Tuesday, October 31, 2017

New York Strong

Photo: NYC Halloween

Photo: NYC Halloween

New Yorkers marching in the traditional Halloween parade show that they won't be bowed or intimidated, following today's deadly, cowardly and despicable attack in Manhattan. New York strong.

Kelly's Descent Into Infamy

We've watched retired Gen. John Kelly's reputation as the "adult in the room" slide in the past 10 months.  First, as neo-fascist Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump's Secretary of Homeland Security, where he eagerly supervised a callous and cruel round up of undocumented immigrants. Then, his turn as White (Supremacist) House Chief of Staff, where he not only declined to restrain Rump's sociopathic impulses, but participated in the demeaning of both a U.S. Congresswoman and a Gold Star widow, for which he's shamefully refused to apologize.

Last night, on the execrable Laura "Heil" Ingraham show, Kelly referred to Confederate traitor Robert E. Lee as an "honorable man" whose statues -- and those of other Confederates -- should remain in public places. If that wasn't enough to confirm him as a white supremacist, Kelly stated that the Civil War was caused "by a lack of ability to compromise," where "men an women of good faith on both sides" fought. Unless Kelly slept through American History courses, he should know that the designation of slaves as three-fifths human in the Constitution was a compromise with slave-holding southern states. The Union compromised repeatedly with southern slave states, including the Missouri Compromise allowing slavery south of the 36th parallel and the Compromise of 1850 allowing some western states to vote on whether to allow slavery. Despite those compromises, southern slave states rejected their country.

Kelly should have the basic understanding that the notion of "compromise" with an evil system was inexcusable in the first place: slavery is often called America's "original sin." He seems to suggest that if we'd only struck a bargain on slavery, the Civil War could have been avoided. And then what? An America divided to this day between slave and free? This man is no "adult in the room." His heart and mind are with those tiki torch marchers who brandish the Confederate and Nazi flags, whether he knows it or not.

BONUS: Wendell Pierce has a strong response to Kelly:

BONUS II:  Josh Marshall summarizes what we now can say about Kelly --
I take this performance as showing two things. One is what we saw in Kelly’s attack on Rep. Wilson. Kelly is not an adult in the room. He’s an example of what we might call Total Quality Trumpism, Trumpist ideology in a more disciplined, duty-focused, professional package. The core ideology and beliefs about reclamation and rectitude are the same. It’s not an accident that he ended up in the tightest circle of Trump’s orbit. The other is that, once again, Trump damages everything he touches. 
But there’s something subtly different about Kelly compared to all the others who cozied up to Trump and saw their reputations and dignity destroyed through a deep inner weakness, desperation or lack of character – Christie, Pence, Tillerson, Priebus et al. Kelly’s eyes appear wide open. His tie to Trump seems to be based on a deep commonality of belief and a desire to sand away the rough edges of Trump to ensure the core goals of Trumpism succeed. (our emphasis)

Cover Of The Day

Today's edition of the New York Daily News (click on image to enlarge):

Happy Halloween!

The Party Of Trump On Display In One Lying Ad

The Party of Trump, ladies and gentlemen:  authoritarians, sociopaths, nihilists, bigots, traitors, liars:

 He's already "fixing" it, you cocksplats.

There's no dealing with the likes of these pathologically dishonest Trump- before- party- before- country shitheels. We need a cleansing tidal wave to sweep them from American political life.

Rump's Tweet Twofer: Pardon Me & George Who?

The lying Kremlin puppet's little fingers were busy rage tweeting this morning:

In the first tweet, he's sending an obstructionist signal to hostile foreign agent Paul Manafort that if he stonewalls the investigation, a Presidential pardon is in the future. In the second tweet, he attempts to downplay George Papadopoulos's role in the campaign ("low level volunteer named George"), and deflect to bogus conspiracies involving the Dems. The line about him being "proven to be a liar" is too rich for words, considering the source. Rump is reported to be seething at yesterday's indictments. His mental stability will be tested in the coming days and weeks as never before, to our peril as a country.

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Pic Of The Day: George, We Hardly Knew Ya

(click on image to enlarge)

Seated, on the left side of the table, third from the left, is George Papadopoulos, a national security advisor to the Trump Campaign, meeting with campaign advisor (and now Attorney General) Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (far left), and Russian loyalist Donald "Rump" Trump, at the far end of the table.

The indictment brought against Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI was unsealed today, as the White (Supremacist) House characterized Papadopoulos' role in the Rump campaign as a "volunteer" whose position was "unofficial." They can't stop lying and spinning.

