Monday, March 27, 2017

Low Bar Quote Of The Day

We set a low bar for the president, and he rammed his head on it." -- Austan Goolsbee, former chair of the White House Council of Economic advisors and professor of economics at the University of Chicago, commenting on CNN about TrumpCare's ignominious collapse last week despite cajoling from incompetent buffoon Donald "Rump" Trump.

Trump Hits New Low Approval -- 36 Percent

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(Gallup Daily Tracking Poll, rolling average 3/23-3/26)

This polling follows the immolation of TrumpCare last week. Sad!

He Plays A Sheriff On TV

Over the past few years, Milwaukee County Sheriff and unstable rageaholic David "Uncle Ruckus" Clarke has become the darling of the far right, appearing often on Fux and at the Rethuglican National Convention last summer. What makes his value to the far right higher is that he's an angry conservative African-American (albeit a self-hating one). While Clarke is registered and runs --astonishingly -- as a Democrat, there's nothing in his political views that resemble Democratic policies (he's even encouraged African-Americans to leave the Democratic Party). He's a staunch advocate for neo-fascist bigot Donald "Rump" Trump, and was reportedly under consideration for Secretary of Homeland Security -- until someone took a closer look at his incendiary personality. Clearly, he has used the tag "Democrat" to fool many in the majority-Democratic Milwaukee County, but the sheriff's absence from his job while out promoting his right-wing views and Rump is getting more and more disapproving notice from the voters there.

Perhaps even more than his chronic absence from Milwaukee County to promote himself (and a new "book" of his), the deaths of four prisoners in his county jail in 2016, including one man who died of dehydration, have alarmed people. Tragically, the newborn child of a female prisoner died after the mother was ignored by jail officials for six hours while she was in labor and after. He's also stepped forward to offer his "services" to the harsh Federal immigration enforcement effort underway by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which would "deputize" sheriff's office officials to check immigration status on anyone processed through Milwaukee County jails for any reason -- even a minor infraction.

The good news is that this delusional and dangerous twit is up for re-election in 2018; the bad news is that unless Dems wake up and turn out in droves to defeat him, he'll remain in office to do damage to his community.

(photo: "Uncle Ruckus" Clarke playing wild west sheriff dress-up on the streets of Milwaukee. Easier than doing your real job.)

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon - Trump's Diary

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(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

The Trumpanov Saga Continues

They're resembling the Russian Romanovs so much, perhaps they should be called the Trumpanovs. The surging, royal family-like nepotism under unstable sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump hit a new level when it was reported that Rump son-in-law and prince consort Jared "Mr. Ivanka Trump" Kushner will head Rump's efforts to "reorganize" the Government. Kushner, who was conveniently off skiiing in Aspen last week as the Trumpcare bill went down in ignominious flames, has been serving as one of Rump's "advisors." Just last week, Rump's daughter/substitute First Lady Ivanka "Complicit" Trump was given her own office in the West Wing with access to classified materials, and apparent carte blanche to sit in on any and all meetings with foreign leaders.

In Kushner's case, there is the little problem of his continued ties to his family's real estate development business and specifically a suspiciously favorable potential deal with China's Anbang conglomerate to invest in a struggling Kushner family property in Manhattan that could earn $400 million for the Kushner company. Senate Democrats have asked the White (Supremacist) House for an explanation of Kushner's role in the potential deal.

In addition, there are reports that Kushner will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding the Rump campaign's collaboration with Russia during and after the elections. Kushner met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower in December, along with disgraced Russian tool Michael Flynn, and separately in the same month with the head of a Russian bank that's been sanctioned by the U.S. over Russia's annexation of Crimea. Hopefully, with good questioning under oath, Kushner will provide previously undisclosed information that will be useful to the investigation.

As with the Romanovs, the arrogant, presumptuous Trumpanovs may feel that they can do anything as "rulers." The Romanovs found out the hard way that that's not how to survive. The Trumpanovs may be just as impervious to reality, too.

BONUS: As an aside, the WaPo article linked to above is a marvelous example of access- driven journalism, with "reporters" Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker dutifully using such ripped- from- the- White- House- news- release lines as "harvesting ideas," "a nimble power center," "a SWAT team of strategic consultants," and "infuse fresh thinking," to describe the concept and workings of the "Office of American Innovation" ("innovation!"). Democracy dies in pandering bullshit, too.

Meanwhile, as Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog notes, the group is top heavy with plutocrats such as Goldman Sachs veterans Gary Cohn and Dina Powell, and corporate types like Chris Liddell (Microsoft, GM) and real estate scion Reed Cordish. Why do we suspect the "innovations" will end up being innovative ways for corporations to avoid taxes and screw workers (i.e., "the Trump Model")?

BONUS II:  This --

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Across The Universe, Cont. - Two Interacting Galaxies In The Local Universe

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From NASA/ ESA, March 20, 2017: Some galaxies are harder to classify than others. Here, Hubble’s trusty Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) has captured a striking view of two interacting galaxies located some 60 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). The more diffuse and patchy blue glow covering the right side of the frame is known as NGC 3447 — sometimes NGC 3447B for clarity, as the name NGC 3447 can apply to the overall duo. The smaller clump to the upper left is known as NGC 3447A.

