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

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(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, "...[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.

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.

QOTD: Russia's "Psychological Portrait" Of Trump

"Very serious preparatory work is going on in the Kremlin, including a paper — seven pages — describing a psychological portrait of Trump, especially based on this last two to three months, and the last weeks." (emphasis added) -- Andrei Fedorov, Russia's former Deputy Foreign Minister, as interviewed by NBC News. While we think they had the raw intelligence long ago, we can spare them the preparatory work on his psychological portrait: narcissistic personality disorder, pathological liar, delusions of grandeur, selfish kleptocrat with authoritarian tendencies. There, no charge.

As to the "paper" itself, apparently Russian autocrat Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin is increasingly concerned that his investment in Rump might be going south, with his unstable behavior, the certain exposure of his Russian ties, and his self-defeating war with the media (and truth). Fedorov told NBC that the portrait is being prepared in advance of Putin's yet-to-be-scheduled meeting with Rump, and that:
"(Russia) should avoid any kind of step that could damage Trump. Trump cannot come to a meeting with Putin as a loser — he must sort out his domestic problems first." (emphasis added)
Yes, Russia wouldn't want to do anything "that could damage Trump." It took too much time, and too many resources (investments in his properties, etc.) and risks to put him where he is, only to pull the plug.....for now.

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon - Damage Control

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(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

John Oliver On The Trump- Putin Connection

John Oliver delves into the "weird relationship" between neo- fascist Putin poodle Donald "Rump" Trump and the Russian autocrat.  This is amusing, for now, but be sure that in the coming weeks and months more will emerge about that "weird relationship" that will be far from amusing.

Poll: Americans Reject Rump's View Of NATO

While sociopath and pathological liar Donald "Rump" Trump retreated to the embrace of his cult fans in Florida this weekend, his Vice President and Defense Secretary were  at a security conference in Munich, Germany trying to reassure European allies that the compromised shitgibbon they work for won't leave them to Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin's tender mercies. They went out of their way to assure the conferees that the NATO alliance was a cornerstone of our foreign and national security policy, contrary to Rump's statements that NATO was "obsolete." Destabilizing NATO and the European Union has been a long-standing goal of Russia, which seeks to reemerge with the power it once had during the Soviet Union era and which wants to reabsorb some of its former republics like the Ukraine.

Despite reassurances from the Rethuglican speakers, our European allies might want to look at how effectively the far-right, white nationalist movement in the U.S. has infiltrated the formerly hardline, pro-NATO  Rethuglican Party of yesteryear. According to the latest Gallup poll, 97% of Democrats want NATO maintained, while a weaker 69% of Rethuglicans do. Overall, 80% of Americans want the longstanding alliance to be maintained.

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Until Rump's hidden ties and "obligations" to Putin's Russia are uncovered, he'll continue to chip away at American support for NATO, in order to please the Putin regime (and perhaps protect Russian investments in his business). With Rump, don't listen to what he or his subordinates say, watch what they do.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Today's Tweets - Our Deepest Condolences To The Victims

More "condolences" here.

And, from the former Swedish Foreign Minister:

Hint: when delusional ignoramus Trump's lips are moving, he's lying.

Sunday Reflection/ Across The Universe

"A lifeless universe?  I prefer to imagine that there are many worlds out there with their own peoples, where the stories that cannot be told on this world can have their chance to live." -- brother blogger Infidel 753.

Look at this and imagine, too (click on image to enlarge):

From NASA/ ESA, February 13, 2017: This image was captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), a highly efficient wide-field camera covering the optical and near-infrared parts of the spectrum. While this lovely image contains hundreds of distant stars and galaxies, one vital thing is missing — the object Hubble was actually studying at the time!

This is not because the target has disappeared. The ACS actually uses two detectors: the first captures the object being studied — in this case an open star cluster known as NGC 299 — while the other detector images the patch of space just ‘beneath’ it. This is what can be seen here.

Technically, this picture is merely a sidekick of the actual object of interest — but space is bursting with activity, and this field of bright celestial bodies offers plenty of interest on its own. It may initially seem to show just stars, but a closer look reveals many of these tiny objects to be galaxies. The spiral galaxies have arms curving out from a bright centre. The fuzzier, less clearly shaped galaxies might be ellipticals. Some of these galaxies contain millions and millions of stars, but are so distant that all of their starry residents are contained within just a small pinprick of light that appears to be the  same size as a single star!

The bright blue dots are very hot stars, sometimes distorted into crosses by the struts supporting Hubble’s secondary mirror. The redder dots are cooler stars, possibly in the red giant phase when a dying star cools and expands.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Today's Cartoons - Nothing Odd Here

You may notice a pattern.

(click on images to enlarge)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Darrin Bell, Washington Post Writers Group)

Running Scared, Rump Retreats To Safe Space

After a chaotic and disastrous first month in office, neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump fled the White House for the security blanket of a rally of his white supremacist supporters in Florida yesterday. Speaking in the deeply red region of Melbourne, he addressed his supporters gathered in an airplane hanger, and delivered the usual rant about the "dishonest press," while throwing in some laughable "successes" of the first month (great month, if you ignore the Flynn scandal, the botched Yemen raid, the botched Muslim ban and Court reversals, leaked information about his ties to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, his atrocious Cabinet appointments and withdrawls of some nominees, etc.). For a little rancid red meat for his adoring fans, he tossed a lie about a non-existent "Swedish terrorist attack" to them to gin up more fear and loathing of Muslims.

