Monday, December 5, 2016

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon - Utter Ruination

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(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Fake News Leads To Real Consequences (UPDATED)

You may of heard of one of the most insane rumors being touted in pro- Trump fake news outlets before the election that involved a popular family restaurant in Washington, DC, Comet Ping Pong:
The popular family restaurant, near Connecticut and Nebraska avenues NW in the Chevy Chase neighborhood, was swept up in the onslaught of fake news and conspiracy theories that were prevalent during the presidential campaign. The restaurant, its owner, staff and nearby businesses have been attacked on social media and received death threats. [snip] 
The restaurant’s owner and employees were threatened on social media in the days before the election after fake news stories circulated claiming that then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief were running a child sex ring from the restaurant’s backrooms. Even Michael Flynn, a retired general whom President-elect Donald Trump has tapped to advise him on national security, shared stories about another anti-Clinton conspiracy theory involving pedophilia.* None of them were true. But the fake stories and threats persisted, some even aimed at children of Comet Ping Pong employees and patrons. The restaurant’s owner was forced to contact the FBI, local police, Facebook and other social-media platforms in an effort to remove the articles. (our emphasis)
Well, just as elections have consequences, so do fake news stories:
A North Carolina man was arrested Sunday after he walked into a popular pizza restaurant in Northwest Washington carrying an assault rifle and fired one or more shots, D.C. police said. The man told police he had come to the restaurant to “self-investigate” a false election-related conspiracy theory involving Hillary Clinton that spread online during her presidential campaign. 
The incident caused panic, with several businesses going into lockdown as police swarmed the neighborhood after receiving the call shortly before 3 p.m. 
Police said 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch, of Salisbury, N.C., walked in the front door of Comet Ping Pong and pointed a firearm in the direction of a restaurant employee. The employee was able to flee and notify police. Police said Welch proceeded to discharge the rifle inside the restaurant; they think that all other occupants had fled when Welch began shooting. 
As Mark Twain once said (and as Mr. Welch is discovering), "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

True to form, right- wing fake news purveyors are denying this dimwit was motivated by their fake news stories, claiming it's a (wait for it) "false flag" operation.  However, looking at some information about Welch (a registered Republican and someone who follows right- wing conspiracy nutjob Alex Jones), it's hard to see this "self- investigator" as anything but the delusional -- and, unfortunately, well- armed -- dimbulb that he is.

Luckily, no one was hurt in the incident, but we can't always expect to be so fortunate.  That's why it's way past time to shut down these platforms that spread malicious lies and to prosecute not only the dimbulbs that take violent action like Welch, but those who encourage them.

* The execrable son of Lt. Gen. "Jack D. Ripper" Flynn (ret.) is one of those trying to deflect attention and blame from the far- right fake news sites. The nut didn't fall far from the tree.

UPDATE:  Flynn's neckbearded son has a history of peddling crap (and he's in the transition team):

(Photo: Today's unstable Stormtrumper in the news -- Welch/ Facebook)

Another Inmate Will Be Helping Run The Asylum (Cont.)

Dare we say, "A dud for H.U.D."?
President-elect Donald Trump is nominating Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who has never held public office, as his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. [snip] 
Carson, who ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican primary, told Fox News last month that he was considering the position. This was a shift from his earlier assertion that he wasn’t qualified for a Cabinet position. (our emphasis)
His earlier assertion was correct.  Too bad this is a time he didn't listen to the few semi- rational voices in his head.
As HUD chief, Carson will be tasked with setting housing policies for the Trump Administration, including access to affordable housing and community development. Carson’s comments on certain anti-discrimination policies ― he has called one plan a “mandated social-engineering scheme” ― is likely to concern some fair housing advocates.  (our emphasis)
You might say that.

