Thursday, November 30, 2017

Trump's Mental State: Quote Of The Day

Psychiatrist Dr. Lance Dodes, speaking last night on MSNBC:
"Going forward, I would not be surprised by anything. If he would try to dissolve Constitution, that wouldn’t surprise me, fire the Supreme Court, wage nuclear war North Korea. These things might seem shocking, but they’re consistent, he has always been consistent in this. Once you understand he is about him, and it’s a very deeply disturbed issue, he has to protect himself from what he sees as an existential threat by denying the reality. Once you understand that, everything else follows, and it’s extremely dangerous....The worst possible case for America to have somebody who is not grossly psychotic—which everyone would know and throw them out—but close enough with a veneer to get by. That’s Donald Trump. He’s villainous because of his sociopathy and psychopathy, but with a tremendous veneer which he is extremely good at.” (emphasis added)
The rambling, vicious tweets, the unhinged behavior, the delusional conspiracy theories, all point to a mental state that may be akin to dementia. More and more people are beginning to speak out, and to identify Trump as a clear danger, given his mental instability and narcissism. It can't come soon enough.

BONUS:  One of those "moderate" Republicans says she isn't concerned, though. Whew! That's a relief!

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Tweets Of The Day - "Now That We've Created A Problem, We Have Just The Solution!"

Republican says the quiet part loud:

The Myth Of The "Moderate Republican" -- John McCain Edition

As the Republican Senate wealthfare tax bill abomination shambles toward a vote (likely today or tomorrow), another "moderate" Republican Senator, shows his tribal colors:
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Thursday morning that he would support his party’s tax overhaul, a huge win for Republican leaders that could help pave the way for the upper chamber to pass its bill in the next 24 hours. 
“After careful thought and consideration, I have decided to support the Senate tax reform bill,” McCain said. “I believe this legislation, though far from perfect, would enhance American competitiveness, boost the economy, and provide long-overdue tax relief for middle-class families.” 
This man who'll never have to worry about facing knuckle-dragging Republican voters again, this supposed fighter for the Senate's "regular order," this "maverick" so beloved of the credulous media, is going to vote for a bill that, in truth, does nothing that he claims it will (in fact, this man who, by virtue of his position, has insurance that pays for his cancer treatments will vote for a bill that would result in funding cuts for cancer treatments for Medicare patients!)  How's that for integrity?

BONUS:  Michael Tomasky has a good read on this shameful bill and the shameful people who are voting for it.

A Twit's Tweet: May Be Not (UPDATED)

The infamous re-tweet of racist and bogus videos originating from a hate-filled neo-Nazi British group by sociopathic demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump yesterday touched off a storm of outrage here and in the UK, including by British Prime Minister Theresa May. In response to Rump's use of the anti-Muslim propaganda videos, May said through a spokesman:
"British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right which is the antithesis of the values that this country represents - decency, tolerance and respect. It is wrong for the president to have done this."
Rump, who can never let a criticism pass without an infantile response, tweeted back,


Unfortunately, Rump sent the tweet to someone other than the British PM, since May's actual twitter handle is, "@Theresa_May".  The incompetent buffoon later deleted the original tweet and re-sent it with the correct handle:

Someone please please keep this mentally unstable clown away from the nuclear codes until he's removed from office.

BONUS:  The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wants the UK to cancel Rump's planned trip over his Islamophobia.

BONUS IIPrime Minister May also hit back at Rump's latest tweet.

UPDATE: Prime Minister May had the last word, telling the press,
It's amazing to think that the world's most powerful man managed to press the wrong button,” she said, adding, “I'm just glad he was not contacting me to say he was going to war with North Korea.
Not so amazing, really.  More like scary.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

New York Daily News On Trump: "He Is Mad."

