Friday, March 31, 2017

Chip Shots Of The Week

Speaking of the putter putz in the White House, The Economist (animated) and The New Yorker take aim at his flailing, inept regime using golf analogies.

This one's called "Broken Windows."

The Benchwarmer

Major league baseball season opens Monday, and a tradition of the President throwing out the first ball dates back to William Howard Taft in 1910. But it appears that orange buffoon Donald "Rump" Trump will sit out the tradition.

Rump's staff originally reached out to the Washington Nationals, and shortly thereafter withdrew their request for him to throw out the first pitch on Monday, citing "schedule conflicts." (Baltimore Orioles Vice President John Angelos had earlier nixed the idea, saying Rump would first have to apologize for some of the statements he's made). We think that conflicts in Rump's schedule of tweeting and watching cable news isn't the real problem: it's that Rump fears being lustily booed. After all, Washington, D.C. and its nearby Maryland and Virginia metropolitan area voted overwhelmingly against the demagogic sociopath. It may also be that Rump may not be able to get the ball over the plate, given his athletic condition (he's used to whacking a small golf ball around a course, and then jumping into a golf cart to follow it).

(photo: No balls, three strikes)

Republicans Sold Off Your Browsing History Privacy; You Can Help Expose Theirs

As a followup, for those who want to pursue the issue, here's a listing of the Republicans in the House and Senate who voted to strip away Internet privacy protections this past Tuesday (S.J. Res. 34). Briefly, here's what the vandals did:
In a party-line vote, House Republicans freed Internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast of protections approved just last year that had sought to limit what companies could do with information such as customer browsing habits, app usage history, location data and Social Security numbers. The rules also had required providers to strengthen safeguards for customer data against hackers and thieves. 
One enterprising person, Adam McElhaney, is looking to give these nasty slugs some of their own medicine for their efforts to turn over your privacy rights to ISPs:
Before the bill passed Tuesday, McElhaney created, a website that aims to use the bill’s new power to crowdfund for the browsing histories of its biggest supporters. Currently, the website shows a poll for the first four possible targets: Blackburn, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. 
“I think everyone is targeting Marsha Blackburn and Paul Ryan right now on the site,” McElhaney told The Daily Beast. 
McElhaney insists this isn’t a joke. And it better not be: Search Internet History’s GoFundMe page had surpassed $100,000 at press time. 
Go fund him!

Weekend Mercy Song

The early '70s is seen as a time when much of the modern environmental movement became a political force with which to be reckoned, with the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and the passage of landmark legislation affecting air and water quality, land use, hazardous waste, and endangered species. Not insignificantly, the first Earth Day was on April 22, 1970.

Popular culture was also taking its awareness and airing of ecological concerns to a new level, not the least of which was soul superstar Marvin Gaye in his groundbreaking album, "What's Going On," released on May 21, 1971. (Gaye, who would have been 78 this Sunday, was tragically murdered by his father on April 1, 1984.) One of the great songs in his catalogue, composed by Gaye, was from that album. "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" dealt with ecological degradation, a real departure from the songs generally being churned out by his record label Motown at the time. One wonders what he would think about the future of the ecology now that we've turned the keys over to a bunch of environmental vandals. Forty-six years later, the song stands as a poignant reminder that some battles are never over.

Trump and Russia's Active Measures Campaign

Perhaps the most riveting and compelling testimony yesterday in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee was the testimony delivered by former FBI special counterintelligence agent Clint Watts. Watts detailed how Russian "active measures" propaganda works against democratic systems of government by sowing doubt and confusion about institutions in those democracies: the free press, an independent judiciary, and free and fair elections. As Watts pointed out, active measures (fake news, etc.) are most effective when echoed by influential people in the target country, in this case by neo-fascist Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump. Watts cut right to the chase in his testimony yesterday:
"The answer is very simple and it’s what nobody is really saying in this room. Which is, part of the reason [Russian] active measures have worked in this U.S. election is because the Commander-in-Chief [Trump] has used Russian active measures at times, against his opponents." (emphasis added)
Rump's reliance on fake news and conspiracy theories disseminated by Russian propaganda outlets and "bots" is a continuing phenomenon, as Watts noted. His attacks on U.S. media reporting as "fake news" and the U.S. intelligence community only encourages Russian active measures propaganda to continue, because they've hooked their highest level "customer" imaginable: an unfit, delusional and corrupt unPresident.