This insecure, world-class narcissist needs his crowds cheering him to feel important and validated. His loathes a press that isn't behaving like a public relations arm of the White House, stroking his fragile ego and telling him everything he does it the biggest, greatest, most fantastic thing ever.  Rest assured that the next three years and 11 months of his term (if he lasts that long) will be manic campaigning, because this unhinged and needy man needs the safe space of his cult followers.

(photo: Not the Rump rally, but a reasonable facsimile, minus many thousands of people)

Portrait Of A Villain - Rep. Devin Nunes

Joining slimy Republican Rep. Jason "Clouseau" Chaffetz (Weasel-UT) in the gallery of villains willing to do harm to American democracy is smarmy Rep. Devin Nunes (Weasel-CA), who served on the transition team and was an early supporter of neo- fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump.  Nunes joins Chaffetz in not doing his job, but rather assisting in sabotaging any investigation into the Rump- Russia connection:
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes on Friday sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation asking it to investigate the leaks of classified information that have produced a series of damaging media reports on President Donald Trump’s administration, according to three sources familiar with the letter. 
Nunes has suggested in recent days that the leaks came from career government intelligence employees who are either loyal to former President Barack Obama or opposed to Trump. And Nunes’ letter gives Trump a key Capitol Hill bulkhead in his war on leaks.
This is the clown who, as chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has access (if only he wanted it!) to the same intelligence as counterparts on the Senate side, who at least are concerned enough to be going through the motions of getting to the bottom of things.  As an example of Nunes' "curious" disinterest in all things Rump and Russian, on the same day Michael "Jack D. Ripper" Flynn was fired as National Security Advisor, Nunes opined that "there's a lot of nothing there" when it came to Flynn's conversations with the Russian Ambassador in December. Keen mind. Honest broker. Good to know he's in charge of the House Intelligence Committee.

So, once again, a party- before- country right-wing hypocrite is determined to provide cover and diversion for a corrupt and compromised shitgibbon, rather than investigate the disturbing, potentially treasonous activity revealed by the leaks. Loofa- headed Sen. "Ayn" Rand Paul (R- Galt's Gulch) gave it away when he said, "I just don't think it's useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party."

What was said of Chaffetz applies to Nunes: When the history of this dark period is written, Devin Nunes will go down as one of the real villains. We are certain there will be many, many more to add to the list.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Trump Creates New "Swamp" At Mar-a-Lago

The story in the New York Times today about influential members of con man and grifter Donald "Rump" Trump's Mar-a-Lago club having input on Rump policies is more evidence of the casual corruption at the core of Rump's regime. Recently, fees to join the members-only club were doubled to $200,000, with $14,000 in annual dues, making it unlikely that any of Rump's rank-and-file deplorables would ever make it through the front gate. What's worse is that wealthy members have informal access to Rump when he visits the property (which is becoming every weekend), and the ability to chat him up on pet projects or pet peeves.
"Virtually overnight, Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s members-only Palm Beach, Fla., club, has been transformed into the part-time capital of American government, a so-called winter White House where Mr. Trump has entertained a foreign head of state, health care industry executives and other presidential guests.

But Mr. Trump’s gatherings at Mar-a-Lago — he arrived there on Friday afternoon, his third weekend visit in a row — have also created an arena for potential political influence rarely seen in American history: a kind of Washington steakhouse on steroids, situated in a sunny playground of the rich and powerful, where members and their guests enjoy a level of access that could elude even the best-connected of lobbyists [snip] 
One longtime member is Richard LeFrak, a fellow New York developer and one of Mr. Trump’s closest friends, who in turn has recruited some of his own friends to join. Jeff Greene, a Senate candidate in Florida in 2010, said he had joined at the urging of Mr. LeFrak. 
But Mar-a-Lago, where Mr. Trump’s old New York circle blurs easily into his presidency, is now a place where the president of the United States might seek guidance on a major government project the way another New Yorker might ask around for a good orthopedist.

When Mr. LeFrak paid a visit to Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago last weekend, he appeared a little startled when Mr. Trump, in a brief interlude during the conversation, told him that the Department of Homeland Security was quoting a price of more than $20 billion for the proposed border wall with Mexico.

'He said, would I consider doing it?
And then he suggested that the price that was being quoted in the media seemed absurdly high to him, Mr. LeFrak said."
(emphasis added)
We're certain that this type of crony capitalism will be a hallmark of Rump's regime, as he breaks down all norms for ethical behavior in the Presidency, and reverts back to his grifting /"dealmaking" habits learned over decades in the metaphorical brothel of New York real estate development. Just as he continues with his skirting the Constitution's emoluments clause, he'll skirt this, too, because he has no ethics, no shame or no sense of anything of value outside of himself and his bank account.

