Monday, January 20, 2020

Today's Cartoons (And Tomorrow Cartoon)


(click on images to enlarge)


(Stuart Carlson, gocomics.com)


(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)


(Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer)


(John Deering, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)


(Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun)


(Tom Toles, Washington Post)


(Ann Telnaes, Washington Post)


(Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune)


(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Liar-In-Chief Setting New Records



Fact checkers at the Washington Post have been doing a stellar job in tracking and documenting the lies and misleading statements of unstable moron and pathological liar Donald "Pinocchio" Trump. Today, on the third and hopefully final anniversary of his menacing and dystopian inauguration, the Post announced that Trump's told a phenomenal 16,241 lies and misleading statements in these three years. The beauty of it is that the Post backs up the numbers with references and facts. Of course, none of this matters to his unhinged Red Cap Cult, as long as it's their lies he's telling.

The pace of his lying has increased over time, as the article reports:
"We started this project as part of our coverage of the president’s first 100 days, largely because we could not possibly keep up with the pace and volume of the president’s misstatements. We recorded 492 claims — an average of just under five a day — and readers demanded that we keep it going for the rest of Trump’s presidency.

Little did we know what that would mean.

In 2017, Trump made 1,999 false or misleading claims. In 2018, he added 5,689 more, for a total of 7,688. And in 2019, he made 8,155 suspect claims.
In other words, in a single year, the president doubled the total number of false or misleading claims he had made in the previous two years combined. Put another way: He averaged six such claims a day in 2017, nearly 16 a day in 2018 and more than 22 a day in 2019."  (our emphasis)
With the 2020 campaign upon us, and the Liar-In-Chief fighting to stay in office (and out of prison), there will be a bumper crop of lies told by him. He's at the bottom of lists by historians as far as his record and character go, but he's number one in lying by a light-year.

Monday Reading


As always, please go to the links for the full articles/ op eds.

On the day we honor Martin Luther King, Jr.'s message of hope and nonviolence, gun humpers and neo- Nazis will be in Richmond, VA, to start something:
The convoys and militias are coming, if social media posts are to be believed, headed to Virginia's capital to take a stand for gun rights — or, in the words of some, to fan the flames of a civil war.
“I’ll be rolling into town early. I can’t give you my exact time for security reasons,” said Christian Yingling, head of the Pennsylvania Light Foot Militia and a leader at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
“I organized a convoy, places we can meet up and drive up together. I’ll be leading it,” said Tammy Lee, a militia activist in Oklahoma.
Both Lee and Yingling were members of groups that signed consent decrees never to return to Charlottesville while armed, part of a lawsuit settlement over the violence there. But there is no restriction against coming to Richmond.
Thousands will join them, they say, for a rally Monday on Capitol Square to protest plans by the new Democratic majority in the General Assembly to pass gun-control laws. State and federal officials were preparing for a volatile mix of weapons, passions and anti-government fervor. Central Richmond was braced for road closures and extensive police presence.
That was before President Trump decided to weigh in Friday afternoon on Twitter.
“Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia,” Trump tweeted. “That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!”  (our emphasis)
Leave it to the divisive, lying, malicious moron to try to gain political advantage regardless of the danger involved.  But these are his "very fine people," and he's prepping them for ... something.

Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein lay to rest several myths about "bipartisanship." That both parties are  equally to blame for hyper- partisanship is one:
... The bipartisanship that was common in the House through the mid-1970s began to fray as racial and cultural differences came to define the increasingly polarized and competitive parties. Partisan polarization began with these shifts in the coalitional bases of the parties, but Republicans, because of their increasingly homogeneous positions on race, religious traditionalism and other cultural issues, had more incentive to move right than Democrats had to move left. In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich and his allies fomented tribalism, using the House ethics process as a political weapon and uniting the GOP into a parliamentary-style opposition party. They had important and vocal allies in partisan media, starting with Rush Limbaugh and talk radio. Much the same happened a bit later in the Senate, where McConnell turned the filibuster into a weapon of mass obstruction and got his party to unite against every Obama initiative.
Today, Republicans are one of the most extreme (even radical) conservative parties in the democratic world, with no members in the House and arguably barely one in the Senate who would qualify as moderates or traditional conservatives, while Democrats look like a traditional center-left party...
Megan Marz reviews a book of essays that captures the experiences of younger Americans fleeing "toxic Christianity":
In “Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church,” mostly Gen X and millennial writers describe their disillusionment with the faith of their youth and their departure from their religious communities. In a foreword, Frank Schaeffer, who in 2007 published a memoir of leaving evangelicalism, calls the thinning of the ranks “a generational exodus from toxic Christianity.” The essayists in the book — who include Carmen Maria Machado, (“Her Body and Other Parties,” “In the Dream House”), Garrard Conley (“Boy Erased”) and Linda Tirado (“Hand to Mouth”) — come from a variety of Christian backgrounds: Mormon, Catholic, mainline Protestant and evangelical. All grew up in schools, social circles, families or churches where religion took a conservative, if not an authoritarian, form. Some faced rejection because of their sexual orientation; some were abused; at least one was taught that black people and white people belonged to different species, and that the Earth was 6,000 years old.  [snip]
A pattern emerges in the narrative arcs of the essays: Childhood faith falters and then dissolves in the face of corruption, hypocrisy, rejection, abuse or beliefs that do not align with reality. While many of the essayists testify to having felt isolated, this collection makes clear that — to paraphrase editor Lauren O’Neal — they were part of a community they did not know existed. Each time I read a piece in which the writer had no one to talk to about their dissipating faith, or the abuse they were enduring, I wished they could reach through the pages and into another essay, where they might find relief or solidarity...  (our emphasis)
Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger, hero of the "miracle on the Hudson," has a few words for yet another contemptible Trump:
As a small boy in Denison, Texas, I remember vividly the anguish of being called on in grade school, knowing that I was going to have a hard time getting the words out; that my words could not keep up with my mind, and they would often come out jumbled. My neck and face would quickly begin to flush a bright red, the searing heat rising all the way to the top of my head; every eye in the room on me; the intense and painful humiliation, and bullying that would follow, all because of my inability to get the words out.
Those feelings came rushing back, when I heard Lara Trump mocking former Vice President Joe Biden at a Trump campaign event, with the very words that caused my childhood agony. “Joe, can you get it out?” Ms. Trump was seen saying onstage, as a few giggles are heard from an otherwise silent audience. “Let’s get the words out, Joe.”
The entire essay is really worth the read, as he later pivots to speak to children who are stutterers.

Among many other topics, Infidel 753 highlights a number of other posts and essays about religious toxicity in his latest link round- up (as well as in his own essays).  Regardless, you're bound to find lots of gold there that he's mined in his weekly internet search.

Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929-1968




"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in "Strength to Love" (1963), a collection of his sermons and speeches.

Now more than ever.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Across The Universe, Cont. -- Local Giant


(click on image to enlarge)



From NASA/ ESA, January 6, 2020Galaxy UGC 2885 may be the largest one in the local universe. It is 2.5 times wider than our Milky Way and contains 10 times as many stars. This galaxy is 232 million light-years away, located in the northern constellation of Perseus.

Credit:  NASA, ESA, and B. Holwerda (University of Louisville).

Today's Cartoons


(click on images to enlarge)


(Dave Whamond, caglecartoons.com)


(Tom Toles, Washington Post)
 
(John Cole, Scranton Times-Tribune)


(David Horsey, Seattle Times)


(Walt Handelsman, Times-Picayune, New Orleans)


(Robert Ariail, gocomics.com)


(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)


(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Women's March 2020


Here are some pictures from yesterday's fourth annual Women's March from around the country (click on images to enlarge).

