Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve Around The World


The traditional Scottish folk melody that's sung around the world on New Year's eve is the Robert Burns poem put to music, Auld Lang Syne.  Here it's performed by the BBC Orchestra and Chorus against pictures of past New Year's celebrations on every continent.



"Economic Facts Get In The Way"


(click on image to enlarge)


(Tom Toles, via gocomics.com)

Eugene Robinson writes:
Uh-oh. Now that the economy is doing well, what are Republicans — especially those running for president — going to complain about? And what are Democrats willing to celebrate? 
Last week’s announcement that the economy grew at a rate of 5 percent in the third quarter of this year — following 4.6 percent second-quarter growth — was the clearest and least debatable indication to date that sustained recovery is no longer a promise, it’s a fact.  [snip] 
For years, a central tenet of the Republican argument has been that on economic issues, Obama is either incompetent or a socialist. It should have been clear from the beginning that he is neither, given that he rescued an economy on the brink of tipping into depression — and in a way that was friendly to Wall Street’s interests. But the GOP rarely lets the facts get in the way of a good story, so attacks on Obama’s economic stewardship have persisted.
And as long as the "mainstream media" and timid, fearful Democrats let the Republicans get away with it, the low-information majority of Americans will continue to let these vandals wreck what's left of American democracy and prosperity.

The Winner, and Still Champion...



This year, we've had an abundance of hacktacular hacks plying their trade in politics and on the manure-flecked boulevards of the Beltway Village.  But for sheer nastiness and staying power (like a case of hemorrhoids that won't go away), snowbilly grifter and teabagger icon Sarah "Winky" Palin tops the list, not to mention her lovely family.

Her constant elbowing her way into social and political commentary, long after her 15 minutes of fame was up, is a testament to her greed, cluelessness, and megalomania.  When appearances on the Fux Channel and other right-wing outlets diminished, she set up her own lame internet subscription channel in order to fleece the rubes and spread her flaky, argle-bargle opinions, when most Americans have long since dismissed her as a narcissistic featherweight.  The inimitable tBogg has prepared a compilation of her 2014 "hits" (so we didn't have to).  While there's treatment for hemorrhoids, it's a sure bet that we'll still have Winky shrieking at us in 2015.

BONUS:  You have to give the increasingly ludicrous CNN "dis-honorable mention" for some disgraceful, hacktacular moments in 2014.

How's That Republican Rebranding Coming Along, White Supremacist Edition (Cont.)



Now that Weeper of the House John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner (Eunuch-OH) has thrown his full support (and that of the House Republican leadership) behind Republican Majority Whip and racist vomica Rep. Steve Scalise (Confederate-LA), additional jack-boots are hitting the floor:
This is what I remember about the first time I met Steve Scalise nearly 20 years ago: He told me he was like David Duke without the baggage
I was a new reporter covering Jefferson Parish, and Scalise, now the majority whip in the U.S. House of Representatives, was just starting out in the Louisiana Legislature (I’m going from memory, but the exchange obviously stuck with me). It would be several years before I would fully decode just what he meant by the sentiment, which is similar to statements he would later make to at least one Washington news outlet, and what it said about Jefferson Parish and Louisiana politics. 
The “baggage,” of course, was Duke’s past, his racist and anti-Semitic views and his former role as a KKK grand wizard. Scalise disavowed Duke then, as he did once again this week, when blogger Lamar White Jr. revealed that Scalise had spoken in 2002 at a meeting hosted by a Duke-founded white nationalist group. 
But the other part of the sentence, the part about their similarity, was the rub. Scalise may have been naïve about how to express himself to a newcomer, but he was already a savvy politician who knew that, even though Duke had lost the governor’s race a few years earlier, Duke voters were still around. And those Duke voters also were potential Scalise voters. (our emphasis)
Oops.

So, far from being the naive candidate as he's tried to portray himself, "David Duke Without The Baggage" Scalise knew all about who he was courting when he spoke at the white supremacist, anti-Semitic European-American Unity and Rights Organization in 2002.  Of course, this should come as a surprise only to people who've been in a coma or a cave since the days of Richard Nixon, Lee Atwater and all the other implementers of the Republican Southern Strategy.

Kudos to Lamar White, Jr., and to Stephanie Grace for exposing this small-bore Confederate racist for all to see.

UPDATE:  We're sure "David Duke Without The Baggage" Scalise didn't know about this, too.

UPDATE II:  More on how "David Duke Without The Baggage" Scalise is well within the spectrum of the Republican base.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

When It Rains, It Pours



The wall of a Morton Salt warehouse in Chicago collapsed earlier today, covering cars in an adjoining Acura dealership.  No one was injured or a-salted in the accident.

Quote Of The Day


From an editorial in today's New York Times on the back-turning and heckling of New York Mayor de Blasio by some of New York City's finest:
Mr. de Blasio isn’t going to say it, but somebody has to: With these acts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many New York police officers, led by their union, are squandering the department’s credibility, defacing its reputation, shredding its hard-earned respect. They have taken the most grave and solemn of civic moments — a funeral of a fallen colleague — and hijacked it for their own petty look-at-us gesture. In doing so, they also turned their backs on Mr. Ramos’s widow and her two young sons, and others in that grief-struck family. 
These are disgraceful acts, which will be compounded if anyone repeats the stunt at Officer Liu’s funeral on Sunday.
Amen.

The entire editorial is excellent, so please read it.

Watered Down Cartoon of the Day


(click to enlarge)


With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, legislation addressing climate change is doomed for at least the next two years.  Perversely, there will likely be attempts by them to roll back environmental protection standards for air and water in order to please their big industry donors.

(cartoon: Jim Morin, Miami Herald, via Gocomics.com)

Republican Crime Blotter, I Quit Edition



Tax cheat rageaholic Rep. Michael "Throw You Off The Balcony" Grimm was charged with 20 counts of perjury, mail, wire and tax fraud earlier this year by a Federal grand jury, yet was actually re-elected last November by his "it's-OK-if-you're-a-Republican" constituents.  Several days ago, the Staten Island, NY Representative decided to plead guilty to one count of tax fraud, and today he announced that he would resign from Congress, effective January 5.

By resigning from Congress, Grimm said he's going to "start the next chapter in his life," which could include a 3-year sentence in Federal prison for the tax fraud charge.  Should he be sent to the slammer, a soap-on-a-rope gift will be on its way for those awkward group showers.

BONUS:  Salon's Blake Zeff has some insights into how Grimm used the election -- and his supporters -- to strike a deal that would result in less prison time.  Surprised?

