Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Mid-Week Dig Down Song

British alternative band Muse have sold over 20 million albums worldwide since their formation in the mid-1990s. Winners of two Grammys and five MTV Europe Music Awards, Muse fuses electronic, pop, metal, and even classical music together in their work, which has been called "art rock," "progressive metal," and more. They released a new single on May 18, "Dig Down," and it has a definite political tone, as in:
"When God decides to look the other way, 
And a clown takes the throne,
We must find a way"
Enjoy....and dig down.

Comey To Testify On Trump's Efforts To Impede FBI; DOJ Fraud Chief Added To Investigation

From CNN:
Fired FBI director James Comey plans to testify publicly in the Senate as early as next week to confirm bombshell accusations that President Donald Trump pressured him to end his investigation into a top Trump aide's ties to Russia, a source close to the issue said Wednesday. 
Final details are still being worked out and no official date for his testimony has been set. Comey is expected to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia during last year's presidential election. 
...[H]e appears eager to discuss his tense interactions with Trump before his firing, which have now spurred allegations that the president may have tried to obstruct the investigation. If it happens, Comey's public testimony promises to be a dramatic chapter in the months-long controversy, and it will likely bring even more intense scrutiny to an investigation that Trump has repeatedly denounced as a "witch hunt." [snip] 
Since his firing last month, dramatic accounts have emerged in the New York Times, CNN, and elsewhere about the tense confrontations with Trump that Comey memorialized in memos afterward. A week after he took office in January, Trump allegedly demanded Comey's "loyalty" if he kept him on as FBI director, and he urged Comey to drop his ongoing investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump's fired national security adviser, in a separate, one-on-one meeting. 
The source said that Comey is expected to stand by those accounts in his testimony. 
"The bottom line is he's going to testify," the source close to the issue said. "He's happy to testify, and he's happy to cooperate."
Now, once again, let us invoke the "consciousness of guilt" theory: if the shitgibbon was innocent of any wrongdoing and had nothing to hide, why would he try to stop the FBI from investigating Russian meddling? (rhetorical question)

In a related significant development, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is bringing Andrew Weissmann, head of the Department of Justice's fraud section, into the investigation of Russia- Trump ties. In other words, they're following the money.

"Showing The World What A Massive Twit Looks Like"

In Great Britain and elsewhere, the Giant Toddler is, rightfully, a laughingstock (h/t Infidel 753):

#MAGA through derisive humor and humiliation!

Trump To Pull U.S. Out Of Paris Climate Accord

White (Supremacy) House sources are telling news organizations that twitter twit and Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump has decided to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, making the United States one of only three countries (Syria and Nicaragua being the others) not party to the landmark agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The debate now is over whether to utilize the 3- year withdrawal process in the accord or abrogate the underlying United Nations treaty (which would speed up the process).

Perhaps spurred more by animus toward President Obama and Democrats who helped negotiate the accord -- bypassing the nihilist Republican Senate -- than even by advisors such as climate change denier and Polluters' Man of the Century EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the increasingly erratic Rump ignored the counsel of other advisors, the Pope, our European allies and even many in the business community who welcomed U.S. leadership and having set targets for emissions:
Mr Trump has ignored the advice of a string of senior advisers, including his own daughter Ivanka Trump, Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who all advocated keeping 'a seat at the table'. 
Mr Mattis and others in the Department of Defence have noted that the Pentagon does a substantial amount of work addressing rising sea levels, changing sea routes for battleships due to melting glaciers, and the affects of drought and floods on US national security interests.  
It could be a sign that he plans to ditch environmental regulations and attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a much greater degree than he has so far. [snip]
Germany, France and other leading nations have expressed frustration with Mr Trump's stance on climate change. Even Pope Francis tried to persuade the US President during his recent visit to the Vatican by presenting him with a papal letter, or encyclical, the Pontiff wrote in 2015 regarding the need to address the multi-faceted issue of climate change. 
Beyond the sheer, catastrophic stupidity of withdrawing from the accord and the potentially serious effects it might have (the U.S. is, after all, one of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world), Rump's move essentially cedes global leadership and the moral high ground on the issue to China, which is making significant strides toward reducing its own greenhouse emissions and is investing heavily in clean energy technologies for domestic and foreign markets. Meanwhile, Russia is quite happy to see their troll in the White (Supremacist) House drive more wedges between the U.S. and the rest of the world.

BONUS: Some are saying this decision marks the end of the American Century.

BONUS II:  Greg Sargent on the lies that would underpin Rump's rationales.

The Twitter Twit: Go Covfefe Yourself

Has obsessive, sociopathic con man Donald "Rump" Trump finally gone completely around the bend? Rump's unfinished tweet ending with the non-word "covfefe" late last night has not only raised concerns about his mental state, but has set off an overnight storm of worldwide mockery and amusement. Check it out here, here, here, here, etc.

With reports of Rump gaining weight, angry, and "living within himself", his latest incoherent midnight rambling might be a sign of something more serious. Someone needs to read up on Amendment 25 of the Constitution for that.

BONUS: Like we said....

