Sunday, December 31, 2017

Today's New Year's Cartoon Threefer

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(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Sunday New Year's Eve Reflection

"When evil is allowed to compete with good, evil has an emotional populist appeal that wins out unless good men and women stand as a vanguard against abuse." -- Hannah Arendt.

Let's resolve to stand together in 2018 and beyond, until evil loses in our communities and in our country.

Let The Retrospectives Begin! (Cont.)

We'll do one more round of this before we turn the page to what is bound to be a decisive year in our nation's history. As always, please go to the links for the full articles.

Mark Sumner at Daily Kos looks back at what was lost in one short (but in most ways excruciatingly long) year:
What’s amazing now is just how far away events from a year ago feel. At this time last year, Barack Obama was still president. The EPA was still staffed by scientists engaged in protecting the nation’s air and water. The United States was still a signee of the Paris agreement, still a respected member of the world community, still a trusted ally and valued member of NATO. The Department of Justice was still fighting to protect voter’s rights, educational access, and workplace equality. The Department of Energy was overseeing record increases in renewables and record cuts in pollution. The Internet was still protected by Net Neutrality rules. And you had never heard of Anthony Scaramucci, Rob Goldstone, George Papadopoulos, or Natalia Veselnitskaya.  
There were also a few regulations in effect a year ago that are gone now. Like, it was still illegal to sell mattresses that could catch on fire from a dropped cigarette. Gas fireplaces had to meet minimal efficiency standards. A class of pesticides known to be carcinogens were banned around children. Coal waste couldn’t completely obstruct flowing streams and rivers. Restaurant workers got to keep their own tips. Oil companies had to report on how much methane they allowed to leak into the air. And it was illegal to kill wolf pups and baby polar bears while they were snoozing in their dens with mom. 
Oh, and regulations to improve safety and reduce environmental impact from fracking were underway … those were killed yesterday, just to round out the year.
Sumner then provides some additional retrospectives from other observers in his round- up.

Media Matters has collected 10 of the most egregious pronouncements on climate change and the environment by right- wing media;  gas giant "Oxycontin Rush" Limbaugh shows up twice on the list, including this particularly loony episode:
As Hurricane Irma barrelled toward Florida, Limbaugh spun conspiracy theories and told his listeners that hurricane warnings are part of a scheme to benefit retailers, the media, and people like Al Gore who want to "advance this climate change agenda." Notably, Limbaugh didn’t have any skepticism about the danger Irma posed when it came to his own well-being, as he fled from his Florida home to Los Angeles before Irma made landfall. It's not the first time Limbaugh has spouted irresponsible conspiracy theories about hurricane forecasts. He was criticized last year for doing the same thing during Hurricane Matthew, earning himself a spot on the 2016 edition of this list.
Ian Millhiser at Think Progress looks back and gives thanks... that "We are ruled by stupid goblins who lack basic math skills":
There are many reasons why the apocalypse never came. The Resistance to Trump began early in his presidency, with a series of massive demonstrations that emboldened his opponents. Groups like Indivisible seized upon this energy, channeling rage at America’s groppenführer into a sophisticated grassroots lobbying campaign. Women and voters of color organized. Black voters in Alabama did the unthinkable — electing a Democrat to fill Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’ old Senate seat. 
But the Resistance could not have achieved so much without one crucial ally — incompetence. Time and time again, Trump and many of his fellow Republicans revealed that they have no idea how to govern. They understand little about policy. They turn their backs on key potential allies. And they seem allergic to the very idea that politics is a game of coalition building. 
America is a healthier, wealthier, far safer place today than it would have been if Republicans weren’t so godawful at their jobs. 
Unfortunately, we can't rely on these numbnuts to continue to fail, because in so many important ways they've already succeeded in changing our country for the worse. So, we must all make a resolution to continue to resist them, to organize against them, and come November 6, vote their asses out of every office in the land that we can.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Trigger For The FBI's Trump Campaign Investigation: Loose Lips

The New York Times is breaking a big story affecting the timetable of the Trump- Russia scandal, specifically what triggered the the FBI's counter- intelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. This new information ties a Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, to knowledge of Russian "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in May 2016, and involves a highly credible source -- an allied intelligence service. It seriously undercuts efforts by Trump bootlicks in the House and Senate to focus on conspiracy theories concerning the "pee dossier" in order to cast doubt on the origin and integrity of the FBI's investigation. All because the Trump adviser got three sheets to the wind:
During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton. 
About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign. 
Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role. [snip] 
The information that Mr. Papadopoulos gave to the Australians answers one of the lingering mysteries of the past year: What so alarmed American officials to provoke the F.B.I. to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign months before the presidential election? 
It was not, as Mr. Trump and other politicians have alleged, a dossier compiled by a former British spy hired by a rival campaign. Instead, it was firsthand information from one of America’s closest intelligence allies. (our emphasis)
Papadopoulos had pled guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.  It was security guard Frank Wills whose discovery of tape on a door lock at the Watergate complex led to a series of events that ultimately brought down Richard Nixon. Maybe a self- impressed hustler who couldn't hold his liquor will be the one who performed the same function for teetotaling nitwit Donald "Rump" Trump.

As they we say, loose lips sink ships shits.

BONUSTengrain at MPS has a helpful timeline.

BONUS II:  More analysis and context.

Today's Cartoons

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(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun)

Letters We Wish We'd Written - Trump/Russia Scandal Dept.

