Sunday, February 5, 2023

The Chinese "Spy Balloon" Gets Interviewed

 

SNL covers the Chinese "spy balloon" caper, including an interview with the downed balloon (Bowen Yang), and we won't even mention that they stole our "lede."    

 

Republicans, including dimbulb Reps. Marjorie Taylor Traitor Greene and "Gym" Jordan, have been claiming their cult leader the Malignant Loser would never have allowed such an overflight.  Um, well, nope.


Saturday, February 4, 2023

Today's Cartoons

 

(click on images to enlarge)

(Bob Englehart, caglecartoons.com)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Ted Littleford, New Haven Independent)

(Jeff Koterba, caglecartoons.com)

(Nick Anderson, Counterpoint)

(Randall Enos, caglecartoons.com)

(Walt Handelsman, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)

(Patrick Chappatte, Der Spiegel, Germany)

(Paresh Nath, cartoonartsinternational)

(Joep Bertrams, caglecartoons.com)

(Liza Donnelly, lizadonnelly.substack.com)


99 Red Balloons -- Uh, 98 Red Balloons

 

Our long national nightmare is over:

The United States on Saturday downed a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast after it traversed sensitive military sites across North America and became the latest flashpoint in tensions between Washington and Beijing.

An operation was underway in U.S. territorial waters in the Atlantic Ocean to recover debris from the balloon, which had been flying at about 60,000 feet and was estimated to be about the size of three school buses. The balloon was downed by Air Force fighter aircraft, according to two officials who were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

President Joe Biden had told reporters earlier Saturday that “we’re going to take care of it,” when asked about the balloon. The Federal Aviation Administration and Coast Guard worked to clear the airspace and water below the balloon as it reached the ocean.

Television footage showed a small explosion, followed by the balloon descending toward the water. U.S. military jets were seen flying in the vicinity and ships were deployed in the water to mount the recovery operation.

Officials were aiming to time the operation so they could recover as much of the debris as possible before it sinks into the ocean. The Pentagon had previously estimated that any debris field would be substantial...

Pop.  Ssssssss. Splash:

Losers Keep On Losing: Fundraising Edition



Last year's "red wave" election bust wasn't the only losing that the Republican / White Supremacist / Shooters party did. The Malignant Loser announced the platform "WinRed" in 2019, trying to imitate the hugely successful ActBlue fundraising machine for Dems. The results? HuffPo reports:

"The GOP’s much-touted, small-dollar fundraising platform WinRed, created in response to the Democratic-aligned ActBlue, lost millions of dollars during the midterm election cycle, according to top Republicans.

One Republican familiar with the privately held entity’s finances said it lost about $6 million over 2021 and 2022. A second confirmed the loss but believed the total was not quite that high. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.

In either event, a seven-figure loss would be a stunning turn for a company Republicans just two years ago pointed to as their answer to the fundraising behemoth ActBlue, which has helped progressive candidates and causes raise many billions of dollars over the past dozen years.

'If you don’t understand payments, it’s easy to go broke,' said one online payment processing expert who also spoke on condition of anonymity." (our emphasis)

Unlike non-profit ActBlue, the WinRed platform is a for profit operation, and the company behind the platform splits its profits between two companies, Data Trust and Revv. The latter was founded by a former staffer in the Malignant Loser's White House, who pocketed the profits with other investors rather than sharing them with Republican candidates. 

Under pressure from Republican political committees, the platform eliminated its 30 cent-per-transaction fee, and that, along with investments in an in-house credit card processing system to backstop their "Stripe" system, apparently put them in the red:

"Between the elimination of the per-transaction fee and the money spent trying to replicate Stripe’s services, WinRed did not come close to breaking even, despite its near universal adoption by Republican candidates.

One top Republican with knowledge of the financial structure said dropping the 30 cents per donation was the killer. 'They had to eat that transaction fee. And that’s how they lost their ass,' the Republican said. “If they had raised as much as they thought, they would have made a few million dollars.”  (our emphasis)

As their business genius cult leader would say, "Sad!"