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tweet Of The Day: Goooooaaallll

Holding a soccer ball, the leaders of five Nordic countries mock Donald "Rump" Trump's recent bizarre, cultish-appearing fondling of "the magic orb" in Saudi Arabia, scoring a big goooooaaaallll for their countries.

You'll recall the weird original version, with Rump and his BFFs looking like they belong in a lineup of comic book villains:

Kushner's In Some Hot Borscht [UPDATED]

The report that the son-in-law of unstable bungler Donald "Rump" Trump, Jared "Mr. Ivanka Trump" Kushner, along with disgraced former advisor Michael Flynn, met privately in December with Russian ambassador (and spy recruiter) Sergey Kislyak and Russian bank CEO and Putin ally Sergey Gorkov was strange enough. But further reporting revealed that Kushner asked the Russians to establish a "back channel" communications capability to the Kremlin, and suggested that a secure Russian facility be used for that purpose. It should be noted that Gorkov is the head of a Russian "bank" that is deeply involved with the Russian intelligence service and is under sanctions by the U.S. and its allies. His "bank" could also be a financial "angel" for Rump's business enterprises; that's a string that needs to be pulled.

The FBI is interested in not only the substance of the meeting, but why Kushner felt it important to suggest that the meetings be in a secure Russian facility so that communications couldn't be monitored by U.S. intelligence. The fact that Michael Flynn was accompanying Kushner would also have set off alarms for the FBI, given his dishonesty over his dealings with Russian operatives. And if anyone thinks young master Jared wasn't there at Rump's direction, you don't know how the crime family operates.

Kushner also failed to report on the December meeting on his security clearance forms, adding to the suspicion that this was anything but a friendly "meet and greet" meeting to exchange pleasantries. We suspect the more the FBI investigates, the more "Mr. Ivanka Trump" may have some serious explaining to do.

UPDATE: From a detailed Reuters report on the disturbing Kushner-Kislyak story:
"FBI investigators are examining whether Russians suggested to Kushner or other Trump aides that relaxing economic sanctions would allow Russian banks to offer financing to people with ties to Trump, said the current U.S. law enforcement official." (emphasis added
Follow the money.....

White House Purge Begins

After his return to the U.S. following deeply troubling interactions with our European allies, and generally acting like a thug, sociopath and Putin poodle Donald "Rump" Trump has set about assigning blame to staff for his failures, and bidding them adieu. The first to go is Communications Director Mike Dubke, who had the misfortune of having as a boss a bungling (and perhaps treasonous) narcissist who communicates with angry, incoherent tweets. Dubke wasn't able to save Rump from the mental instability and anger exhibited through those tweets and from his likely criminal and treasonous collusion with a hostile foreign power, Russia.

When the phrase "White House shakeup" is thrown out, a name that almost always tops the list is human / weasel hybrid and ineffective chief of staff Reince "Prepuce" Priebus, whose main function seems to be handing Rump those executive orders to sign and staying out of the way of both Rump and Jared "Mr. Ivanka Trump" Kushner. As a result, the White (Supremacist) House is regarded as a snake pit of leakers, backstabbers and incompetents that would be easily outperformed by a high school student government. Prepuce has just been tagged to participate in Rump's "war room" to spread disinformation and smears during the Russiagate investigations, so you know when that fails, Prepuce will be history.

With the White (Supremacist) House staff in a dark place, and their unstable, vindictive boss continuing to implicate himself in impeachable crimes, getting fired might just be a merciful ending for them.

Monday, May 29, 2017

John F. Kennedy Centennial

May 29 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of our 35th President, John F. Kennedy. It seems almost impossible to imagine a person so associated with youth and vigor in our collective experience was born a century ago.

As the cliche would have it, we know where we were when we heard the news of his assassination on November 22, 1963. It remains one of the darkest, most shocking days of our lives. While his term only lasted 1,036 days, Kennedy left an indelible impression on generations of Americans and people around the world. His time in office was marked with mistakes like the Bay of Pigs invasion and ramping up U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. But it was also marked by improving relations with Latin America and third world nations, establishing the Peace Corps, and standing up for civil rights against segregationists like Alabama's George Wallace and Mississippi's Ross Barnett. Perhaps most importantly, he energized America's advance into space, pushing our country to be the first to land a man on the moon and face other challenges "not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

It was that sense that anything was possible that was a hallmark of Kennedy's brief time in office, and why he is remembered so fondly so many years later.

Friday, May 26, 2017

How Will You Miss Us If We Don't Go Away?

We'll be away for a few days participating in a Joyous Event and having some happy time with family. Look for us early next week (though a random post may find its way here in the interim).

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

Weekend Memorial Music

As has become our habit, we're recognizing Memorial Day with "Beneath the Southern Cross," part of Richard Rodgers' soundtrack for the "Victory at Sea" documentary series from the early 1950s. The song is also familiarly known as "No Other Love Have I."

