Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Away For A Day...Or Two

We're off to visit family over the next couple of days, so blogging will resume later in the week. The good news is that we've lined up two guest bloggers (pictured).

Be good, but not too good.

(Not So) Mid-Week Don't Know Song

The Strumbellas, one of the best indie rock/folk bands from Canada, had an international hit two years ago with "Spirits," from their album "Hope." Another great tune from that album, "We Don't Know," is our mid-week song, appropriate for these times, performed in studio on the Canadian Broadcasting Company network. Enjoy.

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Vet's Message On Assault Rifles

Democratic candidate Pat Ryan, a veteran of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, is running for Congress in New York's 19th Congressional District. He's a veteran soldier in the tradition of Sen. Tammy Duckworth (IL), Jason Kander (MO), Rep. Seth Moulton (MA), and Amy McGrath (KY), who came home to continue to serve their country and to stand for justice and progress. Ryan has a powerful 30-second ad that speaks to the issue of banning assault rifles:

Consider donating to Pat at his website, and thank him for his service. He's facing incumbent Rethuglican John Faso, who has voted with mentally unbalanced con man Donald "Rump" Trump 85% of the time.

QOTD -- Remembering

He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”  -- Donald "Rump" Trump (a.k.a., 5- deferment Cadet Bone Spurs) on former POW Sen. John McCain, July 18, 2015. He's not a "president." He's a "president" because Russians compromised our election. We like people who aren't compromised by Russians.

Cadet Bone Spurs also issued an odious (what else?) tweet about Memorial Day.  Reactions here.

Memorial Day, 2018

As has become a tradition with us, we're recognizing Memorial Day with "Beneath the Southern Cross," part of the original Richard Rodgers' soundtrack for the NBC "Victory at Sea" World War II documentary series from the early 1950s. The RCA Victor Orchestra led by Robert Russell Bennett performs the song, also familiarly known as "No Other Love Have I."

Memorial Day in America is a day we remember those service men and women in all wars who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We gratefully honor your service.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Across The Universe, Cont.

R.I.P. Apollo 12 Astronaut Alan Bean, 3/15/1932 - 5/26/2018, the fourth person to walk on the Moon.

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ ESA, May 21, 2018At first glance, this image is dominated by the vibrant glow of the swirling spiral to the lower left of the frame. However, this galaxy is far from the most interesting spectacle here — behind it sits a galaxy cluster.

Galaxies are not randomly distributed in space; they swarm together, gathered up by the unyielding hand of gravity, to form groups and clusters. The Milky Way is a member of the Local Group, which is part of the Virgo Cluster, which in turn is part of the 100 000-galaxy-strong Laniakea Supercluster.

The galaxy cluster seen in this image is known as SDSS J0333+0651. Clusters such as this can help astronomers understand the distant — and therefore early — Universe. SDSS J0333+0651 was imaged as part of a study of star formation in far-flung galaxies. Star-forming regions are typically not very large, stretching out for a few hundred light-years at most, so it is difficult for telescopes to resolve them at a distance. Even using its most sensitive and highest-resolution cameras, Hubble cannot resolve very distant star-forming regions, so astronomers use a cosmic trick: they search instead for galaxy clusters, which have a gravitational influence so immense that they warp the spacetime around them. This distortion acts like a lens, magnifying the light of galaxies sitting far behind the cluster and producing elongated arcs like the one seen to the left of centre in this image.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

The Ghoul Attacks A Veteran

Of all the disgusting people around corrupt narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump, lying ghoul and bumbler Rudy "Noun, Verb, 9-11" Giuliani is one of the most odious. During the campaign, he was consistently the shrillest and most defamatory voice -- save Rump's -- attacking Hillary Clinton and Dems using lies and fear as his tools. Now, as Rump's comically sinister TV lawyer, Giuliani has plumbed new depths, from his attacks on the legitimacy of the Mueller investigation to smearing patriotic public servants who have spoken out about Rump's corruption, pathological lying and potential treason.

This morning on CNN, Giuliani attacked former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence and retired Air Force Lieut. General James Clapper:
“You really believe that people like Brennan and Clapper are part of a deep state conspiracy?” Bash asked.

“I don’t know what you want to call it,” Giuliani replied. “But I have no regard for all for Clapper and Brennan. I think they’re two clowns. Clapper is talking about spying, which he doesn’t realize it’s spying on the Trump campaign. He’s [had] an obligation to tell them.”  
(emphasis added)
Clapper, who served with great distinction in the Air Force from 1963 to 1995, received the Legion of Merit medal three times, both the Bronze Star and the Air Medal twice for his service in Vietnam. As we prepare to observe Memorial Day, let's contrast James Clapper's service with Giuliani's:
"Giuliani did not serve in the military during the Vietnam War. His conscription was deferred while he was enrolled at Manhattan College and NYU Law. Upon graduation from the latter in 1968, he was classified by the Selective Service System as 1-A (available for military service). He applied for a deferment but was rejected. In 1969, Judge MacMahon wrote a letter to Giuliani's draft board, asking that he be reclassified as 2-A (civilian occupation deferment), because Giuliani, who was a law clerk for MacMahon, was an essential employee. The deferment was granted. In 1970, Giuliani received a high draft lottery number; he was not called up for service although by then he had been reclassified 1-A." -- Wikipedia
While Clapper was serving his country in war time, draft-dodging Giuliani was pulling strings to avoid service, much like his despicable puppeteer Rump, a.k.a. Cadet Bone Spurs (and "The Dick" Cheney, etc.). Remember this on Memorial Day when you hear the degenerate likes of Giuliani calling a patriot a "clown."