Chicago

(Grace Hauck, USA Today Network)




New York City

(Michael Karas, USA Today Network)



Austin, TX

(Lola Gomez, USA Today Network)


Washington, DC

(Hannah Gaber, USA Today Network

More pictures here.

Sunday Reflection: Blank Canvas




"It's so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas." -- French artist Paul Cézanne, born on this day in 1839, reflecting on his emotions in starting a painting, as we all might in beginning a new project/relationship/adventure with an uncertain outcome.

As a "post-Impressionist," Cézanne inspired artists like Matisse and Picasso, and bridged the Impressionist and Cubist eras of painting. One of the giants in art.

House Managers Release Their Senate Trial Brief


Yesterday, the House impeachment managers for the trial of unstable demagogue and fraudster Donald "Impeachable Me" Trump released their trial brief. Some key excerpts (emphasis added):
"President Donald J. Trump used his official powers to pressure a foreign government to interfere in a United States election for his personal political gain, and then attempted to cover up his scheme by obstructing Congress’s investigation into his misconduct."
"...Thomas Jefferson and John Adams warned of 'foreign Interference, Intrigue, Influence' and predicted that, 'as often as Elections happen, the danger of foreign Influence recurs. The Framers therefore would have considered a President’s attempt to corrupt America’s democratic processes by demanding political favors from foreign powers to be a singularly pernicious act."
"His effort to gain a personal political benefit by encouraging a foreign government to undermine America’s democratic process strikes at the core of misconduct that the Framers designed impeachment to protect against. [snip] An officer abuses his power if he exercises his official power to obtain an improper personal benefit while ignoring or undermining the national interest. An abuse that involves an effort to solicit foreign interference in an American election is uniquely dangerous."
The House managers also reminded the Senate that Trump's obstruction constituted a pattern:
"President Trump’s obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry was consistent with his previous efforts to undermine Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and of the President’s own misconduct."

"President Trump repeatedly used his powers of office to undermine and derail the Mueller investigation, particularly after learning that he was personally under investigation for obstruction of justice."
"... a President cannot be permitted to hide his offenses from view by refusing to comply with a Congressional impeachment inquiry and ordering Executive Branch agencies to do the same. That conclusion is particularly important given the Department of Justice’s position that the President cannot be indicted. If the President could both avoid accountability under the criminal laws and preclude an effective impeachment investigation, he would truly be above the law.
"But that is what President Trump has attempted to do, and why President Trump’s conduct is the Framers’ worst nightmare. He directed his Administration to defy every subpoena issued in the House’s impeachment investigation."
And the wrap up:
"If the Senate permits President Trump to remain in office, he and future leaders would be emboldened to welcome, and even enlist, foreign interference in elections for years to come. When the American people’s faith in their electoral process is shaken and its results called into question, the essence of democratic self-government is called into doubt. [snip] President Trump has betrayed the American people and the ideals on which the Nation was founded. Unless he is removed from office, he will continue to endanger our national security, jeopardize the integrity of our elections, and undermine our core constitutional principles."
The crimes are as plain and egregious as one could ever imagine, but sadly, Senate Republicans will do their best to ignore them and to acquit their Dear Leader.

BONUS:  After White House mouthpieces released an Orwellian 7- page response (no link) to the 111- page House trial brief, the House managers responded:
“Rather than honestly address the evidence against him, the President’s latest filing makes the astounding claim that pressuring Ukraine to interfere in our election by announcing investigations that would damage a political opponent and advance his reelection is the President’s way of fighting corruption. It is not. Rather it is corruption itself, naked, unapologetic and insidious.”

White House NSC Director For Russia Out


The National Security Council' (NSC) director for European and Russian Affairs, Andrew Peek, has been placed on administrative leave pending a "security investigation," according to an Axios report. Peek has only been with the NSC since November, and held the position that Dr. Fiona Hill previously held. Hill gave credible testimony to the House Intelligence Committee last year regarding the Ukraine shakedown plot, which she said former National Security Advisor John "Loose Bolt" Bolton had called a "drug deal." There were no further details on the nature of the "security investigation," but the Trump regime has been obsessed with suppressing leaks and dissenting opinions, especially when they relate to Russia policy.