The trouble with space is that it is, to state the obvious, really, really big. Astronomers have for hundreds of years been discovering and naming galaxies, stars, cosmic clouds and more. Unifying and regulating the conventions and classifications for everything ever observed is very difficult, especially when you get an ambiguous object like NGC 3447, which stubbornly defies easy categorisation.

Overall, we know NGC 3447 comprises a couple of interacting galaxies, but we’re unsure what each looked like before they began to tear one another apart. The two sit so close that they are strongly influenced and distorted by the gravitational forces between them, causing the galaxies to twist themselves into the unusual and unique shapes seen here. NGC 3447A appears to display the remnants of a central bar structure and some disrupted spiral arms, both properties characteristic of certain spiral galaxies. Some identify NGC 3447B as a former spiral galaxy, while others categorise it as being an irregular galaxy.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

SAD! Tweet From The Past

Remember a year ago when he Giant Toddler was proclaiming his omnipotence?

The incompetent clown that promised he's do the greatest deals evah tried to pass his AHCA turd sandwich with his magical dealmaking skilz and......failed BIGLY. It recalls the "I alone can fix it" boast to his cult followers at the Rethuglican Convention. If by "fix" he meant "screw it up," he got that right. Sad!

Flynn Flipping For FBI?

There are reports that former national security advisor and unhinged conspiracy fan Michael "Jack D. Ripper" Flynn may be turning against neo-fascist incompetent Donald "Rump" Trump in the FBI's counter intelligence investigation of Rump and his campaign's Russian collusion. During Rump's campaign, Flynn was his main advisor on national security and had frequent contact with Russian officials, infamously attending a 2015 dinner in Moscow to "celebrate" Russia's state-owned network's 10th anniversary while seated next to thug and autocrat Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin. He was fired in disgrace after his phone conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak over lifting U.S. sanctions became public.

If the report is accurate and Flynn is preparing to serve as an FBI witness against Rump and his associates, it would clearly add a major dimension to the ongoing investigation of collusion with Russian officials during (and possibly after) the election. The additional leverage that the FBI may have on Flynn is a reported plot to kidnap Turkish dissident mullah Fethullah Gulen from the U.S., circumventing U.S. extradition procedures, and secretly return him to Turkey. Flynn participated in a meeting last September with Turkish officials to discuss how that would be accomplished. Subsequently, it's been revealed that Flynn's consulting firm was receiving $530,000 to represent Turkey's interests while he was on the Rump campaign, and while sitting in on national security meetings as Rump's national security advisor.

Let's hope that the FBI has struck a deal with Flynn to offer testimony against the Rump cabal. It would be sweet revenge for him after his unceremonious canning by his co-conspirator.

Trump Uses Sock Puppet Pirro To Call For Ryan's Ouster

Neo- fascist nitwit Donald "Rump" Trump doesn't have a subtle bone in his bulbous body.

After saying "I don't blame Paul" (Speaker Sneaker of the House Ryan) for the TrumpCare debacle, his little fingers went to work issuing instructions to his dense following:

Why would the shitgibbon make a special point of promoting this spittle- flecked ranter's Fox "News" show? Obviously, he knew what was coming. Here's part of Judge Dredd Jeanine's opening statement:
"Ryan needs to step down as Speaker of the House. The reason, he failed to deliver the votes on his healthcare bill, the one trumpeted to repeal and replace ObamaCare," Pirro said in her opening statement. 
"You come in with all your swagger and experience and sell them a bill of goods which ends up a complete and total failure and you allow our president, in his first 100 days, to come out of the box like that, based on what?" Pirro said.
You can watch her deliver Rump's her remarks here.

Of course, she said she hadn't talked with Rump about the nature of his her remarks, which means in addition to his mad skillz as a negotiator and closer, Rump is also both clairvoyant and especially ham- fisted when it comes to making his moves.

Speaking of moves, it's your turn, Ryan.

BONUS:  The unfit, unstable Giant Toddler could only contain his instinct to lash out for so long:

Sunday Reflection

"The progressive side, the pro-freedom side, the rational side -- it wins in the long run.  Otherwise the Dark Ages would never have ended." -- Infidel 753 on the day before the collapse of the dystopian TrumpCare and the survival of the Affordable Care Act "in the foreseeable future," perhaps one more indication of the basic truth of that observation. While there may have been despair two months ago, there now should be renewed hope that we will win in the long run. #resist

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Tweet Of The Day - "The Fight Isn't Over Yet"

We're Hackwhackers and we approve this message (click on image to enlarge):

To all who showed up -- whether in marches, town hall meetings, letters, emails or phone calls -- we thank you too.

Today's Cartoons

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(Jeff Darcy,

(Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

Protecting Democracy Against Tyranny: Vid of the Day

Last night on Bill Maher's show, Yale history professor Timothy Snyder, author of "On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century," outlined three lessons from the last century for opposing tyranny. First, "don't obey in advance," following what everyone else is doing. Second, defend institutions, rather than assuming they'll always be there to defend you. Third, believe in the truth, which is the foundation for democracy. The discussion made it clear that neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump's politics shared many characteristics of former tyrants: discrediting a free press and court system, blaming religious or ethnic minorities for the nation's problems, etc. Panelists Christopher Hayes, Louise Mensch, and Max Brooks joined in the conversation, which drew strong parallels to the America under Rump with a Europe in the 1930s drifting toward fascism. Check it out.