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Papal Call To Action on Climate Change


In a significant move to use the Catholic Church's influence on another major issue worldwide, Pope Francis will issue a papal encyclical next year calling on the world's 1.2 billion Catholics to act on climate change.  Seeing climate change as a threat to humanity and an assault on "Creation," the Pope will be marshaling the efforts of Catholics all over the world to combat it.

The Pope's action on climate change will almost certainly rile right-wing Catholics who are fuming over his conciliatory statements on gays, and his exhortations against unchecked capitalism, among other statements.  It will be interesting to see how nominal Catholics from Bill O'Liely and Sean "Heil" Hannity to the right-wing Catholic League's Bill Donohue and cynical convert Poot Gingrich argue with that.

How's That Republican Rebranding Coming Along, White Supremacist Edition


From the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle:
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the House majority whip, acknowledged Monday that he spoke at a gathering hosted by white nationalist leaders while serving as a state representative in 2002, thrusting a racial controversy into House Republican ranks days before the party assumes control of both congressional chambers. 
The 48-year-old Scalise, who ascended to the House GOP’s third-ranking post earlier this year, confirmed through an adviser that he once appeared at a convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. 
That organization, founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, has been called a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Scalise claims he didn't know at the time it was a white supremacist group, which would make him the only person in Louisiana who didn't know David Duke was a notorious racist and former Ku Klux Klan leader.

Adventures In English



From San Francisco Bureau Chief Shauna, currently on sabbatical in Thailand:  "Hello Kitty" ziploc bags, guaranteed to disappoint.

Monday Reading


Some good reads to start off the week:

Paul Krugman on "The Obama Recovery."

Joan Walsh on the NYPD and a New Yorker's history of white backlash.

Joan McCarter looks back on "The Year in Obamacare."

Steve Benen on John Ellis ("J.E.B.") Bush cutting his Obamacare ties.

Happy reading!

Quote of the Day

"Now I suspect there are going to be some times where I've got to pull that pen out. And I'm going to defend gains that we've made in health care; I'm going to defend gains that we've made on environment and clean air and clean water."-- President Obama in an interview on National Public Radio today, facing the reality that he'll have to use the veto when Congressional Republicans try to roll back every positive change in the last six years, starting with the Affordable Care Act.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Today's Cartoon


Gary Markstein boils down our last post thusly:


(Gary Markstein, via gocomics.com)

This Is Not How You Heal -- Or Serve


(AP photo - John Minchillo)
This photo was taken yesterday outside the funeral of slain NYPD officer Rafael Ramos, with hundreds of officers turning their backs as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke, as some had done earlier when de Blasio went to the hospital where the police officers were taken.  Incendiary remarks by Patrick Lynch, meathead leader of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, and others =cough= noun, verb, 9/11 Giuliani =cough= have succeeded in convincing some in the NYPD that de Blasio's cautioning his biracial son about interactions with the police after the chokehold death of Eric Garner was an insult to the police force.  Enough has been said about the lameness of that argument that we needn't discuss it further.  The fact that city hall's in the midst of tough labor negotiations with the NYPD is also adding to the posturing and bitterness.

But the larger issue that has been raised by these outward shows of disrespect for civil authority by some in the NYPD can be boiled down to:  "Who do you serve?"  Here's Charles P. Pierce:
... In response, and at the encouragement of television hucksters like Joe Scarborough, police union blowhards like Patrick Lynch, political zombies like George Pataki, and comical fascists like Rudolph Giuliani, the NYPD is acting in open rebellion against Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, and the civil power he represents over them. This is an incredibly perilous time for democracy at the most basic levels.  [snip] 
... If the NYPD runs a slow-motion coup against the freely elected mayor of New York, then it is running a slow-motion coup against all the people of New York. There is no exemption from this fundamental truth about the way this country and its system is supposed to work.
Ta-Nehisi Coates extrapolates this show of insubordination into a most unpleasant future scenario:
When the elected mayor of my city arrived at the hospital, the police officers who presumably serve at the public's leisure turned away in a display that should chill the blood of any interested citizen. The police are not the only embodiment of democratic society. And one does not have to work hard to imagine a future when the agents of our will, the agents whom we created, are in fact our masters. On that day one can expect that the tactics intended for the ghettos will enjoy wider usage. 
There's an "us vs. them" mentality that unfortunately is in danger of becoming the norm in minority community/ police relations, if it hasn't already.  As Gene notes here and here, the same confrontational attitude by the Patrick Lynch's of the world -- not to mention right-wing pols and media --  doesn't seem to arise when the cop killers are white, "sovereign citizen," right-wing militia types.

Police have the toughest job in the world and that fact needs to be respected. But they do themselves and their communities no favors when they lose sight of who they're protecting and serving.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

News You Can Lose, Chuck Todd Maxim Edition


Al Hunt writes at Bloomberg News:
A Bloomberg Politics poll shows that on two controversial issues, the budget deficit and deporting illegal immigrants, the public believes Obama's critics–even though reality favors the president. 
By 73 percent to 21 percent, the public says the federal budget deficit has gotten bigger during the Obama presidency.
Not true, of course.  It's actually been cut by two-thirds, from $1.4 trillion when he took office, to $469 billion in the current budget.
By 53 percent to 29 percent, Americans believe that Obama has sent fewer undocumented immigrants home than were deported a decade earlier. That's a constant refrain of Obama's immigration critics.  
It also isn't true. 
So, who's to blame for this striking lack of broad public knowledge, Mr. Hunt?
President Barack Obama is a renowned orator, capable of lofty and often moving rhetoric. When it comes to informing Americans about the accomplishments of his own administration, however, he's not exactly the persuader-in-chief. 
It's all Obama's fault!

Not that Obama's getting any help from the Al Hunts of the media, because as we all know it's not their job to inform (a.k.a., "the Chuck Todd maxim"), but rather merely to observe and jot down the "he said, she said" narratives.

"... [R]eality favors the president."  Thanks for the news.

BONUS:  Chuck Todd Maxim Corollary:  "It's not my job to ask tough questions, either!"  Otherwise, his lying guests might not come back.  Really.