Watts has no illusions about how his testimony will be received by Rump and his allies here and in Russia: trolling, hacking, defamation and rumor mongering will follow him. Here's his view:
“I’m going to walk out of here today, I’m going to be cyberattacked, I’m going to be discredited by trolls. My biggest fear isn’t being on Putin’s hit list or psychological warfare targeting me — I’ve been doing that for two years. My biggest concern right now is I don’t know what the American stance is on Russia, on who is going to take care of me. After years in the Army and the FBI, working in the intel community — today, I’m going to walk out of here and ain’t nobody going to be covering my back. I’m going to be on my own, and so that’s very disconcerting." (emphasis added)
That a patriotic public servant like Clint Watts should have those doubts says everything about a Chief Executive who thinks nothing of parroting the Kremlin line, while defaming the intelligence community and our democratic institutions.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Michael Flynn: I'll Testify If I Get Immunity (UPDATED)

The Wall Street Journal broke this story this afternoon:
Mike Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, has told the Federal Bureau of Investigation and congressional officials investigating the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia that he is willing to be interviewed in exchange for a grant of immunity from prosecution, according to officials with knowledge of the matter. 
As an adviser to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, and later one of Mr. Trump’s top aides in the White House, Mr. Flynn was privy to some of the most sensitive foreign-policy deliberations of the new administration and was directly involved in discussions about the possible lifting of sanctions on Russia imposed by the Obama administration. 
He has made the offer to the FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees though his lawyer but has so far found no takers, the officials said.
There're a lot of moving parts to this Trump- Russia scandal, and they're all moving fast now.

BONUS:  Good times --

And this --

UPDATE:  The Senate Intelligence Committee isn't buying Flynn's offer for now, saying immunity was "wildly preliminary". Smart.

UPDATE II:  A tell? Curious that Flynn's lawyer used the same "witch hunt" terminology as Rump in characterizing the investigation so far.

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Tweet of the Day: Putin's Useful Idiot

Russian thug Putin apparently continues to play him through fake news stories generated by Russian "bots" which Rump repeats as factual. Far more importantly, Putin can pull some financial strings through his wealthy Russian associates, who have "invested" in the Trump Organization properties, for example. As Uday Donald Trump, Jr. said in 2008,
"Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."
There is likely more Russian money involved, laundered through the Bank of Cyprus and Deutche Bank. Rump knows if Putin has the "lot of money pouring in from Russia" stopped, the Trump Organization could collapse, along with Rump's fragile ego. For Rump, having his business collapse is unthinkable, even if possible treason is involved in the bargain. Being "played" through Putin's flattery and supportive hacking is just the tip of the iceberg, guaranteed.

Quotes Of The Day: Isn't Self-Government Great?!

-- Squeaker of the House Paul "Lyin'" Ryan (R- Galt's Gulch), when asked if he would work with Democrats on health care reform, replied:
“I don’t want that to happen... [I]f this Republican Congress allows the perfect to be the enemy of the good, I worry we’ll push the president into, um, working with the Democrats; he’s suggested as much."
Of course, TrumpCare/ RyanCare was neither perfect nor good (except if you're talking about turd sandwiches). And never fear: Democrats aren't about to do any dirty work for you or the shitgibbon to deprive millions of Americans of affordable health care. Still, it once again reveals Ryan for the ideological radical that he is.

-- Tea bagger and Constitutional know- nothing Rep. Ted "Yahoo" Yoho (Weasel- FL), while discussing the travails of House Intelligence Committee villain Rep. Devin "Clouseau" Nunes (Weasel- CA) and his late night romps to the White (Supremacist) House, revealed a hitherto unknown Constitutional relationship:
“You have to keep in mind who he works for,” Yoho told MSNBC. “He works for the president and answers to the president.” 
Well, most of us already knew that, but thanks for putting it on the record, Yahoo.

By the way, Yahoo is by profession a "large animal veterinarian," which makes him particularly suited to be in the zoo that's the House Republican Caucus.

The Republican War On Women, Cont.

Just a little while ago, the Senate voted on a Republican sponsored bill that would strip away Title X protections governing whether States provide family planning funds to clinics and providers (notably Planned Parenthood).  With noted non- feminist and very white "man" Vice President Mike "Dense" Pence gleefully casting the tie- breaking vote, Republicans gutted the regulation providing those protections. As soon as it's signed by another noted non- feminist shitgibbon, it'll be Federal law that States (some of whom were already challenging the rule and pushing the envelope) have the right to deny Title X family planning funding for reasons that could be totally unrelated to quality of service of those providers =cough= abortion =cough=.

The National Women's Law Center describes the impact this mean- spirited bill will have (see also P.E.C.'s addendum in Comments):
Do not be mistaken—these attacks, including this vote, would likely result in individuals losing access to critical family planning and preventive care provided by Title X sites, including: 
-- Breast exams—which were provided to over 1 million women nationally at Title X sites in 2015; 
-- Other important confidential preventive care, including screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)/HIV, and health education; and 
-- Contraceptive care and counseling that helped women avoid 904,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 439,000 unplanned births in 2014.
Every Republican Senator except Sens. Collins and Murkowski voted for this bill. There weren't enough Democrats in the House or Senate to stop this, nor is there anyone in the White House to veto it. But we all know that nothing was worse than Hillary's emails, right?

Trumpers Conned: NAFTA To Remain Mostly As Is

Reports indicate that the administration of pathological liar and con artist Donald "Rump" Trump are pursuing only modest changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada, a turnaround from his campaign rhetoric to "rip up" U.S. trade agreements. In a draft proposal prepared by the administration's Office of U.S. Trade Representative, Rump's proposal would retain arbitration panels to allow investors in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to circumvent local courts. It would also create major problems for U.S. businesses doing business in Mexico and Canada by pushing "Buy American" purchasing rules.

