Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tweets Of The Day -- Trump Translator & Tonight's Speech

And some thoughts on tonight's speech to a joint session of Congress:

The Media's Ridiculous Obsession With Trump Voters

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(Jen Sorensen, via Daily Kos)

We're Hackwhackers and we approve this message:
Holy mother of god, I'm tired of reading quotes from people who live in places where the local economy went to hell or Mexico in 1979, and who have spent the intervening years swallowing whatever Jesus Juice was offered up by theocratic bunco artists of the Christocentric Right, and gulping down great flagons of barely disguised hatemongering against the targets of the day, all the while voting against their own best interests, now claiming that empowering Donald Trump as the man who will "shake things up" on their behalf was the only choice they had left. You had plenty of choices left.
There's a media cottage industry that's been pumping out Trump voter stories from the hinterland since well into the primaries (and up to and including this week in one of the worst offenders, the once great Washington Post Bezos Bugle). Early on, it was all about those voters' "economic anxiety," and now it's largely about doubts creeping into the dim recesses of some of those Trump voters' minds.

As Charlie Pierce and others have said, we empathize, but we don't sympathize with folks who've not bothered to inform themselves and/ or escape the right- wing media bubble and who voted for the manifestly unfit shitgibbon. They own what's going to happen to them under this emerging plutocratic kleptocracy. As the old saying goes, they've made their bed, now let them lie in it.

Today's Cartoon Threefer

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(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal Constitution)

(Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

(Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle)

Trump Ducks Responsibility For Yemen Raid

The botched Yemen raid by Navy SEALs on January 28 in which Navy SEAL Ryan Owens was killed wasn't an example of pathological liar and con-man-in-chief Donald "Rump" Trump's idea of "winning." So, narcissistic coward that he is, he's now blaming the raid's failure on the military planners and (wait for it) President Obama. This, despite the fact that he had the responsibility to consider the plan, ask questions and either approve it or reject it. Military officials were quoted as saying Rump approved the raid “without sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations.” To add farce to the tragedy, he apparently was briefed on the mission by former National Security Advisor Michael "Jack D. Ripper" Flynn while having dinner with Vice President Mike "Dense" Pence, (President) Steve "Loose Cannon" Bannon, and son-in-law and poster boy for nepotism Jared Kushner. Perhaps he missed the "without sufficient intelligence...." part while slurping some soup.

On key person who isn't buying Rump's avoidance of responsibility is Owens' father, William Owens, who is asking for an investigation into the mission, telling Rump and his advisors,
“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation. I want an investigation....The government owes my son an investigation."
Avoiding responsibility and trying to obstruct investigations seems to be a hallmark of Rump and his administration. This is one instance where Rethugs should be backing a Gold Star family for a change.

Morning Reading -- Republicans Aiding Cover Up Of Trump-Russia Scandal

Mother Jones' David Corn, who's been a bulldog covering the connections between the autocratic regime of Vladimir Putin and neo- fascist numbnut Donald "Rump" Trump, describes how Republicans in the House are actively colluding with the White (supremacist) House to hamstring any investigation into that relationship (and how Democrats are responding). It's a good read; here's an extended excerpt:
It started February 9, when Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) introduced in the House what's known as a resolution of inquiry. This measure requested that Attorney General Jeff Sessions share with the House information the Justice Department (including the FBI) possesses related to several issues: any investigations of Trump associates' interactions with a foreign power; any investment by a foreign government or agent in an entity wholly or partly owned by Donald Trump; and any financial conflicts of interest affecting Trump. This legislation would cover information the FBI might have gathered on recently departed national security adviser Michael Flynn and Trump campaign associates Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Roger Stone. [snip] 
The GOPers did have a choice in how they could respond. They could refer Nadler's measure to the judiciary committee, where the Republican majority would presumably vote it down. Or they could let it go to the House floor, where Republicans would also presumably vote it down. [snip] 
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) eventually decided it would be better for the GOP to bottle up the resolution in the judiciary committee. Late last week, the Republicans notified Nadler that the resolution would be considered by the committee on Tuesday, while the committee would also be deliberating on two medical malpractice bills, on the day Trump would be addressing Congress and dominating the news. 
What's more, the Republicans cooked up a nifty plan to limit Nadler's ability to mount a full-scale debate on the interactions between Trump associates and Russia. Nadler heard that the chair of the committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), intended to submit as a substitute for his bill an amendment that would be identical to Nadler's measure. Identical? Why would that help the Republicans? With this maneuver, Goodlatte might be able to control the debate on the resolution and only allow Nadler five minutes of speaking time while preventing the other 16 Democrats on the committee from participating in the debate. Committee Republicans would still have to vote on the resolution. But the Democrats would not get as much of a P.R. boost. 
"They are trying to aid and abet a cover-up by limiting debate," Nadler tells me. "This is highly irregular and maybe unprecedented. We know the Russians tried to influence the election. And we know now officials of the Trump campaign were in contact with Russians…Using extreme measures to stop this inquiry is collusion."  (our emphasis)
Make no mistake:  party before country Republicans will be fighting any inquiry into the Trump- Putin connection tooth and nail, up to an including the discovery of "smoking guns." Just so thay can take health insurance away from millions, gut environmental rules and shovel wealth up to the top 1 percent. That's why the assault on the media is so important to their survival strategy;  if they can convince a critical mass of their low- information base that it's all a plot by the evil, librul media (and President Obama!!), they believe they can eventually fog the truth and wear down the pursuit.  It's up to all of us to make sure that doesn't happen.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Photos Of The Day - Yuuuge! (Sad!)