In today's Washington Post:
I continue to read with amazement about the growing number of supposedly smart people who believe special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is on some kind of witch hunt. 
The Dec. 25 front-page article “Mueller criticism grows to a clamor” noted that Tom Fitton and the conspiracy theorists at Judicial Watch are driving the bandwagon. 
I spent 27 years as a special agent of the FBI and worked with agent Peter Strzok and for Mr. Mueller, both of whom I would trust with my life. We all have political opinions, but political opinions do not prevent FBI agents from doing their jobs. 
Jay C. Manning, Centreville 

Regarding the Dec. 27 news article “Trump, on vacation, criticizes FBI in tweet before hitting links”: 
It appears incontrovertible that Russia conducted information operations to influence or discredit our 2016 election results. We need to know how Russia did it and who (if anyone) provided assistance. It now appears very clear that someone (or some organization) fears the facts enough to try to pervert the special counsel’s investigation. We need to know who and why. 
Facts have no motives; they just exist, artifacts of human activity. Why would any American (and in particular our elected representatives, who have sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution) not want to know who, if anyone, helped the Russians to interfere with our “sovereign” elections? The stakes could not be higher. Let’s get to the bottom of this and sort it out after we have the facts. 
Tom Baxter, Columbia  

Let me see if I have this right. If you are a Black Lives Matter activist or supporter, you are anti-police, anti-American and a threat to the nation. But if you are a conservative and obsequious supporter of President Trump, you have every right to attack the premier law enforcement agency in the United States, if not the world, and you are just a true-blue, red-blooded American. 
Did I miss something? 
Dexter A. Cashwell, Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
Judging from your letters, none of you have missed anything.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Tweet Of The Day

We all know George Washington could not tell a lie.

More here, including the lying little creep's lame denial.

Today's Cartoons

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(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

(Chris Britt, Illinois Times)

(Jen Sorensen, via

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Weekend Old And New Year's Music

Before we turn the page on this year, we just want to say, once again, R.I.P. George Harrison and Tom Petty.*

* And Lou Reed, and Richie Havens, et al.

On Trump's New York Times Interview

Yesterday, when his adult daycare minders weren't minding him, dimbulb narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump conducted an impromptu one- on- one interview with Michael Schmidt of the New York Times on the golf course at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

The Times has excerpts from the interview here. A must read. (Spoiler alert:  no collusion, no collusion! Also, he's nuts.)

On the Trump/ Russia scandal, he claimed 16 times over the 30- minute interview that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russians, and that everybody, including "virtually every Democrat" already knows that. (Consciousness of guilt raises it ugly orange head.) But, there was "tremendous collusion on behalf of the Russians and the Democrats..."! He said that numerous times. Did we mention he's nuts?

On a whole range of other issues from DACA/ immigration, to infrastructure, to bailing him out on health insurance, he's convinced that "Democrats will come to him" to cut deals. In an election year when, for the past 12 months, Republicans have rammed their dystopian agenda down the throats of Democrats in Congress? We don't think "Chuck and Nancy" have that much of a death wish. (Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice sees the Democrats' dilemma, though. OTOH, it would be dangerous for Democrats to "kiss the ring" of this megalomaniac.) He's nuts.

On the recently passed Republican wealthfare tax bill, he says he "knows taxes better than anybody." (Well, tax avoidance anyway.) He says the wealthfare bill will be "bigger than anyone imagines." He must mean a bigger wealth transfer to corporations and the wealthy. He also takes credit for what will be the future despoiling of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He's nuts.

On meddling with the Justice Department, he says he has "every right" to do so, but is holding off pending "fair" treatment by the Special Counsel.  He also thinks former Attorney General Eric Holder "protected" President Obama, unlike his Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.  "Protected." (Consciousness of guilt raises its ugly orange head again.) He's nuts.

On running for reelection, he thinks the media will "have to let me win" in order to keep selling papers, etc.  Somebody get a net!

BONUSCharles P. Pierce on the interview and the interviewer.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

They're Laughing At Us, Not With Us

Dimwit Donald "Rump" Trump's dimwit Ambassador to the United Nations and the pride of South Carolina's edumacational system, Nikki Haley (whose prior international experience consisted of sampling the Rooty Tooty Fresh 'n Fruity offerings at Charleston's International House of Pancakes), followed up her asinine "taking names" warning with ... being pranked by a couple of Russian comedians, one posing as the Polish prime minister. Do we laugh or cry?

One of the lowlights:
The pranksters also managed to convince Haley that a nonexistent island called Binomo was recently targeted by Russia during its nonexistent elections. 
“You know Binomo?” the comedians asked. 
“Yes, yes,” Haley said. 
“They had elections and we suppose Russians had its intervention,” they replied. 
“Yes, of course they did, absolutely,” Haley said before offering to “find out exactly what our stance is on that, and what if anything the U.S. is doing or thinks should be done and I will report back to you on that as well.” 
“We’re supposed to have White House meetings on all issues with the South China Sea coming forward, so I think we’ll have more answers at that time,” Haley added.
"Binomo."  We believe that borders on "Dumbassistan."

Here's the full recording so you can hear the credulous ignoramus in full:

Somewhere, Madeleine Albright just plotzed, and Adlai Stevenson and Daniel Patrick Moynihan are rotating in their graves.

