Friday, February 24, 2017

Personal Hitler-- Punch A Nazi


I can't stop watching this video... What a pity it ends so quickly!

I was involved with Depeche Mode's career right from the very beginning, when I was a dj at KUSF in San Francisco playing the "Dreaming of Me," "New Life" and "Just Can't Get Enough" singles in 1980 even before Mute (and Sire) released Speak & Spell, their debut album the following year. Soon after, I became general manager of Sire Records and the first task label head Seymour Stein assigned me was to "break Depeche Mode in America." Years later, when I became president of Reprise Records, the very first band I asked to leave Warner Bros and join Reprise was Depeche Mode. I got to know them pretty well, as a band and as individuals. If Nazis liked their music, it was because they didn't quote understand what the band was saying-- which wasn't all that obscure. "People Are People" was one of their massive worldwide hits:

People are people
So why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully
So we're different colours
And we're different creeds
And different people have different needs
It's obvious you hate me
Though I've done nothing wrong
I've never even met you so what could I have done
I can't understand
What makes a man
Hate another man
Help me understand
American neo-Nazi Richard Spencer-- who said the other day that "Depeche Mode is the official band of the alt-right"-- may have been attracted to Fletch's shiny leatherette cap in the "New Life" video, but there's nothing Nazi or fascist about Depeche Mode. Quite the opposite. Have you watched their new Anton Corbijn-directed video, "Where's the Revolution" from the new album, Stark?

Looks to me like Dave is heaping scorn on a certain fascist pig Spencer adores. The band has always seemed to me to be coming from a distinctly progressive anti-fascist perspective. Spencer made his dumb statement as he was being kicked out of CPAC, too extreme even for the closet fascists in the Trump camp who now control the conservative movement. And in case that wasn't clear enough, after Spencer's statement of affinity, the band disowned them through a spokesman: ""That's pretty ridiculous. Depeche Mode has no ties to Richard Spencer or the alt right and does not support the alt right movement."

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Who Will You Blame When Jeff Sessions Starts Locking People Up For Smoking A Joint?


I bet there are a lot of House Democrats relieved that they don't have to go on the record voting for or against Trump's nominees for the Cabinet From Hell. Only the Senate votes on nominations-- and all the Democratic senators had the good sense to vote against Betsy DeVos and Tom Price. These two are going to make millions of Americans very unhappy, one by screwing up public education and the other by screwing up healthcare. Even the worst of the worst reactionary fake Democrats-- a Heidi Heitkamp, a Joe Manchin, a Joe Donnelly or a Claire McCaskill knew better than to hitch a rid of those two runaway trains to eternal infamy. I thought the same would go for Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, the KKK Senator from Alabama who was confirmed February 8 to be Attorney General, 52-47. But one of the bad Dems-- Joe Manchin-- did vote to confirm sessions Sessions.

When Sessions swung into action this week-- targeting transgender children, re-upping with the private prison industry, backing up Trump's draconian round-ups of immigrants and preparing to start up the dismally failed war on drugs by targeting states that have legalized marijuana, did you wonder who was at fault? When Sessions starts turning the private prisons into concentration camps, Americans should blame everyone who voted to confirm him-- i.e., all the esteemed Republican senators plus West Virginia's Joe Manchin.

Recently a friend asked me if I wanted to invest in a marijuana ice cream business here in California. It appears to be a good opportunity-- except for one factor: Jeff Sessions. I passed on the opportunity. Except for on the days Neil young delivered a new album to me personally, I had given up on marijuana in 1969. Recently, my body wracked with the gruesome impacts of chemo treatment side effects, my doctor urged me to try ameliorating the horror show with some marijuana oil. I was reluctant but finally did it. I had been unable to sleep and unable to eat, which means unable to heal. The first time I took a tiny bit on marijuana oil I slept like a log and woke up starving. I had lost between 60 and 70 pounds and looked like I had escaped from one of Jeff Sessions' future concentration camps. But the marijuana oil soon had me packing on the pounds again... and I was soon traveling around the world to places like Thailand, Russia and Azerbaijan. I'm looking forward to a trip to Tierra del Fuego again.

Sessions isn't going to Tierra del Fuego or anywhere else. He's looking for a brawl with the pro-marijuana folks-- and that includes a lot of Trump supporters. Joseph Mulkerin wrote yesterday in The Observer that that battle is tantamount to political suicide for anyone who tries to turn back the hands of time on this issue. On the same day Trump was (kind of) elected, the marijuana legalization movement "had enjoyed perhaps its greatest electoral success to date, as voters in eight states approved either recreational or medical cannabis. Just 10 days later, however, activists were forced to grapple with the potential of Sessions, a man who repeatedly chastised the Obama justice department for its failure to enforce federal drug laws being elevated to the highest office in the land."

Brian Vincente, one of the nation’s leading marijuana attorneys and the former campaign director of Colorado’s 2012 ballot initiative argued that, with the crucial role the burgeoning cannabis industry had come to play in the state’s economy, it would be difficult for Sessions to role back progress on the issue if he tried.

“You have 28 states with medical marijuana. Eight states with legalization, there is a lot of government bureaucracy that is supportive of marijuana legalization. Our state generates about $200 million dollars a year in tax revenue. So there’s a lot of entrenched interests and I could see this being a tough battle for Sessions to take on.” Vincente further argued that resistance to federal enforcement could even take the form of jury nullification. “I’ve tried a number of cases in front of juries, and when they know that they and their neighbors voted to legalize marijuana we have prosecutors trying to put people in jail for something that should not be a crime.”

Jeremy Ettinger, a DC-based marijuana activist, also expressed confidence that direct public pressure could bring politicians to bear. In December he led a group into Sessions’ office, where he said he had a “very good,” 45-minute exchange with Sessions’ staff. Ettinger argued that his group had set out to “build some goodwill” with Sessions, and that Sessions’ confirmation hearing-- in which he took a markedly less extreme tone on the issue-- was a testament to their success. “He was a gentleman. A gentleman doesn’t say people who abuse marijuana are ‘not good people.’”

Although Ettinger acknowledged Sessions had an “implicit bias” which prejudiced him against Cannabis users, Ettinger ultimately predicted that because the White House was intrinsically seeking “less controversy” the issue would be a relatively low priority for the justice department.

The medical marijuana community has articulated its own set of concerns. Although the Rohrbacher-Farr Amendment currently prohibits the justice department from using federal funds against medical marijuana patients, it is slated to expire on April 28. In anticipation of a potential crackdown, Americans for Safer Access, which lobbies on behalf of medical cannabis, is bringing thousands of activists to DC to lobby representatives for its renewal. Beth Collins, ASA’s director of legislative, stressed that Rohrbacher-Farr was the only tool medical patients had to protect them in the event of a draconian crackdown.

“The problem is, under federal law, [Sessions] would be operating legally… In a federal Court he would not be using States’ rights; you can’t use the defense that ‘I’m a medical patient in my state.’”

