Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ten Years Along

Well, this month marks our 10th anniversary in the blogosphere, a milestone we hardly thought we'd achieve when we started in the waning years of the Bush assministration (it never gets old).

In looking back, we want to thank all of you, whether you come in regularly or infrequently, whether you comment or not, for motivating us to do what we do. Most importantly, we hope you find enough of interest here to keep you coming back, and we promise to do our best in providing a "progressive perspective on politics, culture and the media."

So, for my brother Hackwhacker and myself, be happy and stay strong. Here's to 10 more years!

Farewell 2016 (And Farewell 2017?) Cartoon

(click on image to enlarge)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Dispatch)

Odd: Ever Notice Trump Never Laughs?

Credit where due to Chuck Todd, who made an interesting observation about neo- fascist sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump in Politico's podcast "Off Message" (via Raw Story):
Todd also opened up to Politico about the one thing that bugs him most about Trump — he doesn’t laugh and it drives Todd “crazy.” He said, “Do you know what? I’ve never seen him laugh. 
“He’ll smile, but he smiles appropriately. Watch him at the Al Smith dinner [the roast in New York City in October] … He doesn’t really laugh. He looks for others to laugh. It is just weird.”  (our emphasis)
Have you ever seen Rump laugh?  Neither have we.

Now, we're not psychoanalysts (we only play them in this blog).  But, this rather startling observation struck us, too, as very odd.  We already know Rump is suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Might he also be suffering from a condition on the mild/ high functioning autism spectrum -- Asperger syndrome?  Here's what caught our eye about characteristics of people with that developmental disorder:
Although individuals with Asperger syndrome acquire language skills without significant general delay and their speech typically lacks significant abnormalities, language acquisition and use is often atypical. Abnormalities include verbosity, abrupt transitions, literal interpretations and miscomprehension of nuance, use of metaphor meaningful only to the speaker, auditory perception deficits, unusually pedantic, formal or idiosyncratic speech, and oddities in loudness, pitch, intonation, prosody, and rhythm. [snip] 
... Speech may convey a sense of incoherence; the conversational style often includes monologues about topics that bore the listener, fails to provide context for comments, or fails to suppress internal thoughts. Individuals with AS may fail to detect whether the listener is interested or engaged in the conversation. The speaker's conclusion or point may never be made, and attempts by the listener to elaborate on the speech's content or logic, or to shift to related topics, are often unsuccessful. [snip] 
... Although individuals with AS usually understand the cognitive basis of humor, they seem to lack understanding of the intent of humor to share enjoyment with others. Despite strong evidence of impaired humor appreciation, anecdotal reports of humor in individuals with AS seem to challenge some psychological theories of AS and autism.
"Diagnosing" from afar is typically unsound.  Had Rump been subject to an impartial medical examination from someone other than this quack, there might be information that would add to the picture of this clearly unstable, unfit thing that's about to become the unpresident.  However, like Rump's taxes, a medical/ psychological profile is not something we're likely ever to see.  But wouldn't it be worth a professional looking into the signs Rump is displaying, and why something as natural and human as laughter is seemingly beyond his capacity?

Step Aside Times And Post; Make Way For Teen Vogue And Vanity Fair

There's some honest journalism going on out there, and the temporizers and weaselworders in the news divisions of the New York Effing Times and once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle could stand to learn a few things about reporting, say, on the fact that our new emperor is wearing no clothes.

On Teen Vogue:
When Lauren Duca’s excellent Teen Vogue op-ed on Donald Trump’s psychological manipulation of America went viral last Saturday, social media exploded with praise—and with baffled reactions. The piece, one Twitter user noted, had “big words for a magazine about hairstyles and celebrity gossip.” Another user expressed pure astonishment: “Who would have guessed @TeenVogue might be the future of political news. Unreal coverage of the election.” Others were less kind, and a lot less subtle: “Go back to acne treatments,” one man snapped. 
Teen Vogue deserves credit not just for Duca’s op-ed but for the entirety of its political coverage, which has provided sharp, impassioned coverage of everything from gun control to Black Lives Matter in 2016. Much of this is due to Teen Vogue’s editor, Elaine Welteroth, who graduated to the position last May, and Phil Picardi, the magazine’s digital editorial director...
Vanity Fair's Abigail Tracy reporting on neo- fascist bag o' wind Donald "Rump" Trump's latest manipulative interaction with the largely supine press:
Six months after Donald Trump last held a formal press conference, during which he called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton, the president-elect finally spoke with reporters Wednesday during two impromptu, largely fact-free press conferences outside his gilded Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. In his signature stream-of-consciousness style, the president-elect—at one point flanked by boxing promoter Don King—offered up a series of misleading, disjointed responses, during which he falsely claimed to have created thousands of new jobs, dismissed alleged Russian interference in the presidential election, whitewashed his sprawling financial conflicts of interest, and offered up word salad in a rambling defense of Israel. 
It has not escaped our notice (and likely not yours) that women journalists (and bloggers!) are front- and- center in standing up to the "firehose of falsehoods" being sprayed into your lives every day by Rump, his minions and large segments of the media.  Normalizing a misogynist monster like Rump fits the business model of the amoral establishment media, which hungers for access to this Russo- Republican train wreck of an incoming administration. Others with courage, a conscience and a moral compass will honestly report facts and let the facts form the truth.

Ms. Duca and Ms. Tracy are just two more examples of honorable people doing their jobs as reporters and journalists. We're happy to support them, and hope you do too.