BONUS: It looks like Rump was inviting members of his Bedminster, NJ golf club to look in on the people he was interviewing for his Cabinet, much like you'd do in a zoo. You know that he wanted them to watch as he humiliated the cast-offs like Willard "Mittens" Romney and Snarly Carly Fiorina.

Today's Cartoon Twofer

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(Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

Survey: Obama Among Our Greatest Presidents

Nearly 100 presidential scholars and historians have ranked former President Barack Obama as the 12th greatest President out of 44. The rankings were based on 10 different criteria relating to the job, including economic management, crisis leadership, public persuasion, and moral authority. The top five rankings were Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower. Obama's placement at number 12 is remarkable, given he has been out of office just one month. Given his high approval ratings at the end of his term, he may rise higher as surveys are taken in the future.

While an amoral, vicious and corrupt Republican-led Congress and Executive Branch try to systematically dismantle his achievements, Obama's legacy will be remembered and honored by future generations of scholars and historians, as well as "we the people."

The Trump Machine

Shot: Neo-fascist delusional shitgibbon Donald "Rump" Trump at his press conference last Thursday:
"I turn on TV, open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos – chaos – yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine."  (our emphasis)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)


(h/t Political Hotwire)

Follow this link for many more examples of a "fine-tuned machine."

Friday, February 17, 2017

We Got Yer Polls Right Here

Always keep in mind:  we're the majority.

(click on images to enlarge)

Gallup, 2/13-2/16 (post- Michael Flynn debacle):

That's 56 percent disapproval and 38 percent approval. Winning so much!

Pew, 2/7-2/12 (pre- Michael Flynn debacle):

That's a resounding repudiation of neo- fascist crackpot Donald "Rump" Trump, less than a month into his reign of error. Very few "don't knows" there, too.

Weekend Music Twofer - It's A Miracle!

Sunday is singer, songwriter, music producer/ executive, and founder of the Miracles, Smoky Robinson's 77th birthday, so we're going to spin a few of our favorite Miracles songs. "You've Really Got A Hold On Me," is from 1962 (which, at the very least, some of you might remember from Sesame Street), and "Going To A Go-Go," is from 1965.  Robinson wrote the former and co-wrote the latter with the Miracles.  Enjoy your weekend.

Praise The Lord & Pass The Comeuppance

In a recent post, we noted that a cabal of right-wing Catholic cardinals was actively trying to undermine Pope Francis' shift to more progressive positions and away from the wingnuts' favorite hobby horses, like denying women's reproductive rights, opposing LGBTQ rights, and protection of the powerful and wealthy. Chief among the clerical culprits was Cardinal Raymond Burke, who had been demoted from several important posts after his right-wing agitation against the Pope became too obnoxious to ignore. His meeting with neo-fascist political figures in Europe (and his tacit approval of posting signs around Rome that were critical of the Pope) was the final straw in removing Burke from his position overseeing the Knights of Malta.

Fast forward to today. Pope Francis has shipped Burke to Guam (we had suggested Tehran) to preside over a case involving child molestation allegations against the island's archbishop. That should be interesting, considering Burke's soiled history:
"Despite being well versed in Canon law, Burke’s reputation on clerical sex abuse cases is dismal. He stands accused of not reporting predator priests while he worked in the United States, and he once blamed gay priests as the authors of the assaults, accusing the perpetrators of being 'feminized and confused about their own sexual identity.'”
Pause for a moment to enjoy a bit of schadenfreude.

Perhaps if Burke publicly sweeps the allegations under his cassock rather than having an honest trial, the Pope would honor our wish and permanently assign Burke to Tehran. After all, he shares many of the same cultural, if not religious, views of the mullahs.

Today's Cartoon Threefer - The Press Conference

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(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times-Free Press)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal Constitution)

(Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune)

Portrait Of A Villain: Rep. Jason Chaffetz

When last seen, the slimy Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Jason "Clouseau" Chaffetz (Weasel-UT) was rightfully getting his ass booed by constituents at a town hall meeting.  So what's the latest from this soulless guardian of democracy?
The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who has refused Democratic requests to investigate possible conflicts of interest involving President Donald Trump, is seeking criminal charges against a former State Department employee who helped set up Hillary Clinton's private email server. 
Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday asking him to convene a grand jury or charge Bryan Pagliano, the computer specialist who helped establish Clinton's server while she was secretary of state. (our emphasis)
So, as far as investigating nut- in- chief Donald "Rump" Trump's connection with Russian President Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin or Rump's lack of transparency in ongoing business "deals," Chaffetz is adopting the "nothing to see here, move along" approach with a side of "but let's go back to Clinton emailghazi!!"  Chaffetz is perhaps the epitome of the party- before- country Republican; it's hard to imagine someone more concerned with his own political skin and the survival of his party of deplorables than Chaffetz.