Steve Sarich, a prominent Washington-based medical activist had a markedly more optimistic outlook. Sarich expressed confidence that, given Trump’s own longstanding support for medical, Sessions’ prohibitionist tendencies would be kept in check. “He’s gonna do exactly what the fuck he’s told or he’s gonna be fired-- and you know that Trump made that real clear to him.”

Trump’s stance on recreational, by contrast, has wavered considerably over the years. In 1990 he called for the legalization of all drugs. By 2015 however, he came out as an opponent, claiming legalization in Colorado had gone “very bad.” Although Trump affirmed that he still favored allowing the states to decide, the appointment of Sessions would suggest his commitment is tepid at best. Given Trump’s personal antipathy, it isn’t all that hard to imagine his giving the green light to Sessions to authorize federal crackdowns.

The one thing which might give him pause are the political ramifications. With Trump already facing significant backlash for his immigration policy and controversial executive orders, going after marijuana and against the will of the millions of Americans who voted for it this past November would almost be politically suicidal.

After Spicer's announcement yesterday there were, predictably, quite a few reactions from industry leaders. Here are a few:
Christie Strong, Marketing Communications Manager of Kiva Confections:

“Over 60% of Americans supports cannabis legalization. It is one of the few bi-partisan issues that actually has the potential to unite us right now. Our country and many of our citizens are still recovering from the devastation of a failed Drug War- it would be a crime to waste any more resources prohibiting adult access to this safe, effective medicine.”

Steve Gormley, CEO of Seventh Point LLC

"Sean Spicer's comments on recreational marijuana seem to be a disturbing departure from Trump's purported position on States' rights. We will have to see how this plays out. I suspect this issue will end up being litigated at the Supreme Court.  Let's not forget however, this is the same guy who falsely reported on the attendance on the inauguration."

Jeffrey Zucker, President of Green Lion Partners

“The comments from Secretary Spicer are ignorant and disappointing, although not unexpected. The cannabis industry will fight any pressure from the federal government to set back the significant progress that's been made thus far. The incredibly positive medical, social, and economic impact cannabis legalization has had on regulated states is undeniable. Singling out the Adult-Use market is short-sighted. Perhaps most importantly, it's ignoring the will of the people, which national polls now show are in favor of full legalization. Offering safe and regulated cannabis serves to eliminate the illegitimate market and racial disparity in enforcement. I hope that the administration takes the time to truly immerse and educate themselves on cannabis before making any destructive decisions.”

Derek Peterson, CEO of Terra Tech:

"Today's news coming out of the administration regarding the adult use of cannabis is, of course, disappointing. We have hoped and still hope that the federal government will respect states' rights in the same manner they have on several other issues. The economic impact, job creation, and tax collection associated with both medical and recreational legalization have been tremendous throughout the country. We hope the new administration really takes the time to understand that the money is either going into the states' coffers or making its way to drug cartels. We also hope that the states make a point of defending their independence in regards to this and protect their constituents."

Isaac Dietrich, CEO of MassRoots:

"Colorado is one of the only states in the nation that is seeing a decline in opioid deaths -- that's not a coincidence. Cannabis is a healthy alternative to pain pills and heroin, not a gateway to it. I have a feeling our stock is going to take a beating tomorrow, but that just creates an opportunity for investors who believe in the long-term trajectory of the cannabis market. As a medical-cannabis focused app, I believe MassRoots will actually benefit from this policy as it will cut off funding for our competitors."

Danny Davis, Convectium, Managing Partner:

"We are hopeful that Mr. Spicer’s comments are not representative of the entire administration.  Many of the states who helped elect President Trump just voted to also support recreational marijuana; it is hard to imagine that he would push an agenda with the support ratings where they are.  As an equipment company we represent both the recreational and medicinal markets, but we would hate to see an action that would stop the current multi-state momentum for recreational."
The release yesterday of the new Quinnipiac poll showed that although Americans elected (kind of elected) a Republican president and a Republican Congress, voters disagree with Republican policy across the board. And marijuana policy is no exception. Other than the Jeff Sessions demographic-- old white Republicans-- everyone wants marijuana legal. The findings on pot:
Marijuana should be made legal in the U.S., voters say 59 - 36 percent. Republicans are opposed 61 - 35 percent and voters over 65 years old are opposed 51 - 42 percent. Every other party, gender, education, age and racial group listed supports legalized marijuana.

Voters support 93 - 6 percent legalized marijuana for medical purposes if prescribed by a doctor.

The government should not enforce federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana use, voters say 71 - 23 percent. Voters in every listed group support this position.

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What does Joan Didion's 1970 Gulf Coast road trip have to do with Tuesday's episode of "The Real O'Neals"?


On the day of KENNY's sister SHANNON's confirmation, boyfriend BRETT (Sean Grandillo) approaches KENNY (Noah Galvin) in the hallway of St. Barklay Church, carrying a small gift-wrapped box. (Watch the clip here.)
KENNY: Hey! [They kiss.]

BRETT: I brought a gift. Is that weird?
KENNY [smiling awkwardly]: No, great wrapping job! [Pause, turns serious] Uh, look, I have to talk to you.
BRETT: Okay.
KENNY: Yesterday, you said, 'I love you.' Which, which was so incredible to hear. And then I said it back. Which wasn't [hesitates] entirely true.
BRETT: Okay.
KENNY: Because, while I feel so many amazing things for you, love just isn't one of them, yet.
BRETT: I knew you were freaking out. I --
KENNY: No, that's -- You're my first boyfriend, and I don't know how I'm supposed to be feeling, or how fast I'm supposed to be feeling it. I, I don't want to screw this up. Can you forgive me?
BRETT: Yeah. Sure. [Pause] Then maybe we should hit the pause button.
KENNY: What? No, Brett that is not --
BRETT [handing gift to KENNY]: Tell Shannon I said congratulations. [Turns around and walks quickly off.]
-- from "The Real Confirmation," Episode 13
of Season 2 of ABC's The Real O'Neals

"Do you ever miss those times when we used to hide all our secrets and swallow our feelings?"
-- Eileen O'Neal (Kenny's mom), in Tuesday's episode

by Ken

Funny how things connect. As I wrote Wednesday, the considerable pleasure I was taking in Tuesday night's episodes of The Middle and especially The Real O'Neals kind of slammed into the New York Review of Books review-essay by Nathaniel Rich, "Joan Didion in the Deep South" (in the March 9 issue; unfortunately only an abstract is available free to nonsubscribers), of a highly unusual new offering from one of the most important writers of our time.

I hadn't known anything about the new Didion book, South and West (scheduled for publication on March 7), which turns out to be different from anything she has published before. It is, if I've got this right, a direct look at her work process: the notes she partly wrote and partly assembled for two writing projects that never came to fruition.