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

(David Fitzsimmons, Arizona Daily Star)

(Nick Anderson, Hearst Papers)

Fourth Circuit Court Refuses To Lift Trump's Muslim Travel Ban

If they were capable of shame, this would be getting embarrassing for them by now:
In yet another setback for the Trump administration, a federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, on Thursday refused to lift a nationwide injunction that halted a key provision of President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban on six predominantly Muslim nations. 
The ruling is the most bruising the White House has suffered in its attempts to defend the ban, as it was rendered by 13 judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit — which deemed the case important enough to skip the usual three-judge process that the vast majority of cases go through. 
U.S. Chief Circuit Judge Roger Gregory wrote that the text of Trump’s executive order, which was challenged in courts across the country for targeting members of a particular faith, “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” (our emphasis)
Some of our institutions are still holding back "intolerance, animus, and discrimination" -- i.e., Republicanism -- for now.

Tweets Of The Day - What's A Little Shove Between Allies?

The witless, smug Giant Toddler demands his place in the limelight, dammit:

Class and grace.  Makes you proud to be an American. Fortunately, they already knew what they were dealing with in Trump.

Meanwhile, check out the crowds in Berlin waiting to hear President Obama:

Sic transit gloria, America!

Trump's Witless Slam On NATO

Russian autocrat and thug Vladimir Putin must be overjoyed at what his minion, sociopathic popular vote loser Donald "Rump" Trump had to say at a public NATO event in Brussels. It was embarrassing enough that Rump publicly and thuggishly chastised the two-dozen NATO members standing near him with his complaint about "paying their fair share" toward NATO, as many of the assembled leaders wore shocked looks. The clueless buffoon continued to misrepresent the situation as a "payment" to the U.S., rather than a commitment by them to spend two percent of their budgets on defense. Far worse, he refused to back Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which says that an attack on one member is an attack on all. The article was last invoked when NATO allies sent troops to Afghanistan after 9-11. That omission will have champagne corks popping in the Kremlin, which has its eyes on NATO's Baltic States, and eastern European allies, and wants a weakened, ineffective NATO.

The expectation that Rump would mend ties with NATO, after campaigning on the issue that NATO was "obsolete," has probably been dashed after this ham-fisted performance. He undercuts the importance of the U.S. keeping the NATO alliance strong, not only as a bulwark against terrorism but against an emboldened and aggressive Russian Federation with dreams of empire.

Democracy Also Dies In Indecency

Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan, yesterday on certain foul reptilians' politicizing the death of Seth Rich:
... On Sunday, former House speaker and Trump insider Newt Gingrich used Fox’s national platform to spread the lies, squandering what remains of his own credibility to make respectable people think it might be so. (Police think it may have been a robbery gone wrong.) 
Decent people should shun both Hannity and Gingrich. (our emphasis)
The Washington Post op/ ed page this morning:
 By Newt Gingrich

That would be the same newspaper that adopted the post- election slogan, "Democracy dies in darkness."  Good to know the Post has such high, immutable standards.

Montana Republican Gianforte Cited For Assaulting Reporter

Montana plutocrat and Republican Congressional candidate Greg "Giant Fart" Gianforte is a bully with anger management issues:

Even Fox "News" reporters who were witness to the assault were appalled. Three Montana newspapers have also pulled their endorsements of Giant Fart.

"Get the hell out of here" should be Montanans' response to the unhinged Giant Fart, who's belatedly been cited for misdemeanor assault by the Sheriff who's also a contributor to his campaign.

The election is today. More reason than ever to elect Democrat Rob Quist.

BONUS:  The wonderful John Dingell's take --

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

CBO Scores The Republican TrumpCare 2.0 Bill (UPDATED)

Surprise!  TrumpCare 2.0 is as awful as the one that failed the first time around:
Twenty-three million fewer Americans would have insurance under legislation that House Republicans narrowly passed last month, the Congressional Budget Office reported on Wednesday.
The agency also predicted the deficit would come down by $119 billion over the next decade ― and that premiums for people buying insurance on their own would be relatively lower than those premiums would be if the Affordable Care Act stays in place.
But the reasons health insurance would be less expensive for some aren’t much to cheer about, the budget report makes clear. Prices would come down for healthy people because those who are sick or have illness in their medical histories would have less access to coverage ― and the policies available on the market would tend to be a lot less comprehensive.
In other words, the price for lower premiums would be some combination of higher out-of-pocket costs, fewer covered services, and coverage that would be harder to get for the people who need it most.  [snip]
Most of the money saved by cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid and billions more from financial assistance for those buying private health insurance will be transferred to wealthy households and health care companies in the form of tax cuts, with a small amount left over for deficit reduction(our emphasis)
The House Republican leadership was awaiting the scoring of this bill (misnamed the "American Health Care Act" -- it's really the "American Tax Cuts For The Wealthy And Screw You Act") before formally sending it to the Senate, where a group of 13 Republican white males are already diligently at work on their own approach to afflicting the afflicted. Fortunately, they face a difficult road ahead. Each, in our own way, should make it as difficult as possible.

UPDATE:  Here's the impact on the uninsured rate in graph form (click on images to enlarge) --

Other goodies from the Republicans --

Today's Cartoon Twofer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Drew Sheneman, The Star-Ledger - Newark, NJ)

(Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune)

The Pope Meets The Dope

We're guessing it went something like this:

Dope: "Hi, can I call you Frank? Say, did you hear the one about the two Corinthians?"