During the 2016 campaign, Rump railed against NAFTA as a destroyer of U.S. manufacturing jobs, when fact, in the case of Mexico, roughly 5 million U.S. jobs are dependent on exports to Mexico. Rump promised to walk away from the agreement and negotiate a completely new one using his now-discredited "dealmaking" skills, something that his cult followers cheered (along with "build the wall').

Along with his empty promises to immediately repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, this meek approach to NAFTA should signal to his gullible followers that they were had by a demagogic con man...bigly.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Quote Of The Day - Blowin' In The Wind

"[H]is mojo as a deal maker, which we saw last week, went over like a fart in a hurricane." -- Rick Wilson, Republican strategist and never- Trumper, on neo- fascist dolt Donald "Rump" Trump's capacity to make deals with Democrats after his TrumpCare debacle, which we will now forever think of as the "FArt of the Deal."

(Image: =brrrrrrt=)

Trump's Approval Rating Continues To Tank - Now Just 35 Percent

All that winning must feel good, amirite?

(click on image to enlarge)

(Gallup Daily Tracking Poll, 3/26-3/28)

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(David Horsey, Los Angeles Times)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

So Much Winning: Build The Wall Edition

Fresh off of his Hindenburg experience with the disastrous TrumpCare failure, neo-fascist loser Donald "Rump" Trump may be facing another humiliating setback soon for his signature campaign promise: Congress may not fund a border wall separating the U.S. from Mexico this year. Reports indicate that Rethuglican congresscritters are worried that Dems will block passage of an April 28 debt ceiling bill allowing the Government to stay open unless the requested $1.4 billion in initial funding for Rump's wall this year is stripped out. As an alternative, Rethugs may propose a separate funding bill for the wall, which would also likely face defeat in a closely-divided Senate.

Adding to Rump's political problem is that the public is cold to building a wall especially if the U.S. ends up paying for it -- which it will. Then, there are the logistical challenges to construction, including terrain, and major swaths of private land that the wall would intrude on.

Will Rump continue to bat zero as this next promise of his evaporates? We certainly hope so, but we also hope that Rump expends massive political capital in his doomed boondoggle.

Tanton-lizing Mid-Week Song

Baltimore native Carter Tanton possesses an ethereal tenor voice that he honed in years of playing in clubs and other venues in and around Baltimore. Tanton has since relocated to London, where he recorded his latest album, "Jettison the Valley." Our mid-week song today is a cut from that album, "Twentynine Palms," featuring backup vocals by Sharon Van Etten.

No Puppet! No Puppet!

Owen Dorell at USA Today has pulled together facts about the many and long- term business relationships between neo- fascist Putin pocket pal Donald "Rump" Trump and very shady Russian and former Soviet republic oligarchs in a must- read article (our emphasis throughout).
The president and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering. 
Among them: 
• A member of the firm that developed the Trump SoHo Hotel in New York is a twice-convicted felon who spent a year in prison for stabbing a man and later scouted for Trump investments in Russia. 
•  An investor in the SoHo project was accused by Belgian authorities in 2011 in a $55 million money-laundering scheme. 
• Three owners of Trump condos in Florida and Manhattan were accused in federal indictments of belonging to a Russian-American organized crime group and working for a major international crime boss based in Russia. 
•  A former mayor from Kazakhstan was accused in a federal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles in 2014 of hiding millions of dollars looted from his city, some of which was spent on three Trump SoHo units. 
•  A Ukrainian owner of two Trump condos in Florida was indicted in a money-laundering scheme involving a former prime minister of Ukraine.
The Trump Organization, through a spokesperson, has said, "The Trump Organization never entered into a single transaction with any of these individuals and the condominium units were all owned and sold by third parties — not Trump.”  Well, that should settle it-- wait what:
Trump's privately held company works through a network of subsidiaries and partnerships that make direct connections hard to trace, particularly since he has refused to release his tax filings. In addition, some of the Trump Organization's investors and buyers operate through shell companies and limited liability corporations that hide the identities of individual owners.
The article points out that Rump has a background in money laundering going waaay back to 2015 and his Taj Mahal Casino, which was fined $10 million for failing to report suspicious transactions =cough= money laundering =cough=.  What's more,
The Trump SoHo project "was largely financed by illegally obtained cash from Russia and Eastern European sources, including money provided by known international financial criminals and organized crime racketeers," former prosecutor [Joe] McCallion wrote on his blog in October. McCallion was an assistant U.S. attorney in New York from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s under presidents Carter and Reagan.
McCallion, who has spent years in the seamy world of Rump business dealings gets to the point that investigators will hopefully someday reach, "What do the Russians have on Trump?":
“The FBI is always concerned if public officials can be blackmailed,” McCallion said. “It’s Russian-laundered money from people who operate under the good graces of President Putin. If these people pull the plug on the Trump Organization, it would go down pretty quickly.”
For a skunk like Rump whose whole image is tied up in his business "success" and wealth, that's the strongest leverage you can have.

(photo: Washed his hair and can't do a thing with it.)