(Photo: That steely look of resolve. That stinkeye directed at friend and foe alike. That wind whistling through her ears. Takin' names! That's Winning!)

Today's Cartoons

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(Stuart Carlson, via

(Nick Anderson, Washington Post Writers Group)

(Darrin Bell, Washington Post Writers Group)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Let The Retrospectives Begin! (Cont.)

We're continuing our year- end survey of surveys of 2017 -- a.k.a., anno horriblis.  As always, please go to the links to read the entire posts.

Medea Benjamin and Nalini Ramachandran remind us that not all was bad. Here are just the first three of their list of 10 items:
1. #MeToo movement has empowered victims of sexual harassment and assault, and encouraged accountability. Those two small words defined a social media-based movement in which women, and some men, have come forward to publicly share their stories of sexual assault and harassment, and expose their abusers... [snip] 
2. The year has seen an explosion of grassroots organizing, protest, and activism. An active and uncompromising spirit of revolt has blossomed in the face of a frightening political climate during Donald Trump’s presidency... [snip] 
3. We’re already seeing rebukes of Trump at the ballot box. A wave of Democratic electoral victories swept some unlikely regions of the country, showing popular rejection of Donald Trump and his party... [snip]
Unfortunately, as we all know, these heartening events have been overshadowed by the lasting damage being done to our country and the world by the nihilist Trump regime. Much of this damage is being done "under the radar" by the reactionary knuckle- dragging Republicans in Congress. EcoWatch points to how these evildoers approached endangered species protection in 2017:
The Republican-controlled 115th Congress has introduced at least 63 separate pieces of legislation that would strip federal protections for specific threatened species or undermine the U.S. Endangered Species Act, according to a new analysis from the Center for Biological Diversity. That's one such bill every six days in 2017 alone. 
The majority of these bills were introduced by Republicans, the Center for Biological Diversity noted. Gray wolves, greater sage grouse and elephants were targeted the most. 
“Republicans in Congress continue to attack the Endangered Species Act despite overwhelming support from Americans of all political stripes for this landmark conservation law," said Brett Hartl, government affairs director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “These attacks are designed to reward special interests that would plunder our natural resources even if it causes wildlife to go extinct." 
Unfortunately, with President Trump in the White House, "these types of attacks are more likely to become law, severely harming our nation's imperiled wildlife," the Center for Biological Diversity warned. 
The only species we would love to see endangered, if not extinct: Republicans.

Unfortunately, there's more. Jeremy Schulman at Mother Jones gives us his list of "the worst anti- science bs" from right- wingers in 2017, including:
1. White House declares climate science a “waste of your money” 
In March, Trump released a budget proposal calling for steep cuts to the climate research conducted by NASA, the EPA, and other government agencies.... [snip] 
2. Trump staffers play dumb on the global warming “hoax” 
For a week this spring, as the administration rolled out Trump’s decision to begin withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, reporters repeatedly asked whether the president still believed what he’d said over and over: that global warming is a hoax. Rather than respond to this basic question, multiple administration officials simply pretended to not know the answer.... [snip] 
5. Citing Bible, Indiana county ends needle exchange program 
... In August, the county council of Indiana’s Madison County voted to cut off funding for its needle exchange program. Then in October, the Lawrence County Commission voted to end its own exchange program. Michelle Woodward, Lawrence County’s top prosecutor, told the commissioners before the vote that she “cannot and will not offer support for a program that makes it easier or facilitates illegal use of drugs.” One of the commissioners, Republican Rodney Fish, told NBC that he had given a “great deal of thought and prayer” to the matter but that ultimately he voted to kill the life-saving program because it’s “a moral issue.” Fish reportedly quoted the Bible while explaining his vote.
When you put the inmates in charge of the asylum, this is what you should expect.

Turning our attention to the spectacle Rump has made of the United States abroad, Jennifer Williams at Vox has compiled her list of 9 bizarre things Rump did on the world stage. Here are just a few:
3) Shoved the prime minister of Montenegro  
In May, Trump attended his very first NATO summit in Brussels, where he delivered a tense speech lecturing the assembled leaders of America’s NATO allies for not spending enough on their militaries. 
After the speech, the heads of state gathered to take a group photo. As they began taking their places, Trump found himself in the middle of the pack, obscured by several other world leaders — including Prime Minister Dusko Markovic of Montenegro. 
But instead of politely saying “Excuse me” and maneuvering around Markovic, Trump decided to grab the prime minister by the arm and physically shove him out of the way. Trump then adjusted his suit jacket.... [snip]
4) Hung up on Australia’s prime minister 
Just one week into his presidency, Trump used a January 28 phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to alienate the leader of one of America’s closest and most loyal allies. 
Trump bragged about the size of his electoral college win and ranted at Turnbull about a deal the Obama administration had struck with the Australian government to take in a small number of refugees who were trying to enter Turnbull’s country. 
Trump was angry that he had to honor this deal his predecessor had made — a deal he didn’t seem to fully understand but hated nonetheless. Turnbull calmly and respectfully tried to correct Trump’s misunderstandings, but it didn’t go well. 
"I have had it. I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous," Trump said. He then ended the conversation, just 25 minutes into what was supposed to be an hour-long call....[snip]
5) Revealed a covert CIA operation on Twitter 
In a late-night tweet attacking the Washington Post July 24, Trump confirmed the existence of a covert CIA program to arm and train Syrian rebels to remove Bashar al-Assad from power.... 
The pride, it's just welling up inside!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Tweets Of The Day

Somebody alert the White (Supremacist) House Mar-a-Lago Adult Day Care staff!