Pope: ("God, just let this be over...what's that sulfur smell?")

Of course, memes have emerged over the Pope's obvious discomfort being in the company of Dope.  Here are a few we like:

Morning Reading

Sarah Posner on Republicans shielding un-indicted co-conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump:
In his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday morning, former CIA director John Brennan bluntly told lawmakers that during the 2016 election, he reviewed intelligence that showed “contacts and interactions” between Russian actors and people associated with the Trump campaign. By the summer of 2016, Brennan said, he was “convinced” that Russia was engaged in an “aggressive” and “multifaceted” effort to interfere in our election — and as a result, he believed “there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation” by the FBI. 
With this testimony, Brennan just made it a whole lot harder — politically, at least — for the GOP to continue in its efforts to protect Trump, even as scrutiny of his campaign intensifies on the part of the FBI, and now, special counsel Robert Mueller. Yet if Tuesday’s hearing is any guide, congressional Republicans are still intent on shielding Trump by undermining the investigation in the mind of the public.
This is a party- before- country collection of nihilists; we need to turn as many of them out of office as possible.  Here's a start on the state level:
On Tuesday night, Democrats flipped not one but two state legislative seats in special elections—and both came in deep red territory. In New Hampshire, Democrat Edie DesMarais defeated Republican Matthew Plache by a 52-48 margin in the state House’s 6th Carroll District, a seat Donald Trump won 51-44 last fall. Meanwhile, in the New York Assembly’s 9th District, Democrat Christine Pellegrino beat Republican Thomas Gargiulo 58-42, even though Trump romped to a 60-37 victory there in November. 
Democrats winning at the State and local level over the next 2 - 4 years is extremely important to re-building the party, especially with the 2020 census looming. We've got the special Congressional election in Montana (Rob Quist!) on Thursday and the one in Georgia (Jon Ossoff!) in June, which could be bellweathers for the 2018 mid- term elections.

Margaret Sullivan on the despicable Sean "Heil" Hannity, Newt Gingrich and Fox "News" in their politicizing the death of DNC staffer Seth Rich last summer:
To hear Fox’s Sean Hannity tell it, this was an inside job by the Democratic National Committee, where Rich worked: retribution by the Hillary Clinton camp for his sharing insider emails with WikiLeaks. 
The theory has been thoroughly debunked by Oliver Darcy at CNN, among others, and Rich’s family has demanded that Fox retract and apologize. To the reported embarrassment of its own staff, it took Fox days to do the right thing. (Fox finally retracted the story Tuesday afternoon , and Tuesday night Hannity claimed that “out of respect for the family’s wishes, for now, I am not discussing the matter at this time.”) 
But the damage has been done. On Sunday, former House speaker and Trump insider Newt Gingrich used Fox’s national platform to spread the lies, squandering what remains of his own credibility to make respectable people think it might be so. (Police think it may have been a robbery gone wrong.) 
Decent people should shun both Hannity and Gingrich. 
There's word this morning that Hannity will stop his conspiracy mongering about Seth Rich, ostensibly in response to this direct, heart- wrenching appeal from Seth Rich's parents:
Imagine living in a nightmare that you can never wake up from. Imagine having to face every single day knowing that your son was murdered. Imagine you have no answers — that no one has been brought to justice and there are few clues leading to the killer or killers. Imagine that every single day, with every phone call you hope that it’s the police, calling to tell you that there has been a break in the case. 
Imagine that instead, every call that comes in is a reporter asking what you think of a series of lies or conspiracies about the death. That nightmare is what our family goes through every day.  [snip]
... Seth’s death has been turned into a political football. Every day we wake up to new headlines, new lies, new factual errors, new people approaching us to take advantage of us and Seth’s legacy. It just won’t stop. The amount of pain and anguish this has caused us is unbearable. With every conspiratorial flare-up, we are forced to relive Seth’s murder and a small piece of us dies as more of Seth’s memory is torn away from us. [snip]
There are people who are using our beloved Seth’s memory and legacy for their own political goals, and they are using your outrage to perpetuate our nightmare. We ask those purveying falsehoods to give us peace, and to give law enforcement the time and space to do the investigation they need to solve our son’s murder. 
Reptilians like Hannity and Gingrich are sociopaths who have political agendas that take precedence over facts and human decency. They're wired that way, so it's only a matter of time before they plump another destructive lie into a full- fledged nightmare for another family. Also, let's not forget the collusion of many in the "mainstream media," who delight in "reporting on the controversy," hoping to attract clicks and eyeballs without getting their hands dirty in the process. The sooner this fever dream fades, the better.

Time To Lawyer Up

Sociopathic con man and Putin loyalist Donald "Rump" Trump is apparently feeling some heat on his large tuchas. According to reports, Rump has retained New York attorney Marc Kasowitz as a personal counsel for matters relating to the Russiagate scandal. White (Supremacist) House Counsel Doug McGahn would continue to handle legal matters related to the Office of the President. Kasowitz has represented Rump in civil cases, most recently as his counsel in the Trump University fraud case, which Rump lost and was forced to pay $25 million in restitution. He also represents =pause for effect=  Russia's largest state- controlled bank, Sperbank. Nice choice.