Elections Have Consequences, Part Whatever

Lest anyone believe Republican trolls are being distracted in any way from doing harm to our country and the world, they should reflect on this sampling of headlines from our hometown paper today:

The House just voted to wipe away the FCC’s landmark Internet privacy protections

Trump signs order at the EPA to dismantle environmental protections

Trump withdraws reappointment nomination of popular whistleblower advocate

Trump signs bill that kills Obama-era Worker Safety Rule

Panic spreads in Iraq, Syria as record numbers of civilians are reported killed in U.S. strikes

Just as there were similar stories yesterday, there will be more tomorrow.

It's funny how elections have consequences, especially when you turn the government over to weasels, vandals and nihilists.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tweets Of The Day - Good Doggy!

Today's Cartoons - We Think They're On To You!

(click on images to enlarge)

(Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Steve Benson, Arizona Republic)

(Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

The Trump - Russia Connection (And Coverup) Explained So Far

We've been seeing a lot of this Think Progress video around the ' tubes, giving the key knowns about the Trump - Russia connection, so we thought we'd post it as well:

As big as this story is, we believe at the core is the real question posed by Rep. Pelosi and others: "What do the Russians have on Trump?" Until we get an answer to that, the full extent of this potentially treasonous connection will remain unresolved.

Meanwhile, the obstruction of justice continues apace, with the White (Supremacist) House, acting in concert with House Intelligence Committee Chair villain Rep. Devin "Clouseau" Nunes (R- Trump's Pocket), trying to squelch testimony from former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates:
The Trump administration sought to block former acting attorney general Sally Yates from testifying to Congress in the House investigation of links between Russian officials and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, The Washington Post has learned, a position that is likely to further anger Democrats who have accused Republicans of trying to damage the inquiry. 
According to letters The Post reviewed, the Justice Department notified Yates earlier this month that the administration considers a great deal of her possible testimony to be barred from discussion in a congressional hearing because the topics are covered by the presidential communication privilege. 
Yates and other former intelligence officials had been asked to testify before the House Intelligence Committee this week, a hearing that was abruptly canceled by the panel’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). Yates was the deputy attorney general in the final years of the Obama administration, and served as the acting attorney general in the first days of the Trump administration. 
This only adds to what House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) observed: "[T]his is what a cover-up to a crime looks like."

UPDATE: The White (Supremacist) House is now claiming it "took no action" to muzzle Yates, which leaves a lot open to interpretation. They got the outcome they desired: the hearing Yates was to testify at was canceled.

Not Buyin' Ryan

With finger pointing running rampant in Trumpworld over the ignominious defeat of the TrumpCare turd sandwich, there's one individual on the receiving end of most of the fingers: Squeaker of the House Paul "Lyin'" Ryan. Ryan has spent the better part of his career in Congress peddling the notion that he was a man of "big ideas," if you consider converting Ayn Rand's dystopian, juvenile gibberish into "policy" as "big ideas." Strangely, he's still considered by many in the Beltway media to be a "policy wonk" when none of his plans have emerged without being discredited. As a former White House official notes:

As we noted Sunday, incompetent sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump has even used a Fux surrogate to call for Ryan's resignation as Speaker. Of course Rump would like nothing better than to pass the blame for his failure on to someone else, even though he has been the main "repeal and replace" voice for the last two years by far. Rump campaigned on delivering cheaper, better health insurance in almost every stump speech, seeming to relish the idea of personally destroying President Obama's main domestic legacy.

We hope the turmoil between the White (Supremacist) House and House Rethuglicans and Ryan continues to deepen and expand, threatening their reactionary and malicious agenda. However, it's not clear that Ryan will be stepping down as Speaker any time soon, since he wants his fingerprints on the upcoming corporate and plutocrat tax giveaway package that he's been salivating over for years. Even if he were to step aside, there's this consideration for House Rethugs:

(Image: "Woman, I shall grasp thee by the demesne 'twixt your thighs...stop, where goest thou?")

Trump's Assault On The Environment, Cont.

This shouldn't bother anyone, since neo- fascist planet destroying dolt Donald "Rump" Trump says climate change is just "a Chinese hoax" anyway:
President Trump will take the most significant step yet in obliterating his predecessor’s environmental record Tuesday, instructing federal regulators to rewrite key rules curbing U.S. carbon emissions. 
The sweeping executive order also seeks to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing and remove the requirement that federal officials consider the impact of climate change when making decisions. 
The order sends an unmistakable signal that just as President Barack Obama sought to weave climate considerations into every aspect of the federal government, Trump is hoping to rip that approach out by its roots.  (our emphasis)
Encouraging more fossil fuel extraction while removing Federal requirements for climate considerations in policy development represents the opening round in the Trump regime's efforts to roll back advances in addressing climate change and environmental quality.  Still being debated is whether the U.S. will withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, there are some legal obstacles to what the Trump regime would like to do:
The centerpiece of the new presidential directive, telling the Environmental Protection Agency to begin rewriting the 2015 regulation that limits greenhouse-gas emissions from existing power plants, will trigger a laborious rulemaking process and a possible legal fight.
The agency must first get permission from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where the rule is tied up in litigation, to revisit the matter. Then, agency officials will have to justify reaching the opposite conclusion of the Obama EPA, which argued it was technically feasible and legally warranted to reduce carbon pollution by about one-third by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. 
Keep in mind, this is all purportedly to resuscitate a coal industry that is non- competitive with other energy sources and whose only path to solvency is to shed jobs in favor of automation. It's also helpful to remember the coal industry's financial backing of Rump, and in particular the largesse of one Robert Murray of Murray Energy Corporation. Remember him?  Well, even this despicable slug admits Rump isn't bringing back coal jobs. But if he can make it easier to pollute streams and increase your profit margin, he's their guy.

