Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Call: Vote "No" On The Motion To Proceed

If you are reading this and live in West Virginia, Ohio, Nevada, Kentucky, Utah or Alaska, please call these Republican Senators immediately and tell them to vote No on today's Motion to Proceed to a debate on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (h/t Daily Kos):

Senator Dean Heller (NV)

Heller DC: 202-224-6244

Heller Las Vegas: 702-388-6605

Heller Reno: 775-686-5770

Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (West Virginia)

Capito DC: 202-224-6472

Capito Charleston: 304-347-5372

Capito Martinsburg: 304-262-9285

Capito Morgantown: 304-292-2310

Capito Beckely: 304-347-5372

Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio)

Portman DC: 202-224-3353

Portman Columbus:  614-469-6774

Portman Cincinnati: 513-684-3265

Portman Cleveland: 216-522-7095

Portman Toledo: 419-259-3895

Sen. Mike Lee (Utah)

Lee D.C.: 202-224-5444

Lee Salt Lake City: 801-524-5933

Lee St. George: 435-628-5514

Lee Ogden: 801-392-9633

Sen. Rand Paul (Kentucky)

Paul D.C.: 202-224-4343

Paul Bowling Green: 270-782-8303

Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)

Murkowski DC: (202)-224-6665

Murkowski Anchorage: (907) 271-3735

Murkowski Fairbanks: (907) 456-0233

Murkowski Juneau: (907) 586-7277

Murkowski Mat-Su Valley: (907) 376-7665

Murkowski Kenai:  (907) 262-4220

Murkowsi Ketchikan: (907) 225-6880

Jam their phone lines now!

Colbert Takes On The Mooch

We stopped laughing just long enough to post this clip from Steven Colbert's send- up of new White (Supremacist) House Communications Director and official ass- kisser to the "president," Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci:

Monday, July 24, 2017

Trump's Assault On Science In The Public Interest

The Union of Concerned Scientists has published an important  report on the first six months of the malignant administration of con man and pathological liar Donald "Rump" Trump, showing how destructive he and his appointees have been to the role of science in preserving our environment for us and future generations. The report, "Sidelining Science From Day One," presents a well-documented case of the historic anti-science rampage by the Trumpists (with the assistance of coin-operated Rethuglicans in Congress):
"Since President Trump took office in January 2017, his administration (aided and abetted by Congress) has waged a war on science—undermining the role of science in public policy, giving industry undue influence on decisionmaking processes, creating a hostile environment for federal scientists, and reducing public access to scientific information."
The report details the actions that have been used by the Trumpists to turn our national resources and scientific endeavors over to the predators for profit, including:
  • Sidelining independent science advice;
  • Appointing conflicted individuals to scientific leadership positions;
  • Revoking science-based safeguards;
  • Misrepresenting climate science and rolling back climate change safeguards;
  • Weakening science-based pollution standards without scientific justification.;
  • Altering scientific content on federal websites., and
  • Restricting communication of scientists
By putting foxes to guard the hen houses of science, climate policy and environmental protection, Rump is looking to protect the industries that the public needs to be protected from, industries that have contributed handsomely to his campaign and to those of other Rethuglican nihilists. The stakes are high for the nation to be served by science in the public interest:
"In coming decades, the United States will face some of the most difficult challenges in its history. Science and technology will play a crucial role in helping us meet these challenges. The public deserves independent, impartial scientific information, even—or perhaps especially—when that information indicates the need for politically unpopular or inconvenient action."
You can support the work of the Union of Concerned Scientists here, and, of course, Resist.

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon: Colluding To Serve Man*

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

* For those of you who aren't Twilight Zone fans.

Portrait Of A Villain: Jason Chaffetz Update

There. Are. No. Words.
Jason Chaffetz, who recently stepped down from the House of Representatives and into a Fox News gig, wondered why congressional investigators are focusing on Jared Kushner instead of Chelsea Clinton. [snip]

“Republicans need to get a backbone,” Chaffetz said. “Every time the Democrats say they need to call up Jared Kushner or Don Jr. — call up Chelsea Clinton, call up the Clintons.” 
The president tweeted over the weekend that Republicans had not done enough to protect him from the Russia investigation, and suggested Hillary Clinton should instead be the target — which Chaffetz endorsed.
Good to see un- indicted co- conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump is getting his tweet material from the likes of this shitheel!

On second thought, there are words:  sleaze, liar, traitor, hypocrite, nihilist, flunky, weasel. That's just for starters.

See also.

On The Voter Suppression Commission

Unfit sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity Voter Suppression Commission had its first meeting on July 19, and the evil intent was apparent right from the get- go.  

