Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Tweets Of The Day -- O.B.S.T.R.U.C.T.I.O.N.


And, this little Republican narrative killer:

FBI Releases Statement Blasting Nunes Memo

Punching back:
The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process. 
With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy(our emphasis)
This, after it's been reported that both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray appealed (apparently in vain) to the White (Supremacist) House -- in the form of Chief of Staff Adult Day Care supervisor John Kelly -- not to authorize release the bullshit Nunes memo.

Pic Of The Day: Melania's SOTU Sit-In

Someone's not happy with sexual predator and pathological liar Donald "Rump" Trump. In his SOTU speech last night, Rump said,
In America we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy are the the center of American life. The motto is: In god we trust.” (emphasis added)
In the gallery, Rump's third wife Melania declined to stand with everyone else, perhaps acknowledging that the secular "two Corinthians" Rump has no faith except his own narcissism, and has shown the kind of "family" man he is. She was reportedly outraged at Rump's affair with porn star Stormy Daniels* around the time of their son's birth. She skipped the Davos plutocrat orgy and rode in a separate limo to the SOTU. Sad!

That must be some pre-nup they have.
* OK, as long as we mentioned her, here's the musical accompaniment.

(photo: Screenshot from PBS News Hour broadcast)

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Ann Telnaes, Washington Post)

On the last cartoon, Telnaes notes:
Overheard from the Republican side while President Trump shook hands and slapped backs while exiting after the State of the Union:  “We’ve got your back, sir.” Yes, they do.

Shocking: Trump's SOTU Full Of Lies, Divisiveness

Narcissist would- be autocrat Donald "Rump" Trump's State of the Union (disclaimer: we didn't watch it!) caused fact checkers some tsuris (please go to the links for the full accounting):

Associated Press fact checkers:
Boastful even within the traditional confines of a State of the Union speech, President Donald Trump inflated the impact of his tax cuts Tuesday night, declared an end to a “war” on energy that did not exist when he took office and displayed a faulty grasp of immigration policy.
The Washington Post fact checkers:
President Trump’s State of the Union speech had soaring rhetoric — and many dubious facts and figures. Many of these claims have been fact-checked repeatedly, yet the president persists in using them. 
Beyond the lies and distortions, there was the typical divisive Rump:
Trump was still in the first minute of his speech — 72 words from the start — when he belted out his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Republicans roared. It was the first of several cultural wedges Trump would drive through the chamber over the next hour — pitting immigrants against “Americans,” trumpeting his support for the Second Amendment but no other, and reviving racially charged disputes he ignited over the past year. [snip] 
... Trump offered every manner of barb, in a performance that stirred the very enmity he professed a wish to overcome. “We repealed the core of the disastrous Obamacare,” he boasted, generating glares from Democrats but perhaps the biggest roar of the night on the GOP side. 
When he said “we proudly stand for the national anthem” — a reference to black NFL players who have protested by taking a knee — there was a lusty roar from the GOP side and wan looks from Democrats. Trump applauded the cheering Republicans.
The Washington Post editorial board wasn't fooled either (unlike its front page headline writer):
HAVE A president’s words ever rung more hollow? In his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Trump spoke of “what kind of nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people and one American family.” Yet Mr. Trump could not avoid, even for an hour, lacing his address with divisive references to hot-button issues and graceless attacks on his predecessors: to “disastrous Obamacare,” “the mistakes of past administrations,” “the era of economic surrender” and more. 
More to the point, he offered little reason to hope that his second-year policies would be more constructive than those of his first...
Charles P. Pierce on the spectacle that occurred last night:
All involved had to pretend that Donald Trump makes sense as a president, that his administration makes sense as a government, and that his first State of the Union address made sense as either a description of national policy, or as a rhetorical summons to national unity. All involved had to pretend that his thoughts were coherent, that his words made sense, and that the complete and universal collapse of civic responsibility that propelled him onto the podium was not the most singularly destructive event in the history of American democracy since the Civil War. Everyone had to pretend that a freak show was Shakespeare, and that a rumbling, stumbling geek was Lincoln, and that the whole tableau unfolding before the Congress was somehow made noble despite the obvious fact that the whole event was an endless procession of lies and half-truths, and that the only truly remarkable thing about the speech was that it was such a perfectly round and complete crock of shit. 
A few pithy tweets to close things up:

Contrary to expectations, we haven't heard much in the way of the "he became President tonight" bullshit from otherwise sentient pundits (Van Jones went out of his way to excoriate Rump, in fact). A low bar for journalists seems to have been largely passed. For the moment. (Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog noticed the same thing.)

(Photo: Il Douche and two of his stooges)

Mid-Week Fusion Song

At last Sunday's Grammy Awards, one of the blog's favorite jazz groups Jeff Lorber Fusion won Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for "Prototype." Here's the title cut from their award winning album.