The "South" part is the record of a month-long trip along the Gulf Coast that Didion took in summer 1970. By way of background, Nathaniel Rich notes:
Joan Didion explained her decision to visit the Gulf Coast in a 2006 interview in The Paris Review: “I had a theory that if I could understand the South, I would understand something about California, because a lot of the California settlers came from the Border South.”
Rich goes on to observe:
It is a counterintuitive theory, for the South and the West represent the poles of American experience—the South drowning in its past, the West looking ahead to distant frontiers in a spirit of earnest, eternal optimism. “The future always looks good in the golden land,” Didion wrote in “Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream,” “because no one remembers the past.” In the South no one can forget it.
Understanding her native California has, of course, been a life-long preoccupation for Didion, and the notes that make up the "West" portion of the new book derive from a 1976 visit to San Francisco covering the Patty Hearst trial for Rolling Stone, when she "found that she wanted mainly to write about her own childhood and the West’s conception of history."


This requires a considerable effort of explanation, but the short answer, as Rich puts it, is that "South and West offers for the first time a glimpse inside the factory walls." Here's his more extended background:
Didion’s notes, which surpass in elegance and clarity the finished prose of most other writers, are a fascinating record of this time. But they are also something more unsettling. Readers today will recognize, with some dismay and even horror, how much is familiar in these long-lost American portraits. Didion saw her era more clearly than anyone else, which is another way of saying that she was able to see the future.

South and West is, in one regard, the most revealing of Didion’s books. This might seem a far-fetched claim to make about an author who has written about her ancestry, her marriage, her health, and, with painful candor, her grief -- Didion’s readers are, after all, on familiar terms with the personal details of her life. But the writing itself -- the cool majesty of her prose, written as if from a great, even empyreal distance, elevating personal experience into universal revelation -- has an immaculacy as intimidating as Chelsea porcelain. South and West offers for the first time a glimpse inside the factory walls.

For each piece she reported, Didion converted pages of loose-leaf notebooks into scrapbooks of material related to her theme. She inserted newspaper articles and other writers’ works, like C. Vann Woodward’s “The Search for Southern Identity,” biographical summaries, lists of suggested themes, and overheard dialogue, which often seems taken from one of her novels. (“I never been anyplace,” says a Biloxi woman, “I wanted to go.”) In her notes we learn of her “reporting tricks,” which are less tricks than an intuitive genius for locating the people in a given community who will best reveal its character: the director of the local College of Cosmetology, the white owner of the black radio station, the bridal consultant of the largest department store.

The notebooks also include transcriptions of her observations, which she typed at the end of each day. These notes represent an intermediate stage of writing, between shorthand and first draft, composed in an uncharacteristically casual, immediate style. There are sentences that are ideas for sentences, paragraphs that are ideas for scenes: “The land looks rich, and many people from Birmingham, etc. (rich people) maintain places here to hunt.” “The country way in which he gave me names.” “The resolutely ‘colorful,’ anecdotal quality of San Francisco history.” “The sense of sports being the opiate of the people.” “The sense of not being up to the landscape.” The effect can be jarring, like seeing Grace Kelly photographed with her hair in rollers or hearing the demo tapes in which Brian Wilson experiments with alternative arrangements of “Good Vibrations.”
"[E]ven in its most casual iteration," Rich notes, "Didion’s voice, with its sensitivity to the grotesqueries and vanities that dance beneath the skim of daily experience, is unmistakable." And he provides lots of description and example.


Well, with The Middle, not so much. In this case it's just that, for a show that I like so much, as I've written here a number of times, I'm surprised to find myself even fonder and more impressed in Season 8, with all three of the Heck children showing fascinating signs of perhaps surprising and yet (for me) totally believable and rather inspirational growing up -- and now even the senior Hecks, Frankie (Patricia Heaton) and Mike (Neil Flynn) having to roust themselves to catch up. The process has been so smartly and humanly as well as entertainingly executed that I've found myself wondering whether the suits at Disney-ABC have even noticed what's going out over their airwaves. Hey, it is Season 8, after all. The Middle has always, in its wry way, thumbed its nose at the psychotic bullshit of America's own Family-Values Fascists, but in this late flowering it's articulating a vision of how people actually develop which would have the FVFs boycotting ABC if they weren't so savagely obtuse.

Which brings us to The Real O'Neals. You know the network suits are paying close attention here, because the subject matter is potentially so explosive for a sitcom. It's another show built around a family with a mom and dad, Eileen and Pat O'Neal (Martha Plimpton and Jay R. Ferguson), and three offspring (Matthew Shively as Jimmy, Noah Galvin as Kenny, and Bebe Wood as Shannon), all beautifully delineated and with the various interrelationships carefully characterized. But what everyone knows about it is that in last season's pilot episode Kenny O'Neal, then 16, came out to himself and his family as gay.

That by itself would have been sufficient to cause an uproar, and the Christian Right exploded on cue. Not least because the situation wasn't presented as a psychiatric emergency but as a natural development -- and almost the least of the O'Neal family's problems. In fact, as we entered the O'Neals' lives, Eileen and Pat were coming to the realization that the one thing most sorely lacking in their marriage was a divorce (a deficiency that has since been rectified). Even more subversively, in the O'Neals we met a family that -- as rigidly enforced by Eileen -- was so hilariously devoted to maintaining the image of a model Irish-American Catholic family that the family was in danger of falling apart when the image turned out to be just that.

I imagine there was more apoplexy on the Crackpot Right when, after a 13-episode first season, The Real O'Neals was rewarded with a second season. Yet here it is, maybe not the most significant but another of those things that just a few years ago would have been utterly unimaginable. Or maybe the fact that it's now possible to do such a light-hearted sitcom about such once-barely-touchable subject matter is one of the more significant markers of how much the culture has evolved, in some ways almost unrecognizably so.


We have to go back to Nathaniel Rich, and his careful depiction of the play of values Didion encountered in the Deep South of 1970.
There is a long tradition of northern visitors seeing in the Gulf South an atmosphere of perpetual decline, in which “everything seems to go to seed.” Didion quotes Audubon’s line about “the dangerous nature of the ground, its oozing, spongy, and miry disposition,” though you could go back to 1720, when a visiting French official described the territory as “flooded, unhealthy, impracticable.” Didion is on narrower footing, however, when she describes her central thesis:
a sense which struck me now and then, and which I could not explain coherently, that for some years the South and particularly the Gulf Coast had been for America what people were still saying California was, and what California seemed to me not to be: the future, the secret source of malevolent and benevolent energy, the psychic center.
How could the hidebound South, in its perpetual disintegration and defiant decadence, at the same time represent the future? Didion admits the idea seems oxymoronic, but she is onto something. Part of the answer, she suspects, lies in the bluntness with which Southerners confront race, class, and heritage -- “distinctions which the frontier ethic teaches western children to deny and to leave deliberately unmentioned.” In the South such distinctions are visible, rigid, and the subject of frank conversation.
After looking a bit at the nature of that "frank conversation," Rich writes:
This kind of thinking seemed retrograde in the Seventies. From the vantage of New York, California, even New Orleans, it still seems so today. But this southern frame of mind has annexed territory in the last four decades, expanding across the Mason-Dixon Line into the rest of rural America. It has taken root among people -- or at least registered voters -- nostalgic for a more orderly past.
Do you see where Rich is heading? What in fact Joan Didion was already foreseeing in 1970? It's going to take us one more post to get there. That should happen Sunday.

