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No, Wonkette's Not Giving Larry Klayman $75,000, LARRY.

As a wise woman once said (it was me!) GO SUE SOMEONE ELSE.

Larry Klayman, he's this lawyer. As he explains in his lawsuit against me, your editrix, personally, he is a very famous man, a public figure even, and I, your editrix, have committed defamation most foul by saying he seemed, based on (not his first) bar disciplinary proceedings, not to be a very good lawyer. He also seemed, based on his saying Obama administration employees were Barack's "white slaves," and based on his suing Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Louis Farrakhan, and Black Lives Matter, for "starting a race war," to be some flavor of white supremacist. He also seemed, based on those disciplinary proceedings, to have sexually harassed a woman. (I said "harassed," but Larry Klayman, in his lawsuit against me, added [sexually] before harassed in the excerpt from my story, because he is so "honest.")

Also, I let Jamie laugh at him some. And she DID say "sexually" harassed, which I wouldn't have said because it was romantic harassment (and definitely stalking), but she's the First Amendment attorney, not me, so I let it ride. Shall we read some lawsuit, like I read all 185 pages including the footnotes of his HARROWING DC bar disciplinary report, together?

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Ukraine

Lev Parnas And His Badass Weed Lawyer Dropping Fire Mixtapes Like POW!

Okay people, we're going INTO THE WEEDS!

The newest chucklefuck mixtape has dropped, and it is FIRE! Recorded live at an April 30, 2018, event for donors to Trump's America First Action PAC by Igor Fruman, the "Silent Bob" of the Chucklefuck Gang, this tape's got everything. There are donors proposing legislation to benefit their own businesses that was shortly thereafter championed by House Republicans. There's a whole lot of golf talk, including speculation about Kim Jong Un's mean game. But it's Donald Trump's order to fire ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch that's getting the most airtime.

PARNAS: The biggest problem there, where we need to start is, we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She's still left over from the Clinton administration.

TRUMP: Who, the ambassador to Ukraine?

PARNAS: And she's basically walking around telling everybody wait, he's going to get impeached, just wait. It's incredible.

[Laughter]

UNKNOWN: She'll be gone tomorrow.

PARNAS: What's her name?

FRUMAN: I don't remember.

(Probably White House advisor Johnny) DeSTEFANO: So one of the things that will be now that we have a secretary of state that's been confirmed--

TRUMP: Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.

Because it's totally normal for the president of the United States to fire career civil servants based on the unsubstantiated, self-serving allegations of some dipshit at a PAC dinner, right? Particularly when that dipshit admits that he's got a financial stake in the very change he's advocating.

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2020 presidential election

Rights For People With Disabilities? Elizabeth Warren Is Here To Help

Plan for that.

Elizabeth Warren keeps cranking out the policy proposals, because she has this funny notion that ideas matter, and being able to put them into action does too. Her latest proposal takes on rights and equality for people with disabilities, which only sounds like a niche issue to people who've never tried to get around with a wheelchair or a walker or to get through a college class -- or just a badly-designed website -- with dyslexia. Like all of Warren's plans, it's an impressive look at how the machinery of government can be used to make life better and fairer for everyone -- and to fit together seamlessly with Warren's other proposals. And just like her other plans, this proposal is designed to work as a blueprint for governing, whoever the nominee is.

As always, the depth of research and awareness of unmet needs is impressive. Hell, I like to pretend that having had people with disabilities in my family makes me fairly sensitive to issues of accessibility and discrimination, but time and time again while reading this proposal, I kept saying, holy crap, I didn't know that. Which is really the first step toward fixing problems, isn't it?

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Healthcare

Hey, Remember When Nancy Pelosi Killed 45,000 Americans By Passing Obamacare?

And we thought Hillary Clinton had a bodycount.

Crusading anti-corruption crusader and California congressional candidate Cenk Uygur offered his two cents on the scandal involving former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who pardoned a bunch of really awful people on his way out the door, including a convicted murderer whose family threw a fundraiser for Bevin. Cenk wants us to consider the Big Picture, which is that while Bevin appears to have corruptly pardoned a killer and some guys convicted of raping children, that's nothing compared to the corruption that led Nancy Pelosi to personally murder tens of thousands of Americans. Here are his Galaxy Brain tweetdroppings:

That's pretty awful of Nancy Pelosi to be so very corrupt! However, we're not sure we agree with you a hundred percent on your police work, there, Cenk.

