Saturday, April 21, 2018

Smiles At A Funeral: Tweets Of The Day


Today's Cartoon Twofer

Let's do two from the great Mike Luckovich.

(click on images to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

QOTD: Let's Make A Deal

He can close the deal out in two weeks — sure — if he’s negotiating a plea bargain.” -- Republican strategist Rick Tyler, commenting this morning on MSNBC on neo-fascist ranter Rudy "Noun Verb 9-11" Giuliani's absurd assertion that he could negotiate an end to the Mueller investigation in two or three weeks.

(photo: Finally seeing himself in a mirror)

The Turtle's Now The Hare

During the last six years of the Obama Administration, there was no greater and more cynically amoral obstructionist than human-turtle hybrid and Kentucky's stain, Sen. Mitch "Missy" McConnell. Starting with his repeated efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act and other Dem legislation, to his sabotage of Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, McConnell made it his goal to destroy the Presidency of America's first African-American President. Indeed, he said his first priority was to make Obama a one-term President. Then, there was McConnell two months before the 2016 election, refusing to sign off on a bipartisan condemnation of Russian meddling in the elections.

Now, with political winds shifting against the Rethuglicans in 2018, McConnell is trying to rush through right-wing, lifetime appointments to the Federal bench, to try to ensure an army of right-wing judges far into the future in the event the Rethugs lose the Senate:
"Since becoming majority leader in 2015, the Kentucky Republican stymied Obama’s nominees for two years, including blocking a Supreme Court hopeful. And now he’s going into overdrive with Trump as president.

Trump has already nominated 69 judges, but there are 149 total vacancies. GOP leaders say McConnell is intent on filling as many as he can this year, in part out of concern that Democrats take back the Senate and exact retribution on McConnell and Trump for changing the face of the courts."
The master obstructionist has become the grease on the rails of Rethuglican court-packing. If this isn't one additional, major reason to flip the Senate, we don't know what is.

(photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP. A face begging to be punched.)

Friday, April 20, 2018

"Mortal Danger:" The Great Barrier Reef

Somehow, we hoped this day would never come, but knew that it would:
... The Great Barrier Reef—which, at 1,400 miles long, is the longest and largest coral reef in the world—was blanketed by dangerously hot water in the summer of 2016. This heat strangled and starved the corals, causing what has been called “an unprecedented bleaching event. [snip]
... A new paper, published Wednesday in the journal Nature [pdf], serves as a kind of autopsy report for the debacle. 
After inspecting every one of its reefs, and surveying them on an almost species-by-species basis, the paper reports that vast swaths of the Great Barrier Reef were permanently transformed in the summer of 2016. The reef’s northern third, previously its most pristine section, lost more than half of its corals. Two of its most recognizable creatures—the amber-colored staghorn corals, and the flat, fanlike tabular corals—suffered the worst casualties. [snip] 
Yet it was not the end of troubles for the Great Barrier Reef. In the summer months of 2017, warm waters again struck the reef and triggered another bleaching event. This time, the heat hit the reef’s middle third. Hughes and his team have not published a peer-reviewed paper on that event, but he shared early survey results with me. 
Combined, he said, the back-to-back bleaching events killed one in every two corals in the Great Barrier Reef. It is a fact almost beyond comprehension: In the summer of 2015, more than 2 billion corals lived in the Great Barrier Reef. Half of them are now dead. 
What caused the devastation? Hughes was clear: human-caused global warming. The accumulation of heat-trapping pollution in the atmosphere has raised the world’s average temperature, making the oceans hotter and less hospitable to fragile tropical corals.
A not unrelated footnote:
The Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a former Navy pilot with no scientific credentials and who doesn’t believe humans are primarily to blame for the global climate crisis, to lead NASA. (our emphasis)
Sic transit gloria, America Earth.

Weekend So Long Music

Los Angeles based rock band A Perfect Circle just released their fourth studio album, "Eat the Elephant," from which this single, "So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish" is taken. (For those of you who are "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" fans, yes, the title comes from the fourth book in the Douglas Adams series.)  Over time, the band has included veterans of Queens of the Stone Age, Primus and Devo, and now is fronted by former Tool and The Smashing Pumpkins musicians.

Sadly, DJ/ musician/ producer Avicii (Tim Bergling) passed away today in Oman.  The Swedish world superstar was 28.  This is his "Wake Me Up," which we're re- posting from 2013.

"He's Not 5 Minutes Loyal"

Stephen Colbert's opening monologue last night covered the impending talks between Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un and unfit incompetent Donald "Rump" Trump ("let's get ready to bumble!"), and speculation over Rump fixer Michael "Clown Roy Cohn" Cohen ("man who's definitely seen the Trump sex tape") flipping on his boss pretty quickly. Classic Colbert.