(photo: Face meet baseball bat)

Sunday Reflection

When you lose a friend [in battle] you have an overpowering desire to go back home and yell in everybody's ear, 'This guy was killed fighting for you. Don't forget him--ever. Keep him in your mind when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night. Don't think of him as the statistic which changes 38,788 casualties to 38,789. Think of him as a guy who wanted to live every bit as much as you do. Don't let him be just one of 'Our Brave Boys' from the old home town, to whom a marble monument is erected in the city park, and a civic-minded lady calls the newspaper ten years later and wants to know why that 'unsightly stone' isn't removed.'” --  Bill Mauldin, Pulitzer Prize- winning editorial cartoonist and chronicler of the lives of the average American soldier in World War II, from his 1944 book Up Front.

Dems Need Leaders With Passion

Peter Hamby's on-point article in Vanity Fair examines the messaging war being waged largely by demagogue and con artist Donald "Rump" Trump against an ineffective Dem establishment. Through social media and his tactic of flooding the zone in each news cycle, Rump dominates news coverage, even when it's negative "fake news" about him. Hamby cites the recent event at which Dems tried to highlight higher gas prices:
"On the same day this week that President Donald Trump was tweeting about the F.B.I.’s fictional SPYGATE “scandal” and the special counsel’s WITCH HUNT into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia—lies that were splashed across the country’s television and mobile screens in short order—Senate Democrats held a photo-op at the most expensive Exxon station on Capitol Hill. Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, was joined by three other suit-wearing Democrats to make the case that Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal would drive up gas prices. It was a definitional middle-class “pocketbook” argument, one that Democrats hope to make part of their 2018 economic message. Schumer, waving a sheaf of paper, stood behind a sign that proclaimed, rather impotently, 'Senate Democrats Demand Lower Gas Prices.'”  (emphasis added)
That's discouraging. In contrast with President Obama's eight years, when Rethuglicans seemed to be everywhere on TV and in print, Dems are having difficulty getting their voices heard over the carnival-barker-in-chief's bellicose lying. Some is due to the Beltway media's obsession with the horse race and shiny objects. Some is due to the fact that Dem leadership is ossified and reading from a script that worked in the early 90s. Some is due to the fact that Dems seem reticent to confront Rump's corruption and unfitness, and that's resulted in his poll numbers creeping up:
"Still, that Trump 'owns the news cycle' is almost taken for granted at this point—and that’s a source of vulnerability for Democrats. The Russia investigation isn’t going anywhere, and most Americans still support it, but Trump has been ruthless about framing it the way he wants. It’s starting to have an impact, and Democrats are letting him get away with it. A poll out this week from Navigator Research, a Democratic firm, found that Americans are having a tough time seeing through the fog. While a vast majority of Americans were familiar with the investigations into Trump and his associates, a full 59 percent of Americans said they weren’t aware of the investigation uncovering any crimes."  (emphasis added)
This is not to say that Dems haven't had success this past year in advancing candidates that reflect their districts / States with solid messages. But the energy for 2018 and beyond won't be in hammering Rump on gas prices, or taxes, or infrastructure jobs:
"But the undercurrent to all of this Democratic energy is Trump, and it would be folly to ignore the mounting evidence of crimes by Trump’s allies and the ongoing investigation into the president’s own conduct. It is the biggest story in the world! Democrats are showing up in primaries and special elections in numbers that well outpace their performance in previous midterm elections. Talk to any Democrat you know in real life: they are ready to crawl over broken glass to vote in November. You don’t need a poll to tell you this. And it’s because of Trump—his policies, his recklessness, his personality, and yes, his scandals. 'Anti-Trump sentiment is what’s going to drive the midterms for Democrats, in part because Trump will own the news cycle and in part because we are the opposition party,' said Tom Perriello, the former Virginia congressman and progressive activist. 'That’s just how it works.'” (emphasis added)
Yes, let's campaign fiercely against his despicable immigration policies, his attempted gutting of Medicaid and the ACA, and his subservience to the NRA. But let's remember who brought us to this point: an unhinged, lying sociopath that must be confronted -- loudly and vigorously -- at all times, and less by "waving a sheaf of paper."

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Drew Sheneman, The Star-Ledger, Newark, NJ)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Kevin Kallaugher, Baltimore Sun)

Portrait Of A Villain - Rep. Pete King

At one time, New York Republican Congresscritter Pete "Nothing Burger" King might have been mistaken for what passes for a "moderate" when compared to his fellow knuckle draggers in the Republican Party, but in fact he's really just your garden variety Republican dolt and bigot.  To wit, he's

--  a fashion expert;

--  an expert on terrorism (especially the Irish kind);

--  an expert on sexual abuse;

-- and a champion of religious tolerance.

Now Nothing Burger has waded into the shallows as far as his intellect allows, into the free speech uproar over the NFL's decision to fine players who kneel during the National Anthem to protest police violence in communities of color.  The acting owner of the New York Jets had broken ranks and declared he would pay any fines for kneeling players on his team, to which Nothing Burger had a predictably sane and reasoned response:

What an arse of a demagogue.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted Nothing Burger's seat as vulnerable in the November mid- terms.  Nothing would serve to freshen the air in the House of Representatives more than retiring this ugly gasbag.