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Overreach Can Be A Two-Way Street


Two things are likely to kill the House Republicans in the 2018 midterms: Trump and overreach by Ryan and his team. And the worst possible GOP overreach will be-- as you've probably been noticing of you've watched the news on the town halls around the country-- health care. If the far right fringe of the House Rep[ublicans-- and by far right fringe, we mean something between 65% to 80% at this point-- pushes the party to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a satisfactory replacement and tampers with Medicaid and Medicare in the directions Paul Ryan has been pushing for years, they will lose their majority no matter how lame and incompetent-- something everyone takes for granted-- the DCCC is this cycle.

It's already apparent in the grassroots resistance movement. And polling, even in deep red states like South Carolina and Texas looks bad for Trump. This new poll of GA-06 special election voters augers well for Jon Ossoff:

And The Economist/YouGov poll released yesterday is more catastrophric news for the Regime. People don't like the direction Trump and his team are moving the country:
- on the wrong track- 51%
it's everyone for themselves- 60%
US will be less respected internationally after 4 years of Trump- 42%
US will be less safe from terrorism after 4 years of Trump- 31%
uneasy about Trump's ability to handle Russia- 49%
Trump White House in chaos- 49%
Trump is dishonest & untrustworthy- 49%
Trump is unqualified to be president- 50%
Trump will get us into a war- 51%
The same poll also shows that a plurality of Americans are ready to blame the Republicans for whatever Congress does wrong. And the Trump regime's whole "Russia thing" ain't health care but it is something Americans are concerned about. Voters don't like or trust Putin and are concerned with Trump and Trump's team's coziness with him. Democrats have been attempting to get a non-partisan investigation of Trump's ties to Russia, including his business conflicts of interest. Ryan plans to have his Judiciary Committee stooge, Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), kill that next week. I wonder what voters in Kenosha and Racine would think of that if they ever found out, which is very unlikely.
Seeking to avoid a full House vote on the so-called “resolution of inquiry”-- a roll call that would be particularly embarrassing and divisive for the right-- Republicans will send proposal by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) to the House Judiciary Committee for a panel vote on Tuesday, two Democratic sources said. The GOP-controlled committee is expected to kill the resolution... [T]he Tuesday vote will come just a few hours before Trump will give his first address to Congress. Indeed, Democrats are fuming that Republicans are trying to bury the panel vote by scheduling it on a busy news day.

Resolutions of inquiry are rare in Congress and privileged, meaning lawmakers can circumvent leadership and force action on the floor if they’re ignored for 14 legislative days.

The resolutions can force presidents and agencies to give Congress private records. Nadler’s, for example, demands that Attorney General Jeff Sessions hand over to the Hill “any document, record, memo, correspondence or other communication” pertaining to “criminal or counterintelligence investigations” related to Trump, White House staff or his business.

Democrats have blasted Trump for failing to make a clean break from his real estate empire, accusing him of being vulnerable to conflicts of interest. They also are suspicious of his campaign’s relationship with Russia. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that top Russian officials orchestrated interference into the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf.

The mark-up will likely prove awkward for Judiciary Committee Republicans who will have to block the resolution. Judiciary member and Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) just last week, for instance, faced sharp questions from constituents who accused him of steering the Oversight panel's agenda to protect Trump.

Though Chaffetz pointed to a letter he wrote around that time, calling out Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway for pitching Ivanka Trump’s fashion line during a televised interview at the White House, there’s little doubt Democrats would use the Judiciary vote against him.

Richard Eskow had some very, very cautious advice for progressives dealing with Putin-Gate and the Trump-Russia ties. Acknowledging that Putin and Trump are oligarchs who favor kleptocracy as a form of government and that both Trump and Tillerson have done business in Russia, he sets forth 11 principles about how to talk about the ugliness effectively. Some of it is incontrovertible-- "Whatever you call it, recognize that the 'deep state' is not your friend-- and some of it, alas, is less so. Here's a summary:
1. Don’t get ahead of the facts.

I don’t know yet whether Russia’s government interfered in the U.S. presidential election or not. Neither do you.

2. Don’t Putin-bait.

3. Don’t spread inaccurate or poorly sourced news.

A Clinton campaign official incorrectly said that some of the WikiLeaks emails were forged. That claim was repeated by Reid and several other prominent figures. Another inaccurate story in the Washington Post claimed that Russians had hacked into the U.S. power grid through a Vermont utility’s computer system. (The Post later retracted the report.) And a post-election poll showed that 50 percent of Hillary Clinton voters wrongly believed that Russians had hacked American voting machines.

MTV News correspondent Jamil Smith tweeted that one of Trump’s compliments for Vladimir Putin was “borderline treasonous.” But Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution defines treason quite clearly. It requires a state of war. Was Trump’s comment disturbing? Yes. Treasonous? No.

Do Democrats really want to start charging their political opponents with treason?

4. Don’t believe everything you’re told.

There are a number of unanswered questions, challenges and technical flaws regarding reports that Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee.

5. Be wary of labels slapped on media outlets.

That wouldn’t matter if the report itself was solid, but it isn’t. It’s a surprisingly slipshod piece of work that devolves in places into a thinly disguised attack on the American left, using Russia’s RT network as a springboard for condemning coverage of the Occupy movement, fracking, and “Wall Street greed.”

Those claims are undercut by the fact that RT has been heavily critical of the Republican Party for years. Its most visible political commentators are personalities like Ed Schultz and Thom Hartmann who have worked for progressive media outlets.

6. Don’t be hyperpartisan-- or hypocritical-- regarding national security.

Recently, Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign after a series of well-timed leaks showed that he had apparently concealed a conversation with the Russian Ambassador from Vice President Mike Pence.

Flynn was a horrible person, and his bigotry toward Islam would have made us less safe. But unanswered questions remain: Did Flynn break the law? If so, shouldn’t he be prosecuted? Have the leakers held back any information that might have helped him? Why, as Bloomberg national security columnist Eli Lake notes, were so many national security precedents broken in Flynn’s case? You can’t celebrate the leaks that brought Flynn down without also supporting Edward Snowden, who also performed an important public service.

7. Whatever you call it, recognize that the “deep state” is not your friend.

8. Don’t trade long-term harm for short-term political gain.

That’s why it’s shortsighted for Democratic commentators to make comments like this one, from Talking Points Memo founder and blogger Josh Marshall: “Let’s hope there’s a deep state, and if there is that they have their shit together.”