This is what happens when a bankrupt ideology, in combination with a bankrupt industry, finds a morally and intellectually bankrupt dolt to do its bidding. We'll be lucky if we can limit the damage in the next 2 to 4 years.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Low Bar Quote Of The Day

We set a low bar for the president, and he rammed his head on it." -- Austan Goolsbee, former chair of the White House Council of Economic advisors and professor of economics at the University of Chicago, commenting on CNN about TrumpCare's ignominious collapse last week despite cajoling from incompetent buffoon Donald "Rump" Trump.

Trump Hits New Low Approval -- 36 Percent

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(Gallup Daily Tracking Poll, rolling average 3/23-3/26)

This polling follows the immolation of TrumpCare last week. Sad!

He Plays A Sheriff On TV

Over the past few years, Milwaukee County Sheriff and unstable rageaholic David "Uncle Ruckus" Clarke has become the darling of the far right, appearing often on Fux and at the Rethuglican National Convention last summer. What makes his value to the far right higher is that he's an angry conservative African-American (albeit a self-hating one). While Clarke is registered and runs --astonishingly -- as a Democrat, there's nothing in his political views that resemble Democratic policies (he's even encouraged African-Americans to leave the Democratic Party). He's a staunch advocate for neo-fascist bigot Donald "Rump" Trump, and was reportedly under consideration for Secretary of Homeland Security -- until someone took a closer look at his incendiary personality. Clearly, he has used the tag "Democrat" to fool many in the majority-Democratic Milwaukee County, but the sheriff's absence from his job while out promoting his right-wing views and Rump is getting more and more disapproving notice from the voters there.

Perhaps even more than his chronic absence from Milwaukee County to promote himself (and a new "book" of his), the deaths of four prisoners in his county jail in 2016, including one man who died of dehydration, have alarmed people. Tragically, the newborn child of a female prisoner died after the mother was ignored by jail officials for six hours while she was in labor and after. He's also stepped forward to offer his "services" to the harsh Federal immigration enforcement effort underway by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which would "deputize" sheriff's office officials to check immigration status on anyone processed through Milwaukee County jails for any reason -- even a minor infraction.

The good news is that this delusional and dangerous twit is up for re-election in 2018; the bad news is that unless Dems wake up and turn out in droves to defeat him, he'll remain in office to do damage to his community.

(photo: "Uncle Ruckus" Clarke playing wild west sheriff dress-up on the streets of Milwaukee. Easier than doing your real job.)

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon - Trump's Diary

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

The Trumpanov Saga Continues

They're resembling the Russian Romanovs so much, perhaps they should be called the Trumpanovs. The surging, royal family-like nepotism under unstable sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump hit a new level when it was reported that Rump son-in-law and prince consort Jared "Mr. Ivanka Trump" Kushner will head Rump's efforts to "reorganize" the Government. Kushner, who was conveniently off skiiing in Aspen last week as the Trumpcare bill went down in ignominious flames, has been serving as one of Rump's "advisors." Just last week, Rump's daughter/substitute First Lady Ivanka "Complicit" Trump was given her own office in the West Wing with access to classified materials, and apparent carte blanche to sit in on any and all meetings with foreign leaders.

In Kushner's case, there is the little problem of his continued ties to his family's real estate development business and specifically a suspiciously favorable potential deal with China's Anbang conglomerate to invest in a struggling Kushner family property in Manhattan that could earn $400 million for the Kushner company. Senate Democrats have asked the White (Supremacist) House for an explanation of Kushner's role in the potential deal.

In addition, there are reports that Kushner will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding the Rump campaign's collaboration with Russia during and after the elections. Kushner met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower in December, along with disgraced Russian tool Michael Flynn, and separately in the same month with the head of a Russian bank that's been sanctioned by the U.S. over Russia's annexation of Crimea. Hopefully, with good questioning under oath, Kushner will provide previously undisclosed information that will be useful to the investigation.

As with the Romanovs, the arrogant, presumptuous Trumpanovs may feel that they can do anything as "rulers." The Romanovs found out the hard way that that's not how to survive. The Trumpanovs may be just as impervious to reality, too.

BONUS: As an aside, the WaPo article linked to above is a marvelous example of access- driven journalism, with "reporters" Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker dutifully using such ripped- from- the- White- House- news- release lines as "harvesting ideas," "a nimble power center," "a SWAT team of strategic consultants," and "infuse fresh thinking," to describe the concept and workings of the "Office of American Innovation" ("innovation!"). Democracy dies in pandering bullshit, too.