Let's remember Bennie the Blade's previous encounter with a large development project:
“My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain,” Carson said in a 1998 commencement speech at Andrews University, unearthed by BuzzFeed. “Now all the archaeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big — when you stop and think about it, and I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time — to store that much grain.”
So, neo- fascist ignoramus Donald "Rump" Trump has selected a fellow ignoramus for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, someone with no experience in housing policy, much less managing a large bureaucracy with a multi- billion dollar budget, who is also hostile to fair housing policies.  This should turn out well.

BONUS: Steve Benen on Rump's "most ridiculous" Cabinet selection thus far (and why the Senate shouldn't confirm him).

(Photo:  Whaaat?! Dr. Ben "Benny the Blade" Carson, "not qualified" for a Cabinet position, per Dr. Ben "Benny the Blade" Carson.)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Cartoons - Stick 'Em Up!

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(Clay Jones,

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

See commentary here.

Sunday Collection Plate

Many organizations will be crucial to defending our rights, and the rights of the powerless, and protecting the environment during what promises to be a severely reactionary regime in the next four years. Once again, we're providing links directly to those organizations' donation site so that you can contribute what ever sums you can -- either one time or sustaining -- to help them push back on the disastrous policies that are sure to come.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Planned Parenthood.

Emily's List.

The Natural Resources Defense Council.

The American Civil Liberties Union.

Southern Poverty Law Center.

Union of Concerned Scientists.

We urge you to give whatever amounts you can for the sake of our future.

Tweets Of The Day - Bumbler In Chief

More reactions to the Bumbler in Chief's recent dabbling in foreign policy:

The Psychological Disorder Of Trump

Over the past year, there have been numerous analyses and essays focusing on the mental health of neo-fascist bumbler and Twitter twit Donald "Rump" Trump. The common "diagnosis" seems to be that he suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, given his enormous self-regard and need to degrade and humiliate people that are unwilling to bow to him. Alfie Kohn has a detailed piece at AlterNet that examines every symptom of the disorder that Rump possesses in spades:
"Donald Trump has distinguished himself as someone who is:

* given to boasting, preening, and swaggering to the point of self-parody;

* not merely thin-skinned and petulant but vindictive when crossed or even criticized;

* restless, with the attention span of a toddler;

* desperately competitive, driven to sort the world into winners and losers, and to regard other people (or countries) primarily as rivals to be bested;

* astonishingly lacking not only in knowledge but in curiosity;

* not merely given to uttering blatant falsehoods on a more or less constant basis but apparently unaware of the extent of his dishonesty, as if the fact that he believes or has said something makes it true; and

* possessed of a sense of absolute entitlement -- such that if he wants to kiss or grab an attractive woman, for example, he should of course be free to do so -- along with a lack of shame, humility, empathy, or capacity for reflection and self-scrutiny."
This is a man soon to be in charge of America's nuclear arsenal and Federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and who sadly was viewed by 62 million Americans (roughly 20% of the population) as qualified and acceptable for those roles. Foreign adversaries have a good psychological grasp of Rump and how to manipulate him, in particular Russian autocrat Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin. As a former KGB officer, Putin has been thoroughly trained in exploiting an adversary's psychological weakness, and he's found that by simply flattering Rump's ego, all things are possible. Here's Kohn again:
"It's not just that [Trump's] an extreme risk-taker, but that he takes those risks purely in the service of his own wealth and glory.  It's not clear that he has any principles, as such; what he has is an overwhelming need to be the center of attention, to be liked, feared, admired.  Apart from considerations of personal profit, his foreign policy is likely to be determined at least in part by which individuals on the world stage stroke his ego and which ones criticize him -- never mind that despicable leaders may do the former and reasonable leaders the latter (which is actually more likely than the reverse, if you think about it)." (emphasis added)
Rump's business dealings are already putting him in jeopardy of violating the Constitutional prohibition on "emoluments," not to mention his various his threats against rights under the First Amendment. Now, our international relationships and national security are also in danger of being severely damaged by a man who had needed psychological care for a long time, but who will never seek it.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

New Displays of "Economic Anxiety"

News items:

--Interracial couple in Ohio have their home broken into and vandalized with swastikas. They even poured cement down the house's drains.

