Friday, August 31, 2018

Weekend Interesting Music

This isn't one of those OK Go visual eye- poppers we've featured previously; it's more topical, as you will see immediately. It's a cover of Morrissey's "Interesting Drug." They put it together in early 2017, and much still applies (except those "bad people on the rise" are now, thankfully, on the decline).  Stick around for the messages at the very end. Hope you enjoy.

Ohr: Russian Intelligence Said They Had Trump "Over A Barrel"

No wonder un- indicted co- conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump has been working hard to smear Associate Deputy AG Bruce Ohr:
A senior Justice Department lawyer says a former British spy told him at a breakfast meeting two years ago that Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump “over a barrel,” according to multiple people familiar with the encounter. 
The lawyer, Bruce Ohr, also says he learned that a Trump campaign aide had met with higher-level Russian officials than the aide had acknowledged, the people said. 
The previously unreported details of the July 30, 2016, breakfast with Christopher Steele, which Ohr described to lawmakers this week in a private interview, reveal an exchange of potentially explosive information about Trump between two men the president has relentlessly sought to discredit.  (our emphasis)
We won't be surprised if that kompromat "barrel" is filled with (at a minimum) laundered Russian mob money and mob loans underpinning Trumpworld, concomitant evidence of bank/ wire fraud, evidence of conspiracy to influence the 2016 election ("collusion!"), and, of course, a "hooker pee tape."  We also won't be surprised if Robert Mueller hasn't been all over it for some time now and knows everything the Russians know about Rump, and how the Russians are using that knowledge to undermine our democracy through their asset.

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

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

(Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer)

Trump Kills Federal Civilian Pay Raise (Since They're Not Corporations Or Wealthy)

This is going to help take down any number of endangered Republican Congresscritters with significant Federal civilian worker populations in their districts.  "Thanks, Trump!"
President Trump on Thursday headed off a potential substantial raise for federal workers in the event of a congressional budget deadlock, repeating his call for lawmakers to freeze the salaries of 2 million federal employees in 2019. [snip] 
"...We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” Trump’s letter said. (our emphasis)
"There's no money in the Treasury! We gave it all away to corporations and the wealthy in last year's tax cuts! Sad!"

As this tweet points out, the roughly 80 percent of Federal civilian workers who live outside of the Washington, DC, area are sprinkled around some important battleground states:

As with those of their private sector brethren, the wages of Federal civilian workers aren't keeping up with the current inflation rate of 2.9%.  Over a third of these workers are veterans;  they represent a wide range of occupations from scientists to law enforcement to doctors and nurses to everything in between.  We doubt they're going to be fooled by your posturing about being a fiscal hawk after the wealthfare tax giveaway you and your rotted- out party been touting all over the country.

Poll: Trump Support Down, Mueller Support Up

A new ABC News / Washington Post poll has some bad news for corrupt demagogue and Putin loyalist Donald "Rump" Trump. Sixty percent of Americans disapprove of his performance (53% strongly disapprove), while only 36 percent approve, a new low for him in this poll. In addition, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections -- and the Rump''s conspiracy with Moscow -- enjoys broad support from the public: 63% support the investigation vs. 29% who oppose it. Some excerpts from the findings:
"Trump’s average approval rating since taking office is the lowest for any president in modern polling since the 1940s. One factor: Contrary to his “drain the swamp” rhetoric, 45 percent say corruption in Washington has increased under Trump, while just 13 percent say it’s declined.

Suspicions of the president relating to the Mueller investigation are substantial. Sixty-one percent say that if assertions by Cohen are true, Trump broke the law. Fifty-three percent also think Trump obstructed special counsel Robert Mueller’s work
." (our emphasis)
The poll also found that almost half of Americans (49%) want Congress to initiate impeachment proceedings against Rump, with 57 of women supporting impeachment. The poll was conducted August 26-29 for 1,003 Americans. Check out the pdf for the poll here.

New York AG Won't Back Down On Trump Suit

New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood will move forward with the State's lawsuit against the self-dealing and fraudulent Trump Foundation, despite a motion by Trump consigliere and mob defense lawyer Alan Futerfas to dismiss the lawsuit. The State's lawsuit, filed in June, states that con man and Russiagate co-conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump and his offspring used his Foundation's money to pay expenses, settle legal claims for his for-profit businesses, and for personal purchases in violation of State law for charitable organizations. The State's lawsuit also noted that the Foundation's "Board of Directors" was a sham, not meeting since 1999, with Rump solely making decisions for the Foundation.

Rump tried to dissolve the Foundation after the 2016 elections in an apparent effort to mask the illegal use of funds, but the State held back in approving the dissolution. At the time the State filed suit, it also sent referral letters to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission for potential violations of Federal tax laws and Federal campaign laws, respectively.