Meanwhile, as Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog notes, the group is top heavy with plutocrats such as Goldman Sachs veterans Gary Cohn and Dina Powell, and corporate types like Chris Liddell (Microsoft, GM) and real estate scion Reed Cordish. Why do we suspect the "innovations" will end up being innovative ways for corporations to avoid taxes and screw workers (i.e., "the Trump Model")?

BONUS II:  This --

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Across The Universe, Cont. - Two Interacting Galaxies In The Local Universe

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ ESA, March 20, 2017: Some galaxies are harder to classify than others. Here, Hubble’s trusty Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) has captured a striking view of two interacting galaxies located some 60 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). The more diffuse and patchy blue glow covering the right side of the frame is known as NGC 3447 — sometimes NGC 3447B for clarity, as the name NGC 3447 can apply to the overall duo. The smaller clump to the upper left is known as NGC 3447A.

The trouble with space is that it is, to state the obvious, really, really big. Astronomers have for hundreds of years been discovering and naming galaxies, stars, cosmic clouds and more. Unifying and regulating the conventions and classifications for everything ever observed is very difficult, especially when you get an ambiguous object like NGC 3447, which stubbornly defies easy categorisation.

Overall, we know NGC 3447 comprises a couple of interacting galaxies, but we’re unsure what each looked like before they began to tear one another apart. The two sit so close that they are strongly influenced and distorted by the gravitational forces between them, causing the galaxies to twist themselves into the unusual and unique shapes seen here. NGC 3447A appears to display the remnants of a central bar structure and some disrupted spiral arms, both properties characteristic of certain spiral galaxies. Some identify NGC 3447B as a former spiral galaxy, while others categorise it as being an irregular galaxy.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

SAD! Tweet From The Past

Remember a year ago when the Giant Toddler was proclaiming his omnipotence?

The incompetent clown that promised he's do the greatest deals evah tried to pass his AHCA turd sandwich with his magical dealmaking skilz and......failed BIGLY. It recalls the "I alone can fix it" boast to his cult followers at the Rethuglican Convention. If by "fix" he meant "screw it up," he got that right. Sad!

Flynn Flipping For FBI?

There are reports that former national security advisor and unhinged conspiracy fan Michael "Jack D. Ripper" Flynn may be turning against neo-fascist incompetent Donald "Rump" Trump in the FBI's counter intelligence investigation of Rump and his campaign's Russian collusion. During Rump's campaign, Flynn was his main advisor on national security and had frequent contact with Russian officials, infamously attending a 2015 dinner in Moscow to "celebrate" Russia's state-owned network's 10th anniversary while seated next to thug and autocrat Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin. He was fired in disgrace after his phone conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak over lifting U.S. sanctions became public.

If the report is accurate and Flynn is preparing to serve as an FBI witness against Rump and his associates, it would clearly add a major dimension to the ongoing investigation of collusion with Russian officials during (and possibly after) the election. The additional leverage that the FBI may have on Flynn is a reported plot to kidnap Turkish dissident mullah Fethullah Gulen from the U.S., circumventing U.S. extradition procedures, and secretly return him to Turkey. Flynn participated in a meeting last September with Turkish officials to discuss how that would be accomplished. Subsequently, it's been revealed that Flynn's consulting firm was receiving $530,000 to represent Turkey's interests while he was on the Rump campaign, and while sitting in on national security meetings as Rump's national security advisor.

Let's hope that the FBI has struck a deal with Flynn to offer testimony against the Rump cabal. It would be sweet revenge for him after his unceremonious canning by his co-conspirator.

Trump Uses Sock Puppet Pirro To Call For Ryan's Ouster

Neo- fascist nitwit Donald "Rump" Trump doesn't have a subtle bone in his bulbous body.

After saying "I don't blame Paul" (Speaker Sneaker of the House Ryan) for the TrumpCare debacle, his little fingers went to work issuing instructions to his dense following:

Why would the shitgibbon make a special point of promoting this spittle- flecked ranter's Fox "News" show? Obviously, he knew what was coming. Here's part of Judge Dredd Jeanine's opening statement:
"Ryan needs to step down as Speaker of the House. The reason, he failed to deliver the votes on his healthcare bill, the one trumpeted to repeal and replace ObamaCare," Pirro said in her opening statement. 
"You come in with all your swagger and experience and sell them a bill of goods which ends up a complete and total failure and you allow our president, in his first 100 days, to come out of the box like that, based on what?" Pirro said.
You can watch her deliver Rump's her remarks here.

Of course, she said she hadn't talked with Rump about the nature of his her remarks, which means in addition to his mad skillz as a negotiator and closer, Rump is also both clairvoyant and especially ham- fisted when it comes to making his moves.

Speaking of moves, it's your turn, Ryan.

BONUS:  The unfit, unstable Giant Toddler could only contain his instinct to lash out for so long:

Sunday Reflection

"The progressive side, the pro-freedom side, the rational side -- it wins in the long run.  Otherwise the Dark Ages would never have ended." -- Infidel 753 on the day before the collapse of the dystopian TrumpCare and the survival of the Affordable Care Act "in the foreseeable future," perhaps one more indication of the basic truth of that observation. While there may have been despair two months ago, there now should be renewed hope that we will win in the long run. #resist

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Tweet Of The Day - "The Fight Isn't Over Yet"

We're Hackwhackers and we approve this message (click on image to enlarge):

To all who showed up -- whether in marches, town hall meetings, letters, emails or phone calls -- we thank you too.