(Photo: Nothing Burger's idea of a political fashion statement)

All Play And No Work Tweet Of The Day

We'd actually be better off if he'd be golfing 24/7.....in Dubai.

Trumper Tattoos: The Ink That Stinks

There are plenty of Trump cultist morons out there. Some of them even like to wear their idiocy on their own skin. Tattoo shop owner Bob "Boob" Holmes of Seabrook, NH likes to display his loyalty to the orange-hued demagogue all over his body, with Trumpist slogans tattooed everywhere. He's even provided free tattoos to Trump cultists, 78 in all. Some of his vapid customers spoke of their belief in their Great Leader. Says customer Bob Fowler in an inadvertently honest way:
I want to make America great. This is my statement, he just happened to coin it. I want America to be great don’t you? Everyone wants America to be great, and we’re not anymore.” (emphasis added)
True, that changed in November, 2016. Here's another cultist customer, James Cook:
People can say he’s a buffoon, he’s a TV personality, and all these things.” Cook said. “That might be the case, but he’s also very smart, he’s got a lot of business acumen; He’s the right guy for the job.”
Yes, he's a buffoon, but he's a smart buffoon and "the right guy for the job" with access to the nuclear launch codes. And that "business acumen" of his?  Six bankruptcies (including a casino), dozens of failed branding scams including the fraudulent "Trump University," and getting that sweet kompromat money from Russia and China because U.S. banks wouldn't lend to him. He's a business genius, Mr. Cook.

Tattoos are painful to get, but even more painful to remove, not that these yahoos will ever do that. They can't be reasoned with, only outvoted.

Cold As I.C.E. (UPDATED)

We've watched for some time the Trump regime's viciously inhumane practice of separating children from their parents when they cross the border seeking asylum.  Amid all the other outrages happening every day in this country, this is perhaps the most heart- breaking, but one to which we seem to have become numb, even as it violates every moral and ethical precept we're supposed to believe in as a country.  It's somewhat quaint at this point to imagine that we'll ever have the authority as a nation to speak in those terms again after this ugly nativist id -- manifested in the demagogue- in- chief -- is finally over.

The stark reality is that children as young as 18 months old are being separated from their parents by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) agents. Of course, the intent by this "pro- life" regime is to discourage immigrants from attempting to seek asylum in the U.S. with the threat of breaking up their families.  The perversity of this policy, as well as its many unintended consequences, is demonstrated by Vice's Meredith Hoffman:
“Why do I have to leave? Mami I want to stay with you!” one four-year-old El Salvadorian boy balled to his mother, known as JIL, as CBP officers took him and his ten-year-old brother away from her in South Texas, according to an affidavit filed by the mother. They were separated in March—before Sessions’s policy even officially launched—but the incident is an example of what is now common practice at the border. The brothers slept in the same room as their mother back in El Salvador and were too anxious to go to the bathroom without her after witnessing MS-13 gang members beat and threaten her. But once they arrived in the US, the boys were placed in two separate foster homes and held in government custody for over a month without being able to speak with their mother, who remains in Laredo Detention Center, JIL’s attorney Denise Gilman told me. 
The boys are now staying with other family in Virginia, but JIL will likely be detained for many more months: A San Antonio judge Wednesday issued her a bond too high for her to pay—$12,500—deeming her a flight risk for being connected to a gang, when her sole connection was the harm they did her(our emphasis)
Please read her entire piece to get a better picture of what a shitshow this regime and its over-eager I.C.E. thugs have made of immigration policy and our image as a nation.

An further Orwellian touch was added this week, demonstrating that the Trump regime's inhumanity is perhaps exceeded only by its incompetence:
A top official with the Department of Health and Human Services told members of Congress on Thursday that the agency had lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children it placed with sponsors in the United States, raising concerns they could end up in the hands of human traffickers or be used as laborers by people posing as relatives. [snip] 
The children were taken into government care after they showed up alone at the Southwest border. Most of the children are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and were fleeing drug cartels, gang violence and domestic abuse, government data shows.  (our emphasis)
This is what happens when you consider these people to be "animals," as the black hole at the center of our government has called them (and don't give us any shit about who he was referring to; it's a feature for him, not a bug).  Imagine the terror these children are experiencing, having fled their country's violence, only to be treated like "animals" upon arriving at the border, being separated from their parents for no other reason than to deter others from coming north.

These reactions pretty well sum things up:
(h/t LGM)

UPDATEThe Border Patrol also has ways of treating "animals"--

UPDATE II:  Of course, the pathological sociopath is trying to blame ... Democrats.

(Photo:  no sign of heartbeats there)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Impervious To All Logic And Reason

On Tuesday, we posted about the decision to close a Harley-Davidson plant in Kansas City, MO, a company once blessed with the wise, benificent attention of "I alone can fix it" con artist Donald "Rump" Trump, and with the massive tax giveaway to corporations and the wealthy passed by Republicans last fall.  NBC Nightly News visited the plant and spoke to several employees about the plant's closing.  Moment where peak moron is reached: 1:30.

While we can empathize, we can't sympathize with self- defeating, obtuse people like this, who know they're getting screwed -- they just refuse to blame who's doing it, year after year, decade after decade.  As has been said, we can't convince them, we just need to outvote them.

