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."

Islamophobe Travels To Saudi Arabia

Pathological liar and anti-Muslim bigot Donald "Rump" Trump is traveling to Saudi Arabia today, the first stop on a tour that he's already griping about. There, he's going to meet, dine and make nice with leaders of some 50 majority Muslim countries. It's hard to imagine the amount of hypocrisy that will be exhibited on both sides, with Rump's Muslim-banning Islamophobia and the Muslim leaders' tolerance of his bigotry against their religion. One of the goals is to sell more U.S. arms to the various kingdoms and principalities under the guise of creating an "Arab NATO" against Iran, but also to suppress their subjects. Of course, big oil is never far from the discussion (see: Sec. of State Rex "Rexxon" Tillerson, who will be with Rump). After the fall of Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and with an Iran-friendly Shiite government replacing it, Sunni Arabs, led by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, have been pushing for more aggressive U.S. policies toward Iran, fearing a Shia ascendancy in the region. Notably, they opposed the Iran nuclear agreement almost as fiercely as the Likudniks in Israel.

The overwhelming irony, of course, for right-wing Islamophobes in the U.S. is that Saudi Arabia is the wellspring of the radical fundamentalist Wahabi sect that continues to preach jihad against the U.S. and its allies, and supplied support and 15 of the 19 terrorists that brought down the World Trade Center. You know right-wing Islamophobes here in the U.S. would be on their hind legs howling, howling if President Obama had made Saudi Arabia his first foreign visit, and were accepting the plaudits and a banquet from the Saudi royals.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Nick Anderson, Hearst Papers)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Jeff Danziger, The Rutland (VT) Herald)

Has Trump Been Tampering With A Potential Witness? (UPDATED)

Hmmm. Do we have another potential Article in a bill of impeachment?
Late last month, fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — under investigation by federal prosecutors, with his lawyer seeking immunity for him to testify to Congress — met with a small group of loyalists at a restaurant in the northern Virginia suburbs. 
Saddled with steep legal bills, Flynn wanted to reconnect with old friends and talk about potential future business opportunities. But one overriding question among those present were his views on the president who had fired him from his national security advisor post. 
Flynn left little doubt about the answer.  Not only did he remain loyal to President Trump; he indicated that he and the president were still in communication. “I just got a message from the president to stay strong,” Flynn said after the meal was over, according to two sources who are close to Flynn and are familiar with the conversation, which took place on April 25. [snip]
Democrats and some legal commentators say that Trump’s request, as recorded by Comey in a memo —  “I hope you can let this go”  — could amount to an effort to obstruct a federal investigation that might ultimately implicate the president himself. Any ongoing contacts between Trump and Flynn are likely to be among the matters closely scrutinized by Robert Mueller, the ex-FBI director named late Wednesday as the new Justice Department special counsel in charge of the Russia investigation. 
It's easily within the realm of possibility that Flynn's communications have been monitored (under court order, of course!), since he's the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation. One might expect the FBI already has any such communications in its possession.

As far as the specific reasons for Rump's tampering, we are now finding out that Flynn (and others in the campaign) had multiple contacts with Russians during the campaign.  Was Flynn -- a chain of command guy -- following Rump's orders in colluding with the Russians? What if Flynn got an order late last year from then- President- elect Rump to be in contact with Russian officials, in violation of the Logan Act? What if Rump directed Flynn to do other backdoor dealings with Russia after he became National Security Advisor? How about if Flynn has personal knowledge, through intel from his Russian friends, that the Russians have kompromat information on Rump, and Rump knows that Flynn knows. These or any similar, credible scenarios would make Flynn, as a potential witness, a mortal threat to Rump, who would see it in his best interest to assure Flynn that he will be "protected" (i.e., pardoned) if he keeps quiet.

But we're expected to believe Rump, who's never shown any compassion toward others, suddenly feels bad for "good man" Flynn, who (the regime narrative would have it) lied to others in the regime  (and is still "lying" =cough= Honest Dense Pence =cough=) and caused a major regime derailment in the first three weeks of the Rump shitshow?  Now it comes out he's been in touch, and wants Flynn to "stay strong"? Nothing suspicious about this at all, no siree!