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Jeff Darcy,

(Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

Protecting Democracy Against Tyranny: Vid of the Day

Last night on Bill Maher's show, Yale history professor Timothy Snyder, author of "On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century," outlined three lessons from the last century for opposing tyranny. First, "don't obey in advance," following what everyone else is doing. Second, defend institutions, rather than assuming they'll always be there to defend you. Third, believe in the truth, which is the foundation for democracy. The discussion made it clear that neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump's politics shared many characteristics of former tyrants: discrediting a free press and court system, blaming religious or ethnic minorities for the nation's problems, etc. Panelists Christopher Hayes, Louise Mensch, and Max Brooks joined in the conversation, which drew strong parallels to the America under Rump with a Europe in the 1930s drifting toward fascism. Check it out.

TrumpCare: The Day After The Implosion

After yesterday's spectacular crash and burn of TrumpCare, done in as it was by his own ultra- radical Republican Party, neo- fascist loser Donald "Rump" Trump says he's moving on to "tax reform" (i.e., how can we get corporations and the wealthy to pay less in taxes while sticking to the middle class and poor?).  But before we move on to the next opportunity for epic failure, let's see some of the post mortems on TrumpCare:

And finally, enjoy the derp with a helping of schadenfreude!

The ads were also playing on local t.v. in the Washington, DC, area hours after the bill was dead.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Today's Cartoon Twofer - Deflect And Point Fingers

True to his nature as a malignant narcissist and pathological liar, neo- fascist loser Donald "Rump" Trump reacted as expected to the failure of his signature TrumpCare at the hands of his own party... by blaming Democrats and lying about Obamacare. Sad!

(click on images to enlarge)

(Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle)

(Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

NO VOTE! -- TrumpCare Bill FAIL

The White (Supremacist) House has announced that the "American Health Care Act" (TrumpCare) will be pulled from the House floor without a vote because it lacked the votes in the Republican caucus to pass. As a matter of fact, it's being reported that, as time passed over the last 48 hours, more Republicans were opting to vote "no" on the dystopian bill.

Speaker Sneaker of the House Paul "Lyin'" Ryan and neo- fascist dealmaster Donald "Rump" Trump will be making statements this afternoon.  We have a musical accompaniment for those statements right here.

BONUS: Just finished listening to Ryan's cavalcade of lies about Obamacare. His veiled threats about Dems wishing Repubs had passed something to "save them" from Obamacare coincides with this forecast from Ezra Klein:

You can bet your ass that Trump, Ryan & Co. will be doing everything they can legislatively and administratively to continue to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) now that their pile of shit has gone down in flames.

Weekend Lost The Feeling Song

Eclectic indie folk/country/rockers (hard to pigeonhole!) Louis Johnson and Jordan Meredith call themselves The Saint Johns after the river near their hometown in Florida. Now based in Nashville, they released their first album, "Dead of Night," just over a year ago. This is a cut from that album, "Lost the Feeling." Hope you enjoy.

Who Can We Thank For Paul Ryan?

As CNN is reporting that Speaker Sneaker of the House Paul "Lyin'" Ryan (R- Galt's Gulch) is on his way to give neo- fascist dimwit Donald "Rump" Trump the sad! news that TrumpCare will go down to defeat this afternoon (and what do I do now, Mr. Dealmaker?), we would like to quote from Paul Krugman's column today on those responsible for this unmitigated disaster:
So how did Mr. Ryan reach a position where his actions may reshape the lives of so many of his fellow citizens, in most cases very much for the worse? The answer lies in the impenetrable gullibility of his base. No, not his constituents: the news media, who made him what he is. 
You see, until very recently both news coverage and political punditry were dominated by the convention of “balance.” This meant, in particular, that when it came to policy debates one was always supposed to present both sides as having equally well-founded arguments. And this in turn meant that it was necessary to point to serious, honest, knowledgeable proponents of conservative positions. 
Enter Mr. Ryan, who isn’t actually a serious, honest policy expert, but plays one on TV. He rolls up his sleeves! He uses PowerPoint! He must be the real deal! So that became the media’s narrative. And media adulation, more than anything else, propelled him to his current position.
To see that this gullibility is still rampant in the Beltway media, one need only look at David Broder impersonator Dan "No" Balz's characterization of Ryan's "reputation" in light of the TrumpCare debacle:
The greater damage has been to the reputation of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) as the savvy intellectual godfather of a new conservative agenda around which his party could rally.
"Savvy intellectual godfather," indeed. You really haven't been paying attention for the past 8 years, have you, "No" Balz?!

Europe's New "Axis Of Evil"

As with the 2016 U.S. elections, Russian thug and kleptocrat Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin is intent on tipping elections in western Europe to candidates of his choosing. A big prize for him would be installing a friendly pol as the next President of France when France goes to the polls in a matter of weeks. The friendly pol that he'd clearly like to see elected is far-right xenophobe Marine Le Pen, head of the far right National Front party, who met with Putin in Moscow yesterday and came out in favor of lifting the economic sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Le Pen is also on record for anti-Muslim xenophobia and for withdrawing France from the European Union. Her party has also been the recipient of funds from Russia, and is undoubtedly seeking a new infusion on her trip to Moscow.