And, in the spirit of the season:

Mid-Week Harrison Joyful Extravaganza Music Twofer

Just over 47 years ago, George Harrison released his critically acclaimed triple album, "All Things Must Pass," a body of work that revealed the full genius of this often- undervalued Beatle. One reviewer aptly characterized the album as an "extravaganza of piety and sacrifice and joy."  Two songs from the album reflect the latter emotion to us.  "What Is Life" kicked off side two with its exuberant pace and rollicking guitar, with guest artists like Eric Clapton on rhythm guitar and driving bass courtesy of the late Carl Radle of Derek and the Dominoes/ Delaney & Bonnie. (The joyous video, with dancers Emma Rubinowitz and Esteban Hernandez, was released this past February to commemorate would have been Harrison's 74th birthday.)

"Apple Scruffs" is an homage to the devoted fans who camped outside the Beatles' Abbey Road studio and features a nice harmonica riff by Harrison.  He also did all the backing vocals! It was released as the "B" side of the "What Is Life" single. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Today's Cartoon Threefer

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(Stuart Carlson, via

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

Let The Retrospectives Begin!

Between now and New Years Day, expect to be inundated by looks back at 2017 -- a.k.a., the anno horriblis.  Let's take a look at retrospectives from a few of our favorites. (As always, please go to the links for the full horriblis.)

Eugene Robinson on the biggest villains and what needs to be done:
We knew that Trump was narcissistic and shallow, but on Inauguration Day it was possible to at least hope he was self-aware enough to understand the weight that now rested on his shoulders, and perhaps grow into the job. He did not. If anything, he has gotten worse. [snip] 
The president’s Republican allies in Congress, who have the power to restrain an out-of-control executive, have rolled over in passive submission. Many see clearly Trump’s unfitness but continue to support him because they fear the wrath of his hardcore base and see the chance to enact a conservative agenda. History will remember this craven opportunism and judge it harshly. [snip] 
So Godspeed to the Mueller investigation, but let him worry about that. The rest of us — Democrats, independents, patriotic Republicans — should work toward the November election. Our duty is to elect a Congress that will bring this runaway train under control.

Paul Krugman sounds a similar note:
Donald Trump has been every bit as horrible as one might have expected; he continues, day after day, to prove himself utterly unfit for office, morally and intellectually. And the Republican Party — including so-called moderates — turns out, if anything, to be even worse than one might have expected. At this point it’s evidently composed entirely of cynical apparatchiks, willing to sell out every principle — and every shred of their own dignity — as long as their donors get big tax cuts. 
Meanwhile, conservative media have given up even the pretense of doing real reporting, and become blatant organs of ruling-party propaganda. [snip]
Let’s be clear: America as we know it is still in mortal danger. Republicans still control all the levers of federal power, and never in the course of our nation’s history have we been ruled by people less trustworthy. [snip]
.. we can’t count on the consciences of Republicans to protect us. In particular, we need to be realistic about the likely results of Robert Mueller’s investigation. The best bet is that no matter what Mueller finds, no matter how damning and no matter what Trump does — even if it involves blatant obstruction of justice — Republican majorities in Congress will back up their president and continue to sing his praises. 
In other words, as long as Republicans control Congress, constitutional checks and balances are effectively a dead letter. 
So it’s going to be up to the American people. They may once again have to make themselves heard in the streets. They’ll certainly have to make their weight felt at the ballot box. 
The Salt Lake Tribune looks at one of the Senate's worst as its "Man of the Year:" The reasons for giving Sen. Orrin "Nut" Hatch that title?
o  Hatch’s part in the dramatic dismantling of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. 
o  His role as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in passing a major overhaul of the nation’s tax code. 
o  His utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power. [snip]
... Over the years, Hatch stared down a generation or two of highly qualified political leaders who were fully qualified to take his place, Hatch is now moving to run for another term — it would be his eighth — in the Senate. Once again, Hatch has moved to freeze the field to make it nigh unto impossible for any number of would-be senators to so much as mount a credible challenge. That’s not only not fair to all of those who were passed over. It is basically a theft from the Utah electorate. 
It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career. If he doesn’t, the voters should end it for him. 
Voters should end a lot of Republican weasels' careers next November.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Peace, Love, And A Celestial Snowstorm

(click on image to enlarge)

(Photo: NASA/ ESA, December 18, 2017 - the Messier 79 globular cluster in the Lupus constellation.)

Wishing you and yours Peace and Love today and every day.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

When Only The Best Will Do - Doo

Someone in Los Angeles had no problem picking the perfect gift for former foreclosure asswipe and current Treasury Secretary Steve "27 cents" Mnuchin and his self- impressed, obnoxious wife:
A package filled with manure and addressed to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin prompted a check from the bomb squad in Bel Air Saturday. 
Authorities said a call came in around 7:30 p.m. regarding a suspicious package labeled to Mnuchin that was left in a neighbor's driveway in the 900 block of Bel Air Road. 
The package was also labeled as being from "the American people." (our emphasis)
It was a shitty, but appropriate, gift!

(Photo:  The Moochin' Mnuchins, strikin' a pose.)

Sunday Reflection

"Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief."  -- Jane Austen, "Emma," Vol I, Ch. 8 (1816). 

Don't we know all too well.