In case you missed it (we nearly did), there were supposed to be "Spirit of Russia America" rallies today (and more Saturday), massive outpourings of right- wing grassroots support for neo- fascist Putin poodle Donald "Rump" Trump, to counter Women's March throngs and those thousands showing up for town hall meetings. Thanks to Daniel Dale and Bob Schooley, we have some pictures from some of those massive rallies, where hordes of geriatrics folks of every color from light leathery tan to wrinkled white came out to rally =snicker=:

(click on images to =snicker= enlarge)

More evidence here. Sad!

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon - "Welcome To Trumpcare"

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(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Hyperbole?  We think not.  Also remember, this would be coming from the same source that brought us Trump "University."

Most of us have known since the days when the Affordable Care Act was being developed that providing health insurance to millions of previously un- or under- insured Americans was a complicated issue. However, our genius unPresident is apparently just figuring it out:
"...Very complicated issue.... I have to tell you, it's an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated."
"Nobody knew..."  Genius, I tells ya.

The Straight Line From Nixon To Trump

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Disgraced former President Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon was infamous not only for the Watergate scandal which brought his Presidency to an end, but for his contemptuous hatred of the press, which ended up exposing his misdeeds after his illegal attempts to stop leaks.

Fast forward to 2017. Neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump is doing his best to end the investigations into his and his campaign's ties to Russian leadership, Russian oligarchs, and Russian intelligence. He's following Tricky Dick's playbook in "treating [the press] with considerably more contempt" in order to delegitimize them as they expose his connections to a hostile foreign power.

(h/t Balloon Juice)

Quote Of The Day - The Forgotten Man Remains Forgotten By Trump

"It’s a very strange moment. Trump and Bannon are happy to expand the reach of the state when it comes to policing, immigration enforcement, executive-branch meddling in the work of investigative agencies, and the browbeating of individual companies that offend the president in one way or another. The parts of government they want to dismantle are those that stand on the side of citizens against powerful interests." -- E.J. Dionne, Jr., on the dangerous government "deconstruction" goal of neo- fascist dimwit Donald "Rump" Trump's commander- in- chief Steve "Loose Cannon" Bannon, expressed at the recent gathering of loons known as CPAC. This is how far right "populists" propose to help the "forgotten man."

Another Jewish Cemetery Vandalized [UPDATED]

As many as 100 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in a section of Philadelphia were toppled and vandalized this weekend, making it the second time in a week that a Jewish cemetery has been desecrated. Last weekend, a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was the victim of a similar act. Police are investigating the incident at the Mount Carmel Cemetery, while fundraising is underway to repair the damage, and community leaders across religious lines pledged to clean up the damage.

The vandalism follows dozens of bomb threats to Jewish community centers around the country, and cases of firebombings of Muslim mosques here, here, and here. The common enemy of Muslims and Jews are the neo-Nazis and white supremacists that have come out of the woodwork since the elections, feeling that they have a champion in neo-Fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump. In the days immediately following his electoral college win, there was an outbreak of pro-Trump vandalism, intimidation and harassment. Now that their champion is facing increasing opposition to his policies and his attempts to undermine democracy, it's not inconceivable that some of his deranged right-wing followers are acting out their bigotry and frustration. We're afraid that this may be the beginning of a long siege of hatred.

BONUS:  In this light, Rex Huppke (Chicago Tribune) makes note of Rump commander- in- chief  Steve "Loose Cannon" Bannon's remarks at CPAC last week, in which Bannon taunted the press as "globalist media" --
"Globalist media" is a loaded term that bubbled up out of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of a media controlled by Jewish elites, a concept akin to "international bankers," cabals of wealthy Jews supposedly plotting to take over the world. 
Bannon knows this, I have no doubt. He ran Breitbart, a website that caters to white nationalists, many of whom are overtly anti-Semitic. 
So why toss out the globalist media canard just days after the executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect condemned Trump and called the president's late statement about the Jewish center threats a "Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration." 
I spoke with Anne Frank Center director Steven Goldstein following Bannon's comment Thursday. 
"We are now seeing a pattern," he said. "And during the week in which the Trump administration has been under a microscope for anti-Semitism, this is how you refer to the press? In some of the most unfortunate anti-Semitic terms in history? That doesn't happen by accident." 
They're not even bothering with the dog whistle any more.

UPDATE: Sixteen Jewish Community Centers in 12 states have been threatened just today, forcing evacuations and heightened concerns.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Across The Universe, Cont. - Supernova Remnant

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From NASA/ ESA, February 24, 2017:  This new image of the supernova remnant SN 1987A was taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope in January 2017 using its Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). Since its launch in 1990 Hubble has observed the expanding dust cloud of SN 1987A several times and this way helped astronomers to create a better understanding of these cosmic explosions.

Supernova 1987A is located in the centre of the image amidst a backdrop of stars. The bright ring around the central region of the exploded star is composed of material ejected by the star about 20 000 years before the actual explosion took place. The supernova is surrounded by gaseous clouds. The clouds’ red colour represents the glow of hydrogen gas.