TrumpCare: The Day After The Implosion

After yesterday's spectacular crash and burn of TrumpCare, done in as it was by his own ultra- radical Republican Party, neo- fascist loser Donald "Rump" Trump says he's moving on to "tax reform" (i.e., how can we get corporations and the wealthy to pay less in taxes while sticking to the middle class and poor?).  But before we move on to the next opportunity for epic failure, let's see some of the post mortems on TrumpCare:

And finally, enjoy the derp with a helping of schadenfreude!

The ads were also playing on local t.v. in the Washington, DC, area hours after the bill was dead.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Today's Cartoon Twofer - Deflect And Point Fingers

True to his nature as a malignant narcissist and pathological liar, neo- fascist loser Donald "Rump" Trump reacted as expected to the failure of his signature TrumpCare at the hands of his own party... by blaming Democrats and lying about Obamacare. Sad!

(click on images to enlarge)

(Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle)

(Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

NO VOTE! -- TrumpCare Bill FAIL

The White (Supremacist) House has announced that the "American Health Care Act" (TrumpCare) will be pulled from the House floor without a vote because it lacked the votes in the Republican caucus to pass. As a matter of fact, it's being reported that, as time passed over the last 48 hours, more Republicans were opting to vote "no" on the dystopian bill.

Speaker Sneaker of the House Paul "Lyin'" Ryan and neo- fascist dealmaster Donald "Rump" Trump will be making statements this afternoon.  We have a musical accompaniment for those statements right here.

BONUS: Just finished listening to Ryan's cavalcade of lies about Obamacare. His veiled threats about Dems wishing Repubs had passed something to "save them" from Obamacare coincides with this forecast from Ezra Klein:

You can bet your ass that Trump, Ryan & Co. will be doing everything they can legislatively and administratively to continue to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) now that their pile of shit has gone down in flames.

Weekend Lost The Feeling Song

Eclectic indie folk/country/rockers (hard to pigeonhole!) Louis Johnson and Jordan Meredith call themselves The Saint Johns after the river near their hometown in Florida. Now based in Nashville, they released their first album, "Dead of Night," just over a year ago. This is a cut from that album, "Lost the Feeling." Hope you enjoy.

Who Can We Thank For Paul Ryan?

As CNN is reporting that Speaker Sneaker of the House Paul "Lyin'" Ryan (R- Galt's Gulch) is on his way to give neo- fascist dimwit Donald "Rump" Trump the sad! news that TrumpCare will go down to defeat this afternoon (and what do I do now, Mr. Dealmaker?), we would like to quote from Paul Krugman's column today on those responsible for this unmitigated disaster:
So how did Mr. Ryan reach a position where his actions may reshape the lives of so many of his fellow citizens, in most cases very much for the worse? The answer lies in the impenetrable gullibility of his base. No, not his constituents: the news media, who made him what he is. 
You see, until very recently both news coverage and political punditry were dominated by the convention of “balance.” This meant, in particular, that when it came to policy debates one was always supposed to present both sides as having equally well-founded arguments. And this in turn meant that it was necessary to point to serious, honest, knowledgeable proponents of conservative positions. 
Enter Mr. Ryan, who isn’t actually a serious, honest policy expert, but plays one on TV. He rolls up his sleeves! He uses PowerPoint! He must be the real deal! So that became the media’s narrative. And media adulation, more than anything else, propelled him to his current position.
To see that this gullibility is still rampant in the Beltway media, one need only look at David Broder impersonator Dan "No" Balz's characterization of Ryan's "reputation" in light of the TrumpCare debacle:
The greater damage has been to the reputation of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) as the savvy intellectual godfather of a new conservative agenda around which his party could rally.
"Savvy intellectual godfather," indeed. You really haven't been paying attention for the past 8 years, have you, "No" Balz?!

Europe's New "Axis Of Evil"

As with the 2016 U.S. elections, Russian thug and kleptocrat Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin is intent on tipping elections in western Europe to candidates of his choosing. A big prize for him would be installing a friendly pol as the next President of France when France goes to the polls in a matter of weeks. The friendly pol that he'd clearly like to see elected is far-right xenophobe Marine Le Pen, head of the far right National Front party, who met with Putin in Moscow yesterday and came out in favor of lifting the economic sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Le Pen is also on record for anti-Muslim xenophobia and for withdrawing France from the European Union. Her party has also been the recipient of funds from Russia, and is undoubtedly seeking a new infusion on her trip to Moscow.

In 2017's election season, the far-right nationalist movements in Europe, particularly those in France and Germany, will test the commitment of those countries to liberal democracy, and their independence from an increasingly confident and belligerent Russia that seeks to undermine them and install itself as the great power on the continent, free to do what it wishes.

House Votes This Afternoon On TrumpCare

After receiving an ultimatum from neo- fascist authoritarian Giant Toddler Donald "Rump" Trump to pass "TrumpCare 2.0" today or fuggedaboutit, the spineless, brainless weasels in the Republican caucus decided to go ahead with an up- or- down vote this afternoon. While it still appears there may be as many as 49 Republicans (updated this morning) who will or may vote "no," there continues to be arm- twisting and intimidation of recalcitrant members-- making the final tally an uncertain bet.  It would take 22 Republican "no" votes to sink TrumpCare 2.0.