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader)

(Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Evidence: Russian Forces Downed MH-17

The governments of the Netherlands and Australia said today that they hold thug Vladimir Putin's Russia culpable for the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014. The shoot down killed all 298 passengers aboard, including 193 Dutch and 28 Australian citizens. Both governments plan to seek damages in international court. It's unclear whether the 8 other nations that lost citizens in the attack will join in the case.

The doomed flight's path took it over eastern Ukraine, which had been invaded by unmarked units of the Russian Army. A Russian anti-aircraft unit fired a Buk missile which brought the passenger airline down. Not surprisingly, Russia has denied responsibility for the attack, despite photographic and physical evidence to the contrary, including a segment of the damaged Russian missile.

For years, Putin has sought to incorporate Ukraine, in whole or in part, in his version of the former Soviet Union. His invasion of Crimea, and his belligerence toward former Soviet states like Georgia and the Baltic states flow from his expansionist vision. He memorably said just two months ago that he'd reverse the collapse of the Soviet Union if he could. His troops' downing of Flight 17 over Ukraine was Putin's way of saying that's Russian territory; it was no accident.

(photo: Sasha Mordavets, Getty)

Weekend Music/ Video Twofer

We received some nice feedback from featuring one of L.A.- based group OK Go's recent masterful, eye- popping musical videos two weeks ago today.  (Not that we're taking credit, but the group's math and science educational efforts were featured recently on "NBC Nightly News.")  The great thing about these videos is that OK Go is eager to share the math and science behind their conception and production here.  Let's check out two more of their works, "The One Moment" and "Upside Down & Inside Out," music from their 2014 "Hungry Ghosts" album. Hope you enjoy.

Weinstein Stars In "Perp Walk"

Earlier this morning, former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was led away in handcuffs by New York City police detectives after surrendering at a precinct station. He's been charged with rape and sex abuse by two women. Weinstein was later released by a Manhattan Criminal Court judge on $1 million bail, and will have to wear an ankle monitor.

Allegations by dozens and dozens of women against Weinstein for years of offenses ranging from fondling to rape started the #MeToo movement that exposed powerful men in all walks of life for sexual abuse. For years, many powerful men have used their positions to humiliate and coerce women sexually, assuming that the women would stay silent. They thought their power would let them get away with it. No more.

(photo: Mike Segar, Reuters)

"A Closer Look" At The Trump/ Kim Summit Collapse And Investigation Distractions

Seth Meyers takes "A Closer Look" at the collapse of the Trump/Kim summit and the lies Trump and his co- conspirators are spinning on the Mueller investigation (and smacks the media's continuing to play Trump's game).

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Today's Cartoon Twofer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Darrin Bell, Washington Post Writers Group)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

"You Cannot Go Elsewhere For A Soul"

Any dissenting voices -- no matter how late or lame -- raised from within the Rethuglican Party / Cult of Trump are welcome, including that of retiring Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who spoke at the commencement yesterday for the Harvard Law School.  Flake, who's sadly voted with neo-fascist bigot Donald "Rump" Trump 84% of the time in the Senate, had some rueful advice for the law school grads:
"[Because] there are times when circumstances may call on you to risk your career in favor of your principles.

But you — and your country — will be better for it. You can go elsewhere for a job, but you cannot go elsewhere for a soul.

Not to be unpleasant, but I do bring news from our nation’s capital. First, the good news: Your national leadership is… not good. At all. Our presidency has been debased by a figure who has a seemingly bottomless appetite for destruction and division and only a passing familiarity with how the constitution works.

And our Article I branch of government, the Congress (that’s me), is utterly supine in the face of the moral vandalism that flows from the White House daily. I do not think that the founders could have anticipated that the beauty of their invention might someday founder on the rocks of reality television, and that the Congress would be such willing accomplices to this calamity. Our most ardent enemies, doing their worst (and they are doing their worst), couldn’t hurt us more than we are hurting ourselves.
"  (emphasis added)
What Sen. Flake may not want to acknowledge as his career winds down is the fact that Rump is the culmination of decades of Rethuglican political and social dishonesty, bigotry, divisiveness and moral preening. Rump isn't sui generis, but is a product of their nasty DNA, cultivated over decades of the Southern Strategy / hate radio / evangelical charlatans / Tea bagging bigots / corporate greed / war-mongering cowards, and so on. But let's give Flake credit, even if it's late in the game, for seeking to redeem his soul.

The Mistress, The Money And The Abortion

It's to be expected that the audience Tuesday night at the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony's List gala would greet amoral demagogue and sexual abuser Donald "Rump" Trump as a conquering hero, as he promised to apply new restrictions on abortion services and to appoint more anti-choice judges. The radicals in attendance pay no thought to having a degenerate con man like Rump as their champion, as long as he delivers on their reactionary anti-choice crusade.

