Sunday, July 23, 2017

Across The Universe, Cont. - Fuzzy Galaxy

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ ESA, July 17, 2014:  Tucked away in the small northern constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs) is the galaxy NGC 4242, shown here as seen by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The galaxy lies some 30 million light-years from us. At this distance from Earth, actually not all that far on a cosmic scale, NGC 4242 is visible to anyone armed with even a basic telescope (as British astronomer William Herschel found when he discovered the galaxy in 1788).

This image shows the galaxy’s bright centre and the surrounding dimmer and more diffuse “fuzz”. Despite appearing to be relatively bright in this image, studies have found that NGC 4242 is actually relatively dim (it has a moderate-to-low surface brightness and low luminosity) and also supports a low rate of star formation. The galaxy also seems to have a weak bar of stars cutting through its asymmetric centre, and a very faint and poorly-defined spiral structure throughout its disc. But if NGC 4242 is not all that remarkable, as with much of the Universe, it is still a beautiful and ethereal sight.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Trump Effect? Macron Popularity Dives

French President Emmanuel Macron, hyper handshaker and host of big parades for neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump, has an approval rating problem. His approval numbers have dropped 10% in one month, the largest drop in 22 years in a similar timeframe. While the linked article indicates fights over military spending and tax issues were the factor, how hard is it to believe that Macron's oddly submissive, overly solicitous posture toward Rump offended many people in France, where Rump was unpopular to begin with?

Today's Cartoon Twofer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Nick Anderson, via

Sen. Franken Dismantles Trump's Efforts To Discredit Special Counsel's Team

Why we love Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), part infinity. Watch how he dismantles the emerging Trumpian attack on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's hiring of people who contributed to Democrats (h/t Crooks & Liars):

Sunday Reflection

"Nothing is more wretched than the mind of a man conscious of guilt." Roman playwright Plautus (c. 254 - 184 BC).

At the core of every malignant narcissist like Donald "Rump" Trump is denial, which makes them incapable of feeling guilt; rather they feel themselves the good "victim," and transfer guilt onto others. Rump is a pure textbook case of this. However, there are obvious "tells" that, while Rump may not be conscious of or feel guilt in a psychological sense, he instinctively knows there are things that need to be hidden, and he's reacting to that impulse (eg., his refusal to release his tax returns, his constant deflections and distractions, his efforts to co- opt law enforcement, his fawning attitude towards Putin, his dangling of pardons in front of potential witnesses against him - the latter being as close to a definition of obstruction of justice as you can get). That conflict is what's causing the anxiety that's showing itself in his unhinged tweets and bizarre behavior. Wretched indeed.

Love That "Transparency" (UPDATED)

From the White (Supremacist) House's new "communications" capo director, some world-class, Orwellian doublespeak:
Slick opportunist and future hair product endorser Anthony "So Mooch Love" Scaramucci is fresh off last Friday's sycophantic love nuzzle with crime boss and narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump, looking like someone from a casting call for "The Sopranos," to tell us he's being "transparent" when deleting his old tweets which criticized Rump, praised Hillary, and diverged from Rump cult beliefs. Sad!

UPDATE: The Mooch has been making the rounds of the Sunday shows, tripping over himself and the Trumpian party line of the moment --

See also here and here for more of the Mooch's ill- fated forays into the big time today. Luckily, Rump is prone to pick incompetents (loyal, though!) to defend him. Water seeking its own level.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Russia Sanctions Deal Reached in Congress

The Senate and House have reached a deal on the legislative package that will impose tighter sanctions on Russia, and eliminate Putin puppet and con man Donald "Rump" Trump's power to alter the sanctions without Congressional hearings and approval. The House is expected to vote on the bill Tuesday. The Senate passed a similar version of the legislation by a vote of 98-2 on June 29. The legislation also includes sanctions on Iran and North Korea. The bill also makes it clear that the Russian properties in Maryland and New York that were being used for espionage will not be returned, as Moscow (and Rump) wanted.

The limitations posed on Rump are a sign of bipartisan mistrust of his motivations and plans toward Russia, which Rump has shown an almost treasonous regard for in his statements and actions. Indeed, Rump was lobbying the House to weaken the bill to give him "flexibility" on the sanctions. Moscow's assistance to Rump in the last election is being probed by Congressional committees and more significantly by Special Counsel Mueller with the assistance of the FBI, along with potential money laundering by Russian government oligarchs using Rump's companies and properties.

Today's Cartoon Twofer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Those Repeated Omissions By Mr. Ivanka Trump

Below the signature block on Federal disclosure forms, whether they be for security clearances or for financial conflicts of interest, there's always a citation from the criminal code that, by signing, you affirm that the statements are accurate under penalty of law. We know, we've signed them before.

(Un) Presidential son-in-law and up and coming hustler Jared "Mr. Ivanka Trump" Kushner has an unfortunate tendency to "forget" to include pertinent information on such forms, notably on his SF-86 form for a security clearance which he's had to "revise" three times to disclose an increasing number of contacts with foreign entities. Two of the omitted disclosures loom over Russiagate: his meeting in December 2016 with a sanctioned Russian banker close to the Kremlin, and his meeting in June 2016 with Rump Jr. and a slew of Russians to discuss dirt on Hillary Clinton offered by the Russian government.