--Racist bile spews forth as Minnesota's Mall of America hires a black Santa Claus.

--Muslim-American woman attacked in the New York City subway by thugs trying to rip her headscarf off.

That "economic anxiety" that corporate media pundits assure us was the core issue for neo-fascist Donald "Rump" Trump's supporters sure has a funny way of expressing itself.

Today's Cartoon Threefer - The Swamp (Cont.)

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(David Horsey, Los Angeles Times)

(Gary Markstein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

All in service to The Forgotten Man, no doubt.

Takes On Trump's Latest Screw Up

Reactions to clueless narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump's protocol-smashing call with Taiwan's President (see post below), violating decades of the U.S.'s "one China" policy, reflect new fears that this unqualified shitgibbon will lead us into an international crisis or a war out of ignorance, manipulation by his reactionary staff, and/or putting his business interests over everything else. Some reactions:

Donald Trump: International Man Of Stupidity (UPDATED)

A dilettante in all matters except lining his pockets, neo- fascist dimbulb Donald "Rump" Trump is getting his little fingers into delicate places where they shouldn't be (and we're not talking about grabbing anything).  Since November 8, Rump has been busy not with daily intelligence briefings, but with making and getting calls from foreign leaders no doubt eager to plumb the shallows of Rump's mind while stroking his yuuge ego. A few recent examples of his interactions, including some autocrats with blood on their hands (our emphasis throughout):

British Prime Minister Theresa May
Mr. Trump told the British prime minister, Theresa May, “If you travel to the U.S., you should let me know,” an offhand invitation that came only after he spoke to nine other leaders. He later compounded it by saying on Twitter that Britain should name the anti-immigrant leader Nigel Farage its ambassador to Washington, a startling break with diplomatic protocol.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
A handout photo shows Trump meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Manhattan's Trump Tower...along with Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump. CNN correspondent Ivan Watson deleted his tweet of the picture, but not before various reporters, political commentators, and other users quoted it pointing out the inappropriateness of Ivanka's presence. 
The reason why so many people are peeved? Allegedly, Ivanka will be running Trump's businesses in a blind trust, which means that her presence in diplomatic meetings is mixing Trump's presidency with his business. Just fantastic
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
Mr. Trump’s conversation with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan has generated the most angst, because, as Mr. Earnest put it, the relationship between Mr. Sharif’s country and the United States is “quite complicated,” with disputes over issues ranging from counterterrorism to nuclear proliferation. 
In a remarkably candid readout of the phone call, the Pakistani government said Mr. Trump had told Mr. Sharif that he was “a terrific guy” who made him feel as though “I’m talking to a person I have known for long.” He described Pakistanis as “one of the most intelligent people.” When Mr. Sharif invited him to visit Pakistan, the president-elect replied that he would “love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people.”
President Nursultan A. Nazarbayev
Mr. Nazarbayev has ruled his country with an iron hand since 1989, first as head of the Communist Party and later as president after Kazakhstan won its independence from the Soviet Union. In April 2015, he won a fifth term, winning 97.7 percent of the vote and raising suspicions of fraud. 
The Kazakh government, in its account of Mr. Trump’s conversation, said he had lavished praise on the president for his leadership of the country over the last 25 years. “D. Trump stressed that under the leadership of Nursultan Nazarbayev, our country over the years of independence had achieved fantastic success that can be called a ‘miracle,’” it said. 
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte
Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte described as "encouraging" his phone call with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Friday, during which he felt a rapport between them and gave assurance that ties were intact, despite a period of rocky relations. 
Trump's seven-minute chat with the firebrand Philippine president follows months of uncertainty about one of Washington's most important Asian alliances, stoked by Duterte's hostility towards President Barack Obama and repeated threats to sever decades-old defense ties. 
Duterte's anger was unleashed following Obama's concerns about possible human rights abuses in his war on drugs, during which more than 2,000 people have been killed. 
Duterte said Trump was "sensitive" and understanding about his crackdown and was encouraged by what he interpreted as Trump's indication he would not interfere. 
"I could sense a good rapport, an animated President-elect Trump. And he was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem," Duterte said in comments his office released on Saturday.
And now, you can add to the list --