Keep in mind, TrumpCare 2.0 is even worse than the original bill, costing more, eliminating basic coverage, and still depriving 24 million Americans of their health insurance by 2026. Keep in mind also that, according to the latest polls, TrumpCare is extremely unpopular, with 56 percent disapproving and only 17 percent approving. Keep in mind also that Rump is broadly unpopular and many House Republicans don't fear him.

That all should add up to an interesting afternoon.

(You can make it more interesting, possibly in a good way, by calling your Representative if he/she is a Republican, and telling them to vote "no."  The switchboard number to be connected to a Member's office is 202-224-3121.  It's never too late to let them know where you stand!)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Giant Toddler Hijacks Truck Pic Of The Day

Photo: Jim Watson, AFP via Getty Images

A Giant Toddler gained entry to the White (Supremacist) House grounds earlier today, where some trucking companies were displaying their trucks. The Giant Toddler evaded security and hopped behind the wheel of one of the tractor trailers and started driving, while shouting, "I can do ANYTHING, I'm the President, get out of my waaaaayy!" After subduing the Giant Toddler, the Secret Service recognized the toddler as narcissistic liar Donald "Rump" Trump, and sent him inside for his afternoon nappy.

Twitter took notice of the incident.

Today's Cartoons And Twit Tweet

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(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(David Horsey, Los Angeles Times)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

Guilty Giant Toddler's running scared ---

Vote On Obamacare Repeal Postponed (UPDATED)

Despite saying the vote on the Republican bill to repeal Obamacare would happen today regardless of whether they had the votes to pass it, the Republican leadership just announced it was postponing the vote.

Because they didn't have the votes. In. Their. Own. Caucus. The problem being, one part of the Republican Party is o.k. with dropping 24 million people from health insurance coverage, while an opposing wing thinks that not nearly cruel enough.

Meanwhile, time for more expert negotiating and arm twisting from the master of the deal?
Trump has increasingly come to own the health care proposal, even making a direct pitch to members during a closed-door meeting with House Republicans on Tuesday. The continued opposition to the bill may be the first signal that Trump’s political capital doesn’t run very deep in the House GOP conference, and that Republicans, particularly conservative Republicans, aren’t afraid to cross the president. 
Trump's winning so much, he's maybe getting tired of winning.

UPDATE: The Congressional Budget Office scored the latest version of the abomination and, surprise!, it's still as vicious as the first bill:
The score by the Congressional Budget Office projects federal deficits would be lowered by $150 billion over 10 years but still projects that 24 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026 than under the Affordable Care Act. A previous version of the bill would have reduced the deficit by an estimated $337 billion by 2026. The analysis comes as House Republicans continue making changes to try to line up enough votes to pass the bill.

UPDATE II:  The Giant Toddler is "done negotiating" with his Congressional Republicans and wants a vote on Friday. Waaah!

Putin Whistleblower Assassinated In Ukraine

A former member of Russia's Duma who turned against Russian autocrat and kleptocratic thug Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin was shot and killed by an assassin in Kiev, Ukraine this morning. Denis Voronenkov had sought asylum in Ukraine after standing up to Putin's corruption, and was testifying for Ukrainian investigators who are looking into Russia's role in the 2014 invasion of Crimea and its continuing troop presence in eastern Ukraine. Voronenkov was scheduled to join fellow Russian political exile Ilya Ponomaryov to give testimony to the Ukrainian Military Prosecutor's Office.

The Ukrainian government immediately denounced the killing as "an act of state terrorism" on the part of Russia, which has been systematically assassinating or otherwise silencing Putin's political opponents. In another chilling event, the lawyer for slain Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky is in life-threatening condition in a Moscow hospital after "falling" from his 4th story window on Tuesday. Nikolai Gorokhov was scheduled to appear yesterday in court over a $250 million tax fraud case implicating Putin and his inner circle that his late client was killed for exposing in 2009.

This is the criminal head of state that neo-fascist buffoon and Putin admirer Donald "Rump" Trump wants to cuddle up to, after Putin interfered on his behalf in the 2016 elections. Sick and dangerous.

Polluters To Be Rewarded With Oil Pipeline

Reversing President Obama's decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline, the State Department is reported to be poised to sign the cross-border permit with Canada to allow the pipeline as soon as next Monday, according to reports. The 1.200 mile pipeline would carry oil sands crude from Canada across the center of the U.S. to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast, and on to the world oil market. The oil pipeline company TransCanada has sought construction of the project for a decade. It would move the crude oil across some of the most environmentally vulnerable parts of the U.S., including across major rivers and tributaries, and will likely boost oil sands development in Alberta, Canada with dire consequences to the environment in the form of increased carbon emissions.

Former Exxon CEO and recipient of Russia's Order of Friendship Secretary of State Rex "Rexxon" Tillerson recused himself from the decision to approve the pipeline, an empty gesture since sociopath and environmental predator Donald "Rump" Trump would have found someone in the State Department to approve the construction of the pipeline. Interestingly, Rump has recently promised to his gullible cult members that he would insist on U.S.-supplied steel pipes for the pipeline, a promise which he's already broken (not that his cult will notice or care about). Oil industry hacks tried to sell the pipeline on the basis of job creation, touting many thousands of jobs, a claim that fact-averse Rump was happy to repeat. In fact, the number of intermittent, temporary jobs created would be between 1,950 and 3,900, with only 35 full-time permanent jobs to manage the pipeline once built.