BONUS:  See additional worthies noted by Pinku-Sensei in the comments.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Tweets Of The Day - Trump's Sucking Up To His Boss Again

Twit tweet:

Counter tweets:

(h/t Raw Story)

Quote Of The Day - Putin's Willing Accomplice

"Without Trump’s own willingness to make false claims and misuse Russian-provided information, the Wikileaks material would have deflated of its own boringness. The Russian-hacked material did damage because, and only because, Russia found a willing accomplice in the person of Donald J. Trump." -- Conservative David Frum on neo- fascist Putin poodle Donald "Rump" Trump's willing collaboration with Russia's intelligence services (and its stooge Wikileaks) to distort largely innocuous leaked material (with the help, let us not forget, of the puerile mainstream media).

Weekend Song Twofer

To close out 2016, we're featuring two songs by acclaimed alt- Southern- rock band Drive-By Truckers, from Athens, GA. The band has distinguished itself in its nearly 20- year history by creating songs of unusual power, social conscience and scope, dealing with such topics such as gun violence and racial injustice.  "Surrender Under Protest," and "Ramon Casiano," both released this past year in the album "American Band," are two powerful anthems dealing with those themes. The latter song is about a 15- year- old Hispanic boy killed by an NRA leader in 1931 who escaped incarceration. (h/t Silver Spring Bureau Chief Brian)

Today's Year End Cartoon

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(Clay Jones,

As Clay notes, there's a long list of notable deaths in 2016, so much so that lately we've been overwhelmed by the pace.  To all those we say "rest in peace."

To 2016, a year that ushered in deep fear and foreboding for our future, we say we hope to never see your like again.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Buffalo School Board To Racist Stormtrumper: "You're Fired!" (UPDATED)

Carl "Porno" Paladino, New York co- chair of the campaign of neo- fascist white nationalist Donald "Rump" Trump, was ousted from the Buffalo School Board after he made racist remarks about the President and First Lady, including his wishing the President to die in 2017:
The Buffalo School Board voted Thursday to oust one of its members, Carl Paladino, the Trump campaign official who drew widespread condemnation for his racist attack on Michelle Obama last week. 
“Words matter, Mr. Paladino,” School Board President Barbara Seals Nevergold said during a board meeting, which Paladino did not attend. “The impact on children of color, especially African-American children is incalculable … They would like me to tell you, ‘You’re fired.'”  [snip]
The board’s resolution said that Paladino’s “unambiguously racist, morally repugnant, flagrantly disrespectful, inflammatory and inexcusable comments” had “garnered both local, national, and international attention that reflects negatively on the Buffalo Board of Education, the City of Buffalo and its leadership and its citizens.” 
They did the right thing. Good for the school board, the people, and especially the children, of Buffalo.

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, the asshole is refusing to resign.

(Photo:  You can go back to your sepulcher now, Porno. Please don't venture out again.)

President Obama Announces Russian Sanctions And Other Actions; FBI & DHS Issue Report

As expected, President Obama announced the first sanctions to be imposed on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election on behalf of neo- fascist and Putin's useful idiot Donald "Rump" Trump:
The Obama administration struck back at Russia on Thursday for its efforts to influence the 2016 election, ejecting 35 Russian intelligence operatives from the United States and imposing sanctions on Russia’s two leading intelligence services, including four top officers of the military intelligence unit the White House believes ordered the attacks on the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations.
The text of the President's Executive Order is here.  Here's the full text of the President's statement on the sanctions:
Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election. These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior. 
All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions. In October, my Administration publicized our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.  These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government. Moreover, our diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year.  Such activities have consequences.  Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response. 
I have issued an executive order that provides additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine our election processes and institutions, or those of our allies or partners.  Using this new authority, I have sanctioned nine entities and individuals:  the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.  In addition, the Secretary of the Treasury is designating two Russian individuals for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information.  The State Department is also shutting down two Russian compounds, in Maryland and New York, used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes, and is declaring “persona non grata” 35 Russian intelligence operatives.  Finally, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are releasing declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence service cyber activity, to help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities. 
These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities. We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized. In addition to holding Russia accountable for what it has done, the United States and friends and allies around the world must work together to oppose Russia’s efforts to undermine established international norms of behavior, and interfere with democratic governance. To that end, my Administration will be providing a report to Congress in the coming days about Russia’s efforts to interfere in our election, as well as malicious cyber activity related to our election cycle in previous elections. 
More, please!

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security also issued a 13- page report on the tools and infrastructure used by Russia in its malicious cyber activity.

(Image:  Useful idiot Trump being taken for a ride.)

Headline And Cluck Of The Week

Can't beat this from Wonkette, about a 23-foot statue of a chicken a la Trump in Taiyuan, China:

China Finally Gives Donald Trump The Huge Cock He’s Always Wanted

(Credit: Wonkette)

Today's Cartoon Twofer

Always remember the Republican motto:  "Comforting the comfortable, afflicting the afflicted."

(click on images to enlarge)

(Tim Eagan, via

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

See post below.

Fakes, Fakers and Fakery

Drowning our politics and culture in a "firehose of falsehood" has been the modus operandi of the reactionary Republican right for decades, and it knows no end. The pollution is unrelenting, a daily toxic shower of lies, misdirection and slander. Here's a brief roundup of some recent examples, with some of the usual suspects =cough= GOP-TV =cough= Lyin' Ryan =cough= :

The Sprint/ Softbank gambit
... Trump announced that Sprint was bringing 5,000 jobs back to America. "I just spoke with the head person," Trump told Bloomberg. "He said because of me they're doing 5,000 jobs in this country."  
... Trump did indeed desperately try to take credit for this, and you will be unsurprised to learn that he was lying. First of all, Sprint announced these jobs back in April. Here's the Kansas City Star: "Sprint Corp. is launching a nationwide service to hand-deliver new phones to customers in their homes. The Direct 2 You service, which first rolled out in a Kansas City pilot, will lead to the hiring of about 5,000 mostly full-time employees as it spreads nationwide." 
Second, the Japanese owner of Sprint, Softbank, announced in October that it was creating a huge tech investment fund. 
Third, in December, Softbank's CEO announced the fund again after a meeting with Trump, and said that one part of the whole package was the creation of 50,000 new jobs. Today, Sprint reluctantly conceded that its 5,000 jobs were part of the previously announced 50,000 jobs. 
And finally, these jobs were announced yet again today. 
That makes four times these jobs have been announced. Donald Trump was responsible for none of them.  (our emphasis)
Are you wondering if our trusted media will blow the whistle on the fakery?  Surely you jest.

