul Bowles, Jean Cocteau, Kenneth Anger, Anaïs Nin, John Waters, Jack Kerouac... role models. You know, who's a better role model Plato or a ribbon clerk?



Danny Fields, who I met when I was in college when I had booked The Doors to come play at my school and he worked for their record label, was the one who put the idea of ribbon clerks in my consciousness. He and Dee Dee Ramone wanted to go someplace "exciting" after The Ramones first show in San Francisco. I had no idea where to take them so I suggested the Eagle's Nest, a forbidding gay bar on Folsom Street. Danny made a face. "Ribbon clerks playing dress up," he sneered in his charming way. Eventually I started taking out of town guests to Mr. B's Ballroom instead. The DEVO guys, who I don't think were even gay, wrote a song about the night I brought them there.
Three cheers!
They're yellin' again
Three cheers!
They'll be at it to the end


So drink some big beers and go crazy tonight
They're all dressed up and they'll be gettin' it tonight
Big swingers in double knits tonight
Big babies gonna get in a fight
Actin' crazy, bustin' up the chairs
Doubled over gettin' sick on the stairs

They know the limits 'cause they cross them every night
The dull sensations as it turns real hot
Why, the guys in the back with their heads on the floor
Surrounded by their buddies, they're all hollerin' for more
Whoa, whoa, whoa
It's Mr. B's ballroom

Party time, turn the music up loud
Party time, lose your head in the crowd
Yellin',, laughin' tryin' hard to act smart
Put 'em under pressure and you watch them fall apart

Freeze! Come on out of there
Freeze! You ain't goin' nowhere
Freeze! Put your hands on your head
Freeze!
It's Mr. B's ballroom
Someone slipped in semen and fell down and we left. Books were easier-- and I've always been a bookish guy. There's a new movie that screened in NYC this week, Tom of Finland, and it's opening in New York on October 13 and in L.A. and San Francisco October 20... all the towns I lived in. Watch the trailer up top. I think Finnish director Dome Karukoski conveys what I'm trying to talk about far better than I am.


Tom of Finland was the pseudonym for Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991) and Wikipedia describes him as "a Finnish artist known for his stylized highly masculinized homoerotic fetish art, and his influence on late twentieth century gay culture. He has been called the "most influential creator of gay pornographic images" by cultural historian Joseph W. Slade. Over the course of four decades, he produced some 3500 illustrations, mostly featuring men with exaggerated primary and secondary sex traits, wearing tight or partially removed clothing." At the time, all his work had an implied sense of danger. The film company reminds critics that he was "a decorated officer" and that the film describes him as returning "home after a harrowing and heroic experience serving his country in World War II. But life in Finland during peacetime proves equally distressing. He finds post-war Helsinki rampant with homophobic persecution, and gay men around him are being pressured to marry women and have children. Touko finds refuge in his liberating art: homoerotic drawings of muscular men, free of inhibitions. But it is only when an American publisher sees them and invites Tuoko over to the West Coast that his life really takes a turn. Finally being able to walk free and proud in Los Angeles, Tuoko dives head first into the sexual revolution, becoming an icon and a rallying point. His work-- made famous by his signature ‘Tom of Finland’-- became the emblem of a generation of men and fanned the flames of the worldwide gay revolution."

But not today's gays I don't think. Yes, this is a real stamp:


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Ever Wonder How A Totally Worthless Hack Like Joe Crowley, Steeped In Corruption, Gets Into Position To Take A Role In Running America?

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Shane Goldmacher wrote an important piece for the NY Times Monday and Trump has been putting out so much crap that I haven't had time to get to it. But it's too consequential to for me to just let it get lost, specially in light of how New York;s Democratic Party bosses just screwed over Lower East Side District Leader Paul Newell-- not to mention progressives in the party-- to steal an open state Senate nomination (Daniel Squadron's seat) for Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh. Background: Newell won a whopping 72% of the weighted vote from the Manhattan Democratic Committee to Kavanagh's 28%. But the sleazy party bosses in Brooklyn took care of that inconvenience-- with the backing of Cuomo, of course, and De Blasio.
“They’ve stolen the seat from with Boss Wright and Boss Seddio overruling the people,“ charged candidate Paul Newell, referring to Manhattan Democratic Party leader Keith Wright and Brooklyn Democratic leader Frank Seddio... [I]n Brooklyn, Seddio did not call a party committee meeting and steered the Brooklyn vote to five-term Manhattan Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh after consulting with the borough’s elected officials.

...Newell may not have helped his cause with Cuomo after backing the governor’s Democratic rival, Zephyr Teachout, in the 2014 Democratic primary.

A committee vote is not legally required for a vacancy covering a two-county seat and party leaders can call the shots.

...Democratic district leaders in Manhattan were furious that Wright went against the wishes of their non-binding vote.

"Total BS. I told Keith that he has asked to go down in history alongside Carmen DeSapio," Greenwich Village district leader and Newell supporter Arthur Schwartz said, referring to Manhattan’s last Democratic Party leader from the Tammany Hall era.

“It’s really astounding. This was two guys in a room electing a state senator.”

In Brooklyn meanwhile, members of the New Kings County Democratic Club staged a protest at a meeting held attended by Seddio at Junior’s restaurant Monday.
That's Schumer's old stomping ground! I wonder if he had any role in this. That it's hardly a new phenomena or something confined to New York, is why I couldn't let the Goldmacher story pass unmentioned at DWT. This is, after all, tyranny. And this kind of grotesque corruption has led to the most corrupt man in Congress, Queens Party boss Joe Crowley, getting uncomfortably close to the Speaker's chair. This is what happens when there's one-party rule-- including Democratic one party rule.
It was hardly a secret that Herman D. Farrell Jr. had planned to retire from the New York State Legislature. The governor feted him at a goodbye breakfast in June. Colleagues sent the 85-year-old assemblyman off to shouts of “for he’s a jolly good fellow.” They even named a state park after him.

But Mr. Farrell, known to most as Denny, did not retire when all these festivities occurred. He called it quits earlier this month, saying it marked the anniversary of his first government job.

The timing ensured that Mr. Farrell could essentially handpick his Democratic successor, sidelining voters in his Upper Manhattan district after four decades of his incumbency. Stepping down in June would have cleared the way for an open Democratic primary in September. Instead, with the deadline passed for filing election petitions, party insiders gathered this weekend to formalize the choice of Mr. Farrell’s chief of staff [Al Taylor].

For decades, seats in the New York State Legislature have traded hands this way in what amounts to one of the last, most powerful vestiges of Tammany Hall-style politics in the state. Election laws here grant politicians and local party bosses and county committees vast sway in picking candidates when legislators leave office in the middle of their term-- whether they retire early, pass away, depart for another job or are carted away in handcuffs.

