Sunday, January 20, 2019

Across The Universe, Cont. -- Ball Of Stars


(click on image to enlarge)



From NASA/ ESA, January 14, 2019This huge ball of stars — around 100 billion in total — is an elliptical galaxy located some 55 million light-years away from us. Known as Messier 89, this galaxy appears to be perfectly spherical; this is unusual for elliptical galaxies, which tend to be elongated ellipsoids. The apparently spherical nature of Messier 89 could, however, be a trick of perspective, and be caused by its orientation relative to the Earth.

Messier 89 is slightly smaller than the Milky Way, but has a few interesting features that stretch far out into the surrounding space. One structure of gas and dust extends up to 150 000 light-years out from the galaxy’s centre, which is known to house a supermassive black hole. Jets of heated particles reach out to 100 000 light-years from the galaxy, suggesting that Messier 89 may have once been far more active — perhaps an active quasar or radio galaxy — than it is now. It is also surrounded by an extensive system of shells and plumes, which may have been caused by past mergers with smaller galaxies — and implies that Messier 89 as we know it may have formed in the relatively recent past.

Messier 89 was discovered by astronomer Charles Messier in 1781, when Messier had been cataloguing astronomical objects for 23 years — ever since he mistook a faint object in the sky for Halley’s Comet. Upon closer inspection, he realised the object was actually the Crab Nebula. To prevent other astronomers from making the same error, he decided to catalogue all the bright, deep-sky objects that could potentially be mistaken for comets. His methodical observations of the night sky led to the first comprehensive catalogue of astronomical objects: the Messier catalogue! Messier 89 holds the record for being the last ever giant elliptical to be found by Messier, and the most perfectly spherical galaxy in the entire catalogue of 110 objects.

Credit:  ESA/Hubble & NASA, S. Faber et al.

Giuliani: No Problem With Trump Witness Tampering



Earlier today on CNN, bumbling TV lawyer and logorrhea sufferer Rudy "Ghouliani" Giuliani said his felonious client, demagogue and Kremlin asset Donald "Rump" Trump (Individual-1) may have spoken to his fixer Michael Cohen about testimony that Cohen was about to give to Congress on Rump's secretive Trump Tower Moscow deal. Perhaps realizing he once again screwed up, Giuliani quickly added that if Rump had spoken to him, "so what if he had talked to him about it?" (He also defended Rump's attack on Cohen's family, which is a classic Cosa Nostra tactic).

Well, we only play lawyers on this blog, but that would certainly constitute a potential target of an investigation (Individual-1) speaking to a witness in the investigation (Cohen). Isn't it just a teensy bit possible that Rump would want to know what Cohen planned to tell the Congressional Committee, and that Cohen would want to make sure it squared with Rump's account?

While we find Giuliani sickening and deeply corrupt, we're happy that he unburdens himself on national TV about his client's words and actions. He's a prosecutor's dream.

(illustration: Giuliani working hard on digging that hole he's in.)

Today's Cartoons


(click on images to enlarge)


(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)


(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)


(Paul Szep, via gocomics.com)


(Darrin Bell, Washington Post Writers Group)

Reactions To Trump's Bogus "Compromise"


First, let's set aside the usual suspects in the broken and fearful media who are timidly characterizing as a "compromise" the bogus "plan" that demagogue and pathological liar Donald "Rump" Trump ("Individual-1") regurgitated yesterday on his wall that Mexico was going to pay for. He's still refusing to open the Government until he gets his funding for his medieval "solution." His mealy-mouthed, temporary offer on DACA is something that he took away at the start of his regime, and will again if he gets his wall money. He still owns the shutdown which is in its 30th day.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to Rump's pitch in part by saying:
“The President must sign these bills to re-open government immediately and stop holding the American people hostage with this senseless shutdown.  Each day he prolongs this needless crisis, Coast Guardsmen, FBI agents, border patrol officers, TSA agents, and hundreds of thousands more workers are forced to live without knowing how they can feed their families or pay their bills.

The President has taken pride in shutting down government. Now, he must take action to open up government.” (our emphasis)
Dems, rinse, repeat, rinse over and over: Rump is responsible for the shutdown and we won't negotiate with a hostage taker. Open the Government now.

Twitter has its take on the Rump speech:


Saturday, January 19, 2019

Trump's Shutdown Impacts Ethics Oversight


Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) has been an effective watchdog for abuses by political hacks. The regime of fraudster and sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump has been the most corrupt in American history, with numerous officials resigning due to ethics violations (a fairly recent accounting of the regime's scandals -- including at the Trump Organization, etc. -- was compiled by Bloomberg, and it's astonishing).