The Food Stamp "fraud" fakery
It’s widely assumed that congressional Republicans, working with a Republican White House, will go after social-insurance programs with a vengeance next year, and the most economically vulnerable Americans are likely to face new hardships. GOP allies know that the public might be more tolerant of drastic cuts if the public distrusts the public programs themselves. 
And with that in mind, Fox News ran a curious report this week.
Food stamp fraud is at an all-time high, with cases this year including a state lawmaker and even a millionaire. 
According to the USDA, $70 million of taxpayer money was wasted in 2016 due to food stamp fraud. [snip]
Taking the report at face value, the question is bizarre. The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, generally known as food stamps, is a nearly $71 billion program. If $70 million helps provide food for people who shouldn’t receive assistance, that’s 0.09% of the overall budget. In other words, according to Fox’s report, 99.91% of the money Washington spends on food stamps is spent appropriately. That’s an amazingly successful program. 
What’s more, if we continue to take Fox’s report at face value, since when do we “end” public programs in reaction to tiny amounts of fraud? If someone found 0.09% of misspent money in the Pentagon budget, wouldn’t it be silly to say we should scrap the Defense Department? 
But here’s the best part: there’s no reason at all to take Fox’s report at face value. 
As Ari Melber noted on last night’s show, Fox sourced the Agriculture Department, but the Agriculture Department hasn’t put out any new information about fraud. When we called the agency yesterday, department officials said they didn’t know where Fox came up with the figure. (our emphasis) 
We're guessing it came right out of this fella's ↓ ass --

Obamacare's "damage"
House Speaker Paul Ryan has vowed a quick repeal of Obamacare in order to “stop the damage” and because “things are only getting worse.”   
Meanwhile, here is a selection of news reports from the past two weeks: 
The Obama administration announced that the number of people signing up for insurance through, the federal website that 39 states use to administer Obamacare plans, is even higher than last year. State-run sites such as Covered California are reporting similar surges. 
An independent think tank, The Commonwealth Fund, published a study showing that fewer people are skipping medical care because of cost ― most likely because, thanks to the health care law, so many more people have health insurance. 
Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings reported that insurers selling Obamacare plans are seeing better financial results this year, suggesting that premiums are finally coming into line with the actual medical expenses of their customers ― and that this year’s big rate hikes may be a “one-time pricing correction.” 
It’s possible that Ryan thinks these and similarly positive news items are irrelevant ― that the Wisconsin Republican has deluded himself into thinking Obamacare really is an unmitigated policy disaster, rather than a fairly typical government program full of pluses and minuses and the inevitable implementation complications that large reform efforts usually overcome. 
It’s also possible that Ryan’s crusade to pass repeal in January has nothing to do with policy and everything to do with politics ― that he wants Congress to vote before the rest of the country, and maybe even the president-elect, wakes up to the real-life changes such a vote would unleash.  (our emphasis)
Russians hacking the election
Trump was asked about possible economic sanctions against Russia in general. He replied:
“I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole, you know, age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I’m not sure we have the kind the security that we need.”
Um, what? 
There’s evidence that a foreign adversary attacked an American election, stole American materials, and launched an espionage operation to help elect their preferred, allied candidate. The beneficiary of foreign intervention has a new position: “I think we ought to get on with our lives” because computers “have complicated lives.”
Translation of Trump's traitorous weaselspeak: "Homina homina."

We will, in less than a month, have a government of, by and for the deplorable.  Sic transit gloria, America.

BONUS:  Tom Sullivan tells Democrats what they need to do to get on track.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Obama Most Admired Man; Trump Most Sad!

Expect a certain thin- skinned narcissist to be tapping his tiny thumbs on his Twitter machine soon! (h/t Digby)

(click on image to enlarge)

The poll was rigged!  (Maybe they included California and New York!)

Mid-Week Song Twofer

Happy 38th birthday to R & B superstar John Legend, who released "Love Me Now" a little over a month ago.  The video features wife Chrissie Teigen and their baby daughter. To get our twofer, we're matching him (for absolutely no particular reason) with Los Angeles doo-wop group The Olympics, who had this popular dance hit "(Baby) Hully Gully" in 1959.  Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Tweets Of The Day - "Keep Your Government Hands Off My Obamacare!"

BONUS:  Some excellent companion reading here.  Highly recommend.

Stormtrumpers Fight Over Nazi Salute At Inauguration Ball

It seems some of the brownshirt cockroaches celebrating neo- fascist white nationalist Donald "Rump" Trump's inauguration have been having quite a time putting on their "DeploraBall" (Get it? Hur hur).