Obama's War On Christmas - Journamalist Edition



Over at the Moonie Washington Times, reprinting a 2013 rumination by reporter and not- the- brightest- light- on- the- Christmas- tree Joseph Curl is becoming something of a holiday tradition (much like Clement Moore's "'Twas The Night Before Christmas," except with more entitlement and Obama Derangement Syndrome in the mix).  It seems President Obama's tradition of leaving for Hawaii before Christmas (and making White House stenographers reporters pay for their own travel!) has turned Curl into a churl.  He longs for the good old Republican family values days when Dumbya took the White House stenographers press corps to the "ranch" at Crawford, Texas, after Christmas and at cut-rate prices:
That was President Bush. And every year for the past five, I've thought about what that meant to me. (By the way, some years, I got holiday duty, which meant I was off to Waco, Texas, the day after Christmas. But once again, the Bush White House had us covered: A press plane flew out with the president, and back then, reporters could pay $100 per family member for the plane ride. So sometimes, the family went along. For the kids, it was an adventure; for me, well, we were all together.) 
All that has changed with President Obama. No more press plane, for one. Reporters are on their own — so taking family is, say, $1,000 a pop. Not likely. And this president would never delay his trip to his island getaway. He's off every year well before Christmas. Hundreds and hundreds head off with him, leaving family behind. 
No Christmas at home. Instead, the Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. Nice, but not exactly home. 
Anyway, that's why I think of George W. Bush every year in the week between Christmas and New Year's. Probably will till I die. Thanks, GWB.
We couldn't top the observations of Charles P. Pierce and Digby on "Curl's Complaint," so here they are, starting with Charles:
It takes a special kind of man to confess that his devotion can be bought on the cheap, let alone one who will reprint the Bill Of Sale every Christmas season. (This column apparently is going to be come a regular holiday treat for the whole family, like that kid who gets his tongue stuck to the flagpole.) Of course, there are some 5000-odd Americans who won't get to be home with their families for Christmas ever again. Thanks, GWB.
Your turn, Digby:
Those awful Obamas force the press corps to go to Hawaii in the middle of the winter. The humanity. And I'd guess they don't feel they could get away with having the taxpayers foot the bill for all the reporters' families to go with them as George W. Bush did. After all, there's no doubt that the Washington Times would dog them mercilessly if they tried it. 
You can be sure "Curl's Complaint" will appear in the Moonie Times every Christmas season through 2016, to be followed by a slightly edited version for President Hillary Clinton's Christmas getaway to some other godforsaken place.

(Photo:  The entitled and sorely miffed Joseph Curl)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Ten Years Ago Today


Ten years ago, one of the greatest natural disasters in recorded human history struck Southeast Asia - the earthquake and resulting catastrophic tsunami that claimed over 200,000 lives.  Memorials were held today in all the affected nations;  in Aceh province in Indonesia, the country hardest hit by the tsunami, the magnitude of the disaster resulted in something of an epiphany to local residents accustomed to years of political and religious strife:
Imam Asman Ismail said the tsunami had taught a "valuable lesson" to Aceh, which had been the scene of an armed conflict for nearly 30 years. 
"After the tsunami, no-one fights against each other; people live in harmony and peace till this day," he said.
We should all keep in mind how fragile life is and how quickly and arbitrarily it can be taken away. It shouldn't take a natural disaster like the 2004 tsunami to bring a larger perspective to our daily grievances, but maybe that's just the way we are as a species.

Just another way of saying, "Be good to each other."

Weekend Song


We featured the Volebeats, a Detroit-originating alt-country-rock group, earlier this year, and thought it would be a good time to give them another listen.  This is a song from a 1997 album of theirs, "Sky and the Ocean," and it's titled "Two Seconds."  Swing slow and low, and enjoy your weekend.

2014: The Year Of "Yes, We Can"


Paul Krugman offers a worthwhile glimpse back at 2014 and sees a large truth that has passed unnoticed under the noses of most of the media and, therefore, much of the public:
The common theme here is that, over the past year, a U.S. government subjected to constant bad-mouthing, constantly accused of being ineffectual or worse, has, in fact, managed to accomplish a lot. On multiple fronts, government wasn’t the problem; it was the solution. Nobody knows it, but 2014 was the year of “Yes, we can.”
Krugman goes on to catalogue the unheralded successes of Big Gummint, from... well, go to the article and see for yourself.  It's always good to be able to demonstrate that progressive, well-managed government can be a solution.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mid-Week Christmas Eve Music


Enjoy the peace and beauty.

"Worst Op-Ed In History"


Reflecting on the Dow Jones going over 18,000 yesterday, Matt O'Brien offers us "the worst op-ed in history:"
And that brings us to the worst op-ed in history. On March 6, 2009, former George W. Bush adviser Michael Boskin offered whatever the opposite of a prophecy is when he said that "Obama's Radicalism Is Killing the Dow." Now let's set the scene. Obama had been in office for less than two months at that point, and in that time, stocks had admittedly fallen a lot as markets worried that the big bank bailout known as TARP wouldn't actually be enough to save the banks. It got so bad that Citigroup briefly became a penny stock.
Boskin, though, didn't think that this once-in-three-generations financial crisis was to blame for the market meltdown. Instead, he blamed it on Obama for ... talking about raising taxes? "It's hard not to see the continued sell-off on Wall Street and the growing fear on Main Street," Boskin philosophized, "as a product, at least in part, of the realization that our new president's policies are designed to radically re-engineer the market-based U.S. economy." What followed was the usual conservative jeremiad against higher taxes on the rich, lower taxes on the poor, and deficit spending. Obama's trying to turn us into Europe, and that's why markets are pricing in the possibility of a Great Depression—not the dying economy he inherited. 
To illustrate how completely boneheaded this reactionary's "free market conservative's" prediction was, here's O'Brien's visual (click on image to enlarge):


With the usual caveat that Wall Street's gains don't reflect Main Street's pains and wage growth continues to disappoint, the news that the Gross Domestic Product grew by an impressive 5 percent in the third quarter and Obamacare is (barring malicious judicial activism from the Supreme Court) alive and very well, are positive signs.  So, no doubt Boskin and fellow reactionaries "free market conservatives" are still demanding to know, "When are you going to stop killing the economy, Obama?"

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Republican Crime Blotter - Elected, Convicted Felon Edition


Republican Rep. Michael "Dim" Grimm (Felon-NY) pled guilty to one felony count of tax fraud today. Sentencing is expected in June; Grimm could face up to 3 years in prison. Grimm was indicted in April on 20 counts related to hiding more than $1 million in sales and employee wages at a restaurant he co-owned in Manhattan.  Last November, his low-life Staten Island constituents decided to re-elect him because he had that "R" next to his name on the ballot, regardless of the 20-count indictment hanging over his felonious head.

Grimm, a rageaholic, has said he will continue to serve in Congress, but pressure is already building on Weeper of the House John "Mr. Tangerine Man" Boehner to force Grimm to resign.