Wouldn't it be poetic justice if the developing story of Rump's hush payments to various adult film actresses / Playmates etc. involved something that these smug hypocrites abhor? Coming to light as part of the investigations into Rump fixer Michael Cohen's hush payments is the strange connection between Rethuglican mega donor Elliott Broidy, a Playmate that had an affair and an abortion, and significant Middle Eastern money. We first took note of Broidy in April, around the time he showed up on Cohen's short list of "clients" and when his shady business dealings were being exposed. As we noted yesterday, due to the excellent reporting of New York Magazine's Paul Campos, there's mounting reason to believe that Broidy was covering for Rump, who allegedly fathered the child, in exchange for a $600 million contract for his company from the United Arab Emirates brokered by his business partner, and convicted pedophile, George Nader. Nader is reportedly cooperating with Special Counsel Mueller's investigation. Kevin Drum at Mother Jones adds his view that Broidy did take the fall for Rump in exchange for help with lucrative contracts:
"It always seemed odd that Broidy had paid Shera Bechard $1.6 million for her silence, considering that an affair with a guy like Broidy was hardly front-page news. However, an affair with Trump would be front-page news, and this was right in the middle of Broidy’s big campaign to get Trump to help him out with the Qatar business. What better way to ingratiate yourself with Trump than to offer to cover this up for him? [snip]
But by last November Broidy could practically smell his deals finally coming together. There was the $600 million deal with the UAE plus another deal worth $1 billion that he was pitching to Saudi Arabia. If he thought that taking a fall for Trump could be the final brick that would bring this all together, why wouldn’t he do it? The money was chicken feed by comparison, and maybe he told his wife all about it and she didn’t care. The whole thing finally makes sense."
This story has all of the elements of Trumpian behavior and corruption: the hypocrisy on abortion, the shady foreign money, the pay-to-play schemes, the relentless dishonesty. This story will continue to unfold; stay tuned.

Petulant Trump Cancels N. Korea Meeting

The hastily arranged meeting between North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un and sociopathic demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump has been cancelled by Rump in an odd letter to Kim. The letter, which pouts about recent harsh language aimed at Rump's rump kisser Mike "Dense" Pence, oddly lavishes praise on Kim for releasing the three American hostages and resurrects the taunt that Rump has a bigger button nuclear arsenal than North Korea.

Given the mix of compliments and threats, it's hard to know whether the incompetent Rump is trying to give Kim an opening or to give himself an out, after embarrassing himself with his lack of preparation and over-eagerness to negotiate. Either way, this is what passes for foreign policy under Rump.

Guess the coin they minted will be a hot collector's item (proceeds payable to Rump?).

BONUS: Raw Story has the round up of snark, including this suggested replacement for the coin:

BONUS II: Our South Korean allies were caught off guard by Rump's sudden action, calling it "very regretful and disconcerting."


(Attribution: democraticundergound.com)

Colbert On Trump's Latest Conspiracy Theory

Last night, Stephen Colbert dissected unhinged Russian asset Donald "Rump" Trump's latest attempt to discredit the investigation into his campaign's multiple connections with the Kremlin in order to meddle in the 2016 election. Rump's now trying to sell "Spygate" as a conspiracy of the "criminal deep state," a notion straight out of the fever swamps of the tinfoil hat right. Colbert jokes that, in fact, it should be called "Investigategate."

BONUS: Rump's own Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo stated the obvious in a Congressional hearing yesterday: that there is no "deep state" at either the CIA or State Department. Even his own top appointees seem embarrassed by Rump's nonsense.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

QOTD -- Philip Roth On Donald Trump

"No one (except perhaps the acidic H. L. Mencken, who famously described American democracy as 'the worship of jackals by jackasses') could have imagined that the 21st-century catastrophe to befall the U.S.A., the most debasing of disasters, would appear not, say, in the terrifying guise of an Orwellian Big Brother but in the ominously ridiculous commedia dell’arte figure of the boastful buffoon. How naïve I was in 1960 to think that I was an American living in preposterous times! How quaint! But then what could I know in 1960 of 1963 or 1968 or 1974 or 2001 or 2016?" -- great American novelist Philip Roth, who passed away yesterday at the age of 85, on the advent of boastful buffoon Donald "Rump" Trump in a January 2018 interview.

The NFL And Patriotism

Progressive star, Afghan war veteran and former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander had some thoughts last fall -- which he retweeted today --  as more and more NFL players knelt during the national anthem to draw attention to the epidemic of police shootings of unarmed African-Americans:

Apparently bullied by demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump (a.k.a. draft-dodging Cadet Bone Spurs), today's decision by NFL team owners to penalize teams for not standing will undoubtedly be challenged as a violation of the players' free speech protections. But what a disgrace that these plutocratic owners don't understand what Kander does -- and what he fought for.

BONUS: Friend Feline Mama points us to a former NFL player who has his comment on the NFL's hypocrisy.

BONUS II: Friend Diva notes that Jets owner Christopher Johnson has offered to pay fines associated with his players kneeling. Respect for the First Amendment still flickers in the NFL.

BONUS III:  Philadelphia Eagle star Chris Long --

BONUS IV:  The New York Daily News takes a stand (or a knee) --

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

(Chris Britt, Illinois Times)

(Steve Benson, Arizona Republic)

A Free Press Or Fascism

One of neo-fascist sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump's most serious attacks on our democracy is his false and malicious attacks on the free press, which he believes should only report "nice" things about him, malignant narcissist that he is. CBS "60 Minutes" correspondent and Beltway villager Leslie Stahl rather belatedly revealed a conversation she had with Rump shortly after the election, where he made clear (to no sentient person's surprise) that he undermined the press to advance himself:
The “60 Minutes” reporter recalled what happened when she and her boss met with the then president-elect at Trump Tower after he eked out a surprise win in late 2016. Trump eventually started bashing the press in front of them.

“I said, ‘You know, that is getting tired. Why are you doing this? You’re doing it over and over. It’s boring and it’s time to end that,’” Stahl recounted in a talk with Judy Woodruff of “PBS Newshour” at the Deadline Club event, which honors excellence in journalism.