First, a ballroom in Northern Virginia decided they hadn't actually agreed to host it and told the little stormtrumpers to f*ck off.  Now, having found a new venue (the National Press Club!), they've found something else to get their pure white tighty whities in a knot about:
A major fight has broken out among Trump’s white nationalist fans over whether they should celebrate Trump’s pending inauguration by showering him with Nazi salutes. 
Alt-right leader Mike Cernovich, who is organizing the Deploraball, started a massive fight this week after he told popular alt-right Twitter personality @bakedalaska that he couldn’t attend the party if he was going to do Nazi salutes of the kind that white nationalist Richard Spencer encouraged during his talk at the National Policy Institute conference earlier this month. [snip] 
The neo-Nazis at The Daily Stormer quickly got involved and declared that Cernovich was a member of the “cuck/kike contingent of the Trump movement” who had “banned… heroes such as Richard Spencer and Sam Hyde” from attending the inauguration ball, while still inviting “Alt-Light figures attempting to kike-over the Alt-Right by making it non-racist and accepting of Jews.”  (our emphasis)
(Aside: "@bakedalaska?"  Shouldn't that be "@half-bakedalaska?" Also, Cernovich is a real piece of work.)

Apparently, trolling people on the internet and conducting armed anti- Semitic marches doesn't occupy enough of their time, so some are engaged in bitter warfare over whether Rump's already betrayed their shit wit "cause," especially regarding "The Jews."  Rest easy, dimwits, and be assured Rump has your interests at heart; he'd just like you to keep the profile down for now.

BONUS:  Wonkette has it covered.

(Photo: neo-Nazis at Richard Spencer's konklave in Washington, DC, after the election.)

Unpresidented! Mt. Rushmore Reacts To Trump

Mt. Rushmore (Presidents Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt and Lincoln) reacts to neo- fascist unpresident Donald "Rump" Trump's (insert outrage here).

(click on image to enlarge)

(credit: @killerbee805)
Granite, it must've taken a lot to cause this reaction.

(h/t Frances Langum, Crooks & Liars)

Monday, December 26, 2016

Four Years From Now?

(Ed. note: Here's a thought exercise you shouldn't read if you're easily depressed, already depressed, or paranoid.)

Let's say we somehow don't perish in the next four years, and neo- fascist authoritarian Donald "Rump" Trump decides he wants to run for re- election.  Further, let's say he loses both the Electoral College and popular vote, but not by a wide margin.

Now, here's what we know are the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which fit Rump perfectly:

   -- Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
   -- Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
   -- Exaggerating your achievements and talents
   -- Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
   -- Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people
   -- Requiring constant admiration
   -- Having a sense of entitlement
   -- Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
   -- Taking advantage of others to get what you want
   -- Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
   -- Being envious of others and believing others envy you
   -- Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner

Now imagine someone with that condition who's gotten used to being in the most powerful position in the world, who's flaunted the most basic norms, who believes the laws don't apply to him, and who'll have the Federal government's security apparatus at his tiny fingertips.  Knowing that fascists don't give up power peacefully, what's the likelihood someone like Rump and his amoral gang of white nationalists and kleptocrats would? We don't mean to sound like alarmists, but the signs are there, and the demagogue hasn't even violated taken the oath of office yet.

Of course, if Republicans succeed in restricting voting rights further (perhaps through a national voter i.d. law, etc.), this scenario would likely be moot, and we might be looking at even more years of dystopia under Rump. Lovely.

(Don't blame us.  We told you not to read this!)

For survival tips (and a somewhat more optimistic view of the future), we would again recommend reading Masha Gessen's "Autocracy: Rules for Survival."  Resist.

Tweet Of The Day

Be forewarned!

Monday Reading - Elections Have Consequences (Cont.)

Unfortunately, the 2016 election is one "gift" we can't return:
Donald Trump is set to inherit an uncommon number of vacancies in the federal courts in addition to the open Supreme Court seat, giving the president-elect a monumental opportunity to reshape the judiciary after taking office. 
The estimated 103 judicial vacancies that President Obama is expected to hand over to Trump in the Jan. 20 transition of power is nearly double the 54 openings Obama found eight years ago following George W. Bush’s presidency.  [snip] 
The result is a multitude of openings throughout the federal circuit and district courts that will allow the new Republican president to quickly make a wide array of lifetime appointments. 
State gun control laws, abortion restrictions, voter laws, anti-discrimination measures and immigrant issues are all matters that are increasingly heard by federal judges and will be influenced by the new composition of the courts. Trump has vowed to choose ideologues in the mold of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon — a prospect that has activists on the right giddy.  (our emphasis)
With the Senate in control of far- right Republicans under Machiavellian sleazeball Sen. Mitch "Missy" McConnell (Testudines- KY), there won't be anything long standing in the way before those "giddy" fascists see their own installed on courts across the nation.  Clearly, Republican obstructionism has paid off:  8 years of delaying, slow- walking and denying the winner (by large margins) of the 2008 and 2012 elections the Constitutional right to appoint Federal judges has paid off handsomely for these party- before- country cynics.  Most egregious was the year- long blocking of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, who instead will be replaced with a Scalia- clone appointee by neo- fascist reactionary Donald "Rump" Trump, making this all particularly difficult to swallow.

This illustrates one of the most important lessons Democrats need to learn and incorporate in their political DNA: we need to act like politics is a zero sum game, just as Republicans do.  No more bringing knives to a gunfight.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Across The Universe - Festive Nebulae

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ ESA, December 20, 2016: This glowing nebula, named NGC 248, is located within the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way and about 200 000 light-years from Earth. The nebula was observed with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys in September 2015, as part of a survey called the Small Magellanic cloud Investigation of Dust and Gas Evolution (SMIDGE).

Credit:  NASA, ESA, STScI, K. Sandstrom (University of California, San Diego), and the SMIDGE team.

Sunday Cartoons - A Very Trumpy Christmas

(click on images to enlarge)

(Pat Chappette, New York Times)

(Peter Brookes, Times of London)

Both cartoons are part of a collection of global views of neo- fascist Putin useful idiot Donald "Rump" Trump;  here's where you can see many more.