It's been quite a day, even for unhinged narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump.  Some have apparently noticed.  (We wonder if a big shoe is about to drop in the Mueller investigation, hence the frantic distracting.) Here's today's New York Daily News editorial, reprinted in its entirety:
After his latest spasm of deranged tweets, only those completely under his spell can deny what growing numbers of Americans have long suspected: The President of the United States is profoundly unstable. He is mad. He is, by any honest layman’s definition, mentally unwell and viciously lashing out. 
Some might say we are just suffering through the umpteenth canny, calculated presidential eruption designed to distract the nation from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, or perhaps from unpopular legislation working its way through Congress. 
Quite possible. But Occam’s razor, and the sheer strangeness of Trump’s behavior, leads us to conclude that we are witnessing signs of mania. 
Early Wednesday morning, Donald Trump or whomever was manning his Twitter account retweeted, seemingly at random, three videos of supposed violence against Christians by Muslims.
At least one of those was long ago debunked. The words of the tweet spread to Trump’s 43.6 million followers referred to a violent young man pictured in a video as a “Muslim migrant.” The perpetrator appears to have been neither a Muslim nor a migrant. 
Trump is broadcasting discredited hate videos even as he now tells multiple people in his inner circle that the real, verified “Access Hollywood” video in which he boasted of grabbing women “by the p---y” — words for which he has already publicly apologized — was falsified. 
By engaging in the little Islamophobia-fest, Trump amplified the handiwork of a leader of Britain First, a fringe, far-right political movement that is the rough equivalent of America’s white nationalist alt-right. 
Trump wasn’t done. Just before 7 a.m., he urged the nation to “boycott Fake News CNN” — the nation’s most powerful person targeting a media company that happens to be locked in a legal fight with his own Justice Department over a merger.
Then, upon learning of the firing of NBC’s Matt Lauer for workplace sexual harassment, came the real unraveling. 
“When will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!” he tweeted, aiming unhinged ire at the network’s news boss. 
This is a day after North Korea fired what was, by all accounts, an ICBM. During a week when Congress is in the throes of delicate negotiations on taxes and the budget.
And before our eyes, the President is spinning in a Tasmanian devil’s rage about American news networks. 
There was more. 
“When will the Fake News practitioners at NBC be terminating the contract of Phil Griffin?” Trump then tweeted — demanding the firing of a private citizen who happens to run MSNBC, a news channel he hates. 
“And will they terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the ‘unsolved mystery’ that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!” 
Stop. Read it again. Google it if you must. 
The President of the United States just casually accused a congressman-turned-TV-host of murder because an intern died in his Florida office in 2001. 
It is a terrible shame that we have to address the substance of this base smear, but these are the indignities forced upon all of us in the age of Donald Trump. 
Lori Klausutis, 28, was found dead behind a desk. An autopsy was conducted: She had been feeling unwell; she had heart problems that caused her to fall and hit her head. That is what the medical examiner concluded, finding no signs of foul play. 
There is no evidence connecting Scarborough, who barely knew Klausutis, to her death. None. Zero. Zip. 
Just like there is no credible evidence connecting Donald Trump to the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1996, a crime of which he was accused in a since-dropped civil lawsuit that has never held up to scrutiny. 
One might think a man falsely accused of such a serious crime, who pledged to “open up” libel laws to make it easier for public figures like him and Scarborough to sue people who spread lies about them, would think twice before hurling such an incendiary false charge at someone else. 
To think that is to assume that Donald Trump is well. He is not well. 
Next question: what do we do about it? The lines are open...

Today's Cartoons

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(David Sipress, The New Yorker)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune)

(Patrick Chappatte, New York Times)

The Myth Of The "Moderate Republican" -- Susan Collins Edition

Let's get one thing straight and out of the way: There Are No "Moderate" Republicans.

There are Republican officeholders who, on occasion but not because of "principles," will vote against the rotted out party's agenda.  It's generally based on some calculation involving re-election or extorting some legislative favor (refer back to "re-election"), but not on consistent application of "principles."  If that were the case, neither the House nor Senate Republican wealthfare bill would have been drafted, since they grossly violate the Republican "principle" of reducing the debt -- a "principle" which only comes into play when a Democrat is in the White House. But "moderate Republicans?" Please.

The latest example of this, shall we say, ethical "fluidity" is Maine's Republican Senator Susan Collins, who either just fell off the turnip truck or is willing to believe a number of promises made by notable truth- teller and policy genius Donald "Rump" Trump (via TPM):
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) walked out of a lunch meeting Tuesday with President Trump and Senate Republicans with a broad smile on her face, telling reporters that promises from the president to support two separate health care bills left her “encouraged” and more amenable to voting to repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate—something just weeks ago she warned would devastate the middle class. [snip] 
Collins insisted Tuesday that she secured support from Trump for two bills she says would mitigate the damage of repealing the mandate—one to restore government subsidies to insurance companies that Trump defunded earlier this year and the other to set up a federal reinsurance program. 
Health policy experts are not so sure. 
“The Alexander-Murray bill—while good policy on its own—would come nowhere close to undoing the damage from individual mandate repeal. The same is true of the Collins-Nelson proposal,” writes Aviva Aron-Dine, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a former senior counselor at the Department of Health and Human Services. 
Aron-Dine says the reinsurance funding in the Collins-Nelson bill, about $2.25 billion per year for just two years, falls far short of the $10 billion per year in permanent funding needed to prevent premiums from rising. She added that repealing the mandate is also likely to be the final straw that pushes insurers to flee the market entirely.
Collins can't be unaware of the implications of passing the Senate wealthcare bill, and she also can't be unaware that "promises" from Rump are worth the same as a certificate from Trump University. So, the most reasonable explanation is that now that she's running for re- election, she needs to rejoin the tribe and get with the program, and this is her "get back in the fold" card.

Others not subject to re- election like Sen. Corker of Tennessee and Sens. Flake and McCain of Arizona, have expressed "concerns" over various aspects of the bill, the former focusing on its ballooning the deficit, the latter more for "regular order" issues.  Don't expect their objections to last the week, however. They're posturing for various reasons, none of which will exist once the roll call begins.

Finally, as a fig leaf for her shriveled conscience, Collins is taking refuge in some magical thinking:
Though Collins said earlier this month that she would need these bills passed into law before voting on the Senate tax and mandate repeal bill, she moved the goalpost on Tuesday. 
“I’m pushing to make sure they are passed and signed into law prior to the conference report coming back,” she said, “So I would know for certain that we’re going to be able to mitigate the impact of repealing the individual mandate.” 
When reporters pointed out the possibility that there will be no conference committee, that the House just passes the bill as-is, Collins waved away that fear. “Everything I’m hearing is that there is going to be a conference committee,” she said.
Will she act indignant for the folks back home when the individual mandate repeal ends up in the bill Rump signs and her constituents lose their health insurance? Or when her low- and moderate- income constituents see their taxes go up? Why, of course she will. But only "moderately" indignant.

