Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Pedophile Protectors Are At It Again

The Catholic Church's long-term problem with pedophile clerics is not news. Nor are the self-righteous statements by various Cardinals and Bishops that the mess is being addressed. In fairness, where former Popes John Paul II and Benedict were guilty of, at a minimum, failing to deal with the extent of the problem, Pope Francis has made nominal, symbolic efforts to reverse the damage.

Just when you think the Catholic Church is, what's the word, repenting for the depredations of some of its clergy, a story in the New York Daily News will convince you otherwise. And right at the heart of it is the self-promoting, glad handing, Republican- friendly Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who has his own checkered history of trying to sequester cemetery funds to pay potential claims when Archbishop of Milwaukee. The story notes the resources -- some $2 million - expended by the Dolan-led Catholic Conference to fight against state legislation in Albany that would make it easier for victims of sex abuse to seek justice. The Church is seeking statute of limitation protection, and is fighting a proposed one-year window in which victims could sue despite being beyond the current legal limitation.

Imagine the good that $2 million would have done if the Church applied the money to the needs of the community, rather than protecting itself from its past.

Rethuglicans: Making Libertarians Look Sane

There was some justifiable mockery of the Libertarian Party's odd convention this past weekend, complete with the stripping goofball that was covered live on C-SPAN. After all, it's a party that favors the elimination of taxes, maximum local government control, doing away with drivers licenses and gun registration, and other nutty policies -- in other words, think of the Bundy klan as potential supporters. So mainstream, the Libertarians are not.

But in one way, they made themselves look absolutely reasonable in comparison to the Rethuglican primary process: they chose candidates for President and Vice President who aren't (as far as we know) certifiably nuts.  Former two-term state Governors Gary Johnson (NM) and William Weld (MA) are the party's ticket for the elections. Both can claim government executive experience, and both can articulate their thought-out policy positions (however far-fetched they are). Here's Steve Benen's take:
"The Libertarian Party ended up with a ticket featuring a pair of two-term governors. The party considered other assorted figures, none of whom had the kind of background Johnson and Weld brought to the table, but in the end, Libertarians showed a pragmatic streak, choosing the most experienced and credible candidates available. That may have meant compromising a bit, but the Libertarian Party made a conscious decision to nominate a ticket that can appeal to as broad a national electorate as possible.

And then there's the Republican Party, which is nominating a reality-show personality who's never served a day in elected office and doesn't appear to know anything at all about government, politics, or public policy.

Remind me: who are the real misfits in this picture?"


Here's your presumptive Republican "presidential" nominee's (or, in other words, thin- skinned, mean- spirited, perpetually- aggrieved sociopath's) Memorial Day greeting:

Count us as "haters."

Today's Cartoon And Reading - An Evil Fool And Fraud

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Toles, once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle)

We needn't go further than the op/ ed pages of the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle for today's cartoon and fusillade of truth concerning neo- fascist ignoramus Donald "Rump" Trump.  These deep dives give you the flavor of the pieces, but please go to the links for the full effect.

Eugene Robinson on Trump's self- inflated myth- making:
Donald Trump looked like a fool and a fraud on Sunday. But what else is new?
Even the most ardent Trumpistas would have to admit that Trump’s appearance at the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally was, as spectacles go, pretty pathetic. It was supposed to be a vast, multitudinous gathering on the plaza in front of the Lincoln Memorial, one of the greatest and most historic public spaces in the nation. Instead, Trump drew a paltry crowd estimated by organizers at perhaps 5,000.
As Trump might say in a late-night tweet: “Sad!”
The presumptive Republican nominee cut a ridiculous figure, sporting a red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap to guard against rogue breezes that might unhinge his comb-over. He lamented the attendance: “I thought this would be like Dr. Martin Luther King, where the people would be lined up from here all the way to the Washington Monument, right?”
He claimed that the anticipated throng was out there, but “unfortunately, they don’t allow ’em to come in.” That was a lie; there were no hordes outside the security perimeter, pleading for admittance. Since everyone present could easily discern the truth, Trump must have been lying to himself — perhaps to ease the sting of what can only be seen as an awful week for his campaign.
As Trump showed the world, it is relatively easy to run for president if you are willing to say or do anything to get attention and you believe in nothing except your own self-inflated myth. His reality-television-style campaign overwhelmed a badly fractured Republican Party. But the act is getting harder to pull off because now his words, often chosen for their shock value, have real consequences.
Former Dumbya speechwriter Michael "Mushroom Cloud" Gerson, whose world does not include mirrors, still points the finger... away:
Some Republicans keep expecting Trump to finally remove the mask of misogyny, prejudice and cruelty and act in a more presidential manner. But it is not a mask. It is his true face. Good Republican leaders making the decision to support Trump will end up either humiliated by the association, or betrayed and attacked for criticizing the great leader. Trump leaves no other options.
Here is the problem in sum: Republicans have not been given the option of choosing the lesser of two evils. The GOP has selected someone who is unfit to be president, lacking the temperament, stability, judgment and compassion to occupy the office. This is a terrible error, which has probably cost conservatives a majority on the Supreme Court. But the mistake was made by Republican primary voters in choosing Trump — not by those who can’t, in good conscience, support him.  
Frequent blind squirrel Richard Cohen comes out of a decades- long coma and is surprised (!) by the capitulation of the amoral, shitsack Republican "establishment" and fears the easy- come fascism of a broad swath of Americans:
When I see these Trump supporters on television — the commentators, the Politician’s Puttanesca (a dish to poison the body politic) — I have to wonder where they would draw the line. The answer seems to be: nowhere. They want to win. They want to beat Hillary Clinton, a calling so imperative that sheer morality must give way. Muslims and Mexicans are merely collateral damage in a war that must be fought. What about blacks or Jews? Not yet.
Maybe the talking heads on TV would draw the line at some mild version of fascism, but would the American people do the same? Here, I must hesitate. The easy yes of yesteryear has given way to awful doubt. Trump could win. He could become president, commander in chief, ruler of the Justice Department and head of the IRS. In other words, the American people could elect someone who has not the slightest appreciation for the Constitution or American tradition. When Trump insisted that he could compel a military officer to obey an illegal order, I heard the echo of jackboots on cobblestone.  [snip]
History nags. It admonishes. “American exceptionalism” is a phrase that refers to the past, not necessarily the future. Nothing is guaranteed. I’d like to think that Americans really are exceptional, that we have an exceptional faith in democracy and the rule of law. I now have some doubt. I always knew who Trump was. It’s the American people who have come as a surprise.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day, 2016

From President Obama's address honoring Memorial Day:
"It’s the day we stop to reflect with gratitude on the sacrifice of generations who made us more prosperous and free, and to think of the loved ones they left behind.