(illustration: Matt Chase)

 

Tweets Of The Day

 

Lunatic Sen. J.D. Vance thinks he can hit Chinese balloon at 66,0000 feet -- 



And a reminder of why the right is focused like a Jewish space laser on the balloon --  


 


Media / pollsters can't deal with good (Dem) news --  


 

 


Unethical Sen. Kyrsten Sinema wins boss from hell award -- 

 


The House Republicans are following a familiar playbook --  



Some truths about authoritarian weasel Ron DeSanctimonious -- 


 

 


Russian state media mocks the Malignant Loser's arrogance on the war in Ukraine --

 


Magic mushrooms --  


 

To Coin A Phrase, It's The Economy, Stupid!

 


-- 517,000 jobs added in January;

-- 3.4% unemployment;

-- construction employment up 3.6% from pre-pandemic levels (thanks, infrastructure bill!);

-- manufacturing employment up 1.7% (ditto!).

As far a lagging indicators, in addition to wage growth (up 4.4% year-to-year), the corporate media will lag behind the good news because it has a dark cloud to report on!


Friday Morning, North Shore

 

Ah, the life of a surfer dude -- in this case, champion surfer "John John" Florence.  Who doesn't spend Friday mornings catching waves on Oahu's North Shore?!  Watching this is how sedentary bloggers spend Saturday mornings! (Watch full screen!)

 

Previous post on Florence here.

 


Friday, February 3, 2023

Trump's Scotland Properties Bleeding Money



The multi- bankruptcy- filing Malignant Loser's week continues to worsen with news that his Scottish golf properties continue to bleed money to the tune of 4.4 million pounds ($5.3 million) in 2021, as disclosed in a delayed release of their financial reports. Turnberry and the Balmedie properties lost $4.46 million and $839,000 respectively, with a combination of factors being the Malignant Loser's internationally tarnished brand, the effects of Brexit on supplies and labor, and COVID restrictions.

When Brexit was being debated in the UK, the Malignant Loser voiced his support of the UK's move away from the European Union. With a recession looming, Brits are now reconsidering the wisdom of exiting the EU: a YouGov poll last October indicated that by a margin of 56 to 32, Brits say it was wrong to leave.

(photo: A rotund Trump in the rough at the Balmedie course. Ian MacNicol/Getty)

 

Today's Cartoons

 

(click on images to enlarge)

(Christopher Weyant, Boston Globe)

(Dave Whamond, caglecartoons.com)

(Jeff Stahler, caglecartoons.com)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Clay Jones, claytoonz.com)

(Michael de Adder, Washington Post)

(Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News)

(Tim Campbell, Counterpoint)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Lars Kenseth, @larskenseth)


Tweets Of The Day

 

Showing their true colors --

 

 

Blood on the insurrectionist- in- chief's hands --

 


Maybe he wasn't "woke" in history class? --

 

 

Tribalism and revenge --

 

 

You get a job, and you get a job, and you get a job... --

 

 

Meanwhile at unbalanced Fox "News" --


 

What's that Musk-y smell?  Who needs side mirrors when you're going up in a ball of fire anyway! --

 


Burn on brightly! --

 


Ruben Gallego for Senate! (Happy Friday!) --

 

 

 

Weekend Music

 

February 3, 1959, a.k.a., "The Day the Music Died," will doubtless someday be forgotten as the sad (but not apocalyptic) date in rock music history that it was.  But, for now we'll continue to note it as the day Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson died in a plane crash in a snowy field in Clear Lake, Iowa.  Holly and Valens are Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Holly having been one of the "architects" of rock and roll and Valens a pioneer of Chicano/Latin rock.  The songlist for Holly is long, but we're going with a song of his that was released posthumously, "True Love Ways," and with Valens "Come On, Let's Go" (which happens to be his epitaph).