UPDATE:  Adding to the bill of particulars, Rump is sending signals that he would like Flynn back:
But Trump doesn’t just hope that Flynn will beat the rap. Several sources close to Flynn and to the administration tell The Daily Beast that Trump has expressed his hopes that a resolution of the FBI’s investigation in Flynn’s favor might allow Flynn to rejoin the White House in some capacity—a scenario some of Trump’s closest advisers in and outside the West Wing have assured him absolutely should not happen. (our emphasis)
"Keep your mouth shut and you'll have a job waiting for you when this all blows over."

Measuring The Oval Office Drapes Are We, Mr. Pence?

In a sign that the S.S. Rump has hit an iceberg and is taking on water, Vice President Mike "Dense" Pence is setting up his own political action committee (PAC) called the "Great America Committee" well in advance of the 2018 and 2020 elections. It's the first time a sitting Vice President has created a PAC separate from the administration he belongs to.

While Pence's allies claim that the PAC is intended to cover his travel costs and other expenses related to campaigning for Rethuglicans, there's an unmistakeable whiff of presidential aspirations here. Dense as Pence is, he's likely sized up the growing turd tornado enveloping the White (Supremacist) House and decided it's time for him to develop a "plan B" for 2020....or sooner.

Or, maybe Dense should just focus on lawyering-up.

(photo: "Et tu, doofus?")

"Preparing To Deal With A Child": Trump's Trip Abroad

As neo-fascist obstructor of justice Donald "Rump" Trump prepares for his first international trip tomorrow, foreign officials are nervous about how to handle the unstable, ignorant and reckless Rump. He's already embarrassed the hosts of one country on his itinerary, namely Israel, over his bragging disclosure of highly classified intelligence to Russia that their crack intelligence agency Mossad provided to the U.S.  Israeli intelligence officials are "gravely concerned" by Rump's careless breach of confidence, while the Rethuglican-friendly Likud government is trying to downplay the betrayal. And that's not including the White House-stoked kerfuffle over whether the Western Wall is a part of Israel.

He's also meeting with NATO leaders presumably to reassure them after his multiple claims during the 2016 campaign and beyond that NATO was "obsolete" and that members needed to pay up for their defense costs (Rump apparently sees the relationship as a Mafia-style protection racket). Since Rump lacks the intellectual power to grasp many of the nuances to be discussed, officials preparing for the NATO summit of 28 member heads of state are deliberately shortening and "dumbing down" the sessions to address Rump's extremely short attention span. Also, given his fealty toward Moscow, the officials are dispensing with the traditional declaration at the end of the meeting for fear that Rump won't like it if it's too critical of the Kremlin. One observer familiar with the preparations said:
It’s kind of ridiculous how they are preparing to deal with Trump. It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child — someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues, nothing. They’re freaking out.” (emphasis added)
All of which absolutely delights autocratic thug Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin, who has the child-like leader of his main adversary under control, even if we don't.

"Calm And Measured" Trump Reacts To Special Counsel

The White (Supremacist) House narrative is set last night:
One senior White House official who was present when Trump was informed of the Justice Department's decision to appoint as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, a former prosecutor who served as the FBI director from 2001 to 2013, described Trump as “unbelievably calm and measured.”  (our emphasis)
Now here's Mr. "Calm and Measured" a few hours later, starting at 7:52 this morning, stepping on the narrative (and his dick):

He can't help himself, and apparently no one else can, either.

Right-Wing Propagandist Roger Ailes Dies

Right-wing propagandist and force behind GOP TV Fux News Roger Ailes, 77,  died this morning, according to a statement put out by his wife. Ailes was forced to resign last July as multiple women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment, including former anchor Gretchen Carlson who sued Ailes. By promoting the careers of the likes of Sean "Heil" Hannity and Bill "O'Lielly" O'Reilly, he did more than anyone else to create the white grievance, alternative universe of the right that has undermined civility in the media and politics in the last 30 years.