E.J. Dionne, Jr., writes about the transparent nonsense at the heart of this sham effort:
Lest anyone believe Vice President Pence’s claim that “this commission has no preconceived notions or preordained results,” Trump was on hand last week to state clearly what its agenda is. [snip] 
Trump would not let the commissioners forget their reason for being there, his belief that those phantom votes really exist, although he put his own words into the mouths of unnamed “people,” who — surprise! — came to the same conclusions he did. 
“Throughout the campaign and even after it,” Trump said, “people would come up to me and express their concerns about voter inconsistencies and irregularities, which they saw. In some cases, having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states.(our emphasis)
The Washington Post editorial board noted that the Commission's vice chair, vote suppressor par excellence Kris "KKK" Kobach, was echoing Rump's unhinged tune to justify the Commission's efforts to disenfranchise Democratic voters nationwide:
In an appearance on MSNBC, Mr. Kobach, a Republican titan of voter suppression who has been repeatedly sued for his relentless efforts to cull voters from the rolls of his home state, was asked if he believed that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, as the official tally indicates. “You know,” said Mr. Kobach, “we may never know the answer to that question.” 
In fact, not a speck of evidence exists to cast doubt on the official tally of the popular vote, nor, for that matter, on the electoral vote. Still, the offhand remark was in keeping with Mr. Kobach’s years-long effort, along with that of other Republicans, to erode public confidence in American elections to provide a pretext for tough state laws whose real goal is to obstruct voting by minorities and young people, who tend to support Democrats.
Formed by Mr. Trump after he falsely asserted that 3 to 5 million votes were cast illegally in the 2016 election, the commission includes members, in addition to Mr. Kobach, known for their histories of voter obstruction. One, former Ohio secretary of state J. Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican, is notorious for trying to reject registration forms submitted on paper that was too thin, and for trying to impede voter registration drives. Another, Hans Von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department official, led a failed attempt to purge voter rolls in Missouri. (our emphasis)
The New York Times editorial board also weighs in on the crackpots, kooks and party- before- country Republicans manning the Commission:
The truth can’t be repeated often enough: The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which held its first meeting last week, is a sham and a scam. 
It was born out of a marriage of convenience between conservative anti-voter-fraud crusaders, who refuse to accept actual data, and a president who refuses to accept that he lost the popular vote fair and square. 
It is run by some of the nation’s most determined vote suppressors, the kind who try to throw out voter registrations for being printed on insufficiently thick paper or who release reports on noncitizen voting that are titled “Alien Invasion” and illustrated with images of U.F.O.s. 
Its purpose is not to restore integrity to elections but to undermine the public’s confidence enough to push through policies and practices that make registration and voting harder, if not impossible, for certain groups of people who tend to vote Democratic. (our emphasis)
The "marriage of convenience" is more precisely between a deranged, narcissistic dolt and ultra right- wing activists who know perfectly well what the "facts" and "data" are; that's why they're doing what they're doing!  Simply put, they're engaging in a systemic effort to achieve a permanent Republican oligarchy regardless of demographic changes that would otherwise threaten their vision of an ultra- right white people's republic.

Seven lawsuits have already been filed in Federal courts (and more in State courts) against this anti- American Commission. That's our first line of defense for now, but any success the vote suppressors have in limiting the franchise will only lead to more suppression. Getting these dangerous cranks out of office before they can permanently change our country is the only true defense we have against this relentless cancer.

(Photo: Kobach, Trump, Pence at their Voter Suppression Commission meeting)

Twit-In-Chief Wants Distractions and Protection

Unhinged sociopath and would-be dictator Donald "Rump" Trump continues to let his guilt show in his barrage of tweets, and he's blaming his Attorney General and evil elf Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III for not "investigating" Hillary Clinton to distract from his corruption:
Of course, Rethuglicans in Congress spent almost 2 years "investigating" her e-mails and Benghazi BENGHAZI !! in an attempt to damage her, and came up with bupkis. Asking why his own Attorney General (a "beleaguered" one at that) isn't conducting a show trial of Clinton is the clearest signal that Beauregard's days are numbered, as well as the lawlessness of the orange shitgibbon. He and his legal team know he's in ever-deepening legal trouble, some of which is because he can't keep his paranoid and enraged fingers off of Twitter. He also believes that his cowardly cohort of Rethugs in Congress is there to protect his royal ass, rather than be a check on his corruption:
The cynical party-before-country Rethugs in Congress may well continue to "protect" him, but as the prosecutorial evidence mounts that his "special relationship" with the Kremlin is based on criminality, the protection he seeks may be too little too late.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Across The Universe, Cont. - Fuzzy Galaxy

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ ESA, July 17, 2014:  Tucked away in the small northern constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs) is the galaxy NGC 4242, shown here as seen by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The galaxy lies some 30 million light-years from us. At this distance from Earth, actually not all that far on a cosmic scale, NGC 4242 is visible to anyone armed with even a basic telescope (as British astronomer William Herschel found when he discovered the galaxy in 1788).

This image shows the galaxy’s bright centre and the surrounding dimmer and more diffuse “fuzz”. Despite appearing to be relatively bright in this image, studies have found that NGC 4242 is actually relatively dim (it has a moderate-to-low surface brightness and low luminosity) and also supports a low rate of star formation. The galaxy also seems to have a weak bar of stars cutting through its asymmetric centre, and a very faint and poorly-defined spiral structure throughout its disc. But if NGC 4242 is not all that remarkable, as with much of the Universe, it is still a beautiful and ethereal sight.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Trump Effect? Macron Popularity Dives

French President Emmanuel Macron, hyper handshaker and host of big parades for neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump, has an approval rating problem. His approval numbers have dropped 10% in one month, the largest drop in 22 years in a similar timeframe. While the linked article indicates fights over military spending and tax issues were the factor, how hard is it to believe that Macron's oddly submissive, overly solicitous posture toward Rump offended many people in France, where Rump was unpopular to begin with?

Today's Cartoon Twofer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Nick Anderson, via gocomics.com)

Sen. Franken Dismantles Trump's Efforts To Discredit Special Counsel's Team

Why we love Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), part infinity. Watch how he dismantles the emerging Trumpian attack on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's hiring of people who contributed to Democrats (h/t Crooks & Liars):

Sunday Reflection

"Nothing is more wretched than the mind of a man conscious of guilt." Roman playwright Plautus (c. 254 - 184 BC).