The rules are a crucial part of what empowers party bosses in a state that regularly outpaces the nation in corruption. They encourage ambitious politicians, even the most independent ones, to pledge fealty to county political leaders, lest they get passed over if and when the time comes for possible advancement.

“It’s New York Politics 101,” said William F. B. O’Reilly, a longtime Republican operative. “It’s not pretty-- it’s just the way it’s done. People are in the wings for years building up chits.”

Vacancies are filled differently across the country. In 25 states, replacement legislators are simply chosen by appointment, either by the governor (11 states) or some combination of party and local officials (14 states), according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Varying rules govern the 25 states that hold special elections, but few bestow more influence on local power brokers than New York does.

Nearly 30 percent of the current roster of New York State lawmakers were first gifted their party nominations, according to a study by Citizens Union, a watchdog group. With so many lopsidedly Democratic and Republican districts-- Democrats outnumber Republicans almost 20-to-1 in Mr. Farrell’s seat, for instance-- being handed the nomination is often tantamount to being put in office. The power of incumbency means many of these legislators stick around for decades.

“We’re being played for fools,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union. “They treat their seats as if these are monarchies with coronations as opposed to democracies with elections.”

Voters may be relegated to the sidelines but those with lobbying interests can be intimately involved. Lawmakers convicted as felons sometimes play power brokers in picking their successors. And party leaders are free to cut clandestine deals with one another in gentlemen’s agreements that disempower the public.

“It’s too bad, so sad: This is who the nominee is, and that’s how it’s going to be,” state Senator Todd D. Kaminsky, a Long Island Democrat who first won his seat after party insiders nominated him in a 2016 special election. “Clearly, it was a great help to me,” he admitted.

Mr. Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, says the rules should be changed: “Electoral reforms are long overdue.”



A who’s who of New York politicos have climbed the ladder in this way at some point in their careers, including Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (it’s how she got to Congress) and Scott M. Stringer, the New York City comptroller (it’s how he got to the Assembly). Representative Joe Crowley, the No. 4 Democrat in the House, first got his congressional seat when his predecessor, Representative Thomas J. Manton, handed him the Democratic nomination before even publicly announcing his resignation. Mr. Manton was the powerful Queens County Democratic boss at the time; Mr. Crowley now holds that post.

“It’s in the weeds, hard to explain and doesn’t capture the imagination, but it is about the bedrock of democracy: Who can choose who will represent you?” said Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat.

She, too, was first selected by party insiders to fill a 2006 vacancy. The process left such a bad taste that she introduced a bill to guarantee voters a say in special elections every legislative session for the last decade.

The bill has never gotten so much as a hearing in the Assembly.

The Republican leader of the State Senate, John J. Flanagan, first ascended to the Legislature as a 25-year-old after his father, then an assemblyman, died in 1986. Local political leaders gave the younger Mr. Flanagan his father’s line on the ballot.

“I was chosen by a committee so I’d like to think that they exercised good judgment,” said Mr. Flanagan, who has served for more than 30 years.

In a normal primary, while the party might endorse its preferred candidate, someone else could still challenge that person for the nomination. The voters would then decide at the ballot box. That doesn’t happen in special elections. Every county and political party has different rules for who exactly is involved, but the common thread is that the broader public is shut out.

In Queens, midterm replacements are picked by a handful of political insiders assigned to the particular district. Only four people are slated to decide who the Democrat will be on the ballot to replace Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, 45, who died this month-- and two of them are Morton Povman, a former city councilman, and his wife, Sandra.

Mr. Farrell’s seat isn’t the only one to be delivered in the coming days by party insiders. A replacement for former Senator Daniel L. Squadron, whose district includes Manhattan and Brooklyn and who recently resigned, was getting picked, as well.

“The process is horrible, and the state law must be fixed to empower voters,” said Mr. Squadron, who stepped down for a nonprofit job even though as a lawmaker he had carried legislation to change the system. “Like a lot of critical reforms in Albany, this is bottled up in a back room.”

In a twist, the Manhattan party boss overseeing filling both current vacancies, Keith L. T. Wright, is a top official at a leading lobbying firm with business before the very legislators whose seats he is helping give away.

“It’s simply the law of the State of New York. Many people think I can snap my fingers-- which makes me this all-powerful person-- but there’s a process,” said Mr. Wright, who is the chairman of New York County Democrats and a former assemblyman. In Manhattan, that process includes party insiders from the districts of departing lawmakers voting. “I’m not picking them,” Mr. Wright said. “I mean let’s be clear: I administer.”

Among his lobbying firm’s clients are real estate developers, auto dealers, the financial industry and corporate giants, including Oracle and Abbott Laboratories. Mr. Wright himself has not registered as a lobbyist.

“I think it sucks,” said Elizabeth Lorris Ritter, a committee member of the New York County Democrats and among those insiders with a say in Mr. Farrell’s replacement. “You can quote me on that. I think it sucks. It shouldn’t be my choice alone, or the committee’s choice alone.”

The handing-off of seats can be a multigenerational family affair. Assemblyman David I. Weprin of Queens took his seat when party officials gave him the Democratic nomination in a 2010 special election to replace his brother, Mark, who in turn had won David’s seat on the New York City Council. Mark Weprin first arrived in the Assembly after his father, former Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin, passed away in 1994 and party leaders gave him the Democratic nomination.

The elder Mr. Weprin won the seat in 1971 in a special election, where presumably party insiders again got their way-- meaning that some voters in Queens have gone through about a half-century and three different Weprin assemblymen since there has been an open primary contest.

The merry-go-round of politicians trading jobs is in especially full swing this time of year, as three state legislators won primaries last week to move to the New York City Council. Others are running for local offices elsewhere. Depending on when they step down, special elections will automatically occur or could be called by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has broad discretion about when and whether to call for special elections.

Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, said party bosses picking nominees “is counter to the spirit of the democratic process, and reforms should be put into place to open it up.” Watchdog groups have questioned Mr. Cuomo’s commitment to ethics reforms in Albany, but Mr. Azzopardi said, “This is something we’re examining very closely.”

Special election openings have long been part of what greases political machines in New York.

For instance, after the former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted of corruption, his political apparatus helped pick his replacement on the ballot. The Silver-backed candidate was later defeated in an open Democratic primary.

City officials can game the system, too. David G. Greenfield, a New York City councilman, announced he would not seek re-election this July, functionally giving the Democratic line to an allied consultant.

For Mr. Farrell, who declined to comment for this article, his early resignation meant a small set of Manhattan insiders, overseen by Mr. Wright, gathered over the weekend to pick his successor.