As Norm Ornstein aptly put it,


More Reactions To Rump's "Unhinged" Press Conference

For more than an hour yesterday, sociopathic liar-in-chief Donald "Rump" Trump sprewed a series of lies, false accusations, derogatory comments and nonsense at his "press conference." Outside of his loyal-to-the-end base, the reactions were those of shock and renewed concern about Rump's stability. Here are some voices on Twitter:

And about the laughable statement that his administration is operating "like a fine-tuned machine" there's this

BONUS:  John Cassidy at The New Yorker has a good take on the "alternative reality" press conference (which comports with the article's accompanying photo below):
When he walked out of the room, some of his aides appeared to be delighted. Rush Limbaugh, another Palm Beach resident who has made his career by going loco on the mainstream media, was busy hailing what he had just seen. In parts of Trumpland, then, this was seen as a big win. Practically everywhere else, the reaction was: Wow! He really is a nut.  (our emphasis)
(Andrew Harnik/ AP)

"The powers of the President will not be questioned!"

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tweet Of The Day - "Unhinged"

CNN's Jake Tapper has some thoughts on the Trump news conference meltdown today:

How long does the country have to suffer with this disturbed shitgibbon? (Rhetorical question.)

Quote Of The Day: Putingate Is Not A "One-Off"

"This scandal is not a one-off that will fade with time. Rather, it is the first peek into the dark vision of America's liar-in-chief. The response from House Republicans, who are putting Trump ahead of country and party, is disturbing. [snip] House Republicans should ask themselves some questions: Why should we be loyal to a man who is only nominally a Republican? Were we elected to serve Trump or our nation’s best interests? Is Trump the kind of man we want our party to be identified with? And how much are we willing to risk our own positions and the long-term interests of our party to protect Trump from himself?" (emphasis added) -- from David Cay Johnson's article in the Daily Beast. House Rethuglicans, up for reelection in less than 20 months (and primaries even sooner), won't buck the monster in the White House.

As we noted in today's Morning Reading, as long as they can get their tax cuts for the top income bracket, and gut affordable health care and regulations that restrain polluters and Wall Street predators, they'll look the other way, even in the face of treason.

Today's Cartoon Roundup

Whew, so little time, so many cartoons.

(click on images to enlarge)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Cover Of The Week - The Shitstorm

(click on image to enlarge)

Less than a month in ... sad!

Colbert On The Latest Trump Fiascos

Stephen Colbert goes after neo- fascist Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump (Secret Service code name: Constant Touch) and his band of sociopathic and treasonous incompetents:

Morning Reading - "From Zero To Watergate In 25 Days"

Some selected reading on the quite predictable implosion of the nascent regime of neo- fascist incompetent Donald "Rump" Trump (as always, please check out the entire articles):

Dana Milbank makes the point we made yesterday that no one in Rump's White (supremacist) House does anything without his orders:
President Trump has just set the all-time speed record for scandal — from zero to Watergate in 25 days. [snip]
... [T]he “What Did He Know?” game in this case may ask the wrong question. The real question is not when Trump found out but whether Flynn, in his contacts with the ambassador, was doing Trump’s bidding, at least implicitly. This would fit a pattern that has already developed in this White House: Trump’s aides do exactly as he orders. 
Flynn is no idiot. He spent a good chunk of his career in the intelligence business. He had to know that U.S. spy agencies listen to the Russian ambassador’s phone calls — and he’s savvy enough to know that his discussions with the ambassador about sanctions the Obama administration was imposing that day would make their way up the reporting chain. Finally, he had to know he couldn’t pass it off as a casual contact; the two spoke several times that day. 
So why do it? Perhaps for the same reason other smart people who work for Trump have done seemingly unwise things: Trump told them to. (our emphasis)
Charles Blow on what we know for sure and what we sense is on the horizon:
What we know only makes what we don’t know feel all the more ominous. But I believe that facts are forthcoming. Reporters are digging like a crew of coal miners hopped up on a case of Red Bull, and sources in Washington are leaking to anyone with a press credential. 
Drip, drip, drip it goes until the dam breaks and the truth spills. 
E.J. Dionne, Jr., just comes out with it:
Let’s not mumble or whisper about the central issue facing our country: What is this democratic nation to do when the man serving as president of the United States plainly has no business being president of the United States? 
The Michael Flynn fiasco was the entirely predictable product of the indiscipline, deceit, incompetence and moral indifference that characterize Donald Trump’s approach to leadership. 
Even worse, Trump’s loyalties are now in doubt. Questions about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia will not go away, even if congressional Republicans try to slow-walk a transparent investigation into what ties Trump has with Putin’s Russia — and who on his campaign did what, and when, with Russian intelligence officials and diplomats. 
For the present, don't look to the House of Representatives to investigate the Rump/ Putin connection. It's full of slavish, party- before- country ideologues who want to investigate the leaks (!)  and are itching to have Rump sign bills to gut protections for the environment and consumers, and regressive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations (drain that swamp!). It would take some rather damning facts to be leaked out in order for them to be shamed into doing their jobs under the Constitution (and come out, they will). Initially, the Senate is somewhat more likely to pursue the trail, although enemy of democracy and Trump coach Sen. Mitch "Missy" McConnell (Rat-KY) will do everything he can to delay and hinder any investigation (and certainly not by an independent select committee). As a tell, he's already signaled he won't support legislation to keep Rump from lifting sanctions on Russia. His wife, Elaine Chao, is in Rump's Cabinet, so don't expect this partisan POS to help keep Rump from further damaging American democracy.