It's worth noting that possible FBI Director nominee and sanctimonious turncoat Joe "Lieberliar" Lieberman belongs to Kasowitz's law firm, a little detail that should sink his potential nomination as FBI Director in normal times, but remember who shits sits in the Oval Office. Stay tuned.

Mid-Week Filip-out Songs

Many thanks to dear friend P.E.C. for recommending jazz and classical pianist Filip Wojciechowski for our musical selection. Wojciechoski, a graduate of Warsaw's Music Academy, has won numerous awards for his artistry, including the Claude Kahn Competition in Paris and a special award at the XIII International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (1995), and has appeared at prestigious venues around the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic and the Opera House in Monte Carlo. He masterfully blends classical piano (often Chopin) and contemporary jazz in many of his compositions, for example "Swingujący Chopin."

His original composition, "Moments," from his 2011 album of the same title, is a beautiful, evocative piece, combining his piano, a trumpet, a saxophone, and drums for a melodic, wistful experience. Have a listen:

As a reviewer for wrote,
"Beauty, grace, elegance …These are the qualities that best describe the music created by Filip Wojciechowski and his company on this album... 'Moments' also has another important advantage. This is music without a rush, which allows each note to resound and allows silence to exist."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch)

(Jeff Danziger, The Rutland (VT) Herald)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Tweet Of The Day - Compare And Contrast

(click on images to enlarge)

You can't be more oblivious than to use "so amazing" in reference to the Holocaust memorial. As Klass noted in another tweet, at least Trump didn't mention his electoral college victory.

(h/t Balloon Juice)

Trump Wanted Top Intelligence Officials To Lie About Evidence Of Russian Collusion

We're starting to lose track of the possibly impeachable offenses piling up on orange shitgibbon Donald "Rump" Trump:
President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials. 
Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election. 
Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president. (our emphasis)
The highly inappropriate interactions are apparently memorialized, a la James Comey, in an internal, contemporaneous memo by a "senior NSA official" =cough= Adm. Rogers? =cough=, and are likely to be submitted as part of the paper trail in the ongoing FBI and Congressional investigations. The conversations were held sometime after Rump tried to get Comey to shut down the investigation of Russian mole Michael Flynn in February, as well as after Comey's March 20 testimony, in which he reported on the FBI's investigation of links between Rump campaign associates and the Russian government. For someone loudly proclaiming it's all a "witch hunt," Rump sure is showing signs of desperation and giving every appearance of "consciousness of guilt."

We hope it's becoming clearer to more people what's going on here. At least the intelligence community is doing its part to hold the shitgibbon accountable and not participate in his cover- up schemes:
A senior intelligence official said Trump’s goal was to “muddy the waters” about the scope of the FBI probe at a time when Democrats were ramping up their calls for the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel, a step announced last week. 
Senior intelligence officials also saw the March requests as a threat to the independence of U.S. spy agencies, which are supposed to remain insulated from partisan issues. 
The problem wasn’t so much asking them to issue statements, it was asking them to issue false statements about an ongoing investigation,” a former senior intelligence official said of the request to Coats.  (our emphasis)
We've been lucky, in a way, that Rump is so clueless about issues of law, government and ethics that he keeps doing Special Counsel Mueller's work for him, building a public case for his removal from office.

Finally, we'll let a couple of Constitutional law professors sum things up.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley:
 “Perhaps the first time in history you find someone so self-incriminating in the absence of a known crime. It’s like a guy running every time a car alarm goes off — you’re sort of wondering why.”
Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe:

The Manchester Bombing (UPDATED)

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the deadly suicide bomb attack last night at a concert in Manchester, England that killed 22 and wounded 59. Most of the victims were young girls, teen and preteen, some accompanied by a parent to the Ariana Grande concert. A 23 year-old man has been arrested in connection with the bombing which occurred just as the concert was ending. British law enforcement believes they have identified the suicide bomber, but haven't released a name.*

While ISIS has long called for attacks on civilian targets in the West, this attack was especially sick and heinous in that it deliberately targeted a large body of children. Wherever this investigation goes -- and we hope everyone responsible will be punished to the maximum extent -- it goes without saying that a group of autocratic potentates grasping a glowing orb in Saudi Arabia won't make this viciousness go away. Truth be told, a number of them are directly responsible for allowing the culture of extremism to grow that took those young lives in Manchester last night.

BONUS: Read Charles Pierce's column, where he puts this in historical -- and human -- context.

*UPDATE:  The bomber has been identified as Salman Abedi.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Who'll Tell Trump Israel's In The Middle East?

National disgrace and flagrant idiot Donald "Rump" Trump sat down earlier today with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and other dignitaries and proceeded to demonstrate his total ignorance of the region. Watch and cringe as he informs the Israelis that he's just got back from the Middle East:

The low energy, low stamina orange snowflake is apparently "exhausted" after just 3 days on the trip. He needs his nappy time, and someone to tell him where he is at all times.