Remembering them – searing their stories and their contributions into our collective memory – that’s an awesome responsibility. It’s one that all of us share as citizens."

Morning Read: The Media And The Critical Fight To Stop Trump

Editorial in the U.S. edition of The Guardian:
Much of the US mainstream media seem unable or unwilling to get to grips with his candidacy. The sort of detailed scrutiny that has destroyed the ambitions of previous candidates seems lacking. Who remembers Gary Hart, whose presidential hopes sank without trace in 1988 when his reputation as a womaniser caught up with him on a yacht called Monkey Business – and the newspapers exposed all? Who does not recall the media pursuit of Bill Clinton, especially after the Monica Lewinsky affair came to light?

There are exceptions. The New York Times published an investigation into Trump’s misogynistic and abusive treatment of women employees and colleagues. But much of the coverage of his personal and business life, policy U-turns and self-contradictions, offensive and gauche remarks, and plain ignorance of the big issues facing the US and the world has been flaccid to the point of fawning. Even when the ugly truth is told, it somehow does not seem to damage him.
There's more on the critical need to stop Trump ("not a fit and proper person to occupy the White House") -- and the media's fear of taking this monster on. 

Tweets Of The Day - Your Third Party Alternative

(h/t Balloon Juice)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Across The Universe (Cont.)

(click on image to enlarge)

Credit:  ESA/Hubble & NASA (May 16, 2016)
Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt
This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows star clusters encircling a galaxy, like bees buzzing around a hive. The hive in question the an edge-on lenticular galaxy NGC 5308, located just under 100 million light-years away in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear).
Members of a galaxy type that lies somewhere between an elliptical and a spiral galaxy, lenticular galaxies such as NGC 5308 are disc galaxies that have used up, or lost, the majority of their gas and dust. As a result, they experience very little ongoing star formation and consist mainly of old and aging stars. On 9 October 1996, one of NGC 5308’s aging stars met a dramatic demise, exploding as a spectacular Type la supernova.
Lenticular galaxies are often orbited by gravitationally bound collections of hundreds of thousands of older stars. Called globular clusters, these dense collections of stars form a delicate halo as they orbit around the main body of NGC 5308, appearing as bright dots on the dark sky.
The dim, irregular galaxy to the right of NGC 5308 is known, rather prosaically, as SDSS J134646.18+605911.9
Best investment ever.

"Mexican" Judge Curiel, Trump University, And Fraudster Trump

One of the "businesses ventures" neo- fascist fraudster Donald "Rump" Trump inflicted on unsuspecting marks was the now- defunct "Trump University," which was supposed to transfer Rump's real estate wisdom =cough= four bankruptcies =cough= to said marks for a modest fee (i.e., up to $35,000 each).  Well, a few years ago some of the marks decided to file class action suits against Rump alleging they were defrauded by the "university," in what the New York Attorney General called a "bait and switch" scheme.  There are 3 such civil suits that have been filed against Rump and his "university."

One suit is being argued under the jurisdiction of Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel of the District Court for the Southern District of California, who Rump castigated yesterday while speaking to a rally of Stormtrumpers in San Diego, California:
In one of his most personal attacks against an apolitical figure since becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump delivered an extended tirade about the federal judge overseeing the civil litigation against his defunct education program.  [snip]

“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. 
[Ed.: what sane person would not be a hater of Trump?] His name is Gonzalo Curiel,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd of several thousand booed. “He is not doing the right thing. And I figure, what the hell? Why not talk about it for two minutes?” [Ed.: he talked for 12 minutes.] [snip]

“We’re in front of a very hostile judge,” Mr. Trump said. “The judge was appointed by Barack Obama, federal judge. Frankly, he should recuse himself because he’s given us ruling after ruling after ruling, negative, negative, negative.”

Mr. Trump also told the audience, which had previously chanted the Republican standard-bearer’s signature “build that wall” mantra in reference to Mr. Trump’s proposed wall along the Mexican border, that Judge Curiel is “Mexican.”

What happens is the judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that’s fine,” Mr. Trump said.

Judge Curiel was born in Indiana.
That's your Republican Presidential nominee, folks, eschewing the dog whistle for the bullhorn racist comment.  (Nor was it the first Hispanic judge that Rump has slurred.)  Also note Rump's sense of entitlement -- that if the judge didn't always rule in Rump's favor, he was hostile and should be recused.  What a sick, narcissistic dog dump.  As Josh Marshall puts it:

Well, turns out Rump may have been bitten by his own ill- tempered mouth, and Judge Curiel may be having the last laugh:
A federal judge has ordered the release of internal Trump University documents in an ongoing lawsuit against the company, including “playbooks” that advised sales personnel how to market high-priced courses on getting rich through real estate.
The Friday ruling, in which Judge Gonzalo Curiel cited heightened public interest in presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, was issued in response to a request by The Washington Post. The ruling was a setback for Trump, whose attorneys argued that the documents contained trade secrets.  [snip]
In his order, Curiel noted that Trump had emerged as a leading presidential candidate over the course of the civil case against Trump University and that Trump had “placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue.” The judge pointed to a previous case to say that courts deciding on public disclosure must weigh “whether a party benefitting from the order of confidentiality is a public entity or official; and . . . whether the case involves issues important to the public.” 
Those documents are to be made public by Thursday, June 2, and hopefully will be the subject of scrutiny in newspapers and other media shortly thereafter -- unless, of course, they're too busy regurgitating Republican talking points about Hillary Clinton's e-mails. 