Republican Dirty Tricks -- Virginia Edition (UPDATED)

Let's start with the PAC fronted by spineless weasel Squeaker of the House Paul "Lyin'" Ryan and its efforts to smear the Democrat running against tea bagger Rep. Dave "The Wurst" Brat:
A former C.I.A. officer running for Congress accused a super PAC aligned with Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Tuesday of improperly obtaining her entire federal security clearance application — a highly sensitive document containing extensive personal information — and then using it for political purposes. 
Abigail Spanberger, the Democratic candidate challenging Representative Dave Brat of Virginia, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Corry Bliss, the executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund, which has raised more than $100 million to help Republicans in the midterm elections. She demanded that the super PAC destroy all copies of the form and agree to not use the information in any fashion.
The article details how the PAC got its weasel paws on the classified document.  What was the information they extracted to smear Spanberger?  Must be something really incriminating, right?
... Ms. Spanberger said in the interview that she had become suspicious that the application had been leaked because Republican-aligned groups conducting “push polling” in the race had been asking respondents whether they knew she had once taught at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Va., an international baccalaureate program. 
One of her supporters received a call from the polling company and reported that she was asked if she would be less likely to support Ms. Spanberger if she knew that the candidate had taught at a school funded by the Saudi royal family that had “numerous students arrested for terrorism,” Ms. Spanberger said. [Ed.: but we thought Republicans loved the Saudi royal family.]
A recent graduate from the University of Virginia at the time, Ms. Spanberger returned to the United States in 2002 after teaching in Germany and earning a master’s degree. She applied for a job at the C.I.A. that year and was told in December that she had a conditional offer pending her background check, which she was told could take at least six months. 
She waited tables in the interim, and a colleague asked her if she would be interested in a temporary job teaching English at the academy to cover for another instructor’s maternity leave, Ms. Spanberger said. (our emphasis)
This, of course, is all to remind us that Republicans never tire of using racial/ ethnic/ religious boogymen to scare their witless supporters to the polls.  It also reminds us that they will stop at nothing, even trafficking in classified documents, to smear opponents in their desperation (in this case, a former CIA operative and Girl Scout leader for crap's sake running against Brat, who never served his country in any capacity).  "Culture of corruption," indeed.

Here's Spanberger's web site if you want to support her in what will be a close election.

But that's not all!  Virginia has another congressional race where Republican ratf*cking has also taken place:
An election fraud scandal is roiling Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, which Rep. Scott Taylor ... an iron-pumping, flag-wearing former Navy SEAL, has represented for most of one term. 
Forty-one voters and counting [Ed.: it's up to 4 dead people and 59 fraudulent signatures as of this week] have asserted in affidavits that their signatures — or the signatures of their relatives, both living and deceased — were forged in order to get the 2016 Democratic congressional nominee on the ballot as an independent. 
The apparent aim of the alleged forgery scheme was to split Democratic voters between last cycle’s nominee, Shaun Brown, and this year’s nominee, Elaine Luria. 
As it happens, Taylor’s own paid campaign staffers collected the signatures in question — and indicated that they “witnessed the signature of each person who signed this page” and “understand that falsely signing this affidavit is a felony.”  
Elaine Luria served in the Navy for 20 years, where she was imbued with a sense of duty and honor that apparently escaped Taylor during his service.  Adding to this is the fact that Taylor has been out there touting the need to protect elections from "mass voter fraud."  The weasel, like Republicans in general, has no shame (or sense of irony).

Here's Luria's web site if you want to support her and defeat the Republican ratf*ckers.

Let's flip these two seats.

UPDATE:  Some 200 national security and intelligence officials are now calling for an investigation into the release of Spanberger's file.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Scientists: 2035 Is Point Of No Return On Climate

A new study by geoscientists in the UK and Netherlands indicates we've nearly run out of time for action to hold global warming at bay. The study, published in Earth System Dynamics by the European Geosciences Union, warns that by 2035 unless action is taken to reduce carbon emissions, increases in the earth's temperature will reach two degrees Centigrade:
"In our study we show that there are strict deadlines for taking climate action," says Henk Dijkstra, a professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and one of the study authors. "We conclude that very little time is left before the Paris targets [to limit global warming to 1.5°C or 2°C] become infeasible even given drastic emission reduction strategies."  (our emphasis)
The dire warning comes as the U.S. fossil fuel industry is emboldened by the Trump administration's withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, it's promotion of coal production and use, and its relaxation of environmental air pollution standards. The fossil fuel industry not only has a place at the table as far as Trump's energy policies are concerned, they own the table.

To illustrate how urgent action is needed to accelerate renewable energy use, we are already fighting a rear guard action:
"To likely limit global warming to 1.5°C in 2100, humanity would have to take strong climate action much sooner. We would only have until 2027 to start if we could increase the share of renewables at a rate of 5% a year. We have already passed the point of no return for the more modest climate-action scenario where the share of renewables increases by 2% each year." (our emphasis)
Facts matter, elections matter. Our lives and our planet matter.

Tweet Of The Day -- What's Wrong With This Picture?

Hint:  They're posed in front of the White (Supremacist) House (click on image to enlarge).

Believing Trump Or Your Lying Eyes

In the mold of his exhortation to his cult followers not to believe anything they hear or see, co-conspirator and pathological liar Donald "Rump" Trump today tweeted accusing NBC of "fudging" the infamous self-incriminating interview in 2017 conducted by Lester Holt where Rump admitted to firing former FBI Director James Comey because of the "Russia thing." It's known that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has asked several people about that statement in the interview as part of his investigation into Rump's involvement with Moscow and possible obstruction of justice in trying to halt the investigation into it.

Rump's admission to Holt followed attempts to disguise the reason for firing Comey, including the ridiculous assertion that it was Comey's public handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation, which damaged her candidacy in the waning days of the 2016 campaign. Rump's new attempt to cast doubt on the integrity of the Lester Holt interview, with no factual basis, is another appeal to his gullible, rabid base to believe what he says, and not their lying eyes and ears.