Public Strongly Backs Obama On Cuba



(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

From the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll (one the neocon dimwits on the editorial board should absorb):
A large majority of Americans support establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba, and even larger -- and growing -- majorities support an end to trade and travel bans to the country, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. 
The national survey finds little erosion in public support after President Obama announced sweeping changes in U.S.-Cuba policy, despite his weak approval ratings nationally. Sixty-four percent support establishing ties with Cuba, similar to 66 percent in a 2009 Post-ABC poll asking whether the United States should do so. 
Sixty-eight percent support ending the trade embargo with Cuba -- up 11 points from 2009 -- and 74 percent support ending travel restrictions to Cuba -- a jump of 19 points from five years ago. The poll described each policy in general and did not mention Obama's action, maintaining broad comparability to previous surveys.
Given these results, let's see how forcefully Republicans in Congress support Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio's (R-Little Havana) attempts to hamstring the change in policy toward Cuba.

Here Come The Demagogues, Cont.


Major newspaper editorial boards are reacting to the politicization of the killing of two New York City Police officers, with particular attention to the destructive roles of right-wing leech Rudy "Noun, Verb, 9/11" Giuliani and Police Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch.

The once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle:
The officers are being mourned and celebrated in New York and across the country, as they should be. But their deaths also have been improperly used in a political debate. Republican politicians, such as former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, and police union leaders in Baltimore and New York have blamed the killings on people protesting police tactics after civilians were killed by officers in Ferguson, Mo., Staten Island and elsewhere.
The Los Angeles Times:
... New York police union chief Patrick Lynch, for example, lashed out at “those who incited violence on the street in the guise of protest.” 
But it is utterly unreasonable to suggest that people who have been protesting the use of excessive force by police are somehow responsible for provoking the actions of a cop-killer. To follow Lynch's argument to its logical conclusion, communities that have felt the brunt of abusive police tactics must not object, lest their demonstrations incite criminals or the deranged to attack police. That's a non-starter. There is a conversation taking place on race and policing, and it necessarily will include protests against injustice, real or perceived.
The Denver Post:
The head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association in New York was the most vehement. "There's blood on many hands tonight," Patrick Lynch declared in the wake of the shootings. "Those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protests, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day. ... That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall — in the office of the mayor."
And Lynch is by no means the only such critic. The Wall Street Journal, for example, concluded an editorial by saying, "The progressive campaign against police must stop before it has even uglier consequences." This was in the same editorial, ironically, that stipulated that "no one other than the alleged shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, is responsible for pulling the trigger."
The New York Times:
... Anything that even briefly silences the police union leader Patrick Lynch, whose response to the killings has been to slander Mr. de Blasio as a bloody-handed accomplice to murder, is worth supporting. [snip]
... Irresponsible voices are poisoning this debate: George Pataki, a former New York governor, said that “divisive anti-cop rhetoric” from Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. and Mr. de Blasio inspired the killing of the two officers; Rudolph Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City, spread the falsehood that Mr. de Blasio had let the protests get out of control (they have been amazingly peaceful); Raymond Kelly, a former New York police commissioner, falsely accused Mr. de Blasio of running on an “anti-police” platform. 
The transparent political agenda of has-been right-wing pols, the Rupert Murdoch media, and meatheads like Patrick Lynch is getting the backlash it deserves.  Those who inflame the situation and attempt to link the murder of two policemen to peaceful protests as these sociopaths have done, are working against the best interests of the law enforcement community.  It's not helping to defuse already hostile police/ community relations by calling communities  "war zones" and attempting to stifle accountability.  It's not helping to say there's a "progressive campaign against police," when even commentators on the right expressed concerns about violence against unarmed civilians.  It's not helping the families of the two slain policemen to see this irresponsible, cynical, dishonest campaign being waged as they and many others mourn the deaths of their loved ones.

(Image:  Slain New York City Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.)

Economy's "Biggest Expansion In More Than A Decade"


It's all Obama's fault:
The U.S. economy roared into overdrive in the third quarter as consumer and business spending fueled the biggest expansion in more than a decade. 
Gross domestic product grew at a 5 percent annual rate from July through September, the biggest advance since the third quarter of 2003 and up from a previously estimated 3.9 percent, revised figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington.  (our emphasis)
As of 2 p.m. local time today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is over 18,000.  There's also this:
American consumers are feeling pretty good. 
The University of Michgan's consumer sentiment index climbed to 93.6 in December from 88.8 in November. 
While this was down from the preliminary December estimate of 93.8, it was nevertheless stronger than the 93.5 forecast by economists. 
"Consumers held the most favorable long-term prospects for the national economy in the past decade," said Richard Curtin, the survey's director via Reuters. "Importantly, the 2014 gains in jobs and wages were widespread across all population subgroups and regions."
It remains to be seen how much the new Republican Congress will try to undo these gains through its deliberate policy of sabotage (tax cuts for the wealthy, budget cuts for the poor and middle class).  Or, perhaps, will the American public finally shake its short attention span to notice who's working to improve things?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Quote Of The Day


Here's an excerpt from a very powerful editorial in the New York Times calling for an independent criminal investigation into the torture program of the Bush / Cheney regime.  The editorial doesn't spare the current Administration from shying away from its responsibilities.
"The question everyone will want answered, of course, is: Who should be held accountable? That will depend on what an investigation finds, and as hard as it is to imagine Mr. Obama having the political courage to order a new investigation, it is harder to imagine a criminal probe of the actions of a former president.  But any credible investigation should include former Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington; the former C.I.A. director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who drafted what became known as the torture memos."
The false claim that the torture resulted in actionable intelligence which averted attacks is the shield that Cheney et. al. have used and will continue to use to justify their actions, which should be examined in a  court of law.

In Entertainment News….


News item:  Sir Elton John weds his longtime partner David Furnish.

Did homophobe Rush Limpballs give the groom away?  Also, will Wisconsin Governor and Koch employee of the year Scott "Have A Koch" Walker say "Molotov" to the happy couple?

BONUS:  And then there's cable star and word-salad shooter Sarah Palin firing up her twitter machine to wish some folks a happy birthday:


Well, in her defense, those Dick Duck Dynasty people do act like a bunch of dicks.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Here Come The Demagogues


Yesterday's horrific murder of two New York City policemen by a gang member purporting to take revenge for the killings of Michael Brown in Herderson, MO, and Eric Garner on Staten Island, NY, earlier this year, has brought out some of the most loathsome, partisan demagoguery we've seen in a long time.  Rather than repeat some of the slander here, Nancy LeTourneau at Washington Monthly has captured some of the more egregious comments being made by people who barely missed a beat before they started blaming someone other than the shooter for the tragedy (one addition to Nancy's list of shame would be frozen food heir "Mother" Tucker Carlson, whose crocodile tear ducts went into overload.)  Naturally, Fox "News" has been providing a rage platform for many of those demagogues.