Today's Dispatches From The Republican War On Latinos

Pursuing their campaign to "Make America Great White Again," the regime of white nationalist Donald "Rump" Trump together with his sycophantic toadies throughout the Republican Party are adopting policies of malignant neglect (Puerto Rico) and malignant hostility (brutal ICE tactics) that would never be visited upon non- Latino populations. You don't need to be an acute observer to notice what's gone on since January 20.

Puerto Rico

As we noted last Monday, the human suffering following Hurricane Maria 90 days ago continues to afflict our American brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico. Dana Milbank summarizes the current state of the island:
... Some 1,065 more Puerto Ricans died in September and October of this year than in previous years, almost certainly storm-related deaths, according to the Center for Investigative Journalism. When all is tallied, the destruction in Puerto Rico will be very much on par with what Trump considers “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” which killed about 1,800. 
Incredibly, a large portion of the island remains without power — three months after the storm. It was reported this week that power may not be fully restored until May. Puerto Ricans — American citizens — are still awaiting tarps and temporary roofs to shelter them after an untold number of homes were destroyed. 
A new report from Refugees International said, “Thousands of people still lack sustainable access to potable water and electricity and dry, safe places to sleep.” The group faulted the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “bureaucratic and opaque assistance process” for leaving survivors with “enormous challenges.” [snip] 
In October, when Trump was tossing “beautiful, soft” rolls of paper towels at Puerto Ricans, he offered lavish promises of aid and said Wall Street lenders were “going to say goodbye” to Puerto Rico’s $72 billion debt. But the debt was not written off, and disaster-relief aid has been inadequate and piecemeal. Now, Trump and congressional Republicans are hitting Puerto Rico with an additional, man-made catastrophe. 
The GOP tax bill, which Trump celebrated this week, treats Puerto Rico as a foreign country, imposing a 12.5 percent tax on the income companies there receive from intellectual property — a big hit to its crucial pharmaceutical and medical-device sector. Rather than give Puerto Rico special tax treatment, which it urgently needs, Trump and his congressional allies gave employers a powerful reason to move jobs off the island. (our emphasis)

The future of the Obama- era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Dreamers) program is in limbo following failure by timid, spineless Democrats to use their leverage to include a fix in the recent continuing resolution. (If Democrats can find a way to de- energize-- if not screw-- their base, they'll sure try.) They can try again when the current continuing resolution expires, or they can finally push to get action on the DREAM Act to create long- term stability for 700,000 Dreamers. (If Democrats don't step up to the plate, they'll rightly be seen as occupying the same moral swamp on this issue as Republicans.)

Nevertheless, Republicans created this mess when Rump had Confederate States Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III cancel the Dreamers program in September.  Now Republicans are caught between their anti- immigrant, frothing base and their desire to save the necks of members running in swing districts. As Jonathan Blitzer reports:
... To minimize the political fallout from the cancellation, Trump called on lawmakers to pass legislation to restore the protections he had just ended. He set a deadline of March 5th for Congress to act. “Trump created this crisis, set a date to push recipients off of a cliff, and then left it to Congress to prevent it,” Cecilia Muñoz, a former Obama official who helped develop the DACA policy, told me. [snip]
Trump’s DACA deadline coincides with congressional primary season. Many incumbent Republicans will need to shore up their bases of support on the right, and others will be facing Steve Bannon-inspired conservative challengers; they won’t want to appear too conciliatory on a contentious issue like immigration. 


Living up to their acronym under the racist Rump regime, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under Homeland Security is considering pursuing a heartless strategy to discourage families with children from seeking refuge in the United States:
FAMILIES AND unaccompanied children detained at the Mexican border are often fleeing horrific conditions in Central American countries, especially El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where violent gangs, drug trafficking and rampant criminality contribute to some of the world’s highest murder rates. Now the Trump administration, alarmed at the recent surge in border crossers, is considering a new strategy to deter them. The message: “You think your native country is cruel? America is even crueller.” [snip] 
That’s the logic behind a proposal under consideration by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that would try to discourage migrant families from crossing the border by threatening to separate parents from their children when they are taken into custody in the United States. 
If Ms. Nielsen gives the green light to break up migrant families, many of whom have plausible asylum claims, she would be responsible for a policy whose heartlessness would rival that of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the forcible internment of some 110,000 U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II. Four decades after that act of mass inhumanity, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation formally apologizing for it.
That's, of course, when ICE agents aren't
... stalking a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy’s ambulance and staking out her hospital room, classifying any person caught in an ICE raid as a “criminal” and [...] attempting to deport a journalist back to a country where he faced death at the hands of the drug cartels he’d exposed.
If you feel like you're living in a different country than you were 12 months ago, you're not alone.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Tweets Of The Day -- Has The FBI Purge Begun?

On the heels of the reassignment of FBI General Counsel James Baker, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is expected to retire early next year, following a "partisan hounding" by Congressional Republicans.

The rush to protect un- indicted co- conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump by his treasonous party has taken on a new urgency, apparently.

Today's New Yorker Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Davis Sipress, The New Yorker)

(Kim Warp, The New Yorker)

(Brendan Loper, The New Yorker)

"Liberal" MSNBC Ditching Joan Walsh (UPDATED)

Oops, they did it again.  Less than a month after firing, then rehiring progressive contributor Sam Seder over a misinterpreted tweet, and six months after flirting with firing primetime progressive host Lawrence O'Donnell, "liberal" MSNBC (owned by Trump- ass kissers Comcast) has ditched another progressive voice -- this time the respected contributor Joan Walsh, whose contract is not being renewed. The network is claiming "budgetary concerns" were to blame. Nice Christmas present there, MSNBC, you soulless shitstains!