The Trump Economy: Profits Vs. Wages

The con in graph form:

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Candidate MJ Hegar Opening Doors

Along with veteran combat pilot Amy McGrath of Kentucky, who had her own viral ad, this ad from earlier this summer went viral and is one of the sharpest political ads of the season. Democrat and Air Force veteran MJ Hegar is running in TX-31 against a tea party Trumpist, Rep. John Carter, who has earned a kick in the ass out the door. MJ's the one to do it, too. Here's where you can contribute to MJ's campaign.

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

The Grifting Giuliani

It's said that everything con man and unindicted co-conspirator Donald "Rump" Trump touches dies...or at least gets irreversibly tainted. His TV lawyer, bungling Rudy "Ghouliani" Giuliani has a habit of incriminating his client when on TV (a favorite venue of his while he's seeking to extend his 15 minutes of fame). It also appears that Giuliani's using his position to lobby for foreign governments while acting as Rump's lawyer.

Working a side gig with former FBI Director Louis Freeh's consulting group, Giuliani wrote a harsh letter last week to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis opposing his anti-corruption campaign. (Who'd a thunk Giuliani would be pro-corruption, right? ). The problem is that the sloppy Giuliani failed to note in his letter to the Romanian President that he was writing on behalf of (and getting paid by) Freeh's group, and not representing the views of Rump or the U.S. government. In fact, the State Department supports Iohannis' anti-corruption campaign to weed out corrupt officials and judges.

In a manner similar to his attack on the Mueller investigation, Giuliani targeted Romania's National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) for "excesses" and called for amnesty (surprised he didn't use the word "pardon") to those "prosecuted and convicted through the excesses of the DNA." We suspect he just cut and pasted some of his "legal" musings related to the Mueller probe for this gig. This would be a big ethical problem if the Trumpists had any ethics to begin with.

(photo: Stogie firmly clenched in his yellow rat-like teeth, Giuliani, front seat, is chauffeured away in a limo)

Mid-Week Love Song

Ten years ago, singer/pianist/songwriter Sara Bareilles had her first hit with "Love Song" from her debut album, "Little Voice." She's a master of what she calls "pop soul," with her fluid piano style and vocals that recall Norah Jones and others. Enjoy her sound.

Yesterday's Primaries In Florida And Arizona

Yesterday's primaries in Florida and Arizona produced some interesting outcomes. Here's Five Thirty Eight's take on two of the biggest results:
o The big headline of the night: Progressive Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, notched a surprise win in the Democratic primary for Florida governor, 34 percent to 31 percent, over moderate former Rep. Gwen Graham. It was less of a surprise, but the more ideologically “pure” candidate won on the Republican side too, with Rep. Ron DeSantis defeating Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (who was practically the state GOP’s anointed successor) 57 percent to 37 percent. It sets up a rollicking and unpredictable general election, in which Gillum will surely be hit for an FBI investigation into his mayoral administration and DeSantis’s bear hugs of Trump will be played on repeat for swing voters during commercial breaks. 
o Rep. Martha McSally defeated former state Sen. Kelli Ward and former Sheriff Joe Arpaio to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Arizona. The vote is still being tallied as I’m writing, but McSally is right around 50 percent and it looks like she’ll win by pretty much exactly the margin people expected. The once Trump-skeptical McSally did an impressive job appealing to the president’s wing of the party against two immigration hardliners who were arguably Trump before Trump. Establishment Republicans are also relieved, because McSally was by far their strongest candidate against Democratic nominee Kyrsten Sinema.
Florida is a closed primary (you have to be registered either Democrat or Republican to vote), while Arizona is an open primary (any registered voter can vote).  In the Florida gubernatorial race, the Democratic candidates got 1,508,984 votes against 1,618,013 votes for the Republicans. Clearly in that race, as well as the Senate race pitting incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson against grifty Gov. Rick "Batboy" Scott, Democrats will need to keep their voters and get a significant turnout from independents to get across the finish line with wins.

In the Arizona Senate race, the Democratic votes were 361,909 against 456,467 for the Republicans. The Democratic race was not hotly contested, while the Republican race was, which may have affected turnout.  It's also unclear how independents turned out and how they voted. But, regardless, Democrats will have their work cut out for them to get a Democrat elected to fill retiring Sen. Jeff Flake's Republican seat.

Lots of work to be done in both of these critical states before November!

BONUSTrump- idolizing Republican candidate for Florida governor, Rick DeSantis is already blowing the dog whistle at his African- American opponent, Andrew Gillum.

Russia Bans Environmental Group

If you want to see what the U.S. might look like under a couple of more years of sociopathic con man Donald "Rump" Trump, just look at the thugocracy in Russia today. While Rump would love to repeal the First Amendment and set himself up as the arbiter of what's "real" news, Russian thug and Rump's controller Vladimir Putin is well underway in his failing country. If he's not assassinating journalists and political opponents or jailing them on fabricated charges, he's shutting down organizations that would shed light on his regime's excesses.