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Healthcare

Pete Buttigieg Didn't Say That

Oh he DIDN'T say we could eat healthcare cake? Guess we shouldn't believe everything we read on Twitter.

So here's a weird trendlet. The bullshit debate talking points about how much Americans supposedly loooove their private health insurance (and would be very very sad if Medicare for All replaced it) is getting enough traction that it's infecting the way some Democratic candidates frame their healthcare proposals. Elizabeth Warren has lately been playing up her plan to transition to Medicare for All as offering the "choice" to buy in to M4A before full single-payer is rolled out. And in an interview Friday with the Washington Post's Robert Costa, Pete Buttigieg rather awkwardly invoked free-market rhetoric, sounding like a regular Ronnie Reagan, albeit also in the context of a transition to M4A via the option to buy in to Medicare.

Instead of just assuming that sitting here in Washington we're going to know what the right plan is for everybody or even what the right timeline is for everybody to come over, we're going to let people figure it out for themselves. I trust you to figure out your own health care, especially when we create these options.

It didn't help that, on Twitter at least, Buttigieg's remarks got condensed to the snippet "I trust you to figure out your own health care," which launched any number of threads from people pointing out that America's clusterfuck of healthcare "systems" is difficult even for physicians to figure out, let alone the average person. Again, Buttigieg wasn't advocating throwing people to the tender mercies of the free market (his public option would automatically enroll those who are uninsured, with an opt-out). That out of context quote may haunt him forever, like the time Nancy Pelosi never said we'd have to pass Obamacare to find out what's in it.

My point here is that all this talk of "choice" actually buys into a talking point that comes straight from the health insurance industry, and for fucks sake could Democrats please be smarter than to let those vultures frame the debate, please?

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Elections

Genius Kelli Ward: Matt Bevin Coulda Won Kentucky If Dems' Votes Didn't Count

Sure, Kelli Ward SAID she didn't believe in chemtrails, but what if they GOT her?

Following Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's apparent 5000-vote loss to known Democrat Andy Beshear Tuesday, Arizona state GOP chair Kelli Ward, a perpetually thirsty electoral also-ran herself, proposed a simple solution on the Twitters: If Republicans can't actually win a majority of votes, why not give up on "majorities" altogether? After all, look at all the red territory that voted for Bevin!

Just look at those tiny little blue areas that inexplicably have more people in them! How could they actually represent the will of Kentuckians, simply because they resulted in a higher total number of votes?

Clearly, something must be done! Mostly, Kelli Ward must be mocked and ridiculed for suggesting that elections should stop being won by "majorities" of "voters." In an ideal world, she'd also recognize she made herself look like a complete fool and resign, but why would she give up on her one most reliable personality trait? Besides, calling for vote-rigging is rapidly becoming the norm for some Republicans, since "winning more votes" is so passe for them these days.

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State/Local Politics

Why Won't Democrats Work Across The Aisle????

Wisconsin GOP with some more ACTUALLY SHOCKING bullshit!!!

With Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin refusing to concede he lost yesterday's election to Democrat Andy Beshear, who received 5,000 more votes, and Donald Trump proclaiming the Kentucky election a huge success for the GOP, we're beginning to wonder whether this marks a new tool for Republicans to add to their bag of tricks: In addition to using gerrymandering and voter suppression to impose minority rule, why not just start ignoring the outcomes of elections altogether?

For a case in point, let's look at Wisconsin, where yesterday the state Senate ousted the Democratic agriculture secretary, months after all five Republicans on the Agriculture committee had voted to support his nomination. Why? Because the Republican leader of the state Senate wanted to teach Democratic Gov. Tony Evers that despite beating Scott Walker in 2018, Evers isn't really in charge. Republicans may have gotten only 46 percent of the statewide vote that year, but thanks to gerrymandering, they kept 64 percent of the seats in the state Assembly, and actually added a seat in the Senate. It's just one more example of Republicans' contempt for the state's voters, which started when they used their lame-duck session to limit the governor's power before he took office. And Evers better not forget it.

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Environment

California's On Fire Again. That's How The World Is Now.

Do something about global warming? Why would we do something about global warming?

Huge wildfires are causing evacuations and massive destruction in both Northern and Southern California, and the dry, windy conditions that have been driving the fires are expected to continue. In case you were wondering what a future of a warming planet looks like, turn on the news feeds from California. It's not necessarily going to look like science fiction; it's going to be semi-normal much of the time, plus fairly regular non-normal events.