The colours of the foreground and background stars were added from observations taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2).

Credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation) and P. Challis (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

Tweets Of The Day - Bunkers, Leaks And Plumbers

This is absolutely what's going on:

So, sphincters are tightening in the bunker under the Reich Chancellery:

No amount of blaming "fake news," "dishonest media," and "Democrats" is going to save their asses in the end.  But that's their version of the "modified limited hang out" strategy for now.  It all looks familiar to someone who knows about leaks, plumbers and damage control:

Today's Cartoon Threefer

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(John Deering, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

(Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Sunday Refection

"We don’t have the luxury, folks, to walk out of this room divided." -- New Democratic National Committee vice chair Rep. Keith Ellison, yesterday, following Tom Perez's election as chair. Now let's get this behind us and work like hell to get the shitgibbon and his party- before- country Republican enablers out of office.

Snowflake-In-Chief Bails on Correspondents' Dinner

You've heard by now that narcissist and petty authoritarian Donald "Rump" Trump has ducked out of the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on April 29, marking the first time in 35 years that a President has not appeared. That "decision" follows a period in which Rump has called the press "the enemy of the people," has blasted well-sourced stories about his collusion with Russia during the elections, and has had his press secretary cull out media organizations giving him unfavorable coverage from a recent informal gathering of the press.

Now that Rump's cowardice has opened up a prime slot at the dinner, a campaign to have Rump antagonist and impersonator Alec Baldwin fill in for the thin-skinned Snowflake-In-Chief is beginning.
You know who would also be a great choice to headline the affair and skewer Rump? The guy who did it superbly in 2011.

Quote of the Day: Stage One Of The Cover-up

The question is: what did they know, when did they know it and were they in collusion? What’s happening with Reince Priebus now is, he is trying to divert the message by going and playing the very people who should not be talking to him about ‘simmer this down, tamp this down.' They’re very worried and, and to tell you the truth, I think they’re preparing for stage one of their cover-up.” -- Former intelligence officer and counterterrorism expert Malcolm Nance on MSNBC, speaking about the growing attempts by the White (Supremacist) House to deflect the public's attention away from the intelligence community's investigation of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Chief of Staff and human/weasel hybrid Reince "Prepuce" Priebus was calling the FBI and Rethuglican Committee chairmen to get them to "knock down" the reports in the press that probed the Russian connection in the 2016 elections.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Today's Cartoon - Sheeple

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(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

It's true. When it comes to anyone with an "R" after their name, Republicans are sheeple.

Sanity From Rump's National Security Advisor?

If nothing else, narcissistic bigot Donald "Rump" Trump hates being contradicted or corrected. After all, he's always the smartest guy in the room, just ask him. So that's why the days of his new National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster may be numbered. It's been reported that Thursday, at an all-hands meeting of the National Security Council staff, McMaster told them that the term so popular with Rump and the Islamaphobes on the right, "radical Islamic terrorism," was not helpful in the fight against ISIS, al Qaeda and other jihadists. It's widely known that the use of the modifier "Islamic" is offensive to Muslim allies who are on the front lines with us, and a recruiting tool for the radical groups who have hijacked Islam and who want to portray the fight as a religious clash with Christianity. It's a 180 degree shift from his predecessor, conspiracy theorist and nutjob Michael Flynn.

With such unhinged Islamaphobes as chief "strategist" and Rump's string puller Steve "Loose Cannon" Bannon and his sidekick, little Stephen "Dead Eyes" Miller, with easy access to Rump, we're thinking that McMaster may not want to get settled in just yet.

Tweetstorm Of The Day - The Republican Bill To Repeal Obamacare

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has seen the leaked House Republican bill* to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and he has some thoughts:

* We would offer working titles for the Republican bill: "Afflicting the Afflicted, and Comforting the Comfortable Act of 2017" or perhaps "The Real Health Care Death Panels Act of 2017" or maybe "The Ayn Rand - Paul Ryan Health Care Dystopia Act of 2017."  Just remember -- it's all about Freedumb!

Image Of The Day: Putin's Butterfly

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Cover art: Barry Blitt

The New Yorker has captured the zeitgeist of life in the U.S. since 1925, and this week's cover is no exception. It's a take off on the magazine's first cover (below). It's also the first time that the "New Yorker" in the magazine's title is in a foreign language -- in this case, Russian/Cyrillic, appropriately.

Here's the iconic image from the very first edition of The New Yorker in February, 1925 by artist Rea Irvin:

Trump Regime Enlists Intelligence Community, Lawmakers In Pushback On Russia Scandal