CREW's latest study indicates that the very internal watchdogs for ethics are being hampered by the Rump shutdown, and that furloughs of Federal employees at the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), and numerous Inspector General offices have slowed or stopped investigations into the regime's wrongdoing. There's more:
"OGE is not the only government watchdog whose work is threatened by the shutdown. In the first two years of the Trump Administration, ten administration officials, including then-U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, have violated the Hatch Act by impermissibly using government resources for partisan politics. The agency responsible for enforcing the Hatch Act, the Office of Special Counsel, is currently closed '[d]ue to a lapse in appropriations.”\' The agency’s website advises that “[c]omplaints may still be filed, but most will not be addressed until OSC reopens.” [snip] Many Offices of Inspector General (OIG), which investigate waste, fraud, and abuse in federal agencies, are also limited by the shutdown. For example, despite numerous ethics scandals involving leadership at the Department of Interior, the agency’s Inspector General complaint hotline 'will not be monitored and will not accept voice messages.'” (our emphasis)
Imagine what these Trumpist grifters will do now that the ethical lights have been temporarily turned off. Just another casualty of Rump's malicious taking of the Government and its employees as hostages for a vanity wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for.

Today's Cartoons


(click on images to enlarge)


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


(Clay Jones, via claytoonz.com)


(Bruce Plante, Tulsa World)


(Kevin Siers, The Charlotte Observer)


MAGA Punks Mock Native American Veteran


They must be teaching some powerful moral lessons over there at Covington Catholic High School, in Covington, KY.  This happened at yesterday's "March for Life" demonstration in DC, where the smirking Squiggy in the MAGA hat (of course) is taunting a Vietnam veteran Native American participating in the Indigenous Peoples March, cheered on by his pimple- faced, simpleton classmates (also sportin' MAGA hats):



The little proto-Republicans are at least faithful to their tribal creed that respect for the sanctity of life ends once the fetus exits the birth canal.  After that, malicious callousness to others (especially to those not like you) is perfectly acceptable.

As if that's not sickening enough, this comes two days after a photo showing some Zionsville (IN) Community High School losers throwing the Nazi salute in a social media post, and  two months after a group of Baraboo (WI) High School spalpeens did the same thing in a prom photo.

Here's the perfect historical reminder of this strain in our culture, nowadays aided and abetted by a malevolent shitheel in the White (Supremacist) House who provides the sociopathic role model:


BONUS:  If you're of a mind, here's the address of Covington Catholic High School and the email of the principal.  Also, it wasn't just the behavior of the little shits:  where were the adult chaperones or teachers, and were they enabling or encouraging the taunting?

Robert Rowe, Principal
Covington Catholic High School
1600 Dixie Highway
Park Hills, KY 41011
P (859) 491-2247
browe@covcath.org

BONUS II: Apparently this school has a history of cultivating racist brats. Children aren't born to hate: they're taught to.


BONUS III:


"The Core Of Buzzfeed's Story Is Correct"



Rachel Maddow had a good explainer last night on the latest twists in the Buzzfeed report about Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump suborning perjury by Michael Cohen, and the Special Counsel office's highly parsed pushback.

The bottom line, as stated by former senior DOJ official Chuck Rosenberg, is that the core of Buzzfeed's story is correct, as evidenced by the Special Counsel's own court filing.

You can also add this episode to the file of "mainstream media pecksniffs more interested in shivving competitors rather than doing their jobs" (see Mock Paper Scissors).

Trump's Upcoming "Grip and Grin With Kim"



Demagogue and Russian asset Donald "Rump" Trump is flailing for anything that will get the spotlight over his Federal government shutdown, and of course the Mueller investigation. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un sensed Rump's desperate straits and sent his emissary, Kim Yong Chol, to stall Rump again by offering another meaningless photo-op while he continues his nuclear weapons program.

Rump told reporters this morning that he and Chol had an "incredible" meeting (i.e., not to be believed) and made "a lot of progress," presumably deciding on the menus and flower arrangements. When they met in Singapore last year, Kim got everything he wanted: recognition as an equal to the U.S., flattery from clueless Rump, and a vague commitment to de-nuclearizing the Korean Peninsula (meaning "you first, U.S."). Since then, Kim has quietly continued his nuclear plans, while decommissioning some obsolete facilities for show. Rump is desperate to get a foreign policy "win" (he's given Putin quite a few), even if it's nothing more than keeping North Korea from firing ballistic missiles over the Sea of Japan....for now.