Moscow announced that it was prohibiting Pacific Environment from operating its pro-environmental organization in Russia because it constituted a "security threat." The San Francisco-based environmental group works with local environment groups to oppose logging, mining and fossil fuel extraction from the Far East and Siberia. No doubt one or more of Putin's oligarchs asked a favor of him. Pacific Environment is one of 15 banned groups that the Kremlin viewed as a threat to its internal activities. In 2015, Putin signed a law banning "undesirable" organizations from operating in Russia, apparently in retaliation for international sanctions imposed against Russia for its annexation of Crimea and military aggression in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Rump would like to operate like his model Putin does, but still has constraints placed on him. His Twitter rampages against the media and, lately, social media like Google, is a window into his angry authoritarian mind. November looms ever larger in solidifying those constraints.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Tweets Of The Day -- Trump's Katrina

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Clay Jones,

(Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune)

(Drew Sheneman, The Star-Ledger, Newark)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Rump's Boy Devin Nunes Still At It

He never stops. Trumpist puppet and Russiagate obstructionist Rep. Devin "Clouseau" Nunes was reported to be in London earlier this month trying to dig up dirt on former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who authored the "dossier" on Putin loyalist Donald "Rump" Trump's connections with the Kremlin. According to the report:
"Devin Nunes, a California Republican, was investigating, among other things, Steele’s own service record and whether British authorities had known about his repeated contact with a U.S. Justice Department official named Bruce Ohr. To that end, Nunes requested meetings with the heads of three different British agencies—MI5, MI6, and the Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. (Steele was an MI6 agent until a decade ago, and GCHQ, the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the National Security Agency, was the first foreign-intelligence agency to pick up contacts between Trump associates and Russian agents in 2015, according to The Guardian.)"
Nunes has been an aggressive water-carrier for Rump in his effort to discredit and derail the Special Counsel's investigation into Russia's actions during the 216 election to support Rump's candidacy. He made such a spectacle of himself early in the bogus, partisan House Intelligence Committee "investigation" by coordinating information from the White (Supremacist) House that even spineless Squeaker of the House Paul "Lyin'" Ryan had to temporarily remove him from the investigation. To their credit, British authorities smelled a rat in Nunes, and declined to meet with him in order to smear Steele:
"A U.K. security official, speaking on background, said 'it is normal for U.K. intelligence agencies to have meetings with the chairman and members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.' But those meetings did not pan out—Nunes came away meeting only with the U.K.’s deputy national-security adviser, Madeleine Alessandri. The people familiar with his trip told me that officials at MI6, MI5, and GCHQ were wary of entertaining Nunes out of fear that he was 'trying to stir up a controversy.'” (our emphasis)
Stirring up controversy is the least of what this unpatriotic slimeball wants to do: he wants to make sure that Rump never has to come clean about his connections with the Kremlin, and if that means obstructing a legitimate counterintelligence investigation, he's on board.

Nunes's Democratic challenger, Fresno County prosecutor Andrew Janz, faces an uphill battle in November, so he needs support to press his case. Please consider contributing to his campaign.

(photo: Still skulking around. J.Scott Applewhite/AP)

Republican-Gerrymandered North Carolina Districts Ruled Unconstitutional (Again)

The Republican cheats lose another round:
A panel of three federal judges held Monday that North Carolina’s congressional districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans over Democrats and said it may require new districts before the November elections, possibly affecting control of the House. 
The judges acknowledged that primary elections have already produced candidates for the 2018 elections but said they were reluctant to let voting take place in congressional districts that courts twice have found violate constitutional standards. [snip] 
“We continue to lament that North Carolina voters now have been deprived of a constitutional congressional districting plan — and, therefore, constitutional representation in Congress — for six years and three election cycles,” [Judge James A.] Wynn wrote. “To the extent allowing the General Assembly another opportunity to draw a remedial plan would further delay electing representatives under a constitutional districting plan, that delay weighs heavily against giving the General Assembly another such opportunity.” 
He proposed several unusual ideas: appointing a special master to draw new districts, holding general elections without party primaries or even turning the November elections into a primary and holding the general election sometime before the new Congress convenes in January.
It would be hard not to conclude, as Federal courts now have for the second time, that the election- rigging gnomes in the North Carolina Republican/ New Confederate Party have been up to no good, and would continue their unconstitutional map drawing if given the opportunity.  After all, the helpful morons had already come out and admitted it:
I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats,” said Rep. David Lewis, a Republican member of the North Carolina General Assembly, addressing fellow legislators when they passed the plan in 2016. “So I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country.” 
He added: “I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”  (our emphasis)
That's very white of you, Rep. Lewis!

Since printing of ballots has been halted by an injunction, any of the options outlined by the court is feasible.  The vote- riggers have until Friday to show the court why they should get a third try. (Spoiler alert:  the chances of that happening are "slim" and "are you effing kidding me?") The likely outcome is expected to be having a Special Master draw up new district boundaries by September 17, choosing from a number of already- existing maps that would pass constitutional muster.

AZ Rethugs Go To Polls Today

With the passing Saturday of Arizona Sen. John McCain dominating the political news, today Rethuglicans in that state vote in their primary to choose a candidate to replace McCain's colleague, retiring Sen. Jeff Flake. Their choice is between three candidates who are trying to be the truest Trumpist, although Rep. Martha McSally is backed by the so-called Rethuglican "establishment" over two more radical wingnuts, vicious McCain-bashing Kelli "Smelly" Ward and convicted felon and racist "Blow" Joe Arpaio. Some choice.

In recent years, Arizona Rethuglicans have lurched ever farther to the right fringe, electing crazies like former Gov. Jan "Witches" Brewer and far-right former Congresscritters like disgraced Rep. Trent Franks and homophobe bigot Rep. J.D. Hayworth. But while their radical party has crystalized into an overwhelmingly pure demographic of aging white folks and alt-right fanatics, the increasing diversity of the state may move it slowly toward a "purple" state, where candidates need to not only hold their base, but appeal to whatever "independents" they can in the general elections. We saw where "Blow" Joe Arpaio wore out his welcome in Maricopa County after years of being the "sheriff for life." There won't be a sudden turn around in Arizona politics, but the demographic tide is slowly rising there against the far-right.