This is a big windfall for the big carbon polluters. Our environment will suffer in many ways now and in the future from this decision.

"A Closer Look" At The Last 48 Hours

Seth Meyers talks Russia- Trump scandal, Devin Nunes, Paul Manafort and Neil Gorsuch in a sharp 10 minutes or so:

Stop TrumpCare! (UPDATED)

Today, Republicans are planing to bring the so- called "American Health Care Act" (TrumpCare) to the floor of the House for a vote. While only a day ago it appeared opposition from the farthest right Republicans (the Freedumb "Freedom" Caucus) plus a few endangered Republicans in swing districts might have caused the bill to fail, things may have changed over night. To placate the hard right members, the bill has been made even more cruel and farcical than it was originally.

Jon Chait summarizes the benefits in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that the hard right Republicans may have succeeded in stripping from "essential benefits" health insurance must provide:
• Outpatient care without a hospital admission, known as ambulatory patient services
• Emergency services
• Hospitalization
• Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care
• Mental health and substance use disorder services, including counseling and psychotherapy
• Prescription drugs
• Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices, which help people with injuries and disabilities to recover
• Laboratory services
• Preventive care, wellness services, and chronic disease management
• Pediatric services, including oral and vision care for children
Needless to say, this would open up a new market for cut- rate, no- coverage insurance, creating a Social Darwinist redistribution of health care costs. As Chait goes on to describe:
... Eliminating essential health benefits does not lower the cost of health coverage, it redistributes it. If men, or women past childbearing age, no longer share the cost of childbirth in their insurance premiums, then the cost of insurance for somebody who might have a baby would become wildly expensive. Healthy people can save on costs by buying plans that don’t cover all sorts of chronic diseases, but then people who do have those conditions would be stuck paying for their own treatment. 
A system without essential benefits would make the law’s protections for people with preexisting conditions meaningless. Insurers couldn’t turn you away if you had a pricy condition, but the only people who wanted to buy plans covering them would be sick and expensive, making covering their conditions unaffordable — just like before Obamacare existed. Eliminating these reforms would enable young, healthy people to enjoy lower premiums, as long as they remained young and healthy. It would essentially jack up the massive redistribution from the old and sick to the young and healthy already in Trumpcare to new heights.
There's still time to make a call today to your Representative (especially if he/she is a Republican). Calls matter a lot.  They affect votes. The House of Representatives switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. Ask for your Representative's number and when you get through, tell them to vote NO.

UPDATE:  Once again, public opinion is on our side --
American voters disapprove 56 - 17 percent, with 26 percent undecided, of the Republican health care plan to replace Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Support among Republicans is a lackluster 41 - 24 percent.  
If their U.S. Senator or member of Congress votes to replace Obamacare with the Republican health care plan, 46 percent of voters say they will be less likely to vote for that person, while 19 percent say they will be more likely and 29 percent say this vote won't matter, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds.  
Disapproval of the Republican plan is 56 - 22 percent among men, 56 - 13 percent among women, 54 - 20 percent among white voters, 64 - 10 percent among non-white voters, 80 - 3 percent among Democrats, 58 - 14 percent among independent voters and by margins of 2-1 or more in every age group. (our emphasis)
Pretty definitive.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Villain Rep. Devin Nunes Tips Off Trump To Investigation Intercepts

So, this happened in the midst of everything else this afternoon (our emphasis):
Investigators don’t normally brief the people they’re investigating. But on Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the Republican who’s leading a congressional investigation into whether President Donald Trump’s team colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, went to the White House to talk to the president. 
U.S. intelligence agencies had intercepted Trump associates’ communications ― and perhaps those of Trump himself ― in the final three months of the Obama administration, Nunes said he told Trump. 
Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a close Trump ally, said the intercepted communications didn’t mention Russia and were therefore unrelated to his investigation. But the subject matter ― the intelligence community’s investigation of Trump and his associates’ connections to foreign powers ― overlapped. And Nunes’ objective appeared political: Deflect attention from Trump and his associates’ ties to Russia, and back up Trump’s claim that he is a victim of “deep state” loyal to former President Barack Obama. 
Nunes’ gambit failed. In attempting to put out the Trump-Russia fire, he made much of it worse: In two press conferences on Wednesday, he confirmed that Trump’s surrogates ― and maybe the president himself ― were subjects of legal surveillance, implied that they may have had suspicious contact with agents from a country other than Russia, and potentially disclosed classified information. 
And by choosing to brief the president, who’s so closely tied to the investigation, before sharing his new information with his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Nunes also raised doubts about his own ability to lead his committee’s probe.
Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that Nunes “will need to decide if he is the chairman of an independent investigation or if he’s a surrogate for the White House.”
If a Democrat had done this, Republicans would have been asking for him to be investigated both for disclosing classified information and for obstructing justice,” said Matthew Miller, a Department of Justice spokesman during the Obama administration. “It is so far beyond the pale for the person who is conducting an investigation to both brief the subject of that investigation and potentially jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by the FBI.” 
That would be one of our bumbling villains, Rep. Devin Nunes, formerly a dairy farmer and more recently a member of neo- fascist un-indicted co-conspirator (maybe!) Donald "Rump" Trump's transition team, making a strong case today for (at the very least) his removal from the chair of the House Intelligence Committee and the appointment of a Special Counsel to continue the investigation of the Russia- Trump connection. Whatever doubt of this remained after Nunes and his fellow enabling Republicans on the committee lobbed defensive or distracting questions at FBI Director James Comey at Monday's hearing should now be now entirely dispelled. He is Rump's man on the committee (among many others) and cannot be trusted in any way, shape or form.