At the core of every malignant narcissist like Donald "Rump" Trump is denial, which makes them incapable of feeling guilt; rather they feel themselves the good "victim," and transfer guilt onto others. Rump is a pure textbook case of this. However, there are obvious "tells" that, while Rump may not be conscious of or feel guilt in a psychological sense, he instinctively knows there are things that need to be hidden, and he's reacting to that impulse (eg., his refusal to release his tax returns, his constant deflections and distractions, his efforts to co- opt law enforcement, his fawning attitude towards Putin, his dangling of pardons in front of potential witnesses against him - the latter being as close to a definition of obstruction of justice as you can get). That conflict is what's causing the anxiety that's showing itself in his unhinged tweets and bizarre behavior. Wretched indeed.

Love That "Transparency" (UPDATED)

From the White (Supremacist) House's new "communications" capo director, some world-class, Orwellian doublespeak:
Slick opportunist and future hair product endorser Anthony "So Mooch Love" Scaramucci is fresh off last Friday's sycophantic love nuzzle with crime boss and narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump, looking like someone from a casting call for "The Sopranos," to tell us he's being "transparent" when deleting his old tweets which criticized Rump, praised Hillary, and diverged from Rump cult beliefs. Sad!

UPDATE: The Mooch has been making the rounds of the Sunday shows, tripping over himself and the Trumpian party line of the moment --

See also here and here for more of the Mooch's ill- fated forays into the big time today. Luckily, Rump is prone to pick incompetents (loyal, though!) to defend him. Water seeking its own level.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Russia Sanctions Deal Reached in Congress

The Senate and House have reached a deal on the legislative package that will impose tighter sanctions on Russia, and eliminate Putin puppet and con man Donald "Rump" Trump's power to alter the sanctions without Congressional hearings and approval. The House is expected to vote on the bill Tuesday. The Senate passed a similar version of the legislation by a vote of 98-2 on June 29. The legislation also includes sanctions on Iran and North Korea. The bill also makes it clear that the Russian properties in Maryland and New York that were being used for espionage will not be returned, as Moscow (and Rump) wanted.

The limitations posed on Rump are a sign of bipartisan mistrust of his motivations and plans toward Russia, which Rump has shown an almost treasonous regard for in his statements and actions. Indeed, Rump was lobbying the House to weaken the bill to give him "flexibility" on the sanctions. Moscow's assistance to Rump in the last election is being probed by Congressional committees and more significantly by Special Counsel Mueller with the assistance of the FBI, along with potential money laundering by Russian government oligarchs using Rump's companies and properties.

Today's Cartoon Twofer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Those Repeated Omissions By Mr. Ivanka Trump

Below the signature block on Federal disclosure forms, whether they be for security clearances or for financial conflicts of interest, there's always a citation from the criminal code that, by signing, you affirm that the statements are accurate under penalty of law. We know, we've signed them before.

(Un) Presidential son-in-law and up and coming hustler Jared "Mr. Ivanka Trump" Kushner has an unfortunate tendency to "forget" to include pertinent information on such forms, notably on his SF-86 form for a security clearance which he's had to "revise" three times to disclose an increasing number of contacts with foreign entities. Two of the omitted disclosures loom over Russiagate: his meeting in December 2016 with a sanctioned Russian banker close to the Kremlin, and his meeting in June 2016 with Rump Jr. and a slew of Russians to discuss dirt on Hillary Clinton offered by the Russian government.

It was reported yesterday evening that Kushner failed to disclose 77 assets on his financial conflict of interest filing, assets ranging from municipal bonds to art work, omissions that one former ethics official called "a lot". Together, Kushner and Ivanka "Complicit" Trump claim to have assets in the range of from $206 million to $760 million. Tellingly, in his initial disclosure, Kushner didn't reveal business relationships with Goldman Sachs and loans totaling $1 billion from 20 lenders to properties and companies he partially owned. Those "lenders" might prove to be an interesting subject for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's review.

The above-the-law sense of entitlement by the Trumpanov prince and princess is evident in their cavalier regard for disclosing contacts and financial information. It also reveals a Trumpian habit of covering up facts that could prove embarrassing, or more likely, lead to criminal charges.

Orange Shitgibbon Set Me Up!

The Washington Post reported yesterday that, contrary to sworn statements from evil elf Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, the conversations Sessions had during the campaign with Russian spy master and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak weren't innocent chit chats as Sessions has claimed:
Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials. 
Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.
The leak comes just days after orange shitgibbon Donald "Rump" Trump's mind- boggling interview with the New York Times in which, among other things, he said he wouldn't have named Sessions Attorney General if he knew he's recuse himself on the Russia investigation. Rump also raised the issue of terminating Special Counsel Mueller's investigation if it went into Rump crime family business (it has!). To remove Mueller, Rump would have to find someone in the Justice Department willing to do what Sessions can no longer do (Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein has claimed he would only remove Mueller "for cause," an extremely hard case to make against a shrewd and experienced investigator like Mueller).

So, in the light of morning, these "coincidences" have led many to speculate that the Rump regime leaked the story about Sessions/ Kislyak to either force his resignation or provide grounds for firing him, in order to replace him with a loyal lackey that will do Rump's bidding. Rump was even up early this morning to establish his cover story:

But, even Republicans are thinking "the calls are coming from inside the house":

Sessions didn't get the hint from Rump from the New York Times interview. This seems like the next ratcheting to pressure him to quit. Rump's getting increasingly desperate, and therefore more dangerous.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Tweet Of The Day

This is some fine trolling, Sen. Schumer:

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Summer Of Love Music

Fifty years ago this summer, tens of thousands of mostly young people began to flock to San Francisco to participate in a cultural phenomenon that came to be known as the "Summer of Love." Dubbed "hippies" or "flower children," these people embraced a "counter culture" that largely embraced Timothy Leary's mantra to "turn on, tune in, and drop out." One of the early, defining events of the Summer of Love was June 1967's Monterey Pop Festival, which John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas helped to organize. Major acts ranged from Otis Redding to Jefferson Airplane to Janis Joplin to Jimi Hendrix to the Grateful Dead. The festival was immortalized in one of the greatest documentaries of its generation, "Monterey Pop," by filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker;  if you've never seen it, you're missing a gem that captures the period and the music brilliantly.