BONUS: There's this, too:

Today's Cartoons - News

(click on images to enlarge)

(David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Daily Star)

(Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

(Stuart Carlson, Andrews McMeel Syndicate)

(Steve Benson, Arizona Republic)

Trump Fluffer Fired From NBC/MSNBC

Beltway politics-as-horserace hack and Trump fluffer Mark "Handsy" Halperin was fired today by NBC and MSNBC, where he had served as a "both sides do it" yakker and reliable booster of Rethuglicans and pathological liar and sexual predator Donald "Rump" Trump.  When news broke last week that Halperin had sexually harassed numerous women while he was employed by ABC, both organizations suspended him. He's also lost book contracts and other gigs following the multiple allegations, which he's admitted to.

The #MeToo movement has succeeded in outing sexual harassers and predators in recent weeks, and again focused on the women who have accused President P*ssygrabber of sexual assault, after his own admission on the Access Hollywood tape that he felt empowered to grab women sexually because of his celebrity. The White (Supremacist) House's propaganda unit denied all of the allegations just last week.

(photo: Turds of a feather stick together)

Former Trump Advisor Pleads Guilty To Lying To FBI - Now Cooperating With Mueller

Drip, drip, drip, whoosh:
A foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to FBI agents.  
George Papadopoulos, 30, pleaded guilty on Oct. 5, but the case wasn’t unsealed until Monday, when two other Trump associates were indicted by a federal grand jury. Papadopoulos reached a plea deal with prosecutors, and has since been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election 
Prosecutors’ statement of the offense alleges Papadopoulos “made material false statements and material omissions” during a Jan. 27 interview with the FBI. He was arrested July 27. Prosecutors agreed to recommend between no prison time to six months under the plea agreement.
Papadopoulos told the FBI an overseas professor had “told him about the Russians possessing ‘dirt’ on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails,’ but stated multiple times that he learned that information prior to joining the campaign,” according to court documents. In fact, Papadopoulos was contacted after he learned he’d be joining the campaign, and the professor only mentioned the “thousands of emails” after he’d been on the Trump campaign for more than a month. 
The professor, the statement indicates, had “substantial connections to Russian government officials” even though Papadopoulos claimed the professor was “a nothing.”  (our emphasis)
"... and has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's probe..." You don't have to be a legal beagle to see that the timing of this statement on the day of the Manafort and Gates indictments is meant to pressure them other Trumpers ensnared in this Russian collusion to cooperate as well. Here's the PDF of the unsealed indictment against Papadopoulos.

Oh, and this is recent and ties directly to collusion with Russia, Trump TV Fox "News."

BONUS: Comment from one who knows a little about prosecutions --

Tweets Of The Day - Trump TV

Why are we not surprised --

Ignoring the obvious isn't much of a strategy, but "Bullshit mountain" apparently needs a little time to decide how to spin/ deflect/ distract for their knuckle- dragging viewers. Sad!

Trumpers Manafort And Gates Surrender To Feds (UPDATED)

The New York Times is reporting that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his junior partner Rick Gates have been told to surrender to Federal authorities, following their indictment on unspecified charges*. From the Times:
"(Gates') name appears on documents linked to companies that Mr. Manafort’s firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businesspeople in Eastern Europe....Mr. Manafort had been under investigation for violations of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he appropriately disclosed his foreign lobbying."
It's not clear whether others involved in the Russiagate scandal will be told to surrender today, but it's early and there's so much corruption (and even treason) left to deal with.

*UPDATEHere's the 12 count indictment.  In brief, it includes charges of conspiracy against the United States, including conspiracy to launder money, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, and making false and misleading statements regarding the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

UPDATE II:  Manafort's lawyer Kevin Downing is sending a clear signal to Rump that his client isn't playing ball with Mueller ("... so can we please have a pardon... please?").  More reason to nail this shitheel's hide to the wall.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Across The Universe, Cont. - Galactic Structures

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ ESA, October 23, 2017: This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is chock-full of galaxies — each glowing speck is a different galaxy, bar the bright flash in the middle of the image which is actually a star lying within our own galaxy that just happened to be in the way. At the centre of the image lies something especially interesting, the centre of the massive galaxy cluster called WHL J24.3324-8.477, including the brightest galaxy of the cluster.

The Universe contains structures on various scales — planets collect around stars, stars collect into galaxies, galaxies collect into groups, and galaxy groups collect into clusters. Galaxy clusters contain hundreds to thousands of galaxies bound together by gravity. Dark matter and dark energy play key roles in the formation and evolution of these clusters, so studying massive galaxy clusters can help scientists to unravel the mysteries of these elusive phenomena.