Sunday Reflection

Rolling Thunder, Where Politics "Trump" Patriotism

The "Rolling Thunder Rally" has become an annual Memorial Day spectacle in Washington, D.C. involving thousands of motorcycling veterans, fire fighters, wannabes and hangers-on descending on the Nation's capitol to remember prisoners of war and the missing in action. One would think that the organizers of the rally would steer clear of anyone who has disparaged a POW or military hero, or lied about contributing money to support veterans. One would be wrong.

This year, the organizers of the rally have invited neo-fascist draft-dodger Donald "Rump" Trump to speak at the rally. This is the same buffoon who said that he didn't consider former POW John McCain to be a "war hero," who said that avoiding venereal disease in the 1970s was "his personal Vietnam," and who recently was caught lying about a $1 million personal contribution to support veterans' causes. Just one of those situations would have eliminated any other politician from the rally, especially a Dem. However, the Rolling Thunder Rally organizers apparently have a higher priority than honoring or supporting vets: lending their political support to the one candidate who has pulled off the trifecta of disparagement to vets. They should be (but won't be) ashamed of themselves.  IOCIYAR.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Today's Cartoon Twofer - Taking A Stand

(click on images to enlarge)

(Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake City Tribune)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

"The Good Old Days" Featuring Donald Trump And The Stormtrumpers (UPDATED)

UPDATE:  There may not be a more despicable pantload in the country today than Donald "Rump" Trump.

"Pharma Bro" Fraudster Shkreli Endorses Trump

Water (sewage?) seeks its own level:
The self-aggrandizing “Pharma Bro” known for hiking up the price of an AIDS drug has thrown his political support behind a man with another giant ego: Donald Trump.
Martin Shkreli, the 33-year-old former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, said on Twitter Thursday that he would vote for the presumptive Republican nominee in his likely general election matchup.
“I haven't been called by the Trump camp. I support him vs. Hillary,” he said, adding that the brash billionaire should pick an experienced vice presidential candidate.
Shkreli, who is currently awaiting trial for securities fraud, said later that “all you people who don't like trump are jealous, stupid and poor! don't make me laugh!”  (our emphasis)
By far the best snark we've seen in response to this coveted endorsement comes from Eric Levitz at NYMag:
We all know Martin Shkreli has his flaws. The former hedge-fund manager turned pharmaceutical CEO — turned exemplar of capitalism's worst pathologies — tried to make malaria treatment into a luxury good. And he bought that Wu-Tang album. And his last name is easy to misspell.

But this is America, a land of second chances. And on Thursday night, Shkreli took a first step on the path to redemption. Recognizing that his own unpopularity is the most powerful weapon he possesses, everyone's least favorite hedge-fund hipster delivered a devastating blow to Donald Trump's candidacy.
Someday our grandkids will ask what we did to prevent fascism from coming to America. Martin Shkreli will be able to say, simply, "I did what I could."
You remember him!?  He's this douche:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Weekend Memorial Day Music

As we generally try to do in recognizing Memorial Day in America (which is Monday), we once again offer this beautiful composition by Richard Rodgers, "Beneath the Southern Cross" (also known as "No Other Love Have I") from the early '50s television documentary Victory at Sea soundtrack.

Memorial Day in America is a day we remember those service men and women in all wars who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  We honor your service.

Tweets Of The Day: The Trump-Normalizing Media

Then, there's this, which prompted this:

History Will Remember (Cont.)

Before neo- fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump shredded him, booties and all, failed Presidential candidate and vertically- challenged Sen. Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio (R- Poland Spring) called "Rump" all kinds of (accurate) names.  But that was then, this is now.  Saying he will release his delegates to vote for Rump,
Rubio added that he’d “certainly be honored” to help defeat the Democratic ticket.
In case anyone’s forgotten, during the primaries, Rubio referred to Trump as a “lunatic” and a “con man.” His campaign, quite literally, sold #NeverTrump swag on its website. The Florida senator told audiences that Trump might urinate on himself, mocked Trump’s hair and face, and even made vulgar jokes about Trump’s genitals.
As recently as two weeks ago, Rubio said he stood by his earlier comments that Trump cannot be trusted with the nation’s nuclear codes.
But as of yesterday, the senator is eager to do his part to make Donald Trump the leader of the free world.
We’ve all seen examples of people putting party above principle, but even by contemporary standards, Rubio’s shamelessness is simply breathtaking.
"Lunatic."  Check.  "Con man."  Check.  Not that it makes any difference now to "The Republican Savior," who has his future to think about.

The Republican/ New Confederate/ Stupid/ Shooter's Party has long been a collection of misfits, bigots and sociopaths, and its demise would be a welcome outcome of this election.  It should come as no surprise that these amoral contortionists, after putting party over country for the past 7 years (as well as from 1992-2000), are bending over backwards to kiss Rump's rump.  Eventually, it will be Every.  Single.  One.  Of.  Them.  Lemmings (no offense to lemmings intended)!

For the latest updates in this March of Shame, go here.

BONUSWonkette's take on Little Marco.

Rattling Rump Cartoon of the Day

(click to enlarge)

Responding to a question at a press conference at the G-7 meeting in Japan, President Obama indicated that the leaders of the G-7 nations were "rattled" by the Rethuglican presidential nominee:
“They are rattled by [him] and for good reason. Because a lot of the proposals he has made display either ignorance of world affairs, or a cavalier attitude, or an interest in getting tweets and headlines, instead of actually thinking through what it is required to keep America safe and secure and prosperous, and what’s required to keep the world on an even keel.”
The disastrous effect on foreign policy and international security that buffoon Donald "Rump" Trump would have is very real, and our allies know it.