Trump's Panic Move With Giuliani

When demagogue and fraudster Donald "Rump" Trump was trying to assemble a Cabinet, one of the names floated and quickly dismissed was that of raging ghoul and fame whore Rudi "Noun Verb 9-11" Giuliani. His off-the-rails warmups for Rump at campaign appearances, his spittle-flecked denunciation of Hillary Clinton at the Rethuglican National Convention, and more, mark him as the loosest of loose cannons. Even an unhinged incompetent like Rump didn't want him in the Cabinet.

The news that Giuliani is joining what remains of the Rump legal team demonstrates the panic within Trumpworld over Rump's serious legal jeopardy particularly in the Mueller investigation, not to mention with the Cohen case. As someone who hasn't practiced criminal law in over 30 years, and who has his own problems with leaks during the campaign, Giuliani's a "Hail Mary," except if you believe (as Rump may) that he has some pull with his former colleague Robert Mueller to "negotiate" an end to his investigation within "two or three weeks." That won't happen, and Giuliani knows it, but he can't resist a place in the spotlight for long.

Expect Giuliani to hang around for a couple of months at best, as he finds every microphone he can until people tire of his schtick. Robert Mueller won't be rushed or boxed in by the likes of Rudy 9-11.


 (photo: Brooks Kraft/Politico. Giuliani finds his own Palazzo Venezia balcony at the Rethuglican National Convention.)

The Boomerang Boys

Trump cultists in the House of Representatives thought it would be smart to demand that the Justice Department hand over the contemporaneous notes / memos / e-mails of former FBI Director James Comey regarding his interactions with corrupt demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump. Perhaps they thought that the notes would prove that Comey misled the Senate Intelligence Committee when he testified last year. So how did the Rethuglicans' strategery go? Not so well, apparently:
"If House Republicans thought they were helping President Donald Trump by forcing the release of James Comey's memos, they might want to think again. [snip] It's possible that the House committee chairmen wanted the memos released to undercut Comey's current book tour and to weaken the Mueller probe. If that was the case it has backfired."
Not only did the released documents corroborate Comey's statements, they also contained some previously unreleased information on President Spanky himself, including his obsession with the Steele dossier. The documents include one conversation between Russian thug Putin and his U.S. agent Rump about hookers that's being chewed over this morning on cable and the networks:
"'The President said 'the hookers thing' is nonsense,' Trump said at the time, according to Comey, 'but that Putin had told him 'we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.'

Comey qualified his account and said that Trump 'did not say where Putin had told him this ...'

During the conversation, Trump fretted over the notion that his wife, Melania, would be upset by the notion that he could have spent time with prostitutes in Moscow, and reiterated his claim that 'he hadn't stayed overnight in Russia,' to which Priebus tried to interject by asking 'why it was even in there,' Comey wrote."
There, House Rethuglicans, wasn't that worthwhile? You've given the Comey book tour added fuel by helping to validate his accounts of his interactions with your corrupt leader, and made yourselves look like the hapless hacks and stooges that you are. Congratulations, and more of this please!

BONUS:  Republican strategist Rick Wilson --

More Twitter reaction here.

Guess The Cost Was For An Extra Large Canvas

News Item:
Chris Christie is sparing no expense when it comes to his official portrait, which is being paid for with public funds. 
The former New Jersey Republican governor is commemorating his eight years in office, which ended in January, with a painting of himself by Australian artist Paul Newton. He signed an $85,000 contract for the work the month before his term ended 
The price is more than the state’s three previous governors paid for their portraits combined, reports The Record, which revealed the extravagant expenditure on Thursday.
Just one more "sit down and shut up" moment from Christie for the citizens of New Jersey.

(Photo:  "I'm going to need more paint over here!")

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Jeff Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune)

House Republicans Engaged In Obstruction, Collusion With Trump

If any reasonable American needed further proof of the existential necessity of a Democratic House of Representatives, here are today's prime exhibits:
Two of President Trump’s top legislative allies met with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein this week to press him for more documents about the conduct of law enforcement officials involved in the Russia probe and the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, according to three people who were not authorized to speak publicly about the discussion. 
Rosenstein’s meeting at his office Monday with Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) came days after Meadows, an influential Trump confidant, warned Rosenstein that he could soon face impeachment proceedings or an effort to hold him in contempt of Congress if he did not satisfy GOP demands for documents. 
Trump and Meadows spoke at some point after the meeting, the three people said, but they declined to share details of the exchange. (our emphasis)
That's Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, two of the ultra far- right "Freedom Caucus" effluvia washed into Congress over the past decade, who also like to vote against raising the debt ceiling and for shutting down the government. In other words, the worst of the worst.