Mr. Farrell’s chief of staff, Al Taylor, was the only person nominated; Mr. Farrell seconded the pick. He knew well the arcane rules governing the meeting: He was formerly a Manhattan party boss for more than a quarter-century.

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Kansas Progressives Have A Real Chance to Win a Swing District-- The Third District

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McCain and Romney both won in KS-03, the Kansas congressional district that includes all of the Kansas part of Kansas City, all of suburban Johnson and Wyandotte counties and part of rural Miami County. Last year, though, Trump lost (narrowly), 47.2% to 46.0%. The DCCC ran one of their GOP-lite candidates, Jay Sidie, and he lost in a rout-- 51.3% to 40.6%, underperforming even Hillary. Maybe they could have figured out he was the wrong candidate when they saw how well Bernie did in Kansas against Hillary. Bernie won every district in the state and he won KS-03 62.1% to 37.9%. But the DCCC doesn't pay attention to inconvenient facts like that.

Last year the district's PVI was R+6 but now it's R+4, easily the least red district in the state. Jay Sidie, the guy from last cycle, is running again-- as are at least 4 other candidates. One is the kind of forthright progressive that Kansas voters seem interested in as an antidote to the status quo. We asked him to introduce himself.

Who I am and our campaign
-by Brent Welder


Pouring concrete in scorching summer heat and waiting tables on nights and weekends, I worked my way through college. I never had a rich dad that could loan me a million dollars. But I did have a mom and dad who made sure I had solid Midwest values and a strong work ethic.

From an early age, I learned the importance of standing up for what I thought was right. That’s why I have fought my whole life for workers’ rights through working for labor unions and progressive candidates, like Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders inspired me. From the first time I heard him speak, I knew I had found someone who finally said everything I knew what was right—from a $15 per hour minimum wage to single payer heath care system to creating a government that works for us, not the wealthy 1%.

So I got involved. I started organizing locally, then got elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Then Bernie Sanders nominated me to serve on the National Platform Committee. I wrote an amendment to ban corporate money from elections, and we passed the most progressive platform in history.

Disillusioned with politics as normal and poor decisions leading up to the November elections, I realized that I needed to do more. It was time for me to step up and put it all on the line.

I am running because I am tired of billionaires and giant corporations having too much control over our government. We need to get money out of politics, that’s why I’m not accepting any corporate PAC money. I am committed to fighting for the issues I care for (expanded list), including:
Fighting for US, Not Billionaires or Giant Corporations
Fighting for a $15 Minimum Wage
Fighting for Middle Class Workers and Labor
Fighting for Medicare for All
Fighting for Women’s Equality
Fighting for Racial Justice
Fighting for Immigration Reform
Why can I win Kansas-03?

Kansas-03 is 1 of only 5 Republican districts that Clinton won in the general and Bernie won in the primary. Bernie won the primary with 62% of the vote. The Republican that currently holds the seat, Kevin Yoder, has voted with Trump 97% of the time, even though Trump’s negatives are the third highest of any swing district in the country. Polling has Yoder losing to a generic Democrat by 6%. Therefore, it is very likely to become a Democratic seat in 2018.

I helped to organize this district for Bernie. My wife and I are labor lawyers with deep ties to the community. I have already received Our Revolution Kansas City and my first union endorsement from BMWED. I have what it takes to win-- the drive, the story, and you.

My Republican opponent, Kevin Yoder is raking in the corporate PAC money, but our campaign is staying strong with donations from people like you. I can’t do this without you. Together we are stronger than any handful of billionaires trying to corrupt our economy and political process. Donate today.

More information: BrentWelder.com

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Nevada's U.S. Senate Race Looks Wide Open-- Party Establishment Picks May Fail To Make The Final Ballot

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The ad above by Save My Care started running yesterday in Nevada, where panic-stricken serial flip flopper Dean Heller is widely seen as the most vulnerable Senate incumbent up for reelection in 2018. After vowing to Nevadans to not help GOP extremists repeal Obamacare he was threatened by Trump and immediately buckled and voted against Nevadans. And now he's back with another bill he helped write that will rip healthcare away from even more Americans than the last one! Below is the ad a Trump SuperPAC, with money raised by Mike Pence, used as an effective cudgel to beat up Heller and force him to switch his postion from the pro-healthcare position that the popular Republican governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval, embraces to flat-out a flat-out anti-healthcare stand that Nevadans hate:



Last year Clinton beat Trump in Nevada, 539,260 (47.92%) to 512,058 (45.50%). She won big in Clark County (Vegas)-- 52.43% to 41.72%-- and narrowly in Washow County (Reno)-- 46.39% to 45.14%-- enough to take the state's 6 electoral votes. On the same day Catherine Cortez Masto beat Republican Joe Heck for the U.S. Senate seat, also narrowly-- 521,994 (47.1%) to 495,079 (44.7%). Nevada is a swing state trending blue.




Schumer and Harry Reid have selected the worst possible candidate to run against Heller, conservative and utterly undistinguished and unaccomplished, Republican-lite freshman Jacky Rosen. Rosen has already earned one of the lowest "F" scores of any Democrat in Congress from ProgressivePunch, normally voting with the Blue Dogs on every important issue. In July Stanley Paher wrote in the Reno Gazette-Journal that it would be very unwise for the Democrats to run her. "For more than a half century," he wrote, "successful Nevada politicians have ascended from lower offices upwards into the U.S. Senate. These include Paul Laxalt, Harry Reid, Dick Bryan and Dean Heller. In contrast, a non-political background as touted by Rosen seldom translates into electoral success. How does synagogual leadership, computer programming skills, and familial experience translate into votes? Her lone electoral win last November was a 1% squeaker against a very weak Republican who had lost 5 elections over the past 8 years... The Rosen forces will point to Las Vegas’ large Democratic registration as an advantage for her statewide bid. But tell that to the bushel full of Nevada Democrats who lost in the 2014 midterm elections up and down ballot, as well as in 2010 when Joe Heck bested incumbent Las Vegas Congresswoman Dina Titus and Republicans Krolicki and Sandoval won in landslides for Nevada’s top two offices."

Rosen beat Danny Tarkanian, a crackpot Trumpist, for the open congressional seat last year, 146,869 (47.2%) to 142,926 (46%). The southern Clark County district, basically everything south of the airport, including Henderson and Boulder City, right down to the tip of the state where California, Arizona and Nevada meet in the Mohave Valley. Obama won the district both times but Hillary lost it to Trump 47.5% to 46.5%. Rosen's brief tenure in Congress has shown her to be, basically, everything that voters in NV-03 didn't like about Clinton. She's a disaster as a candidate and Reid and Schumer-- and EMILY's Lidt, of course-- stumbled right into it.