As far as those "budgetary concerns," this is the network that provides Republican press release reader Hugh "Man Boobs" Hewitt with his own show and regularly features delirious Reagan idolater Peggy Noonan. There are any number of other "reformed" Republicans and Fox exiles like Joe Scarborough, Nicolle Wallace, Megyn Kelly, and until recently, Greta Van Susteren, getting their MSNBC paychecks. But MSNBC has apparently made the decision that, in these difficult times of "budgetary concerns," the voice of an insightful progressive woman is not as valued as those of right- wing hacks and suddenly- centrist Republicans.

Pressure from progressives prompted MSNBC to reverse its decision on Seder and likely on O'Donnell. If you're of a mind (and we think you are) to drop the bomb on MSNBC for this destructively dumb decision, here's a good approach:

Let's wipe that smug look off that schmuck's face.

Here, via Crooks & Liars are some more ways to contact MSNBC:
Snail mail: MSNBC, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10112 Attn: Andrew Lack 
Comment line: (212) 664-4444 
Twitter: @MSNBC (tag @joanwalsh as well, use hashtag #WTFMSNBC or #KeepJoanWalsh.) Digital director: @Farrashley 

The hashtag #KeepJoanWalsh is also trending; let's keep it going.

UPDATEJoan has been picked up by CNN;  now you can tell MSNBC their loss is their rival's gain (and that they can still go f*ck themselves).

Hey Democrats: Republicans Don't Need Our Help

Here we are at the end of 2017.  The plutocrat's Republican Party has jammed its wealthfare bill through Congress, including provisions to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and to eliminate the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, fast- tracked far- right Trump judges through the Senate, refused to provide relief to Dreamers (with help from some spineless Dems), and have acted unilaterally to enact their dystopian agenda for America.  Now, with the threat of a Democratic wave election in 2018 looming, cold- blooded turtle/ human hybrid Sen. Mitch "Missy" McConnell is making noises about more "bipartisanship" in the next session -- meaning they're looking for cover and want to get bailed out by certain deal- making Democrats (=cough= Schumer =cough=), the same Democrats they were perfectly willing to ignore, trash and generally stick it to for the past year in their reckless rush to loot America and prop up dimwit demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump.  (If that's not enough, keep in mind what McConnell did to keep Merrick Garland off the Supreme Court!)

Democrats should be confident going into the coming year and not play the game that McConnell and his band of nihilistic thugs would like them to play. They would be wise to follow this advice from Oliver Willis concerning Sens. Susan Collins and "Liddle Bob" Corker falling in line:
This desire to see good in Republicans doing America harm is a liberal failing. They are not allies, or even temporary sources of help. They are part and parcel of the entire Republican machine that installed Trump in the first place and continues to prop up his failed presidency. 
There isn’t a dividing line. They’re on the same team. They chose long ago – from even the Nixon years – to put party over country every time. If the choice for the right is destabilizing America or aiding their fellow Republican president, they will always choose the latter. 
Quit thinking that this brand of person – just another cultist with fleeting flashes of dignity – is of any worth. They are part of the side trying to submerge America in racism, misogyny, and evil. 
They don’t need your help.
If, of course, they want to test McConnell's and his Congressional cohorts' sincerity, here are a few things they could demand for their "bipartisan" cooperation:

1.  Pass a permanent fix for DACA immediately;

2.  Stop efforts to undermine and disparage Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the F.B.I. and the intelligence community, and pass legislation to protect Mueller and his investigation;

3.  Shore up Affordable Care Act markets to minimize premium increases due to Republican sabotage of the individual mandate provision;

4.  Override the FCC's gutting of net neutrality;

5.  End efforts to undercut Dodd- Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Board;

6.  A small niggle: have his caucus refer to the Democratic Party, not the pejorative "Democrat" party, a Republican tactic for half a century.

That's just for starters, to see how serious McConnell and his thugs are (spoiler alert:  they're not; see Oliver Willis, above).  But, wouldn't it be interesting to see Democrats try to leverage action on an agenda to run on in 2018, even if it turns out to be a non- starter for now?

BONUSDigby concurs.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Tweet Of The Day

Alternate take: "The Three Faces of Eve Evil."

Trump's Pick For Ambassador To Netherlands Called On Lies, Then Lies Again

Yessir, they only get the best people, the Trump regime. Let's go to the videotape:

This piece of Republican garbage was most recently a Representative from Michigan and an early Trump supporter. Clearly he's cut from the same cloth.  Je bent een leugenachtige wezel, Hoekstra!

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

And because one Mike Luckovich isn't always enough,

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Weekend Music

Continuing our tradition during this season, imagine a wintry scene with a sleigh pulled by a troika of horses, racing across the brilliant snow. To us, that's what this evocative piece by Sergei Prokofiev has always meant. Here's Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic with "Lieutenant Kijé - Symphonic Suite, Op. 60: IV. Troika. Moderato - Allegro con brio." Enjoy your holiday weekend.

Quote Of The Day -- What's That Word Again?