Ailes' career in right-wing politics started with disgraced former President Richard Nixon as a communications aide. In a foreshadowing to his development of a network to pump out right-wing opinion and "fake news," Ailes wrote in a 1970 memo, "People are lazy. With television you just sit -- watch -- listen. The thinking is done for you." That should be Fux's motto, as well as his epitaph.

BONUS: Driftglass keeps the farewell short and sweet.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Special Counsel Named To Investigate Trump- Russia Connection

This is a huge, long- awaited development for those of us interested in getting an impartial (i.e., non- Congressional) investigation into the Trump- Russia nexus going:
The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday evening former FBI director Robert Mueller will serve as a special counsel to oversee the FBI’s investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. 
The investigation will also examine “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” according to the order creating the position. 
It’s an official concession from the Justice Department that the Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election was an extraordinary circumstance, and that bringing in an outsider to oversee the investigation is in the public interest. Rod Rosenstein, the second-in-command at the Justice Department, made the decision. That’s because he oversees the Russia investigation, due to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusing himself from it. 
It’s not currently clear if the White House received notice the announcement was coming. 
Mueller will have the power to bring in staff from outside the Justice Department to help with the investigation, and will have all the authority of a U.S. Attorney. He will also be able to request a budget for the investigation, which Rosenstein will ultimately approve. 
“In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” he said in a statement. “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted.” 
“What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”
This is expected to focus and greatly accelerate the investigatory process, given the fact that Mueller is a well- regarded, professional with standing in the FBI and intelligence community.  We have no doubt they're doing cartwheels over at the FBI building right now.

Rosenstein did the right thing, clearly under pressure because of the revelations of the past few days of unfit Donald "Rump" Trump's bizarre leaking of highly sensitive intel to Russian officials, and most importantly, the leak of former Director James Comey's memo indicating Rump's interest in Comey dropping the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's Russian connections.

Something worth watching is how this impacts and interfaces with the on- going "inquiries" by various Congressional committees, which have been hamstrung by Republican efforts to slow-walk progress or provide distractions to the main focus.

But, at the risk of being overly optimistic, we're still going to be sleeping a little better tonight.

Dress-Up Sheriff Gets DHS Position (UPDATED)

Far-right lunatic Milwaukee Co. Sheriff David "Uncle Ruckus" Clarke has been offered the position of Assistant Secretary in the Department of Homeland Security overseeing liaisons with State and local law enforcement. Sadly, the position does not require Senate confirmation, where it would be pointed out that Uncle Ruckus is one deranged customer. His Milwaukee County jail resembles a third-world hellhole where 4 prisoners died in custody last year, one of dehydration. He likes to dress up in cowboy attire and ride around Milwaukee County on horseback to project a "tough guy" image. His abysmal poll numbers earlier this year suggest that he was heading for the unemployment line after the 2018 elections.

Milwaukee's gain is DHS' loss. Uncle Ruckus will fit right in with the unhinged crowd making up the Trump administration.

UPDATE: Is Uncle Ruckus a fascist? Jon Chait makes the case.

UPDATE II: DHS isn't saying whether he's been appointed or not.

(photo: Horse's ass on horse's ass)

Mid-Week Dreams Song

Brooklyn-based indie band The National has been together since 1999, and garnered a Grammy nomination in 2014 for Best Alternative Album. They have a new album coming out in September 2017 entitled "Sleep Well Beast," and a few days ago, they released the first track off of that album, "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness." Enjoy.

Quote Of The Day -- Our Disgrace

Now I want to take this opportunity to give you some advice. Over the course of your life you will find that things are not fair... You will find that things happen to you that you do not deserve and that are not always warranted but you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight... No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.” -- whining Giant Toddler Donald "Rump" Trump in a commencement speech (!) at the Coast Guard Academy. Of course, when you're a malignant narcissist, this is a perfectly normal occasion to throw a tantrum and share your deranged sense of victimhood with the world.

Reactions from left, right and center were on point (h/t Raw Story):

(Image: credit Wonkette)