“And he said, ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you,’” she continued.
(emphasis added)
Too bad that Stahl was shocked shocked! that gambling was going on in Rump's casino. After all, scholars who have studied the rise of dictatorships have noted that one of the stages in their development is to "manipulate the hearts and minds of your citizens":
"One of the first actions of any aspiring dictator should be to control the free flow of information, because it plugs a potential channel of criticism. Turn the media into a propaganda machine for your regime like Hitler did and Erdogan does now."
With a cowardly, corrupt party-before-country Congress sticking with him, and the despicable organs of right-wing media acting as cheerleaders, Rump feels empowered to threaten democracy and the rule of law, despite the clear evidence of his corruption and treasonous foreign entanglements, of nepotism and of the merging of his private interests with Government's. A quote from someone that Rump may have admired in his day is instructive:
"Democracy is talking itself to death. The people do not know what they want; they do not know what is the best for them. There is too much foolishness, too much lost motion. I have stopped the talk and the nonsense. I am a man of action. Democracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy. You in America will see that some day."
Rump would like to see that, and that's why we have to defeat him and his proto-fascist movement, in the media, in the pursuit of justice, and at the polls.

Massive Hypocrite Is Massively Hypocritical

There's this:
President Donald Trump urged attendees at a Tuesday night gala for a top anti-abortion organization to vote in November, issuing a stern warning about what might happen if they don’t. 
“If Democrats gained power, they will try to reverse these incredible gains, these are historic gains,” Trump told the audience at Susan B. Anthony List’s annual Campaign for Life event, referring to the strides made by his administration to defund abortion providers like Planned Parenthood and generally limit abortion services in the U.S.  
“Every day between now and November we must work together to elect more lawmakers who share our values, cherish our heritage, and proudly stand for life,” Trump said. [snip]
“For decades, American taxpayers have been wrongfully forced to subsidize the abortion industry through Title X federal funding, so today we have kept another promise,“ Trump said to a cheering crowd. “My administration has proposed a new rule to prohibit Title X funding from going to any clinic that performs abortions.” (our emphasis)
And then there's this:
Four days after after the raid on [Trump attorney Michael] Cohen’s office, on April 13, The Wall Street Journal published a story claiming that this David Dennison, in the NDA signed by [Playboy model] Shera Bechard, was none other than Elliott Broidy — despite its being precisely the same pseudonym Trump had used in the Stormy Daniels NDA. 
But as I argued at length and in detail in this space two weeks ago, Broidy’s account raises a lot of questions — and I believe a more plausible explanation of all the facts at hand is that he agreed to pay Bechard seven figures as a favor to Donald Trump, who actually impregnated Bechard, and then needed to hush her up about their affair and her subsequent abortion. 
Trump, I pointed out, is exactly the kind of man who has affairs with women like Shera Bechard, while Broidy has a history of bribing public officials to further his business interests — indeed, he had even made payments to the mistress of a politician he was bribing. And it was clear Broidy had spent much of 2017 touting his connections to Trump to various foreign officials.
The New York Magazine article by Paul Campos excerpted above is a must- read, and makes a compelling argument, based on further reporting by the Associated Press, for why Broidy did what he did =cough= quid pro quo =cough=.

Now, please raise your hand if you believe serial adulterer Donald "Rump" Trump was the one who impregnated Ms. Bechard and then paid hush money for her abortion.  Keep your hand raised if you think this epic hypocrisy won't matter one bit to the knuckle- dragging Rump base.  You can put your hands down now.

BONUS:  Susie Madrak at Crooks & Liars has more here.

Mid-Week Change Song

Lake Street Dive is a five-member alternative music band formed several years ago in Boston, as they were attending the New England Conservatory of Music. Lead singer Rachael Price's powerful voice propels the sound, which can vary from pop, to jazz, to alt-country. Their newest album, "Free Yourself Up", was just released. "I Can Change" is a memorable track from that album. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tweets Of The Day -- Sinkhole Or Hellmouth?

And, lastly --

More here and here.

What If They Made A Coin And No One Came?

This coin is so wrong on many levels. One,  desperate demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump's coin is depicting the U.S. on an equal basis with the murderous North Korean regime and Kim Jong-Un (not that Rump doesn't have dictatorial desires) simply to ingratiate himself with Kim. Two, it's wildly premature. The June meeting itself appears to be in trouble, with Rump having misread Kim (and definitely out-manuevered by him). Three, what kind of self-aggrandizing, raging narcissistic sociopath would do this? Rump, of course, who is so desperate for a "win" at any cost, and who imagines himself a future Nobel Peace Prize winner (after the Iran deal withdrawal and moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem? Ha.).

Today's relatively brief meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-In and Rump ended with them saying that the meeting may be delayed, with Rump suggesting that Chinese President Xi Jinping was behind the delay. It can't be that Rump gave Kim much of what he wanted in agreeing to meet in the first place, with Kim figuring he had his eager mark where he wanted him.

If this coin is a symbol of anything, it's a symbol of Rump's delusional belief that, as the world's smartest man, he can quickly wrap up a deal that has eluded several Presidents before him, and that what's really important is not the deal itself, but the show.