Former Reagan official Bruce Bartlett explains why these sociopaths need to pass this wealthfare atrocity now (found via NMMNB):
If Democrats get control of one or both houses of Congress next year — a good bet — then obviously the tax cutting will end. That’s why Republicans are working at breakneck speed to get their tax cut enacted ASAP. They will use any lie, any tactic, no matter how underhanded, to achieve their goal. 
Republican deficit hawks, who are now AWOL, will suddenly reappear the moment Trump signs the tax cut. The media will be filled with reports from leading authorities about how the deficit endangers the country in a variety of ways, arguing that action must be taken immediately. 
But taxes will be off the table because of the tax pledge. Therefore, all deficit reduction must come from spending cuts. And of course, defense cuts will be off the table. Therefore, the bulk of cuts will have to come from so-called entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare because that’s all that will be left.
Condensed down:  afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable.

Remember on what side those "moderate Republicans" come down. Then we need to vote immoderately.

BONUSAnother "moderate" rolls over.

(Photo: Sen. Susan Collins - um, no.)

Mid-Week Thin Song

British indie folk duo Aquilo, made up of Tom Higham and Ben Fletcher from Lancashire, England, released their debut album "Silhouettes" last January. Their sound has been described as "calm electro-pop" and "dream pop." They released their new single "Thin" in October. Enjoy.

Media Notes: A Boycott And A Buh-Bye

Now that CNN has announced it will boycott this year's White (Supremacist) House Christmas party for the media, we'll be looking at how many other news organizations follow suit. It's especially important that CNN not be the sole boycotter, given neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump's relentless assault on the news media and freedom of the press. This is the moment that the White House Correspondents Association needs to stand with CNN (and others that may join them) in boycotting the party, and denouncing Rump's authoritarian moves to try to muzzle the media, whether through tweeted threats or through intervention in their business affairs.

Speaking of the news media, NBC News announced this morning that long time Today Show host Matt Lauer was terminated for "inappropriate sexual behavior" in the workplace. Lauer was reportedly behind the ouster of popular co-anchor Ann Curry from Today, and was roundly criticized for his harsh treatment of Hillary Clinton in a foreign policy interview, while he pitched Rump softball questions in a companion interview. Lauer follows CBS anchor Charlie Rose in being sacked as a result of sexual misconduct.

Bravo to the women that are courageously stepping up and holding powerful and smug men to account. Let's keep the pressure up on the monster in the Oval Office to answer to the women that have accused him of the same.

BONUS:  Digby has a fairly complete transcript of Lauer's hectoring interview of Hillary Clinton. Yes, he really was a dick.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Right-Wing Moves To Control Major Media

The sleazy tabloid National Enquirer spent most of the 2016 election campaign nakedly propagandizing for neo-fascist sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump and giving him fawning "coverage." It repeatedly slimed Rump's primary opponents and Hillary Clinton with bizarre conspiracy stories and innuendo. The publisher of the tabloid, the appropriately named David Pecker, is a close ally of Rump's.

Now, the Daily Beast is reporting that "Little" Pecker's company American Media, Inc. (AMI)  may be jockeying to buy Time Magazine, which was just sold to the Meredith Corporation, along with Time's sister weeklies Sports Illustrated and People. AMI denies having an interest in purchasing Time, but industry analysts point out that Meredith may wish to sell it off to a high bidder. "Little" Pecker is rumored to be looking to join forces with the Koch Brothers (who were part of Meredith's bid) to sell off Time and perhaps the other weekly magazines from Meredith. That would give the far-right wing publisher the ability to slant the news coverage of a prestigious national magazine that was established 94 years ago, and to create a virtual house organ for Rump.

This follows a pattern of right-wing oligarchs buying up media properties in order to push out propaganda supporting conservative and alt-right causes. The Sinclair Broadcast Group, headed by a right-wing Republican mega donor, is busy gobbling up local TV stations with the intent of making them more conservative-friendly. They are close to completing the acquisition of Tribune Media's 42 TV stations in a $3.9 billion deal, which would enable them to reach 72 percent of American households with conservative commentary and selected features slanted toward the right. This pattern was set years ago with the injection of the odious Rupert "Aargh!" Murdoch's News Corporation into the American media market, founding the transparently Rethuglican outlet Fux News and acquiring the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, which reliably push right wing viewpoints.

With the Federal Communications Commission firmly in the hands of Trumpists, we can't expect anti-trust laws to be enforced, unless they effect media perceived to be unfriendly to Rump. They're too busy working to destroy net neutrality to bother with curbing right-wing plutocrats from creating a monolithic, right wing narrative issuing from every radio, magazine and TV channel.