The Washington Post is reporting that White (supremacist) House officials have been engaging in contacts with party- before- country Republican members of Congress and the intelligence community in order to push back on news of ties between Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin's government and the campaign of neo- fascist Putin poodle Donald "Rump" Trump. It's hard not to get the sense that there's some desperation here about a fire that's starting to get out of control:
The Trump administration has enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia, a politically charged issue that has been under investigation by the FBI as well as lawmakers now defending the White House. 
Acting at the behest of the White House, the officials made calls to news organizations last week in attempts to challenge stories about alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, U.S. officials said. 
The calls were orchestrated by the White House after unsuccessful attempts by the administration to get senior FBI officials to speak with news organizations and dispute the accuracy of stories on the alleged contacts with Russia. [snip] 
The officials broadly dismissed Trump associates’ contacts with Russia as infrequent and inconsequential. But the officials would not answer substantive questions about the issue, and their comments were not published by The Post and do not appear to have been reported elsewhere. [snip] 
The effort also involved senior lawmakers with access to classified intelligence about Russia, including Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees. A spokesman for Nunes said that he had already begun speaking to reporters to challenge the story and that, “at the request of a White House communications aide, Chairman Nunes then spoke to an additional reporter and delivered the same message.” 
The involvement of Burr and the villainous Nunes in assisting the White (supremacist) House fight the Rump/ Putin connection firestorm is alone enough to justify having a Special Prosecutor take over the investigations. As far as any "investigation" by these rats, Republican Sen. Rand Paul gave the game away when he said, "I just don't think it's useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party."  Also, the contacts with the intelligence community, once again, subvert confidence in their independence and impartiality:
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, issued a statement Friday evening saying that if the White House “contrived to have intelligence officials contradict unfavorable news reports, this represents a new and even more grave threat to the independence of the intelligence community.”  
Remember, the bottom line was this:
U.S. intelligence reports cite multiple contacts between members of Trump’s team and Russians with links to the Kremlin, during the campaign and afterward, according to officials who have seen them. Such reports were based on intercepted Russian communications and other sources, the officials said.  
Nunes, who served as a member of Trump’s transition team, has resisted calls for his House committee to investigate alleged contacts between Trump associates and Russia. He said in an interview that after months of investigations, U.S. authorities have turned up no evidence of such contacts. 
At some point down the road, if events unfold as we hope and expect, all those who engaged in trying to derail or coverup this emerging scandal must be judged and held accountable.

BONUS:  As Silver Spring Bureau Chief Brian notes in the comments, weasel- made- man Rep. Darrell Issa (Weasel- CA) is also calling for a special prosecutor.  Hmm.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Trumpers Shut Out "Opposition" Media At Press Briefing

In a crude, rinky- dink authoritarian gesture intended to intimidate, silence and delegitimatize media criticism of their ongoing shitshow, several news organizations were prohibited from a White (supremacist) House briefing today:
The New York Times and CNN, both of which have reported critically on the administration and are frequent targets of President Donald Trump, were prohibited from attending. The Huffington Post was also denied entry.  [Ed.: as was the Los Angeles Times and Politico]
Both the Associated Press and Time magazine, which were allowed to enter, boycotted out of solidarity with those news organizations kept out. 
Just who, then, was invited?
The White House also invited journalists from conservative outlets such as Breitbart News, The Washington Times and One American News Network, sparking concerns that the administration was playing favorites with certain politically aligned outlets.
This behavior on the part of the little Goebbels in the Press Office tells us that, as part of the "media is the opposition party" strategy of real President Steve "Loose Cannon" Bannon, the goal is to delegitimatize those who eventually will be bringing to light the facts of neo- fascist Putin poodle Donald "Rump" Trump's treasonous ties to the Kremlin. It's the old Nixonian "modified limited hangout" strategy updated and pre- weaponized for today's foaming- at- the- mouth right wing media machine (see paragraph above).

A number of news organizations have responded to this strong arming tactic, as well as the White House Correspondents Association (which might see a lot of empty tables at its annual ethics challenged schmooze fest with the Stormtrumpers on April 29).  Here's CNN's response:

As Masha Gessen pointed out in her prescient "Autocracy: Rules for Survival" back in November, this is straight out of the Putin playbook:
The national press is likely to be among the first institutional victims of Trumpism. There is no law that requires the presidential administration to hold daily briefings, none that guarantees media access to the White House. Many journalists may soon face a dilemma long familiar to those of us who have worked under autocracies: fall in line or forfeit access. There is no good solution (even if there is a right answer), for journalism is difficult and sometimes impossible without access to information.
They're following the script so far.


Weekend Back Against The Wall Music

Jay Farrar formed alt- rock/ country Son Volt in 1994 following the breakup of Uncle Tupelo, a band he started with Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) and Mike Heidorn.  "Back Against The Wall" is a song from Son Volt's just- released album, "Notes of Blue." We can't help but notice that the lyrics mirror how many of us feel in these days of darkness:
No time to be wayward,   
No time to be unwound, 
With darkness at your doorstep 
Keep your feet on the ground. 
There will be times of injustice 
Times when there's more lost than found 
Downtimes mixed with days of wonder 
A real live spinning merry-go-round...
What survives the long cold winter 
Will be stronger, can't be undone.

Today's Cartoon Twofer - Paid Off

At the urging of the White (Supremacist) House, some Republicans are saying "paid protesters" account for the throngs of angry citizens showing up at their town hall meetings. Otherwise, what other earthly reason would they have to show up?

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(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Tweet Of The Day: Let Your True Colors Fly (UPDATED)

This couldn't have been more delicious, to have the goobers in the audience at the CPAC mud wallow waving Russian flags with Trump's name emblazoned on them. "Alt-Rightie" then!

Here's a closeup of the Trump flag (h/t Crooks & Liars):

And the Russian flag:

UPDATE:  Some outlets are reporting that this was an epic trolling of the mouthbreathers at CPAC, many of whom were unaware that it was the Russian flag with Rump's name on it that they were gleefully waving.  Either way, the stupid burns.