Now, can we get a patriot at the Internal Revenue Service to leak Rump's tax returns so we can see how compromised he is by Putin?

BONUS:  Leonard Pitts, Jr., asks the question we all are asking of Rump: "Just who the hell do you think you are?"

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mid-Week Ran Song

Baltimore-based band Future Islands was featured here last June, after a couple of years of increasing recognition and concert appearances. Singer Samuel Herring's rich, bluesy voice is the band's most distinctive quality, along with its songs with ethereal melodies underlined by a keyboard and synthesizer, and deep bass guitar. Here's their newest single "Ran" (released two weeks ago) from their new album, "The Far Field."

Putz Puzder's Nomination Pulled

From news reports, it appears one of Rump's sociopathic plutocrats is going down:
The White House is expected to withdraw Andy Puzder’s nomination as labor secretary on Wednesday, according to multiple reports. He is the first of President Donald Trump’s nominees to not make it through the confirmation process. 
The move came as support evaporated among Republicans for the former fast-food executive. At least seven Republican senators refused to publicly back the former chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which owns the burger chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, as criticism mounted over his hefty stack of labor violations and long-standing support for increased immigration.
Puzder was the perfect Rump Republican for the Labor Department. In other words, he was a horror. Good riddance!

Today's Cartoon Twofer: Lock Him Up

(click on images to enlarge)

When the FBI interviewed former national security advisor and raging wingnut Michael "Jack D. Ripper" Flynn, he likely lied under oath as to his contacts with the Russian ambassador, among other things. That's a felony, and something that should be prosecuted immediately (before he defects for Russia?). Altogether now, "LOCK HIM UP!"

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times-Free Press)

(Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle)

IC Ready To "Go Nuclear" On Trump?

After his series of deranged tweets this morning slamming the U.S. intelligence community (IC) for disclosing his campaign's and his administration's potentially treasonous ties with Moscow, Putin pal and con-man-in-chief Donald "Rump" Trump may want to reconsider his rekindled war with them. A former National Security Agency (NSA) official relays what he's hearing from the intelligence community:
As the revelations of Rump's ties to Russia continue to spill out, it's all the more important for the press, politicians, the courts and the people to stand firm and demand full disclosure. Rump will be viciously fighting for his survival and won't spare any tools at his disposal -- until they're taken away from him.

Russia Positions Spy Ship Off U.S. Coast

The reports of a Russian cruise missile deployment in violation of an arms control agreement and the positioning of a Russian intelligence-gathering ship  30 miles off the Delaware coast has raised new concerns about an increasingly aggressive regime in Moscow apparently ready to see how the U.S. President that they helped to elect will react. The ship is equipped with sophisticated electronics gear and would be able to monitor communications on the East Coast. Russia's cruise missile deployment violates the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987 which bans certain range missiles and their launchers. The original intent of the ban was to provide security for our Western European allies, as Russia and its Warsaw Pact allies developed missiles capable of hitting most of their capitals.

After President Obama expelled 35 Russian intelligence officers from the U.S. in December, their intelligence gathering capabilities have been significantly curtailed. The appearance of the ship off the East Coast -- not far from U. S. military installations such as the Norfolk naval base -- demonstrates their interest in continuing to engage in intelligence gathering, and perhaps cyber warfare.

New Revelations On Trump-Russia Connections

Both the New York Times and CNN are reporting on new information that connections between the campaign of neo- fascist Putin poodle Donald "Rump" Trump and Russian operatives during the presidential campaign.  Here's part of CNN's report:
High-level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence, multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials tell CNN. 
President-elect Trump and then-President Barack Obama were both briefed on details of the extensive communications between suspected Russian operatives and people associated with the Trump campaign and the Trump business, according to US officials familiar with the matter. 
Both the frequency of the communications during early summer and the proximity to Trump of those involved "raised a red flag" with US intelligence and law enforcement, according to these officials. The communications were intercepted during routine intelligence collection targeting Russian officials and other Russian nationals known to US intelligence. 
Among several senior Trump advisers regularly communicating with Russian nationals were then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and then-adviser Michael Flynn. 
Officials emphasized that communications between campaign staff and representatives of foreign governments are not unusual. However, these communications stood out to investigators due to the frequency and the level of the Trump advisers involved. Investigators have not reached a judgment on the intent of those conversations. 
Adding to US investigators' concerns were intercepted communications between Russian officials before and after the election discussing their belief that they had special access to Trump, two law enforcement officials tell CNN. These officials cautioned the Russians could have been exaggerating their access.
This morning, we've been informally checking a few other media outlets, and at this point, the majority seem to be taking a hyper cautious approach to their reporting.  Essentially, they're balancing the breaking news from the Times and CNN while also parroting the regime's modified limited hang out spin that the resignation of Michael Flynn was due to "lack of trust" and not to the fact he was communicating with agents of a hostile foreign country. (If only Flynn had a private e-mail server, then the media would be on it like a dog with a bone, amirite?)

We feel confident we know where this is going from one simple fact: Flynn, as a chain- of- command career general officer would never have taken it upon himself to contact the Russian ambassador to discuss lifting sanctions without the approval of one pathologically lying shitgibbon. The same holds true for the other "high-level advisers" who were in contact with Russian operatives during the campaign -- you don't go behind the shitgibbon's back if you value your position.