Firefighters in Sonoma County have made some small progress against the state's largest blaze, the Kincade fire, which has forced the evacuation of about 185,000 people so far and featured winds approaching 100 miles per hour. Over the weekend, the Kincade went from 5 percent containment to 15 percent, but hot winds are expected to return today, and that could whip up the fire even more. It's destroyed 123 structures so far, 57 of them homes, and roughly 90,000 structures remain threatened, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. And it's going to be a while before it's out:

Cal Fire officials said they hope to have the blaze fully contained by Nov. 7 but that it could burn for weeks or months afterward.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that firefighters -- some brought in from other states -- had been up against 330 fires on Sunday. And yet, he noted, this is only an "average" fire season. At a news conference after touring evacuation centers in Sonoma County, Newsom said, "I recognize and everybody recognizes, this cannot be the new normal. We cannot absorb this year after year."

Which is a good sentiment, but every indication is that it will be, and this is pretty much what climate scientists have been warning about for decades.

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Impeachment

Help, Please Explain All Rudy & The Chucklefux Weird Ukraine Ties, They Are Too Confuuuuse!

Wonkette: Not Afraid To Be Servicey!

Sometimes you just need a picture. Not for the impeachment, which is a dead simple exchange of hundreds of millions in US aid for a public announcement that Ukraine would investigate Joe Biden and Trump's brainfarts about the DNC server. The fact that they got caught and abandoned the conspiracy, like a bank robber who runs out the back door without the money when the sirens start wailing, changes nothing.

But the backstory keeps getting weirder, with a new shady character being added to the mix every week. We've got Trump, an oligarch, a bunch of batshit lawyers, a couple of former Soviet chucklefucks, and now a shady-ass reporter -- with the whole gang trying to wrap themselves in a protective cocoon of attorney-client, executive, and journalist privilege to stop anyone ever finding out what they did. It's a hot mess!

So please forgive our pathetic graphics, but we wrangled our teenagers to help us make a chart to 'splain this conspiracy and why we think that low-rent hustler Lev Parnas is the key to all of it.

Forget the Money, Focus On Who's Calling the Shots

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Healthcare

Big Pharma Paid 700 Doctors Over A Million Bucks Each. Tell Us Again How Single-Payer Is Too Pricey?

None dare call it legalized bribery. OK, plenty do.

One of the quiet scandals of US America's for-profit healthcare "system" is the routine bribery of doctors by pharmaceutical companies. We're not talking the free pens and notepads with drug logos, but generous funding for travel, "consulting," and speaking fees to "educate" other doctors at conferences. A new ProPublica report found that the amount of money the industry pays to doctors hasn't changed, despite efforts to call attention to the potential conflicts of interest. And some doctors are really making out like bandits, while prescription drug prices continue to go through the roof.

That's not a mixed metaphor, that's American healthcare today: a bandit house with holes in the roof.

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Healthcare

Medicare For All Might Be Paid For With Taxes? Forget It, Let's Keep CrapCare.

Welcome to the latest bullshit 'controversy' of the 2020 campaign.

Elizabeth Warren is now the frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic primary. You can tell because in last night's debate, other candidates went after her instead of piling on Joe Biden (Tulsi Gabbard was especially clumsy about it). That comes with the frontrunner territory. But wow, the debate moderators, and CNN's panel interview after, sure chose a dumb point to spend 20 minutes on last night, trying to get Warren to say that she would have to "raise taxes on the middle class" to pay for Medicare for All. Warren instead replied that she would absolutely not sign any bill if it "does not lower costs for middle-class families" -- emphasizing the overall costs of M4A compared to America's current patchwork of private insurance, public funding, and, for far too many people, nothing.

Warren's strategy here is to emphasize that the overall costs of healthcare under M4A would be borne by increased taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and that overall, the middle class would pay less than it now pays in insurance premiums. So naturally, that larger argument has to be ignored so Warren can be accused of "dodging" the narrow question of some tax increases. As a Doktor of Rhetoric, we honestly don't know whether we'd advise her to stick to her emphasis on framing the argument around "costs," or to bite the bullet and adopt Bernie Sanders's own strategy of reframing it: Yeah, taxes would go up some, but the overall costs would be reduced, so the middle class would see net savings.

We do know it's really stupid to waste all this time acting as if Warren is hiding anything because she won't accept the narrow, misleading frame "raising taxes on the middle class" -- especially from debate moderators and pundits with six- or seven-figure salaries and the very best health insurance.