Priebus Tries To Interfere In FBI Investigation

According to new reporting from CNN, White (Supremacist) House chief-of-staff and human/weasel hybrid Reince "Prepuce" Priebus tried to get the FBI to knock down reports in the New York Times indicating that there was frequent contact between Russian officials and the campaign of narcissist and Putin poodle Donald "Rump" Trump. The FBI rejected the request, saying that the investigation into those contacts was ongoing. In addition, ever since the Watergate era, when the Nixon and his co-conspirators meddled in the Justice Department's business, contacts between the FBI and White House are barred except in very limited situations and only to the President, Vice President, General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel. Prepuce apparently talked to FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe after the New York Times story appeared.

Prepuce and the White House are now claiming that the FBI suggested that the allegations of contacts between the campaign and Russia were inaccurate, despite the fact that the Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov claimed just days after the election that there were contacts between Russian officials and the campaign. Numerous sources in the intelligence community have also alleged frequent contacts, and Rump campaign aides Paul Manafort and Carter Page were known to have ties to Russian officials and business there.

This White House has a habit of making bad choices in their phone calls, especially when the calls  involve Russia. With this Nixonian attempt to steer the FBI investigation, it should be clear that Rump is desperately trying to change the subject and bury the evidence. Prepuce, an empty suit and hack, is all too willing to help his boss in that effort.

BONUS:  Someone is acting like he has something to hide --

Can't have those leaks! Looks like a job for Nixon & Co. Plumbers!

BONUS II: Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe had this to say about Prepuce's contact:
"[I]t could well be attempted obstruction of justice, and it’s certainly so unethical that it would be a firing offense for a chief of staff in any White House that respects the rule of law.”
As with the Michael Flynn episode, Prepuce was likely just following a direct order from the shitgibbon.

BONUS III:  Charles Pierce on how another Republican President tried to use Federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to influence an investigation, with disastrous consequences.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

"Get Out Of My Country": Today's Right Wing Violence

Last night at an Austin Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, two men of Indian origin were shot by an unhinged loon who shouted "get out of my country" at them before brandishing a gun and shooting both men. One of the men later died. Also shot was an onlooker who tried to stop the killer, identified as Adam Purinton of Olathe. The two Indian men are employees of a Garmin facility in that city. Purinton fled the scene and was arrested this morning in Clinton, MO as he drank at a bar, where he told a bartender that he needed a place to hide. He's been charged with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

Purinton likely viewed the two Indian victims as Middle Eastern. There has been a surge in hate crimes against Muslims in the past few months, as the supporters of bigoted demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump feel they now have permission to attack people that are (or may not be) Muslim because of their leader's white nationalist dog whistles to them and refusal to speak out against bigots. Whether it's Rump's Muslim travel ban or his aggressive deportation of undocumented Latinos, people like this miserable lowlife want to pitch in and "help" their leader make America white again.

(photo: Henry County, MO sheriff's department)

Tweets Of The Day - The Odd Couple

All the talk at the crusty white people's Conservative Political Action Conference today was about the joint appearance by the Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar of the alt- right, Steve "Loose Cannon" Bannon and Reince "Prepuce" Priebus.  Fighting off rumors that they're continually stabbing each other in the back to gain more power in Trumpland, they may have taken the buddy buddy act a bit too far:

But, apparently, permission doesn't go both ways:

Perhaps this is why Priebus reacted as he did:

Today's Cartoon Twofer - Wretchedly Refusing

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(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

Dossier: Russian Payoff To Rump And Co.?

With the firehose of outrageous actions and statements coming out of the White (Supremacist) House and the Rethuglican Party these days, it's hard to keep up. However, the most critical issue at the core of neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump's political existence is uncovering what ties him to his almost slavish loyalty to Russia and its autocratic leader. We can be certain that little, if anything, will be thoroughly and independently investigated by the party-before-country Rethugs in the House or Senate, despite being shamed in countless town hall sessions with angry and suspicious constituents. Senate Rethugs, with the possible exception of the McCain/Graham show, predictably will shirk their duties also, especially with amoral clown Mitch "Missy" McConnell controlling the agenda as Majority Leader.

In his article at AlterNet, Joe Conason explains that the Rump-Russia connection has much more to be revealed, and that the dossier compiled by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele is gaining more credence with our intelligence agencies (and those of Western allies) as some elements of that dossier are gradually being corroborated by those agencies. Among the tangle of confidential meetings and interplay with shady Russian oligarchs described in the dossier, Conason notes one major allegation: that state-owned Russian energy giant Rosneft was prepared to give Rump and his associates/partners 19% of the company in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. The money would be laundered through a number of fronts and shell companies so as to conceal the ultimate recipients. What makes the allegation resonate is that Rosneft privatized 19.5% of its shares late last year, roughly a year after the Steele dossier was compiled, making Steele either clairvoyant or the allegation believable.

There's increasingly more fire than smoke appearing in the Rump-Russia connection, and it needs to be investigated independently before the party-before-country Rethuglicans have a chance to bury it.

What's On The Agenda Today In Trump's America?

What are the evil bastards up to now?