(cartoon: Steve Benson, Arizona Republic via Gocomics.com)

Photo Of The Day: President Obama In Hiroshima

(click on image to enlarge)

(Photo: Financial Times)
President Obama laying a wreath today at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to pay tribute to the estimated 140,000 people who died as a result of the world's first atomic bombing, on August 6, 1945.  Obama, who is the first sitting President to visit Hiroshima, is in Japan attending the G-7 meeting.  In the lobby of the Peace Museum, the President signed the guest book with this inscription:
We have known the agony of war. Let us now find the courage, together, to spread peace, and pursue a world without nuclear weapons.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Teach Your Children

We think Bernie needs to do a better job educating some of his followers as to just who's the dangerous demagogue in this election, starting with this chucklehead:
“The delegate system is corrupt,” said Prasad Paul Duffy, a 58-year-old spiritual activist and filmmaker with shoulder-length blond curls. [Ed.:  Perhaps this is one hippie that should be punched.] He was sitting cross-legged and barefoot on the field before the speeches started. “It’s a tool of the 1 percent, the powers that be. It should be abolished.” Clinton, he believes, is “owned by the billionaires,” and he could never vote for her. [Ed.: Spoiler alert - but he will vote for the billionaire, because logic!]
I would vote for Trump,” Duffy said. “At least he’s challenging the status quo. He sees we’ve been sold down the river and we’ve got to get it back. I prefer Bernie’s means to Trump’s! But Trump is being demonized in the press for similar reasons as Bernie is being ignored. They’re both challenging the system."
Um, no, Rump's not being "demonized in the press" for "challenging the system."  He's very timidly and all- too- rarely being called out for being a neo- fascist, a racist, a bigot, a misogynist, an Islamophobe, a homophobe, an authoritarian, an ignoramus, a tax cheat, and a pathological liar who's unfit for the Presidency.  JHC, what kind of industrial strength bud is this moron smoking, and why won't Bernie do a more forceful job of defusing this kind of idiocy?

BONUSHere's another one making a spurious connection between Rump and Sanders -- and he's a frequent Sanders surrogate!

BONUS II:  More "Bernie or Bust" nitwits.   Help us all.

We'll Spot You the "N" and "A" Tweet of the Day

Neo-fascist ignoramus Donald "Rump" Trump says he thinks the Republican Party will become "a worker's party" according to an interview in Bloomberg. You know, like the one that started up in Germany many years ago:

Donald Trump - Tax Fraud?

As the American media continues its shiny- object obsession with Hillary Clinton's private State Department e-mail server (see post below), foreign media is commiting actual journalism (!) by probing into neo- fascist con artist, dangerous demagogue and Republican nomination clincher Donald "Rump" Trump's history of shady business dealings.  Here's what The Telegraph (U.K.) turned up yesterday about a 2007 deal:
Exclusive: Donald Trump signed off on a controversial business deal that was designed to deprive the US Government of tens of millions of dollars in tax, the Telegraph can disclose.

The billionaire approved a $50 million investment in a company – only for the deal to be rewritten several weeks later as a ‘loan’.

Experts say that the effect of this move was to skirt vast tax liabilities, and court papers seen by the Telegraph allege that the deal amounted to fraud.

Independent tax accountants and lawyers said that the documents Mr Trump signed – copies of which were obtained by this newspaper as part of a three-month investigation - contained “red flags” indicating the deal was irregular.

But the Republican presumptive presidential nominee signed nonetheless.
(our emphasis)
Did we say "shady business dealings?"  We meant "fraudulent business dealings."  Not to mention harmful to average American taxpayers:
Bob McIntyre, director of the US-based Citizens for Tax Justice campaign group, said the disclosures raised serious questions about Mr Trump’s judgment as well as that of his advisers.  [snip]

Jack Blum, chairman of the Tax Justice Network and a financial crime attorney, said Mr Trump was a "poster child" for tax avoidance property schemes, which ultimately harm the middle-income American. 
(our emphasis)
No wonder Rump-- who's the walking, talking id of all things loathsome -- refuses to release his tax returns.  What other "bombshells" (h/t Willard "Mittens" Romney) are in there waiting to be discovered?

We already know he lies about his wealth and charitable donations (which is important to Rump's shallow sense of self).

We know about the multiple business debacles of this dealmaking "genius."

We know he's a narcissistic sociopath who was rooting for the housing market to collapse in 2008 so he could buy properties on the cheap.

Should anyone but the most loyal Stormtrumper doubt that is just the tip of the iceberg?

(PhotoThe Republican Nominee.)

State Department Reports on Clinton E-Mails

The State Department's Inspector General released its report yesterday on the use of a private e-mail server for Government business by former Secretary Clinton. The 80-odd page report looks at the practices of the past several Secretaries of State and notes the varying methods they used of handling e-mail, notably Colin Powell, who also used a private server for State Department business. Some of the salient conclusions of the report, which is available here, are:
That the Department's records management weaknesses, "have contributed to the loss or removal of email records, particularly records created by the Office of the Secretary. These weaknesses include a limited ability to retrieve email records, inaccessibility of electronic files, failure to comply with requirements for departing employees, and a general lack of oversight." (report summary)

That Secretary Clinton "should have preserved any Federal records she created and received on her personal account by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary. At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act." (page 23)

That when Clinton has problems sending e-mails to DOS employees, "the Deputy Chief of Staff emailed the Secretary that 'we should talk about putting you on state email or releasing your email address to the department so you are not going to spam.' In response, the Secretary wrote, 'Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.'” (page 38)

That the former director of the Department's Information Resources Management office claimed that "the Secretary’s personal system had been reviewed and approved by Department legal staff and that the matter was not to be discussed any further. As previously noted, OIG found no evidence that staff in the Office of the Legal Adviser reviewed or approved Secretary Clinton’s personal system." (page 40)
This was mostly a self-inflicted wound born of justifiable worries on the Secretary's behalf that her private e-mails would be accessed, some very bad staff work in not researching and informing her of the pitfalls and then pointing fingers after the fact, and a clearly antiquated electronic record keeping and e-mail system at State that caused Clinton and previous Secretaries to improvise. It doesn't rise to the level of a "gate" suffix, much less endless, breathless chatter on cable TV.  Nevertheless, this report will be played up by the Rethugs and their friends in the media who see this as something more than it is. As Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall says,
"The criticism is there. It definitely wasn't a good arrangement. But to see this as a damaging report after the hyperbolic and frequently insane coverage of this issue is crazy. This was never more than some poor judgment overlayed by a big bureaucratic pissing match all slathered over by a thick layer of partisan game playing and media derp." (emphasis added)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mid-Week Palate Cleanser - The Wood Thrush

A sound from the woods of our childhood -- the languorous, musical calls of the wood thrush.