Cover Of The Day -- Got Clap?

We didn't watch the Very Stable Genius' SOTU, but apparently he was so pleased with himself that he clapped a lot. The New York Daily News cover this morning:

(click on image to enlarge)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tweets Of The Day: Laughing At Us & Putin's Pawn

And, with Trump suspending the latest sanctions, Moscow knows they've got him:

Trump: He's All Kinds Of "Trader"

Seth Meyers took "A Closer Look" at events of the past week concluding, as any reasonable person would, that big boy speech reader Donald "Rump" Trump is an "awful" person, as well as "all kinds of 'trader.'"

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon

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(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

The State Of The Uniom Isn't Gud

(click to enlarge)

They have to stop hiring those Trump University graduates.

An Anniversary: The 1968 Tet Offensive

The divisions brought on by the Vietnam War linger today. After losing 58,318 killed and over 153,000 wounded from 1954 to 1975, the U.S. withdrew its forces from Vietnam. The deaths on the Vietnamese side were far more grievous: as many as 2.5 million Vietnamese on both sides of the conflict perished.

Perhaps the major milestone in the war was the Tet Offensive, launched by the North Vietnamese Army and their Viet Cong allies, which began 50 years ago today. The campaign was intended to trigger a general uprising among the people of South Vietnam, and involved some 80,000 NVA and Viet Cong troops attacking multiple towns and cities. The offensive created a shock wave in the U.S., and prompted more widespread questioning of the war's legitimacy and purpose. It was widely seen in the U.S. as a major setback, in that we could not protect South Vietnamese cities and towns from widespread attack. Ironically, the North Vietnamese initially considered the Tet Offensive a failure, having lost over 45,000 troops and not succeeding in launching a general uprising. Looking back at the human costs and the futility of war, both were right.

Undermining The State Of The Union

Today, as we undergo a barrage of breathless media talking heads speculating about tonight's first State of the Uniom* big boy speech by Putin asset Donald "Rump" Trump, Americans with respect for the Constitution and rule of law will have several other things on their minds.

Yesterday, party- before- country House Republicans, led by desperate weasel Rep. Devin "Sherlock" Nunes (Trump-CA) and facilitated by Sneaker of the House Paul "Lyin'" Ryan, voted to release a partisan hit job on the FBI's investigation of collusion between Rump's campaign and his Russian benefactors. At the same time, they voted to quash a rebuttal report by Democrats. The release of the Nunes hit job, without review of classified material contained in it, has been described by Rump's Justice Department as "extraordinarily reckless." (But desperate times call for desperate measures, right?!)  The 4- page hit job, which focuses on the FBI's use of the dossier prepared by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, is being characterized as a misleading hodgepodge "rife with factual inaccuracies," that also potentially exposes U.S. intelligence assets. It also takes aim at Special Counsel Mueller supervisor Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's handling of an application to surveil probable Russian asset and Rump advisor Carter Page, as a fig leaf to give Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III cause to fire Rosenstein. Once again, we'll leave it up to the legal beagles, but this hindering of the investigation smells like obstruction of justice. Releasing the hit job should, however, fulfill its main mission: as fodder for the right- wing propaganda machine to blow smoke and undercut any findings to come from Mueller's investigation.

At the same time, soon- to- retire thorn- in- Rump's- rump FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was ousted, ostensibly prior to the release of an Inspector General report criticizing the FBI's conduct of investigations into Hillary Clinton.  The small person named Rump also had wanted McCabe out for a long time, inappropriately asking who he voted for and holding against him his friendship for James Comey and McCabe's wife's running for office in Virginia as a Democrat. Replacing McCabe with a Rump loyalist who would be privy to inside information about the Mueller investigation is the likely plan now.

Yesterday was also the deadline for imposing the latest set of sanctions on Russia as punishment for their meddling in the 2016 election, and to discourage future meddling. Naturally, the Rump regime tried to water down the sanctions, then has been dragging its feet ever since the law was passed nearly unanimously last year. When pressed up against the statutory deadline, it finally showed its hand:  it declined to impose the sanctions, claiming that current laws were "deterring" Russia.  And, as Charles P. Pierce would say, I am the Tsar of All the Russias.  The regime did release a list of oligarchs and businesses with ties to Putin, but it was merely re- releasing a list already largely covered by Forbes magazine (!). So, cue the helpful Putin faux outrage to fool media into thinking Rump is being tough on his handlers. (Also recall the Steele dossier that Rump and Nunes are so desperate to disparage includes intelligence that the Russians were actively trying to leverage the Rump campaign to ease sanctions already imposed by the Obama administration.)