"Join me in a thought experiment. Imagine that the legislature of some other country — Brazil, say, or Mozambique, or Thailand — decided to rewrite the tax code, with no public hearings or expert testimony, in a way that benefited the rich overall, with maximum financial gain for businesses like that of the sitting head of government. What would you say?

I’m pretty sure you’d use the word corruption. And you would be right." -- Eugene Robinson, on the self- dealing corruption evidenced by the Trump/ Republican wealthfare bill.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Tweet Of The Day - Party Before Country

Your related stories here and here.

A Very Merry Winter Solstice To You, To You

The winter solstice occurred two hours ago in the U.S. eastern time zone, at 11:28 a.m. Mental Floss has 10 facts you may not have known about the solstice, including:










Mental Floss has specifics on all of the 10 facts at the link above.

We'll throw one more in: the winter solstice is the shortest daylight period in the Northern Hemisphere, but it's never the day of the latest sunrise or earliest sunset (due to the Earth's elliptical orbit and it's 23.5 degree tilt)!

Pence, Rethugs And The Art Of Ass Kissing (UPDATED)

One of the more revolting aspects of the administration of demagogue and narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump is the constant lavishing of over-the-top, undeserved praise that Rump needs to prop up his damaged ego. First among ass-kissers is his own vice president, the smarmy and spineless suck up Mike "Dense" Pence. Dense gave a performance yesterday in front of Rump and the entire Cabinet that was full of obsequious, ridiculous praise for Dear Leader, thanking him "humbly" and profusely for the job he was doing, while Rump sat across the table with a smug and satisfied look on his face.

Then there was the gathering of Dense and the coin-operated Rethuglicans who gathered on the White House portico to once again lavish praise on Rump for the wealthfare tax bill (also known as the Swamp Prosperity Act). One after another, they sang the praises of the Narcissist In Chief, who imagines himself more like a banana republic authoritarian or emperor than a president. Among the worst were social Darwinist and Squeaker of the House Paul "Lyin'" Ryan who nonsensically complimented Rump's "exquisite leadership," and the despicable old sociopath Sen. Orrin Hatch, who told Rump, "you're one heck of a leader," and saying that Rump might go down in history as the greatest President. They certainly know how to play Rump.

The antidote to this betrayal of democracy and democratic norms is to send as many as these cynical and unpatriotic scammers packing when they're up for reelection. In the meantime, Resist.

UPDATE: To get the full effect of Pence's nauseating performance, here it is:

(photo: Rump and Dense, as foreshadowed by The Simpsons)

Quote And Vid Of The Day -- "A Brazen Heist Of The Country"

E.J. Dionne, Jr.:
Dec. 20, 2017, will live on as a day of disgrace and dishonor. 
It will be remembered as the day when a government of, by and for the people became a government of, by and for wealthy campaign donors — and of, by and for wealthy Republican politicians themselves. 
We thought the corruption, self-dealing and social indifference of the Gilded Age were long behind us. But we underestimated the raw nerve of President Trump, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Just as these rotted- out Republicans exhibited their raw nerve in passing their corrupt wealthfare bill, we must draw on our raw nerve and discipline in cleaning their clocks on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 -- 319 days and counting.

Seth Meyers takes "A Closer Look" at what just happened:

BONUSInfidel has a good read on what this all portends and what we must do about it.

Corporations Corruptly Shilling For Trump's Wealthfare Bill (UPDATED)

Surprise!  Several major corporations announced yesterday that they would be giving bonuses to employees in conjunction with the passage of the Republican wealthfare tax bill (a.k.a., "No Billionaire Left Behind Act"), fully aware that the regime of un- indicted co- conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump runs best with generous applications of flattery and graft. Quid, meet quo:

... said it would give $1,000 bonuses to more than 200,000 employees in the U.S. once the tax bill is signed into law and promised to invest an additional $1 billion in the U.S. in 2018. CEO Randall Stephenson praised the tax legislation as “a monumental step to bring taxes paid by U.S. businesses in line with the rest of the industrialized world.”

Trump praised AT&T’s announcement in remarks at the White House. “That’s because of what we did,” he said. “So that’s pretty good. That’s pretty good.” AT&T is currently awaiting approval from Trump’s Justice Department of its pending $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.
We think you can assume the acquisition will proceed now.

... announced that it would spend $300 million on “employee-related and charitable investments” because of the tax plan. “The reforms enable us to better compete on the world stage and give us a stronger foundation for the investment in innovation, facilities and skills that will support our long-term growth,” CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement.
Where's the quid for Boeing, you ask?
The Trump administration on Wednesday recommended steep anti-subsidy duties on Bombardier Inc’s CSeries jets, setting up the next round of a fierce international trade dispute between the United States and Canada. 
The U.S. Commerce Department announcement to impose duties of nearly 300 percent stems from a complaint by Boeing Co that Bombardier had been unfairly and illegally subsidized by the Canadian government, allowing the planemaker to dump its newest jetliner in the U.S. market below cost. 

... is giving $1,000 bonuses to 100,000 “frontline and non-executive employees,” the company announced, citing the rollback of the FCC’s Obama-era net neutrality rules and the passage of the tax reform bill. CEO Brian Roberts also said the company expects to spend “well in excess of” $50 billion on infrastructure investment over the next five years.
Will the FCC's Trumpkin chairperson Ajit Pai get a Comcast bonus too?