Sunday Reflection

"If you think beauty is trivial or unimportant, just try to imagine the world without it." -- Infidel 753. Now more than ever, we need to appreciate beauty whenever, wherever and in whatever form we can.

Happy Holidays!

We started a holiday tradition a while back of featuring Sergei Prokofiev's "Troika" from his score for the film "Lieutenant Kije," here played by the Cleveland Orchestra. To us, it fits the season perfectly. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Christmas Greeting From The Obamas

As you might imagine, blogging will be light and perfunctory this weekend. But there are some things worth rousting oneself to post.  For example, here's the last Christmas greeting the Obamas will deliver as President and First Lady. (How bittersweet is that?)

Yes, Virginia, There Will Be No Trump Conflicts Of Interest*

"I hate to break it to anyone at this time of year, but (a) there is no Santa Claus, and (b) there will be no conflicts-of-interest policy in the Trump administration. What there will be are rampant conflicts of interest, more than you can count, as the Trump family and his appointees rip off anything they can — from taxpayers, from consumers, from shareholders — in a spree of deregulation, special dealing, lax white-collar-law enforcement, and corporate welfare." -- Frank Rich on neo- fascist kleptocrat Donald "Rump" Trump and his crime family's incoming Russo- Republican** sticky fingered administration.

* credit Francis Church
** credit Hackwhackers!

Tweet Of The Day - Toxic Sludge

Friday, December 23, 2016

Weekend Music Twofer

At the very end of 1991, UK alt rock group Lush released "For Love," from their album "Spooky." The song became the band's first top 40 single in the UK. At the time of the album's release, Lush was one of the first British bands whose music was tagged as "dream pop" (or "shoegazing") by the British media. Hope you enjoy the "lush" guitar and vocals (h/t San Francisco Bureau Chief Shauna):

Happy belated 72nd birthday to Chris Hillman, original member of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, among other musical milestones.  Nearly fifty years ago, The Byrds released "Younger Than Yesterday," an album many critics believe is one of the band's best, and which also marked the appearance of Hillman as a songwriter and vocalist (he wrote or co- wrote five of the album's 11 songs).  We're reprising "Have You Seen Her Face," a Hillman song that's one of our favorite lesser- known Byrds releases.

Republicans Aren't Racist (Cont.)

No, no they're not!
The New York co-chair of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign made racist and sexist comments about first lady Michelle Obama in a recent interview, suggesting that she was really a man and should live in Africa. 
In an interview with ArtVoice published Friday, Carl Paladino said that in 2017 the thing he would most like to see go away was Michelle Obama. 
“I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla,” he said. 
Asked what he would like to see happen in 2017, Paladino wished death on President Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s senior advisers. 
“Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford [sic]. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret [sic], who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady [sic] cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her,” Paladino said. (our emphasis)
This clever fellow with a febrile imagination, Carl Paladino, has a long history of racist (and sexist) remarks, though to hear him tell it, it's never about race!  Keep digging, asshole:
“It has nothing to do with race. That’s the typical stance of the press when they can’t otherwise defend the acts of the person being attacked. It’s about 2 progressive elitist ingrates who have hated their country so badly and destroyed its fabric in so many respects in 8 years.”
Well, we have a 2017 wish for him that is best described visually (click on image to enlarge):

Today's Cartoon - Cabinet Things

(click on image to enlarge)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Trump Wants (Non-Rapey!) Foreign Workers To Pick His Grapes

Federal ethics experts for former Democratic and Republican administrations warned Thursday that President-elect Donald Trump is creating a major conflict of interest by allowing his Virginia vineyard to seek special temporary visas for foreign workers. 
Trump, who is president of the Charlottesville vineyard that applied this month for H2 visas for six foreign workers, will soon run the U.S. government, which determines whether to grant those visas. [snip] 
Trump Vineyard Estates LLC filed a request Dec. 2 with the Labor Department for six H2 visas, which permit U.S. employers to hire foreigners for seasonal jobs such as pruning grapevines, which is what the request said. The request was posted online by the Labor Department on Wednesday and first reported by BuzzFeed News. 
The workers are needed to prune the vines on the estate, the Labor application said, and they would be paid $10.72 per hour for a 40-hour, six-day week. The jobs are anticipated to last from January to June.  
Trump, whose transition team and press office did not respond to requests for comment on the matter, consistently argued during the presidential campaign that the federal government should limit immigration to protect American jobs. The visas his business seeks do not allow workers to permanently reside in the United States.
Various Trump brand products are made in 12 foreign countries.  He staffs his clubs with foreign workers. He hires foreign workers at his hotels. He fills his cabinet with plutocrats and Ayn Rand acolytes who oppose the minimum wage. Should anyone be surprised that this shallow, sociopathic narcissist has one set of rules he wants to apply to himself and another that applies to "the Forgotten Man?"  How long before the suckers figure it out (if ever)?

Trump: "Let It Be An Arms Race"

As the world vainly awaits his "pivot" to adulthood and sanity, the puerile idiot doubles down on his alarming tweet on nuclear weapons yesterday in a conversation with morning t.v. pal Mika Brzezinski:
President-elect Donald Trump offered “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski a shocking explanation Friday for his alarming Thursday tweet on nuclear weapons, the journalist reports. 
Brzezinski said she asked Trump to explain his position on nuclear arms in an off-air conversation earlier that morning. Co-host Joe Scarborough called the president-elect’s response “not quite the clarification that we would expect.” 
Trump allegedly told Brzezinski, “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass. And outlast them all.”  (our emphasis)
Decades of arms control progress undone by the careless word farts of a sociopath with Narcissistic Personality Disorder who has zero knowledge of history, treaties or geopolitics. A blundering fool with no impulse control and (did we mention this?) who'll have control over nuclear policy and launch codes in less than a month.