BONUS:  At the end of the clip, note the "oy vey" reaction of Israeli ambassador (and Republican operative) Ron Dermer, on the right, suddenly needing to stroke his hair.

Video And Tweets Bite Trump Back

On news that former National Security Advisor and Russian mole Michael Flynn will take the Fifth Amendment against self- incrimination, let's roll the video:

On Princess Ivanka's shakedown of Saudi Arabia and the UAE:

The Onion Releases "Classified Trump Documents"

The Onion has some "purloined documents" from "the White House" via a "whistleblower." These are among our favorite "documents" -- the "President's Daily Brief" (click on images to enlarge):

(h/t Silver Spring Bureau Chief and blog musical curator Brian)

Follow The Money Quote of the Day

" can’t work through even part of Trump’s business history without finding numerous ventures that look like they would not survive first contact with real prosecutorial scrutiny. A key element, perhaps the key element, of the counter-intelligence probe is examining the financial ties between Trump, members of his entourage and people from the Russian business and intelligence worlds. So a close examination of those ventures isn’t some fishing expedition. It’s at the heart of the investigation." (emphasis added) -- Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo, in a compelling look at what investigators may now be looking at: "financial crimes" involving the money trail from Moscow to Putin loyalist and demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump.

As we've noted before here, here and here, at the core of the relationship between Rump and Russia isn't ideology (although Rump admires autocratic kleptocrats, being one himself). It's money, specifically the flow of Russian oligarch and state bank money, mostly laundered, into Trump Organization projects and properties. It was money that he was unable to obtain from U.S. lenders due to his multiple bankruptcies and questionable business practices. The FBI investigators are looking for evidence of "financial crimes" committed not only by members of Rump's campaign, but likely Rump and his family too.

Trump Budget Slashes Medicaid, Social Safety Net Programs

"Populist" hero and world- class con man Donald "Rump" Trump is proposing a cut of $800 billion in Medicaid as well as other social safety net programs over the next 10 years ($1.7 trillion in all). His 2018 budget proposal lays the basis for using cuts to Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) to balance nearly $1 trillion in tax cuts mostly benefitting the wealthiest Americans (i.e., via the TrumpCare abomination). But these proposals are just the beginning of the income redistribution upward:
The proposed changes to Medicaid and SNAP will be just some of several anti-poverty programs that the White House will look to change. In March, the White House signaled that it wanted to eliminate money for a range of other programs that are funded each year by Congress. This included federal funding for Habitat for Humanity, subsidized school lunches and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response to homelessness across 19 federal agencies.
This, as part and parcel of the longstanding effort by Republicans to destroy affordable health care and the social safety net in this country, must be a petard on which their heads should be hoisted, hopefully starting in Montana on Thursday (where Democrat Rob Quist is hammering on affordable health care), then on to Georgia on June 20 (where Democrat Jon Ossoff is hanging Rump around his opponent's neck).

Voters who support Republicans might want to think about this:

Wife Signals Trump: Keep Your Hands To Yourself

First Lady (when Ivanka's not available) and amateur plagiarist Melania Trump perhaps telegraphed the state of her marriage with sociopath and confessed crotch grabber Donald "Rump" Trump as she brushed away his attempt to hold hands after their arrival in Israel earlier today.

You can't blame her; she doesn't know where that hand has been.

(h/t Crooks and Liars, posted by Scarce)

Mississippi Republican Wants To Lynch Confederate Statue Removers (UPDATED)

Mississippi Republican State Representative "KK"Karl Oliver wants anyone fixin' to remove statues of treasonous Confederates to get fitted for a rope necktie:
A Republican member of the Mississippi House of Representatives has called for lynching anyone who removes a Confederate monument, including lawmakers in a neighboring state.  
On Saturday, state Rep. Karl Oliver (R) described the “destruction” of Confederate monuments in Louisiana as “heinous and horrific” and compared leaders in that state to Nazis.  
“They should be LYNCHED!” Oliver wrote in comments posted on his Facebook page.
Obviously, given the sordid history of lynchings of blacks in the South over the past 150 years, Oliver's comments were immediately denounced by his fellow Republicans ...Democrats. (In fact, two other Republican representatives "liked" his lynching comment -- Reps. John Read and Doug McLeod.) It should also be noted that Oliver considers himself a "Christian" because of course he does.

In the end, Oliver might just be looking to direct some bidness his way; he's an undertaker by profession.

UPDATE:  Oliver represents a district that includes the town in which Emmett Till was lynched in 1955; also some Republican office holders have belatedly come out with their denunciations.

(Photo: What the hell is that "hair" beanie thing on top of your head? Someone call animal control!)