While Rump is reading his big boy speech off the teleprompter tonight, this is the real danger to our system of government that he and his servile minions in Congress have unleashed in their desperation to hold onto power.  Always be mindful of that.

BONUSTengrain at Mock Paper Scissors lays out the Republican plan to end with the firing of Robert Mueller.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Tweet Of The Day -- Nothing To See Here. Really

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Stuart Carlson, via

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Dave Granlund, The Columbus Dispatch)

Wash. Rinse. Screw. Repeat.

As the weeks tick by, more and more of sociopathic con man Donald "Rump" Trump's campaign promises prove to be the lies we knew they were. We just thought he'd be more subtle when it came to giving the shaft to his followers in Trumpland.

Last week, when Rump announced stiff tariffs on imported washers and parts, it impacted the community of Clarksville, TN, the main city in Montgomery Co., which voted 56% for Rump in 2016. LG Electronics had been constructing a plant in Clarksville, and the local and state governments have provided big incentives to the South Korean manufacturer ($23 million by the state of Tennessee alone) to build there. In return, the plant would provide employment for thousands when fully operational. Now, Rump's protectionist move has put that in question:
"Trump’s decision to impose 20 percent to 50 percent tariffs on washer imports and parts has local officials asking what his “America First” stands for: supporting all U.S. manufacturing jobs or just favoring traditional American brands over foreign rivals. Labor statistics show that foreign companies have been the source of the majority of new manufacturing jobs since the 2009 recession." (emphasis added)
It appears that Rump will do what's best for his corporate manufacturing contributors (hi there, Whirlpool and GE!), even if it risks trade wars that the U.S. can ill afford. Consumers can also expect to pay more for washers as a result of the tariffs. We can't think of a better closing than this quote from a Trumpist believer:
“I think it goes against what (Trump) has talked about doing and that’s bringing jobs back to America,” said [Jim] Durrett, the county mayor and a Republican."

"Fire And Fury" And Funny

The "Fire and Fury" segment from last night's Grammy Awards is going viral, so we may as well hop on for the ride, too. Hillary's appearance was priceless, but we also loved Cardi B's unscripted take on sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump's nocturnal habits, too (starting at the 54 second mark).

Fun times aside, there's work to do in the recording industry when, over the past 6 years, out of nearly 900 nominees, only 9% have been women. Then, there's the clueless statement of Recording Academy president Neil Portnow after being asked about the dearth of female awardees this year: "[Women] need to step up.."  Really. Maybe the answer is he needs to step down.

Monday Reading

Here are a few of the good reads this morning (as always, please take the links to the full article).

Tired of those mainstream media safaris to observe the rustics in "Trump country?" So is the Philadelphia Inquirer's Will Bunch:
There are no sooty coal mines underneath the steep, foliage-shrouded streets of Mount Airy, no Formica-wrapped diner where men in flannel shirts and steel-toed boots load up on painfully bitter coffee and heaping platters of cholesterol while dissecting last night’s Hannity, no driveways where an unemployed factory worker parks his Chevy truck next to a “Make America Great Again” yard sign. [snip]
...Behind ancient stone walls, on the narrow, sloping yards, stand the signs of resistance at home after home: “Impeach Trump,” or “Black Lives Matter/Philly Children’s March,” with more than a smattering of “Hillary” yard signs that owners refuse to take down, and one that declares: “In This House, We Believe: Black Lives Matter/Women’s Rights Are Human Rights/No Human Is Illegal/Science Is Real/Love Is Love/No Matter Your Faith Or Ability/Kindness Is Everything.” 
Welcome to the throbbing heart of Anti-Trump Country, a land where — if you believe in polls — the majority of Americans reside, and yet a place that the mainstream media seem determined to ignore(our emphasis)
Of course, the mainstream media's fascination with the Trump malignancy also includes its almost pathological desire to convince itself that "It'll all be all right/ just take a deep breath and act like everything's normal."  A couple of Republican never- Trumpers have some words of caution, like David Frum on CNN who previews tomorrow's State of the Union address:
Look, if President Trump gets through the hour without putting a fork in somebody’s eye he will be praised as the most presidential president since the most presidential president,” he said. [snip] 
Substitute co-host Poppy Harlow clarified that if Trump merely sticks to the teleprompter he’d gain critical acclaim. 
“Just for not doing something hideous,” Frum agreed. “There is a special Trump scale where he is graded differently from any other president. If he just behaves like a functioning human being for an hour, we think he’s done a great job.” [snip] 
“I don’t have any questions left about Donald Trump,” Frum said about the possibility of Trump’s polling increasing. “He has answered every question I have. And I think we all know who he is. We all know what he is, we all know why he’s president, and what got him into that job. So, I think the question for all of us is how do we protect the country during the remainder of the presidency. There are no serious questions left about what kind of person he is.”  (our emphasis)
And John Weaver on Twitter:

