Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Dancing Fool

When the Rethuglican-dominated FCC voted along party lines to kill net neutrality last week, they sent a message to internet users that their loyalty stood with the powerful corporate internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon, not the public. It's a reactionary, social Darwinist model applied to the internet that favors the powerful over everyone else.

The person behind the betrayal is FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon executive and Rethuglican shill, who was elevated to chair the commission by neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump. Pai's dishonest claim that the demise of net neutrality would not effect average users (including entrepreneurs launching web-based businesses) made him an object of ridicule by, for example, Jimmy Kimmel, who accurately referred to Pai as a "jackhole" on his show last week.

Pai also seems to lack shame and good judgement in other ways. He participated in an undignified, inappropriate video dancing the "Harlem Shake" as if to celebrate the win for his corporate string-pullers. Moreover, one of the "dancers" in his video was the notorious alt-Reich performance "artist" / former burlesque dancer and wingnut Martina Markota, who was a central figure in the infamous "Pizzagate" smear against Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. That false tale resulted in a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. being shot up by a fellow lunatic who believed the smear and acted on it. Maybe David Duke wasn't available for Pai's dance party.

The net neutrality fight isn't over, as major powers on the internet (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, etc.) have vowed to challenge the ruling in court. Democrats in Congress are also reportedly looking at legislation to reverse the FCC decision. Until then, dance while you can, jackhole.

(screenshot: That's Markota sucking on a cig; Pai, center, might as well be holding a vibrator.)

The Media's Drift In Trump's Direction - PBS Edition

Watching "librul" PBS' "Washington Week in Review" last night, we were struck by the whole atmosphere of the show - five "insider" journalists summarizing the events of the past week ... without giving any sign that things are not normal. In fact, as you can read for yourself, there was a largely anodyne, horserace approach to the circus that's in town.

Here are just a few excerpts from the transcript (our emphasis throughout):

Nancy Cordes (CBS News) on the wealthfare tax bill:

... the fact that they said they would get it done on Friday and they did is actually a big sign of how unified this party is.  And it’s the culmination of a decades-long dream.  So it seems like, you know, the party’s really hanging together now, and looking to avoid any last-minute derailment.
Yes, super unified!  Just ask Steve "Loose Cannon" Bannon! They're only unified long enough to screw America and future generations. MAGA!

Shawna Thomas (VICE News) on the rush to pass the wealthfare bill:

... Everyone has been saying we have to pass this bill by the end of the year.  We have to pass this bill by the end of the year.  They didn’t really have to pass this bill by the end of the year.  (Laughter.)

Harhar! And, no, it wasn't because of Doug Jones' victory -- they targeted passage before Christmas long before the Alabama election -- it was because the bill is a reeking pile of regressive social and economic engineering that they don't want people to understand (too late!).

Kristen Welker (NBC News) on the involvement of nitwit know-nothing Donald "Rump" Trump:
... [H]e was really serving as an energizing force, I think, as opposed to sort of derailing the negotiations.  Today we had a chance to ask him some questions early in the morning, and I asked him if he would support increasing the child tax credit.  He indicated the answer to that was yes.  [Ed. See how piddling a deal this was below.] So it was very clear, as the day was progressing, that this was moving in a good direction for this president.  I don’t think you can overstate it.  President Trump needs a victory after the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare.  He hasn’t had a major legislative victory.  And so this was a full-court press for this president, the vice president, and his entire top staff.
Stand up and cheer for Big Boy Donnie! F*ck you average Americans who'll be losing health insurance! It's the horserace and the appearance of competence that matter most!

Cordes on the bill's repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate:
Republicans don’t want to talk about it because they’d love to be able to slide that through.  There’s another big GOP priority in this bill they don’t talk a lot about either, and that is opening up part of the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling... 
Hmmm. Republicans don't want to talk about it, and neither does Nancy Cordes!

Cordes again on the child tax credit:
 ... I will say that there are some changes in this final version that may help to win people over, at least in the short term.  The fact that that child tax credit is refundable up to $1,400.  That’s a pretty big chunk of change
No, no it's not you simpleton.  Again, as Andy Slavitt points out, it amounts to $25 a month for a family with two kids (whose daycare costs would average $2,000 a month). Do your f*cking homework!

We could go on (that's just from the first few minutes of the program), but the point is, these "elite" media types are very content to go along with the talking points Republicans have tossed over the transom, while ignoring the yuuuuge elephant in the room:  that we have an abnormal "president" and a party that is increasing its culpability in the rotting out of American values and social fabric. Isn't that newsworthy? (Rhetorical question.)