Beyond that, the other large shoe that we suspect will be dropping will be what kompromat or leverage the Russians have on Rump.  Our intelligence community, as well ICs in Europe and Israel, are reported to have a read on that kompromat, which we will speculate they're busy corroborating.

As for the shitgibbon himself, he seems curiously uninterested in probing the Russian connection. Rather, he's going full cover-up/ nothing to see here move along (also, note the time stamps):

Attacking his own government's intelligence agencies and media (again). And bringing up the Clinton campaign? Nothing abnormal or suspicious about any of that, no siree bob!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tweets Of The Day -- Sic Transit Gloria, America

The Palace Knives Are Out

The hasty departure of wingnut conspiracy theorist and Russian mole Michael "Jack D. Ripper" Flynn is seen by some observers as an enhancement of right-wing white supremacist and derelict impersonator Steve "Loose Cannon" Bannon's power within the chaotic asylum that is the White (Supremacist) House. At the outset of this administration, three power centers coalesced around sociopathic incompetent Donald "Rump" Trump: the now-departed Flynn, chief "strategist" Bannon, and Chief of Staff and human/weasel hybrid Reince "Prepuce" Priebus. Now, the shifty-eyed Prepuce may be next in line:
"Bannon's next victim is likely to be White House chief-of-staff Reince Priebus. Last week, Bannon said of Priebus, “There’s no daylight between us.” In Washington, those are usually the last words a political innocent hears before a long knife is inserted into his or her back.

Priebus served as Trump’s tenuous link to the Republican power brokers who hoped, in vain, that he might establish a semblance of a normal White House for a disinterested president, like James Baker did for Ronald Reagan. Fat chance. Trump thinks Priebus is a loser and he is expected to be the next to go in what inside-the-Beltway types like to call a 'shakeup.'” (emphasis added)
You'll recall that during the Rethuglican primaries last year, Prepuce was in constant, flustered flop sweat damage control mode as candidate Rump generated one outrage after another. He joked then that he wasn't "pouring Baileys" on his cereal, but now he may want to reconsider (and have someone test the Baileys before drinking it) with the "Bannonization" of the White (Supremacist) House.

BONUS:  Meanwhile, the Twitterverse, remembering Flynn's role leading the "lock her up" chants at the Republican National Convention last summer, has a new hashtag: #lockhimup.

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Steve Benson, Arizona Republic)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle)

A Gift To A Grateful Canada

Stepping away for a moment from the Russian-Flynn-Rump blackmail intrigue unfolding, we noticed that when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at the White House yesterday, he apparently took time out to get one reassuring commitment from sociopath and con man Donald "Rump" Trump. Undoubtedly responding to back-channel Canadian alarm, the White (Supremacist) House assured Trudeau that full time snowbilly grifter and former half-term Governor of Alaska Sara "Winky" Palin would not be appointed U.S. Ambassador to Canada.  That makes the third Rump administration job that has been suggested for Winky, only to be hastily withdrawn by cooler heads. Earlier speculation was that Winky was being considered for the jobs of Secretary of the Interior (privatize those national parks!) and Secretary of Energy (drill, baby, drill!).

We can imagine Prime Minister Trudeau's relief that his government and the Canadian people would not have to deal with Winky's grifting self-promotion, not to mention her proud, aggressive ignorance and unfamiliarity with the English language. Canada's just too nice for that punishment.

(photo: Winky spotted hitching outside of Moose Jaw, Canada, on her way to Ottawa. Too late, Winky, but maybe you can bag a moose!)

Will Republicans Investigate Russian Infiltration? (Are You Kidding?)

As the curtain begins to be drawn away from the burgeoning scandal of Russian infiltration and manipulation of the regime of neo- fascist Putin poodle Donald "Rump" Trump, those looking for Republicans in Congress to put country above party for the first time are going to be sorely disappointed.  

First of all, they have more important things to investigate. Slimy Rep. Justin Chaffetz (Weasel-UT) has another ax to grind:
True, Chaffetz, after his unending probes of the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton, hasn’t shown any appetite to examine, say, the Trump administration’s ties to Russia or its many conflicts of interest. But the chairman has shown determination to probe, without fear or favor, the threat to America posed by Sid the Science Kid. 
The chairman of the powerful panel — the main investigative committee in the House — sent a letter to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demanding to know why, in an attempt to raise awareness of the Zika virus, “CDC appears poised to make a sole source award to the Jim Henson Company for $806,000 to feature Sid the Science Kid in an educational program about the virus.”
As for looking into the Michael Flynn- (Trump)- Vladimir Putin connection?

Chaffetz is certainly not alone among party- before- country Republicans (at what point do we just call them traitors?):

Mmmm. We love the smell of coverup in the morning.

How about that House Intelligence Committee that Chaffetz wants to defer to?

Hmmm. So what are they going to investigate?
And, Nunes' statement on Flynn followed (which, to coin a phrase, sounded better in the original Russian):

Oh, they're investigating the leaks that led Flynn to resign -- not Russian manipulation at the highest level of government =cough= Trump =cough=.  The old Watergate question, "What did the 'president' know, and when did he know it" is being asked, but certainly not by self- serving Republicans.