You'll note beyond the predictable slimers like Rudy "Noun, Verb, 9/11" Giuliani (yes him, again) are several current or former police officials.  It's particularly sad and unfortunate that they're using the deaths of two of their own to push their agenda, that being to silence critics of police militarization and the growing rift between police and the communities they're sworn to serve.  If their interest was truly to help their brothers and sisters in blue by defusing a dangerous police/community environment, they wouldn't be trying to further inflame people just to score political points.  Keep that in mind as you watch this story unfold.

"Lie of the Year"


While we're not always fans of the Tampa Bay Times' "Politifact" fact-checking feature, this is one year it stumbled on the truth, naming Ebola exaggerations and misrepresentations "Lie of the Year."  In doing so, it specifically name-checks (among others) the execrable George Will and Sen. "Ayn Rand" Paul (Aqua Buddha-KY).  Here's a sampling:
Fox News analyst George Will claimed Ebola could be spread into the general population through a sneeze or a cough, saying the conventional wisdom that Ebola spreads only through direct contact with bodily fluids was wrong. 
"The problem is the original assumption, said with great certitude if not certainty, was that you need to have direct contact, meaning with bodily fluids from someone, because it’s not airborne," Will said. "There are doctors who are saying that in a sneeze or some cough, some of the airborne particles can be infectious." False.
As for self-certified ophthalmologist Paul:
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., described Ebola as "incredibly contagious," "very transmissible" and "easy to catch." Mostly False.
Remember how Ebola was gonna getcha 'cause of the incompetent Obama administration?  Another right-wing meme bites the dust.  Never fear, though!  There are more coming down the road, to be mindlessly catapulted into the public consciousness by the "mainstream media."

Saturday, December 20, 2014

In Church News...



News item:  "Anti-Gay Pastor Arrested For Grabbing Man’s Genitals, Soliciting Oral Sex"

The man told the pastor that he was "barking up the wrong tree."  The pastor's name?  Gaylard Williams.  Yes. Really. Bwahahaha!

(mugshot photo: Giving pastoral outreach a new meaning)

Fux's Problem With Female Journalists


Yesterday's Presidential press conference started off in the way we would like every public appearance by President Obama to start:  relentlessly reminding listeners (and especially the hostile Beltway press) of his Administration's accomplishments, which we summarized here.

The President also decided to call on reporters not normally called on (leaving the networks out, although Associated Press and Reuters were recognized), and went with an all-female selection.  This did not go over well with the dyspeptic misogynists at GOP-TV Fux, with fresh-faced pipsqueak Ed Henry criticizing the choice to go all-female and suggested that they just asked "softball" questions.  So, when will we hear Fux's fake female journalists push back on their own guy's "reporting?"  Holding one's breath is not recommended.

UPDATE:  Good to see he's touting his record again in today's message.  If he doesn't, his fellow Dems won't either.

Quote of the Day, Rethug Civil War Edition


"Senator Marco Rubio believes the embargo against Cuba has been ineffective, yet he wants to continue perpetuating failed policies. After 50 years of conflict, why not try a new approach? The United States trades and engages with other communist nations, such as China and Vietnam. Why not Cuba? I am a proponent of peace through commerce, and I believe engaging Cuba can lead to positive change. Seems to me, Senator Rubio is acting like an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat. I reject this isolationism. Finally, let's be clear that Senator Rubio does not speak for the majority of Cuban-Americans. A recent poll demonstrates that a large majority of Cuban-Americans actually support normalizing relations between our countries." --  Kentucky Sen. "Ayn Rand" Paul, in a tweet blasting Florida Sen. and thirsty gusano Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio for his ossified, reactionary position on normalizing relations with Cuba.  The shots exchanged between the two likely contenders for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016 expose just one of the cracks in the Rethuglican / New Confederate / Stupid Party's facade.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Weekend Song


Thirty years ago in London, musician and activist Bob Geldof organized "Band Aid," a large collection of mostly British (but some American) rock and pop stars, to record "Do They Know It's Christmas," as a fundraiser for Ethiopian famine relief.  The effort, a romp of (take your pick) (a) altruism or (b) self-promotion by said stars, was perhaps legitimately criticized as condescending at the time (not helped by many of the stars mugging during the taping).  But the bottom line was that sales of the recording raised more than $24 million for the relief efforts.  The success of the concept spawned other musical fundraisers like Live Aid and Farm Aid.  The song has been re-recorded every decade since by new line-ups of artists.   This is the original one, though, with its super catchy coda.  See how many mulleted artists you recognize from 30 years ago (if you were around then, that is) and enjoy your weekend!

Today's Cartoons - Cold War Relics Edition


(click on image to enlarge)


The water bottle next to "Glug Glug" Rubio - nice touch!

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


(Mike Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Republican Family Values, Cont'd.



We all know Texas to be a breeding ground for wingnuts like Rep. Louie "Screwy Louie" Gohmert (often described as the dumbest Congressman) and former Rep. Steve "Crockman" Stockman (who invited draft-dodging right-wing headbanger Ted Nugent to the State of the Union).  When you take a Texas wingnut and add some skeeve, you have Rep. Blake "Flake" Farenthold, who's been accused by a former staffer of sexual harassment in the workplace by making sexual references to semen, wet dreams, and other jolly office humor.  Flake was also the registered owner of the URL "Blow-me.org", which he presumably wanted to sell to a porn business at some point.  Presumably.

We wish the litigant against Flake all the best with her claim.  And we wish Flake would just go away.

(photo:  Flake, appropriately, at far right in this un-retouched picture. What woman wouldn't want to be sexually harassed by that hunk?)

"The Colbert Report" Says Goodbye


One of our all-time favorite shows went off the air last night.  The brilliant satire "The Colbert Report" wrapped after 9 years and hundreds of hours of delightful, politically-savvy entertainment. Fortunately, at least for now, you can enjoy the show in retrospect at the Colbert Report web site (thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos).  In the meantime, here's the finale of last night's show, replete with dozens of celebrity guests*.


One last note for now.  A long-lasting impression of Colbert came not from "The Colbert Report," but from when he hosted (for the first and last time) a White House Correspondent's Dinner back in 2006.  As Colbert would say, he had the big brass balls to skewer then-Preznit George Dumbya Bush sitting right next to him and, even better, his hosts and audience --the intrepid reporters stenographers covering the White House.  Here's a portion of what he had to say (you can find the entire piece on YouTube, including the discomfort of the stuffed media shirts getting some righteous zingers thrown at them):
Over the last five years you people were so good—over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew. 
But, listen, let’s review the rules. Here’s how it works: the president makes decisions. He’s the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you’ve got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know—fiction!
To the Republican-wired Beltway Media Kool Kids, Dumbya was "The Decider," leader of men!  President Obama, contrary to what you would hear from the referee-playing right-wing noise machine, never got the breaks Dumbya did.