Meanwhile the Trumpist, Tarkanian, is primarying Heller with the support for Bannon and the rest of the whole nationalist fringe of the GOP. The most recent poll of Nevada Republicans-- which shows Trump with an 80% approval rating and Heller with a 34% approval-- indicates that Tarkanian would beat him 39-31% if the primary were held today.

Democrats do have a choice in their own primary as well. If they want to stand up to the party bosses-- Reid and Schumer-- they can vote for a Berniecrat in the race, Jesse Sbaih, someone who Reid rejected as a Democratic candidate last year because of his Muslim faith. When he was running for Congress, Reid told him to get out of the race because "a Muslim cannot win this race." Unlike Rosen Sbaih is a dedicated progressive and has pledged to fight for Medicare-For-All. Rosen is one of the minority of House Democrats who has refused to co-sponsor John Conyers' Medicare-For-All bill. Sbaih's wife is a physician and he has made Medicare-For-All one of the keystones of his campaign.



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Paul Ryan And Señor Trumpanzee In League To Destroy Senate Bipartisan Efforts

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Lamar Alexander (R-TN) voted to repeal Obamacare but when the repeal failed he decided he doesn't really want to hold folks in Tennessee who get healthcare coverage through Obamacare hostage. A former governor of his state and the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, he started working on a bipartisan fix that would at least stabilize the insurance markets while Congress figures out how to proceed. I've been hearing reports that his efforts have been going well. But then someone ratted him out to Trump and yesterday Trump-- with Paul Ryan in tow-- tried to put the kibosh on the whole endeavor. Ryan and White House extremists went to McConnell and Cornyn and told them to make Alexander stop, claiming that if a catastrophe is looming, there will be more pressure on senators to pass this new version of TrumpCare-- the one 10 governors, including Republican governors of Ohio, Massachusetts, Alaska, Nevada and Vermont, came out against yesterday and the one, also yesterday, the AMA said "would result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage, destabilize health insurance markets, and decrease access to affordable coverage and care," and the one Vet Votes told their members "would be the single largest cut to veterans' health care in the history of our nation. If this bill passes, tens of thousands veterans will lose their health care, and countless military family members as well." That one.
Republicans say that while the bipartisan talks between Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) initially seemed promising, many in the GOP fear providing money for Obamacare but offering little for conservatives-- especially after Republican lawmakers have been throttled by President Donald Trump and the GOP base for failing to repeal the health law.

Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that the Trump administration is all-in on the latest repeal effort, flying to Washington with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to deliver a message to the Senate GOP on repeal: "This is the moment. Now is the time," according to a pool report. Ryan and Trump called them during the plane ride as well.

Trump has threatened to withhold billions in Obamacare subsidies, which would upend private insurance markets. Alexander and Murray are working on legislation to have Congress provide those subsidies while allowing states more flexibility.

But Republicans claim Democrats are not willing to bend enough. Democrats reject that claim and say it is intended to sink bipartisan negotiations.

The “speaker is drawing a red line” and said the House “would not be able to pass a bailout of insurers,” said one congressional source familiar with the dynamics. “The White House also told GOP leaders that [Obamacare subsidies] without repeal would not work.”

A House source familiar with the conversation confirmed that a call between Ryan and Senate GOP leadership occurred in which the stabilization approach was sidelined. A second House Republican source said a stabilization bill "would definitely make some in our conference pretty upset if we took it up."

"Our focus is on repealing and replacing this failing law, and we are encouraged the Senate is making progress," said AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan.
Señor Trumpanzee by Nancy Ohanian

Instead, Ryan and the White House are backing the repeal bill written by Graham and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) that would turn federal health care programs into state block grants, repeal Obamacare’s coverage mandates and wind down the law’s Medicaid expansion while capping the entitlement program’s spending for the first time.

Graham said his friend Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) may support the bill, according to the pool report, a potentially significant development considering McCain's opposition to the last repeal attempt.

Asked about Graham's suggestion in an interview Tuesday, McCain responded: "I have nothing to say."

Pence called Graham Monday night to get him ready for the goal line push, and also called Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a moderate Democrat, to test his support. A Manchin spoksesman said Tuesday he opposed the bill.

Pence also spoke to Alaska Gov. Bill Walker about how the bill might affect Alaska, in a bid to reel in Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), another senator who helped tank the last effort.

However, a bipartisan group of governors-- including Walker and GOP Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and Brian Sandoval of Nevada-- sent a letter to McConnell on Tuesday saying they oppose the Graham-Cassidy plan and want the Senate to concentrate on the bipartisan Murray-Alexander approach.

The Congressional Budget Office said Monday it would not be able to provide full estimates on how the Graham-Cassidy bill would affect insurance premiums or coverage for several more weeks. The bill would make deep spending cuts to Medicaid in the coming years; CBO has estimated that similar proposals would mean millions more would be uninsured.

...A senior White House official said there was never much interest in the Murray-Alexander talks and chalked it up to "the media talking about it,” though McConnell openly acknowledged the possibility that the two deal-making senators could strike a bargain. Trump listened to arguments for it and seemed intrigued, but it wasn't seriously considered as a possibility, this person said.

The bipartisan proposal would continue subsidy payments and would not be seen as repealing Obamacare, this person said. Other White House officials said Graham-Cassidy isn't their ideal bill, but it's a "final chance to actually get something done," according to a second administration official.

...Democrats portrayed the rejection of the bipartisan push as intended to create pressure on Senate Republicans to hold their nose and support the Graham-Cassidy bill, and as the only way out of the party's political quagmire. If that bill fails, Republicans may have to return to bipartisan talks, particularly if Trump again threatens to halt subsidy payments.

On Monday, Democrats said Murray was willing to make significant concessions to Alexander on more flexibility for states to run their health care systems if Obamacare subsidies were funded by Congress.

“Murray has agreed to basically everything that Alexander has been asking for,” a Democratic aide said.

If Democrats are able to perusade just three Republicans to endorse the stabilization effort, it could mark a death blow for the Graham-Cassidy bill, since it would suggest there are not 50 Senate Republicans willing to completely repeal Obamacare. Democrats say GOP leaders and the White House are trying to create a false sense of urgency with a deadline looming.

“It’s crystal clear that Republicans are trying to shut down those negotiations in order to close off the better, more bipartisan path that moderate Republicans could take,” said a second Democratic aide. “They know that if they have a choice between a good bipartisan bill and Graham-Cassidy, some of them are likely to choose to former.”