Young Republican Leader Jumps Ship

Despite an increasing number of Rethuglicans who have forfeited their honor and sense of shame to support presumptive nominee and neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump, there are a few who can't stomach the idea of voting for him.  One of those is Katrina Jorgensen, who resigned as communications chair for the Young Republicans National Federation, a group that works to get young voters aligned with the Republican/New Confederate/Stupid/Shooters Party. For Ms. Jorgensen, Rump was too big of an orange pill to swallow:
"We have been told for years how we are the future of the party, this is our opportunity to seize that future. But if we have instead decided to uphold a man who does not represent us or our views -- a man that has belittled war heroes, explicitly stated misogynist beliefs, relied on intimidation of minorities, insulted our international allies, rewarded violence, championed divisive rhetoric and proved completely uneducated in conservative fiscal policy -- I cannot participate in that....
Many of you may choose to support Trump in order to beat Hillary Clinton, that is your decision. For me, I cannot support a candidate who endorses bigotry and lawlessness, with a minimal understanding of the fiscal policies long associated with our party, even if he does have an 'R' after his name." 
We wonder how many potential Katrina Jorgensens are holding their tongues, disgusted with the knowledge that Rump will represent them but unwilling to buck the party line. They need to speak out and step away.

Quote Of The Day - Small, Insecure Money-Grubber Edition

Bug, meet windshield:
“Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown because it meant he could buy up a bunch more property on the cheap.  What kind of a man does that? Root for people to get thrown out on the street? Root for people to lose their jobs? Root for people to lose their pensions? Root for two little girls in Clark County, Nevada, to end up living in a van? What kind of a man does that?
“I’ll tell you exactly what kind.  A man who cares about no one but himself. A small, insecure money-grubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt, so long as he makes some money off it. What kind of man does that? A man who will never be president of the United States.”  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), yesterday.

75th Birthday Mid-Week Songs

Bob Dylan, circa 1966
America's great poet/songwriter Bob Dylan was born 75 years ago yesterday in Duluth, Minnesota as Robert Zimmerman. Growing up in the mining town of Hibbing, on the edge of Minnesota's iron ore-rich Mesabi Range, Dylan absorbed the music of Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson and others that he heard on the radio, and became the most renowned folk artist of the 20th century and an iconic figure in America's folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s. He was also one of the artists to dedicate themselves to the civil rights movement of the early '60s. To the disapproval of folk purists, he also was a seminal figure in the new genre of folk rock.  Rolling Stone has 100 of his greatest songs here to choose from. Some of the greats compositions that he or others made famous include "Blowing In The Wind," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Like A Rolling Stone," "Knocking On Heaven's Door," "All Along The Watchtower," and "Lay Lady Lay." The body of his work reflects not only his personal journey, but our common one over the past half-century.

"Boots of Spanish Leather"

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


In the context of the post below, let's have more of this:

"The Ultimate Gendered Election"

Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall has an excellent, must-read column on neo-fascist misogynist Donald "Rump" Trump's strategy of attacking Hillary Clinton in the most crude and bullying manner.  It's not a tactic or strategy of his; it's who he is and has been his entire adult life. Marshall's column concludes:
"This is the ultimate gendered election. As Frank Foer explained in March, denigrating attacks on women are the one consistent theme throughout Trump's entire public life. They're not tactical or opportunistic. They're part of his essence. What makes the general election contest more volatile and febrile is that not only is Trump basically the embodiment of 'dominance politics' and assertive violence. But Clinton, for all the toll the last two years has taken on her public popularity, is still seen as strong and a strong leader by a majority of the public.....You're missing the point in trying to make out the logic of Trump's attacks on Clinton. The attacks are the logic. He is trying to beat her by dominating her in the public sphere, brutalizing her, demonstrating that he can hurt her with impunity." (emphasis added)
This is also a feature of classic authoritarian fascism, and we don't use those words lightly. With Rump it's bravado, boasting, narcissism, bullying, violence at rallies, and nativist xenophobia. Themes of "strength" over "weakness," "them and us," with the undercurrent of sexual aggression and domination provide an ominous echo of monsters from the past. We're all in a world of hurt if he ever gets near the White House.

"Flush Rush" Boycott Crippling Limbaugh

The grand panjandrum of hate radio, porcine Oxycontin-popping Rush "Limpballs" Limbaugh, is seeing his star fall, after years of perching atop the hate radio poo pile.  As Media Matters reports, the advertiser boycott of his nasty radio program, beginning with his misogynistic rant against Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke in 2012, has apparently taken its toll. Media Matters' "Flush Rush" campaign to convince advertisers to drop Limpballs' program has been a success: falling advertising revenue in turn hits stations that carry Limpballs' filth, and his radio program has been dropped in some major markets (New York, Los Angeles, and Boston are some).  National brand advertisers won't touch him, and to make matters worse for Limpballs, he's in the last few months of his obscene $400 million contract.

Limpballs still holds sway over countless ill-informed misfits ("ditto heads") who tune into his program in order to validate their own significance and to reinforce their prejudices. But radio is a business, and increasingly for radio stations, Limpballs is bad business.

(photo: Not bringing home the bacon)

A Dishonest, Harmful Media Narrative Continues

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(Jim Morin, Miami Herald - from 2013!)