Today, we're featuring three songs that were performed at the Monterey Pop Festival (a set list can be found here).  "San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)" was written by Phillips and sung by Scott McKenzie.  It was the next- to- last song performed at the festival. "Living in the U.S.A." was one of only two songs performed by the Steve Miller Band, and "Pictures of Lily" (snicker) was performed by The Who, one of only three British acts that appeared at Monterey.  We'd like to say "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now," but that's not true! Hope you enjoy.

Trump Cultist Hannity Denied Award

According to reports, far-right propagandist and Trump's passionate ass kisser Sean "Heil" Hannity (who would fawn over Charles Manson if he announced he was a Rethuglican) was denied the William F. Buckley Award for Media Excellence after Buckley's son expressed his strong objections, along with those of paleocon rag National Review, which was founded by Buckley Sr.  Practiced liar that he is, Heil's claiming that he declined the award.

Leaving aside the irony of a "media excellence" award given by the right wing so-called Media Research Center, it's a sign of the deep division among right wingers over whether or not to support neo-fascist Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump. Heil's Fux Channel program and his radio show are blindly relentless megaphones for praise of Rump, even as his links to Moscow are increasingly exposed. He's even cultivated nihilist provocateur Julian Assange, now that Assange has moved from publishing U.S. secrets and exposing our agents to danger, to supporting Rump's Moscow-backed presidency. Hannity's disgusting peddling of conspiracy theories has prompted widespread outrage.

The moral is that there are flea-infested dogs that even some on the far right won't lie down with.

(photo: Pucker up, Heil, here comes your Rump!)

Spicer Resigns As Press Secretary (UPDATED)

Well, we're sure the past 6 months has seemed like 6 years to Spicey, who finally reached his limit today:
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned on Friday morning, telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of the New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. 
Mr. Trump offered Mr. Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. The president requested that Mr. Spicer stay on, but Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to a person with direct knowledge of the exchange.
A "major mistake," unlike anything else that's happened in the past 6 months in the dysfunctional White (Supremacist) House!

Melissa McCarthy will miss you.  Everyone else, not so much.

Twitter reacts (more here):

UPDATE: The new communications director, slick Anthony "Mooch" Scaramucci, now is a major Rump ass kisser, but he wasn't always a fan of the shitgibbon.  Sad!

A Visit To Trump's "Pee-Pee Hotel"

Sometimes, you just have to laugh at the banality of it all.  Steven Colbert was in Moscow to track down Trump's "pee-pee tape" and checks out the suite where it all happened (allegedly!) (but really!):

A Textbook Example Of Consciousness Of Guilt

This morning, both the New York Times and Washington Post are reporting that neo- fascist Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump has been asking about his pardoning powers, and undercutting Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation.  Here's a snippet from the Post's accounting:
Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort. 
Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves. 
Trump’s legal team declined to comment on the issue. But one adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.
This comes shortly after Rump's jaw- dropping interview with the New York Times in which, among other things, he said Mueller would be crossing a "red line" should he investigate the Rump crime family's business dealings (a line that's already been crossed).

Would a person with nothing to hide, with no legal exposure be asking about the pardoning powers of his office? Would that person be concerned about limiting an investigation into possible wrongdoing if they had done nothing wrong? You already know the answers. To a prosecutor, Rump's actions -- both in looking at pardoning powers at this stage, and his palpable fear of having Mueller dig into his financial dealings with Russia -- are clear examples of "consciousness of guilt," meaning Rump's actions are proof he knows he, his family and associates are guilty of a crime.

To many of us, this is an unsurprising development in the Trump- Russia scandal, given what the world already knows about Rump and his decades- long relationship with Russians, their financial bail-outs, and Rump's lack of any ethical or moral compass.  Unlike his patrons, Rump's not a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. He's out front as an ignorant, blundering, narcissistic sociopath who's never recognized the rule of law. Expect the worst.

BONUS: Oops --

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Exxon Mobil Fined For Russian Sanctions Breach

When Putin puppet and demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump was looking for a Secretary of State, he wanted someone with the same love for Mother Russia and their money as he has. Thus, he turned to former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex "Rexxon" Tillerson, who not only had made big oil deals with Moscow, but who also was awarded Russia's Order of Friendship by Russian thug and kleptocrat Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin. 

When the sanctions were imposed on Moscow in 2014 in reaction to their invasion of Crimea and their military intrusion into eastern Ukraine, Rexxon was crestfallen, as the sanctions stood in the way of Exxon making enormous profits from Russia's Arctic oil exploration. Today, the Treasury Department imposed a largely symbolic $2 million fine on Exxon Mobil for violating the sanctions while Rexxon was its CEO by signing a confidential deal with a Russian oil executive whose assets were blocked by the sanctions. In a statement, the Treasury Department said, “Exxon Mobil demonstrated reckless disregard for U.S. sanctions requirements." Shamelessly, Exxon Mobil continues to push their corporate interests over U.S. interests, having sought a waiver just last April from the sanctions to drill in the Black Sea in partnership with Russia's state-conrolled oil company Rosneft, a request which was denied by Treasury. Rexxon is still trying to sell Congress on "flexibility" with regard to sanctions on Russia, a position that should raise questions about whether he represents Exxon Mobil or Moscow, or both,

It's no wonder that the only U.S. person acceptable to the Kremlin besides Rump for the private bilateral meeting with Putin during the G-20 summit was Rexxon himself. Rump chose his Secretary of State wisely, at least as far as Moscow was concerned.