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Midnight Meme Of The Day

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-by Noah

Republicans still have their daggers out for Hillary Clinton and they always will. Having their guy win the presidency over her just isn't enough to them. Maybe it's the fact that she got over 3 million more votes than Señor Trumpanzee. Maybe it's just because they can't deal with women at all or women of such professional accomplishment and brain power. She may have been a poor campaigner and candidate, but, really, do they want to get into comparisons of Clinton vs. a stark, raving mad fascist with a mind that will keep shrinks talking for the rest of human history?

The build up to the release of Clinton's new book, What Happened has brought out a new flood of deranged bile from every dark corner and crevice of Republican World, including insane accusations that it was Hillary Clinton who was "colluding with Russia" all along, not the assclown that leads their party, and-- you guessed it-- calls for new investigations into Benghazi, and-- wait for it-- Her Emails!!! Two dozen Republican congresscretins called for a special counsel, back in July, to get into this once again and the Senate Republicans want to look at the "possibility" that Ukrainians were helping Hillary.

Clearly, no amount of rehab will ever retrieve the sanity of any Republicans you may have the misfortune to know; not that they ever had any anyway. The only thing that distracts the Republican Party from their demented obsession with Hillary Clinton is their desire to do away with Obamacare and find the best way (to them) to bring about the deaths of as many Americans as possible, but, hey, that's another nutball obsession that runs their days.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Take Off Your Swastika: Berkeley Punks Rule-- Gilman Street/Green Day Film Arrives Just In Time For Campus "Free Speech Year"

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Green Day at Gilman, 1992-- photo by Murray Bowles

-by Denise Sullivan

In 1988, the peace punks who congregated at 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, California, had a choice to make: To meet encroaching skinheads with violence or to fight back with the tactics of non-violence. Choices were made, the inevitable schisms from within ensued, and life went on, as the new documentary, Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk, tells. While the story and other tales of punk rock glory illustrate punk's inherent contradictions and what happens when utopian ideals like egalitarianism and rule-by-committee are put to the test, the film is also in perfect synch with the hate speech controversy happening in Berkeley here and now.

“The film played in Charlottesville a few weeks back,” explained its director, Corbett Redford. “Someone from the audience commented, 'This is how allies work. Allies stand up.”

The punks of Gilman, far more of them straight, white, and male than queer, people of color, or women, did indeed stand up to the Nazi strain in their midst. And yet, the politics of waging peace and the how music fits into those politics is often more nuanced and complicated than taking up of pitchforks, tiki torches, or baseball bats. The project at Gilman Street, while largely a success and a piece of the Bay Area's larger legacy of resistance, is also a reminder, to me anyway, that people on the same team are not immune to the cruelties and divisiveness that destroys alliances, especially here in our own left coast bubble.

Recounted against a backdrop of music, animation, and collected ephemera, the film provides plenty of context in the form of hundreds of testimonials by the fans, friends, DJs, zine makers, and bands, all who helped to shape and were shaped by the intentional community that was Gilman. Additional voiceover narration is supplied by Iggy Pop. All of the elements go a long way toward explaining how one place held close white punks, black speed-metal heads, self-identified queers, and baby feminists, as capitalism moved steadily toward its hypernormal end phase.

Take the story of Green Day, who are also the film's executive producers: Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt were just two kids with long hair-- mullets, in fact-- trying to find their way out of the suburbs and into rock 'n' roll. This was a logical career choice for people back then-- in the years before the Internet-- a time when music still meant something and musicians with actual talent had a real shot at making a living with their art. For kids from East Bay suburbs like Pinole, El Sobrante, and Rodeo (accent on the day-o) any options beyond their semi-rural, semi-industrial refinery towns would've been welcome in the economically dim R & B (Reagan and Bush) era, as was Gilman, a place where you could dream about life beyond the 'burbs (or get away from parents), accompanied by a hardcore punk soundtrack of your own making. You were also taught about others systems of governance and lifestyles, all of it an alternative to skateboarding in 7-11 parking lots, video games, and bottomless bowls of weed, the area's standard fare.

At Gilman, kids were people too; they had a voice and made decisions. But as players on the punk scene, musicians with songwriting talent the likes of Green Day were also subject to skepticism and derision. By the time Billie Joe came around asking to play, the band was perceived as “too pop” and was turned away by Tim Yohannan, Gilman's co-founder and booker. Yohannan (“A red-diaper baby who had been at People's Park,” according to filmmaker Redford) was also the founding publisher of the punk zine and radio show, Maximum Rock'n'Roll; he used what means he had to secure the 924 space, becoming its de facto elder. He then gave the youngsters its keys, as well as an education in all things collective, communal, and dogmatic: Enforcing the strictly straight-edge, anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-homophobic rules worked in theory, but was more complicated in practice. Yohannan does not get to tell his story (he died of cancer in 1998), but his friends and co-workers remember him in Turn It Around.

Howie recently compared Billie Joe to Shakespeare in a tweet. I mention this because both his and Yohannan's extreme positions on Green Day go some way toward explaining the divide within the small but mighty Bay Area punk scenes which supposedly had a code of no racism, no sexism, and no homophobia, but at times felt racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and threatening to anyone who wasn't a straight white male. Back when Yohannan held dominion over Gilman and the East Bay but before Green Day hit the scene, Howie was young and I was younger still. We both worked on the San Francisco side of the Bay, spinning records that were not heard anywhere but in clubs and on the left end of the dial, and our tastes were decidedly more “commercial,” and catholic. These simple differences led to real hostilities, you might even say warfare, between rival college radio stations KUSF and Berkeley's KALX (Redford tells me that version of his film was mostly left on the proverbial cutting room floor but will likely show up as extras on a DVD). By the time Green Day was on the rise, I was reporting on Bay Area music for the region's paper, the Contra Costa Times. Admittedly, much of what I knew about what went on inside Gilman was colored by my experience with punk rock at KUSF and SF's own punk clubhouse, the Mabuhay Gardens. I was among those who perceived hardcore and the suburban influence to have poisoned our scene, bringing with it slamdancing, mosh pits, skinhead violence and the smell of fear. The small-minded punk versus "not punk enough” dynamic came to bear further after Howie left San Francisco and was heading Green Day's chosen record label, Reprise, which helped make way for their superstardom (for those unfamiliar, Green Day are stadium-fillers with Grammy and Tony Awards to their credit; they are also among the handful of American recording artists who stood up in the era of Bush II and cried foul during the Iraq war with a concept album titled American Idiot). Green Day's success was not entirely celebrated by the punks at Gilman who had “collectively” banned major label recording artists from their space. I ultimately attended some girl-friendly shows there, but while the place wasn't for me, it was a godsend for the kids in the East Bay, a once largely conservative bastion whose districts by and large vote Democrat these days, though there is still one assembly district held down by a Republican in the wealthier, far east county. Filmmaker Redford contends that things could've easily gone the other way.