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Stuart Carlson, via

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

O'Keefe's Latest "Sting" Ends Up Stinging Him (Again) - UPDATED

In an attempt to discredit the Washington Post's reporting on serial child predator and Republican Senate candidate Roy "Teen Spirit" Moore (R- Shopping Mall), the scurvy operation run by  Republican amateur ratf*cker James "G. Gordon Diddy" O'Keefe -- ironically named "Project Veritas" -- got its short hairs caught in its zipper once again:
A woman who falsely claimed to The Washington Post that Roy Moore, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama, impregnated her as a teenager appears to work with an organization that uses deceptive tactics to secretly record conversations in an effort to embarrass its targets. 
In a series of interviews over two weeks, the woman shared a dramatic story about an alleged sexual relationship with Moore in 1992 that led to an abortion when she was 15. During the interviews, she repeatedly pressed Post reporters to give their opinions on the effects that her claims could have on Moore’s candidacy if she went public. 
The Post did not publish an article based on her unsubstantiated account. When Post reporters confronted her with inconsistencies in her story and an Internet posting that raised doubts about her motivations, she insisted that she was not working with any organization that targets journalists. 
But on Monday morning, Post reporters saw her walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, an organization that targets the mainstream news media and left-leaning groups. The organization sets up undercover “stings” that involve using false cover stories and covert video recordings meant to expose what the group says is media bias.
The article is worth a read, if only to recap the lengths to which these amoral ratf*ckers will go in order to discredit the so- called "liberal media," in this case egregiously siding with a child predator simply because he's got "Republican" next to his name on the December 12 ballot in Alabama. Think about that and the fact that these assholes hired a woman to lie about a sexual encounter simply to discredit the 9 women who've spoken out against "Teen Spirit" Moore. Can't get much lower than that.

This morning, the Post also ran an article about what an incompetent "sting" operation these pinheads ran. It's also worth checking out.

Jonathan Chait explains why the frequent O'Keefe "stings" meant to expose media bias often go awry:
Another reason O’Keefe’s plot collapsed again is because it is premised on a ludicrously false worldview. The Washington Post does not, in fact, publish unverified accusations just because they’re against Republicans. His various attempts to prove rampant voter fraud have failed in part because voter fraud is not rampant. 
But this larger conceptual problem with O’Keefe’s enterprise creates a secondary problem, which is that the people who are dumb enough to believe these conspiracy theories are not generally smart enough to carry out a competent entrapment scheme. (our emphasis)
That sounds about right to us.

Obligatory musical accompaniment.

UPDATE The Onion has a hilarious take (h/t Silver Spring Bureau Chief Brian). Hey, even Fox "News" is mocking the caper.

(Photo: Vintage O'Keefe in his clever and totes believable disguise as a "pimp," with accessory "ho.")

Monday, November 27, 2017

"What's Navajo For Jackass?"

This infantile shitheel -- a poor excuse for a turd, much less a "president" -- had some hero Navajo code talkers to the White (Supremacist) House and couldn't resist being his ignorant, racist self:

Senator Warren had this reaction:

Our favorite comeback tweet so far:


This Had To Be President P*ssygrabber's Idea

Mistletoe hangs from the ceilings inside the White (Supremacist) House. Ah, the holiday scents of a Christmas tree and Tic Tacs! Sarah "Hucksterbee" Sanders and Kellyanne "ConJob" Conway already have their spots picked out.

(photo: Kate Bennett, CNN)

The Complete Russia-Trump Guide, Cont'd.

As Robert Mueller's net closes around the likes of disgraced former National Security Director Michael "Lock Him Up" Flynn and jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none Jared "Mr. Ivanka Trump" Kushner, we'll defer to the excellent, yeoman work that Stephen Harper at has done to detail and explicate the corrupt, even treasonous Russia-Trump history, going back many years and involving many conspirators. We last checked in last August, and much has developed since then.

Starting in 1979, when young up-and-coming predator Donald "Rump" Trump was brought under the wing of the odious hatchet man Roy Cohn, through his reliance on money from Putin-controlled banks and his circle of oligarchs, to the 2016 elections and the conspiracy to meddle in the elections via stolen documents and "fake news" spread by Russian intelligence, Harper's interactive compilation is impressive. It's a roadmap that Mueller's team has certainly absorbed in the course of their investigation. Stay tuned in the weeks and months ahead for updates from Harper.

Tweets Of The Day - Doing The Kushner Shuffle

Those documents just need a little more "massaging," eh?

So much to hide, so little time.

Monday Morning Reading

As always, please go to the links to check out the full articles!

The Congressional Budget Office is sounding the alarm on the Senate Republican wealthfare bill:
The Senate Republican tax plan gives substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year, while the nation’s poorest would be worse off, according to a report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. [snip] 
By 2019, Americans earning less than $30,000 a year would be worse off under the Senate bill, CBO found. By 2021, Americans earning $40,000 or less would be net losers, and by 2027, most people earning less than $75,000 a year would be worse off. On the flip side, millionaires and those earning $100,000 to $500,000 would be big beneficiaries, according to the CBO’s calculations.
(To which Republicans say, "And your point is?")

In the recent Virginia gubernatorial and state legislature election, a blue wave started to emerge in a most unlikely area:
In this bastion of Virginia-brand conservatism, dozens of Democratic women roared on a recent night as their organization’s leader crowed over their party’s historic electoral triumph. 
For the first time since 1961, Chesterfield County backed a Democrat for governor — and the driving forces in this Richmond suburb included women who defiantly trumpeted a political label their party has ducked for decades. 
“Are we done?” Kim Drew Wright asked members of the organization that she and her allies christened the Liberal Women of Chesterfield County after President Trump’s election last year. 
“Noooooo!” the women shouted back.  (our emphasis)
No, they're (we're) not done until we take back our government at all levels from the rotted out Republican Party.