Don't Assume TrumpCare Is Dead

It's dark heart is still beating:
The Senate is debating at least four pieces of legislation. Concessions to the right will make it harder to gain votes in the center, while concessions to the center will make it harder to gain votes on the right. While action continues, it’s nothing more than a death rattle. Nobody quite wants to admit that the repeal drive is dead, and every Republican would sort of prefer to make some other Republican take responsibility for it, but fundamentally the bill is dead. 
Don’t believe it. [snip] 
The real fate of American health care lies with five Republicans — Dean Heller (R-NV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rob Portman (R-OH), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — whose behavior since McConnell rolled out BCRA 2.0 has been strange. 
These five all clearly and unambiguously stated that the Medicaid cuts in BCRA 1.0 were too severe. But then McConnell went back to the drawing board and came up with a new piece of legislation that made no changes whatsoever to the Medicaid provision. At that point, you would expect everyone who called the Medicaid provision a deal killer to say no to the new bill. And that is, in fact, what Collins did. But the other five all laid low. 
Once the bill was dead due to objections from the right, the moderates came out of the woodwork and announced their opposition. But the pattern we saw in the House was that once the Freedom Caucus was fully on board with the leadership’s plans, moderates lacked the backbone to actually kill the bill. 
The Senate moderates have the power, right now, to band together and kill the bill by fundamentally rejecting the idea of massive insurance coverage losses. They could cross the aisle and work with Democrats on fixes to stabilize the exchanges. But they keep rather pointedly not doing that.
Maybe it's because they're not "moderates." It's hard not to smell a rat -- 5 rats, in fact. Remember how TrumpCare 1.0 was dead in the House... until it revived and passed?

The Senate TrumpCare bill has been scored by the Congressional Budget Office; it will result in 15 million people losing their health insurance in the first year, and 22 million by 2026. And still, these so- called "moderate" Senate Republicans want to cower in the shadows, hoping they won't be called upon to take a courageous, moral stand.

See those names and states bolded above? If any of them represent you, whether or not you've contacted their office in the past, please contact them and let them know there's no amount of lipstick that will make this pig of a bill look good. Once again, here's your TrumpCare tool kit.

Trump's Russophilia Concerns His Nat'l. Security Team

The news that Putin puppet and Russian money-launderer Donald "Rump" Trump has scrapped the CIA's support for anti-Assad forces in Syria is just the latest example of his eagerness to do things in Moscow's interest. Through his decision, Rump has given his friend, Russian thug and autocrat Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin a free hand in Syria on behalf of dictator and war criminal Bashar al-Assad. He's also strengthened the hand of Iran, which is a major supporter of Assad in the region.

We don't know what Rump discussed with Putin in his three hours of talks in Hamburg during the G-20 meetings, including a one hour head-to-head with no one else present but Putin's interpreter. He laughingly claimed yesterday that they discussed adoption of Russian children by Americans, something that was halted by Russia after the Magnitsky Act was passed in 2012, which imposed sanctions on many of Putin's closest Kremlin allies. So, if they discussed "adoptions" they discussed lifting those sanctions, since the two go hand-in-hand in Putin's mind. There's the likelihood that they also discussed the return of two properties used for Russian espionage, one on Maryland's eastern shore and the other in New York, that were closed by President Obama following Moscow's meddling in the elections. Rump has shown a willingness to return the properties, which would give Moscow the green light to continue its cyber attacks on the U.S. (Who knows - he may have even asked Putin to be his "cleaner" on any pesky past financial transactions.)

There's purportedly some angst among Rump's national security and foreign policy teams about his "Russia First" attitude when dealing with Putin. He met either alone or with one advisor with the Kremlin thug longer than any other leader while in Hamburg, notably seeming to diminish the North Korean crisis that will have to involve the leaders of China, Japan, and South Korea. Rump having one-on-one meetings with former KGB colonel Putin was something Rump's advisors wanted to avoid at all costs in Hamburg, lest he give away the store (or intelligence) to curry favor with his handler. With the Syrian decision and the desire to capitulate on the Russian compounds, it looks like he's well on his way to doing just that for now.

Today's Cartoon - Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You?

(click on image to enlarge)

(Attribution: Ruben Bolling, via Daily Kos)

Reactions To Trump's Damning New York Times Interview

Reactions to malignant cancer on democracy Donald "Rump" Trump's interview yesterday with the New York Times:

More here.

Cancers (UPDATED)

-- Sen. John McCain has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of malignant brain cancer. We've had many things to say about him over the years, but in this particular fight, we wish him well.

-- Another malignant cancer, Donald "Rump" Trump, sat down with New York Times reporters and had a lot of things to say (transcript here):
President Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”  [Ed.: note the third person "the president."]
In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said. [Ed.: he would have picked someone who would have gladly obstructed the investigation at his request.]
In a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times, the president also accused James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he fired in May, of trying to leverage a dossier of compromising material to keep his job. Mr. Trump criticized both the acting F.B.I. director who has been filling in since Mr. Comey’s dismissal and the deputy attorney general who recommended it. And he took on Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel now leading the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election. 
Mr. Trump said Mr. Mueller was running an office rife with conflicts of interest and warned investigators against delving into matters too far afield from Russia. Mr. Trump never said he would order the Justice Department to fire Mr. Mueller, nor would he outline circumstances under which he might do so. But he left open the possibility as he expressed deep grievance over an investigation that has taken a political toll in the six months since he took office. 
Asked if Mr. Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Mr. Trump said, “I would say yes.” He would not say what he would do about it. “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.” *  [Ed.: sounds like more obstruction of justice.]  (our emphasis)
If one needed a purer demonstration of a malignant, sociopathic narcissist in action, look no further than this interview (which we would bet was taken against the advice of his legal team).