“When you have a blustery blowhard in the media everyday, it emboldens people to come out from under their rocks,” he says in the wake of Berkeley's recent defeat of Nazi terror and in anticipation of the University's planned Fall program of hate speech. “But I don't believe there are more of them than people who believe in treating people fairly and equally. I have to believe that. I don't want to lose hope."

Green Day is currently on a multi-city mega world tour. Gilman survives as an all-ages, non-profit collective and its alumni seem more comfortable celebrating each other's successes since its regulars have gone on to become popular zine makers and authors, scholars, professional musicians, and workers of all stripes-- everyday people who still believe in the dream of pluralism while the threat of fascism looms large in Berkeley and throughout the land. Our differences, for the most part, have been cast aside, we are all children of punk rock, and its spirit of self-reliance and resistance serve us well in these times: Punk made us pro-peace and against racism, sexism, and wage slavery. We still seek safe places-- a safe country for people of all identities-- and reject patriarchal, colonial mentalities. And while we recognize it is uneasy business to create these spaces, many of us remain involved in trying.

“People building things, making positive change, creating art for each other, anywhere you find that, there is punk rock,” says Redford, much like a true-believing, modern day Tom Joad. “Punk isn't dead, no matter what anyone tells you. If you can't find it, you might have to change your way of thinking. Wherever there is resistance culture, wherever there are people, there is punk rock.”

Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk opens in theaters nationwide this week.



Denise Sullivan reports on arts, culture, and gentrification issues for DWT!

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Dana Rohrabacher Seems To Be Making Every Move He Can To Lose His Reelection Bid

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When Dana Rohrabacher was first elected to Congress in the '80s his Orange County district was beet red. Last year, nearly three decades on, the PVI was a very daunting R+7. Next year, Rohrabacher faces a more hostile environment. Trump lost the district to Hillary-- albeit narrowly-- and the PVI shows a slide towards the Democrats. It is now R+4, winnable, especially in a wave election.




Back when he was first election, Rohrabacher got off to a peculiar start. His predecessor, right-wing crackpot Dan Lungren, was appointed state-- but never confirmed-- state Treasurer by Governor George Deukmejian. Rohrabacher, then a Reagan speech-writer, was helped by Oliver Noth to win the primary and then the general election. Instead of going to the congressional freshman orientation, he went to Afghanistan to smoke powerful, mind-altering hash-- I know how strong it is; I spent almost a year there-- and play dress-up with the Taliban. The only serious challenge Rohrabacher ever had to reelection was in 2008 when Huntington Beach mayor Debbie Cook held him to a 53% win. Not anticipating Hillary's win last year, the always backward-looking DCCC didn't bother to run a candidate and Rohrabacher beat Suzanne Savary, an underfunded local who had no help from the DCCC, by nearly 50,000 votes, 58.3% to 41.7%. The DCCC-- in backward-looking mode as usual-- says they plan to take Rohrabacher on this year and recruited a Canadian-American stem cell doctor/entrepreneur multimillionaire with no sense of politics, Hans Keirstead. Harley Rouda and Laura Oatman, also in the race, look like more effective candidates. As of the June 30 FEC reporting deadline Rohrabacher had $406,616 in his campaign account to Rouda's $177,974, Keirstead's $135,396 and Oatman's $68,870.

A neo-fascist Trumpist nut-case, Stelian Onufrei, is running against Rohrabacher from the right and attacking him for his marijuana activism (and for being "an entrenched career politician"). Former Orange County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh may also run and has raised $546,915 into a federal fund.

Rohrabacher is best known for his pot advocacy and his pro-Russia stands. Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told congressional Republicans that Rohrabacher takes money from the Kremlin, although he later said he was "joking." In the beautiful coastal district, his Climate Change denialism isn't a plus. Rouda has been primarily attacking Rohrabacher for his reactionary stands on economic issues, immigration and healthcare but he has certainly noticed Rohrabacher's bizarre relationship to Putin. He told us last month that "Rohrabacher has time and time again shown that he values the interests of Russia over the interests of his own district. The public doesn't have all the facts about Dana Rohrabacher's relationship with Russia-- but what we know already is enough to disqualify him. We need a Congressman who focuses on the 48th Congressional District; not a hostile foreign power."

Last week, Rohrabacher got himself embroiled in another crazy controversy that has Orange County voters scratching their heads and wondering if their congressman has smoked too much pot and hash lately. This time Rohrabacher is claiming the horrifying scene in Charlottesville with the KKK and Nazis marching in the streets, threatening Jews in a synagogue and murdering a young woman peacefully demonstrating against Nazis. Rohrabacher now says it was "a total hoax" staged by Clinton and Bernie supporters!
“It’s all baloney,” Dana Rohrabacher told the San Francisco Chronicle, speaking of the rally where police said a car driven by a white supremacist injured 19 and killed counterprotester Heather Heyer.

“It was left-wingers who were manipulating them in order to have this confrontation,” Rohrabacher said Thursday, in an effort to “put our president on the spot.”

His claims are just the latest in a tit-for-tat fight between the representative and Democrats.

The Unite the Right rally held August 12 was attended by avowed white nationalist Richard Spencer, who helped lead a torchlit rally around a statue of Confederate army general Robert E. Lee in central Charlottesville the night before. Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer website also promoted and defended the event online.

White supremacist Christopher Cantwell turned himself in to police at the end of August after finding out he was wanted on two counts of illegal use of tear gas and other gases. Hundreds of photos and videos on social media attest to the fact that the event was attended by neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan and the so-called alt-right, a white nationalist movement.

Yet that’s all bunk according to Rohrabacher, who pinned the events on a former “Hillary and Bernie supporter” who got Civil War re-enactors together to protect the statue of Lee, which would be removed under a proposal before Charlottesville’s City Council.

“It was a setup for these dumb Civil War re-enactors,” Rohrabacher said of the Charlottesville rally.

All this, he claims, was a ruse to box in President Donald Trump over the issue of racism in America. On the day of the rally and at a press conference at Trump Tower a couple of days later, the president said blame for the violence fell “on both sides.” His response hurt his approval ratings among Republicans who saw his statements as divisive.

Rohrabacher’s claims are “disturbing,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) said Thursday. The group works to elect Democrats to the House of Representatives.

Both Rohrabacher’s claims and the DCCC’s response are the latest in a feud between the hard-right representative and Democrats who see him as a major Republican problem.


“Embattled Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, now apparently a person of interest to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation, has no business chairing the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee that oversees Russia,” said DCCC spokesman Tyler Law at the end of August.

