Friday, May 26, 2017

How Will You Miss Us If We Don't Go Away?

We'll be away for a few days participating in a Joyous Event and having some happy time with family. Look for us early next week (though a random post may find its way here in the interim).

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Weekend Memorial Music

As has become our habit, we're recognizing Memorial Day with "Beneath the Southern Cross," part of Richard Rodgers' soundtrack for the "Victory at Sea" documentary series from the early 1950s. The song is also familiarly known as "No Other Love Have I."

Memorial Day in America is a day we remember those service men and women in all wars who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  We honor your service.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

(David Fitzsimmons, Arizona Daily Star)

(Nick Anderson, Hearst Papers)

Fourth Circuit Court Refuses To Lift Trump's Muslim Travel Ban

If they were capable of shame, this would be getting embarrassing for them by now:
In yet another setback for the Trump administration, a federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, on Thursday refused to lift a nationwide injunction that halted a key provision of President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban on six predominantly Muslim nations. 
The ruling is the most bruising the White House has suffered in its attempts to defend the ban, as it was rendered by 13 judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit — which deemed the case important enough to skip the usual three-judge process that the vast majority of cases go through. 
U.S. Chief Circuit Judge Roger Gregory wrote that the text of Trump’s executive order, which was challenged in courts across the country for targeting members of a particular faith, “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” (our emphasis)
Some of our institutions are still holding back "intolerance, animus, and discrimination" -- i.e., Republicanism -- for now.

Tweets Of The Day - What's A Little Shove Between Allies?

The witless, smug Giant Toddler demands his place in the limelight, dammit:

Class and grace.  Makes you proud to be an American. Fortunately, they already knew what they were dealing with in Trump.

Meanwhile, check out the crowds in Berlin waiting to hear President Obama:

Sic transit gloria, America!

Trump's Witless Slam On NATO

Russian autocrat and thug Vladimir Putin must be overjoyed at what his minion, sociopathic popular vote loser Donald "Rump" Trump had to say at a public NATO event in Brussels. It was embarrassing enough that Rump publicly and thuggishly chastised the two-dozen NATO members standing near him with his complaint about "paying their fair share" toward NATO, as many of the assembled leaders wore shocked looks. The clueless buffoon continued to misrepresent the situation as a "payment" to the U.S., rather than a commitment by them to spend two percent of their budgets on defense. Far worse, he refused to back Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which says that an attack on one member is an attack on all. The article was last invoked when NATO allies sent troops to Afghanistan after 9-11. That omission will have champagne corks popping in the Kremlin, which has its eyes on NATO's Baltic States, and eastern European allies, and wants a weakened, ineffective NATO.

The expectation that Rump would mend ties with NATO, after campaigning on the issue that NATO was "obsolete," has probably been dashed after this ham-fisted performance. He undercuts the importance of the U.S. keeping the NATO alliance strong, not only as a bulwark against terrorism but against an emboldened and aggressive Russian Federation with dreams of empire.

Democracy Also Dies In Indecency

Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan, yesterday on certain foul reptilians' politicizing the death of Seth Rich:
... On Sunday, former House speaker and Trump insider Newt Gingrich used Fox’s national platform to spread the lies, squandering what remains of his own credibility to make respectable people think it might be so. (Police think it may have been a robbery gone wrong.) 
Decent people should shun both Hannity and Gingrich. (our emphasis)
The Washington Post op/ ed page this morning:
 By Newt Gingrich

That would be the same newspaper that adopted the post- election slogan, "Democracy dies in darkness."  Good to know the Post has such high, immutable standards.

Montana Republican Gianforte Cited For Assaulting Reporter

Montana plutocrat and Republican Congressional candidate Greg "Giant Fart" Gianforte is a bully with anger management issues:

Even Fox "News" reporters who were witness to the assault were appalled. Three Montana newspapers have also pulled their endorsements of Giant Fart.

"Get the hell out of here" should be Montanans' response to the unhinged Giant Fart, who's belatedly been cited for misdemeanor assault by the Sheriff who's also a contributor to his campaign.

The election is today. More reason than ever to elect Democrat Rob Quist.