His transactions with others (Sessions in this case) are judged purely on what's good for him, Rump, and provides yet another example of his willingness to throw even his closest aides under the bus if they don't demonstrate "loyalty." His corrupt, criminal mind imagines James Comey was actually trying to get leverage over him with the "pee tape dossier" (projection, much?). Finally, he issues a not- so- veiled threat to Robert Mueller not to look into the Rump family finances (too late!), which is of course the only place to look to get a clear picture of the extent to which Putin has his claws into him -- not, as he disingenuously claims in the interview, because he has no investments in Russia, but because they hold financial leverage over him.

Something about this interview suggests that maybe he's aware of another big shoe about to drop and is getting his distracting story lines out. We'll soon find out. (UPDATE: Maybe this is the shoe they knew was going to drop.)

BONUS: Scott Lemieux goes through the interview and finds a deeply ignorant, self- absorbed, excessively odd Man Baby -- but then, we already knew that.  Good read.

* Or as the folks at Wonkette describe it, "Well, Trump didn’t produce a map with a red “X” and say, 'Mueller better not dig here, because that is definitely NOT where the bodies are buried.'” 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Nick Anderson, via gocomics.com)

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

Sen. Franken Tells Us Why He's A Democrat

What a great, moving way to frame how your convictions were formed (h/t Daily Kos).

Fraudster Kicks Off Fraudulent Commission

Popular vote loser and malignant narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump kicked off the first meeting of his voter suppression commission today (more on that at the end of this post). We've selected some reads on the topic (these are just snippets; as always, please read the entire pieces).

Washington Post editorial today:
THE PRESIDENTIAL Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, set to hold its inaugural meeting Wednesday, is already better known as the voter fraud commission, owing not only to its explicit mission but also to the fact that so many of its members, including its chairman, Vice President Pence, and vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, are on record as subscribing to or defending President Trump’s unfounded view that millions of fraudulent votes were cast in last fall’s elections. In fact, the real fraud is the commission itself. 
Mr. Kobach, a Republican running for governor of Kansas, professes indignation and phony puzzlement over the jaundiced eye that Democrats, voting rights experts and some Republicans have aimed at the panel. 
Yet how could it be otherwise, given that Mr. Kobach himself has for years made a political cottage industry of his (repeatedly debunked) claims of fraud in Kansas and national elections? If ever a federal commission embarked on a “study” with a predetermined outcome, this is it.
Charles Pierce traces its origins at least back to the Florida recount in 2000 that the Republican- majority Supreme Court decided to stop before Al Gore could be named the winner:
That mockery of a presidential commission sat for the first time Wednesday morning, but it was years in the making. John Paul Stevens saw it coming. In 2000, the Supreme Court blessed official ratfcking with a constitutional imprimatur. Famously, it held that its decision in that case was "limited to the circumstances" of the 2000 election and, therefore, had no precedential value. That may be true in the nation's courts, but it has proven to be a deadly precedent in our politics. It is going to take a generation, at least, to reverse.
Vanita Gupta, former head of the Civil Rights division in the Justice Department, goes beyond the commission's efforts to disenfranchise voters:
The Trump administration’s election-integrity commission will have its first meeting on Wednesday to map out how the president will strip the right to vote from millions of Americans. It hasn’t gotten off to the strongest start: Its astonishing request last month that each state hand over voters’ personal data was met with bipartisan condemnation. Yet it is joined in its efforts to disenfranchise citizens by the immensely more powerful Justice Department. 
Lost amid the uproar over the commission’s request was a letter sent at the same time by the Justice Department’s civil rights division. It forced 44 states to provide extensive information on how they keep their voter rolls up-to-date. It cited the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, known as the Motor-Voter law, which mandates that states help voters register through motor vehicle departments. 
The letter doesn’t ask whether states are complying with the parts of the law that expand opportunities to register. Instead it focuses on the sections related to maintaining the lists. That’s a prelude to voter purging. 
As if to accentuate what propelled this effort now, we hear from the deranged man himself:
While introducing the first public meeting in his “voter fraud” commission on Wednesday, the president said that it was likely that the 44 states [Ed.: a large chunk Republican -run]were reluctant to hand over all requested information on voters — including the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers — because they were trying to conceal wrongdoing. 
“If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they’re worried about?” the president asked rhetorically. “What are they worried about? There’s something, there always is.” 
Several things live rent free in Rump's small but fevered brain. One of them is his being a loser to Hillary Clinton in the popular vote column. It burns like an intense flame inside him, side by side with the intense flame of Obama envy.  As these two vengeful obsessions play out, untold damage is being done to peoples' confidence in their voting franchise and to the social fabric of our society. And there is no shortage of charlatans like Kris Kobach and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to enable him in inflicting that damage.

TrumpCare Doesn't Cover Whiplash

The orange shitgibbon on Monday:

The same shitgibbon today:

So are the marching orders repeal now and replace later (the clean slate), or back to repeal and replace now (with their "good" bill)? We should wait until tomorrow when his position will change again. We imagine the Rethug Senators at today's White (Supremacist) House luncheon are wondering if he's mentally stable (answer: he's not).