Steve Benen does a good job of once again identifying and deconstructing the corporate media narrative that if only President Obama had schmoozed more with Congressional Republicans over the past 7 years, gosh, he would've accomplished so much!  The latest purveyor of this tripe is Norah O'Donnell, who repeatedly pressed the thesis on Presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett on "60 Minutes" this past Sunday:
“Valerie, this is probably one of the last big fights of the president’s term in office. And he can’t even get Senate Republicans to give him a hearing. Most Republicans won’t even meet with Judge Garland. Does that say something about President Obama’s inability to reach across the aisle? To have friends on the other side?” (our emphasis)
This was followed by eight other questions in a row in the same vein.  (Does O'Donnell have a fishing license?)  It's not exactly a new narrative for the lazy and/ or agenda- driven corporate media. Even some in the media have noticed. But, as Benen notes, it's most harmful for the media to continue to be wedded to this narrative:
... The schmoozing thesis creates a misguided set of priorities: members of Congress who refuse to consider compromise, and who reject the very idea of cooperative policymaking, can act with impunity, knowing that the media won’t hold them responsible, preferring instead to blame the president for not making the White House the Friendliest Place on Earth.
As regular readers know, the notion that schmoozing will lead to progress rests upon the assumption that congressional Republicans are responsible officials, willing to negotiate and work in good faith, fully prepared to find common ground with Obama. All they need is some face-time and presidential hand-holding. Once they can get along on a personal level, a constructive process will follow.
Any observant, sentient person has seen that Republicans have been dedicated, not only with this Administration but with every Democratic Administration since Jimmy Carter's, to undercutting and de-legitimatizing Democratic governance.  It doesn't take a particular level of sophistication or insight to see this, simply some clear- eyed honesty and a little courage.  Ah, there's the problem!

Meanwhile, a cancer metastasizes under media nosesSic transit gloria, America.

Tweet Of The Day - Scary!

Stephen King knows scary!

Weak! Rump's Hedging On Issues

Neo-fascist vulgarian Donald "Rump" Trump's been on both sides of several issues from the beginning. When he's caught, he ends up lying about it, and when he's caught lying, he lies about that, too. Think Progress notes three issues dear to the hearts of wingnuts that Rump has taken opposing positions on: transgender rights (i.e., bathroom wars), guns in schools (good kids with guns vs. bad kids with guns), and the national debt (tea baggers arise!). Weak! Sad!

Another example that has come to light in the past couple of days: global warming. Rump has repeatedly tweeted (his way of issuing policy papers) that global warming is b.s. and a "hoax" apparently perpetrated by those greedy climatologists tucked away in far off laboratories. But he apparently thinks it's real enough to build a seawall for his resort golf course in County Clare, Ireland, justifying its construction by citing rising seawater as a result of.....global warming.

Rump's situational "truthiness" reveals something more dangerous and pathological: he lies, and not in the sly, secretive way of, say, Tricky Dick Nixon, but in a bold, don't-give-a-f*ck way that displays utter contempt for his followers and for honest government. Be assured, however, that his wingnut following couldn't care less about the shifting positions because...freedumb! And Mess'can rapists! And "deals!"  So, the big con continues.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tweet Of The Day - Counting Empty Heads

In keeping with earlier posts:

Today's Cartoons And Poll - WTF?!

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(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

What makes us pause this morning is this recent New York Times/ CBS News Poll showing that 70 percent of those polled believe neo- fascist cretin Donald "Rump" Trump does not have the temperament to be President;  the same poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Rump by 47 to 41 percent (other polls actually show Rump with a slight lead).   Given that, and even with the usual caveat that polls six months out from a national election are not reliable indicators of the ultimate result, and that the extended Democratic primary is preventing a consolidation of support for Clinton, etc. etc., we can't help but wonder what level of hatred/ stupidity is operating here to make Rump even the slightest bit competitive, much less neck- to- neck in some polling (rhetorical question).  By all reasonable measures, he shouldn't be breaking 30 percent.  That is, of course, unless a significant number of Republicans and right- leaning "independents" are willing to accept that a dangerous fool like Rump, who has the temperament of a child, is somehow fit for the Presidency (with the help of Trump normalizers in the corporate media) -- as long as it keeps another Democrat out of the White House (see post below)!

Guess that's the conservative lizard brain for you.  

#NeverTrump Becoming #Trump2016

The American Prospect's Paul Waldman looks at the way the #NeverTrump cohort has shed their principles and shame and joined the cause of the neo-fascist vulgarian Donald "Rump" Trump. Much of it is pure Rethuglican tribalism: even a bucket of dog waste that had an "R" stenciled on the side would get an overwhelming majority of Rethug votes. Much is pure Hillaryhate and the view that they need to "take their country back," from whom they never say out loud. But it's also the fact that his opposition has folded their tents:
"Trump and Clinton are at different points in their campaign: Trump's opponents have all dropped out, meaning that supporters of Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio have already had some time to get used to the new reality, while Bernie Sanders is still fighting on (and telling his supporters that any result other than him winning is inherently illegitimate, the product of a corrupt system that needs to be dismantled). So Republicans are busy rationalizing, convincing themselves that Trump isn't just a gigantic blow-dried turd their crazy cousins left on their doorstep, but the guy they wanted (or at least should have wanted) all along." (emphasis added)
We can hear former supporters of "Tailgunner Ted" Cruz, Marco "Glug Glug" Rubio, and perhaps even sad John Ellis "J.E.B. : ( " Bush, saying, "He's a turd, but he's OUR turd dammit!" and no matter how unqualified, bigoted, reckless or inconsistent he may be, they'll stick with him. They'll do that because they're the "crazy cousins" in Waldman's analogy: the angry, incoherent, and xenophobic base of the Republican / New Confederate / Stupid / Shooter's Party.

BONUS:  Keep up with the lemmings joining Rump's campaign here.