Here's an example of what Frum and Weaver are talking about. Repeat offender Fareed "Not Woke" Zakaria (who imagined Rump "became President" when he lobbed some cruise missiles into Syria last year) is impressed by Rump's performance among the plutocrats and oligarchs at Davos last week (his op/ ed is entitled "The Trump We Saw in Davos Should Leave Us Encouraged").Why?
On Friday at the World Economic Forum, Trump gave a good speech that was forthright, intelligent and conciliatory, embracing the world rather than condemning it. The address was extremely well received here at the World Economic Forum by both American business leaders and even non-American attendees, who are overwhelmingly skeptical of Trump overall. [snip] 
But whatever you think of the policies, the larger point is that Trump the conventional Republican is working within the American system rather than trying to destroy it.
So, we're supposed to overlook the destructive, "America First" policies and take heart ... that he reads words others have written for him, and he's acting like a "conventional Republican"?!  You mean "conventional Republicans" like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan?  Or Devin Nunes? Or Steve Mnuchin?  Or [plutocratic party- before- country name here]?  Is he angling for an interview with someone at the White (Supremacist) House? Count on Zakaria being one of those who will "fall for it" tomorrow night.

Last but not least, check out the link round- up that Infidel has put together, once again capturing the Zeitgeist for the week.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Across The Universe, Cont. -- Standout Stars

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ ESA, January 22, 2018This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals a glistening and ancient globular cluster named NGC 3201 — a gathering of hundreds of thousands of stars bound together by gravity. NGC 3201 was discovered in 1826 by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop, who described it as a “pretty large, pretty bright” object that becomes “rather irregular” towards its centre.

Globular clusters are found around all large galaxies, but their origin and role in galaxy formation remain tantalisingly unclear. Astronomers recently discovered a black hole lurking at the heart of NGC 3201 — its position was revealed by the strange movements of a star being quickly flung around a massive, invisible counterpart. This sparkling group of stars also has some strange properties which make it unique amongst the over 150 globular clusters belonging to the Milky Way. NGC 3201 has an extremely fast velocity with respect to the Sun and its orbit is retrograde, meaning that it moves speedily in the opposite direction to the galactic centre, which it orbits.

The unusual behaviour of this cluster suggests that it may have extragalactic origins, but at some point was captured by the Milky Way’s gravity. However, the chemical makeup of this intriguing cluster tells a different story — the stars within NGC 3201 are chemically very similar to those of other galactic globular clusters, implying that they formed at a similar location and time to their neighbours.

Whether this mysterious cluster was adopted by our galaxy or has for some reason evolved very differently to the family of clusters it grew up with, it is certainly an unusual astronomical beauty.

Acknowledgement: Sarajedini et al.

Credit:  ESA/Hubble & NASA

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Steve Benson, The Arizona Republic)

Sunday Reflection

"A Conservative Government is an organized hypocrisy."  Benjamin Disraeli, speech to the House of Commons, March 17, 1845.  And that was almost 173 years before Donald "Rump" Trump's Republican government, which brings a whole new dimension to the concept.

Plutocrat Kochs To Spend $400 Million To Keep Republicans In Control Of Congress

This is what plutocrat flop sweat looks like:
The network of groups affiliated with billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch will spend more than $400 million on conservative causes and candidates in the 2018 midterm election cycle. 
Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said Saturday that the investment would be the network’s largest election cycle investment ever — 60 percent greater than the 2016 presidential cycle — as Republicans seek to protect majorities in the House and Senate against stiff political headwinds.
Of course, these are the same ultra- reactionaries that astroturfed the "Tea Party" movement back when America elected its first blah president.

While Democrats are frequently outspent in campaigns, this infusion of billionaire bucks in a midterm election is beyond the pale, and demonstrates how desperate Republicans are to hold on to their Trump- cosseting majorities in Congress.  That infusion, and many millions more to come in right- wing contributions, is likely to flood us with lies, distortions and misdirections between now and November -- with little or no correction by most of our quivering media.

Fortunately, we don't have to spend half a billion dollars to win an election cycle when we have the best motivators ever: Putin's plutocratic pal Donald "Rump" Trump and his party- before- country, coin- operated pack of jackals in Congress.

(Image: Visual approximation of Charles and David Koch, courtesy of Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche.)

"Lock Her Up," Russian-Style

Earlier today, Russian police detained Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny after he appeared at a rally in Moscow to urge people to boycott the March elections that autocratic Russian thug Vladimir Putin is expected to win. Putin has held power for 18 years. The crowd of several hundred had been shouting anti-Putin slogans, including "Putin is a thief," before police broke up what they claimed was an "illegal" protest. Navalny had just arrived in Pushkin Square when he was jumped by uniformed police, who forced him to the pavement before hauling him off in a police vehicle.