Peek had previously served in the State Department, focusing on issues regarding Iran and Iraq, and was a strategic advisor to the former commander of U.S./NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Tweet Of The Day -- Truth, Not Balance



(See also this.)

Witness For The Prosecution*


You get the lawyer you deserve:



Is "takes one to know one" too obvious?
____________
*apologies to Billy Wilder, etc.

Today's Cartoons


(click on images to enlarge)


(Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer)


(Bob Englehart, patreon.com)


(Darrin Bell, darrinbell.com)


(Jimmy Margulies, jimmymargulies.com)


(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)


(Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader, KY)
 
(Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun)


(Matt Davies, Newsday)


(Bill Bramhall, New York Daily News)


(Ken Catalino, gocomics.com)


(Clay Jones, claytoonz.com)


(Steve Benson, Arizona Mirror)


Truth, Not Balance


The Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan writes about the two "big stories" recently dominating mainstream media reporting, only one of which merits the coverage -- one being the "feud" between Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and the other being the latest revelations of Trump's knowledge and participation in the Ukraine shakedown scandal.  We know which was the more important, by far, to the health and survival of our democracy.  But, as Sullivan notes, the lack of a sense of proportion is missing, as it often is in news coverage involving the historically corrupt, venal and dangerous Trump regime.  The default for the media is to normalize Trump's abnormalities, as reporting on his crazed Nuremberg rallies has proven.

This lack of truth and proportion is, Sullivan writes, something Trump (and his rotted- out party) depends on:
The widespread lack of news literacy and basic civics is something that Trump depends upon. (“I love the poorly educated,” he crowed in early 2016 after winning the Nevada primary.) Or as Ohio-based columnist Connie Schultz wrote recently: “Nothing scares Trump more than informed voters.”
The mainstream news media may not see the obligation to break through citizens’ lack of knowledge.
They may not see their role as educating, or getting across what’s important but complicated in an understandable, clear way.
It’s easier — and probably more profitable — to play to people’s prejudices or lowest instincts.
This was true most recently in the 2016 election cycle, with "reporting" in the New York Times and Sullivan's own WaPo throwing proportion out the window in covering the nothingburger "scandal" of Hillary Clinton's email server, while Trump's glaring, disqualifying flaws were shoved to the background.  The asymmetry was widespread in the media (click on image to enlarge):



None of this is new and none of this will go away in 2020.  The distractions will be different, of course, but the media will be played (and go along with it) because, as pointed out above, it's more profitable "to play to people's prejudices or lowest instincts."  Even when the media is reporting on Trump's criminality and incompetence, it's often well after the fact (and sometimes as a result of a book deal, as Tengrain notes with the "Very Stable Genius" book by WaPo reporters, revealing events from 2017 that they sat on until they could be teased out to goose book sales).

Although we hate to close with a tweet from a former Bush assministration flunky turned Never Trumper turned independent, this reproach on how the media allows liars to operate is right on --



Sullivan says the public needs the media to do much better.  Don't count on that happening.  Change will be up to us.

Rep. Ted Lieu Doesn't Suffer Fools


Corrupt Trumpist messenger boy Rep. Devin "Numbnuts" Nunes likes to threaten to sue people. He's become an object of ridicule for, among other things, threatening to sue a parody Twitter account  
"Devin Nunes' Cow." Such a thin-skinned snowflake.

Recently, California Dem Rep. Ted Lieu accurately stated that Nunes was involved in the Lev Parnas / Ukraine shakedown scandal. Then, when Nunes' lawyer Steve Biss threatened to sue, Lieu had a classic response (click to enlarge).


He left out, "strong letter to follow."