(image: Lalo Alcaraz)

Obama In Vietnam

President Obama received a gift of flowers as he arrived yesterday in Hanoi, Vietnam, the first visit there by a U.S. President in a decade. Judging by her expression, Obama's appreciation of the flowers delighted official ceremonial flower presenter Linh Tran.

While in Hanoi, Obama announced a lifting of the U.S. embargo on lethal weapons that's been in effect since the Vietnam War, although he cautioned that the type of weapons would depend on Vietnam's progress in human rights. Talks will also take place on new trade initiatives and on dealing with China's increasingly ambitious territorial claims.

(photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

"Lesser Of Two Evils?" Knock It Off, Bernie

With the primary season closing soon, and with significant shortfall in delegates, Sen. Bernie Sanders' time is running out. While Secretary Clinton has turned her attention to blasting presumptive Rethuglican nominee and neo-fascist sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump, Sanders saves some of his most hostile rhetoric for Clinton.

On ABC this morning, Sanders, referring to polls which show Rump and Clinton with high unfavorable ratings, said he didn't want to see Americans "voting for the lesser of two evils." Upon questioning, Sanders then hedged that statement, saying that he was just reflecting the opinion poll. He went on to say that that would be an argument he would make to the party's super delegates in an effort to peel them off from Clinton (Sanders has previously blasted the "super delegate" feature of Democratic primaries).

Whether he thinks he's reflecting the opinion of the American people, or thinks this is a winning argument with the party loyalists and professionals making up the super delegates, Sanders' insinuation that both Rump, a narcissistic bigot, and Clinton are "evil" is over the line, way over. Moreover, Sanders hasn't faced 30 years of political sewage thrown at him by far-right Clinton haters, much less a negative add about him, so current favorability ratings are, at best, misleading and premature with regard to him. So focus on the real enemy, Bernie, unless you think it's the party you're seeking the nomination of. You're better than that.

Across The Universe (Cont.)

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From ESA (5/19):

"During May 2016 the Earth and Mars get closer to each other than at any time in the last ten years. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has exploited this special configuration to catch a new image of our red neighbour, showing some of its famous surface features. This image supplements previous Hubble observations of Mars and allows astronomers to study large-scale changes on its surface.

On 22 May Mars will come into opposition, the point at which the planet is located directly opposite the Sun in the sky. This means that the Sun, Earth and Mars line up, with Earth sitting in between the Sun and the red planet."

Against All Evidence To The Contrary

From TPM:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said Saturday that supporters for GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump aren't "a bunch of idiots" and should be respected, CNN reported(our emphasis)
O.K., you be the judge.

Sunday Reflection

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/mahatmagan150725.html

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sobering Stats

Here's a fascinating and disturbing set of statistics: of the 20 metropolitan areas with the highest incidence of excessive drinking, 12 are in Wisconsin, 4 are in neighboring Minnesota and 2 are in adjacent Iowa. On the flip side, Tennessee leads in "dry" cities with 7, followed by Utah and West (by God) Virginia (!) with 4 each. Binge drinking is defined in the study as 4+ drinks for women and 5+ drinks for men in a single sitting; heavy drinking is defined as 8+ drinks/week for women and 15+ drinks/week for men.

The deadly outcome of the alcohol abuse ranges from automobile accidents and life-threatening diseases, not to mention broken lives and homes. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 88,000 lives per year are lost due to alcohol, costing the economy $249 billion.

Your Trump Bumper Sticker Generator

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs has graced us with a "Trump Bumper Sticker Generator"!  Go here and have some fun with it.

Here are our meager creations:

Today's Cartoon And Must Read - Emperor Trump's Threads

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(Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker on "The Dangerous Acceptance of Donald Trump":
... One by one, people who had not merely resisted him before but called him by his proper name—who, until a month ago, were determined to oppose a man they rightly described as a con artist and a pathological liar—are suddenly getting on board. Columnists and magazines that a month ago were saying #NeverTrump are now vibrating with the frisson of his audacity, fawning over him or at least thrilling to his rising poll numbers and telling one another, “We can control him.’
No, you can’t. One can argue about whether to call him a fascist or an authoritarian populist or a grotesque joke made in a nightmare shared between Philip K. Dick and Tom Wolfe, but under any label Trump is a declared enemy of the liberal constitutional order of the United States—the order that has made it, in fact, the great and plural country that it already is...
A good, powerful read.

Here's Why Trump Won't Be Releasing His Tax Returns

Even if they were ever released, we're under no illusion that whatever nasty details might be lurking in neo- fascist con artist Donald "Rump" Trump's tax returns will make a difference to the struggling Stormtrumpers for whom he can do no wrong.  (It's not about tax returns to them;  it's about racial and ethnic grievance.)  It's certain, however, that Rump will not release his returns because, as expert tax avoider Willard "Mittens" Romney posited, they contain "bombshells."

For those who might care about the extent of Rump's sleazy dishonesty, stories like this might start to add up (our emphasis throughout):
Bob McIntyre of the liberal group Citizens for Tax Justice suspects Trump’s tax returns, if made public, would undermine the political image the candidate has crafted of a brilliant businessman with what his campaign has called “tremendous cash flow.”
Trump may be worried that “he’d show very little income on his tax returns compared to his wealth claims,” McIntyre said, adding that Trump’s returns could also show that he “writes off everything he has in his life — the hairdo, the plane — as business expenses.”
What evidence might support this?  We have to go back to Rump's 1981 application for a casino license:
Trump had submitted his 1978 and 1979 returns to the regulators as part of an application for a casino license. State records summarizing the returns show that Trump claimed that his combined income during those two years was negative $3.8 million, allowing him to pay no taxes. A few years earlier, he had told the New York Times he was worth more than $200 million. 
Tax analysts say it is possible that Trump pays very low income taxes, or no taxes at all, using tactics available to wealthy investors and developers, such as depreciating the value of real estate.
How does this work in practice?  Here's one example of how Rump uses tax breaks that shift local tax burdens to the average person while simultaneously inflating the value of his assets:
In Ossining, N.Y., home to a Trump National Golf Club, town officials say that a tax break being sought by the company would cost their coffers more than $200,000 a year.
In seeking the reduction, Trump’s lawyers have claimed that the club is worth far less than the roughly $15 million value assessed by the city.
Trump’s lawyers have filed papers with the state claiming that the “full market value” of the property is $1.4 million. The same golf course appears on Trump’s new financial disclosure form released this week as part of his presidential campaign — valued by him at more than $50 million.
Those are quite a few discrepancies - Rump's "full market value" of $1.4 million vs. $15 million assessed value vs. $50 million value claimed by Rump on disclosure forms!  All we can say is that it must be a pretty lame golf club to be worth only $1.4 million (maybe it's something like this)!