This infrared image was taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide-Field Camera 3 as part of an observing programme called RELICS (Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey). RELICS imaged 41 massive galaxy clusters with the aim of finding the brightest distant galaxies for the forthcoming NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to study. Such research will tell us more about our cosmic origins.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Whitefish-y Contract With Puerto Rico Power Authority Cancelled

The corrupt (allegedly!) boondoggle is officially over:
Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is canceling its controversial $300 million contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings to restore the island’s power, officials announced Sunday. 
Ricardo Ramos, executive director of PREPA, said he would honor Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s request Sunday to terminate the business deal, which has raised questions from several lawmakers and government agencies. 
Whitefish, a two-year-old firm based in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Montana hometown, had just two full-time employees when Hurricane Maria hit the island more than a month ago.  
Language in the contract ― a full copy is here ― looked like it gave Whitefish a sweetheart deal as the people of Puerto Rico struggle to recover from the devastation of the hurricane. 
For one, the contract, which Whitefish signed with the government-owned PREPA states that, “In no event shall [government bodies] have the right to audit or review the cost and profit elements.” That gave Whitefish wide of discretion and privacy over how it used $300 million in American taxpayer money.
So, does this mean any bribes payments made under the table consultation fees are returned? Will Whitefish investors demand that the contributions they made to the campaign of moron Donald "Rump" Trump be returned? What prison will be housing the people responsible for cutting this deal? Haha kidding.

Unfortunately, the corrupt bungling of this contract by all parties will inevitably mean further delays in getting power restored to roughly 70 percent of our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico. It's a complete outrage that this should be happening but, given the players, not at all surprising.

Today's Cartoon - Trick Or Treat

As we are about to observe the first Halloween of the Trump regime:

(click on image to enlarge)

(Ellis Rosen, The New Yorker)

Sunday Reflection - Right And Wrong

"To be neutral between right and wrong is to serve wrong." - Theodore Roosevelt, The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, Vol. 8.

Just to be clear --



Meltdown Much?

As we await the first indictment in the Russiagate scandal tomorrow, and consider former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's clues (post below) to look for from Putin loyalst Donald "Rump" Trump,  Rump's nervous little fingers have already taken to Twitter to attempt to deflect attention from that major development and plead for help ("DO SOMETHING!"). His ridiculous and debunked Hillary-Uranium sale canard comes out of the far-right fever swamps, but his cultish base eats it up, with reinforcement from Fux "News", Breitbart and other propaganda outlets. Their desperate strategy is clearly aimed at discrediting whatever legal actions are taken by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Rump's lawyers are said to be flailing around in panic trying to determine who will get hit with the indictment, as the White (Supremacist) House's lie about the Mueller investigation winding down is demolished. Rump's mental stability is being tested, and many believe it's going to unravel quickly once the indictments start flying.

The more Rump tweets, the more legal jeopardy he risks. As we said below, here's hoping that rage-tweeting Rump's adult day care staff calls in sick tomorrow.

Quote Of The Day - What To Look For Monday

 “I would watch and see if Donald Trump has a reaction and talks in away that could be used against him in the future. The second thing I would look at is if the president sends some kind of message to the potential defendant or at other witnesses. Is he sending a message of intimidation in some way through himself and his cohorts, suggesting that people should not be talking and should keep their mouths shut?”  -- former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on CNN's "State of the Union." For the sake of moving the process forward, let's hope Russian stooge Donald "Rump" Trump's adult day care calls in sick on Monday.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Stuart Carlson, Andrews McMeel Syndicate)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Trump's Most Appropriate Memorial

As the cascading stories of sexual harassment and abuse of women by the predatory likes of, for example, producer Harvey Weinstein, hack Mark Halperin, director James Toback, and disgraced Bill O'Reilly, emerge, it's well to remember that as late as yesterday, the White (Supremacist) House was categorically denying the claims of 16 women who say that they were assaulted by President Crotchgrabber.

Good to see that the people at The Burbank Studios have commemorated the site of his infamous Access Hollywood tape (click to enlarge):

Alas, the memorial plaque was removed after a brief, but glorious life.

(h/t to Mock Paper Scissors)

A Resignation and Questions

Almost lost in the news of the Mueller indictments last night was the simultaneous news of the abrupt and unexpected resignation of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana Boente. Boente also serves as Acting Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division. Boente is expected to leave as soon as his designated replacement, John Demers, is confirmed and sworn in.

What makes Boente's resignation significant, as suggested by Rachel Maddow on last night's program, is that he is a likely witness to obstruction of justice by lawless demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump. When Rump met with former FBI Director James Comey to pressure him to drop the Russiagate investigation, Comey indicated in testimony before Congress that Boente was a witness to that pressure. Boente also served as Acting Attorney General after Sally Yates was fired for warning Rump about disgraced Putin plant Michael Flynn, and before Confederate Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was sworn in. Thus, he would have been privy to contemporary memos, meetings and discussions about Comey's pursuit of the investigation with Rump and other officials.

Stay tuned to see what role, if any, Boente will play in the unfolding saga.

Trump-Russia Scandal Indictments & Arrests By Monday!