BONUS: It's good to recall this tweet from the past:

Mid-Week Hyperdrive Song

Grammy-nominated jazz ensemble Jeff Lorber Fusion released a new album earlier this year, "Prototype." A track from that album is climbing the jazz music charts: "Hyperdrive." Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Trump Had Undisclosed Private Meeting With Putin At G-20

Nothing to see here, move along:
After his much-publicized, two-and a quarter-hour meeting early this month with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Germany, President Trump met informally with the Russian leader for an additional hour later the same day. 
The second meeting, unreported at the time, took place at a dinner for G-20 leaders, a senior administration official said. Halfway through the meal, Trump left his own seat to occupy a chair next to Putin. Trump was alone, and Putin was attended only by his official interpreter. (our emphasis)
 Cutting a deal to Make America Great Again, no doubt.


Trump Hoisted With His Own Petard (Again)


"I think we're probably in that position where we'll let Obamacare fail...We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you, the Republicans are not going to own it." 
Not that it was ever in doubt -- but he never was and never will be a leader.

BONUS:  Charles Pierce --
Everyone is pretending that the president* continues to be credible as a national leader because they're too afraid not to point out that he's one rubber nose short of being a rodeo clown. The country is rudderless, lurching from one self-inflicted crisis to another, and it has become plain that handing the entire governing apparatus over to the Republican party as it is presently constituted is an open invitation to a complete governmental collapse.

Today's Cartoon Threefer (With Bonus Graphic)

(click on images to enlarge)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Steve Benson, Arizona Republic)

(Jen Sorensen, via Daily Kos)

BONUS:  via Democratic Underground --

(Attribution: Democratic Underground)

Is The Republican Obamacare "Repeal And Delay" Effort Already DOA? (UPDATED)

It's looking like the "repeal and delay" gambit floated by civilization destroyer Donald "Rump" Trump and his chinless, cynical flunky Sen. Mitch "Missy" McConnell is attracting even less support from fellow Republicans than the odiferous Senate TrumpCare bill. One of the so- called "moderates" has already scurried away:

Here's why this "repeal and delay" idea is even more deadly (literally) than the now- dead Senate TrumpCare bill (BCRA) and the other sociopath Republican approaches:
Here's the root of that graphic:
In January, an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that repealing Obamacare without a replacement would result in 32 million people losing insurance by 2026, including 19 million who would lose Medicaid coverage. (our emphasis)
That's an even worse shit sandwich for the wavering so- called "moderates" like Sens. Collins, Murkowski, Heller, Portman, etc., to swallow.

For those of you who stood up (and will continue to), you'd better believe it mattered (h/t Balloon Juice):

UPDATE: It's not only merely dead. It's really most sincerely dead --
With their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in tatters, Senate leaders on Tuesday pushed to vote on a different measure that would repeal major parts of President Barack Obama’s health law without a replacement — but that plan appeared also to collapse. 
Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, all Republicans, immediately declared they could not vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement — enough to doom the effort before it could get any momentum.

Follow The Money: Russian Mafia Edition (UPDATED)

There's a long and informative piece in The New Republic entitled "Trump's Russian Laundromat" that provides details into Putin loyalist and con artist Donald "Rump" Trump's long-standing relationships with dirty money from Russia, money that was obtained in Russia through fraud, corruption and extortion by a Kremlin-connected band of mobsters and oligarchs. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country's criminal enterprises merged with elements of the Russian intelligence services and military to loot the public treasury and to bring major industries under their control in a vast criminal kleptocracy. Looking for places outside of Russia to launder their money, they looked to real estate in the U.S., and specifically to New York City. There they found a floundering, narcissistic Rump, who was always short on cash and looking for investors, after American banks increasingly turned him away. That began the saga of Russian money and Rump. An excerpt from the piece (which you must read):
"...even without an investigation by Congress or a special prosecutor, there is much we already know about the president’s debt to Russia. A review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern: Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency, to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia. Over the past three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money. Some ran a worldwide high-stakes gambling ring out of Trump Tower—in a unit directly below one owned by Trump. Others provided Trump with lucrative branding deals that required no investment on his part. Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics. 'They saved his bacon,' says Kenneth McCallion, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Reagan administration who investigated ties between organized crime and Trump’s developments in the 1980s." (emphasis added)
There's little doubt that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern Manhattan district, is fully aware of this history, which would explain Rump's fierce loyalty to the Kremlin. After all, "they saved his bacon."

UPDATE:  As if on cue, the mysterious eighth person sitting in on Junior's collusion meeting with the Russians in June 2016 was a Russian-American who engaged in, shall we say, washing cash.

So Much Winning: TrumpCare Edition

Sociopathic loser Donald "Rump" Trump's small fingers have been busy this morning on the Twitter machine to vent his frustration over the collapse of his TrumpCare monstrosity:
"Most Republicans were loyal..." Weren't you the one who called a similar iteration of the bill "mean," giving the shiv in the back to your lackeys in the Congress? "And worked really hard...." You did virtually nothing to advance this dumpster fire of a bill, no rallies, no speeches, only a handful of superficial tweets and a few counterproductive threats.

Now, the shitgibbon is pushing (again) a full repeal without a replacement for two years, which will guarantee chaos in the health insurance market and loss of coverage for tens of millions relying on Medicaid and policies obtained through the Federal and State marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act. TrumpCare's defeat also means that the long-held Rethuglican dream of transferring some $800 billion from Medicaid assistance for working families to the pockets of the top 1% through tax cuts (what they cynically call "tax reform") is dead, until they can find another way to rob the poor to give to the wealthy.