9. Remember, you could be next.

The current leak campaign against Trump offers a glimpse into the playbook that might be used against a future progressive president, if she or he dares to move against the military-industrial complex.

Recent Democratic presidents, including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, supported many of the national security state’s ambitious military and budgetary ventures. But a new wave of progressives lacks that enthusiasm.

10. Keep in mind that we need to work with Russia.

Nobody benefits from escalating tensions with Russia (except the aforementioned financial interests). Russia continues to wield considerable influence in the Middle East, and it still commands the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons outside the United States. We will need to keep talking to Russia, come what may.

We can condemn Putin’s tactics and still understand that we need to negotiate with him.

11. Fight oligarchy, not each other.

These Russia claims may turn out to be true or they may turn on the ones who are peddling them. It’s like the saying goes: sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.

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Can Democrats Take Back The Sunbelt-- Starting In Texas?


A few days ago we looked at why South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford has the political leeway to publicly denigrate Trump. For one thing, his coastal district is npt Trump territory. Rubio beat Trump in the primary there and Hillary won the largest county in the district (Charleston). Yesterday a poll of South Carolina voters showed that Trump's unpopularity nationally in mirrored in South Carolina. "Despite winning South Carolina by a double-digit margin in November's election, President Donald Trump is receiving the same lukewarm approval marks in the Palmetto State as the remainder of the country... A new Winthrop University poll released Thursday found that South Carolinians give Trump a 44 percent approval rating, nearly identical to his latest average of national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics.

One of the most widely discussed thought pieces in political circles this week has been Andrew Cockburn's controversial piece in Harper's, Texas Is The Future-- Can Democrats Reconquer The Lone Star State?. Remember, statewide the Texas Democratic Party has been all but moribund for decades. The last Democratic governor was elected in 1990. And Lloyd Bentsen, he last Democratic senator, was first elected in 1970 (and reelected in through the 80's).

Yesterday a higher up at the DCCC asked me if I thought a Democrat could win Ted Poe's seat (TX-02) in 2018. It's a very white, very gerrymandered suburban district north of Houston, although it includes Rice University and Montrose, the center of Houston's LGBT community. Overall, though, the district is probably the reddest part of Harris County. Harris County went narrowly for Obama in 2012, but TX-02 was landslide territory for Romney. He took the district 62.9% to 35.6%. In November, Hillary's margin over Trump countywide was not narrow. She wiped him out in Texas' biggest county-- 707,914 to 545,955. TX-02, though, isn't quite there yet. True, Trump's number's cratered in comparison to Romney's (Romney's 62.9% turned into a 52.4% win for Trump), but he still beat Hillary in the district by nearly 9 points. So, 2018 is unlikely to be the end of Poe. What I suggested is a clear 2-cycle strategy to build a candidate this cycle and take out Poe in 2020. That kind of thinking has been anathema to the DCCC since Rahm was chairman. I doubt if Ben Ray Lujan has the vision to see it through.

Meanwhile, though, there were 3 Republican-held congressional districts where Hillary did win in November-- TX-07 (John Culberson's Harry County seat), TX-23 (Will Hurd's heavily Hispanic south Texas district where the DCCC blew an easy win by nominating a wretched corrupt conservative), TX-32 (Pete Sessions' uber-gerrymandered district from Highland Park and University Park in north Dallas, up through Richardson and Garland. And there are 5 other districts trending towards the Democrats: TX-24 (Kenny Marchant's in the suburbs north of Dallas/Ft. Worth), TX-22 (Pete Olson's Sugar Land and Pearland district south of Houston), TX-21 (Lamar Smith's Austin/San Antonio corridor district), TX-10 (Mike McCaul's Austin/Houston corridor district) and TX-03 (Sam Johnson's district in the suburbs north of Dallas up through Plano and McKinney). Trump won Texas. A new poll out this week, shows him struggling with voters statewide:

Cockburn kicked off his article on election night in the Heights neighborhood of Houston. "Unlike the rest of the country," he wrote, "Houston Democrats had a full-scale Republican rout to celebrate. The party had swept the polls in Harris County, the vast region encompassing Houston, arguably the nation’s most diverse city (as locals never tire of repeating). With 4.5 million inhabitants, the county is more populous than half the states in America. Now Harris voters had elected a Democratic district attorney-- a very powerful post in Texas law enforcement-- for the first time in thirty-six years. The Democrats had also captured almost every other slot on the ballot, including the tax assessor’s office, which oversees voter registration: a crucial win in an age of Republican voter suppression... Clinton trounced Donald Trump by more than 160,000 votes in a county that Barack Obama had carried by fewer than a thousand in 2012. While others in the defeated party were subsiding into melancholy, hand-wringing, and consolatory tales of Russian hackers, the county’s newly elected sheriff, former Houston police sergeant Ed Gonzalez, was assuring supporters that he would defy any orders to round up undocumented immigrants. Across the street, the new D.A., Kim Ogg, promised her exuberant audience a progressive agenda: 'We’re going to have a system that doesn’t oppress the poor.' Voter endorsement of such progressive positions, well to the left of anything Clinton promoted during her message-lite campaign, was all the more dramatic in this reddest of red states."
Once upon a time, of course, Texas was a one-party Democratic state. It produced and consistently reelected such political giants as Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn, not to mention Wright Patman, the twenty-four-term populist congressman who once enquired of Federal Reserve chairman Arthur Burns at a hearing: “Can you give me any reason why you should not be in the penitentiary?” But those days are long gone, along with the rural and working-class white Democrats who could be relied on to pull the lever for the ruling party. The last governor the Democrats managed to elect, in 1990, was Ann Richards, given to such feisty pronouncements as her reference to the elder George Bush being born “with a silver foot in his mouth.” Richards eked out a slim victory among a coalition that included white suburban voters-- but lost her reelection bid to the younger George Bush in 1994, ushering in an age of darkness for Texas Democrats.

That pall has spread across the country at an accelerating rate, as more and more statehouses and governors’ mansions fall under Republican occupation. Yet Texas, after leading the country in a slide to the right, might now be showing us the way out.

Amid the happy lawyers, journalists, and other movers and shakers at the victory parties, one group of seventy-five men and women, who had arrived on a chartered bus, stood out. Most of them were Latinos, like Petra Vargas, a Mexican-born hotel worker who had spent the day walking her fellow immigrants to the polls. Others were African Americans, such as Rosie McCutcheon, who had campaigned relentlessly for the ticket while raising six grandchildren on a tiny income. All of them wore turquoise T-shirts bearing the logo top. Not only had they made a key contribution to the day’s results-- they represented a new and entirely promising way of doing politics in Texas.