Oh, and don't forget to thank a Trump voter today.

BONUS: Barbara Morrill reminds us that "... the contestant who came in 12th place on “Dancing With The Stars”—out of 13—will be in charge of 'winning' this arms race." That would be Secretary of Energy - designate Rick "Oops" Perry.  One- two- cha- cha- boom!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Today's Cartoon - Apocalypse

(click on image to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Approaching The Apocalypse One Tweet At A Time (UPDATED)

Be sure to thank a Trump supporter today:

"... the world comes to its senses regarding nukes." Most of us would settle for neo- fascist incompetent Donald "Rump" Trump coming to his senses regarding anything.  Also, did you run this by your pal boss Putin?

Less than a month now until the short- fingered vulgarian has control over nuclear weapons policy and the launch codes.  Tick, tock, tick...

UPDATE:  Digby has some more deep thoughts from Rump on "nuclear."

Tapping Into The Transition

Conan O'Brien, perhaps using techniques borrowed from Russian intelligence services, offers us some brief sound bites of neo- fascist dimbulb Donald "Rump" Trump calling into President Obama for advice:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Swamp Creatures Find Home in Rump's D.C.

The fact that neo-fascist narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump lied constantly and brazenly during his ugly campaign while making outrageous promises is no secret. What's surprising is that he's so openly disdainful of his deplorable, rage-fueled cult followers that he's ostentatiously backing off of some of those promises. Witness self-important bloviator Newt "Poot" Gingrich's comment this morning on NPR:
"I'm told he [Trump] now just disclaims that [line about draining the swamp]. He now says it was cute, but he doesn't want to use it anymore. ... I'd written what I thought was a very cute tweet about 'the alligators are complaining,' and somebody wrote back and said they were tired of hearing this stuff. ..."
Poot was one of those washed-up hacks that soaked up the deflected orange glow at Rump's Nuremberg rallies, along with despicable Rudi "Noun Verb 9-11" Giuliani, and bridge traffic monitor Chris "Krispykreme" Christie, none of whom landed a job with Rump. However, someone who may do very nicely in the swamp that Rump will stock with various reptiles is his former campaign manager / CNN "surrogate"/  batterer of females Cory Lewandowski. He's started a "political consulting" firm in D.C., allegedly to advance Rump's agenda and most certainly to line his pockets as a lobbyist / access peddler.  Now, the only thing this newest inhabitant of the DC swamp has to worry about is getting eaten by larger, smarter predators in the swamp. It's only a matter of time.


Obama Moves To Protect Offshore Areas

(click to enlarge)

With neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump almost certain to shred environmental rules along with the Paris accords on climate change, it's good to see President Obama going out with a flourish, as he issued an order banning drilling in government-owned lands in the Arctic and Atlantic ocean shelf. In a joint action with Canada, the U.S. will prevent future leasing of significant tracts for oil and gas exploration, powers he had under a 1953 law, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. It also prevents any future President <cough> Rump <cough> from taking swift action to open those lands up for exploration. The move was one of the major items that environmentalists wanted Obama to do before leaving office, something that his successor would find it very difficult to unravel. Wish there'd be more actions coming.

(cartoon: Steve Breen, San Diego Union-Tribune)

In Trump's America, Racist Dog Whistles Continue To Give Way To Bullhorns

Latest example:
Bill O’Reilly used the “Talking Points” segment on his Fox News show Tuesday night to weigh in on the ongoing debate over the Electoral College, claiming those who’d like to see the system abolished are motivated by race. 
“This is all about race,” O’Reilly said. “The left sees white privilege in America as an oppressive force that must be done away with. Therefore white working-class voters must be marginalized, and what better way to do that than center the voting power in the cities.”
Here's the screen capture (click to enlarge):

It's all about race, indeed. It's all about this execrable dick simultaneously defending the electoral college victory by Cheeto Jesus with an overt, crackpot appeal to white racism (marginalizing WWC voters by centering voting power in the =cough= black =cough= cities -- yeah, that's what the left is about asshole).  Or, as Martin Longman says,
I know you are not surprised that Bill O’Reilly and Fox News are using their airwaves to tell white people that darkies are coming to get them and change how things are run and take away their privileges and exact revenge on them for the sins of oppression. 
I know you are not surprised that, even as they do this, they accuse the left of being the ones who make “everything about race.” 
What’s clear from O’Reilly’s rant, however, is that he sees the Electoral College as a bulwark of white privilege and justifiable oppression. And that’s precisely why he likes it and wants to protect it.
In a better America, this racist jackass would not only not have his prime time show, he'd be shunned. But he thinks this is now Trump's America and he can let his racist freak flag fly.

"It Was All Politics"

Now that the subpoena to search Anthony Weiner's laptop has been unsealed, the world can see that the FBI - notably the New York office, a.k.a. "Trumpland," - didn't let lack of probable cause stop it from bigfooting in the election on behalf of their Fearless Leader:

The FBI's subpoena was "legal garbage."

"It was all politics."  What a shocker.

Mid-Week Matsui Song

This past August, popular fusion / jazz pianist Keiko Matsui released her latest album, "Journey To The Heart," an artistic mixture of jazz/funk, lush orchestration, and classical tones that has informed her music since her professional start in 1980.  Our choice today is the title cut off of that album. Enjoy.