It was reported yesterday evening that Kushner failed to disclose 77 assets on his financial conflict of interest filing, assets ranging from municipal bonds to art work, omissions that one former ethics official called "a lot". Together, Kushner and Ivanka "Complicit" Trump claim to have assets in the range of from $206 million to $760 million. Tellingly, in his initial disclosure, Kushner didn't reveal business relationships with Goldman Sachs and loans totaling $1 billion from 20 lenders to properties and companies he partially owned. Those "lenders" might prove to be an interesting subject for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's review.

The above-the-law sense of entitlement by the Trumpanov prince and princess is evident in their cavalier regard for disclosing contacts and financial information. It also reveals a Trumpian habit of covering up facts that could prove embarrassing, or more likely, lead to criminal charges.

Orange Shitgibbon Set Me Up!

The Washington Post reported yesterday that, contrary to sworn statements from evil elf Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, the conversations Sessions had during the campaign with Russian spy master and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak weren't innocent chit chats as Sessions has claimed:
Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials. 
Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.
The leak comes just days after orange shitgibbon Donald "Rump" Trump's mind- boggling interview with the New York Times in which, among other things, he said he wouldn't have named Sessions Attorney General if he knew he's recuse himself on the Russia investigation. Rump also raised the issue of terminating Special Counsel Mueller's investigation if it went into Rump crime family business (it has!). To remove Mueller, Rump would have to find someone in the Justice Department willing to do what Sessions can no longer do (Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein has claimed he would only remove Mueller "for cause," an extremely hard case to make against a shrewd and experienced investigator like Mueller).

So, in the light of morning, these "coincidences" have led many to speculate that the Rump regime leaked the story about Sessions/ Kislyak to either force his resignation or provide grounds for firing him, in order to replace him with a loyal lackey that will do Rump's bidding. Rump was even up early this morning to establish his cover story:

But, even Republicans are thinking "the calls are coming from inside the house":

Sessions didn't get the hint from Rump from the New York Times interview. This seems like the next ratcheting to pressure him to quit. Rump's getting increasingly desperate, and therefore more dangerous.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Tweet Of The Day

This is some fine trolling, Sen. Schumer:

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Summer Of Love Music

Fifty years ago this summer, tens of thousands of mostly young people began to flock to San Francisco to participate in a cultural phenomenon that came to be known as the "Summer of Love." Dubbed "hippies" or "flower children," these people embraced a "counter culture" that largely embraced Timothy Leary's mantra to "turn on, tune in, and drop out." One of the early, defining events of the Summer of Love was June 1967's Monterey Pop Festival, which John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas helped to organize. Major acts ranged from Otis Redding to Jefferson Airplane to Janis Joplin to Jimi Hendrix to the Grateful Dead. The festival was immortalized in one of the greatest documentaries of its generation, "Monterey Pop," by filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker;  if you've never seen it, you're missing a gem that captures the period and the music brilliantly.

Today, we're featuring three songs that were performed at the Monterey Pop Festival (a set list can be found here).  "San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)" was written by Phillips and sung by Scott McKenzie.  It was the next- to- last song performed at the festival. "Living in the U.S.A." was one of only two songs performed by the Steve Miller Band, and "Pictures of Lily" (snicker) was performed by The Who, one of only three British acts that appeared at Monterey.  We'd like to say "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now," but that's not true! Hope you enjoy.

Trump Cultist Hannity Denied Award

According to reports, far-right propagandist and Trump's passionate ass kisser Sean "Heil" Hannity (who would fawn over Charles Manson if he announced he was a Rethuglican) was denied the William F. Buckley Award for Media Excellence after Buckley's son expressed his strong objections, along with those of paleocon rag National Review, which was founded by Buckley Sr.  Practiced liar that he is, Heil's claiming that he declined the award.

Leaving aside the irony of a "media excellence" award given by the right wing so-called Media Research Center, it's a sign of the deep division among right wingers over whether or not to support neo-fascist Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump. Heil's Fux Channel program and his radio show are blindly relentless megaphones for praise of Rump, even as his links to Moscow are increasingly exposed. He's even cultivated nihilist provocateur Julian Assange, now that Assange has moved from publishing U.S. secrets and exposing our agents to danger, to supporting Rump's Moscow-backed presidency. Hannity's disgusting peddling of conspiracy theories has prompted widespread outrage.

The moral is that there are flea-infested dogs that even some on the far right won't lie down with.

(photo: Pucker up, Heil, here comes your Rump!)

Spicer Resigns As Press Secretary (UPDATED)

Well, we're sure the past 6 months has seemed like 6 years to Spicey, who finally reached his limit today:
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned on Friday morning, telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of the New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. 
Mr. Trump offered Mr. Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. The president requested that Mr. Spicer stay on, but Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to a person with direct knowledge of the exchange.
A "major mistake," unlike anything else that's happened in the past 6 months in the dysfunctional White (Supremacist) House!

Melissa McCarthy will miss you.  Everyone else, not so much.

Twitter reacts (more here):

UPDATE: The new communications director, slick Anthony "Mooch" Scaramucci, now is a major Rump ass kisser, but he wasn't always a fan of the shitgibbon.  Sad!