The "tell" was there for all to see:  the furious attempts in the past week or so to regurgitate debunked, ludicrous and irrelevant "collusion" stories about Hillary Clinton and the DNC by treasonous moron Donald "Rump" Trump, his lickspittles (=cough= Sarah "Hucksterbee" Sanders =cough=), spineless pro- Trump co- conspirators in Congress, and the Republican propaganda machine.  All in an ultimately futile attempt to take the spotlight away from something they knew was about to hit:
A federal grand jury in Washington on Friday approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to sources briefed on the matter. 
The charges are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. Plans were prepared Friday for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday, the sources said. It is unclear what the charges are.
As far as targets, most speculation revolves around former Rump campaign manager and unregistered foreign agent Paul Manafort and former National Security Advisor and unregistered foreign agent Michael Flynn. Those are just the first fish to be caught in Mueller's net. Expect things to start unraveling in Trumpworld more quickly now.

A few selected reactions:

And, if you're a betting person:

Friday, October 27, 2017

What A Hero Looks Like

A month ago, world-famous chef José Andrés flew to Puerto Rico and organized a team of chefs, cooks, culinary students and others to help feed victims of Hurricane Maria. His "World Central Kitchen" organization has now served almost 2 million meals to residents of the ravaged island.

He set up a network of 18 kitchens around the island, feeding more American citizens than any other organization, including the American Red Cross. As grocery stores, food vendors and restaurants have started to open, Andrés is scaling back his operations so as not to undercut their businesses, and rather is going to refocus more on feeding people in more remote areas, the sick and the elderly.

Andrés made news in 2015 when he backed out of opening a restaurant in bigot Donald "Rump" Trump's new hotel in Washington, after Rump referred to Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and "criminals." Being the lowlife that he is, Rump sued, and the case was settled out of court.

José Andrés, hero.

(photo: Andrés plates food in Puerto Rico. World Central Kitchen photo)

Tweet Of The Day - #HimToo

Because he's such an honest gentleman and sterling fellow who's never been heard bragging about sexual assaults, you believe him, right? Not those 16 women.

Said the graduate of Ouachita Baptist University ("The Fightin' Philistines"!).

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Nick Anderson, Washington Post Writers Group)

(Darrin Bell, Washington Post Writers Group)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

Trump's Actions Drive Up Health Insurance Costs

If you think sociopathic con man Donald "Rump" Trump is toxic to our democracy and national security, he's just as bad when it comes to our health (and we're not even referring to his dangerous anti-environmental policies which are giving polluters new life).

Rump's ending of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on October 12 has forced health insurance companies to offer so-called "silver plans" to low income customers at higher rates to make up for the loss of the subsidy. According to a report by the respected Kaiser Family Foundation:
"Premiums for silver plans have particular significance in the ACA marketplace not only because they are the only plans that offer reduced cost-sharing, but also because the second-lowest cost silver plan in each area is the benchmark for tax credits provided to subsidize premiums for low and moderate income enroll."
While insurance companies have some flexibility under the ACA for absorbing the Federal cuts, their planning for 2018 assumed some continuation of Federal cost-sharing for lower income people:
"For those insurers that report the impact on average across all plans – whether increases were actually applied to all plans or only to silver plans – the surcharge ranges from 0.1% to 27.2%....These results are generally consistent with a KFF estimate released in April projecting that silver marketplace premiums would have to increase by 19% on average to compensate for the loss of CSR payments, with the amount varying substantially by state." (emphasis added)
Depending on each state's approach to managing the loss of CSR payments, consumers with silver plans will have to pay the increasing costs, or purchase "bronze plans" which offer little health care value. Many will simply leave the market and use hospital emergency rooms for their health care.

Whatever the cost increase and damage to families dependent on the CSR payments for their health insurance, it's totally on Rump with his malicious and vindictive gutting of the ACA regardless of the impact. It's TrumpCare now (or, as fellow blogger Gene calls it, "Trump Don't Care").

Weekend Song - R.I.P. Fats

The death of singer, pianist and songwriter Antoine "Fats" Domino on Tuesday at the age of 89 marked the passing of another rock 'n' roll "Founding Father." His performing career spanned from the pre- rock 'n' roll, rhythm and blues era of the late 1940's all the way into the 1990's, and included such classic hits as "Blueberry Hill," "Ain't That A Shame," "Blue Monday," "I'm Walkin'," "Walking to New Orleans," and "I Want To Walk You Home." All told, Domino sold more than 65 million records, more than any 1950's performer other than Elvis Presley. The talented but self- effacing Domino influenced such musicians as diverse as Presley, The Beatles, The Animals, Neil Young and Elton John. Here's his "I'm In Love Again," from 1956.

Morning Reading - Is Mueller About To Drop A Bomb On The Trump Regime?

While the White (Supremacist) House, it's despicable flunkies in Congress and the Republican propaganda network furiously flog irrelevant/ debunked distractions (who paid for the Steele pee- pee dossier? how about that Russian uranium deal, huh!?), it's important to keep the focus on the real action:  the Trump campaign's collusion with Russia, the obstruction of justice, and (to paraphrase Rep. Pelosi) what do the Russians have on Trump?