Final Presidential Vote Results

There is No. Trump. Mandate:
With the presidential election results now certified in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., Hillary Clinton won a total of 65,844,610 votes ― 48.2 percent ― compared with Trump’s 62,979,636 votes ― 46.1 percent ― according to David Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Other candidates took 7,804,213 ballots, or about 5.7 percent of the popular vote.
Clinton’s margin of victory in the popular vote is the largest in raw numbers for any candidate who has gone on to lose in the Electoral College. Her margin of victory is almost six times larger than that of Democrat Al Gore, whose popular vote win in 2000 is now the second-largest in this category. Gore received about 500,000 more votes than Republican George W. Bush, but came up short in the Electoral College after a hotly contested race in Florida. 
Trump’s substantial deficit in the popular vote makes his margin by percentage of votes the third-worst among winning candidates since 1824 (when the popular vote was first officially recorded), according to an analysis by The New York Times published earlier this week. (our emphasis)
As far as neo- fascist pathological liar Donald "Rump" Trump and his minions continuing to call his electoral college victory a landslide, according to PolitiFact:
... Trump’s percentage doesn’t rank near the top. In fact, it ranks near the bottom, belonging somewhere between the lowest one-fourth and the lowest one-fifth of all Electoral College victories in history. 
"If your share of the electoral vote ranks behind Martin Van Buren's, then you did not win in a landslide," Pitney told PolitiFact. 
Every lie has to have pushback. We have to get used to at least four years of this crap, so be prepared.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Picture of the Day: Putin And His Useful Idiot

(click on picture to enlarge)

Billboard erected by pro-Russian elements on a highway in Montenegro. We hope to see replicas on billboards here in the U.S.

(photo: Savo Prelevic, AFP/Getty Images)

Fascists Of The World, Unite!

The web of the international white supremacist / nativist movement has become clearer in the past few months as neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump and his sinister "advisors" embrace every far right loon from the UK's "Brexit" bozo Nigel Farage to the Netherlands' Islamophobic race-baiter Geert Wilders. Indeed, the entire far right in Europe hailed Rump's loss in the popular vote Electoral College win, calling it "historic," and something that "changes the USA, Europe and the world". Nearly every one of our European allies will have elections in 2017 with racist white supremacist / neo-fascist movements ascending, including heavyweights France (with right-winger Marine Le Pen) and Germany (with xenophobe Frauke Petry). The Netherlands elections come up in March, and should be somewhat of a bellweather for the other nations' elections.

It's reported that Austria's far-right party with the Orwellian name "Freedom Party," signed an agreement yesterday with Putin's United Russia Party to cooperate on measures designed to undermine democratic governments in Western Europe and to make them more agreeable to Russia's territorial and strategic ambitions, a major Putin goal. The so-called Freedom Party was founded in 1956 by Anton Reinthaller, a former SS officer and Nazi functionary, and hasn't drifted far from its founder's contempt for democracy and pluralism. It's also worth noting that Rump's National Security Advisor, former Lt. Gen. Michael "Jack D. Ripper" Flynn, met with the the party's leadership in Trump Towers a few weeks ago, likely to hatch further plans to sow right-wing discord in Europe and curry favor with Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin.

Elections have consequences, some of them quite extreme, here and in Europe. It's vital that those consequences not be ingrained in our societies for generations to come.

BONUS:  Steve M. has more on the Putin- led fascist movement, including some strange bedfellows.

Today's Cartoon - How Republicans Roll

(click on image to enlarge)

(Jen Sorensen, via

The American Taliban Purges Its Own

As Christmas approaches, and as we're beseiged with silly tales about a "war on Christmas" and angry demands that we say "merry Christmas" to any and all, the talibangelical right is behaving in a very (we're shocked!) un-Christian way toward one of its own.  Russell Moore, who heads up the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is getting a taste of the American Taliban's sense of "religious liberty" after he criticized sociopathic crotch-grabber and serial adulterer Donald "Rump" Trump for having "serious moral problems." He has also criticized the "old-guard religious right political establishment" for their cynical and hypocritical support of Rump.

Some of the Convention's churches are threatening to withhold funding from the Convention, unless Moore is dismissed from his post. Rethug bible-banging bigot Mike "Huckster" Huckabee joined in, criticizing Moore for not falling in line behind Mammon Rump. This is the same Rump who: said he'd never asked God for forgiveness, who couldn't recall a favorite Bible passage, who said condescendingly about communion that he would "drink my little wine, have my little cracker", things that should have raised red flags to the true believers. And that's not even taking into account his sexual assaults on women, his well-documented vulgar language, hate speech, bragging, greed, gambling businesses, and fraudulent business scams. Pick one of these examples and if the shoe were on a Democrat / progressive's foot, they'd be screaming from the steeples.

None of that matters, as the American Taliban is linked irrevocably to the Rethuglican Party and whomever that Party has as its standard bearer, they will march through hell for him....literally.

(photo: "Religious" wingnut Pat Robertson, giving the secret sign of the American Taliban)

The Republican Coup In North Carolina (Cont.)

The Republican coup in North Carolina has now been formalized with outgoing Governor and despicable poltroon Pat "Private Parts Pat" McCrory signing bills limiting the powers of his Democratic successor Roy Cooper, who has vowed to take the Republicans to court to overturn their anti- democratic power grab.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, pundits are seeing this as a template for stifling opposition and consolidating power by the incoming neo- fascist Russo- Republican (credit Hackwhackers!) administration of Donald "Rump" Trump (h/t Daily Kos):