Trump: Supporting 2024 Nominee "Would Depend"



In a typically rambling and unhinged interview yesterday with right-wing radio host Hugh "Jass" Hewitt, the Malignant Loser declined to commit to supporting the 2024 Republican Presidential nominee, much like he did before the 2016 election where he was the only candidate to refuse to commit:

“'It would depend,' Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in a radio interview Thursday, later adding, 'It would have to depend on who the nominee was.'

Trump’s unwillingness to deliver a full-throated endorsement of the eventual nominee stood in contrast to other leading Republicans — including some critics of the former president — who have promised to support the GOP nominee even if it’s Trump."  (our emphasis)

That's Malignant Loser-speak for "if it's not me, then no way." He's also teased the idea of a third party run if he's not the nominee, a typical extortion move for him. His main -- if not sole -- purpose in running is to avoid prison on multiple Federal indictments that he knows are coming his way. As for State criminal charges out of Georgia and New York, those are a different matter that he'll try to dodge. Of course, he also has a revenge motive that drives his sociopathic mind, and he said he'd be "entitled" to it in the same interview with Hewitt:

"Former President Donald Trump waged war against Republicans who voted for his 2021 impeachment — but he pledged not to take the same payback tactic against his political enemies if reelected to the White House in 2024. 

'I wouldn't do that because I want to bring our country forward,' he said on the Hugh Hewitt radio program. 'I would be entitled to a revenge tour, if you want to know the truth, but I wouldn't do that. I would want to strengthen our border, get inflation down, build our economy up.'"  (our emphasis)

Don't believe his "I wouldn't do that" any more than you'd believe anything else this pathological liar says.  His reasonable nod to focusing on inflation, etc. is transparent nonsense, coming from someone who, during his time in office, couldn't care less about policy or governing. 

The Malignant Loser currently commands a cult following of about 28% of Republicans who won't vote for anyone but him, so his refusal to commit to supporting someone else is a ticking time bomb for the party he still rules over. 

(photos: The Hill)

 

Poll: Public Confidence In Policing Drops

 

From the latest Washington Post/ ABC News poll:

Public confidence in police dropped after Tyre Nichols was fiercely beaten by officers in Memphis last month, with Americans increasingly doubtful that law enforcement officers are properly trained in using appropriate force or that they treat White and Black people equally, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The increased skepticism about police appears to be fueled by declining trust on the part of White and Hispanic Americans, compared with just a few years ago. For the first time since the Post-ABC poll began asking about the issue in 2014, just under half of White Americans say they are confident about police avoiding excessive force or racial bias. About two-thirds of Hispanic Americans lack confidence in police on both fronts.

The poll was conducted after police stopped Nichols, a 29-year-old FedEx employee, on Jan. 7 in Memphis and then brutally beat him. Nichols died three days later. The beating spawned local, state and federal investigations, and five officers involved were fired and charged with second-degree murder. Video footage of the beating was made public on Friday, showing officers repeatedly hitting and kicking Nichols, leading to nationwide outrage.

The Post-ABC poll suggests that the Memphis case — the latest in a long line of law enforcement uses of force, many captured on video, that ignited protests — has depressed Americans’ view of police officers.

Overall, 39 percent of Americans say they are “very” or “somewhat” confident police are adequately trained to avoid using excessive force, and 60 percent believe police are not, according to the Post-ABC poll.

That level of confidence in police is even lower than it was shortly after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020. Floyd’s death, along with the shooting death of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police earlier that year, prompted protests across the country and drove calls for police reform. A Post-ABC poll conducted that summer found that 47 percent of Americans were confident police were adequately trained to use excessive force... (our emphasis)

Not surprisingly, there's a significant racial divide in the trust/ confidence about use of force and training, though even among Republicans and older white Americans there's been a drop in confidence that police are being adequately trained to avoid excessive force.  

Apparently, until a baton cracks their skull, some need more proof.