BONUS:  The New York Times editorial this morning says it all. Here's a snippet --
Republican legislative leaders are in a bind. While they appear to have failed for now in their goal of destroying the Affordable Care Act, their eagerness to shower tax breaks on the wealthy at the expense of health coverage for millions of Americans has crimped their ability to pass other fiscal legislation. 
This is not a lament. It’s just as well that they haven’t done anything big, given their goals. But it is a stunning demonstration of incompetence that, with control of the House, the Senate and the White House for six months, Republicans have not only failed to enact any major bills but have also created a legislative logjam that is bound to get worse. [snip]
After years spent as obstructionists, obstruction seems to be all they know. Now they’re obstructing themselves, a good thing since it may limit their ability to do harm.
A battle has been won -- temporarily -- in a war that Republicans intend to continue waging against all but the wealthiest among us.  We'll need to keep up the pressure indefinitely.

BONUS II:  Rump -- working hard, or hardly working?

Monday, July 17, 2017

S.S.TrumpCare Hits An Iceberg

In somewhat of a surprise, two more Rethuglican Senators now say they won't even support the motion to proceed to get the TrumpCare disaster to the floor of the Senate for a vote:

With Sens. Collins and Paul opposing the TrumpCare bill, the plug may be pulled on its life support in the next few hours.

The more this rotting fish of a bill hangs around, the more unpopular it gets, much like its namesake, pathological liar and sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump. It appears that "legislative wizard" and human/turtle hybrid Sen. Mitch "Missy" McConnell has laid a large turd for his Rethug colleagues and Rump to digest.

BONUS: It looks grim It's over for this disastrous bill, according to CNN:
"The CNN count showed a whopping 41 of the 52 GOP senators unwilling to commit to either the motion to proceed on the bill, a key procedural vote to begin debate, or the bill itself." (emphasis added)

Tweets Of The Day - Collusion

The un-indicted co- conspirator tweets:

And, we're off:

Looks like we're at #3 right now. This is a preview for #4:

Another Failed Conversion

Morning Joke co- host Joe "Squint" Scarborough has recently loudly proclaimed that he's no longer a Republican, courtesy of the Category 5 shitstorm regime of Donald "Rump" Trump, whose candidacy he gave untold hours of favorable, free coverage on MSNBC. In an op/ ed in the Washington Post this morning, Squint bemoans the rather obvious fact that "The Republican Party left its senses." After crowning himself an "independent," he then leaves his senses:
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham has long predicted that the Republican and Democrats’ 150-year duopoly will end. The signs seem obvious enough. When my Republican Party took control of Congress in 1994, it was the first time the GOP had won the House in a generation. The two parties have been in a state of turmoil ever since. [snip] 
Political historians will one day view Donald Trump as a historical anomaly. But the wreckage visited of this man will break the Republican Party into pieces — and lead to the election of independent thinkers no longer tethered to the tired dogmas of the polarized past. When that day mercifully arrives, the two-party duopoly that has strangled American politics for almost two centuries will finally come to an end. And Washington just may begin to work again. 
Conveniently bypassing his own role as a Congressman during the Gingrich years when demonizing Democrats and impeaching President Clinton were at the top of the Republican agenda, Squint now has seen the light, and it's ... that both sides are equally polarized??  No. And, no.  (See the 2012 book by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, "It's Even Worse Than It Looks," briefly summarized here.) If that term "two- party duopoly" has a familiar ring to it, it's because it's the catch- phrase of the execrable "No Labels" group, that halfway house for ex- Republicans and their shills and opportunists, supported by the likes of former Bush strategist and ABC political wanker Matthew Dowd and Karl Rove booster Ron Fournier. These are former enablers and active participants in the polarization of American politics, who are now unable and/or unwilling to see what their important contributions have been, and who scurry away from the wreckage telling themselves that they always represented the sensible, hallowed middle ground. Bullshit.

Leonard Pitts, Jr., has a reality check for all these "two- party duopoly" liars and opportunists, and specifically for the spineless folks in the media still wishing to appear "unbiased" about the horror unfolding around them:
I keep reading and seeing all these stories on America’s political polarization, the great divide between left and right. Ted Koppel did a couple such reports for “CBS News Sunday Morning,” Robert Samuelson wrote a column on it for The Washington Post, Andrew Soergel pondered the question in U.S. News and World Report. 
We have explored the role of social media, the loss of the Fairness Doctrine and the city/country divide in creating this break. But no one — at least, no one I’ve seen — has explored what seems to me the most glaringly obvious factor. We are not, after all, divided because Americans pulled back from the center and retreated into extremism. 
No, we are divided because one party did. And it wasn’t the Democrats. [snip] 
A party that once provided a sober conservative counterweight to the Democrats’ more liberal impulses has flat out lost its mind, given itself over to rage, fear, schoolyard taunts and bizarre conspiracy theories. Which leaves me impatient with those who frame our political divide as if the issue were that left and right had equally abandoned the center. No fair observer can believe that. 
To the contrary, it becomes more obvious every day that we are where we are because something is very wrong with the GOP. To not acknowledge and report that, apparently out of some misguided notion that doing so wouldn’t be “fair and balanced” is, in itself, deeply unfair and unbalanced. In our terror of being called biased, we in media have neutered ourselves, abandoned our watchdog function.
When this same standard is applied to actual former accomplices in the Republican Party "losing its mind" like Scarborough, it strips away the false equivalence that protects them in their belief that they were never tethered to or advanced the "dogmas" they now denounce, and that they did nothing wrong (and they'll never do it again!). What we see when all is stripped away is just another opportunist running away from his failures in order to re- invent himself as a credible critic. Sad!