Wells Fargo
... said it would increase its minimum wage for U.S. employees from $13.50 to $15 and spend $400 million on donations to nonprofits and community organizations in 2018. 
Wells Fargo and the other big banks just love that teatard Mick Mulvaney is going to disassemble the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau faster than you can say "Dodd- Frank."

We're happy for the folks getting these bonuses and raises. That they're tied to the fraudulent wealthfare tax bill in an attempt to make it look like it's already having an impact is sheer cynicism and mendacity on the part of these corporations paying off or looking for favors from the Rump regime. This is what corrupt oligarchies in Putin's Russia do folks. They're not even bothering to hide it anymore.

UPDATE: To no one's surprise, the Koch brothers are funding a public relations blitz to sell this bill that gives them a windfall at the expense of the rest of us and our children (but not Koch family mediocrities like this jackhole).

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Today's Cartoons

We think you'll pick up on the universal theme of editorial cartoonists in the past few days:

(click on images to enlarge)

(Patrick Chappatte, The New York Times)

(Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune)

(Jeff Danziger, The Rutland Herald, VT)

(David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Daily Star)

Protector Of Pedophile Priests Dies

The Vatican announced this morning that the disgraced former Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law, has died. Law was the central figure in the pedophile priest scandal that first engulfed the Catholic Church 15 years ago, and was responsible for covering up the scandal in his archdiocese. Law initially dismissed the allegations, while he reassigned priests to other parishes without informing them or the police. When he resigned that position,  he was recalled to the Vatican, where he served in policy-making committees, including the powerful Congregation for Bishops, which has the responsibility for recommending clergy for promotion to the Pontiff. He retained his lofty status as Cardinal, despite his gross misdeeds, as if nothing happened:
"He seemed to escape any scrutiny or punishment by the church for his well-known crimes, and instead remained part of the Vatican elite under John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, enjoying celebrity status that is akin to a clerical club membership bestowed on all top cardinals in Rome. He was often spotted dining with high-ranking cardinals at Rome’s better restaurants."
The damage that Law did to the lives of abused children and their families in his archdiocese and beyond is staggering. He belonged behind bars. The fact that the Church later provided a place of honor for him in Rome is a signal that the Church hasn't learned its lesson, and may never.

BONUS:  As Infidel notes in the comments, Law is but one of many, many high- ranking Church officials who are part of this shameless history, that continues today.

(photo: Scheming, no doubt. E. Vandeville, Getty Images)

Mid-Week Hello Song

We need a little whimsy and brightness today, so we're going back exactly 50 years (!) to when The Beatles' "Hello, Goodbye" was playing on every radio. Although they're dressed in Sgt. Pepper regalia in this video, this song was not on that iconic album, but on their subsequent album "Magical Mystery Tour." So for those who don't know whether they're coming or going, enjoy / don't enjoy.

"A Full-Scale Looting Of America"

Regardless of the forthcoming attempts by Republican liars and looters to "sell" it, their disastrous wealthfare tax bill (a.k.a., the "No Billionaire Left Behind Bill") is an unprecedented redistribution of the nation's wealth upward. This chart shows what the Republican wealthfare bill does for income inequality over the coming decade:

(click on image to enlarge)

(Attribution: Economic Policy Institute, via Daily Kos)

Not only the substance, but the "process" employed in the passage of this sociopathic legislation is an assault on democracy, as Niskanen Center vice president Wil Wilkinson explains (h/t dear friend P.E.C.):
In its great haste, the “world’s greatest deliberative body” held no hearings or debate on tax reform. The Senate’s Republicans made sloppy math mistakes, crossed out and rewrote whole sections of the bill by hand at the 11th hour and forced a vote on it before anyone could conceivably read it.
The link between the heedlessly negligent style and anti-redistributive substance of recent Republican lawmaking is easy to overlook. The key is the libertarian idea, woven into the right’s ideological DNA, that redistribution is the exploitation of the “makers” by the “takers.” It immediately follows that democracy, which enables and legitimizes this exploitation, is itself an engine of injustice. As the novelist Ayn Rand put it, under democracy “one’s work, one’s property, one’s mind, and one’s life are at the mercy of any gang that may muster the vote of a majority.” (our emphasis)
Can't you just picture Ayn Rand disciple and Sneaker of the House Paul "Lyin'" Ryan, "Millionaire Mitt" Romney and any number of other Republican "makers" when you read that?

Matthew Yglesias reiterates that we're witnessing "the full- scale looting of America" in this bill and in other actions by Republicans:
Over the course of 2017, both in Congress and in the executive branch, we have watched the task of government devolve into the full-scale looting of America. 
Politicians are making decisions to enrich their donors — and at times themselves personally — with a reckless disregard for any kind of objective policy analysis or consideration of public opinion. 
A businessman president who promised — repeatedly — that he would not personally benefit from his own tax proposals is poised to sign into law a bill that’s full of provisions that benefit him and his family. Congressional Republicans who spent years insisting that “dynamic scoring” would capture the deficit-reducing power of tax cuts are now plowing ahead with a bill so fast that they don’t have time to get one done, because it turns out they can’t be bothered to meet their own targets. 
Meanwhile, in the background an incredible flurry of regulatory activity is happening out of public view — much of it contrary to free market principles but all of it lucrative for big business and Trump cronies. (our emphasis)
We need to have this moment burned into our consciousness, along with every other moment that's passed and will pass between last January and next November. These are objectively evil people, and we need to chase them out of public life, period.