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Clay Jones, claytoonz.com)

(Kevin Siers, The Charlotte Observer)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Brendan Loper, The New Yorker)

Democrats' Mid-Term Strategy: It's All About Republican Corruption

With less than 5 months (!) to go to the 2018 mid- term elections, the Democratic Party thinks it has a unifying, overarching message that will resonate with voters.  "A Better Deal for Our Democracy," unveiled yesterday, focuses on Republican corruption in three areas: voting rights and access, campaign finance, and pay- to- play politics.  While issues such as health care, women's reproductive rights, income inequality, and off- shoring American jobs will play significant roles in individual district and Senate races, Republican corruption and the party's unwillingness to hold kleptocrat and crime family boss Donald "Rump" Trump accountable in any way, shape or form, polls very well across the political spectrum (as the linked article shows).

The beauty of this strategy is that it can accommodate and fold in what is likely to be a summer of revelations and indictments coming from the Mueller investigation. The message can be boiled down to a single notion, Adam Serwer points out,
There are not many Trump scandals. There is one Trump scandal. Singular: the corruption of the American government by the president and his associates, who are using their official power for personal and financial gain rather than for the welfare of the American people, and their attempts to shield that corruption from political consequences, public scrutiny, or legal accountability. 
Speaking for ourselves, it wouldn't matter much what the Democrats' message is for the mid- terms (and we suspect that's true for most other politically- woke folks).  We're going to vote straight Democratic ticket from County Clerk to Congress to Governor.  To do otherwise is to vote against what's left of American democracy.

For those less politically in- touch but "reachable," a message stressing Rump's and his cronies' endemic and blatant corruption -- to the detriment of those who play by the rules -- can be easily absorbed, especially if it's paired (where most effective) with Democratic proposals on economic and social issues.  But the messaging has to be clear, simple and repeated.  Democrats need to get this right;  the stakes are too high for them to fail.


Take The Money And Ride

Iconic American motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson was a beneficiary of the massive tax giveaway to corporations and the wealthiest individuals, thanks to con-man and greed head Donald "Rump" Trump and his Rethuglican Congress. They reaped the benefits of a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. So did the company announce pay increases for its workers? Price reductions for its customers? No, it announced a net layoff of 350 jobs from the closure of its Kansas City, MO plant, deciding instead to plow the tax savings into stock buybacks ($696 million worth) and increased stockholder dividends. To add insult to job loss, Harley-Davidson is opening a production facility in Thailand this year.

Harley workers should remember Rump's statement regarding Harley-Davidson in February 2017 at a White (Supremacist) House photo op:
“I think you’re going to even expand — I know your business is now doing very well, and there’s a lot of spirit right now in the country that you weren’t having so much in the last number of months that you have right now.”
The irony of Rump's statement that Harley-Davidson was going to expand -- yes, but in Thailand -- should be a clear warning to those workers that put their faith in him bringing back U.S. industry and jobs. Stockholders and corporate executives are "now doing very well," industrial workers not so much. The Kansas City plant closing was handled harshly by Harley executives:
"Just over a month after Trump signed the tax cuts into law, the Kansas City closure was announced. Workers found out when they arrived at the plant that morning: They were kept in the hallway, informed that the factory would be shut, and sent home for the rest of the day without pay. The union had no advance warning, said Greg Tate, a staff representative for the United Steelworkers District 11, which represents about 30 percent of the Harley-Davidson plant’s workers."
As the workers in Kansas City watch equipment from their plant being disassembled and crated, likely bound for Thailand, Tate noted:
“They have the capital now to move Kansas City, to shut it down,” he said. “All of that money really came from the tax cut plan, so it kind of had the opposite effect of what it was supposed to do.”
Actually no, Mr. Tate. It did exactly what it was supposed to do. The con worked.

Monday, May 21, 2018

QOTD - Which Side Are You On?

Charles Pierce:
Clearly, the Republican majorities in the Congress will do nothing about this gathering threat to the constitutional legitimacy of the government as a whole. Therefore, those majorities have to be pushed and threatened to get them to move and, if they still refuse, they have to be replaced by majorities that will protect jealousy both the legislature’s legitimate powers and the general constitutional order. If neither of those courses is followed, then we have said as a self-governing people that we are willing to participate in a farce, a burlesque of constitutional democracy concocted by a passel of avaricious clowns, rather than fight for our right to a political commonwealth based on self-government. 
There is a fight to be had here, and it is better that it be held out in the open, with every honest weapon available—including the current midterm campaign. It is not a time for irresolute appeals for civility and political politesse. Nothing honest is off the table. The American republic is fighting for its life and, as the old song goes, which side are you on?
The time is coming, folks ...

Rump's Obstruction "Demand" Prompts Meeting (UPDATED)

Yesterday's demand by obstructer-In-Chief and un-indicted co-conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump that the DOJ/FBI assist him in obstructing the Mueller counterintelligence investigation involving his campaign staff (Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, etc.) was the subject of a 3:00 p.m. meeting today at the White (Supremacist) House. No doubt the chief obstructor, fearing for his life legally and politically, will ask the attendees -- Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats -- why they aren't loyally working with him to frustrate the investigation into his corrupt and probably treasonous ties to Russia (and who knows who else?). Rosenstein's announcement that the DOJ's Inspector General will review Rump's cynically bogus "demand" may not have appeased Rump, especially if he caught pornstache support system and sinister party-before-country hack Joseph "Degenerate" diGenova on a local Washington radio show this morning, railing against Rosenstein and DOJ.