BONUS:  The wonderful John Dingell's take --

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

CBO Scores The Republican TrumpCare 2.0 Bill (UPDATED)

Surprise!  TrumpCare 2.0 is as awful as the one that failed the first time around:
Twenty-three million fewer Americans would have insurance under legislation that House Republicans narrowly passed last month, the Congressional Budget Office reported on Wednesday.
The agency also predicted the deficit would come down by $119 billion over the next decade ― and that premiums for people buying insurance on their own would be relatively lower than those premiums would be if the Affordable Care Act stays in place.
But the reasons health insurance would be less expensive for some aren’t much to cheer about, the budget report makes clear. Prices would come down for healthy people because those who are sick or have illness in their medical histories would have less access to coverage ― and the policies available on the market would tend to be a lot less comprehensive.
In other words, the price for lower premiums would be some combination of higher out-of-pocket costs, fewer covered services, and coverage that would be harder to get for the people who need it most.  [snip]
Most of the money saved by cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid and billions more from financial assistance for those buying private health insurance will be transferred to wealthy households and health care companies in the form of tax cuts, with a small amount left over for deficit reduction(our emphasis)
The House Republican leadership was awaiting the scoring of this bill (misnamed the "American Health Care Act" -- it's really the "American Tax Cuts For The Wealthy And Screw You Act") before formally sending it to the Senate, where a group of 13 Republican white males are already diligently at work on their own approach to afflicting the afflicted. Fortunately, they face a difficult road ahead. Each, in our own way, should make it as difficult as possible.

UPDATE:  Here's the impact on the uninsured rate in graph form (click on images to enlarge) --

Other goodies from the Republicans --

Today's Cartoon Twofer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Drew Sheneman, The Star-Ledger - Newark, NJ)

(Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune)

The Pope Meets The Dope

We're guessing it went something like this:

Dope: "Hi, can I call you Frank? Say, did you hear the one about the two Corinthians?"

Pope: ("God, just let this be over...what's that sulfur smell?")

Of course, memes have emerged over the Pope's obvious discomfort being in the company of Dope.  Here are a few we like:

Morning Reading

Sarah Posner on Republicans shielding un-indicted co-conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump:
In his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday morning, former CIA director John Brennan bluntly told lawmakers that during the 2016 election, he reviewed intelligence that showed “contacts and interactions” between Russian actors and people associated with the Trump campaign. By the summer of 2016, Brennan said, he was “convinced” that Russia was engaged in an “aggressive” and “multifaceted” effort to interfere in our election — and as a result, he believed “there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation” by the FBI. 
With this testimony, Brennan just made it a whole lot harder — politically, at least — for the GOP to continue in its efforts to protect Trump, even as scrutiny of his campaign intensifies on the part of the FBI, and now, special counsel Robert Mueller. Yet if Tuesday’s hearing is any guide, congressional Republicans are still intent on shielding Trump by undermining the investigation in the mind of the public.
This is a party- before- country collection of nihilists; we need to turn as many of them out of office as possible.  Here's a start on the state level:
On Tuesday night, Democrats flipped not one but two state legislative seats in special elections—and both came in deep red territory. In New Hampshire, Democrat Edie DesMarais defeated Republican Matthew Plache by a 52-48 margin in the state House’s 6th Carroll District, a seat Donald Trump won 51-44 last fall. Meanwhile, in the New York Assembly’s 9th District, Democrat Christine Pellegrino beat Republican Thomas Gargiulo 58-42, even though Trump romped to a 60-37 victory there in November. 
Democrats winning at the State and local level over the next 2 - 4 years is extremely important to re-building the party, especially with the 2020 census looming. We've got the special Congressional election in Montana (Rob Quist!) on Thursday and the one in Georgia (Jon Ossoff!) in June, which could be bellweathers for the 2018 mid- term elections.