Republican strategist Rick Wilson warns about Republican support for Senate candidate and child molester (allegedly!) Roy "Teen Spirit" Moore:
This week, just to prove that its response to hitting rock bottom is to bellow “Keep digging!” the Trump administration sent a clear signal it’s perfectly happy with Moore’s history of serial child sexual assault as long as he’s a solid vote on their tax bill. It started on the weekend politics shows with Mick Mulvaney of the White House Budget office and Mark Short, the White House legislative liaison, rolling out the Team Trump line of “We’ll leave it to the people of Alabama to decide.” [snip] 
For Moore’s defenders, enablers, and the crew of whataboutists, just remember: Some stains don’t wash out. Some actions can’t be forgiven.
Moore is far, far from the only stain on the Republican Party in the last 50 years. Enumerating the legion of others would take time, but not much digging.  However, he just might be the biggest stain so far in that party's decades- long descent into the swamps.

Finally, once again, Infidel 753 has the most comprehensive link round- up known to man (or at least us). Good reading.

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon - Trump Voters

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Across The Universe, Cont. - The Cosmic Snake

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ESA, November 20, 2017: This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the Cosmic Snake, a distant galaxy peppered with clumpy regions of intense star formation that appear warped by the effect of gravitational lensing. This giant arc-like galaxy is actually behind the huge galaxy cluster MACSJ1206.2-0847, but thanks to the cluster’s gravity, we can see it from Earth.

Light from the distant, high-redshift galaxy arrives at Earth, having been distorted by the gigantic gravitational influence of the intervening cluster. Fascinatingly, instead of making it more difficult to perceive cosmological objects, such strong lensing effects improve the resolution and depth of an image by magnifying the background object. Sometimes gravitational lensing can even produce multiple images of the object as light is bent in different directions around the foreground cluster.

Using Hubble, astronomers recently looked at several such images of the Cosmic Snake, each with a different level of magnification. Using this technique, the galaxy and its features could be studied on different scales. The highest-resolution images revealed that giant clumps in high-redshift galaxies are made up of a complex substructure of smaller clumps, which contributes to our understanding of star formation in distant galaxies.

Credit: ESA Hubble/ NASA

Sunday Reflection - Will Rogers Twofer

Proving "the more things change, the more they remain the same" (French critic Alphonse Karr, btw), here's the late humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935):
"Last year we said 'Things can't go on like this,' and they didn't, they got worse." 
"If Stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out?"
One of Rogers's most famous quotes, "I am not a member of any organized party. I am a Democrat" also remains quite relatable.

The Great Dismantling

While incompetent narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump distracts with his inane feuds and obsessions (see post below), the true believers in his dystopian regime are busy doing the work of Putin, the Kochs and Mercers: dismantling the federal government, the main counterbalance to their fascistic power grabbing. Here are some links to follow:

Rex "Rexxon" Tillerson, Ayn Rand fanPutin pal and owner of Putin's Order of Friendship medal, is using "reorganization" and "cost- cutting" as excuses to gut the State Department and ax hundreds of senior Foreign Service officers, weakening American "soft power" (to whose benefit?). Some are taking note:
In a letter to Mr. Tillerson last week, Democratic members of the House Foreign Relations Committee, citing what they said was “the exodus of more than 100 senior Foreign Service officers from the State Department since January,” expressed concern about “what appears to be the intentional hollowing-out of our senior diplomatic ranks.” 
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, sent a similar letter, telling Mr. Tillerson that “America’s diplomatic power is being weakened internally as complex global crises are growing externally.” [snip] 
His small cadre of aides have fired some diplomats and gotten others to resign by refusing them the assignments they wanted or taking away their duties altogether. Among those fired or sidelined were most of the top African-American and Latino diplomats, as well as many women, difficult losses in a department that has long struggled with diversity.
Scott "Screw It" Pruitt, fossil fuel industry stooge, is combining a little old fashioned corruption with his efforts to neuter the Environmental Protection Agency:
Earlier this month, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt fired all board members who currently receive EPA grants for their research, saying they cannot remain objective if they accept agency money. In replacing them, Pruitt transformed the board from a panel of the nation’s top environmental experts to one dominated by industry-funded scientists and state government officials who have fought federal regulations. 
Pruitt removed 21 members of the advisory board, mostly academics, and replaced them with 16 experts with ties to industries regulated by the agency and two with no industry ties. Fourteen of the new members consult or work for the fossil fuel or chemical industries, which gave Pruitt nearly $320,000 for his campaigns in Oklahoma as a state senator and attorney general. 
Sleepy Ben Carson, at the neglected and abused Department of Housing and Urban Development, is okay with billions of dollars in budget cuts and wants to protect big banks from penalties on mortgage loan "errors."  Here's a long read about how this cypher is going about both passively and actively dismantling an agency whose primary constituency is low- and middle- income Americans.

You've got industry insider Ajit Pai at the Federal Communications Commission on the verge of ending net neutrality and opening the door to mega- corporation political manipulation of what you see on the Internet.

Billionaire Bible- thumper Betsy DeVos, one of the most incompetent yet dangerous Rump appointments, is moving like a wrecking ball through the Department of Education, with her agenda of turning America's public education system into a welter of religious "private" schools (at taxpayer expense, of course). She also wants colleges and universities to have more freedom to ignore claims of sexual assault. On top of all that, of course, she wants to gut the Department by gutting its budget, which was even a bridge too far for some Senate Republicans.