Some selected reactions:

Perhaps feeling liberated by Nunes' actions, Intelligence Committee Ranking Minority Member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) upped the ante on the villain:

Lock him up! Lock him up!

BONUS:  Steve Benen has a good read about Nunes' bizarre actions.

You'll Always Hear Chuck Berry: Mid-Week Song

When the iconic father of rock and roll Chuck Berry died on March 18 at the age of 90, someone commented that that "was the day the music died." Not true. His music is woven in the DNA of every rock song that came after him, and will outlive everyone reading this post. Whether it's Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, and on and on ad infinitum, Berry created a beat, a musical lexicon, and a universal sound not unlike ones created by the fathers of jazz, of country music and of other musical genres. If you want a simple example, listen to the Beach Boys hit "Surfin' U.S.A." and notice how they literally and unabashedly took the melody directly from our song choice today, "Sweet Little Sixteen." His songs were covered by every living rock legend, and a few mainstream artists as well. Of course he'll be sorely missed, but his legacy will survive the generations, as well it should.

As the late Dick Clark says in this 1958 performance, "let's turn him loose."

Hair Crimping Diversion: Cartoon of the Day

(click on image to enlarge)

(P. Byrnes, The New Yorker)

Count on this demagogic unPresident to use today's despicable attack in London as a made-to-order diversion.

"Folksy Sycophant" Neil Gorsuch (UPDATED)

Credit where due:  Dana Milbank, among others, noted the demeanor of neo- fascist judge- basher Donald "Rump" Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch during yesterday's hearing.  It reminded him of someone:
The nomination of Neil Gorsuch presents the Senate with a constitutional dilemma: Is this nation prepared to have Eddie Haskell serving a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court? 
The most noteworthy thing to emerge from Gorsuch’s testimony Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee wasn’t his judicial philosophy (conservative), his credentials (considerable) nor even the likelihood of confirmation (virtually certain). What stood out was his aw-shucks, good-golly manner: Gorsuch played a folksy sycophant straight out of the 1950s. 
No fewer than eight times he punctuated his testimony with “Leave It to Beaver” exclamations of “goodness” — “goodness, no!” “oh, my goodness!” — and, though only 49 years old, spoke in archaic phrases: “since I was a tot,” “a fair and square deal,” “doesn’t give a whit.”  (our emphasis)
"Eddie Haskell," for anyone not familiar, was a teenage character in the '50s-'60s television series "Leave It To Beaver," who's seen as the "archetype for insincere sycophants."

If it's possible to be a sycophant and condescending at the same time, that was Gorsuch yesterday. But more important than his oleaginous persona is his obnoxious, far- right judicial philosophy, said to mirror that of the late, unlamented Antonin Scalia. He certainly has the patter of the movement conservative down (our emphasis):
In a 2005 article published by National Review, Gorsuch argued that "American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda" and that they are "failing to reach out and persuade the public". Gorsuch wrote that, in doing so, American liberals are circumventing the democratic process on issues like gay marriage, school vouchers, and assisted suicide, and this has led to a compromised judiciary, which is no longer independent. Gorsuch wrote that American liberals' "overweening addiction" to using the courts for social debate is "bad for the nation and bad for the judiciary".
This is the insincere sycophant who, in the hearing yesterday, was bemoaning a politicized judiciary - selectively ignoring why he was sitting in the hearing room yesterday =cough= Merrick Garland =cough=, and eliding his long history of right- wing conservative writing and activism. Apparently, a politicized judiciary is golly- gee super when it's a right- wing politicized judiciary, but not when it's a liberal one.

Make no mistake, if this Eddie Haskell is confirmed he'll be just as viciously reactionary as was Scalia. And he's just 49 years old.

UPDATE:  The Supreme Court just unanimously rejected the premise of an opinion Gorsuch wrote on a case involving the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, in which he took a cramped, narrow view of the responsibility of school districts toward disabled students (surprise surprise).

It's Not "Take Your Daughter To Work Day And Give Her A Job"

News that first daughter / erstwhile first lady Ivanka "Complicit" Trump is getting her own office in the White (Supremacist) House in order to "advise" daddy and perhaps shill for her business marks a new low in nepotism. Not only has she been sitting in on several meetings with international leaders (e.g., Shinzo Abe, Justin Trudeau and Angela Merkel), she's getting top secret security clearance. There's something wrong with that picture. As we noted the other day, this is beginning to look like a restoration of the Romanov dynasty, complete with Russian overtones. Perhaps neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump's goal is to set his favorite daughter up as a future political candidate to carry on his malignant movement, or simply to keep a fresh face on the toxic "brand". We found some commentary on this latest outrage:

Tillerson To Visit Mother Russia

The Russian Federation has been described as a gas station masquerading as a nation. Oil and gas reserves give the Kremlin most of its clout in the world, despite sagging oil prices on the world market. Before he was Secretary of State, plutocrat and Russophile Rex "Rexxon" Tillerson was the head of Exxon Mobil, and he was up to his double chin in negotiations with Russia's state-owned oil company Rosneft for a potential $500 billion deal to drill in the Russian Arctic's Kara Sea. Then, in 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine's Crimea province, and the U.S. organized economic sanctions against the Russian Federation, which blocked Exxon from further exploration in the Kara Sea. Exxon is estimated to have lost $1 billion as a result of the sanctions.