Margaret Sullivan on the despicable Sean "Heil" Hannity, Newt Gingrich and Fox "News" in their politicizing the death of DNC staffer Seth Rich last summer:
To hear Fox’s Sean Hannity tell it, this was an inside job by the Democratic National Committee, where Rich worked: retribution by the Hillary Clinton camp for his sharing insider emails with WikiLeaks. 
The theory has been thoroughly debunked by Oliver Darcy at CNN, among others, and Rich’s family has demanded that Fox retract and apologize. To the reported embarrassment of its own staff, it took Fox days to do the right thing. (Fox finally retracted the story Tuesday afternoon , and Tuesday night Hannity claimed that “out of respect for the family’s wishes, for now, I am not discussing the matter at this time.”) 
But the damage has been done. On Sunday, former House speaker and Trump insider Newt Gingrich used Fox’s national platform to spread the lies, squandering what remains of his own credibility to make respectable people think it might be so. (Police think it may have been a robbery gone wrong.) 
Decent people should shun both Hannity and Gingrich. 
There's word this morning that Hannity will stop his conspiracy mongering about Seth Rich, ostensibly in response to this direct, heart- wrenching appeal from Seth Rich's parents:
Imagine living in a nightmare that you can never wake up from. Imagine having to face every single day knowing that your son was murdered. Imagine you have no answers — that no one has been brought to justice and there are few clues leading to the killer or killers. Imagine that every single day, with every phone call you hope that it’s the police, calling to tell you that there has been a break in the case. 
Imagine that instead, every call that comes in is a reporter asking what you think of a series of lies or conspiracies about the death. That nightmare is what our family goes through every day.  [snip]
... Seth’s death has been turned into a political football. Every day we wake up to new headlines, new lies, new factual errors, new people approaching us to take advantage of us and Seth’s legacy. It just won’t stop. The amount of pain and anguish this has caused us is unbearable. With every conspiratorial flare-up, we are forced to relive Seth’s murder and a small piece of us dies as more of Seth’s memory is torn away from us. [snip]
There are people who are using our beloved Seth’s memory and legacy for their own political goals, and they are using your outrage to perpetuate our nightmare. We ask those purveying falsehoods to give us peace, and to give law enforcement the time and space to do the investigation they need to solve our son’s murder. 
Reptilians like Hannity and Gingrich are sociopaths who have political agendas that take precedence over facts and human decency. They're wired that way, so it's only a matter of time before they plump another destructive lie into a full- fledged nightmare for another family. Also, let's not forget the collusion of many in the "mainstream media," who delight in "reporting on the controversy," hoping to attract clicks and eyeballs without getting their hands dirty in the process. The sooner this fever dream fades, the better.

Time To Lawyer Up

Sociopathic con man and Putin loyalist Donald "Rump" Trump is apparently feeling some heat on his large tuchas. According to reports, Rump has retained New York attorney Marc Kasowitz as a personal counsel for matters relating to the Russiagate scandal. White (Supremacist) House Counsel Doug McGahn would continue to handle legal matters related to the Office of the President. Kasowitz has represented Rump in civil cases, most recently as his counsel in the Trump University fraud case, which Rump lost and was forced to pay $25 million in restitution. He also represents =pause for effect=  Russia's largest state- controlled bank, Sperbank. Nice choice.

It's worth noting that possible FBI Director nominee and sanctimonious turncoat Joe "Lieberliar" Lieberman belongs to Kasowitz's law firm, a little detail that should sink his potential nomination as FBI Director in normal times, but remember who shits sits in the Oval Office. Stay tuned.

Mid-Week Filip-out Songs

Many thanks to dear friend P.E.C. for recommending jazz and classical pianist Filip Wojciechowski for our musical selection. Wojciechoski, a graduate of Warsaw's Music Academy, has won numerous awards for his artistry, including the Claude Kahn Competition in Paris and a special award at the XIII International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (1995), and has appeared at prestigious venues around the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic and the Opera House in Monte Carlo. He masterfully blends classical piano (often Chopin) and contemporary jazz in many of his compositions, for example "SwingujÄ…cy Chopin."

His original composition, "Moments," from his 2011 album of the same title, is a beautiful, evocative piece, combining his piano, a trumpet, a saxophone, and drums for a melodic, wistful experience. Have a listen:

As a reviewer for wrote,
"Beauty, grace, elegance …These are the qualities that best describe the music created by Filip Wojciechowski and his company on this album... 'Moments' also has another important advantage. This is music without a rush, which allows each note to resound and allows silence to exist."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch)

(Jeff Danziger, The Rutland (VT) Herald)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)