Rolling back protections for transgender students:
President Donald Trump’s administration announced on Wednesday that it will no longer bar schools from discriminating against transgender students, rescinding a policy put in place by the previous administration. [snip]
[Trump Press Secretary "Spicy" Sean] Spicer said Tuesday that the president considered transgender rights to be “a states’ rights issue and not one for the federal government.”  
“I find it obscene that Mr. Spicer would characterize the well-being, the health and the very safety of transgender young people as an issue of states’ rights,” responded Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. “The fact is that no child in America should have their rights subject to their zip code.”  
Providing the "freedom" of living without affordable health insurance:

As with their "socialized medicine" scary blabber when Medicare/ Medicaid was introduced 50 years ago, the far right has the same talking point:

Fortunately, we have things called "facts" and "history":
More than half a century later, Medicare hasn’t created a totalitarian dystopia. Instead, it has allowed generations of seniors to access the medical care they need, while sparing them the hardship and indignity of financial ruin. That’s arguably a huge increase in freedom, much like the Affordable Care Act seeks to deliver now.
Or, what she said:

Sending out the Trump Deportation Squad to terrorize immigrants:
The Department of Homeland Security Tuesday laid out the Trump administration's plans for aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, including a potentially massive expansion of the number of people detained and deported. [snip] 
The fundamental shift in US policy will likely continue to provoke fear in immigrant communities of a vast expansion of the government's use of its enforcement powers to potentially deport undocumented immigrants who have lived in their communities for years, and may have family members who are legal US residents or citizens.
Some of these "aggressive enforcement" actions sound more like the actions of sadists with axes to grind.

Remember, these are the same hypocrites who believe in "family values" and the "sanctity of life," at least before birth and only if you're of the Christian Caucasian persuasion.

Letting the fox "guard" the environmental chicken coop:
As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt, now the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, closely coordinated with major oil and gas producers, electric utilities and political groups with ties to the libertarian billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch to roll back environmental regulations, according to over 6,000 pages of emails made public on Wednesday. 
The publication of the correspondence comes just days after Mr. Pruitt was sworn in to run the E.P.A., which is charged with reining in pollution and regulating public health. Senate Democrats tried last week to postpone a final vote until the emails could be made public, but Republicans beat back the delay and approved his confirmation on Friday largely along party lines.
Nice touch that the party- before- country Senate Republicans rushed ahead to confirm Pruitt before the emails could be introduced at his confirmation hearing, not that it would've changed the outcome.

All of this is churning while we wait for the truth to come out on the Rump- Putin connection (stay tuned for our next post). No wonder they're moving so fast.

BONUS:  Seth Meyers on Rump's wall and immigration policies --

"A Double Life" Quote of the Day

"Scandal is saying one thing and doing another; it is a double life, a double life. A totally double life: ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this association and that one; but my life is not Christian, I don’t pay my workers a just wage, I exploit people, I am dirty in my business, I launder money…’ A double life. And so many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others." (emphasis added) -- Pope Francis, in a homily delivered this morning. Religious hypocrites populate not just Catholicism, but all of Christianity, especially that subset of right-wing evangelical Elmer Gantrys that infest the airwaves and mega-churches, such as the right-wing purveyors of the "prosperity gospel".

The Catholic Church has made progress under this Pope in addressing economic and social injustice, poverty and inequality. Many in his Church -- from Cardinal to parishioner -- still aren't minding his words, and probably never will because the "double life" suits them just fine.

Our Weak (Un)President

Well, knock us over with a baby rattle.

According to former campaign staff baby sitters, neo- fascist Giant Toddler* Donald "Rump" Trump functions like a spoiled five- year- old with a personality disorder:
President Donald Trump’s former campaign staffers claim they cracked the code for tamping down his most inflammatory tweets, and they say the current West Wing staff would do well to take note. 
The key to keeping Trump’s Twitter habit under control, according to six former campaign officials, is to ensure that his personal media consumption includes a steady stream of praise. And when no such praise was to be found, staff would turn to friendly outlets to drum some up — and make sure it made its way to Trump’s desk. 
"If candidate Trump was upset about unfair coverage, it was productive to show him that he was getting fair coverage from outlets that were persuadable," said former communications director Sam Nunberg. "The same media that our base digests and prefers is going to be the base for his support. I would assume the president would like to see positive and preferential treatment from those outlets and that would help the operation overall." [snip] 
The in-person touch is also important to keeping Trump from running too hot. One Trump associate said it’s important to show Trump deference and offer him praise and respect, as that will lead him to more often listen. And if Trump becomes obsessed with a grudge, aides need to try and change the subject, friends say. Leaving him alone for several hours can prove damaging, because he consumes too much television and gripes to people outside the White House. (our emphasis)
One of the very few perverse satisfactions of living through this nightmare is the thought that Rump's baby sitters are exhausting themselves, hour to hour, day to day, trying to keep him from throwing a tantrum that throws them further behind and off message. The idea that those soulless hacks are busy working on their ulcers, nervous breakdowns, and hopefully are aging three times faster than normal, to serve this odious carbuncle and his un- American agenda -- priceless.

But the stakes are too high to dwell on those thoughts for long.  That a 70- year- old man is so emotionally ... weak that he needs to be reassured constantly, is beyond shocking. To restate the obvious, he's not well.

This can't go on for four years.

* h/t Quinn Cummings.