"Alt-Reich" Thug Held In Stabbing Of Black Student/ Army Officer

More chickens coming home to roost in Trump's America:
The FBI is assisting in the murder investigation of a Bowie State University student to determine whether his stabbing death was a hate crime, authorities said Sunday. 
A 22-year-old University of Maryland student has been charged in Saturday’s deadly knife attack that left Richard W. Collins III, 23, dead. 
Sean Christopher Urbanski, of Severna Park, Md., was charged with first- and second-degree murder and first-degree assault in what police called a “totally unprovoked” attack. [snip]
Collins had been visiting the College Park campus when the incident occurred, and authorities said surveillance cameras captured the attack. Police said Collins was with two friends, waiting for an Uber along Regents Drive near Montgomery Hall about 3 a.m. 
U-Md. Police Chief David B. Mitchell said Collins and his friends watched as Urbanski approached the group. Urbanski said “step left, step left if you know what’s best for you.” Collins said “no.” Urbanski attacked.
Urbanski is believed to be associated with "Alt-Reich," an online Facebook group whose name speaks for itself.

The victim, Richard Collins, recently graduated from Bowie State University and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army intelligence branch just last week.

"Economic anxiety" claims another innocent life.

(Photo: Thug -- via University of Maryland Police Department)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Across The Universe, Cont. - Zoom In On Galaxy Cluster Abell 370

Fascinating (watch full screen!):

From NASA/ ESA, May 4, 2017: This zoom starts with a ground-based view of the sky and zooms in on the distant galaxy cluster Abell 370, as seen by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

The mass of the cluster is large enough to bend the light of more distant objects along the line of sight. This creates interesting distortions, fascinating arcs and it even magnifies objects which would otherwise be to faint and tiny to be seen by Hubble.

Credit:  ESA/Hubble
Music: Richard Hasbia "Stan Dart"

Pic Of The Day - The Mysterious Glowing Orb

Nothing to see here, move along, move along (click on image to enlarge for full creepy effect):

(Egyptian President el-Sisi, Saudi King Salman and Trump pledge fealty to The Glowing Orb)

Alternate captions:

"We're now Blood and Oil Brothers! Bwahahahaha!"

"You have some warm balls, King!"

"I see impeachment in your future!"

"Does this make my hands look bigger?"

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

(Nick Anderson, Hearst Papers)

Buying Influence, Complicit Style

By now, many foreign kleptocracies recognize in con man and sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump and his family simpatico figures: ready to make a buck off of their positions, and ready to deal in influence peddling. First Lady Rump daughter and enabler Ivanka "Complicit" Trump has been branding herself as a self-made entrepreneur, portraying herself as the administration's leader for "women's empowerment," while her sexual predator father chips away at women's rights. That's why her talk on empowerment yesterday with a small group of well-to-do Saudi women was so cringeworthy in its hypocrisy. At least when she made a comparable pitch in Germany last month, she was booed by women there.

While in Saudi Arabia, Complicit used the assembled kings and emirs as an opportunity for a shakedown for her "empowerment" scam. Knowing that Complicit is the gateway to favorable treatment by Rump, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates coughed up a reported $100 million for her "International Women's Empowerment Fund," her ethically-challenged "project" which has raised huge red flags for influence peddling and ethics violations. The potentates justifiably believe that "contributing" generously to Complicit's grift will bring favorable treatment from the Rump administration.

This latter day Romanov family feels emboldened by the fact that no one has yet stepped up to seriously confront them on their ethics violations. Hopefully, some enterprising and patriotic U.S. attorney will take up the challenge.

Your Cheatin' Clarke

Dress- up right- wing Milwaukee County Sheriff David "Uncle Ruckus" Clarke, someone who is literally "all hat, no cattle," recently let it be known he would be joining the regime of neo- fascist un-indicted co- conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Well, not so fast there, buckaroo:
Controversial Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who this week announced he will be joining Donald Trump's administration as assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security, plagiarized sections of his 2013 master's thesis on US security, a CNN KFile review has found. 
Clarke, a visible surrogate for Trump during the campaign known for his incendiary rhetoric, earned a master's degree in security studies at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. In his thesis, "Making U.S. security and privacy rights compatible," Clarke failed to properly attribute his sources at least 47 times. (our emphasis)
47 times? Pssh! A minor oversight!

It seems Clarke has joined other Rump associates and family members in the plagiarist Hall of Shame, including Rump's wife Melania (stealing from Michelle Obama) and would- be NSC staffer Monica Crowley, who was also exposed by Andrew Kaczynski. Whether he'll be joining the DHS is now another matter altogether. Sad!

BONUS: Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog thinks Clarke has a good chance of surviving this.

(Photo: Clarke ridin' his horsey in Milwaukee's high plains country.)

Bailing On The Boss

White (Supremacist) House chief of staff and human / weasel hybrid Reince "Prepuce" Priebus is reportedly cutting his trip short with curtseying demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump and returning to Washington, presumably to join the bucket brigade in containing the raging fire of the Russiagate scandal. Friday's twin bombshells that a "person of interest" close to Rump  <<cough Jared Kushner cough >> is under investigation by the FBI, and that Rump privately bragged to Russian officials that he had impeded the investigation into the Russiagate scandal by firing the FBI's James Comey, have put Rumpland into crisis mode.