But wait, there's more:
On Wednesday evening, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) served notice to the panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), that he intended to issue a subpoena for Comey’s memos, which have been turned over to Mueller. 
Nadler, noting that the memos were part of the special counsel investigation and likely could not be handed over to Congress, accused Goodlatte of seeking to create “an excuse” to hold Rosenstein in contempt of Congress. That possible motive, he added, might give the president “the pretext he has sought to replace Mr. Rosenstein with someone willing to do his bidding and end the special counsel’s investigation.” 
Earlier this year, a federal judge in Washington refused to order the public disclosure of Comey’s memos in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by media organizations. The Justice Department has said the release would interfere with Mueller’s investigation.
The treasonous bastards are pulling out all the stops to get Rosenstein.

But wait, there's still more:
Eleven House Republicans — Ron DeSantis, Andy Biggs, Dave Brat, Jeff Duncan, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, Andy Harris, Jody Hice, Todd Rokita, Claudia Tenney, and Ted Yoho — have signed a joint letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling for the criminal prosecution of Hillary Clinton and a variety of other Obama administration appointees, career FBI officials, and even Trump appointee Dana Boente, who is currently the FBI’s general counsel. 
The lead of the letter states that the authors are “especially mindful of the dissimilar degrees of zealousness that has marked the investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, respectively.” 
This upholds a core principle of the rule of law:  for every lying, treasonous, criminal member of your party being investigated, cook up bogus "crimes" for which you can prosecute your political enemies, for balance!  Hey, it's working for Mother Russia!

BONUS: Norman Ornstein --

Wingnut Values: Where The Boys and Girls Are

Item: To catch a predator: Carter Ballmann, a legislative aide to Missouri Rethuglican state representative Mark Matthiesen, was arrested on charges of attempting to entice a 14 year-old child for sexual purposes. The "child" turned out to be an undercover officer posing as a minor, whom Ballmann had asked for nude pictures and that she slip away from her house to meet him. Bail was set at $100,000.

Item: An Alabammy evangelist, Acton Bowen, was booked yesterday on seven new felony child sex violations, including two counts of second degree sodomy, and three counts of second degree sexual abuse against boys who ranged in age from 12 to 17. The boys are now grown and have come forward to accuse Bowen, who ran an "outreach ministry." We now know what he was reaching for. As the story notes, Bowen has another child pedophile connection:
"On Friday, two of the ministry's board members stepped down, include attorney Trenton Garmon, who worked as an attorney for former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore during his failed campaign bid for U.S. senate last year."
What's in the water there anyway?

Trump Called His Divorce Lawyer For "Advice"


This morning, CNN host Chris Cuomo touched on an interesting detail related to the Wall St. Journal story that fraudster and sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump called lawyer Jay Goldberg for "advice" about whether his consigliere, Michael "Clown Roy Cohn" Cohen, would start cooperating with the Feds. It's noteworthy that Goldberg is a divorce lawyer who was part of Rump's legal team in his two divorces:
“'One of the president’s long-time legal advisers warns President Trump that Michael Cohen could flip on him as he is facing potential jail time in a criminal investigation. Now that is very, very early on in an analysis. We haven’t had any charges. there is no indictment against Michael Cohen.

So this man, Jay Goldberg, who has worked with the president in the past, two different divorces he’s done,' Cuomo elaborated. 'We must presume he’s a family law specialist and people don’t freelance in divorce work. For some reason he said the president called him for advice. I don’t know what he was asking for advice on, but somehow in that conversation he wound up discussing Michael Cohen and his possibility of flipping. That nobody who is facing 30 years stands up. We don’t know that Michael Cohen is facing that.'”
Clearly, Rump may be trying to gauge whether and how soon Cohen might crack and when to offer a pardon to his made man, so as to undermine the investigation into potential felonies committed by his fixer, either on his own or at Rump's direction.

But it's also fascinating that he'd call a divorce lawyer for "advice" regarding a Federal criminal matter. Could Rump be concerned about whether the prenuptial agreement he signed with his wife might be tossed out with the Stormy/McDougall scandals?  A divorce with a voided prenup and a split of assets more favorable to his wife could cripple his business (which he's never separated himself from). Why else would he call his former divorce lawyer? Remember that the whole issue of non-disclosure agreements and "catch and kill" schemes on Rump's behalf was to conceal his affairs from his wife. If adultery is the "kill" clause in the prenup, he knows he's in a world of hurt.

(photo: President Spanky and the missus, so happy)

What Exactly Is Mr. Potato Neck Hiding In His Sheds?

Samantha Bee turns the tables on conspiracy monger Sean "Mr. Potato Neck" Hannity, serial killer (allegedly!):