(Image: freethinker.co.uk)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tweets Of The Day - WWJD

The collection of crusty misfits, knuckledraggers, xenophobes, bigots, misogynists and Bible bangers (we're sure we left out a few descriptors) gathering at the Conservative Political Action Conference starting today has shown that it was willing to tolerate the likes of vicious troll Milo Yiannopoulos, so one shouldn't be surprised at this agenda item:

Some of our favorite responses to those clever douches at CPAC:

Lastly, is that Pope Francis weighing in?

(Not So Far) Across The Universe

We break into our regular Republican/ Trump/ white supremacist bashing to bring you some news from the folks at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

Only 39 light years away is basically a stone's throw in astronomical terms (but, the speed of light is the speed of light, and a year is a year - do the math).  Still, as Charles Pierce asks, "When can I reserve my ticket?"

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Steve Benson, Arizona Republic)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Portrait Of A Villain: Sen. Mitch McConnell

Long- time readers of this blog know the contempt in which we hold chinless human/ turtle hybrid Sen. Mitch "Missy" McConnell (Hypocrite- KY).  Throughout his career, he's been the perfect example of a party- before- country Republican, a cynic without a moral compass. With the advent of popular vote loser Donald "Rump" Trump, Missy's already loathsome partisan hypocrisy has been on steroids.

He's shown he's perfectly willing to let Rump destroy the fabric of our country as long as Rump lets the Republican Congress pass tax cuts for the wealthy, laws that dismantle environmental protections and voting rights, allow Wall Street to revert to the casino it was before the 2008 crash and the Great Recession, and on and on. Well, some of his constituents are letting him know that they're on to his scam (as others around the country are serving notice on their democracy- shy Republican representatives):
Nearly 1,000 people jeered Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he drove to a speech Tuesday where he told local business leaders that "winners make policy and the losers go home." 
Protesters crowded the American Legion Post 34 Fairgrounds, kept at bay by several police officers and a chain link fence. The crowd chanted "No ban, no wall, Mitch McConnell take our call" — a reference to full voicemail boxes at the senator's offices — as McConnell drove past in a black SUV. It was the first of several scheduled public appearances for McConnell this week during a congressional recess. Protesters upset with Republican President Donald Trump's policies have vowed to follow McConnell to every stop.  (our emphasis)
"Winners make policy and the losers go home." It's awfully rich for that to be coming out of the mouth of a Republican.  Just for laughs, let's get into the time machine and go wayyy back to shortly after the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009:
... The 15 Republicans were in a sombre mood as they gathered at the Caucus Room in Washington, an upscale restaurant where a New York strip steak costs $51. 
Attending the dinner were House members Eric Cantor, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Hoekstra, Dan Lungren, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan and Pete Sessions. From the Senate were Tom Coburn, Bob Corker, Jim DeMint, John Ensign and Jon Kyl. [snip] 
"If you act like you're the minority, you're going to stay in the minority," said Keven McCarthy, quoted by Draper. "We've gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign."  (our emphasis)
And here again, in 2010:
Here’s John Boehner, the likely speaker if Republicans take the House, offering his plans for Obama’s agenda: “We're going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can. 
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell summed up his plan to National Journal: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”  (our emphasis)
Doesn't sound like a "winners make policy and the losers go home" strategy to us. Sounds more like, let's stick around and just gum up the works.

It's always helpful to keep one thing in mind when you hear this rhetoric coming from hypocrites like Missy:  Republicans weren't winners in 2016.  They lost the popular vote for President by almost 3 million, they lost six seats in the House and two in the Senate. They. Have. No. Mandate.

As for Missy McConnell, as has been said before (and before), when the history of this dark period is written, Mitch McConnell will go down as one of the real villains.

(Image: A punchable face if there ever was one.)

Trump's Damaging Federal Hiring Freeze (UPDATED)

Rethuglican mythology holds that "Federal jobs bad! bad! bad!" After all, a dime that can't be diverted from the Federal government to the pockets of their mega-wealthy contributors and corporate America is a dime wasted (that's what their "supply side" scam was always about). It's also one of their favorite lies that civilian Federal employment is growing by leaps and bounds, when in fact the average size of the civilian Federal workforce between 1944 and 2014 was 2.04 million, compared to 2.08 million in 2014, with much of the growth being in civilian Defense Department jobs supporting the uniformed military especially during wartime.

One of the first moves made by unstable demagogue and popular vote loser Donald "Rump" Trump was to freeze Federal hiring, but it appears that his simplistic move is causing real problems in unexpected places (hint: not Washington, D.C.). The hiring freeze is affecting constituencies that Rump may not have considered in his haste: day care for military families stationed here and in Germany, and largely rural / red state areas (minorities, too, but that's fine with Rethugs). Day care services at Ft. Knox and at the military facility in Wiesbaden, Germany were suspended because those facilities couldn't hire the hourly and part-time civilian workers to replace ones that had left or were leaving. Similarly, since roughly 85% of Federal jobs are outside of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Rump's freeze will effect many in his red state base, as workers retire or move on to other jobs and agencies are unable to replace them with local residents. Think a healthcare worker at a Veterans Administration facility, or Federal prison staff, or Federal law enforcement personnel, or staff processing Medicare or Social Security documents, etc. We'll certainly be hearing about more instances of damage caused by this shortsighted, but predictable, Rethuglican scapegoating of Federal employees trying to do their jobs with less and less.