That, as they say, is the tip of the iceberg.  Trumpkins below the secretarial level are busy hollowing out key functions and checks on the industries they're supposedly regulating. Perhaps sensing that they have limited time before a reckoning at the polls, these sociopaths are determined to wreak as much permanent damage, both domestically and internationally, as they possibly can.

Liar Of The Year?

Narcissist and pathological liar Donald "Rump" Trump needs attention and affection to fill the void inside his empty being. He'll do anything to get attention and acclaim: lie, cheat, manipulate. Despite his anger at the news media, he craves its attention. That's why he tweeted a ridiculously dishonest statement that Time Magazine had approached him to be on its cover as "Man of the Year," but that he turned them down. Alan Murray, Time Magazine's content editor, responded:

Rump's mental illness is clear and disturbing. With reality pressing in on him on all sides with the Russiagate investigation, he creates his own delusional world in full view of us all.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Russians Mock U.S. "Weakness"

Here's a graphic from Russian State TV, bragging that Russia is ascendant over the U.S. in a recent broadcast touting their "win" in Syria. Observe the relative size of the fists (are you taking note, Donald Smallhands?).

When brutal Russian autocrat and land-grabber Vladimir Putin stated in 2005 that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the worst geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, he was signaling his intent to reconstitute its borders, as a kleptocratic oligarchy this time. With the cooperation of his hand-picked President here in the U.S., he may well achieve much of that goal. All the more reason that Special Counsel Mueller (and the Resistance) must get to the truth about what Putin has on his employee Donald "Rump" Trump.

(image: h/t Crooks and Liars)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Weekend Superman Music

One of our favorite groups, The Kinks, released "Superman" from their "Low Budget" album in 1979. The Kinks were being pressured by overrated record mogul Clive Davis to do a "club friendly" song (this was the disco era, after all).  Ray Davies decided to respond with a humorous take on the wildly popular "Superman" movies, and the "club friendly" sound was subsequently sharpened up by brother Dave Davies' guitar work. And, voila - a great Kinks song that we hope you'll enjoy.

The (Ass)Hole-In-One

Liar, liar:

Loafing liar Donald "Rump" Trump continually slammed President Obama for golfing during his Presidency, while stating that he'd be too busy to golf if elected. It turns out that Rump has been golfing 75 times during the 10 months he's been (tragically) in office, at a cost to taxpayers of over $81 million and counting. In just the first 100 days, Rump was golfing 19 times, compared to 1 time for Obama, none for George Bush, and 7 times for Clinton.

This was supposed to have been a "working" Thanksgiving break at his gaudily tacky Mar-A-Lago resort, but shortly after arriving, he was off to the links. He's out golfing again today ("quickly") with the infamous skirt- chaser Tiger Woods, perhaps while discussing women's issues. Working hard, or hardly working? We know the answer.

Has Flynn Flipped?

Is disgraced former National Security Advisor and man on the take Michael "Lock Him Up!" Flynn cooperating with the Special Counsel's team on the Russiagate investigation? It appears that way, as his lawyers have severed ties with the legal team representing Putin loyalist and pathological liar Donald "Rump" Trump. The effect is that the teams will no longer be sharing information and having discussions about the investigation, an indication that the Special Counsel's team may have worked out a plea bargain in return for credible information about the ties between the Kremlin and the 2016 Trump campaign, among other facets of the investigation.

Flynn, and his right-wing conspiracist son, could be facing serious Federal charges ranging from giving false testimony to a Federal officer to failing to register as a foreign agent, as well as charges in New York State that would be beyond Rump's power to pardon. Also, there were reports Tuesday that Rump would not be paying Flynn's legal bills, something that could have made Flynn's cooperation with the investigation an easier choice. That's the price of loyalty to narcissist Rump.

BONUS:  A former U.S. Attorney offers this --

Legal scholar (Lawfare) and cannon enthusiast Ben Wittes offers this --

And finally, this from a former ethics czar --

(photo: NY Magazine)

Fat Ass Tweet of the Day

First, the idiot son of the f*cking moron-in-chief, confessed sexual predator Donald "Rump" Trump, has a topic to discuss that he'd be wise to stay away from (but then he's an idiot):

It's not long before someone helpfully points to his degenerate dad:

Bwahahaha,"fat ass." Talk amongst yourselves.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

A few solid suggestions for this Thanksgiving (h/t Balloon Juice):


Hope you stay safe and enjoy your day!

BONUSHere's a nice story for today.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Quote Of The Day

Charles P. Pierce today on Donald "Rump" Trump and his Republican Party:
What a reeking, lifeless wasteland this man is. 
Not that it matters. The Republican Party will live with him just as it will live with the concept of Senator Roy Moore (R-Food Court) if it has to do so. The Republican Party is the corrupt vehicle of corrupt interests and has been for so long that the party and the interests are no longer distinguishable from each other. A whopping percentage of Americans are opposed to the tax plan that the Senate is about to pass. On Wednesday, Senator Lisa Murkowski, briefly an independent voice against the shredding of the Affordable Care Act, announced that she would support a tax plan that did away with the individual mandate, which effectively would shred the Affordable Care Act. She’s also very high on drilling for oil in ANWR. The only real problem that the Republicans have with the president* is that his corruption is too obvious, too garish. It scares the donor class. It makes the good crystal rattle.
 The bastards will never miss an opportunity to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable.