So, what's going on with all the noise? To many, it appears to be a concerted effort to prepare for some kind of imminent shock to Trumpworld. Here are some perspectives (as always, please check out the entire articles at the links):

Jonathan Chait:
Having apparently decided that defending the Trump campaign against charges of collusion with Russian cyberattacks is an impossible task, the Republican Party has decided to go on offense. The House Intelligence Committee, putatively assigned to investigate collusion, is instead running a counter-investigation into Trump’s nemeses. Their argument, incredibly enough, is that the FBI and Robert Mueller are the real perpetrators of collusion with Russia. “No puppet, no puppet, you’re the puppet” has become the new Republican argument against Mueller. 
Their case, which is being quickly spread by Republican officeholders and conservative media, centers on the role of Christopher Steele, a respected retired British intelligence officer turned private investigator, and Fusion GPS, the firm for which he worked. During the Republican primary, donors opposed to Trump’s candidacy hired Steele to conduct opposition research into Trump. After Trump won the primary, Democrats continued to finance his investigation. Steele compiled a now-famous dossier alleging a web of corrupt ties, including blackmail, between Trump, his inner circle, and the Kremlin. The FBI took at least some steps to investigate the allegations Steele made, a natural response given the serious possibility that the Kremlin had compromised a president-elect. The questions surrounding Trump’s collusion are in some sense an outgrowth of the larger question of his corrupt relationship with Russia.
The Los Angeles Times:
But it’s absurd to suggest that this new wrinkle vindicates Trump’s longstanding claim that the “Trump Russia story is a hoax.” If some of the allegations in the Steele dossier are accurate, it’s of small importance that they were turned up as part of an opposition research operation. And, of course, the Steele document isn’t the only source of suspicion about Russian meddling or about improper contacts between Russian operatives or intermediaries and people in the Trump orbit. 
Not for the first time — remember the bogus scandal about the supposedly improper “unmasking” of Trump transition officials whose names appeared in intelligence intercepts? — the president and his allies are seizing on a sideshow to distract attention from the main event: Russian interference in last year’s election and allegations that the Trump campaign colluded in that interference — and that Trump tried to frustrate investigations of that conduct, including by firing former FBI Director James B. Comey. Neither the public nor federal investigators should be fooled into taking their eyes off the ball.
Former FBI double agent Naveed Jamili on MSNBC:
“I think that these people are worried and the best they can do is do a preemptive attack on whatever it is that’s coming,” Jamili explained. “The fact that these things are coming out now, when there’s no reason to rebut anything, is for lack of a better word, just ‘curious.’ I think it’s exactly what you’re leading towards, which is there is something coming, they know about this, and they’re preemptively trying to distract the American public from something fairly big that’s coming down the pike.” 
Juliette Kayyem on Boston Public Radio:
National security expert Juliette Kayyem is predicting news from Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation will be announced within the next month. 
“I think it is safe to say that before Thanksgiving ... something’s going to drop with Mueller,” she said on Boston Public Radio today. “The pace is too much right now. Every 12 hours we’re now dealing with a piece of this story at a pace we haven’t seen.” 
Kayyem was prompted to make her prediction by the buzz surrounding a story about how Hillary Clinton’s campaign funded what would eventually become the famous “Trump-Russia Dossier” that surfaced in January. 
It appears the Trump regime knows the house is coming down around their compromised heads, likely with indictments of former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, which should reveal significant information about where Special Counsel Robert Mueller is headed in his investigation. No wonder they're suddenly trying to distract, deflect and derail.

BONUSA panel on CNN debunked the Russian uranium sale faux scandal, identifying it as a smear campaign by Fox "News" and Republicans to take the focus off the Rump regime's Russia scandal.

BONUS II:  Too late for inclusion above, Digby also has a good read about how these shitheels are promoting "the real Russian scandal."

The Right: "No Principles... Just Enemies"

Seth Meyers takes "A Closer Look" at treasonous moron Donald "Rump" Trump, his fanboys at Fox "News," and their go- to shiny object to distract their loathing (and loathsome) base:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

It's An All-Out Pledge War!

Steve "Loose Cannon" Bannon's bud Danny Tarkanian, the far right Rethuglican candidate challenging "establishment" Nevada Rethug Sen. Dean Heller in 2018, has this challenge to Heller and his backer, turtle/human hybrid Sen. Mitch "Missy" McConnell:

Well, Missy's Senate Leadership Fund PAC is having none of that bushwa! The empire "establishment" strikes back:
Loving it. Please continue the merriment, but with heavier weapons, please!