It's always helpful to keep in mind Masha Gessen's warning to all of us:
The national press is likely to be among the first institutional victims of Trumpism. There is no law that requires the presidential administration to hold daily briefings, none that guarantees media access to the White House. Many journalists may soon face a dilemma long familiar to those of us who have worked under autocracies: fall in line or forfeit access. There is no good solution (even if there is a right answer), for journalism is difficult and sometimes impossible without access to information. 
The power of the investigative press—whose adherence to fact has already been severely challenged by the conspiracy-minded, lie-spinning Trump campaign—will grow weaker. The world will grow murkier. Even in the unlikely event that some mainstream media outlets decide to declare themselves in opposition to the current government, or even simply to report its abuses and failings, the president will get to frame many issues. Coverage, and thinking, will drift in a Trumpian direction, just as it did during the campaign—when, for example, the candidates argued, in essence, whether Muslim Americans bear collective responsibility for acts of terrorism or can redeem themselves by becoming the “eyes and ears” of law enforcement. Thus was xenophobia further normalized, paving the way for Trump to make good on his promises to track American Muslims and ban Muslims from entering the United States.
These people need to be held to account for their lazy complicity in normalizing this monster, his legion of thugs and their efforts to destroy the good that America stood for just a short 13 months ago.

Trump's Centers For Disease Control Now In The Word-Banning Business

As if more proof were needed of the ethical and intellectual rot that's followed dimbulb demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump into the federal government, Stormtrumpers at the Centers for Disease Control have banned several words from CDC's official pronouncements. Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has helpfully provided a list of replacement words for these anti- science nihilists to use:

(Credit:  Kevin Drum, Mother Jones)

The thing is, these Stormtrumpers wouldn't see anything wrong with Drum's replacement words.

Make no mistake: these are the pig people. Sic transit gloria, America.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Tweets Of The Day: On The Trump-Russia Scandal Beat

Meanwhile, a dumbshit, bottom- feeding swamp creature has a nightmare he wants "our Attorney General," recused Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, to end:

Weekend Music

British rockers New Order released their acclaimed album "Power, Corruption & Lies" in 1983. The single, "Age of Consent," has been interpreted in various ways, but given the recent results in Alabama, we'll just offer it as a "buh bye" to the unlamented Roy Moore (h/t and direct your emails to Silver Spring Bureau Chief Brian!).

Republican Wealthfare Tax Bill Nears The Finish Line (UPDATED)

(click on image to enlarge)

(Image: DonkeyHotey)

Assuming (which we do) that Republicans will have enough votes by next week to pass their historically disastrous wealthfare tax bill, it will usher in a period of increasing income inequality, declining public investments, undermine the Affordable Care Act and ultimately provide a rationale for an assault on social safety net programs and discretionary domestic spending -- in other words, every Ayn Rand acolyte's dream. Let's look at some future victims of this vicious piece of Republican sociopathy.

Paul Krugman focuses on the fate of working class Americans, many of whom foolishly backed numbnut Donald "Rump" Trump:
Republicans don’t seem able to help themselves: Their disdain for ordinary working Americans as opposed to investors, heirs, and business owners runs so deep that they can’t contain it. 
When I realized the extent to which G.O.P. tax plans were going to favor business owners over ordinary workers, I found myself remembering what happened in 2012, when Eric Cantor — then the House majority leader — tried to celebrate Labor Day. He put out a tweet for the occasion that somehow failed to mention workers at all, instead praising those who have “built a business and earned their own success.” 
Yes, it was just a gaffe, but a revealing one; Cantor, a creature of the G.O.P. establishment if ever there was one, had so little respect for working Americans that he forgot to include them in a Labor Day message. 
And now that disdain has been translated into legislation, in the form of a bill that treats anyone who works for someone else — that is, the vast majority of Americans — as a second-class citizen.
Fareed (yes, we know) Zakaria focuses on the bill's impact on our competitiveness and the effects of the automatic cuts in discretionary spending the bill will force:
If the Republican tax plan passes Congress, it will mark a watershed for the United States. The medium- and long-term effects of the plan will be a massive drop in public investment, which will come on the heels of decades of declining spending (as a percentage of gross domestic product) on infrastructure, scientific research, skills training and core government agencies. The United States can’t coast on past investments forever, and with this legislation, we are ushering in a bleak future. [snip] 
Those who vote for this tax bill — possibly the worst piece of major legislation in a generation — will live in infamy, as the country slowly breaks down.
John Cassidy discusses the redistribution of wealth the Republicans are aiming for:
As virtually every independent study has shown, the G.O.P. plan showers most of its goodies (tax cuts) on the richest people in the country while doing little for poor and middle-income households. Consider the bill that passed the Senate. If the personal tax cuts and family credits it contains are gradually phased out, as the bill’s authors planned, so that the over-all projected cost of the proposal remains below a limit of $1.5 trillion, then, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, by 2027 the only group paying noticeably less tax would be the richest five per cent of households. 
That was bad enough. But the final bill, which Republican leaders are scheduled to release in full on Friday, is now expected to be even more of a sop to Donald Trump and his fellow-plutocrats. It would reduce the top rate of income tax, which is now about 40.8 per cent when you take into account a 2012 law that limited deductions for high earners, to thirty-seven per cent. That’s lower than the top rates that were proposed in the original bills passed in the Senate and the House. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Republicans cut the top rate further after receiving complaints from high earners in places like California and New York that the original bills weren’t generous enough to them. 
OK, we all know how irretrievably bad this piece of garbage is. We also know it's much more likely than not to pass next week after some posturing weasels =cough= Marco Rubio Susan Collins =cough= get sops to buy their votes. Right now, all we can do is watch the disaster unfold. But this already deeply unpopular bill, passed without serious consideration for obvious reasons, will be seen by more and more as another feature of what we get with Republican governance, along with all the other despicable, unhinged, un- American policies and actions bum rushed by Rump and his enablers in the past 10 months. The energy and momentum that has been built through multiple local special elections, through Virginia and Alabama, will be sustained because of these outrages and our determination to correct them.