Net Neutrality In Peril

Trump Federal Communications Commission appointee Ajit Pai is moving forward with the right- wing effort to end Obama era net neutrality rules. Here, briefly, is why this is significant:
The internet without Net Neutrality isn’t really the internet. Unlike the open internet that has paved the way for so much innovation and given a platform to people who have historically been shut out, it would become a closed-down network where cable and phone companies call the shots and decide which websites, content or applications succeed. 
This would have an enormous impact. Companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon would be able to decide who is heard and who isn’t. They’d be able to block websites or content they don’t like or applications that compete with their own offerings. 
The consequences would be particularly devastating for marginalized communities media outlets have misrepresented or failed to serve. People of color, the LGBTQ community, indigenous peoples and religious minorities in the United States rely on the open internet to organize, access economic and educational opportunities, and fight back against systemic discrimination.
There are a number of organizations fighting this Internet takeover, including the ACLU, Team Internet, and Free Press. Millions who've voiced their objections to this rollback have had their voices ignored.

Who's against net neutrality in addition to the ISP corporations?  The usual oligarchic suspects.

If Congress doesn't act, we'll see Mr. Pai in court.

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Andy Marlette, Pensacola News Journal)

(Nick Anderson, Washington Post Writers Group)

(Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune)

Republican Court-Packing Scheme Is A Threat To Independent Judiciary

While we're absorbed with the fresh daily outrages emanating from this rotted- out regime of neo- fascist Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump, a plan with far- reaching, negative effects on our society is already well underway.

In a must- read op/ ed this morning, former White House aide Ron Klain alerts us to a right- wing court- packing scheme that would radicalize the federal judiciary for a generation or more. Klain describes a three- stage plan he calls (in the Thanksgiving spirit) a turducken:
The “outer turkey” in the plan is the ongoing Trumpification of the courts. [snip] 
Trump is wasting no time in filling the 103 judicial vacancies he inherited. In the first nine months of Obama’s tenure, he nominated 20 judges to the federal trial and appellate courts; in Trump’s first nine months, he named 58. Senate Republicans are racing these nominees through confirmation; last week, breaking a 100-year-old tradition, they eliminated the “blue slip” rule that allowed home-state senators to object to particularly problematic nominees. The rush to Trumpify the judiciary includes nominees rated unqualified by the American Bar Association, nominees with outrageously conservative views and nominees significantly younger (and, therefore, likely to serve longer) than those of previous presidents. As a result, by sometime next year, 1 in 8 cases filed in federal court will be heard by a judge picked by Trump. Many of these judges will likely still be serving in 2050(our emphasis)
In reading this, keep in mind the outrageous Republican obstruction of President Obama's judicial nominees, the most egregious example of which was stealing the Supreme Court seat from Merrick Garland and giving it to crackpot Neil Gorsuch.

The second layer of the right- wing assault is court- packing:
... [A] new plan written by the crafty co-founder of the Federalist Society, Steven Calabresi. In a paper that deserves credit for its transparency (it features a section titled “Undoing President Barack Obama’s Judicial Legacy”), Calabresi proposes to pack the federal courts with a “minimum” of 260 — and possibly as many as 447 — newly created judicial positions. Under this plan, the 228-year-old federal judiciary would increase — in a single year — by 30 to 50 percent. [snip] 
Almost overnight, the judicial branch would come to consist of almost equal parts judges picked by nine presidents combined — Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama — and judges picked by one: Donald J. Trump. The effect on our civil rights and liberties would be astounding. And a continuation of the pattern of Trump’s nominees to date — more white and more male than any president’s in nearly 30 years — would roll back decades of progress in judicial diversity. (our emphasis)
Has this right- wing turducken made you sick yet?  No? Here's the final layer:
Calabresi has also proposed that Congress abolish 158 administrative law judgeships in federal regulatory agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Securities and Exchange Commission, and replace these impartial fact-finders with a new corps of 158 Trump-selected judges who — unlike current administrative law judges — would serve for life. (our emphasis)
How would this un- democratic takeover of the federal judiciary take place?  Why, Calabresi wants it in that sociopathic Republican wealthfare bill!

As with the permanent tax cuts for corporations, Republicans want to lock in these radical changes to the federal judiciary before the 2018 elections.  This is another battle that's being forced on us by right- wing overreaching, and it's perhaps the most significant in terms of long range impacts. Think Progress has more on the scheme here.

Back in 2013, when Democrats had the Senate majority, and the talk was of filling D.C. Circuit Court vacancies (not the entire federal judiciary), the Cicero of the Cornfields Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was in high dudgeon:
“A type of court-packing reminiscent of FDR’s era,” warned Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley. “Packing the court because it has issued rulings against the administration is a cynical approach to the judicial branch.”
Grassley, now chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was a dishonest broker then, and he's likely a dishonest broker now. (Don't expect honor or consistency when corrosive tribal impulses are at play. It's in Republican DNA after all.) That's why it's likely to fall exclusively to Democrats to stop this from happening, by using every legislative and administrative trick in the book to slow this turducken down. We need to encourage them to do so.

The Sleeper Cell In Congress

From the New York Times, this gem:

Russian asset Rethuglican Congressman Dana "Code Name: Traitor" Rohrabacher has long had extreme views and an unquestioning love for Putin's Russia. House Rethuglican leader Kevin McCarthy commented last year that he believed "there's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump." Rohrabacher's also in the key post of chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that oversees policies toward Russia, dealing with sensitive policy that Russia would love to influence. He also met with the notorious Russian intelligence cut-out Julian Assange a couple of months ago to discuss a deal to drop U.S. espionage charges against him, something that the FBI is now investigating.