(h/t: Tengrain at Mock Paper Scissors)

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Dan Wasserman, Boston Globe)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Tim Eagan, via gocomics.com)

(Stuart Carlson, via gocomics.com)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

Tweets Of The Day - Showing Up

Here's bone spur sufferer and chronic moron Donald "Rump" Trump, tweeting off Republican Ed "Enron Ed" Gillespie's talking points:

And boom goes the dynamite in 3...2...1

Quote And Vid Of The Day - Voting

What Digby says:
"We could easily suffer a catastrophe or be handed some big news from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller over the next few months. But the best way to sort this all out is at the ballot box. The only way to know whether Trump's election was a historical fluke, or whether a plurality of Americans really want to continue down this dark and dangerous path, is for the voters to make their wishes known. 
"If the nearly 60 percent of Americans who disapprove of President Trump and his movement don't come out to vote after all this, then we probably deserve what we get."
We've got some elections coming up well before the 2018 mid- terms -- especially statewide elections on November 7 in Virginia and New Jersey, and a special election for U.S. Senator on December 12 in Alabama -- that will be dissected for signs of Trump's Republican Party sinking or surviving.

President Obama said it at a rally supporting Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam's gubernatorial bid in Virginia: "You can't sit this one out." That applies to every election, from local to state to national, from now on.  Here's the clip:

The Sewer Of The Religious Right

Ever since bigoted theocrat Jerry "The Fallen" Falwell enlisted the evangelical, so-called "Moral Majority" community for the purpose of furthering the Southern Strategy of the Rethuglican / New Confederate Party, "Christian" evangelicals have been loyal, even rabid, foot soldiers for them. Polling suggests that these "moral" people support narcissistic sexual predator Donald "Rump" Trump by comfortable margins (his approval among evangelicals is 66%). His foul-mouthed, bullying, greed-driven persona has not cooled their ardor in the past two years, even as he demonstrates his clumsy cluelessness (two Corinthians, a little wine and cracker, mistaking the communion plate for the collection plate, etc.).

With church attendance falling, and America becoming more and more secular, some believe it's a bargain they made with the devil to hold on to whatever ground they can (school prayer, anti-choice, right-wing judges, etc.). For the cynical leaders of the evangelical movement, it's not even about religion, it's about political power, influence and, most of all, money -- lots of it. They've used religion as a cover for their political movement, not just to gain power but to fleece their members (religious nut and and conspiracy hound Pat Robertson perfected the talibangelist money-sucking model; also disgraced, lecherous talibangelist Jim Bakker, now selling end- of- times slop on his holy roller show).

As a sign of their devoted fanaticism to Rump, even after Rump's despicable response to the Charlottesville neo-Nazi marchers forced him to disband some "advisory" councils, his evangelical advisory board remained staunchly supportive. Proving that the rotten fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, Jerry Falwell, Jr. initially praised Rump's "bold truthful statement about Charlottesville" in a tweet, followed by loony religious bigot Robert Jeffress' racism-is-on-all-sides defense of Rump. The support is apparently mutual: after Jeffress' musing that Satan created Catholicism, White (Supremacist) House propagandist Sarah "Hucksterbee" Sanders dishonestly pleaded ignorance in a press conference on October 24. Ahh, those sulfurous fumes....

Trump's October Poll Numbers Tanking

Two new polls show demagogue and pathological liar Donald "Rump" Trump slipping in approval, as an increasing number of Americans see him as reckless and dishonest. Politico's Morning Consult poll released yesterday, and conducted Oct. 19 to 23, show that 53% say Rump is untrustworthy, 56% say he's reckless, 51% say he's dishonest, and 54% say he's unstable. Moreover, 50% say he's not a strong leader, 50% say he's sexist, and 45% say he's racist, the latter two figures curiously low given his self-proclaimed sexual assaults against women and his blatant approval of white nationalists after the Charlottesville incident.

In a poll that's more likely to grab Rump's attention, Fux "News" also released a poll yesterday that shows his approval rating dropping to a new low of 38%, a 4-point drop in just one month, with 57% disapproving. Although Rump's numbers are generally holding among his rabid, cultish base, his approval numbers are falling among independents, with only 30% voicing approval. Rump's responses to Hurricane Maria, the California wildfires, North Korea and Iran, and to the Rethuglican tax plan all received negative ratings.

BONUS:  There's more bad news for Republicans in the Fux poll as well, as Steve Benen points out--
A new Fox News poll, released late yesterday, offered a variety of results on taxes, but among the findings was evidence that 78% of Americans are "frustrated" that "the wealthy are paying too little in taxes." Another recent Fox News poll found that 59% disapprove of lowering taxes on corporations. 
The entire Republican gambit is predicated on the polar opposite conclusions. 
A CNN poll released last week, meanwhile, pointed in a similar direction: 52% of Americans oppose the Republican tax reform proposals touted by Donald Trump, while 34% support them.
Cutting taxes for the one percent and corporations is all they got, and that's likely to bite them bigly.