Law called for Rohrabacher to be stripped of his post chairing the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, which handles issues covering Russia-U.S. relations. The issue is particularly sensitive after U.S. intelligence agencies issued reports earlier this year that Moscow directed a campaign to sway the election toward Trump.

Rohrabacher told the Chronicle that these findings are “total bull” and that the reports are “full of weasel words.”

The Democrats went after the representative after congressional sources told CNN the Senate Intelligence Committee is considering calling Rohrabacher to answer questions after he met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London last month. During his meeting, Rohrabacher was flanked by Chuck Johnson, the operator of conspiracy theorist website GotNews.com, who has ties to alt-right conspiracy theorists.

WikiLeaks released emails that U.S. intelligence agencies said with “high confidence” were stolen by Russian intelligence from the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Rohrabacher said he wants to debrief Trump on what Assange told him.

According to Rohrabacher, Assange insisted he was not behind the leak of the Democratic National Committee emails last year.

House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chair Ed Royce’s failure to strip Rohrabacher of his position shows he is “unwilling to put country before party and unserious about the need to stop Russia from meddling in our elections,” Law said.

“The DCCC, obviously embarrassed by the DNC’s antics last year, does not know how to think strategically about foreign affairs and has descended to the guilt-by-association tactics reminiscent of America’s Red Scares,” Rohrabacher’s spokesman, Ken Grubbs, told Newsweek, in an email last month. “It compounds its own embarrassment.”

Rouda, again, busy talking with CA-48 voters about jobs and healthcare, took a minute to shake his head at Rohrabacher's most recent public display of bizarre eccentricity. "His latest conspiracy theory is really troubling," he told us this morning. "It is disturbing enough when he does the bidding of Julian Assange and Vladamir Putin, but now he is defending literal Nazis who killed an innocent American. We have a president who not only employs white supremacists, he claims there are good people attending these rallies and chanting anti-semitic and racist slurs. Now we have a congressman who says it was all 'a set up.' This madness has to end. Standing up to Nazis shouldn't be partisan. If Dana Rohrabacher is too afraid to denounce this hatred, he shouldn't be in Congress representing any corner of this country."

Oh, one more thing: remember the Panama papers? I bet Rohrabacher does too. McCarthy may have thought he was joking about Rohrabacher being on Putin's payroll. But Rohrabacher and Putin knew better.
Rohrabacher has been friends with Putin since the early 90’s when he famously lost a drunken arm-wrestling match with the then deputy mayor of St. Petersburg who was visiting Washington.

Five years ago, the FBI warned Rohrabacher he was being targeted by the Kremlin as an agent of influence. The congressman rebuffed the warning but his legislative record appears to back up concerns he’s somehow compromised.

Rohrabacher sided with Russia when Moscow invaded Georgia and opposed U.S. support of Ukraine. In September, he called the White House to push for a pardon of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, who released the hacked DNC emails last year.

But nothing gets Putin and Rohrabacher’s back up more than the Magnitsky Act. The 2012 sanctions bill was enacted in response to the prison murder of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who had exposed a scheme by Putin and his oligarchs to embezzle $230 million stolen from taxpayers.

Since then, Putin has waged a diplomatic war to get the sanctions dropped. First, he banned U.S adoption of Russian children. He then put together a strike team-- lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin-- to work on getting the sanctions lifted and he reached out to his old friend Dana Rohrabacher.

In 2014, Rohrabacher and his assistant Paul Behrends took a secret three day trip to Moscow. In the months following their return colleagues noticed a softening of their position on Russia.

Behrends also became the chief congressional contact for Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin (he has since been fired from his post on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee).

A year later, a whistle-blower leaked a full registry of off-shore companies known as the Panama Papers which exposed the corrupt dealings of world leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Iceland, South Africa, Qatar, UAE and Russia.

The papers exposed Putin’s theft of $2 billion stolen from Russians and transferred into offshore companies registered to his friends. The Magnitsky Act means those assets could be frozen. Putin is enraged by the sanctions because they hit his own personal fortune held in these offshore holdings.

The other connective tissue between Rohrabacher and Russia’s efforts to end the Magnitsky sanctions is Yuri Vanetik, a self-proclaimed financier and Republican official. Vanetik is a Rohrabacher donor and lives in California but was still somehow appointed the National Finance Co-Chair of the New York GOP in March.

Vanetik was born in Soviet Ukraine in 1970 and claims his family fled to the U.S. to avoid “political persecution.” This is striking because his father Anatoly was a major political and business figure in the Soviet Union working directly with the Russian Oil Ministry even after the fall of the USSR. In 2014, Yuri penned an op-ed calling for the U.S. to drop sanctions against Russia.

He claims a career in law but we couldn’t find any records of him being admitted to the bar in California, although he was licensed in Pennsylvania. He’s been embroiled in two lawsuits for allegedly defrauding investors in of Valueluck and Private Equity Management Group.

In February last year, Vanetik and several business leaders started the “Great America PAC” to help elect Trump. The PAC was well-funded with $26 million and was willing to accept donations from anyone, no matter how legal.

An undercover investigation by the Telegraph exposed PAC officials accepting a donation offer from reporters posing as Chinese donors, in exchange for implied promises from the new administration.

Vanetik also has financial ties to both Russia and Trump properties. In 2007, Vanetik bought a unit at the Trump Ocean Tower in Panama City. Trump Towers are viewed as a vehicle for Russians to launder money with Trump skimming off the top by charging overblown “management fees.” In 2011, Vanetik invested in Terra Resources, a U.K. based company with plans to develop Russian oil fields.

Rohrabacher and Vanetik traveled to Berlin together in April and posted an Instagram photo of their dinner with anti-Magnitsky documentarian Andrei Nekrasov.

During the same trip to Berlin, Rohrabacher met Putin lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin in a hotel lobby. When asked about Akmetshin’s possible ties to Russian intelligence agencies, Rohrabacher told CNN: “I would certainly not rule that out.”

Rohrabacher and Behrends also traveled to Moscow as part of a congressional delegation to Moscow where they received a “confidential” Russian document alleging the world was wrong about Magnitsky.  The Kremlin also gave the duo access to the aforementioned Russian documentary about Magnitsky. The document and film claimed human rights activist and Magnitsky sanctions champion Bill Browder lied about Putin’s money laundering.

Weeks later, Akhmetsin and a colleague showed up unannounced at Rohrabacher’s congressional office. “They said they were lobbying on behalf of a Russian company called Prevezon and asked us to delay the Global Magnitsky Act or at least remove Magnitsky from the name,” a congressional staffer told the Daily Beast.