Fast forward to 2017. Tillerson is now Secretary of State, presiding over a key Department that's facing deep cuts in its budget, and having few senior positions filled to allow it to operate effectively. The sanctions against Russia remain imposed, and the campaign of Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump is under investigation by the FBI for collusion with Russia. Last Monday's hearings with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers brought a feeling of urgency for Rump's agenda, to move it forward before the investigations into his dealings with Russia threaten to spin out of control. Part of that agenda appears to be reassuring the Kremlin that Rump will remain a friend to their petrostate, despite the investigations and growing suspicion, and that he will work on lifting those sanctions. Tillerson is the man to deliver that message, as he undoubtedly will when he visits Moscow next month, after blowing off a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels to discuss alliance business. Although his job title reads "Secretary of State," you can be assured after 41 years at Exxon, he sees the world (and Russia) through oil goggles.

Rump's personal entanglement with Russian oligarchs and bankers remains shrouded, at least as long as his tax returns remain undisclosed. In 2008, his son bragged that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” Are the entanglements significant loans from Russian oligarchs to prop up his business? Are they his investments in oil companies that expect to do major business with Rosneft after a lifting of the sanctions? A combination of that, and more? The FBI investigation may turn over some unanticipated rocks hiding some fatal facts for Rump, so time is of the essence for him, Tillerson and their Russian co-conspirators to get Russian deals done while they still can.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tweet Of The Day - The Three Pronged Obamacare Repeal

Neo- fascist sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump and Ayn Rand acolyte/ weasel Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan (R- Galt's Gulch) are furiously whipping votes to pass their TrumpCare/ RepubliCare bill in the House. There's a core of Republicans who feel that 24 million Americans losing their health insurance and gutting Medicaid in the process isn't enough pain; then again there are people like this meathead who'll vote for the bill since Rump blew him a kiss.

Punching down at the afflicted is just the appetizer. Always keep in mind what this is all about.

Quote Of The Day - What's That Smell?

There’s a smell of treason in the air. Imagine if J. Edgar Hoover or any other FBI director would have testified against a sitting president? It would have been a mind-boggling event.” -- Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley in the Washington Post, March 20, after the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's interference on their asset Donald "Rump" Trump's behalf in the 2016 election.

Today's Cartoons

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(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune)

(Steve Benson, Arizona Republic)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

There Go The Judge

After claiming on Fux that "intelligence sources" told him that the British intelligence agency GCHQ tapped neo-fascist buffoon Donald "Rump" Trump's phone in Trump Tower, Fux Channel "legal" expert and human/woodchuck hybrid "Judge" Andrew Napolitano's inflammatory charge was picked up by White (Supremacist) House paid liar Sean "Spicy" Spicer and read to reporters in a press briefing last week. The British government was not pleased, and GCHQ issued a rare public statement, slamming Napolitano's spurious statement as "nonsense" and received assurances from the Rump administration that the charge wouldn't be repeated.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Napolitano has been pushed off the air at Fux indefinitely after creating an international incident with his reckless behavior. He hasn't appeared on air since last Thursday, prompting speculation that the injudicious judge may be on long-term suspension (or dismissal). Napolitano apparently got his "information" from a discredited ex-CIA agent who made the false allegation on -- wait for it -- Russia's state-owned network RT. Dots, so many to connect.

Trump's Net Worth Declines. SAD!

Forbes is reporting that fraudster con artist and demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump's net worth has fallen from $4.5 billion to $3.5 billion in the past year, causing him to drop 208 spots on the list of the world's billionaires, now ranking an unimpressive 544. According to the report, Rump's losses tie directly to the mid-Manhattan real estate market slump, where much of Rump's assets are located. Rump has long falsely claimed that his net worth is around $10 billion, a claim that Forbes has repeatedly debunked.

While we're on the subject of Rump's wealth, it's a good time to remind you to avoid supporting Rump's numerous scams and holdings, and businesses that carry his "products."  Go to for a list of companies that sell Rump's dreck or are otherwise supportive of him through campaign contributions, etc.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Tweet And Story Of The Day

In the midst of the imploding Trump-Russia scandal, this tweet and story warmed our hearts:

From CNN:
US Sen. Al Franken has met with a young Somali girl whose reunion with her mother was delayed by President Donald Trump's travel ban on immigrants from seven countries. 
Mushkaad Abdi, 4, had been separated from her mother and older sisters since she was just a few months old. 
She finally got a visa to come to the United States, but President Trump signed the executive order barring citizens of seven countries, including Somalia, from entering the country, before she could rejoin her family in Minnesota. 
Mushkaad was allowed to come to the United States and rejoin her family on February 2, after a couple of anxious days. 
Franken, among those who championed the reunion, met Mushkaad for the first time on Thursday and tweeted a picture of the little girl laughing while shaking his hand.
 That's the difference between Democrats and Republicans, right there.