At the same time as the Moscow protests, several hundred people protested in cities across Russia, with some 180 protesters detained by police. Putin is fearful of a recurrence of last year's protests:
"Navalny emerged as a threat to the Kremlin’s tight grip on power on June 12 last year, when thousands of his followers defied police prohibitions to protest in cities across Russia. The scale of the protests, some of the biggest in six years, took the Kremlin by surprise."
Putin clearly doesn't want to be surprised in the March elections. This is what an America under an unfettered demagogue and autocrat like Donald "Rump" Trump would look like. It's no surprise that Rump admires Putin as a "strong" leader, unbound by messy things like the rule of law and democracy. It's no surprise, either, that he wanted to jail Secretary Clinton if elected. It's what dictators like his role model "leader" Putin do.

(photo: Putin in the good old days)

"Those Were The Days"

Will Ferrell reprises his Saturday Night Live role as George "Wassup" Bush and looks back on the wreckage (great dig on the 2000 and 2016 election results toward the end of the clip):

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Sexual Assaulter And Rethug Moneybags Quits

With the Rethuglican Party facing intense pressure and accusations of gross hypocrisy, Las Vegas gambling mogul and accused sexual predator Steve "You Lose, I" Wynn resigned from the Rethuglican National Committee as their finance chairman. The Wall Street Journal ran an extremely well-sourced story with allegations from multiple women that 76 year-old Wynn had sexually harassed and forced sex on them over decades. Just last year, the Rethuglican National Committee was harshly critical of Dem politicians who had accepted contributions from admitted predator Harvey Weinstein. Wynn is a close personal friend of fellow sexual predator Donald "Rump" Trumpdonating heavily to his campaign and that of Rethuglicans over several election cycles.

Shares in Wynn's gambling empire fell 10% in value on the stock market Friday, causing him to lose an estimated $250 million. Wynn, whose navel will end up on his chin if he has another face lift, is also under investigation by his Wynn Resorts' board of directors. We wouldn't bet money on his future, particularly if the Nevada Gaming Control Board gets involved, too.

(photo: The plastic surgeon's best friend, Mr. Charm himself, via Bloomberg News)

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Andy Marlette, Pensacola News Journal)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

Bombshells Du Jour: Trump Initiated Efforts To Discredit FBI Leaders; Rosenstein Next?

Following the revelation that un- indicted co- conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump tried to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller back in June 2017, we're learning from Murray Waas at Foreign that at the same time he was leading an effort to discredit high- ranking FBI officials who could corroborate former FBI Director James Comey's testimony that Rump tried to improperly influence him to end the Mueller investigation:
President Donald Trump pressed senior aides last June to devise and carry out a campaign to discredit senior FBI officials after learning that those specific employees were likely to be witnesses against him as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to two people directly familiar with the matter.  
In testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, recently fired FBI Director James Comey disclosed that he spoke contemporaneously with other senior bureau officials about potentially improper efforts by the president to curtail the FBI’s investigation of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  [snip] 
The FBI officials Trump has targeted are Andrew McCabe, the current deputy FBI director and who was briefly acting FBI director after Comey’s firing; Jim Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff and senior counselor; and James Baker, formerly the FBI’s general counsel. Those same three officials were first identified as possible corroborating witnesses for Comey in a June 7 article in Vox. Comey confirmed in congressional testimony the following day that he confided in the three men.  (our emphasis)
Again, we only play attorneys on this blog, but that sounds an awful lot like conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Also:  "... according to two people directly familiar with the matter."  Those would be corroborating witnesses in the White (Supremacist) House (approximately 20 of those staff have now been interviewed by Mueller's team), not the besmirched FBI/ Mueller team. The specter of Michael Flynn and his indictment for lying to the FBI is obviously weighing heavily in the minds of some of these Trumpkins (=cough= Don McGahn =cough=) who are paranoid about who's telling what to whom and don't want to be caught in a lie that can result in serious jail time.

There's also word that Mueller's supervisor at the Justice Department, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, is the object of Rump's ire:
Months after his reported effort to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, President Donald Trump is still fuming over the Russia investigation and has Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in his crosshairs. 
The President has been venting about Rosenstein -- who oversees Mueller and the special counsel investigation -- in recent weeks, according to four sources familiar with the situation. At times, Trump even gripes about wanting Rosenstein removed, two of those sources said. One source said the President makes comments like "let's fire him, let's get rid of him" before his advisers convince him it's an ill-fated idea
Ignorant narcissist Rump, who has so far succeeded in life without regard for the laws or customs that the rest of us are bound by, can only be controlled for so long.  When he sees the indictments starting to fly over the transoms in the White (Supremacist) House, he will go for what he will perceive to be his only option for survival: shut down the investigation and dare anyone to stand up to him. He's already had at least one dry run; next time, he won't be deterred -- mark those words.