This goes to the heart of the legend Rump has been creating for himself as a shrewd businessman who at the same time empathizes with the burdens of the little guy who struggles in an unfair system.  In truth, Rump's a con artist who lies about his many business failures, his wealth, and his "concern" for the struggles of average Americans.  As we said, none of this is likely to sway his adoring Stormtrumper legions =cough= racists =cough= nativists =cough=.  But for the broader population, hopefully this will add another pixel to the portrait of a man completely unsuited to be President of the United States.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Weekend Greatest Album Twofer

Man, this was a great week 50 years ago if you were buying rock albums!  Two (20 percent) of the top 10 albums in Rolling Stone magazine's top 500 greatest albums were released this week in 1966 (May 16 to be exact).  The two albums were "Pet Sounds" (#2) by the Beach Boys and "Blonde on Blonde" (#9) by Bob Dylan.  Here are a popular cut from the former and a less played cut from the latter.  Enjoy.

Bibi Bomb Bomb's Move Further Right

The right-wing Likud-led coalition government of Bibi "Bomb Bomb" Netanyahu has moved even further right with the deal struck with extremist Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beteinu Party to form a new governing coalition. Lieberman is a polarizing hardliner who questions Israeli Arabs' rights and aggressively promotes new settlements on the West Bank. In an ominous but not totally unexpected development, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon resigned his position, saying that,
"...To my great dismay extremist and dangerous elements have taken over Israel, also over the Likud party, and are shaking the house and threatening to hurt its inhabitants. I fought with all my might against manifestations of extremism, violence and racism in Israeli society that threatens its sturdiness and is seeping into the army and already damaging it."
Yaalon was a relative moderate in an increasingly radical government that has made common cause with dead-enders who refuse to relinquish an inch of land taken after the 1967 war with the Arabs, or enter into talks with the Palestinian Authority. Now, Lieberman, himself a settler on the West Bank, appears to be in line to succeed Yaalon, despite the fact that he has no military experience, unlike Yaalon who was a former Chief of Staff of the Army. This will likely mean the end of any prospects for peace talks with the Palestinians and harsher military methods against them as Bibi Bomb Bomb links up with the most extreme right in Israel.

Today's Video: The Series Finale of America

Stephen Colbert looks ahead to the Rethuglican National Convention in Cleveland, and thinks that it's going to resemble a combination of reality show and monster truck rally. Also, near the beginning of the clip, note the giddy attitude of actual TV "journalists" who seem excited at the prospect of an "entertaining" convention, or as Colbert put it, "the series finale of America."

Today's Recommended Reads (UPDATED)

Here are some teasers for recommended reading for today!

The Los Angeles Times tells Californians "anybody but Trump":
Democrats are still choosing between two candidates with specific, policy-heavy pitches — Sanders and his promise of sweeping, even utopian change and Hillary Clinton with her more incremental agenda of building on President Obama’s legacy. Meanwhile, millions of Republicans have fallen under the spell of a snake-oil salesman. That’s an indictment of the Republican Party, but it also is a judgment on politics and political discourse more generally.
Robert Kagan tells us "how fascism comes to America":
... In addition to all that comes from being the leader of a mass following, he would also have the immense powers of the American presidency at his command: the Justice Department, the FBI, the intelligence services, the military. Who would dare to oppose him then? Certainly not a Republican Party that lay down before him even when he was comparatively weak. And is a man like Trump, with infinitely greater power in his hands, likely to become more humble, more judicious, more generous, less vengeful than he is today, than he has been his whole life? Does vast power un-corrupt? 
This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him.
Is Kagan a progressive?  Hardly.  Is he a founding member of the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party?  Yes.  In fact, the op/ ed is clearly written with fellow Republicans in mind, and while he calls the party Trump's "incubator," he fails to indict the conservative movement for the Trump phenomenon.  Here's Jeet Heer's correction of Kagan's history:
... Kagan has good reason to want to gloss over the historical roots of Trumpism. Although he will vote for Hillary Clinton this year, Kagan is a neoconservative whose hawkish foreign policy ideas were immensely influential during the presidency of George W. Bush. If we wanted to boil down Trumpism to two historical precedents, they would be the Southern Strategy (which made the Republican Party amenable to Trump’s racism) and Bush’s war on terror (which primed the party to respond to fear-mongering, threat inflation, and bluster).
Both recommended reads.*

Finally, via Lawyers, Guns and Money, this potential Area 51 landing zone for Koch megabucks and #NeverTrump far right- wing purists:
Billionaire businessman and philanthropist David Koch has pledged “tens of millions of dollars” to help bankroll the campaign of Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, according to a source within Johnson’s campaign.

Koch’s money will be made available should Johnson, a former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, secure his second consecutive Libertarian Party presidential nomination, the source said.
A swamp of cranks, black helicopter spotters and preppers if there ever was one, the Libertarian Party has attracted the fawning attention of uber nut Glenn "Boo Hoo" Beck, which tells you all you need to know.  But, hey, take those votes away from Rump!

*UPDATE:   Then there were less temperate reactions =cough= filthy fascists =cough= to all this.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

News item: "The Lawyer Who Vetted Sarah Palin Will Do the Same For Donald Trump's Veep"

This should be fun.