If this doesn't make it clear that these cowardly Republicans are willing to sacrifice their country to save the loathsome shitgibbon's regime, nothing will.  It's now up to the intelligence community, Democrats with spines, the media and all of us to keep this investigation from being squelched.

(h/t Amanda Terkel, HuffPo for tweets)

Vid of the Day: Valentine's Day At The White House

What would we do without late night comedians keeping us sane living in der Trumpland. Here's Jimmy Kimmel's contribution: a collection of Valentine's Day cards from the White (Supremacist) House. Hilarious.

Flynn Fail (UPDATED)

Conspiracy theorist and possible Russian mole Michael "Jack D. Ripper" Flynn abruptly resigned last night as National Security Advisor after it was revealed that the Justice Department had warned the White House weeks ago that Flynn could be blackmailed by Russia after he lied about discussing the lifting of sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Those phone conversations occured before incompetent meatstick Donald "Rump" Trump's inauguration, making it a violation of the Logan Act.

What made Flynn's departure inevitable was the position he allegedly put VP Mike "Dense" Pense in by misleading him about the Russian phone calls. At least, that's the story the Rump team is going with. There are many remaining questions, however, about who in the White House knew about the Justice Department's warning about the potential blackmail threat to Flynn. We know that White House counsel Donald McGahn was directly informed by former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, before she was fired by Rump, but what if anything did McGahn do with that information? We believe that if and when he went to Rump with the information, Rump brushed it off, either because 1) he thought it would disappear amid the chaos he was generating daily, 2) he was the one who asked Flynn to call the Russian ambassador to reassure them about lifting sanctions, or 3) both of the above. Just because Flynn has flown doesn't mean there's not more mischief to reveal.

BONUS: From the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia:

BONUS II:  We know the answer to the issues posed in this statement:
"'Now, we in Congress need to know who authorized his actions, permitted them, and continued to let him have access to our most sensitive national security information despite knowing these risks,' said Representatives Elijah Cummings of Maryland and John Conyers of Michigan. 'We need to know who else within the White House is a current and ongoing risk to our national security.'”
Um, that would be Rump.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Intelligence Briefings? "The President Likes Maps"

Can you spot the oxymoron:  "Trump intelligence briefing"?  Good.

From the New York Times, via Steve Benen:
[W]hile Mr. Obama liked policy option papers that were three to six single-spaced pages, council staff members are now being told to keep papers to a single page, with lots of graphics and maps. 
The president likes maps,” one official said. (our emphasis)
And "lots of graphics!" So, appropriately enough, he likes his briefings in the form of a game of "Risk."

If only this was part of an SNL skit.  But this nitwit is neo- fascist manbaby Donald "Rump" Trump, the man with the "nuclear football" at his fingertips (or is it?).  The Onion satirically (?) takes it from there:
Telling reporters they were working hard to provide important national security updates to the new commander-in-chief in a manner he found most useful and actionable, intelligence officials confirmed Monday they have been struggling to condense President Donald Trump’s briefings down to a single word. “The president prefers his briefs to be concise and straightforward, preferably no longer than two or three syllables, so we’re now focusing on compressing each day’s classified intel and any intercepted geopolitical chatter down to the sole most salient word,” said Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland...  (our emphasis)
Which is all not so surprising given that we're talking about a person who can get his deepest thoughts into a 140 character tweet.

Tweet Of The Day

Their incompetence may be our best hope.

Russia Meddling In French Elections

After its success in electing Putin poodle and pathological liar Donald "Rump" Trump, Russia has its sights on European members of NATO. It's being reported that Russian interests are planting fake news stories and attacks by Russian-backed internet trolls to thwart the campaign of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron of the En March! Party, who is leading in the polls. That is of concern to Russia, who favors far-right xenophobe candidate and Rump fan Marine LePen. France's general elections in May are being targeted by Russia, according to En Marche! Party leader Richard Ferrand, in much the same way, and for much the same ends, as they did in the U.S.: to install a Moscow-friendly (or Moscow-controlled) head of government.

Russia's long-term goal is to fragment Western Europe by breaking up the European Union and undermining the NATO alliance, so that it may reimpose its former hegemony over Eastern Europe and beyond, without organized resistance from the West. The first major hurdle has been cleared with Rump's election, who has repeatedly refused to criticize Russia or its autocratic thug Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin. To Putin's delight, Rump has questioned NATO's usefulness and applauded Britain's exit from the EU in the past. We'll know how at some point, but he's probably been compromised in some way by Russia, either through financial investments or personal scandal or both.

There is a French proverb which goes, "plus Γ§a change, plus c'est la mΓͺme chose." It translates, "the more things change, the more things stay the same." It doesn't have to be that way. European governments are aware of Putin's mischief, and have to take steps to counter it even if we didn't.

You Can't Fool All Of The People All Of The Time

Just 40 percent (and falling).

(click on images to enlarge)

Here's how that compares with other presidencies at the same point:

(Attribution: DemocraticUnderground.com)

We are the majority. There. Is. No. Mandate.