The Texas Organizing Project was launched in 2009 by a small group of veteran community organizers. Michelle Tremillo, a fourth-generation Tejana (a Texan of Mexican descent), grew up in public housing in San Antonio, where her single mother worked as a janitor. Making it to Stanford on a scholarship, she was quickly drawn into politics, beginning with a student walkout in protest of Proposition 187, California’s infamous anti-immigrant ballot measure. By the time she graduated, the elite university had changed her view of the world. “I always knew I was poor growing up, and I even understood that I was poorer than some of my peers that I went to school with,” Tremillo told me. What she eventually came to understand was the sheer accumulation of wealth in America and its leveling effect on the rest of the population: “We were all poor.”

Both Tremillo and her TOP cofounder Ginny Goldman, a Long Island native, had worked for ACORN, the progressive national community organization that enjoyed considerable success-- registering, for example, half a million minority voters in 2008-- before becoming a target of calculated assaults by right-wing operatives. By 2009, the group was foundering, and it was dissolved a year later.

In response, the activists came up with TOP. Goldman, who was its first executive director, told me that TOP was designed to focus on specific Texan needs and realities and thereby avoid the “national cookie-cutter approach.” The organization would work on three levels: doorstep canvassing, intense research on policy and strategy, and mobilizing voter turnout among people customarily neglected by the powers that be.

Despite Houston’s international cachet as the headquarters of the global oil industry, the Johnson Space Center, the Texas Medical Center (which employs more people than the entire United States coal industry), Rice University, and other dynamic manifestations of power and prosperity, many of its neighborhoods are more evocative of the Third World than the moon landings. Open ditches, often choked with garbage, line the streets of poor districts such as the Third Ward, Acres Homes, and Sunnyside. Thanks to Houston’s zealous rejection of zoning in any shape or form, industrial sites, including the huge Valero refinery in the Manchester district and the abandoned CES Environmental Services plant in South Union, a cemetery of toxic chemicals, sit just across backyard fences. It was in these neighborhoods that TOP found its constituency, and its first campaign.

...The problem has been especially acute in Texas, which produced the lowest overall turnout of any state in the 2010 midterm elections. Three million registered African-American and Latino voters stayed home that year, not to mention the 2 million who were unregistered. The result was a state government subservient to the demands and prejudices of Republican primary voters, and unrepresentative of the majority in a state where almost one in four children lived in poverty, 60 percent of public-school students qualified for free or subsidized lunches, and the overall poverty rate was growing faster than the national average. Following the crushing Republican victory in 2010, TOP launched an ambitious project to discover, as Zermeno put it, “who was not voting, and why.”

Digging deep into voter files and other databases, Zermeno confirmed that Texas contained a “wealth of non-voting people of color.” Most of them were registered, but seldom (if ever) turned up at the polls. The problem, she noted, was especially acute with Latinos, only 15 percent of whom were regular voters. In her detailed report, she calculated precisely how many extra voters needed to turn out to elect someone who would represent the interests of all Texans: a minimum of 1.1 million. Fortuitously, these reluctant voters were concentrated in just nine big urban counties, led by Harris.

Ever since the era of Ann Richards, Democrats had been focusing their efforts (without success) on winning back white swing voters outside the big cities. But Zermeno realized that there was no reason “to beat our heads against the wall for that group of people anymore, not when we’ve got a million-voter gap and as many as four million non-voting people of color in the big cities, who are likely Democrats.” By relentlessly appealing to that shadow electorate, and gradually turning them into habitual voters, TOP could whittle down and eliminate the Republican advantage in elections for statewide offices such as governor and lieutenant governor, not to mention the state’s thirty-eight votes in the presidential Electoral College. In other words, since the existing Texas electorate was never going to generate a satisfactory result, TOP was going to have to grow a new one.

There was, however, still another question to answer. Why were those 4 million people declining to vote? TOP embarked on a series of intensive focus groups, which were largely financed by Amber and Steve Mostyn, a pair of progressive Houston claims attorneys... Year after year, the Mostyns had loyally stumped up hefty donations to middle-of-the-road Democrats who doggedly pursued existing voters while ignoring the multitude who sat out elections all or most of the time. When TOP asked these reluctant voters about their abstention, the answer was almost always the same: “When I have voted for Democrats in the past, nothing has changed, so it’s not worth my time.” There was one telling exception: in San Antonio, voters said that the only Texas Democrat they trusted was Julián Castro, who ran for mayor in 2009 on a platform of bringing universal pre-K to the city, and delivered on his promise when he won.

“There’s this misunderstanding that people don’t care, that people are apathetic,” Goldman told me. “It’s so not true. People are mad and they want to do something about it. People want fighters that will deliver real change for them. That’s why year-round community organizing is so critical. People see that you can deliver real impact, and that you need the right candidates in office to do it, and connect it back to the importance of voting. It’s the ongoing cycle. We see winning the election as only the first step toward the real win, which is changing the policies that are going to make people’s lives better.”

Beginning with the 2012 election, TOP canvassers-- volunteers and paid employees working their own neighborhoods-- were trained to open a doorstep interview not with statements about a candidate but with a question: “What issue do you care about?” The answer, whether it was the minimum wage or schools or potholes, shaped the conversation as the canvasser explained that TOP had endorsed a particular candidate (after an intensive screening) because of his or her position on those very issues. These were not hit-and-run encounters. Potential voters were talked to “pretty much nonstop for about eight to ten weeks leading to the election,” according to Goldman. “They got their doors knocked three to five times. They got called five to seven times. They signed a postcard saying, ‘I pledge to vote.’ They circled which day they were going to vote on a little calendar on the postcard, and we mailed those postcards back to them. We offered them free rides to the polls. We answered all of their questions, gave them all the information they needed, until they cast a ballot. And what we saw was that the Latino vote grew by five percentage points in Harris County in 2012.”

Two years later, Texas Democrats nominated Wendy Davis, a state senator, as their candidate for governor following her filibuster against further restrictions on abortion rights. Her stand brought her national attention, a flood of campaign money, and the arrival of out-of-state Obama operatives who vowed to boost minority registration. Yet she lost by 20 percent to Greg Abbott and scored comparatively poorly with Latinos. Meanwhile, in the same election cycle, TOP and its allies blocked a bid by business interests to privatize the public-school system in Dallas. A year later, the organization helped to elect Sylvester Turner, a black Democrat, as mayor of Houston.

...Harris County is by no means the only arena in which TOP and its allies scored convincingly in 2016. East Dallas County, a band of suburbs to the east and south of Dallas, comprises House District 107 in the state legislature. Despite a Latino and African-American majority, Republicans have been carrying the district for years, albeit with narrow margins. This time, however, thanks to an intense registration and organizing drive by TOP and other groups, including labor unions, Victoria Neave, the Democratic candidate, ousted her Republican opponent by 836 votes.