We can only hope Colbert finds a way to keep spearing the nitwits, bloated egos, and phony pols from his new perch at CBS come next spring.

* BONUS:  Forbes has a list of the dozens of celebrities who were in the grand finale.  Quite a melange of folks.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Look Into The Not-So-Distant Past


Just to recap:

1.  321,000 jobs were added in November, the most in over 3 years and the 50th straight month of job growth.

2.  Approximately 5,000,000 undocumented immigrants were spared deportation by Presidential executive order, acting as Republicans refused to pass immigration reform legislation.

3.  China and the U.S. came to an historic climate agreement affecting carbon dioxide emissions.

4.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), we've reached historic lows in the percentage of uninsured Americans, ongoing HealthCare.gov web site enrollments are providing millions with affordable health insurance coverage, and more Republican governors are yielding to political pressure to expand Medicaid in their states (shhh - don't anybody call it Obamacare, though!).

5.  After pursuing a failed policy for over 50 years, the U.S. and Cuba are going to establish normal diplomatic relations.

6.  The authoritarian that makes rightwing Republicans plotzRussian President Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin is watching the Russian ruble and economy implode due to falling oil prices and the bite of sanctions orchestrated by that weak (but tyrannical!) President Obama himself.

All of this is keeping the Republicans off-balance and very angry.  So, let's keep pushing on our economic issues (equal pay, raising the minimum wage, middle class relief, income inequality, etc.) and see if their tiny heads explode.

The North Korean Censors



The recent cyber hacking assault on Sony Pictures resulted in some red-faced executives whose e-mails were leaked, and some serious invasions of privacy involving personal information and scripts to upcoming films.  The hacking was in retaliation for Sony's film "The Interview," which centers around farcical attempts to assassinate North Korean boy dictator Kim Jong-Un, while it relentlessly mocks him and his dysfunctional tyranny.  Intelligence officials are pointing to the North Korean regime as responsible for the sophisticated cyber assault.

The situation became more serious when threats were made that movie theaters showing "The Interview" would face 9-11 style attacks.  That was enough for the five major theater chains to announce that they would not be showing the movie, which forced Sony to pull the film.  Sony's move has prompted accusations of "cowardice" and submission to blackmail.  How the U.S. will respond to this cyber attack (and terrorist threat) remains to be seen.  But it should remind anyone that needed reminding that the technology-dependent world we live in has become a little more vulnerable, thanks to the whim of the boy dictator.

(photo:  Getty Images)

Today's Cartoon - Apparently It's Who We Are


As we noted the other day, recent polls show that a majority of Americans are o.k. with the CIA's torture methods, erroneously believing those methods have resulted in important information being obtained.  To those of us who still believe that's not who we are as a nation, the polls came as a reminder that there's a very large pool of low-information, frightened people out there whose "lizard brain" responds to any threat or fear stimulus =cough= Fox "News" =cough=.  They've also been conditioned by t.v. and film portrayals to believe "this stuff works," and that the ends justify the means.  In fact, it only rots you from inside out.

(click to enlarge)

(Tom Toles, once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle)

A Tale Of Two Editorial Boards, Cont.


Once again, when vision and courage are displayed in the public arena, we have a stark example of a newspaper whose editorial board's reaction shows that it has gone seriously astray.  Concerning President Obama's decision yesterday to resume diplomatic relations with Cuba, the neo-cons at the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle opt, once again, for a reactionary "analysis:"
The administration says its move will transform relations with Latin America, but that is naive. Countries that previously demanded an end to U.S. sanctions on Cuba will not now look to Havana for reforms; instead, they will press the Obama administration not to sanction Venezuela. Mr. Obama says normalizing relations will allow the United States to be more effective in promoting political change in Cuba. That is contrary to U.S. experience with Communist regimes such as Vietnam, where normalization has led to no improvements on human rights in two decades. Moreover, nothing in Mr. Obama’s record of lukewarm and inconstant support for democratic change across the globe can give Ms. Sánchez and her fellow freedom fighters confidence in this promise. 
The Vietnam outcome is what the Castros are counting on: a flood of U.S. tourists and business investment that will allow the regime to maintain its totalitarian system indefinitely. Mr. Obama may claim that he has dismantled a 50-year-old failed policy; what he has really done is give a 50-year-old failed regime a new lease on life. 
Note to the Bezos Bugle:  You need to know that when you're in sync with shallow-pool inhabitant and Batista legatee Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio (Tea Party- Cuba Libre) and a shrinking number of octogenarian Batista-campers, you've bottomed out intellectually and morally.  In the Bugle's own reporting today, the normalization is getting universal, across-the-spectrum support from Latin American leaders. Seems like recognizing reality and moving forward is greeted more positively outside the editorial board room of the Bezos Bugle.  Normalization is also a policy that 66% of the American people  (including the vast majority of younger Cuban Americans) supported in a 2009 poll by the, er, once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle.   You might want to hit warp speed and catch up to your readers and the 21st Century.

On the other hand, here's what the Miami Herald editorial board had to say:
No one should doubt the historic significance of the president’s decision. It required political courage, representing the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. 
The president has made a bet whose ultimate outcome no one can know. “These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach,” he said. All who yearn to see freedom in Cuba can only hope this gamble pays off.
Unlike the Bezos Bugle's crystal ball certainty that the change in policy will give the Cuban regime "a new lease on life," it seems to us that this courageous move (with the assistance, we continue to note, of Pope Francis I) was inevitable and necessary to improve the lives of millions of Cubans (and Americans) and to free America from its last ossified links to the Cold War.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Colbert Tackles "J.E.B." Bush's Announcement


When former Florida Governor and "smarter" Bush brother John Ellis (J.E.B.) Bush announced yesterday that he was actively exploring running for President in 2016, the punditocracy buzzed with excitement over the prospect that, YES!, a third Bush would run for the Presidency. Who says there's no aristocracy (or amnesia) in American politics?  J.E.B. said last year that he wouldn't think about a decision to run until this year, and then he'd "think about it really hard."  Well, Stephen Colbert weighed in on J.E.B.'s announcement:  "'Think really hard..' when was the last time you heard a Bush say that?"  Bwahahaha!



BONUS: If you want one, just one, reason to hope this "moderate" Bush never gets anywhere near the Oval Office, let this be that reason.

Troika Cartoons of the Day

(click to enlarge)




The delicious Schadenfreude at would-be czar Vlad the Invader's economic woes.