Monday, August 27, 2018

"Hello? Enrique? Hello?"

In an attempt to distract from the roiling legal and political problems around him, sociopath and lowlife Donald "Rump" Trump had a phone call placed to outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto regarding a supposed "new" trade agreement, without discussing any details. But the call itself was delayed for an embarrassing few minutes when Very Stable Genius Rump couldn't make the speaker phone connection to Peña (here's the bumbler in action.)  Esquire has a humorous take on the screw up here (scroll down to the bottom of the linked article).

It's a shame that the Mexican President felt compelled to play along with the nothingburger "announcement," which was solely for the purpose of giving Rump a distraction from his mounting woes, including fire from all quarters about his petty order to raise the flag over the White (Supremacist) House in one last dig at Sen. McCain.

(photo: Rump after the staged phone call, pouting because the press was asking him about Sen. McCain. Mandel Ngan/Getty Images)

U.N.: Myanmar Had Genocidal Intent For Rohingyans

In a report issued by the U.N.'s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, investigators charge that six senior Myanmar military officials ordered mass killings, the torching of villages, and rapes of the Muslim Rohingya minority. The report recommends that the general officers involved be prosecuted under international law regarding genocide.

The report doesn't spare Myanmar's civilian leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi for not exercising her authority to intervene in the genocide, saying Aung San,
“...has not used her de facto position as Head of Government, nor her moral authority, to stem or prevent the unfolding events, or seek alternative avenues to meet a responsibility to protect the civilian population."
Roughly a year ago, the country's military began a brutal crackdown on Rohingya dissidents, and drove some 700,000 Rohingyan Muslims into neighboring Bangladesh, which has struggled to cope with the massive influx resulting from the ethnic cleansing. While the U.S. State Department has not officially commented on the U.N. report, the British foreign ministry said "there cannot and must not be impunity for such acts."

Two journalists working for Reuters remain in jail since December for reporting on the brutal crackdown. The verdict in their case is scheduled to be delivered by a Myanmar judge on September 3.

(photo: Rohingya refugees barely cling to a makeshift raft crossing the treacherous Naf River into Bangladesh. UNHCR/ A. McConnell)

Veterans Groups To Trump: Lower The Flag (UPDATED)

Multiple veterans organizations have insisted that draft-dodging con man Donald "Rump" Trump to lower the flag over the White (Supremacist) House in memory of the late Sen. John McCain after it was raised today over Rump's animus toward McCain. Protocol calls for the flag remain lowered until McCain is interred. The groups, AMVETS and the American Legion, also called for an appropriate statement from Rump:
"It’s outrageous that the White House would mark American hero John McCain’s death with a two-sentence tweet, making no mention of his heroic and inspiring life,” Joe Chenelly, AMVETS national executive director, said in a statement.

“By lowering flags for not one second more than the bare minimum required by law, despite a long-standing tradition of lowering flags until the funeral, the White House is openly showcasing its blatant disrespect for Senator McCain’s many decades of service and sacrifice to our country as well as the service of all his fellow veterans.”
Similarly, the American Legion's National Commander Denise Rohan issued a statement that read, in part:
“Mr. President, just this year, you released presidential proclamations noting the deaths of Barbara Bush and Billy Graham.  Sen. McCain was an American hero and cherished member of The American Legion. As I’m certain you are aware, he served five and a half years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam and retired from the U.S. Navy at the rank of Captain. He then served in the U.S. Congress for more than three decades.”
"As I'm certain you are aware..."  You can believe that Cadet Bone Spurs is aware of McCain's capture, because he denigrated it in 2015 not long after he announced his candidacy. While McCain was in the Hanoi Hilton, Bone Spurs was, by his own telling, experiencing his own Viet Nam by dodging sexually transmitted diseases in New York City. In his gut, Rump knows he's not fit to clean the dirt off the bottom of McCain's shoes, and the tributes and mourning eat away at him.

UPDATE: It looks like the pressure worked. They just lowered the flag again, and will have a statement. And you better believe it wasn't shame that worked, it was pressure.

Republican Crime Blotter -- Extortion And Bribery Edition

Diogenes' search for an honest man continues unabated within the ranks of the corrupt Republican Party:
Federal investigators seized records from former Ohio Speaker Cliff Rosenberger's office earlier this year to investigate whether he received kickbacks or bribes related to payday lending legislation, according to a subpoena and search warrant released to The Enquirer. 
Documents, first obtained by The Dayton Daily News, show federal investigators are looking for information regarding Rosenberger, payday lending lobbyists Stephen D. Dimon, Jr. and Leslie R. Gaines, and Advance America executive Carol Stewart, among others.  [snip] 
Officials were looking for “communications or information concerning: payday lending legislation: evidence of payments, kickbacks, bribes, or other benefits (such as payment of travel-related expenses)," according to the records provided by the Ohio House. 
Among the crimes federal officials are investigating are conspiracy to commit extortion, attempt to commit extortion and extortion, according to the search warrant. Possible bribery violations were also mentioned. 
A federal extortion conviction can bring a sentence of up to 20 years, while federal bribery charges can bring a sentence of up to 15 years. Fines are also possible for both charges. 
Rosenberger resigned April 12 amid questions into his extensive travel with lobbyists, including Dimon and Gaines. 
This is simply another example of why Republicans at all levels need to be turned out of office in November and beyond.  It's in their DNA to lie, cheat and steal to get into office, and then to lie, cheat and steal while in office.  Don't tell us Trump is an aberration; he's their role model.