Today's Cartoon Twofer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Steve Benson, Arizona Republic)

(Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Flynn Phone F*ckup, Cont'd.

The growing heat being felt by the White (Supremacist) House over angry nutjob conspiracy theorist and National Security Advisor Michael "Jack D. Ripper" Flynn has prompted talk of an imminent firing. As we have noted, Flynn made as many as five phone calls to the Russian ambassador to the U.S. immediately after President Obama imposed sanctions on Russia for meddling in the 2016 elections, and before the Obama administration had left office, a violation of the Logan Act. While Flynn initially denied discussing the lifting of sanctions with the ambassador, in the face of evidence to the contrary, he recently claimed that he couldn't recollect discussing sanctions. Complicating matters is that Flynn apparently told VP Mike "Dense" Pense the initial version of the phone calls, which Dense and others repeated.

Surrogates of demagogue and Putin pal Donald "Rump" Trump have avoided defending Flynn, perhaps a signal that his days in his job are numbered. However, what's hard to believe is that a chain-of-command military officer like Flynn would "free lance" and call the Russian ambassador on his own without having been directed by Rump, or someone close to Rump, to do so. That circumstance might be what's keeping Flynn employed for now: the fear of someone higher up the ladder that Flynn will expose them if he's fired. There are not many rungs left in that ladder, and the investigation continues; stay tuned.

More people might be coming to this conclusion, as we have.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Across The Universe, Cont.

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ ESA, February 6, 2017:  Not to be confused with our neighbouring Andromeda Galaxy, the Andromeda constellation is one of the 88 modern constellations. More importantly for this image, it is home to the pictured NGC 7640.

Many different classifications are used to identify galaxies by shape and structure — NGC 7640 is a barred spiral type. These are recognisable by their spiral arms, which fan out not from a circular core, but from an elongated bar cutting through the galaxy’s centre. Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is also a barred spiral galaxy. NGC 7640 might not look much like a spiral in this image, but this is due to the orientation of the galaxy with respect to Earth — or to Hubble, which acted as photographer in this case! We often do not see galaxies face on, which can make features such as spiral arms less obvious.

There is evidence that NGC 7640 has experienced some kind of interaction in its past. Galaxies contain vast amounts of mass, and therefore affect one another via gravity. Sometimes these interactions can be mild, and sometimes hugely dramatic, with two or more colliding and merging into a new, bigger galaxy. Understanding the history of a galaxy, and what interactions it has experienced, helps astronomers to improve their understanding of how galaxies — and the stars within them — form.

Credit:  ESA/Hubble & NASA

The Republican War On Women (And Families), Cont.

While most of us have been focusing on the evil doings in neo- fascist birdbrain Donald "Rump" Trump's Washington (and we mean no disrespect to birds), there've been the usual shenanigans by his legion of Republican Party shitsticks out in "real America" (our emphasis throughout):

South Dakota

Republican State Rep. Wayne "Wayne" Steinhauer speaks for his party when he says there's no need to accommodate women in the workplace for, say, pregnancy!  He was objecting to this:
HB 1120, brought to us by Democratic Representative Dan Ahlers and co-sponsored by seven Democrats and four Republicans, would have required firms with 50 or more employees to offer moms and moms-to-be “reasonable accommodations” ...
"Reasonable accomodations?!" Why, in Wayne's world, if you don't like what the boss is doing,
It’s not prison. You can quit,” Steinhauer, a business owner, said during a Monday hearing of the House Commerce and Energy Committee on the bill, HB 1120.
To no one's surprise, his sociopathic Republogic prevailed, and the bill was defeated in committee.

Here's a picture of ol' Wayne himself.  Speaking of reasonable accommodations, he's the owner of the Best Western Motel in Murdo, SD (pop. 488), so if you're ever unfortunate enough to be caught in that hellhole, be sure to say howdy.


Republican State Rep. Terry Lynn Weaver (who only plays a doctor/ medical ethicist in her own mind) is on a mission, fueled by her righteous ignorance:
A bill filed by a Tennessee Republican aims to make children born through artificial insemination illegitimate. 
WMC reported that state House Representative Terry Lynn Weaver is sponsoring HB 1406 to repeal Tennessee current statute, TCA 68-3-306, which declares that children born through artificial insemination are the “legitimate” child of the mother’s husband.  
Weaver is also a "blues singer" in her own mind and definitely NOT A RACIST as this picture of her with "Aunt Jemima" clearly demonstrates:

But let's end on a happy note.

Counterprotesters outnumbered protesters 10 to 1 at a St. Paul rally Saturday morning calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. 
Sarah Stoesz, president of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, called the counterprotest an unprecedented event. A St. Paul police commander on scene estimated the original protesters numbered about 500 while the counterprotesters numbered about 5,000 to 5,500. 
“We’ve never seen anything like this at Planned Parenthood here in Minnesota,” Stoesz said. “Here in Minnesota we have 64,000 patients and about 24,000 of them would lose access to their health care if Congress is allowed to so-called defund Planned Parenthood. So it’s a very serious matter and you can see people are taking it very, very seriously.”
That's Minnesota Nice.