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen
President-elect Donald Trump spoke Friday with Taiwan’s president, a major departure from decades of U.S. policy in Asia and a breach of diplomatic protocol with ramifications for the incoming president’s relations with China. 
The call is the first known contact between a U.S. president or president-elect with a Taiwanese leader since before the United States broke diplomatic relations with the island in 1979. China considers Taiwan a province, and news of the official outreach by Trump is likely to infuriate the regional military and economic power.
He's a month and a half away from being the official Bumbler in Chief, when his tweets, his calls, his thin skin, and his bottomless ignorance will really matter.  He'll always be putting his family's shady global business interests ahead of American economic and strategic interests, though he almost assuredly sees no daylight between the two. Good times.

UPDATE:  The bumbling nature of Rump's foray into international diplomacy -- illustrated in his clueless, fawning praise of Pakistani President Sharif -- is revealed in this tidbit:
What made Trump’s conversation with Sharif all the more terrific, amazing, tremendous, fantastic and exceptional was that only days earlier, a member of Trump’s transition team had told journalists in India that Trump is in favor of legislation declaring Pakistan a “terror state.” The promise, consistent with Trump’s previous complaints about Pakistan’s “betrayal and disrespect,” was huge news on the subcontinent.
Fool's going to start a war, just give him time.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Weekend Calamity Song

Since it's December, why not feature a song by...  The Decemberists?!  Here's a cut from their 2011 album "The King Is Dead" (with references to the Eschaton game being played in the video explained here) -- "Calamity Song" (FYI, that's Peter Buck of R.E.M. playing 12- string guitar). Hope you enjoy and have a good weekend.

Voter Suppression Before and After The Vote

We're all familiar with voter suppression actions by Republicans recently, and over the past several years: requiring voter IDs to combat non-existent in-person voter fraud, eliminating polling places in minority communities, restricting or eliminating early voting and voting hours, etc. Their idea is to target non-Rethuglican voting blocs and make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to vote.

With recounts planned in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, Rethuglicans now are challenging the Green Party initiators of the recounts in court. While the recounts are not expected to necessarily change the electoral outcome, they would be useful in surfacing officially-sanctioned, organized fraud (voting machines in Dem-heavy precincts malfunctioning, misplaced ballots, etc.). A recount is already underway in Wisconsin; the recount in Michigan (assuming Rethugs aren't able to stop it) begins early next week, and a Pennsylvania court has scheduled a hearing on their State's recount next Monday. It's all reminiscent of the Rethuglicans' "stop the recount" efforts in 2000 in Florida, after Dem Presidential candidate Al Gore was gaining on Dumbya Bush, when paid Rethug operatives descended on Miami - Dade county to shut down the vote counting in the so-called "Brooks Brothers riot."

So if they can't suppress the vote before election day, they'll damn sure try later.

Unemployment Drops To 4.6 Percent -- Thanks Trump!

The Department of Labor reports today that the economy added 178,000 jobs in November and that the unemployment rate dropped from 4.9 to 4.6 percent. (Must be thanks to that sweet sweet Carrier deal!) For the longer view, here's what has happened under the careful, unbiased gaze of the media since the year after President Obama took office:

At the end of President Obama's term, we'll be compiling a snapshot of social and economic indicators as a baseline to judge how much neo- fascist incompetent shitgibbon Donald "Rump" Trump MAGA during his reign of error, because your mainstream corporate media certainly won't be keeping track.

About That Carrier "Win" For Trump

The recent news that United Technologies/ Carrier Corp. cut a deal with the State of Indiana (overseen by Gov. Mike "Dense" Pence) to keep about 1,000 manufacturing jobs in Indiana has been touted by neo- fascist plutocrat Donald "Rump" Trump and large swaths of the accommodating, normalizing media as a big p.r. "win" for Rump's style of dealmaking.  Now that the dust has settled a bit, the details of the deal, and its potential as a template for future "deals" are being called into question.