(Photo: Rosenberger having a good laugh at the expense of the taxpayers of Ohio)

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Monday Reading

As always, please go to the links to read the full articles/ op eds.

All this winning is getting hard to take:
North Korea’s main newspaper accused the United States on Sunday of staging military drills to prepare an invasion while at the same time pursuing dialogue with “a smile on its face.” 
Rodong Sinmun, the official mouthpiece of the Workers’ Party of Korea, cited alleged U.S. troop movements in the region, which it called “extremely provocative and dangerous” and said they threatened to derail the dialogue between the United States and North Korea. 
The U.S. military called the accusation “far fetched.” 
The opinion piece came two days after President Trump canceled a planned trip to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing a lack of progress in getting North Korea to surrender its nuclear weapons. 
Don't worry, though.  North Korea is "no longer a nuclear threat" according to a Very Stable Genius.

Republicans want you to know that if those wascally Demoncrats win the House, they're going to [checks notes] do the job Republicans should have been doing:
Congressional Republicans are getting ready for hell. Axios has obtained a spreadsheet that's circulated through Republican circles on and off Capitol Hill — including at least one leadership office — that meticulously previews the investigations Democrats will likely launch if they flip the House. [snip]
o President Trump’s tax returns 
o Trump family businesses — and whether they comply with the Constitution's emoluments clause, including the Chinese trademark grant to the Trump Organization 
o Trump's dealings with Russia, including the president's preparation for his meeting with Vladimir Putin 
o The payment to Stephanie Clifford — a.k.a. Stormy Daniels 
o James Comey's firing 
o Trump's firing of U.S. attorneys 
o Trump's proposed transgender ban for the military 
o Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's business dealings 
o White House staff's personal email use 
o Cabinet secretary travel, office expenses, and other misused perks  
The list goes on and on.  Sounds like a list that only the most rotted- out, corrupt party in recent memory would find objectionable, along with their base, of course.

It's in their DNA:
Fox News has disabled comments on YouTube videos about the death of John McCain following an outpouring of nastiness on the network's own website from its commenters.
It's the same over at über- right sites like spittle- flecked Free Republic.

The Trump regime has created hundreds of orphans in its border crackdown. The number is holding steady while the Trump regime passes the buck to the ACLU (found via Infidel 753):
As of last week, 565 migrant children who were separated from their parents by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy remained separated and in U.S. custody. Late Thursday, the Trump administration told a federal court in San Diego that that number has barely budged, dropping to 528 nearly a month after the court’s deadline to reunite all of the separated children. Of the still-separated group, 23 are younger than 5 years old.

Of the children who remain separated, the Trump administration says 343 have a parent who was deported without them. The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the parents in the federal class action lawsuit, has taken the lead on trying to find and contact those parents, its attorneys hope many of those cases can be swiftly resolved.
You'll find more links ranging a wide spectrum over at Infidel 753's link round up.  Be a well- rounded citizen and go browse.

Pettiness And Patriotism

After the briefest acknowledgement on Twitter of Sen. John McCain's passing on Saturday, which didn't reference McCain directly, sociopath and corrupt demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump ordered the flag over the White (Supremacist) House raised to full-staff after only one day of flying at half-staff. There are reports that Rump was urged by his staff and purportedly his wife "Melanie" to issue a more generous statement about McCain's legacy, but he refused. Rump's petty and vindictive move, while not surprising, is a measure of the resentment he feels toward men (and women) that he knows are better than him. He is a stain on the Presidency and on the United States, which McCain, however imperfectly, devoted his life to serving.

BONUS:  Here's how the petty, vain narcissist posted his tweet on Instagram -- with a pic of himself:


(photo: ABC 7 Washington. The White [Supremacist] House flag this morning)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Across The Universe, Cont. -- Deep GOODS North Field

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ESA, August 20, 2018: The Hubble Deep Field from 1995 allowed astronomers a first glimpse into the early Universe. This first picture was followed later by an even deeper observation, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 2004. Both images were observed in visible light, the same form of light human eyes can see. But astronomers are also interested in the many forms of invisible light out in the Universe. Therefore, the Ultra Deep Field was later observed in the infrared and the ultraviolet as well, allowing scientists to learn even more about the Universe and to look back even further into its history.

It is less known that the famous deep field observations were not the only images the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope took of the distant Universe. Hubble is also an essential part of the GOODS (The Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey) programme, which unites extremely deep observations from several space telescopes: NASA’s Spitzer and Chandra; ESA's Herschel and XMM-Newton; and Hubble.

Together these observatories observe two patches of the sky, the GOODS North and the GOODS South fields, with the aim of studying it in as many different wavelengths as possible. The new image here shows part of the GOODS North Field; it includes new Hubble data at ultraviolet wavelengths in addition to the existing data. Because Earth’s atmosphere filters out most ultraviolet light, these observations can only be accomplished from space.

The observation programme, called the Hubble Deep UV (HDUV) Legacy Survey, harnessed the ultraviolet vision of Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3. This study extends and builds on the previous Hubble multi-wavelength data in the CANDELS-Deep (Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey) fields within the central part of the GOODS (The Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey) fields. This mosaic is 14 times the area of the Hubble Ultraviolet Ultra Deep Field released in 2014.