(photo: Rump's purportedly least favorite image of himself)

Republican Fluffer Mark Halperin Accused Of Sexual Harassment

Long- time Republican fluffer, politics- as- horserace "journalist," and wanker emeritus Mark Halperin, who in his political coverage infamously and continuously lowered the bar for his bud Donald "Rump" Trump (see here and here also), has apparently been following his master's example:
Veteran journalist Mark Halperin sexually harassed women while he was in a powerful position at ABC News, according to five women who shared their previously undisclosed accounts with CNN and others who did not experience the alleged harassment personally, but were aware of it. [snip] 
...[W]women who spoke to CNN say he also had a dark side not made public until now. The stories of harassment shared with CNN range in nature from propositioning employees for sex to kissing and grabbing one's breasts against her will. Three of the women who spoke to CNN described Halperin as, without consent, pressing an erection against their bodies while he was clothed. Halperin denies grabbing a woman's breasts and pressing his genitals against the three women.
Halperin has been working for NBC and librul MSNBC as a senior political analyst (he's been suspended from on air duties for now), even though his brand of political "analysis" has been debunked time and time again. Now this, which frankly comes as little surprise to us.  Well, when you lay with dogs, you get up with fleas.


(Photo: Let's see those hands, boys.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Let's See How The Media Responds This Time

Republicans desperate to shift attention off of treasonous moron Donald "Rump" Trump's hourly demonstrations of his unfitness for office are suddenly pushing the stale stories of "who paid for the Russian dossier?" (publicly known since last October) and "the uranium sale to Russia!" (debunked last year herehere, and here). This involves the White (Supremacist) House, of course, and pro- Trump Republicans on several Congressional committees who've been feeling the heat generated by the right- wing wurlitzer to re- focus on conspiracy- generating right- wing bugaboo Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.  As for the wurlitzer, it's main pipe is already tooting accordingly:

There are already those in the media who have been complicit in the past with Republican attempts to smear Hillary Clinton who are reacting to this shiny object, this "Trump whisperer" from the librul New York Times being the worst of the lot. She's at it again, freely using the "L" word she bans for all but Democrats and the Clintons:

After which she was reminded:

Consistency and standards are for losers! #MAGA!

There are others who have the attention span and short- term memory of a fruit fly who may take this piece of warmed- over Republican agitprop and run with the herd. There are still others who may be eager to re- establish their favorite false equivalency narrative: "both sides do it!" But in this time of mortal danger to our Republic, and after being routinely snookered by Rump and his merry band of Republican nihilists, one would hope most in the "mainstream media" would have learned their lesson by now. "Hope."

So let's see how the "mainstream media" responds to this transparent attempt to make "the real Russian scandal" about Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Then we'll know if we'll ever have the luxury of "hope" again.

BONUS:  Charles Pierce shares his concerns.  Good read.

Today's Cartoon Twofer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

Republicans Block You From Suing Banks And Credit Card Companies

While the continuing Trump sideshow distracts, the banks and credit card companies (including Wells Fargo and Equifax) are using their Republican pawns to screw us:

And, tellingly,

John McCain, too.

Meanwhile, but her emails! but the pee- pee dossier!

BONUS: Charles Pierce on what the Republicans have done --
You know who’s going to get hosed now, Senator McCain? All those veterans and military families that you’re always so tender about. You know who’s going to take it in the ear, Senators Corker, Flake, and Sasse? All those middle-class people in all those little towns that you spend most of your time praising as the reservoir of Real American Values. None of those people mattered a damn to you Tuesday night, and it wasn’t the president* that forced you to make this vote. You did it with cold deliberation and calculated forethought.
That fits Republicans' core belief : "Afflict the afflicted, and comfort the comfortable."

Mid-Week Dream Song

Canadian indie rock band Alvvays formed in Toronto a few years ago, and released their new album "Antisocialites" last month. Here's the ethereal "Dreams Tonite" track from that album, featuring film cuts from the 1967 Montreal Worlds Fair. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Chris Britt, Illinois Times)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Jeff Danziger, The Rutland Herald)

Ah, The Smell Of Swamp Gas In The Morning!

There seems to be a swampy odor emanating simultaneously from Whitefish, MT, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico:
Puerto Rico has agreed to pay a reported $300 million for the restoration of its power grid to a tiny utility company that is primarily financed by a private-equity firm founded and run by a man who contributed large sums of money to President Trump, an investigation conducted by The Daily Beast has found. 
Whitefish Energy Holdings, which had a reported staff of only two full-time employees when Hurricane Maria touched down, appears ill-equipped to handle the daunting task of restoring electricity to Puerto Rico’s more than 3 million residents. 
Much larger utilities are more commonly used following natural disasters on the scale of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island last month. (our emphasis)
Whew! The smell is getting stronger:
... On Monday, The Washington Post reported that Whitefish Chief Executive Officer Andy Techmanski is friends with Trump administration Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Moreover, Whitefish is located in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana. [snip] 
Zinke isn’t the only member of the Trump administration with a connection to the Whitefish contract. In addition to the Colonnettas’ contributions to Trump’s presidential campaign, Kimberly Colonnetta’s Facebook page contains a photo of her with Ben Carson, Trump’s secretary of housing and urban development. Another photo appears to show Kimberly Colonnetta with Trump Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Both photos were posted the week of Trump’s inauguration. (our emphasis)
Those are a lot of powerful connections!  Not to be confused with connecting Puerto Ricans to power.