UPDATE:  As expected, noble holdout Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio has been bought off for a measly amount and is now a "yes." Pisher.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Another Reason To Be Hopeful For 2018

This is West Virginia Democratic State Sen. Richard Ojeda, who is running in the 3rd Congressional District.  This speaks to the quality of candidates Democrats are recruiting nationwide to retake the House of Representatives in 2018 (h/t Balloon Juice):

The primary is May 8, 2018. This is an open seat, as Republican incumbent Evan Jenkins is leaving to run for the Senate. Other Democrats in the primary race so far are Huntington mayor Steve Williams and the CEO of Huntington's bus system Paul Davis. The fact that there are credible Democrats lining up to run in this red district (that wasn't always red) is a hopeful sign of a party ready to compete everywhere.

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Darrin Bell, Washington Post Writers Group)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Signe Wilkinson, Philadelphia Daily News)

Today's Reading - Waves And Troughs

As always, please go to the links to read the full articles.

Alan Abramowitz sees signs of a Democratic wave election in 2018:
... Jones’s victory reinforces the conclusion, based on the results of numerous special and off-year elections and other leading indicators, that 2018 is shaping up to be a Democratic wave election. 
One of those leading indicators is the generic ballot — a question on numerous polls asking voters if they would prefer a Democrat or a Republican for Congress. Based on an average of recent national polls, a generic Democrat now holds a 10-point lead over a generic Republican. That is the largest Democratic advantage on the generic ballot question since 2008 and, if it continues into next fall, it would predict substantial Democratic gains in the midterm elections. The Republican Party’s problems are far deeper than Roy Moore. 
Note that, as Five Thirty Eight points out,
The average swing in special federal elections has forecast midterm results fairly well since the 1994 cycle.  [snip] 
[H]istorically, the environment doesn’t change much between this point in an election cycle and the midterms. So if you’re a Democrat, Tuesday’s Alabama result is just the latest special election sign that things are looking up heading into 2018.
Infidel 753 looks at the Alabama election and, most importantly, what lessons Democrats need to take from it:
First, let's be clear about what won Alabama for us.  The decisive factor was a massive turnout of black voters. [snip] 
Second, it's worth contesting races even in places which we're accustomed to considering hopeless. [snip] 
Third, just as divisions weaken the Republicans, unity strengthens us. [snip]
Finally, sexual harassment and the mass uprising of women against coddling of harassers is emerging as an issue whose time has come.  Democrats can win on that issue, simply by doing the right thing.  
Democrats, more than ever, are on the right side of history -- not just "right" in terms of the winning side, but most importantly in terms of "simply doing the right thing."

Paleo- conservative George Will observes the situational ethics of the party of Trump/ Moore and concludes:
By basking in the president’s approval, Moore became a clarifier. Henry Adams, great-grandson of the second president and grandson of the sixth, was unfair to the 18th when he wrote, “The progress of evolution from President Washington to President Grant, was alone evidence enough to upset Darwin.” By joining Stephen K. Bannon’s buffoonery on Moore’s behalf, the 45th president planted an exclamation point punctuating a year of hitherto unplumbed presidential depths. He completed his remarkably swift — it has taken less than 11 months — rescue of the 17th, Andrew Johnson, from the ignominy of ranking as the nation’s worst president. 
We can't help but feel Democrats will be energized and highly motivated as they see the continuing rot, the assault on decency and ethical standards, the dismantling of the social safety net, the transfer of wealth to corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and the treasonous obstruction of justice as it builds at the White House and in the Republican Congress. Plus, remember that "arc of the moral universe..."