Credit:  ESA/Hubble & NASA

Neil Simon, Broadway's Comedy King, Dead At 91

Neil Simon, the prolific playwright whose comedies dominated Broadway for the second half of the 20th century, passed away today at the age of 91. The genius behind such works as "Come Blow Your Horn," "Barefoot in the Park," "Sweet Charity," "The Sunshine Boys," and "The Odd Couple, " Simon was honored with 4 Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and the Kennedy Center Honors, among many other honors. His own life was reflected in his play trilogy, "Brighton Beach Memoirs," "Biloxi Blues," and "Broadway Bound."

Before launching his Broadway career, Simon was one of the brilliant writers who wrote comedy sketches for Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows," with Carl Reiner, Woody Allen, and Mel Brooks.
Some tributes to Simon from all walks of life are being collected by Variety. He was an original, and Broadway's irreplaceable king of comedy.

(photo: Simon and Schuster)

The Deplorable Kelli Ward

On a day when decent people are respectfully observing the passing of Sen. John McCain, there are always exceptions, even from McCain's home state of Arizona. Trumpist candidate for Senate Kelli "Smelly" Ward, a foe of McCain's within the Arizona Rethuglican Party, decided that McCain's announcement that he was suspending treatment for his aggressive brain cancer was actually timed to hurt her ugly campaign.  Saturday, just hours before McCain died, Ward wrote on Facebook, "I think they wanted to have a particular narrative that they hope is negative to me." The narcissism, lack of empathy, vindictiveness and delusion of Ward's statement is staggering. But we should expect it from a hardcore Trumpist, because that's what Cadet Bone Spurs would say if he were in her position. Gutless as she is, she later deleted the statement after receiving a torrent of criticism.

The Arizona Rethuglican primary is Tuesday. We obviously don't have a horse in their race (which also includes the nasty bigot "Blow" Joe Arpaio), but if anyone deserves to finish dead last it's the deplorable Ward.

John McCain, 1936-2018

After a long battle, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) died Saturday at the age of 81.  Despite our long list of issues with McCain, he had the courage to stand up for his beliefs (including casting the deciding vote to save the Affordable Care Act last year). Especially compared to the political and moral midgets in his caucus and the unstable Man Baby in the White (Supremacist) House, McCain was a giant.

His biography is well known. He served his country in the Navy, including as a severely wounded POW in Vietnam, during which time he was tortured but emerged a hero 5 1/2 years later.  He has represented Arizona, first as a Congressman then as a Senator, from 1983 until his death. He ran for president, first in 2000 (defeated in the primaries by George Bush), then in 2008, when he made the mistake of elevating Sarah Palin to the ticket and national prominence.

We'll let one of his biggest political rivals, President Barack Obama (who, along with Bush was asked by McCain to deliver eulogies at his funeral), speak for most Americans:
"John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics. But we shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher-the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed. We saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world. We saw this country as a place where anything is possible - and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way. 
"Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John's best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt. Michelle and I send our heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family."
Rest in peace.

You can read more statements on McCain's passing here.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Tweets Of The Day -- Got A Hold On You

Sen. Lindsey Graham's "conscience" is in the grip of someone with small hands (or his handler):

Hmmm.... could it be someone's got some kompromat on him

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

(Clay Jones,

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

The "Don" In The White (Supremacist) House

A "don" is the mafia term for "boss." Infamous Gambino crime family boss John Gotti was referred to in the media as the "Teflon Don" for his ability to escape jail -- for a while. Organized crime is structured around family-style hierarchies, have a code of silence ("omerta") for members, and deal with betrayal ("ratting") with threats and violence.

With corrupt demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump's history in the New York real estate development and management business (as well as with Atlantic City casinos), he had to deal with organized crime figures who controlled everything from trucking to concrete supply. We've seen Rump in recent weeks adopt a mob boss persona: praising convicted felon Paul Manafort for standing tough against law enforcement prosecutors, demeaning the Justice Department and the FBI, and calling the practice of getting criminals to turn state's evidence -- or "flipping" -- "unfair" and something that should be outlawed.  Jeffrey Goldberg has an interesting read in The Atlantic about Rump's affinity with mob language and law breaking, starting with Rump's sinister jury-tampering tweet about Manafort:

"What we see in this astonishing tweet is an implicit endorsement by the president of the United States of omertà, the Mafia code of silence, which has been honored, especially over the past 30 years or so, more in theory than in practice. 
Trump expanded upon his views this morning, in an interview on Fox & Friends, in which he seemed to refer, obliquely, though elegiacally, to the dismantling of the Mafia in New York City (an effort led for a time by his current attorney Rudy Giuliani). [snip]
'It’s called ‘'flipping'’ and it almost ought to be illegal,' Trump said. 'I know all about flipping. For 30, 40 years, I have been watching flippers. Everything is wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is or as high as you can go.'”  
In these statements, Trump displays contempt for the rule of law, and honors criminals who refuse to cooperate with law enforcement. He’s doing nothing less than elevating gangster ideology to the status of high principle."
So when you hear Rump discussing the various cases and personalities involved in criminal activity either with him or on his behalf, you're hearing not only the argot of the mob boss, but also his guiding philosophy.

(photo: Investigations? Fugettaboutit!)