First, what's actually going to happen to the roughly 2,000 jobs that Carrier was threatening to move from Indiana to Mexico?  After Rump and Dense made their victory tour through the Carrier plant yesterday, here's what happened:
Not long after Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence departed for the airport and to another rally in Ohio to celebrate his victory, workers coming in for the night shift received a letter titled “Company Update on Indianapolis Operations.” 
“While this announcement is good news for many, we recognize it is not good news for everyone,” the letter stated. “We are moving forward with previously announced plans to relocate the fan coil manufacturing lines, with the expected completion by the end of 2017.”  (our emphasis)
That's at least 1,300 workers right there.

So, the deal that United Technologies/ Carrier got to keep less than half of the 2,000 jobs in the U.S. included $7 million annually over ten years (h/t Jerry in comments) in corporate welfare tax breaks courtesy of Indiana taxpayers.  Is there must be more to this "great" deal.
“Every penny counts, but if we step back and I’m looking at earnings of $6.60 per share this year, 2 cents is an easy concession if the president-elect listens to some of the company’s bigger concerns,” said Howard Rubel, a senior equity analyst with Jefferies, an investment banking firm in New York.  (our emphasis)
Listening to "the company's bigger concerns" means Rump essentially gave United Technologies/ Carrier future leverage in seeking corporate welfare tax breaks on its other businesses, or other forms of corporate welfare incentives.  Tax breaks themselves create perverse incentives, leading to a race to the bottom between states and increased potential for replacing jobs through automation.

Rump had also dangled the possibility of canceling government contracts with United Technologies, a threat no doubt taken seriously given Rump's private business model of stiffing contractors.

Sen. Bernie Sanders cuts to the chase on what this "win" for Rump actually portends:
In essence, United Technologies took Trump hostage and won. And that should send a shock wave of fear through all workers across the country. 
Trump has endangered the jobs of workers who were previously safe in the United States. Why? Because he has signaled to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives. Even corporations that weren’t thinking of offshoring jobs will most probably be reevaluating their stance this morning. And who would pay for the high cost for tax cuts that go to the richest businessmen in America? The working class of America(our emphasis)
Rump, the friend of the Forgotten Man and business genius, will be snookered into doling out corporate welfare tax breaks and other incentives by every predatory corporation in America.  Eugene Robinson illustrates how they'll game him:
So imagine you’re a CEO who wants to send, say, 5,000 manufacturing jobs overseas. Having learned from the Carrier example, you might begin by announcing that unfortunately you are forced to eliminate 10,000 jobs because of the crushing tax burden. Even if you really want to move the jobs to Vietnam or Kenya, just say you’re looking at possible sites for a new plant in Mexico. That’s sure to get Trump’s attention. 
When Trump calls offering tax breaks or enterprise zone incentives or free rounds of golf in Scotland, whatever goodies he tosses in, hold out for a while — then reluctantly, in the spirit of patriotism and Making America Great Again, announce you’ve agreed to cancel half of the 10,000 job cuts. You’d still be meeting your original goal of eliminating 5,000 jobs, only now you’d also have a lower corporate tax bill and a tee time at Turnberry.

So, we can look forward to this weaselheaded f*cknugget businessman, who's mostly adept at declaring his own companies bankrupt and getting huge tax write- offs, lending his magic touch to making great deals for the American worker and economy, and the puerile, slavering media will applaud. Start stuffing your cash in mattresses.

BONUS:  Gene has more of what's to come at Disaffected and It Feels So Good.

BONUS II:  Andy Borowitz has his sarcastically accurate take, expressed in this headline - TRUMP WARNS THAT COMPANIES SHIPPING JOBS OVERSEAS WILL BE SLAPPED WITH ENORMOUS BRIBES.


(Photo: Rump's favorite picture - use "liberally.")