The Rethuglicans' Moral Rot

There really should be no debate about whether sociopath and sexual predator Donald "Rump" Trump is a manifestation of the long-developing rot within the Rethuglican / New Confederate / Pedophile Party, or a departure from their norm. In their "up is down" world view, more Rethugs are satisfied with the moral and ethical climate now than under President Obama, per this recent Gallup poll (click to enlarge):

Some reactions on Twitter homed in on the salient point:

Saturday Dreamin'

This is the show we want to see un- indicted co- conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump and his crime family starring in:

(h/t good friend P.E.C. for bringing this to our attention)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Brendan Loper, The New Yorker)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

Stormy's Back, And Kimmel's Got Her*

This should be fun, and a coup for Jimmy on sexual predator Donald "Rump" Trump's big night.  But the thought occurs, why were there no bold, creative/ puckish Dems (we know, an oxymoron) to invite her to the State of the Union itself, to sit in the balcony right in Rump's face with the cameras rolling? After all, one year the Rethugs gave President Obama the execrable, flag-waving ammosexual Ted "Shit His Pants" Nugent as a guest to his SOTU. Too late now.

Obligatory musical accompaniment to any Stormy Story.
*Apologies to classic film buffs.

Weekend Waterfall Music

One of Manchester's premier rock bands, James, released "Waterfall," from its "Hey Ma" album, in September 2008.  Maybe we should all spend some time "under the waterfall"...  to get us prepared for a "blue wave?"  Hope you enjoy.

That's the beat of concrete, the beat of machines
Of mobile phones and plasma screens
How much junk in my life do I really need?

Under the waterfall, under the waterfall
Under the waterfall, it's cool and cold, and clear

Tweet Of The Day - Timeline

Un- indicted co- conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump seems to think he can fire his way out of danger.  Sad!

Bombshell Du Jour: Trump Tried To Fire Mueller In June 2017

Add supporting facts to the indictment/ articles of impeachment:
President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive. [snip]
After receiving the president’s order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation. 
Mr. McGahn disagreed with the president’s case and told senior White House officials that firing Mr. Mueller would have a catastrophic effect on Mr. Trump’s presidency. Mr. McGahn also told White House officials that Mr. Trump would not follow through on the dismissal on his own. The president then backed off.  (our emphasis)
The obvious speculation is that this information is coming out now because McGahn is cooperating with the Mueller investigation, at least to a point. McGahn is seen as being in a highly vulnerable position, given his role in the firing of James Comey, what he knew about Michael Flynn's lying to the FBI, and the discussions around whether Confederate Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III should recuse himself from the investigation.

Former U.S. Attorney Renato Mariotti has a long read about how this latest piece of information fits into the story that Mueller has been piecing together:
All of this, taken together, greatly strengthens the case that Trump had “corrupt” intent when he fired Comey. That said, there is still a lot we don’t know. For example, according to the New York Times, Mueller has an early draft of a letter drafted by Trump aide Stephen Miller at Trump’s direction offering an unvarnished view of Trump’s thinking regarding the firing of Comey. The Times and Post also reported that McGahn expressed concerns to Trump about the letter, and the Times noted that McGahn gave Miller a marked-up copy of the letter, highlighting sections that he wanted removed.  [snip]
While we don’t know all of the evidence, Thursday’s revelation suggests it is likely Mueller will conclude that Trump obstructed justice. Some conservative legal commentators have argued that Trump’s constitutional authority to fire personnel and end investigations is so vast that he cannot obstruct justice as a legal matter. Most legal scholars find that argument unpersuasive, but it is an academic point—not one that is decisive—because Mueller has pressed forward in investigating the firing of Comey as obstruction of justice and the power of Congress to impeach Trump goes beyond the text of any statute.
Those around Rump, like McGahn, know full well he's an undisciplined incompetent whose sense of loyalty goes one way. When the chips are down and they're facing potential conspiracy charges, they're not going to go to jail to save his *239- pound* ass.  See, Flynn, Michael, and Papadopoulos, George.

BONUS:  Prime Rump fluffer Sean Hannity was whiplashed last night "reporting" on the McGahn bombshell -- and hilarity ensued --

A Fitting Portrait of Putin

Ukrainian artists Daria Marchenko and Daniel Green created a 7 foot tall portrait of Russian thug Vladimir Putin out of bullet shells from the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian patriots and Russian invaders in eastern Ukraine from 2014 -2015. The exhibit will run until until February 4 at the Ukranian Institute of America  in New York City.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Tweet Of The Day

Want to bet he'll take it?