Kremlin Detains Dissident

Reports out of Russia indicate that the regime of thug Vladimir Putin has detained anti-Putin dissident Alexei Navalny on unspecified charges, a sign that the regime may fear new protests by pro-democracy forces. Navalny has been repeatedly jailed and harassed by the Kremlin in order to stifle dissent. He was barred from running in Russia's rigged elections last spring (after which Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump called Putin to "congratulate" him). Navalny organized protests in 90 Russian cities last spring against Putin's autocratic rule.

Meanwhile, the details of Rump's private meeting with Putin in Helsinki in July have yet to be disclosed. Some Senate Dems are continuing to press for a complete accounting of what Rump discussed or promised during the 2-hour meeting with Putin. His subsequent press conference with Putin showed Rump's subservience to Putin, and was widely seen as undercutting U.S. intelligence's consensus that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections, and as a treasonous display in front of an international audience.

In a better time, a President would be blasting Putin, and supporting Navalny. Instead, we have someone compromised by the Kremlin and who owes them allegiance for a reason we will know eventually.

That Was The Week That Was

Let's recap this past week: the former lawyer/fixer for unindicted co-conspirator and con man Donald "Rump" Trump pleads guilty to 8 felonies and says Rump directed his felonious activities in two; Rump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort is found guilty on 8 felony counts of tax and bank fraud; the Trump Organization's chief financial officer receives immunity from prosecution from the Feds to spill what he knows; Rump's pal, publisher David Pecker, agrees to an immunity deal to spill what he knows; the State of New York is reported to be considering criminal charges against the Trump Organization for involvement in the hush money payoff to Stormy Daniels; Rump gets push back from his hapless Confederate States Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions on his recusal decision, etc. etc.

All together now: Infrastructure Week!

BONUS: Then there's this voided nondisclosure agreement with the National Enquirer regarding Rump fathering a child out of wedlock with his former housekeeper. Release the Pecker Papers!

BONUS II:  "Promise made, promise kept"?

Friday, August 24, 2018

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Stuart Carlson,

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

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

And, with the "American Excess" card --

(Steve Breen San Diego Union-Tribune)

Weekend It's Me Song

Jazz / r&b vocalist Lindsey Webster has a languid, lovely new single out, "It's Not You, It's Me," from her top 5 album "Love Inside." The track features a favorite of ours, Rick Braun, on trumpet. Good tune for a summer night to relax and drift away by.

Cover Of The Month -- In Deep

TIME magazine's September 3 cover, ladies and gentlemen.

(click on image to enlarge)

Here are the earlier, related TIME covers.

Trump Accountant Got Immunity In Trump Organization Probe

The longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, was given immunity by federal prosecutors in New York during the course of the Michael Cohen investigation, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. 
The news was first reported Friday by The Wall Street Journal. 
Weisselberg is "Executive 1" on page 17 of the criminal information filed by prosecutors in the Michael Cohen case, a person with knowledge of the matter told NBC News. 
According to prosecutors, Cohen sent an invoice to Executive 1, meaning Weisselberg, for "Payment for services rendered for the month of January and February, 2017," a payment that was really meant to reimburse Cohen for a payment to Stormy Daniels. 
Weisselberg then sent the invoice to another Trump Organization executive via e-mail directing him to "Please pay from the Trust. Post to legal expenses. Put 'retainer for the months of January and February 2017' in the description."
Again, this investigation is being conducted not by the Mueller team, but by Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, who've been moving aggressively (see Michael Cohen, David Pecker) on the Trump crime family. Between this and the parallel investigation by New York State's Manhattan District Attorney (see post below), the heat on the Trump crime family has gone up significantly in a matter of days.

State Prosecutors Looking At Trump Organization

The Manhattan District Attorney's office is looking into criminal charges against the Trump Organization for it's role in the $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 elections. Two unnamed officials with the Trump Organization are the focus of the investigation, and it's likely that the Organization's chief financial officer Allen Weisellberg is one of the two. Former Trump fixer and Organization lawyer Michael Cohen is also likely to the the other.

According to Michael Cohen's plea deal on Federal felony charges on Tuesday, the Trump Organization reimbursed him $420,000 for the payment to Daniels, plus his fees and other costs, but labeled the cost "legal fees." False invoices were then submitted to cover the payments to Cohen apparently with the knowledge of Organization officials.

The important factor, if criminal charges are pursued, is that Presidential pardoning powers don't cover New York State criminal actions. Also, this potential State action is in addition to State charges filed against the Trump Foundation for self-dealing and fraud, for which Cohen has been subpoenaed. The State's Trump Foundation suit names Trump's children Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka in the fraudulent activities.

Trumpist Duncan Hunter: My Wife's The Guilty One (UPDATED)

Indicted Trumpist slime ball Rep. Duncan Hunter has lots of class and integrity, like his cult leader, misogynist groper Donald "Rump" Trump. Here he is throwing his wife Margaret under the bus:
"She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did that'll be looked at too, I'm sure," the California Republican said on Fox News. 
"But I didn't do it," Hunter said. "I didn't spend any money illegally."
Hunter, the second Congresscritter to endorse Rump, after Chris Collins who has been charged with securities fraud, was indicted for illegally using $250,000 in campaign contributions to pay for everything from an Italian vacation, to clothing, to flying a pet rabbit across country.

This vile character just oozes cowardice, venality and self-preservation at all costs, just like you-know-who.

UPDATE:  Seems there was some extramarital hanky- panky being indulged in by Hunter, too.  The resemblance to Trump is uncanny. What a guy!

(photo: Hunter with soon-to-be-estranged wife Margaret. Facebook pic)