(from top:  Stuart Carlson, Tom Toles, and Darren Bell, via Gocomics.com)

U.S., Cuba To Resume Diplomatic Relations


In a process that was facilitated by Pope Francis I (a.k.a., The Real Deal), President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced simultaneously today that diplomatic relations between the two countries would be normalized:
The United States intends to open an official embassy in Cuba in the coming months, the White House announced Wednesday, part of a broader normalizing of diplomatic relations after the countries exchanged prisoners. 
In a conference call with reporters, a senior administration official called the developments "the most significant changes to our Cuba policy in more than 50 years." 
"What we are doing is beginning the normalization of relations of the United States and Cuba," the official said. "President Obama has long believed that engagement is a better tool than isolation and nowhere is that clear than in Cuba, where we have seen a policy of isolation fail for the last 50 years."
Easing of travel and banking restrictions (not to mention the import of Cuban cigars) are expected to follow normalization.  The U.S. broke off diplomatic relations and instituted a trade embargo on Cuba more than 55 years ago.  The trade embargo, which is in law, would have to be repealed by the Congress.

As one would expect, Cuban American "patriots" like Republican and Batista legatee Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio are already denouncing the warming.  (We expect Cuban American via Calgary, Canada, Sen. "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz to have a similarly caliente reaction as soon as he can find a microphone and cameras.)

Bravo to all concerned for breaking this nonsensical deadlock that hasn't done one thing to advance freedom or economic well-being in Cuba for more than half a century.

BONUS:  Here's the Pope's statement about the normalization:
"The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their history."
BONUS II:  And happy birthday to Pope Francis, who is 78 today.  Everybody tango!

The Immoral Majority


We were struck by the results of the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll on CIA interrogations, which showed that a large majority of Americans (59% to 31%) approved of the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation methods torture.  A similar majority (53% to 31%) think those methods resulted in important information being obtained, contrary to all experience and evidence.

What's also striking is that a plurality think what the CIA did was torture (49% to 38%), yet a significant subset of those still approved of the CIA's methods. The poll confirms an earlier Pew Research Center poll that showed a similar willingness of a majority of Americans to let the CIA bring on the waterboards, coffin boxes and rectal infusions.

At this point, Americans have no moral authority - zero - to lecture other countries about human rights abuses, a point that was highlighted with bitter irony by the North Korean regime, which is now urging the U.N. Security Council to look into the CIA's methods.  (You recall the Council recently agreed to consider a resolution that would refer a U.N. report of North Korean human rights abuses to the International Criminal Court.)  Until Americans understand why torture is both morally and legally wrong and those responsible for it get punished, we need to dismount from our moral high horse.

That said, there were two letters in the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle that express matters so well, we would like to share them:
When I was young, I read of cold medieval dungeons where prisoners were doused with cold water and left to shiver and die. How unimaginably barbaric, I thought. 
As a teenager I read of Soviet torture of those considered enemies of the state. How awful, I thought, if the Russian people knew what was being done in the name of public safety and preserving their way of life. How could an ordinary person feel anything but shame? How could anyone defend torture? 
I was glad to be living in the home of the brave. 
And here we are, all illusions gone. 
Robin White, Washington 
My first priority is not to be kept safe by any means necessary. I am extremely offended by proclamations that the American people want to be kept safe above all else. 
For many Americans, protecting and defending the Constitution and our principles of individual freedom and due process of law are the highest duty we expect from our public servants. I believe we became a nation of cowards the day Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush lost their heads after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 
We send our military off to die, but we are afraid to risk another attack because we failed to torture the right person? I’m willing to take that chance if it means we can hold our heads up again as Americans and stand for something other than expediency and saving Mr. Cheney’s reputation. 
Cathy Clary, Afton, Va.
What, other than the fear and loathing of others that has been pounded into their heads by the politically motivated Republican Party and its minions anxious to deflect attention from their pre-9/11 failure to protect the homeland,  has led this majority of Americans to allow torture -- torture! -- to be conducted in their name?  We need to come to terms with this as a people, and quickly.

Look Who's Turning 70 Mid-Week Song


Who would have thought that legendary Stones guitarist and composer Keith Richards would have survived to see his 70th birthday, which is tomorrow?  His drinking and drug abuse -- which he's apparently kicked -- and general wear and tear on his body of five decades of rock stardom almost ruined him.  He co-wrote a large number of the Stones' songs with Sir Mick Jagger (gotta smile at that one), among them some beautiful ballads, one of which we feature today:  "Back Street Girl".  It's a song about a woman who is the mistress of a callous man at a much higher social strata.  The use of harpsichord, vibraphone and accordion make this one of the more un-Stones-like songs.  Early happy birthday to an unlikely survivor.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Quotes Of The Day - Barney Frank Edition



The always insightful, never dull former Rep. Barney Frank has a lot to say in an interview with Reuters excerpted at Raw Story.  Here are a few lines that caught our eye (but it's a detailed, wide-ranging interview that merits a full read):

On President Obama:
I was worried when he said in 2008 he was going to be post-partisan. It gave me post-partisan depression.
On Sen. "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz's Presidential chances:
God is not that much of a Democrat for Ted Cruz to get nominated. 
On the public's complaining about Congress (but then don't get their asses to the polls):
It’s interesting that the institution the public values the least is the one in which they have the greatest input in selecting: Congress. 
Of course, there's much, much more from Frank about politics, the "cromnibus" appropriations bill that weakened one part of the Dodd-Frank reform act, the financial collapse of 2008, marriage equality, and the media (including an interesting critique of two of our favorites, Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert - oh, well).

Look Who's Embracing "Obamacare"


A couple of right-wing Governors have decided to temporarily shelve the talk about "Obamacare" death panels and socialized medicine to join a number of other states in accepting expanded Medicaid funding under the Affordable Care Act.  The latest to sign up is Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (R-Smell-the-Coffee), who has notified his Rethuglican legislators that he would seek expanded Medicaid funding in order to cover some 160,000 low-income Tennesseans.  Earlier this month, far-right Kansas Governor Sam "Clownback" Brownback decided to use revenues from a Medicaid drug rebate program under the Affordable Care Act to plug part of the enormous hole in the state's budget that was created by his reckless budget cuts starting three years ago that nearly bankrupted Kansas.

Better late than never, even if their compatriot vandals in Congress still want to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and punish poor and working Americans getting affordable health insurance for the first time.

Another Torture Twofer


First, with the fall out from the Senate torture report, former Bush Administration officials involved in the torture policy implementation are nervous about travel abroad, where they could face arrest on criminal charges.  Foremost among those would be Dumbya himself, who has cancelled plans to attend a charity event in Geneva, Switzerland on February 12 because of the real possibility that he might be arrested and charged with war crimes.