Thursday, February 2, 2023

Today's Cartoons

 

(click on images to enlarge)

(Bill Day, floridapolitics.com)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Paul Fell, paulfellcartoons.com)

(Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune)

(Rob Rogers, Tinyview.com)

(John Cole, TennesseeLookout.com)

(Dave Granlund, politicalcartoons.com)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Monte Wolverton, caglecartoons.com)

(Avi Steinberg, The New Yorker)


Where's The Outrage?

 



Have we become so numb to Republican norm- shattering happening on a daily basis that the un-American actions of an Orwellian demagogue pass with so little outrage?  To wit:

For those who are paying attention, it's been obvious for some time that Florida's mega-MAGA governor, Ron DeSantis, is aggressive with book bans because he would just prefer it if kids didn't read books at all. So while it was infuriating, it was not surprising to read that the investigative journalism team at Popular Info had discovered that teachers in Manatee County, Florida were told that every book on their shelves was banned until otherwise notified. Failure to lock up all their books until they could be "vetted" by censors, teachers were warned, put them at risk of being prosecuted as felons. 

The facts of this situation are straightforward: A Florida law signed by DeSantis requires that every book available to students "must be selected by a school district employee who holds a valid educational media specialist certificate," in most cases, the school librarian. This may sound reasonable on its surface, but as the situation in Manatee County shows, in reality, it's about creating a bottleneck preventing books from getting into the hands of students. Even more importantly, it's about establishing the idea that books are inherently dangerous objects, to the degree that no student can be allowed to handle one without heavy-handed surveillance. [snip]

... Authoritarians hate reading for the same reason they hate sex, or any private behavior that allows people to experience thoughts and feelings outside of the authoritarian's control. Learning to sit quietly and read by yourself is, for most people, the first step towards being able to sit with your own thoughts. It's crucial for learning to think for yourself. There's a reason most teachers like to have a wide array of books on hand, giving kids the freedom to read on their own. It's how kids develop other skills, like critical thinking and creativity. 

Of course, all that is exactly what DeSantis is afraid of. He may occasionally make noises about freedom, but his actions speak clearly of his goal, which is to turn Florida students into a bunch of unthinking right-wing robots. This is a man who released an ad where he bragged about teaching his young child to parrot "build the wall," after all. He's never hidden his loathing for education and his preference for indoctrination. Books are being banned en masse in Florida schools. That's not an accident or a side effect, but always very much by DeSantis's design.

And this:

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday rolled out a slate of higher-education proposals that included eliminating spending on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, a move the governor said would lead such programs to “wither on the vine.”

DeSantis also announced proposals involving the frequency of post-tenure reviews for faculty members and the state setting new “core course requirements” at colleges and universities.

DeSantis’ announcement came weeks after his administration directed leaders of the college and university systems to collect information from schools about diversity, equity and inclusion-related expenditures.

(See also, "Tweets" below)

This, of course, follows a pattern established by smug thug DeSantis of identifying a hot- button right- wing culture war issue (under the umbrella of "wokeness"), and then jumping to the head of the mob, demonstrated in part by:

-- his "Don't Say Gay" legislation and his efforts to muscle the Walt Disney Company to stay out of the fight;

-- his opposition to life- saving COVID mandates and restrictions and association with violent cranks;

-- his backing legislation to allow Florida gun owners to carry a firearm in public without a permit;

-- his cruel performative show of flying migrants to Martha's Vineyard under the false pretext that jobs and public support were awaiting them.

Instead of receiving the opprobrium he richly deserves, this demagogue's authoritarian, racist policies are being covered as part of the horse race narrative the media is most comfortable with.  "Oooh, look what Trump said about him,"  "Is he going to run?," "Can he beat Trump?," etc.  What he's been up to in Florida should be setting off loud alarms and fierce pushback, but it seems there are still many who find a growing, dangerous authoritarian movement in this country mesmerizing and are willing to see it play out right under their noses.

BONUS:  The political press is happy to assist in Republican narrative framing.