“The interesting thing about that race,” Amber Mostyn told me, “is that the Republicans spent around a million dollars. There was no more than three hundred and fifty thousand dollars spent on our side, and no television-- the Republicans probably spent half a million dollars on TV. Our campaign was focused on getting folks to turn out, and we knew that a lot of them don’t have time to watch a bunch of TV. They’re working two jobs, they’re not engaged in the political process anyway, so if they see a commercial, it means nothing to them. But Victoria Neave was out talking to people, TOP was out talking to people, labor was out talking to people-- it’s the one-on-one engagement that makes the difference.”

It seems fair to say that the strategy deployed in this race (and in others discussed in this article) is the precise opposite of that adopted by Hillary Clinton’s team in 2016. Rather than asking voters what they actually cared about, the Clinton campaign and its associated super PACs spent $1.2 billion, much of it on TV commercials, and relied on Ada, a computer program, for key decisions, while remaining ignorant of what was happening in the real world. For example, around ten days before the election, members of the service-employees’ union in Iowa, where Clinton was clearly a lost cause, set off in a convoy of buses to campaign in Michigan, where the Democratic candidate’s lead appeared to be ebbing. According to Politico, Clinton headquarters in Brooklyn ordered the Iowans to turn around and go home. Their model still showed Clinton winning Michigan by five points. They therefore insisted that the S.E.I.U. foot soldiers would be better employed in Iowa, where they might delude Donald Trump into thinking that he was in trouble and thus force him to divert resources from elsewhere. Yet Michigan was indeed slipping away, a fact that Clinton apparatchiks could easily have discovered had they taken the slightest interest in communicating with anyone who could tell them the truth.

In contrast, TOP devoted energy and resources to ensure immediate feedback from the streets. Senior campaign managers took time to accompany canvassers on their rounds, with the aim of hearing for themselves whether their tactics needed to be tweaked or replaced. Meanwhile, all canvassers carried iPods and instantly entered the data they gleaned from their doorstep interviews. “We’d look at the numbers every evening,” explained Zermeno, “to see if there were any trends. Then, in the morning, when the canvassers all came in, we’d ask the questions. Did we change the rap? Are you guys hearing something? Then we could tweak the message on the spot.”

“Demographics are not destiny,” Craig Varoga remarked to me at the end of a long conversation. “But demographics with hard work and smart decisions are destiny.”

In a post-election memo, Zermeno discussed the various victories and near-victories scored around the state. “In the deep red South,” she wrote, “this election demonstrated what we’ve believed about Texas for many years: Texas is the future. . .  Sí se puede.” Yes we can.
Goal Thermometer Yes, Texas and the Sunbelt are part of the future of the Democratic Party. But giving up on blue collar workers in the Midwest is something only people as stupid and desperate as Pelosi's DCCC would seriously consider. Not to take anything away from Cockburn's analysis, I believe the very first post-Trump local election was for a west Davenport, Iowa state House district. Hillary won that district 52-41%. Monica Kurth, the progressive Democratic candidate who won it a month ago took it in a landslide-- 72% to 27%, an early warning to Iowa-- and national-- Republicans that anger and revulsion towards Trump and his neo-fascist regime, towards enablers like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and GOP-controlled legislatures, are going to spark electoral backlash that the Republicans are utterly unprepared for. I hope by next year the DCCC is. Meanwhile, Blue America has endorsed our first Texas congressional candidate for the 2018 cycle, Tom Wakely, who plans to complete what he started in 2016, replacing anti-science Trump surrogate Lamar Smith. Please consider giving him a hand by tapping on the thermometer on the right.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

New Jersey Town Halls


Republican Christopher Smith was elected to Congress 37 years ago, in 1980, age 27. He had been a Democrat but switched parties in 2 years earlier and ran against crooked Democrat, Frank Thompson, who had been convicted of taking bribes in the Abscam scandal. The Democrats have coveted taking the district back ever since-- but have been highly unsuccessful in ever getting anywhere near doing so. His reelection bids have attracted over 60% since 1984. Last November, he beat Democrat Lorna Phillipson 206,137 (63.7%) to 108,373 (33.5%), rolling up large margins in all 3 counties that make up the districts-- Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer. He only spent $661,899 on his campaign.

Smith's last public town hall with his constituents was in 1992-- that's a quarter-century ago. When a friend of mine in Trenton Gardens decided to organize an impromptu town hall in front of Smith's house he had to call it off because Smith lives too far from the district-- in Herndon, Virginia. No, really, his family is so-much part of Virginia that Smith was able to request and receive in-state tuition privileges, saving the family $20,000 per year. In 2006 he spent a total of exactly 7 days in New Jersey. He spends more time traveling abroad than he does in New Jersey.

Fact is, the Democrats have lusted after all 3 Republican-held districts in South Jersey for some time. (They hold the 1st district in the Philly 'burbs, but with an extremely corrupt, right-of-center fake-Dem, Donald Norcross, most Democrats would rather not claim political kinship to. The 2nd district (PVI is D+1) is held by Frank LoBiondo, the 3rd (R+1) is held by Tom MacArthur. Neither of them are bothering with town hall constituent meetings either. Yesterday there was a Citizens Townhall for MacArthur at the DeMasi School in Marlton and one for Smith at the Monmouth County Library in Manalapan. Neither MacArthur nor Smith showed up. Saturday there's a demonstration planned for LoBiondo at his district office in relatively remote Mays Landing (population 2,135) at noon. Obama won LoBiondo's and MacArthur's districts both times he ran and lost Smith's district both times. The DCCC has been willing to recruit and finance candidates-- usually terrible ones-- against LoBiondo and MacArthur in the past... but that may not be as automatic in 2018. Trump won all 3 Republican-held South Jersey districts in November.
NJ-02- 50.6% to 46.0%, 5 points better than Romney had done
NJ-03- 51.4% to 45.2%, 4 points better than Romney
NJ-04- 55.8% to 41.0%, a point and a half better than Romney
The DCCC is looking north towards Leonard Lance's 7th district and perhaps even Rodney Frelinghuysen's 11th district instead, districts they never seriously consider. Hillary beat Trump in the 7th CD-- 48.6% to 47.5%-- and almost tied him in the 11th-- 48.8% to 47.9%. Frightened, Lance scheduled 2 town halls this week.

MacArthur’s staff is, repeating alt-fact GOP talking points that paid, out-of-district protesters are the only ones in Burlington and Ocean counties who have a problem with MacArthur carrying Trump’s water on such things as the racist travel ban. Not only is that ridiculous, it's also utterly offensive to the people he purports to represent. All three are cowering in Trump’s corner and steadfastly refusing to do their jobs and absolutely refuse to stand and listen to the fears and concerns of their constituents.

Leonard Lance's town last night at Raritan Valley Community College had the biggest turnout of any public meeting of his political career and was especially interesting because he seemed to have been figuring out in real time that by adopting progressive agenda items he didn't get boo-ed; he got cheered. Watch how he handles the Obamacare replacement question right in the beginning of the clip. He also told the large crowd that he "urges" Trump to release his tax returns.