Manly Missouri Republican Courtland Sykes -- Man Or Myth?

The Republicans are sure cranking out some strange excuses for male candidates in the "heartland" of Missouri (or are they?).

We all remember failed 2012 Senate candidate Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, right? He's the not- OB/GYN genius who, when asked if a pregnancy caused by rape should be allowed to be aborted, mansplained as follows:
From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment. But the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.
It was bye-bye "Dr." Todd after that.

More recently, there's Stormtrumpin' Republican governor and (former) rising star Eric Greitens, the family values guy who had an affair, then (allegedly!) tried to blackmail his paramour to keep her quiet.  Thoughts and prayers to Eric as his career goes down in flames.

Today, we hear of another Republican, Courtland "Yikes!" Sykes, who is following in Akin's footsteps, ostensibly running for the Senate against Claire McCaskill. So, what dumbass thing did Courtland pull out of his manly heinie to earn our attention?
Republican U.S. Senate candidate for Missouri Courtland Sykes blasted “women’s rights” this week. 
In a statement posted to Facebook on Tuesday, Sykes said that he had been asked if he “supports women’s rights.” 
“I want to come home to a home cooked dinner every night at six,” Sykes said, referring to demands he makes of his girlfriend. “One that she fixes and one that I expect one day to have daughters learn to fix after they become traditional homemakers and family wives.” 
According to Sykes, feminists push an agenda that they “made up to suit their own nasty snake-filled heads.”  (our emphasis)
Apparently, he's picked up the local male Republican culture pretty rapidly, since he's only been a Missouri resident for about a year, having slipped over the border from Arkansas (have they no border security?). He's also a big supporter of Donald "Rump" Trump (and Roy Moore and Steve Bannon!). His girlfriend also presents herself as an anti- Hillary screecher.  So, in summary, they deserve each other.

Now some are holding out the possibility that Yikes is one of the greatest political performance artists of this era, the Borat of the 2018 election cycle. His persona and "beliefs" certainly cry out "You've got to be kidding me!" (But then, when you consider the base to whom he's pitching his campaign/ act, you have to think, he's really hitting some of their sweet spots with those rants.) Some lesser "performance artists" like proto- candidate Robert "Kid Rock" Richie used a teased run for office only to later admit it was a publicity stunt to sell swag; of course, still others use runs to raise their profile and/ or to raise money for a particular agenda.  What Yikes turns out to be (other than a failure as a candidate or a magnificent performance artist) is really not going to be important in the long run.

But, either way -- over- compensating candidate or wily performance artist -- Yikes is performing a public service by accurately representing the misogynist views of much of the leadership and the base of the Republican Party, reminding us all over again why we need to defeat them every time and everywhere.

BONUS:  Add to the mix this shot of Yikes with his girlfriend and Steve Bannon (via Crooks & Liars) -

(Top image:  Yes, but is Courtland Sykes the real candidate? Also: Blue Steel!)

Today's Cartoon Threefer

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(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch)

(Stuart Carlson, via

Trump's "Modified Limited Hangout" Strategy And The Perjury Trap

"Modified Limited Hangout":  From the Watergate era, "The phrase has been cited as a summation of the strategy of mixing partial admissions with misinformation and resistance to further investigation, and is used in political commentary to accuse people or groups of following a Nixon-like strategy."

Un- indicted co- conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump has just employed the "modified limited hangout" strategy in pushing back on the obstruction of justice investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller:
The president suggested he could be investigated for obstruction of justice as part of the Russia investigation because he was “fighting back” and reiterated there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Moscow. 
Oh, well, ‘Did he fight back?’ ” Trump said, “You fight back, ‘Oh, it’s obstruction.’ (our emphasis)
Trump: one person's obstruction of justice is just me "fighting back." Move along!

Here's another Watergate- era expression:  "smoking gun."  In Rump's case, he fired the gun directly into his foot on national television, so no sophisticated forensics needed there. Then, for good measure, he re- loaded and fired again in the last 24 hours:
“You’ll define it for me, but I can tell you, there’s no collusion,” Trump said. “I couldn’t have cared less about Russians having to do with my campaign."
So, now the defense is, "well, the Russians were colluding with my campaign right in front of me, but I wasn't concerned about it"?  Yeah, that'll fly.

Meanwhile, Rump is, once again, acting as his own legal counsel:
“I’m looking forward to it, and I would like to do it as soon as possible,” Trump told reporters at the White House as he was preparing to leave for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “I would do it under oath, absolutely.”
Which caused his team of legal beagles to, once again, plotz:
Trump’s White House lawyer, Ty Cobb, told the Times the president’s comments were made off-the-cuff and tried to downplay the gravity of the statements. 
“He’s ready to meet with them, but he’ll be guided by the advice of his personal counsel,” Cobb told the outlet. (our emphasis)
"He'll be guided by the advice of his personal counsel."  Hahahaha!  Yeah, that sounds like the Very Stable Genius we all know!