In 2017's election season, the far-right nationalist movements in Europe, particularly those in France and Germany, will test the commitment of those countries to liberal democracy, and their independence from an increasingly confident and belligerent Russia that seeks to undermine them and install itself as the great power on the continent, free to do what it wishes.

House Votes This Afternoon On TrumpCare

After receiving an ultimatum from neo- fascist authoritarian Giant Toddler Donald "Rump" Trump to pass "TrumpCare 2.0" today or fuggedaboutit, the spineless, brainless weasels in the Republican caucus decided to go ahead with an up- or- down vote this afternoon. While it still appears there may be as many as 49 Republicans (updated this morning) who will or may vote "no," there continues to be arm- twisting and intimidation of recalcitrant members-- making the final tally an uncertain bet.  It would take 22 Republican "no" votes to sink TrumpCare 2.0.

Keep in mind, TrumpCare 2.0 is even worse than the original bill, costing more, eliminating basic coverage, and still depriving 24 million Americans of their health insurance by 2026. Keep in mind also that, according to the latest polls, TrumpCare is extremely unpopular, with 56 percent disapproving and only 17 percent approving. Keep in mind also that Rump is broadly unpopular and many House Republicans don't fear him.

That all should add up to an interesting afternoon.

(You can make it more interesting, possibly in a good way, by calling your Representative if he/she is a Republican, and telling them to vote "no."  The switchboard number to be connected to a Member's office is 202-224-3121.  It's never too late to let them know where you stand!)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Giant Toddler Hijacks Truck Pic Of The Day

Photo: Jim Watson, AFP via Getty Images

A Giant Toddler gained entry to the White (Supremacist) House grounds earlier today, where some trucking companies were displaying their trucks. The Giant Toddler evaded security and hopped behind the wheel of one of the tractor trailers and started driving, while shouting, "I can do ANYTHING, I'm the President, get out of my waaaaayy!" After subduing the Giant Toddler, the Secret Service recognized the toddler as narcissistic liar Donald "Rump" Trump, and sent him inside for his afternoon nappy.

Twitter took notice of the incident.

Today's Cartoons And Twit Tweet

(click on images to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(David Horsey, Los Angeles Times)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

Guilty Giant Toddler's running scared ---

Vote On Obamacare Repeal Postponed (UPDATED)

Despite saying the vote on the Republican bill to repeal Obamacare would happen today regardless of whether they had the votes to pass it, the Republican leadership just announced it was postponing the vote.

Because they didn't have the votes. In. Their. Own. Caucus. The problem being, one part of the Republican Party is o.k. with dropping 24 million people from health insurance coverage, while an opposing wing thinks that not nearly cruel enough.

Meanwhile, time for more expert negotiating and arm twisting from the master of the deal?
Trump has increasingly come to own the health care proposal, even making a direct pitch to members during a closed-door meeting with House Republicans on Tuesday. The continued opposition to the bill may be the first signal that Trump’s political capital doesn’t run very deep in the House GOP conference, and that Republicans, particularly conservative Republicans, aren’t afraid to cross the president. 
Trump's winning so much, he's maybe getting tired of winning.

UPDATE: The Congressional Budget Office scored the latest version of the abomination and, surprise!, it's still as vicious as the first bill:
The score by the Congressional Budget Office projects federal deficits would be lowered by $150 billion over 10 years but still projects that 24 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026 than under the Affordable Care Act. A previous version of the bill would have reduced the deficit by an estimated $337 billion by 2026. The analysis comes as House Republicans continue making changes to try to line up enough votes to pass the bill.

UPDATE II:  The Giant Toddler is "done negotiating" with his Congressional Republicans and wants a vote on Friday. Waaah!

Putin Whistleblower Assassinated In Ukraine

A former member of Russia's Duma who turned against Russian autocrat and kleptocratic thug Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin was shot and killed by an assassin in Kiev, Ukraine this morning. Denis Voronenkov had sought asylum in Ukraine after standing up to Putin's corruption, and was testifying for Ukrainian investigators who are looking into Russia's role in the 2014 invasion of Crimea and its continuing troop presence in eastern Ukraine. Voronenkov was scheduled to join fellow Russian political exile Ilya Ponomaryov to give testimony to the Ukrainian Military Prosecutor's Office.

The Ukrainian government immediately denounced the killing as "an act of state terrorism" on the part of Russia, which has been systematically assassinating or otherwise silencing Putin's political opponents. In another chilling event, the lawyer for slain Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky is in life-threatening condition in a Moscow hospital after "falling" from his 4th story window on Tuesday. Nikolai Gorokhov was scheduled to appear yesterday in court over a $250 million tax fraud case implicating Putin and his inner circle that his late client was killed for exposing in 2009.

This is the criminal head of state that neo-fascist buffoon and Putin admirer Donald "Rump" Trump wants to cuddle up to, after Putin interfered on his behalf in the 2016 elections. Sick and dangerous.