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Featured

Inspector General Had 'Urgent' Whistleblower Report For Congress. You'll Never Guess Who Broke The Law To Bury It!

Thanks Acting DNI Joseph Maguire! You're gonna be a STAR!

There's some fuckery afoot in Donald Trump's Intelligence Community. The fact that Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is burying a whistleblower complaint in blatant violation of the plain wording of federal law would be a massive scandal in any other administration. But here in the Firehose Era, it goes rushing by practically unnoticed.

NOT ON YOUR WONKETTE'S WATCH, DAMMIT! House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff just dropped a subpoena on the Acting DNI calling him to testify before the Committee on Thursday, which is a BFD. And let's pay particular attention to the dates here, for reasons we'll come back to in a hot second.

According to Rep. Schiff's September 13 letter to Maguire, on August 12, the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) received a "whistleblower disclosure intended for the congressional intelligence committees from an individual within the intelligence community." As provided under 50 US Code §3033§3033 and the Intelligence Community Whistleblowers Protection Act, the ICIG conducted a 14-day preliminary investigation and found the allegations credible and of "urgent concern" to Congress. On August 26, the ICIG told Maguire of his findings, which started the clock on a deadline for the DNI to disclose the information to HPSCI, as laid out in 50 US Code §30339(k)(5)(G):

Upon receipt of a transmittal from the Inspector General under subparagraph (B), the Director shall, within 7 calendar days of such receipt, forward such transmittal to the congressional intelligence committees, together with any comments the Director considers appropriate.

That would be a non-discretionary statute. Maguire doesn't have any wiggle room here -- it says "shall," and that doesn't mean he gets to go running to Attorney General Bill Barr to ask if he can prettyplease dummy up some bullshit excuse to get out of it. So naturally, that's exactly what he did.

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News

Did Bahamian Hurricane Survivors Get Screwed By Trump, Incompetence, Or Trump's Incompetence?

ALL OF THEM, KATIE?

The news sounded ominous: over 100 passengers on a Bahamian ferry bound from Freeport to Ft. Lauderdale Sunday were told they'd have to get off the boat before it left, because they didn't have visas to travel to the United States. Normally, no visa is needed for Bahamians to go to Florida -- they only need their Bahamas passport and a recent copy of a clean criminal record check from police. Video of the passengers reacting to the announcement that they'd "suffer penalties" if they didn't have a visa went all over Twitter, and people wondered what the fuck Stephen Miller was pulling now. Turning away people fleeing a hurricane, are you fucking kidding?

Like everything else in the Trump years, it's not clear whether this is due to deliberate fuckery, bureaucratic incompetence, or some combination of the two. US officials insisted the rules hadn't changed, at all, saying instead the ferry company had screwed up and should have cleared those passengers' information with the US embassy beforehand, which immigration officials said is the usual procedure. The Spanish-owned ferry company, Baleària, says it received contradictory messages from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) about what documents the passengers would need.

At this rate, we won't be the least bit surprised if we learn the ferry was targeted because Donald Trump wanted the passengers to be sent to one of his properties to buy dinner before being allowed to go about their business.

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Politics

Donald Trump HEREBY ORDERS Jobs Report To Be AWESOME!!!1!

Jobs report tells him to eat it.

Get excited for the Jobs Numbers! President Norms Molester was hyping them up yesterday, in yet another attempt to goose the market to make himself look better.

A regular president doesn't talk about employment data before its release to the public, since his comments can cause market swings. But when you're a washed up reality TV star, they let ya do it!

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Military

Good News! Trump Isn't F*cking Over ALL The Troops And Their Kids. Just SOME Of 'Em!

ARE YOU NOT REASSURED?

The Trump administration unleashed a shitstorm of fear and confusion Wednesday when US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a tweak to how it processes citizenship for some children born overseas to US military personnel and other government workers. The change would end automatic citizenship for children born overseas to two small groups: military parents who are not yet citizens, and to citizens who may have left the USA as kids and then grown up elsewhere. Their kids can still become citizens, but only after a long application process. But because the policy change wasn't framed very clearly, many military folks and those worried about the administration's ongoing war on immigrants thought the policy would apply to all military families who have kids while deployed overseas, and can you blame them? In this essay we shall argue that the whole wretched mess is yet another example of what we've called the Trump administration's weaponized incompetence. Why just do a policy when you can also maximize fear, uncertainty, and doubt among people you want to scare? There's a lot of confusion out there about what exactly this new policy is supposed to do, and we're fairly sure that uncertainty is part of the plan.

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