It's likely that Prepuce is concerned that the long-rumored staff shakeup will involve him getting the ax from his narcissistic finger-pointing boss, so he may want to secure those "files" he's got for future plea bargaining memoirs. While shrub-hugging press secretary Sean "Spicy" Spicer is likely to be the first in the ranks of the unemployed soon after Rump's 9-day traveling circus show ends, Prepuce may be packing up, too.

(photo: Fittingly, today's the last performance of Ringling Brothers' circus).

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Tweets Of The Day - Why Just Bow When You Can Bow AND Curtsy?

Considering this in 2012--
... how twee of him to bow and curtsy today --
"That's how a Pro does it, Obummer!"

(h/t Raw Story, which has lots of reactions)

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(David Horsey, Los Angeles Times)

Superheroes Vid of the Day

Last night, Bill Maher looked at America's fascination with superheroes and how we invest our hopes for our future in them, rather than in ourselves, especially when it comes to demagogic politicians who promise you "I alone can fix it." You know where this is going, right? Check out the hilarious clip below.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Quote Of The Day: Complete Moron

With today's breaking news (see post below) added to the mounting pile of evidence that neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump engaged (and continues to engage) in multiple impeachable offenses, a senior Rump administration official (who also worked on his campaign) had this pithy comment about his boss:
“Every day he looks more and more like a complete moron.” 
We'd disagree with the statement in that he's looked like a complete moron for most of his adult life. There's also this comment from a Rethuglican official in the same linked article:
"Asked whether an administration staff change-up would ameliorate this latest crisis, a Republican source formerly involved with a pro-Trump political group told The Daily Beast, 'yes, if it comes with a frontal lobotomy for Trump.'” (emphasis added)
 You'll need some tweezers for that operation.

It's A Day Ending In "Y," So There's A Trump Bombshell Twofer

That hole keeps getting deeper. Someone might want to take the shovel out of nitwit self- incriminator Donald "Rump" Trump's hands:
President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting. 
I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off. 
Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.” (our emphasis)
Consciousness of guilt? Continuing collusion with Russia? Obstruction of justice? All of the above? Also, Comey's "crazy, a real nut job?"  Hoo boy. Pot, meet kettle.

Then, there's this:
The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter. 
The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official. (our emphasis)
Excuse me =cough=Jared "Mr. Ivanka Trump" Kushner?=cough=. Maybe it was someone who urged Rump to fight the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, to take the Russia pressure off (him)=cough=Kushner?=cough=. Nasty cough. Who's been in the news recently about dealing with a state- owned Russian bank to finance a Rump hotel in Toronto and who forgot to mention he'd met with Russian spy master/ Ambassador Sergey Kislyak?  I guess we'll just have to wait and see who's this person of significant interest =cough=it's Kushner!=cough=.

Weekend Groovie Twofer

The Flamin' Groovies have been described by the All Music Guide as "one of America's greatest, most influential, and legendary cult bands." The San Francisco- originating band has gone through several lineup changes since forming in the late '60's. In many ways, their lack of commercial success was attributable to their changing styles, and to the fact that they were often out of sync with the popular music of the time, especially when their acclaimed "Shake Some Action" album was released at the height of disco music in 1976. The two songs we're featuring are from that influential album. First, the title cut, "Shake Some Action" (something that's happened in our body politic in the past week or so, right?), which is a glorious, chiming guitars, hook-laden rocker. "You Tore Me Down" is a lovely breakup song with chiming guitars and a retro British invasion quality to it. Both songs were written by the band's Cyril Jordan and Chris Wilson. So get out your air guitars and turn up the volume!

Time Traveler Trump Warned Us About Himself

Seth Meyers on the "insane week" of incompetent Putin mole Donald "Rump" Trump:

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

The Good:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) will step down from Congress later this year, Politico reported Thursday. Chaffetz, whose term was set to last until 2019, confirmed the news in a letter to constituents, saying his last day will be June 30.
One of the worst villains in modern politics is leaving -- for now.  The less we see of him in the future, the better.

The Bad:
Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic senator from Connecticut with a complicated history with his political party, has emerged as the frontrunner to replace the now-fired James Comey as FBI director... [snip]
Since leaving the Senate, Lieberman has landed as an attorney as Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, whose founding partner Marc Kasowitz happens to be Donald Trump’s lawyer on litigation matters. [snip] 
Lieberman has never worked for the FBI, has never been a federal judge or a federal prosecutor, and has never worked for the Department of Justice. He has no history at all with federal law enforcement. Appointing him would be an enormous break with tradition. (our emphasis)
It would also be a break with common sense and ethics, which means it's probably a "go" for deranged dumbass Donald "Rump" Trump. The smarmy Lieberliar, who was one of the "Three Amigos" along with Republican Sens. John "Walnuts" McCain and Lindsey "Huckleberry" Graham when he was in the Senate, was a pro- Iraq War hawk and killer of Medicare expansion (simply, it's said, to piss off liberals), adding to his disqualifications.

The Ugly:
Former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner was expected to plead guilty in federal court in New York on Friday, months after U.S. prosecutors opened an investigation into his alleged “sexting” with a 15-year-old girl that eventually played a role in the U.S. presidential election. 
Here's another one that qualifies as "the less we see of him in the future, the better."