Second, Jon Stewart demolished former (Vice) President and torture enthusiast Dick "The Dick" Cheney on the Daily Show last night, dissecting his shameful performance on Press the Meat.  Every sly deception, every cynical statement by The Dick is examined and shot down.  We have to agree with Stewart's conclusion:  thank goodness that Dumbya didn't die in office.  Let's send The Dick on a world tour, shall we?



Russia's Currency Nosedives



Financial panic is starting to spread in the Russian Federation as efforts by the Russian Central Bank have failed to halt the free-fall of the Russian ruble.  The rapid devaluation of the ruble has sent currency markets in Russia into a crisis, after the ruble fell 10 percent in value on Monday.  Despite the Central Bank's hike in interest rates late last night, the ruble's value fell to record lows today.

Worldwide oil price decreases and economic sanctions place on Putin's regime have combined to weaken the Russian economy, which relies extensively on oil and gas exports.  Whether next year will mark Putin's political demise remains to be seen, but his territorial ambitions and dreams of a greater Russia will almost certainly be severely curtailed.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Torture's Act One?


We noted earlier today that unrepentant torture enthusiast former (Vice) President Dick "The Dick" Cheney went on the offensive (and was offensive) on the Sunday poo-flings, monstrously defending the torture program during the Dick and Dumbya administration, while twisting facts, lying, and engaging in clownish demagoguery over 9/11 -- which, remember, happened on his watch.  If you want a great read on the performance, check out Amy Davidson's piece in The New Yorker.  It doesn't spare The Dick, the CIA (past and present), and even President Obama.  She looks at the implications of the "legacy of torture" and writes:
"….the President, when it comes to torture, has preferred avoidance to accountability. Obama looks back in sorrow, and seems to think that everyone else does, too. But if this past week has proved anything, it’s that the legacy of torture is not quiet repentance but impunity. This President has told his agents not to torture, and [current CIA Director] Brennan says he can work with that, while the C.I.A. waits for instructions from the next one." (emphasis added)
There's little doubt in our minds that a President Cruz, President Christie or other Rethugs would gleefully revert to torture in "defending" the homeland, regardless that it's discredited as a means of obtaining information.  As for everyone else, who knows at this point without a reckoning for what's already happened?

BONUS:  Michael Tomasky has much the same view, and holds the mirror up to us all.

BONUS II:  As usual, Michael Borowitz manages to find humor in even the most sordid circumstances: Cheney To Lead Torture-Pride March.

Terrorist Siege Ends in Australia


A self-styled radical "sheik" held more than a dozen people hostage in a candy shop for roughly 17 hours in Sydney, Australia, before Australian police and security units stormed the shop and apparently killed the hostage-taker.  Police identified the hostage-taker as Iranian immigrant Man Haron Monis, who was facing charges of sexual assault and has a history of making threats against the families of Australian servicemen killed in Afghanistan.  There are preliminary reports that some of the hostages were injured or killed, either by Monis or friendly fire.

Authorities believe Monis was a supporter of ISIS, demanding its flag and to speak with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott while holding the hostages at gunpoint.  Australia has joined the U.S. and other countries in military strikes against ISIS in Iraq.

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon

(click to enlarge)



Former (Vice) President and man ducking international criminal court Dick "The Dick" Cheney's weekend was spent defiantly and dishonestly pushing back on the Senate torture report, which details the methods used by the CIA and ordered by the Bush/Cheney White House.  "I'd do it again in a minute," The Dick snarled, after refusing to apologize for the torture of an innocent man who later died, and who hid behind the White House-ordered "finding" from the Bush Justice Department that gave cover to water boarding and other torture methods.

UPDATE:  Even one of The Dick's co-conspirators thinks the rectal feeding of some detainees went beyond the scope of the authorization.  Ya think?

(cartoon: Tom Tomorrow, via DailyKos)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tailgunner Ted Shoots Down Own Plane


Teabagger icon and rising demagogue in the Rethuglican / New Confederate / Stupid Party Sen. Ted "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz is the kind of arrogant putz that always thinks he's the smartest person in the room.  The flurry of activity in the Senate to deal with the budget, however, may have overloaded Tailgunner Ted's brain circuitry.  In trying to throw a procedural wrench into the budget vote, so as to stage a tantrum over the President's immigration reform actions, Tailgunner Ted opened the door for Senate Dems to vote on a number of Presidential appointees and judges that had been held up.  D'oh!  That removed a key bargaining chip for Senate Rethugs to use in the waning days of this Congress.

Tailgunner Ted is fast becoming an outcast even among his Senate Republican colleagues, who see the Texas extremist as a reckless opportunist bent on the 2016 Presidential nomination.  With performances like this weekend's, Tailgunner Ted may have hastened his isolation among his Republican colleagues, but we have to give him "thanks" for his boneheaded move that helped the Dems move some appointments.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Today's Cartoon Twofer (Or Enhanced Cartooning)


(click on image to enlarge)


(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


(Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle)

What You Get When You Don't Vote - A Continuing Series



Maryland Gov.-elect Larry "Bulk" Hogan recently met with local (Montgomery County) Maryland business and civic leaders, and decided to get things off on the good foot:
“Now, I realize that Montgomery County was one of the three lonely counties that unfortunately voted the wrong way from the entire rest of the state,” said Hogan (R), referring to Maryland’s two other Democratic strongholds, Prince George’s County and the city of Baltimore, carried by his opponent, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D).
Why be a humble winner when you can be a dick?

First, a reality check.  Brown actually carried 4 of the most populous jurisdictions in the State: Montgomery, Prince George's and Charles Counties and the City of Baltimore.  Bulk cleaned up in rural, yokel Maryland. Also, Bulk's total vote (844,400, or a "landslide" 51%) represented approximately 19 percent of registered voters in Maryland.  "The entire rest of the state," indeed.

This is a wonderful object lesson for what happens when Democrats don't get out to vote.  You get a smug Chamber of Commerce Republican in the Governor's Mansion.

(Photo: Maryland Gov.-elect Larry "Bulk" Hogan - oink.)

Pot, Meet Kettle


The Fux Channel's resident mustachioed narcissist Geraldo "Selfie" Rivera shared his advice to the protesters wearing the "I Can't Breathe" t-shirts that echo Eric Garner's last words as a Staten Island, NY police officer put him in a fatal chokehold:  Selfie wants them to change the slogan to "We're The Problem."  Oh Selfie, you provocative gusano you!

Actually, if Selfie could get the Fux Channel's entire on-air crew to wear that slogan on a t-shirt for a week, we'd never say another unkind word about him, new half-naked selfies or not.