The Nation
First, after taking power after the 2010 election for the first time since 1870, North Carolina Republicans gerrymandered legislative and congressional districts by resegregating the state politically in violation of the Voting Rights Act.  [snip]
Second, a month after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in June 2013, the North Carolina legislature passed the country’s worst voter-suppression law. [snip]
Third, even after the courts restored a week of early voting in 2016, GOP-controlled county election boards limited early-voting hours and polling locations. [snip]
Fourth, despite all of these suppression efforts, Cooper managed to defeat McCrory—the only race in 2016 where Democrats picked up a governor’s seat in a state Trump carried. [snip] 
The pattern in North Carolina is clear: When Republicans win, they suppress the Democratic vote to solidify power in future elections. And when they lose, they rig the rules to prevent their opponents from being able to fairly exercise and maintain power. This is what happens in a dictatorship, not a democracy. And it’s a preview of what’s to come in Trump’s America. (our emphasis)
The Week
It's not hard to predict how Republicans will attempt to cement their control of political power during the Trump years. Indeed, the tyranny is already some distance towards completion. Part of the plan will be what they have already been doing since they won the 2010 midterms and especially since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013. They'll continue gerrymandering district boundaries to make it as hard as possible for Democrats to win (indeed, the way those selfsame state legislative districts are drawn in North Carolina is already an unconstitutional abrogation of civil rights, according to a federal court). They'll enact further targeted vote suppression measures to disenfranchise as many minorities and white liberals as possible, this time at the federal level if they can manage it. And for Democrats who manage to jump through all the hoops, they'll make it as onerous as possible for them to vote by restricting polling locations and hours in Democratic-leaning locations. 
Finally, as we're seeing in North Carolina, any inconveniently lost elections can be overturned so long as the GOP controls enough other chunks of government. Legislatures can core out a governor's power, or Supreme Court decisions can overturn legislation with reverse-engineered legal argle-bargle. Who knows where it will stop. And from there it's really quite a short distance to stuffing ballot boxes or rigging the election counts. It has all happened before. 
Finally, Samantha Bee wraps it up by telling us to, for one thing, get busy in local politics (via Crooks & Liars):

BONUS:  Infidel 753 gives us one way, through the National Popular Vote initiative, we can act locally right now.

Quote Of The Day - Intelligence!

"This is a man who cannot be bothered to hear a daily intelligence briefing about threats to the nation, yet finds time to meet with Kanye West." -- Eugene Robinson today in the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle.  The photo is from neo- fascist narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump's visit with fellow over- rated narcissist Kanye West at Trump Tower in New York a week ago today.

Monday, December 19, 2016

It's Been A Day Of Disturbing Events

In addition to the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, there've been a lot of disturbing events today.

A truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market in the German capital Berlin on Monday evening, killing nine people and injuring up to 50 others, police said. 
German media, citing police at the scene, said first indications pointed to an attack on the market, situated at the foot of the ruined Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church, which was kept as a bombed-out ruin after World War Two. 
Berlin police stated on Twitter that officers had arrested a suspicious person near the incident, but it is currently unclear if it was the driver. The passenger in the truck died during the incident, police said.
A man stormed into a Zurich mosque and opened fire on people praying on Monday evening, injuring three people, police said. 
Two of the three men - aged 30, 35 and 56 years - were seriously injured, Zurich city police said. 
The suspect, a man around the age of 30 years old according to witness accounts, had fled the mosque and was believed to have left the building, police said. 
Last but not least, the United States:
There were many protesters but few faithless electors as Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote Monday — ensuring he will become America's 45th president. 
It's a mad world, for sure.

Russian Ambassador To Turkey Assassinated In Ankara

In a shocking development, the Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was assassinated today while giving a speech at an art gallery in Ankara.
Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Karlov died from his wounds.  
Karlov was giving a speech at the event, hosted by the Ankara Center for Contemporary Art, when he was shot in the back about five times. 
Three other bystanders were reportedly shot and taken to the hospital. Their condition is unknown. 
The gunman — who was wearing a suit and had a police ID which allowed him to bypass the gallery's security — was shot and killed by Turkish police. He has been identified as 22-year-old Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, a police officer from Ankara police special force department, according to photos of an ID found on him after he was killed.
That's the assassin standing behind Karlov below.

(Photo: Burhan Ozbilici/ AP)

Moments after shooting Karlov --
The gunman, who graduated from İzmir Rüştü Ünsal Police Academy in 2014, shouted that the assassination was revenge for Aleppo, according to footage of the incident. 
"The assassin shouts in Arabic: We've made an oath to Muhammad to die in martyrdom ... [It is] a revenge for Syria and Aleppo," Syrian journalist and Middle East analyst Hassan Hassan noted on Twitter. 
He then shouted in Turkish: "Don't forget Aleppo. Don't forget Syria...You won't be safe. Only my dead body will leave here."  [snip]
The gunman was apparently standing behind the ambassador when he fired a few shots in the air and told the people inside the gallery to leave. He then shot Karlov, according to witnesses who spoke to Turkish media.
(Photo: Burhan Ozbilici/ AP)

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon And Press Op - Post Truth World (UPDATED)

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

As further evidence that many in the media are ready to play nice with neo- fascist sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump in enabling our post truth environment, there's this off- the- record cozy cocktail gathering at Rump's Mar-a-Lago Florida estate with members of the press pool covering him -- complete with soulless eyes (click on photo to enlarge):

"Everybody say 'cheesy.'"
Although the photo is grainy at best, several journalists can be identified by the shot: [CNN's Jeremy] Diamond, Terrance Dopp of Bloomberg News, Brian Kilmeade of Fox News, Ali Vitali and Hallie Jackson of MSNBC/NBC News, as well as Mike Allen.
This is after Rump's harrowing attacks on the media, riling his knuckledraggers during the campaign, and his continuing attacks on "extremely dishonest media" after the election and during his recent "Thank You" campaign swings.  This is selling your soul for "access" -- and it was probably a cash bar at that. Reminds us of those days in 2008, when the press corps bellied up to the bbq, the bar -- and tire swing -- at one of John McCain's many homes.