Rump's attraction to strongmen, thugs and dictators reveals his own desire to rule in an autocratic manner, damn checks and balances. Unfortunately, Kim's a smarter negotiator than the narcissistic Rump, who has broadcast his susceptibility to flattery, parades and stroking to every dictator in the world. Kim knows that, and will use that against Rump....again.

(image: Negotiating with yourself)

"Dreamers" Safe For Now?


Hopeful news yesterday from the Supreme Court:
The U.S. Supreme Court took no action on Friday on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program. It now appears likely that the court will not take up the issue during its current term, which would require the government to keep the program going for at least ten more months. 
The Trump administration urged the justices to hear appeals of lower court rulings that prevent the government from shutting DACA down, but Friday was the last day for adding cases to the current term's docket, barring unusual circumstances. Any cases accepted in subsequent weeks won't be heard until the next term, which begins October 1, and it would take a few months more for the court to issue a decision.
If this holds, it will be the second time in a year that the Supreme Court has declined to weigh into challenges to the DACA program by the Trump regime.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Will The "Both Sides Brigade" Rescue Trump?


Writing in New York Magazine, Eric Levitz notes that some in the traditional media are beginning to call for "compromise" between the Dems and demagogue and corrupt con man Donald "Rump" Trump over his hostage-taking Government shutdown tactics. Acceding to Rump's petulant demand that he get $5.7 billion in taxpayer money for a wall that Mexico was going to pay for would incentivize him to do the same thing whenever he wasn't getting his way: successful hostage taking leads to more hostage taking. And it would be well for the "both sides brigade" to remember that Rump himself owned the shutdown and he can end it.

We're seeing trenchant stories of Federal workers and contractors barely holding on as they dip into retirement funds or sell belongings. The media is tempted to play this as the result of "both sides" not willing to compromise. But with a nod, Rump could signal human/turtle hybrid and despicable coward Sen. Mitch McConnell to bring the appropriations bills passed by the House up for a vote and open the Government, while debating border security separately. The media's not so stupid as to miss the obvious action required -- they're lazily slipping back into the "both sides" mode when they need to point to the clear (and self-identified) villain here: Rump.

Today's Cartoons


(click on images to enlarge)


(Tom Toles, Washington Post)


(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


(Rob Rogers, robrogers.com)


(Matt Davies, Newsday)


(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

Weekend Traveling Music


One of our favorite groups, Portland's The Decemberists, have a new EP out, "Traveling On," and an eponymous single.  It's another beautiful composition by Colin Meloy that we hope you'll enjoy (see what we did there?).

Follow The Money: Deutsche Bank Edition



After multiple bankruptcies, despite the efforts of his daddy to bail him out, felonious Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump ("Individual-1") had to turn to foreign sources of money for his organization. While other sources may be revealed in coming weeks (e.g. Russia's government-controlled Alpha Bank, etc.), one clear participant in floating Rump's organization was Deutsche Bank, and new reports indicate that the leadership of the House is determining which committee(s) will investigate those dealings.

When Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigative team was reported to be seeking Deutsche Bank's records relating to the Trump Organization, Rump indicated that it would be a "red line" for investigators to look into his business financing, and was considering firing Mueller. Of course it's becoming clearer why Rump is so concerned about his connection with the bank (and indirectly Russian money laundering):
"Democrats are now discussing how to divide up the investigative work and the Intelligence Committee and Financial Services Committee are preparing to look into Deutsche, Reuters reports. The bank has been prosecuted for multibillion-dollar Russian money-laundering operations that flowed through its accounts. There has been speculation as to why Deutsche was one of the only banks willing to lend large sums of money to Trump and his businesses in the past decade; it extended millions of dollars in credit to the Trump Organization." (our emphasis)
The likelihood is that the House Financial Services Committee, now led by the indomitable Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), will take the lead. When the Dems were in the minority in the House, party--before-country Rethuglican members refused to subpoena Deutsche Bank's records relating to Rump. Now, Dems will do what good investigators do: follow the money.

Reactions To Report Trump Suborned Perjury


We're going to start with some reactions on Twitter to the report that Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump (Individual 1) suborned perjury by directing Michael Cohen to lie to Congress:

In summary,