On June 9, Akhmetshin and Veselnitskaya visited Trump Tower where they met Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner for a meeting arranged to hand over dirt on Hillary Clinton to the Trump Campaign.

A few days later, Rohrabacher attempted to stage a “show trial” of Bill Browder in the form of a congressional hearing. “During the hearing, Rohrabacher had planned to confront Browder with a feature-length pro-Kremlin propaganda movie that viciously attacks him-- as well as at least two witnesses linked to the Russian authorities, including lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya,” according to the Daily Beast.

When senior Republicans caught wind of the plan, the hearing was cancelled. Browder instead later testified in front of a full committee. The treasury and state departments are now implementing the sanctions.

Vladimir Putin’s extraordinary efforts to get the Magnitsky sanctions dropped using a web of Russian and Republican operatives, and their vocal opposition to the Panama Papers, raises a tantalizing question: Just how much looted Russian cash is stashed in the shell companies detailed in the Panama Papers and is it connected to Veselnitskaya, Akhmetsin, Vanetik and Rohrabacher themselves?

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Señor Trumpanzee's Speech This Morning Didn't Go Over That Well

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My pal Roland texted me moments after Trump got up in front of the UN and he appeared relieved (and duped): "He sounds as normal as any American president." Another minute or two passed before his next text: "He's out of his mind, going crazy in front of the UN... attacking everyone." Let's see... what's the population of North Korea that he threatened to "totally destroy?" Ah, yes... 25.37 million, most of whom are the victims of the fascist state there. "Hey Roland, I don't remember any other American president-- or even any Brits-- quoting Elton John before. You?" By the end of the speech Roland was relieved Trump didn't take off his shoe and start banging it it on the lectern but he did end our text conversation as he entered his classroom in Compton by sending me this message: "Whatever else you might think of Trump, you have to admit he's stupid and he's very dangerous."
She packed my bags last night, preflight
Zero hour, nine a.m.
And I'm gonna be high
As a kite by then

I miss the earth so much
I miss my wife
It's lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight

And I think it's gonna be a long, long, time
'Til touchdown brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no no no
I'm a rocket man
Rocket man
Burnin' out this fuse
Up here alone




And I think it's gonna be a long, long, time
'Til touchdown brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no no no
I'm a rocket man
Rocket man
Burnin' out this fuse
Up here alone

Mars ain't the kind of place

To raise your kids
In fact, it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them
If you did

And all this science

I don't understand
It's just my job
Five days a week
A rocket man
Rocket Man

And I think it's gonna be a long, long, time

'Til touchdown brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Ah, no no no...
I'm a rocket man
Rocket man
Burnin' out this fuse
Up here alone

And I think it's gonna be a long, long, time

'Til touchdown brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Ah, no no no...
I'm a rocket man
Rocket man
Burnin' out this fuse
Up here alone
Eric Bauman is the chairman of the California Democratic Party. He has a way with words: "Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly should terrify every American. It’s clear that the peace and safety of the world is caught up between two crazy men locked in a contest to see whose rockets are bigger and shoot farther. The neocons cheering on Trump’s reckless bluster should keep in mind the fact that tens of thousands of American soldiers stationed in South Korea and hundreds of thousands of innocent Korean citizens could be killed in the opening moments of the war Donald Trump just threatened-- just as they should remember that a war between two nuclear powers could easily spill out of control and kill hundreds of millions of people. For the safety and security of the world, Congress must act to constrain Trump’s ability to drag us into a long, bloody war over his pathetic, macho posturing."

I'm guessing that when Señor Trumpanzee spouted that "If the righteous many don’t confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph," we were all thinking the same thing about who the wicked few are. Unfortunately many were also interpreting this in a different way from what Trumpanzee meant it to mean: "The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos." And everyone shuddered when the orange baboon said the world faces "great peril."

The Guardian's Jerusalem correspondent, Peter Beaumont, told his readers that Netanyahu "could have written the section on Iran so closely does it ally with his own views on the threat posed by Tehran." Netanyahu: "In my more than 30 years at the UN, I have never heard such a brave and clear speech. President Trump told the truth about the world’s lurking dangers, and called for them to be addressed with fortitude, to ensure the future of mankind."

I asked a friend of mine who's part of France's delegation to the UN what kind of reaction Trump's rant was getting there. He told me most people expected Trump to brag about his electoral victory over Clinton. He also said he won a bet with a diplomat from Chad about whether Trump would criticize Russia and another bet with a diplomat from India about whether or not Trump would demand Mexico pay for his wall. The Venezuelan foreign minister:




I'm sure Paul Ryan will claim to be delighted with Trump's rant. But he progressive opponent in Wisconsin, Randy Bryce was anything but delighted: "I couldn’t believe what I heard come out of Donald Trump’s mouth this morning. In front of the assembled United Nations delegates he threatened to annihilate North Korea while referring to their leader as 'rocket man.' I fully understand that North Korea is an issue, but, to antagonize them in such a high school manner is outrageous. He also went on to slam an agreement that we have entered into with Iran while snubbing them as well. This isn’t leadership-- this is being a bully. This is how to make America hated. If we don’t take back Congress in 2018, we very well may see ourselves being considered as a rogue nation."



Doug Applegate, Ted Lieu, Randy Bryce

Last night Ted Lieu hosted an event for his Manhattan Beach constituents and invited Randy and to be his guest. This morning he and Randy were obviously on the same page about the UN rant. Ted: "President Trump’s speech to the United Nations will be remembered not for rallying the international community around our common challenges, but instead for threatening another nation with annihilation. Let us be clear: the issue is not whether the U.S. is capable of destroying North Korea, but rather whether we are willing to allow South Korea, Japan, and potentially Guam to be destroyed in the process-- along with hundreds of thousands of American lives. Name-calling and brash rhetoric make America neither great nor safe. I am also disappointed that President Trump failed to include a single mention of climate change, which poses an existential threat to America and the world."

Matt Cartwright (D-PA) is one of the few progressive Democrats who represents a district Trump won in. He told us he joins "with most Americans in believing that military action is a very last resort, and must be entertained only after all diplomatic efforts have failed. Saber-rattling and name-calling do not count as diplomacy. The United States should be looking for ways to de-escalate this conflict, not turn it into a nuclear crisis. We should be turning our energies toward lining up international support for more crippling sanctions, not impairing our own credibility with Twitter rants. We should be thinking about how to give this dictator a path to a face-saving retraction of his nuclear ambitions, not provoking him with loudmouth schoolyard taunts. I am thinking of the hundreds of thousands of American citizens in that region, and I do not like where this is going."

After reading his teleprompter speech Bannon didn't write for him, he casually told reporters, "I think the United Nations has great, great potential."


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