Fortunately, with a clueless narcissist like Rump, avoiding Mueller's "perjury trap" should be all but impossible.

(Image: via Salon)

Paris Flooding Pic Of The Day

Following the wettest January in years, the Seine overflowed its banks this week. The river is expected to crest on Saturday at 6 meters above normal levels.

(photo: Agence France Press)

Quote Of The Day - Barriers

E.J. Dionne, Jr., has some good advice this morning:
The Democrats’ feuding factions could start by laying off the self-righteous preening about how they are, respectively, so principled and so practical. The truth is that the aspirational left can’t win without the pragmatic center, and the center can’t win without the left.  
Instead, they should be highlighting what the shutdown made clear. In mobilizing raw nativism, Trump and the Republican leadership underscored the extent to which they are hogtied by their party’s right-wing extremists. As a result, the GOP is incapable of temperate governance and compromise. The barrier to sensible legislation in Washington is not a left that lacks any institutional authority, but the hard-line right in the White House and in the House of Representatives(our emphasis)
That nails it pretty well. 

BONUSInfidel has a good read on the subject, too.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Today's Cartoon Threefer

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(Chris Britt, Illinois Times)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Michael Andrew,

Tweets Of The Day - Obstruction

Republicans Ramp Up Mueller Investigation Obstruction With Insane Conspiracies (UPDATED)

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation gets closer to un- indicted co- conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump, Republicans and their water- carriers in the right- wing media are getting ever more frantic to assist Rump in obstructing justice. This has taken the tack in recent months of more and more insane efforts to discredit Mueller, the FBI and the Justice Department.

You have the evil but incompetent Rep. Devin "Sherlock" Nunes (R-CA), whose staff wrote a laughable "memo" supposedly detailing improper conduct by the FBI (this is the #releasethememo nothingburger that is more valuable being hidden than being subjected to the light of day):
Republican members have trumpeted the secret document as full of shocking information about FBI misconduct. But Nunes seems to be in no hurry for the document to see the light of day. His failure to make it public—or even share his findings with the Justice Department or FBI for their feedback—evokes his effort last spring to divert focus from suspicious contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia by ginning up a counter-controversy over the “unmasking” of surveillance targets. He never provided any evidence to back up his allegations of wrongdoing, and after reviewing classified material that Nunes touted, both Democrats and Republicans said his claims did not hold water(our emphasis)
Again, not that holding water has much to do with the intended effect, which is to sow doubt and distrust. Nunes likely has some skin in the obstruction game, since he was part of Rump's transition team and, therefore, potentially aware of some of the collusion taking place with Russian agents. Moreover, Russian bots have been hyping the phony story via social media, making the dot connection rather easy.

Lately, you also have the related "FBI secret society" nuttery being flogged by -- wait for it -- Fox "News."  The contagion has already spread to one of our dumbest Senators, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin:
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said Tuesday that the missing text messages between two FBI officials is just further evidence of “corruption” within the FBI and claimed without evidence that top-level agency officials held “secret society” meetings off-site after the election. 
“What this is all about is further evidence of corruption,” he told Fox News Tuesday. 
“It’s more than bias, but corruption at the highest levels of the FBI and that secret society, we have an informant that is talking about a group that were holding secret meetings off-site. There is so much smoke here, there is so much suspicion.”  (our emphasis)
So much smoke, so much suspicion! -- all of which being generated by Nunes, Johnson, Fox "News" and their legions of fellow travelers. You can bet any "secret meetings off- site after the election" were to figure out how to deal with the fact that a Russian asset was just "elected" president.

Meanwhile, it's clear that the closer Mueller is getting to the Oval Office, the more these party- before- country Republicans will be baying their ever more mad scenarios to their fevered base. Sadly, our media will likely be "reporting the controversy" without making clear how this despicable behavior undermines our democratic institutions and the rule of law.

UPDATEThe "secret society" has now been revealed to be the joke it always was. Sad!

Mid-Week Memorial Song

Legendary trumpeter Hugh Masekela, considered one of the greats in jazz, having virtually inventing the Afro-jazz genre, passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He was 78. He had an international hit in 1968, "Grazing in the Grass," which propelled him to stardom.

In 1987, Masekela performed "Bring Him Back Home," in Paul Simon's African Concert in Zimbabwe, a heartfelt anthem to the great Nelson Mandela. Rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Today's Cartoons

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(Brendan Loper, The New Yorker)

(Jeff Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune)

And, of course, the story cartoonists are having a field day with, coast to coast:

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Steve Benson, Arizona Republic)

(Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)