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Is Señor Trumpanzee As Much The Anti-Semite As He Appears?


This morning we referred and linked to an interview Ryan Lizza did with Alt-Right poster boy Milo Yiannopoulos in the New Yorker. What we didn't get into was Milo's excuse for his anti-Semitism, the old trope that he can't be an anti-Semite because he's partly Jewish.
In one clip, he cavalierly approves of sex with thirteen-year-olds and suggests that he once attended a party at which minors were sexually assaulted. In another, he talks about the “statistical fact” that “Jews own most of the banks” and “completely dominate the media.”

...He also addressed his claim about Jewish control of the media. “My mother is Jewish. I was raised Jewish,” he said. “I said we are proportionally overrepresented in some industries, and I don’t think pointing out that fact is anti-Semitic.”

Trump and Those Darn Jews
-by Michael Wolkowitz

I have heard a fraction of the speculation and detailed analyses of the basis for and confusion about President T’s purported Anti-Semitism. The manipulative use of his Jewish daughter, the ever-sinister Bannon and Breitbart, his relationships with Israel, the alt-right and white nationalist supporters, and a gazillion other things. While those other topics are interesting and may be relevant in ways, this is mostly just like the rest of his many problems: personal insecurity, jealousy, and resentment. Donald grew up in a Major New York Real Estate Family (note initial caps). Based (now-famously) originally in Queens, founded by his father, and well, not the top of the list, and not just when it came to the family fortune part. Check out what follows and then ask yourself if you are still in any way surprised or confused about that strain of Anti-Semitism running through those purported veins of his. The first on the list is just a reminder that Jews are not the only people he feels inferior to.

A Sampler* of Notable New York’s Real Estate Dynasties ranked in order of wealth. These are all privately held fortunes so the numbers are somewhat speculative but well-substantiated.]**
Except the last one.

Overall notes:

1. Each of these families has buildings, wings, and or entire institutions in the areas of Health and Education named after them.
Except for the last one.

2. Each of these families has members who are current Chairs and Members of Boards of organizations including (but not limited to):

American Museum of Natural History, Columbia University, Cornell-Weill Medical Center, Memorial-Sloan Kettering, The New School for Social Research, The New Victory Theater, Rockefeller University, Smithsonian Institution, The Trust for Public Land. I could make the list double with no trouble at all.
Except for the last one.

3. Each of these families gives at least $5 million a year in miscellaneous philanthropic grants annually and far more (10x annual or more) for capital projects year after year, decade after decade.
Except for the last one.

Name/History-Ethnicity-Religion/Fortune//Samples of Civic Engagement


Old-ish Money WASP 
Family private fortune: $10 Billion
Foundation value: $3.5 Billion
Civic Leadership: just walk around NYC for a few hours and read the names on the buildings.


JEWISH Immigrants/Turn of the 19th/20th Century
Private Family Fortune: $5.5 Billion
Civic Leadership: Founded Association for Better NY; sponsored NY Marathon, support for NYPD; developments have focused on accessibility etc.
They have streets named for them in Manhattan-- for good reason.


JEWISH  Immigrants/Turn of the 19th/20th Century
Private Family Fortune: $5 Billion
Civic Leadership: Several enormous buildings that are the most environmentally-green globally; NYC Job and Work  Center; NY Water Taxi.
Leading environmentalism includes largest organic farm in NY State.


JEWISH Immigrants/Turn of the 19th/20th Century
Private Family Fortune: $4.5 Billion
Civic Leaders: NY Blood Center, NYC Commission on the Homeless, Central Park Conservancy, National September 11th Memorial & Museum.


GERMAN Immigrants/Turn of the 19th/20th Century
Private Family Fortune: Good question. $3 Billion? $4 Billion? Half a $Billion?
Family Foundation: out-of-business, never gave much, used other people’s money for the wrong things
Civic Leadership: Fixed a Skating Rink in Central Park once (sort of).
Substantial Giving: Nope.

* There are a several more, all with with similar profiles with greater net worth, civic participation, and philanthropy when compared with the bottom-most on the list, but this should give you the idea.
** Multiple sources including: The Foundation Center, Guidestar, Federal 990s, Forbes Magazine, etc.

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Another Republican Legislator Is In Prison Today For Selling At Least A Pound Of Meth To Montana Trump Supporting Zombies


Before Z Nation stepped up its game and started concentrating on character development, it was pretty silly. In one ancient episode, they're traveling through South Dakota on the way to California and they come upon a pharmaceutical storage facility. The zombies have somehow-- makes no sense-- discovered the joys of meth (and other drugs) and are not just behaving like brain-eating zombies but also like annoying speed freaks.

Even visit Jus' Chillin' in Billings, Montana? It used to be the smoothie shop run by right-wing nut Mike Lange. But it wasn't Lange's main occupation-- maybe not even his second most important occupation. He was best known for being Montana's Republican House Majority Leader-- until House Republicans fired him for being too crazy even for them-- and now he's best known for his meth-selling business. The feds say he sold at least a pound of meth in a 6month period between April and October of 2016. He can't attend sessions now because the judge has ordered that he remain in prison without bail.

You know a TV newscast is going to be bad when the anchor warns you to quickly get your children out of the room. That clip up top was the GOP Majority Leader/freak screaming during a GOP caucus meeting that then-Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer should stick his budget proposal up his ass. (As you can see, most Republican legislators encouraged him by applauding... like trained seals. But they fired him as Majority Leader over it anyway.) The following year he tried running for U.S. Senate against Max Baucus and the Montana Republican Party chairman, Chris Wilcox, said the party stands behind Lange. "As far as we’re concerned at the state party office, he’s a Republican officeholder, and we support our Republican officeholders and Republican candidates." He lost the primary.

Not every Trump voter in Montana is a meth-freak. Some prefer oxycodone or fentanyl

Jus' Chillin' was foreclosed on and Lange was forced to refinance his home to pay the bank $77,000 in defaulted loans. That may have been when he decided going into the drug-selling business was a good idea. No one at the Yellowstone County jail will confirm that the judge didn't grant bail because Lange was in a deep dark meth-hole and a danger to himself and everyone around him. Like many Trumpists, Lange needs to look closely and honestly into his relationship to illicit pharmaceuticals.

Mike Lange (56) pleaded not guilty. And state Senator Mike Lang (no "e") pleaded with Montanans to remember that he's not Lange and not a meth-freak and never called Brian Schweitzer a "son of a bitch." Trump beat Hillary in Montana 279,240 (55.6%) to 177,709 (35.4%) and won all but 6 counties in the state, including Lange's Yellowstone County, Montana's most populous, where Trump beat her nearly two to one. The ballot measure to expand medical marijuana in the state got more votes than Trump, winning with 284,531 (57.6%).

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