The Biggest Takeaways From Today's House Hearing On Russian Interference In The Election

Here, to us, are the biggest stories from today's House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference on behalf of neo- fascist Putin pocket charm Donald "Rump" Trump in the recent elections. (Nancy LeTourneau has been liveblogging the hearing, and we've relied on her reporting here; check out her insights.)

First, FBI Director and election ratf*cker James Comey confirming right out of the box that there is an active investigation of links between Rump's campaign and the Russian government:
As you know, our practice is not to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations. Especially, those investigations that involve classified matters. But, in unusual circumstances, where it is in the public interest, it may be appropriate to do so, as Justice Department policies recognize. This is one of those circumstances. I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counter-intelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. And that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.
Furthermore, when Rump shill Rep. Michael Turner (Weasel- OH) attempted to slough off the grounds for initiating an investigation by suggesting any little ol' thing could trigger one, amirite?, Comey responded it would have to be "A credible allegation of wrongdoing." Boom.

Second, Comey asserted that the FBI and Justice Department investigated and have no evidence that President Obama ordered a wiretap of Rump, and that Obama couldn't have ordered one anyway. Boom.

Third, efforts by the Rump White (Supremacist) House to change the narrative are being refuted almost in real time (thanks, Twitter!).

Fourth, as we point out below, not unexpectedly party- before- country Republicans are desperately trying to change the narrative from the leaked information to Rump's focus: "Find the leakers!"  The same pattern occurred during the Watergate hearings, when diehard Nixon supporters in Congress threw every roadblock they could in the way of the investigation -- until those infamous tapes painted them into a corner and forced them to stand down. They're different faces now, but the same empty souls.

Why would anyone with nothing to hide react in the manner Rump is reacting?  Why would elected officials sworn to uphold the Constitution actively engage in dissembling and diversion in order to provide cover for a thing as unfit and unworthy as Rump?  Rhetorical questions, folks!

BONUS:  Be sure to read the statement of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), which laid out in detail what we already know about the Russia-Trump connection (embedded in the linked article).

Watching The "Party First" Rethuglicans

In today's House Intelligence Committee hearing, the common thread of the Rethuglican questioning of FBI Director and Clinton ratf*cker James Comey has been that the leaking of damaging evidence that demagogue and Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump and his campaign staff colluded with Russia is far worse than what the leaks revealed. Party over country, patriotic Rethugs! Among the most egregious of the Rethuglicans following that approach at the hearing is none other than Benghazi Benghazi BENGHAZI!! inquisitor and poster boy for the rotten fruit of the Republican "Southern Strategy", Rep. Trey "The Deuce" Gowdy (R-Home of Secession).

Repeatedly peppering Comey with questions about the law governing the disclosure of classified information down to the nth degree, Gowdy was doing Rump's bidding in trying to shift the focus from likely felonious and potentially treasonous activity by the Rump campaign (and Rump personally) vis-a-vis the Russian Federation to the individuals who are risking their careers and prison to expose the collusion. Beyond Gowdy's obvious attempts to divert the questioning, there's his rank hypocrisy:

And, with a little snark:
Once again, this hearing is demonstrating that when it comes to their party, Rethuglicans will do anything to save their party's leader from his own behavior:

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon - Distractions

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(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

NATO Know Nothing

Once he was safely away from his minders (and German Chancellor Merkel) this past Saturday, Giant Toddler and demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump tweeted his "thoughts" on Germany's  "debt" to NATO defense. He actually thinks that our NATO allies pay us to defend them. According to our NATO treaty, by 2024, NATO members need to devote 2% of their budgets to defense; there's no suggestion that any funds go to the U.S. for military "protection." Of course, Rump comes out of a particular business environment (real estate, casinos) where "protection" money is paid / extorted, so it's natural that the buffoon thinks this is the way NATO works, too.

Rump's idiocy prompted a tutorial from former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder:

More commentary on Rump's ignorance followed:

Giant Toddler Getting Very Nervous About Adults Finding Out What's In His Closet (UPDATED)

Today, FBI Director and election ratf*cker James Comey will be testifying in an open session to the House Intelligence Committee to address issues related to Russia's involvement in the 2016 election. Comey is expected to also discuss the diversionary charge made by neo- fascist Giant Toddler (h/t Quinn Cummings) Donald "Rump" Trump that President Obama "wiretapped" Trump Tower in New York before and after the election. (See Update below.)

As a prelude to potential bombshells going off, Rump is conducting himself (as always) like a toddler who's desperately afraid his parents will find the dump he made in his closet. Here are his latest attempts to distract and deceive (at 6:35 in this morning!):

Being the stupid, obsessive thing that he is, Rump can't help but provide "tells" that make it risibly obvious that he is desperately trying to change the narrative. Which of course makes everyone wonder even more, "What's he hiding?"

We may not be at the beginning of the end of this story, but it's looking like we're approaching the end of the beginning.

UPDATE : Comey has confirmed the FBI is investigating possible connections between Rump associates and Russian government officials.  Also, there's no FBI information on Rump's "wiretapping" diversion. Surprise! More on this later.

UPDATE II:  Where do you think Republicans like House "Intelligence" Committee Chair villain Rep. Devin Nunes (Weasel- CA) get this:
Good Lord. Nunes just asked Comey if FBI would investigate Clinton campaign or foundation for ties with Russia. 
Why from their orange shitgibbon master!