The TV drama series "The Americans" portrayed fake American families that had been planted in the U.S. in 1980s America by the Soviets as "sleeper cells" to be activated when useful to them. In the treasonous Rohrabacher, we see how that fictional series wasn't far off the mark.

Mid-Week Best Thing Song

We thought we'd join the iconic Irish band U2 for a stroll and drive around New York City as they sing their new single "You're The Best Thing About Me," from their album "Songs of Experience," due out on December 1. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Accused Sexual Predator Trump Backs Up Accused Sexual Predator Moore, Naturally!

As we noted in an update below, p*ssygrabber- in- chief Donald "Rump" Trump, echoing what his flunkies have been saying for days now, said of the Alabama Senate seat, "We don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat..," and proceeded to slough off the witness of nine women who've accused Republican pedophile peckerwood Roy Moore of sexual assault and other improprieties, when most were teenagers and Moore was a 30- something assistant DA.

Rather than paraphrase the rest of this despicable shitheel's words, here's the tape from MSNBC:

Speaking for us:

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

Tweets Of The Day - Prioritays! (UPDATED)

(click on images to enlarge)

Quote Of The Day - The Mall Rat

 “If you can’t go to a mall in Alabama, maybe you shouldn’t go to the Senate.” -- Republican Sen. Lindsey "Huckleberry" Graham, yesterday.  Alabama Republican pedophile peckerwood Roy Moore was reportedly banned from his hometown Gadsden Mall due to his repeated harassment of teenage girls. "Maybe," ya think?!

BONUS: They had to keep the pedophile peckerwood away from cheerleaders at high school football games, too.

Tribal Rage

Adam Serwer looks at a deeply embedded delusion in the media, in parts of the broader society, but especially at the core of the Republican base that supports neo- fascist nitwit Donald "Rump" Trump:
... What I found was that Trump embodied his supporters’ most profound beliefs—combining an insistence that discriminatory policies were necessary with vehement denials that his policies would discriminate and absolute outrage that the question would even be asked. 
It was not just Trump’s supporters who were in denial about what they were voting for, but Americans across the political spectrum, who, as had been the case with those who had backed Duke, searched desperately for any alternative explanation—outsourcing, anti-Washington anger, economic anxiety—to the one staring them in the face. The frequent postelection media expeditions to Trump country to see whether the fever has broken, or whether Trump’s most ardent supporters have changed their minds, are a direct outgrowth of this mistake. These supporters will not change their minds because this is what they always wanted: a president who embodies the rage they feel toward those they hate and fear, while reassuring them that that rage is nothing to be ashamed of.  (our emphasis)
You need look no further to understand what fuels the supporters for Republican pedophile peckerwood Roy Moore. Their rage is directed against everyone and anything standing up for a diverse, tolerant society that defends the separation of church and state. Get a load of this, from Moore supporter "pastor" Mike Allison:
"He has staunchly defended the Constitution of the United States, he has stood for the word of God ... he is against the murder of the unborn by abortion. He is for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. He is against a redefinition of marriage and believes firmly that it is only between a man and a woman. And he is against all threats against the traditional family," Allison said. "He is a fighter and a champion for right ...."
See if you can spot magic dog whistle words in this Moore supporter's rationalization:
"Every election cycle there's this tendency among the electorate to say 'Let's get rid of these rascals. They say one thing and govern another way,'" said [John] Giles, who runs a super PAC that supports Moore. "The one thing about this man is what he says he means, and at all cost." 
Did you catch that?  "... what he says he means..."  If we had a nickel for every Republican voter who rationalized their vote for Rump by saying some variation of "he says what he means," we could get a big Republican tax cut.  As Serwer and others have pointed out, that's Republican- speak for, "He hates/ fears the same people I do and he's not afraid to say it. So I'm validated!"

People who support Rump and Moore and all the rest of that rotted out party are, of course, not unique to our times.  Getting back to Serwer's article (please take time to read it in its entirety), he frames what we're seeing as, unfortunately, profoundly American:
Trumpism emerged from a haze of delusion, denial, pride and cruelty—not as a historical anomaly, but as a profoundly American phenomenon. This explains both how tens of millions of white Americans could pull the lever for a candidate running on a racist platform and justify doing so, and why a predominantly white political class would search so desperately for an alternative explanation for what it had just seen. To acknowledge the centrality of racial inequality to American democracy is to question its legitimacy—so it must be denied.
Think about that the next time you read or hear another "safari into Trump Country" story by our broken media.

Monday, November 20, 2017

WTF Al Franken?!

A woman says Sen. Al Franken inappropriately touched her in 2010, telling CNN that he grabbed her buttocks while taking a photo at the Minnesota State Fair. 
It is the first allegation of improper touching by Franken, who is a Democrat, while he was in office. It comes just days after Leeann Tweeden, a local radio news anchor in California, said that Franken forcibly kissed and groped her in 2006, when Franken was a comedian.
Sen. Franken's response Sunday was, to our ears, damning:
"I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don't remember taking this picture," Franken said. "I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected."
"... came away from our interaction feeling disrespected." Wow. That's not a denial, folks.

Meanwhile, Republicans are already using Franken's actions to distract from the Roy Moore scandal. Christmas came early in Alabama.