Sandy Hook, Five Years On

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the soul-crushing massacre of 20 innocent small children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. There was anger and hope in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter that better gun safety laws -- expanded background checks, limits on magazines, etc. -- would be passed by the Rethuglican Congress. The National Rampage Association even hid in shame and went silent for weeks after the mass killing ("now's not the time" was their refrain). Then....nothing happened, as the coin-operated Rethugs in Congress declined to pass any meaningful measures to limit the kind of slaughter that was witnessed at Newtown. Now, even after the killing of 58 and the wounding of an astounding 546 country music concertgoers in Las Vegas on October 1, nothing is happening to outlaw the sale of "bump stocks" which turn semi-automatic assault rifles into fully automatic ones, and which were used in the Las Vegas massacre.

We can do at least two things: first, never forget the victims and celebrate their lives, and second, vote to remove those that take their orders from the gun manufacturers lobby instead of the American people, and for those who will work to protect the public from this insanity.

(photo: Shannon Hicks, Newtown Bee)

Fux Loon Pirro Sued For Defamation

Fux News shrieker and demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump's most loyal ass kisser "Judge" Jeanine Pirro has been on an unhinged rampage lately as the Russiagate investigation gets ever closer to her idol Rump. She went on an unhinged rampage at the start of one of her shows recently to call for a "cleansing" of the Justice Department and FBI, and for officials like Special Counsel Robert Mueller to be marched out "in handcuffs."  All this lunacy apparently because they are getting close to Rump's corrupt dealings with the Kremlin, and Pirro's worshipful world of Rump would collapse. She has a long history of reactionary views, but she's gone so over the edge that it was reported that in a November 1 meeting with Rump, she was so over the top in her vitriol toward the investigation that even Rump had to leave the room, and was later by told by staff that she wasn't being helpful in spinning Rump up.

Another favorite target of Pirro's has been the Black Lives Matter movement, since it shines a spotlight on racism in police departments and courthouses across the nation, normally in Rethuglican jurisdictions. Now, Black Lives Matter's DeRay Mckesson is suing the Fux Channel and Pirro for defamation, after she falsely claimed that Mckesson had directed a protester at a New Orleans demonstration to hit a police office in the face with a rock. That officer has previously sued Mckesson and Black Lives Matter, but the lawsuit was dismissed.

Here's hoping that she will face a real judge who will make her pay big damages for the outrageous defamation.

(photo: TMZ. Shriek on!)

Texas Rethug Farenthold Won't Seek Reelection

Texas Rethuglican Congressman Blake "Flake" Farentlhold, under fire for multiple sexual harassment allegations, has announced that he won't seek re-election next year. Flake also settled a sexual harassment claim against him by his former communications director using $84,000 of taxpayer money. It was reported this morning that another former female staffer was subjected to vulgar and abusive language by Flake, and had to seek counseling as a result. We first took note of this skeevy wingnut back in December 2014, when these allegations first started to surface. Why it's taken three years to flush this turd is a mystery only if you disregard the moral decay at the heart of the Rethuglican / New Confederate / Misogynist Party.

Admittedly, his departure isn't anywhere near the most important news of the day, but we wanted an excuse to run the picture of him in his rubber ducky PJs.

(photo: Flake, far right (in more ways than one), in full harassing par-tay mode. Night night, Flake.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

Buh Bye, OmaGrossa

One day after African-Americans in Alabama gave Democrat Doug Jones the boost he needed to win the Senate special election, narcissistic bigot Donald "Rump" Trump gave the gate to his evil black fig leaf Omarosa Manigault Newman. She had been in the largely ceremonial role of communications director for his Office of Public Outreach.

As far as the resigned/ fired distinction:
Although the official White House statement is that she resigned, multiple sources are reporting that Newman had to be physically removed from the White House grounds after being fired by Chief of Staff John Kelly.   (our emphasis)
Some of her "fans" on Twitter marked the departure thusly:

But the best reaction of all was on Brooke Baldwin's CNN show earlier today, when lawyer, commentator and political analyst Angela Rye lost it:

Quotes Of The Day

"Don’t listen to anyone who warns the Democratic Party not to “overplay its hand.” It is the constitutional obligation of the Democrats to beat Republicans anywhere and everywhere until consistent defeat wrings out the insanity that elected Donald Trump, and that nominated Roy Moore, from a Republican Party gone blind and mad." -- Charles P. Pierce in a fine read on the results of the Alabama Senatorial special election. How do you overcome the chicanery, the voter suppression, the lies and intimidation?  You overwhelm these weasels at the ballot box.

"...[T]onight is a night for rejoicing because as Dr. King said, as Dr. King liked to quote, "The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice." Tonight, tonight, ladies and gentlemen, tonight, tonight in this time, in this place, you helped bend that moral arc a little closer to that justice and you did it, not only was it bent more, not only was its aim truer but you sent it right through the heart of the great state of Alabama in doing so." Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-AL), last night at his victory celebration.