UPDATE: Your taxpayer dollars going to the truly needy --

Mid-Week I Am Song

Washington, D.C. native Kayla Waters is getting a lot of attention after the release of her debut album "Apogee."  The daughter of jazz saxophonist Kim Waters, Kayla began playing the piano at age 6, and hasn't stopped since. In addition to performing and accompanying such artists as Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight, she's Music Director of the Howard University Early Learning Program. Her single off the album, "I Am," which we feature today, has been on the charts for all of four weeks and is already rising through the jazz singles top 10.  Enjoy.

Tiny Trump - A Small Man For A Big Office

It just makes it easier for him to fit in Vladimir Putin's pocket.

(h/t Mock Paper Scissors)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

That's A Lot Of Ass To Work Off!

(click on image to enlarge)

(Attribution: DemocraticUnderground.com)

Well, whatever his golf handicap, we know his mental handicap is yuuuge.

Digby has a good read as to why this is reflective of a pervasive dishonesty. Also, she reminds us of this:
At an event in New Hampshire in Feb. 2016, while again complaining about Obama golfing, Trump declared that if he were in office, “I’d want to stay in the White House and work my ass off.”
(Please refer back to post heading.)

Today's Memorial Cartoon Twofer - Remembering The Victims

(click on image to enlarge)

(Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

"Never Fjorget!"

Stephen Colbert is becoming the go-to relief for life in Trumpland. His show is surging in the ratings with his sharp satire frequently aimed at the unPresident, in contrast to Jimmy "The Hair Musser" Fallon's watery soup of gentle jibes at unstable buffoon Donald "Rump" Trump. Last night, he took on Rump's lie about a non-existent terrorist incident in Sweden ("Never Fjorget"). He also answers former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt's question of "what has Trump been smoking?" Colbert's answer involves something of Putin's (it's bleeped in the video). Colbert's an invaluable national treasure in these times.

The Far Right's "Sassy Gay (Ex) Friend" (UPDATED)

Needless to say, the implosion of far- right troll and Breitbart "News" hack (for now*) Milo Yiannopoulos was long overdue. The tipping point was reached when his comments about pedophilia and pederasty became public. (Considering those comments, remember that this is someone who refers to Donald "Rump" Trump as "Daddy"-- paging Dr. Freud!) Curiously, however, it was only those comments that were sufficiently embarrassing to the slugs that inhabit such venues as the Conservative Political Action Conference and Simon and Schuster to abandon him.  Here's some of what the slugs have been tacitly endorsing in their embrace of their "sassy gay friend*" up until now:

-- his embrace of alt- right white nationalist racism and bigotry;

-- his sexist, vicious stance on feminism and rape culture;

-- his anti- Semitism and Islamophobia; and

-- his encouragement of online harassment of women, transgenders and people of color.

This boil on the ass of humanity has always been a sick, hateful f*ck masquerading as a "cultural libertarian."  He certainly hasn't shied away from expressing his hateful views when given the opportunity.  Yet, knowing that, he was acceptable enough to the publishers at (sweet fancy Moses) Simon and Schuster to snag a $250,000 book advance. More understandably, he was acceptable to the culture warriors and bitter cranks at CPAC, who no doubt loved the fact that he trolled their enemies (women, minorities, LBGTQs, progressives, etc.) with such high visibility and relish.  American Conservative Union Chairman Matt "Dick" Schlapp defended the choice of Yiannopoulos to keynote at CPAC by saying (not ironically), "...[H]e’s got a voice that a lot of young people listen to..." Well, maybe Hitler Youth the kidz at Stormfront or Richard Spencer's National Policy Institute. That's the demo Yiannopoulos appeals to.

That demo's still there, it's just their "sassy gay friend" finally found a line they wouldn't cross with him.

*UPDATE:  He gone.
*H/t Roy Edroso, who has a great read about the relationship between Milo and the conservative movement.

Also, Kali Holloway at Alternet writes about what this episode tells us about the "conservative movement."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tweet Of The Day - Waiting For The Shoes To Drop

More big shoes will be dropping on the Trump- Putin connection.  Our former POTUS (who wanted daily intelligence briefings unlike the shitgibbon) knows the brands and sizes.

President's Day Thought

On this President's Day (or for many of us, "Not My President's Day"), the Washington Post editorial board "hopes" the Republican Congress has learned something in the month the shitgibbon has been in office, something we see few signs of ourselves:
...We hope that Congress has also learned something in the past month: that with truth, openness and integrity becoming scarce commodities in the White House, and with ethnic nationalist and other anti-democratic forces gaining in many countries, an inescapable challenge is looming before the House and the Senate, the same one presented to another Republican Congress 154 years ago by a president who always spoke with honesty and courage: 
“We cannot escape history,” Lincoln said then. “We . . . will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.”
What might currently pass for "honor" in the Republican Congress is =cough= McCain =cough= superficial posturing so far.  When the chips are down, they're sticking with party before country. Here's Nate Silver's proof:

We'll go out on a limb and say that 80 percent of Republicans in Congress will stick with the shitgibbon all the way.  It's who they are.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is working on a solution to a Trump- enabling Republican Congress:
DCCC recruitment chair Denny Heck (D-Wash.) is apparently unconcerned about finding credible contenders for the 2018 midterms. "We're raining candidates," he said last week.
Better be good progressive candidates.

BONUS:  And with a base like this, we shouldn't expect Republicans to act honorably.