We'll see if a statement is forthcoming from the meeting. One would hope that Rosenstein and Wray convinced Rump refrain from disclosing sensitive information about the sources and methods of the investigation. Knowing Rump and his disregard for law, national security, others' lives,  and anything that doesn't involve his own protection, that would be a lofty hope. Stay tuned.

UPDATE:  White (Supremacist) House Spokesliar Sarah Huckabee Sanders read this statement after the meeting--
"Based on the meeting with the President, the Department of Justice has asked the Inspector General to expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's or the Department of Justice's tactics concerning the Trump Campaign. It was also agreed that White House Chief of Staff Kelly will immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with Congressional Leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested." (emphasis added)
Following which treasonous Rump lackey Devin (Sherlock) Nunes will leak the information in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.....

Tweets Of The Day -- "Captain Cuisinart"

The Very Stable Genius was up early getting his fix of "Fox & Friends" "Three Dolts on a Divan" (h/t Charlie Pierce) during "Executive time" and happened to see serial election loser and NRA hack Don "Bonehead" Bongino opine on this tweet by former CIA Director John Brennan, who was reacting to the Very Stable Genius' "demand" that the Justice Department investigate its actions involving use of an informant in the Trump campaign:

Here's what Bonehead had to say, as regurgitated by the Very Stable Genius:
He sounds perfectly sane.

Kevin Kruse had an apt response:

Register. Vote. Fire The Bastards.

The gun violence that we've seen just this year in massacres in Parkland, Florida and last Friday in Santa Fe, Texas, has mobilized a generation of potential voters. The school massacres are nothing new: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook. It was after the murder of 20 small children at Sandy Hook that Americans were certain that the gun lobby would back off of its absolutist, insane resistance to gun safety measures. Didn't happen, thanks to corrupt and amoral politicians (i.e., Rethuglicans) in the back pocket of the National Rifle Rampage Association, who kept up the "now's not the time" mantra.

There is heartening evidence that the gun safety will be the single issue for new voters (see Charles Blow link below). One hundred thousand California teens (and counting) have registered to vote in the aftermath of the Parkland massacre. Today, all New York City high schools are sponsoring "voter registration day", potentially registering 110,000 new voters. Not all is positive news: teen registration in some states is lagging, ironically in Florida of all places.

There are resources available to answer questions that teens would have about where, when and how to register. Here's one. Here's another.  Remember, those coin-operated Rethuglicans respond to the fear of losing their pathetic careers. Talk to your teen, ask them to spread the word. Make it happen where you live.

(image: ItsCarlosSoto twitter, via Balloon Juice)

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon -- The View From Trump's Brain

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Monday Reading

As always, please go to the links for the full article/ story.

Greg Sargent writes about the lazy and false pundit/ media narrative emerging about how Democrats are running in 2018:
There’s a narrative about our politics right now that you constantly encounter on social and political media. It goes like this: Democrats are too obsessed with the Russia investigation, or with Stormy Daniels, or they’re just too focused on “not being President Trump,” and as a result, they aren’t articulating an affirmative agenda and risk getting caught flat-footed by Trump’s supposedly rising popularity. 
But this narrative is entirely wrong, and two new pieces this morning help set the record straight. Taken together, they point to a much more accurate version of what’s happening: Trump’s unpopularity does in fact remain historically abysmal. This and Trump’s many scandals are in fact helping Democrats — but not in a way that is immediately apparent and not in a manner that betrays any unhealthy Democratic obsession with those things.
We've seen this movie before:  lazy, closed- loop media picks narrative based on desired outcome, obsesses on shiny object, hello "President" Trump.  Don't count on them "saving" us when it comes to the Trump- Russia scandal, either.

Leonard Pitts, Jr., on "putative Christians":
Today, we will discuss one of the most pressing threats to American Christianity. Meaning, of course, American Christians. 
Yes, that’s an overly broad statement. All those Christians whose faith requires them to live the Good News, to feed the hungry, to house the homeless, speak for the voiceless and welcome the stranger, surely do not threaten the faith. To the contrary, they empower it. They are what Christianity is supposed to be. 
But we’re here to contend with what Christianity too often is. Having seen putative Christians excuse the liar, rationalize the alleged pedophile, justify the sexual assaulter and cheer as walls are raised against the most vulnerable, it’s obvious that many of those who claim that name embody a niggardly, cowardly, selfish and situational “faith” that has little to do with Jesus.
Pitts provides the case of North Bend High School in rural Oregon as a prime example of how this "religion" is practiced by its faithful pharisees.

Charles Blow on what we must do in every election until we weed out the coin- operated Republican gun fondler caucus:
People seeking common sense gun control must become single-issue voters on gun control. Support for more restrictions may not be the only reason to vote for a candidate, but it must be sufficient to vote against one. 
We have to stop waiting for politicians to display courage and instead start to instill fear in them. 
As an individual voter, you don’t need to have a slate of reforms in mind, you only have to vote consistently for candidates who are committed to reviewing the issue and advancing smart, effective policy.

Silver Spring Bureau Chief Brian clued us in on a fascinating website, livingnewdeal.org, that tracks the thousands of ongoing projects begun in FDR's New Deal, and how those projects are living all around us today.  From high schools to national parks to libraries to dams to the National Institutes of Health, find examples in your state and across the nation of how progressive government yields fruits for the benefit of generations to come.

Lastly, please check out Infidel 753's link round-up of "various interesting stuff [he] ran across on the net over the last week."  Lots of humor and serious stuff, too, as usual.