No worries! We've located the cause of the smell:
Luis Vega-Ramos, member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, told The Daily Beast, “Whitefish’s most important expertise or assets seems to have been… having the U.S. secretary of the interior, Ryan Zinke, as their former congressman and current ally and having the wisdom to retain the services of key people close to the governor [of Puerto Rico].”
“Whitefish seems to be nothing more than a glorified middleman to get the real providers of the services, with which PREPA [the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority] could have contracted directly,” Vega-Ramos said. “It is a cozy sweetheart deal in which Whitefish gets a gratuity for subcontracting the actual providers.”  (our emphasis)
The House Committee on Natural Resources is looking into this, apparently. At last glance, the House is Republican, so the Committee is run by Republicans, who have their swamp gas masks on. Move along, nothing to see here.

(Photo: Interior Secretary Ryan "Stinky" Zinke.)

Pic Of The Day

As Senate Majority Leader and human/turtle hybrid Sen. Mitch "Missy" McConnell escorts sociopathic Putin loyalist Donald "Rump" Trump to a Senate Rethuglican get-together today, they are pelted with Russian flags by activist Ryan Clayton, who said the Senate Rethugs should be "talking about treason" not about tax cuts.

Well done, Ryan.

Sen. Flake Blasts "Dangerous" Trump And Republican Complicity (UPDATED)

Here's a portion of Sen. Jeff Flake's (R-AZ) stunning speech moments ago on the Senate floor, announcing that he won't run for re-election in 2018, and scorching moron authoritarian Donald "Rump" Trump and the Republican Party. Emotional, profound, historic:

BONUSMark Sumner on the Republican reaction which, in a sane party, would have been for more to break their silence...
But silence is what he got. What he will get. From Senate Leader Mitch McConnell meekly shuffling along at Trump’s side to House Speaker Paul Ryan willing to answer any question but the one he’s asked, what the Republicans have demonstrated is silence. Also known as cowardice. 
Sen. Flake may have quoted from Abraham Lincoln in his speech, but he might better have quoted U. S. Grant: "There are but two parties now: traitors and patriots.” 
And this was just another day where that became more clear.
UPDATE Flake can't see using impeachment or the 25th Amendment to remove Rump. What was that about "enough?"

Cover Of The Week

The New Yorker's cover this week features a scary clown for Halloween:

(click on image to enlarge)

"In Over His Head" Trump Always "Has The Votes"

Seth Meyers covers the most recent signs of the dystopia we live in under the regime of asshat moron Donald "Rump" Trump, including his nitwit tweets, Republican cuts to Medicare and Medicare to fund tax cuts for the rich, and his and John Kelly's scandalous responses to the Gold Star widow and Rep. Wilson, etc.

Making Voter Suppression (And Russia's Job) Easier

By now, most are aware of the voter suppression commission that was launched after sociopathic liar Donald "Rump" Trump claimed falsely that some 3 million people voted illegally in the 2016  Presidential elections. To head the commission Rump chose none other than Kris "KKK" Kobach, the right-wing Secretary of State of Kansas who is the nation's leading proponent of election rigging through voter suppression. Kobach met with resistance across party lines when he attempted to gather voting data from secretaries of state, who initially declined to provide the information (the Rethuglican secretary for Mississippi famously told Kobach's commission that it could "go jump in the Gulf of Mexico" before he'd provide voter data).

The Kobach commission's computerized tool for managing his voter suppression initiative is something called the "Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program", and ProPublica is reporting that the system is so badly flawed that it cannot protect the sensitive voter data that it's collecting from hacking and manipulation:
"The voter-fraud-checking program championed by the head of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity suffers from data security flaws that could imperil the safety of millions of peoples’ records, according to experts. (snip) 'It blows my mind — this is complete operational security incompetence,' said Joe Hall, the chief technologist for the Center for Democracy & Technology, an organization that promotes internet freedom. 'You should consider all of that stuff in the hands of people who are clever enough to intercept someone’s email.'"
ProPublica's report is detailed, technical and compelling, and points to the casual sloppiness of Kobach's data security. Putting voting data in one flawed system highly vulnerable to intrusion is dangerous to our democracy, not to mention the commission's glaring attempts at voter suppression. Then again, given Russia's interest in our voter rolls and elections to help Rethuglicans, making it easy for them to hack that data may be Kobach's plan after all.