Thursday, February 28, 2019

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Lalo Alcaraz, LA Weekly)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

Trump Organization's Coming Proctological Exam

Yesterday's testimony by former Trump fixer Michael Cohen produced a wealth of leads and information about con man and sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump's multiple business scams, many of which he declined to reveal to Rep. Raja Krishnamurthi because they were under investigation by the Southern District of New York. What he did reveal, under the sharp questioning of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, was that the Trump Organization, for tax and insurance purposes, played with the value of his property to the extent of committing tax and insurance fraud. Axios' Jonathan Swan has a crisp summary of what's to come, now that the Trump Organization's players have been identified:
"Here's what Trump's businesses face:
  • Five House committees (Financial Services, Intel, Judiciary, Oversight, Ways and Means) plan to look at Trump's business deals and finances. 
  • The state of Maryland and the District of Columbia are suing Trump, alleging he violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by taking gifts from foreign governments through his properties. 
  • The New York attorney general has a lawsuit against the Trump Foundation, alleging Trump misused his charitable foundation in a "shocking pattern of illegality." Cohen may have bolstered that case yesterday. 
  • The Southern District of New York has dealt with Trump Organization executives in its investigation of Cohen." 
Expect that the names Allen Weisselberg, Ron Lieberman and Matthew Calamari, all executives of the Trump Organization mentioned in Cohen's testimony, will become well known to the public over the coming year and more. Rump's organization is a family business, with a dozen or so various courtiers and specialists in support roles, so the "follow the money" trail will rapidly lead to the immediate crime family of greasy Don Jr., airhead Eric, complicit Ivanka, and the godfather himself, Rump.

As Bloomberg journalist and Rump investigator Tim O'Brien says in the piece, "This organization has never had a proctology exam like it's about to get."

The Fart Of The Deal

The sham "summit" between North Korea's murderous tyrant Kim Jong Un and tyrant wannabe and Very Stable Genius Donald "Rump" Trump ended in failure for Rump yesterday. Kim managed to stall Rump for the foreseeable future, after his insistence that all U.S. sanctions against his country be dropped, while maintaining his nuclear arsenal. Rump was apparently fixated on the testimony of his former fixer Michael Cohen in front of the House Oversight Committee, as well he should be with Cohen suggesting that Rump had committed crimes we have yet to learn about. 

Rump was desperately hoping that the elaborate photo op posing as a "summit" would produce a much needed "win" for him, in light of continuing investigations and indictments of members of his circle. He's also allowed himself the absurd fantasy that the get together would lead to a Nobel Prize for Peace (thanks for doing his bidding, Prime Minister Abe!). Not. gonna. happen.

There will no doubt be ministerial talks between North Korea and the U.S. to make small steps, something that should have happened from the beginning, if it were not for Rump's eagerness to engage in his narcissistic, transactional diplomacy (be flattered, flatter, give ground, be flattered, etc.). He even managed to defend Kim over the treatment and death of Otto Warmbier, saying that he took Kim's word that he wasn't aware of the situation with him. Mmmm, that's some serious brown-nosing! Now it's back to the White (Supremacist) House to tweet manically about the "summit's" yuuge success during his executive time.

(photo: Trump goes to great lengths to appease Kim)


Our colleagues are not upset because you lied to Congress for the president. They’re upset because you stopped lying to Congress for the president.” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) at yesterday's hearing with Michael Cohen.


Late Night's Take On The Cohen Hearing

Seth Meyers gives a fine overview of yesterday's Michael Cohen hearing, with particular attention to the dimbulb defenders of Individual 1:

Here's Jimmy Kimmel's blistering take on the hearing and on Republicans covering for Trump:

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Trump Stooge Gaetz Investigated By FL Bar

Boozing guttersnipe and Trump cultist Rep. Matt Gaetz (FL) is now under investigation by the Florida Bar Association for the outrageous witness intimidation tweet that he sent yesterday in reference to Michael Cohen's testimony before the House Oversight Committee today:
"The organization, which licenses lawyers to practice in the state, would not disclose details of the investigation, but spokesperson Francine Walker, said the bar is 'quite aware of [Gaetz’s] comments...and we have opened an investigation.'

'If rules have been violated, The Florida Bar will vigorously pursue appropriate discipline by the Florida Supreme Court,' Walker said in a statement. 'The Florida Bar takes its responsibility of regulating lawyer conduct very seriously.'”
The House of Representatives should also take up penalties for Gaetz's attempt to intimidate Cohen. Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a tweet out yesterday suggesting that the Ethics Committee look into the matter. They should -- but may not -- strip him of all committee assignments with a strong censure resolution. Moreover, the Justice Department should be looking into criminal charges against this belligerent stooge for attempting to intimidate Cohen in a manner befitting organized crime.

(photo: Orange is the new Republican)

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Kevin Necessary,

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Brendan Loper, The New Yorker)

Tweet Of The Day -- Fool Mental Jackass

Mid-Week Sketches Song

Jazz icon Miles Davis released one of his greatest albums,"Sketches of Spain" in 1960.  Our song today is a track from that album, "Will o' The Wisp," taken from Manuel de Falla's ballet "El Amor Brujo." The songs on this album are a prime example of Davis' fusion of jazz, classical and world music. It won the 1961 Grammy for "Best Original Jazz Composition." Enjoy.

Cohen: Trump A "Con Man," "Cheat"

Moscow asset and crime boss Donald "Rump" Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen will testify today on his long relationship with Rump, that will include testimony that Rump engaged in criminal activities as President and that he was aware of the hacked Dem e-mails and coordination with WikiLeaks. In addition, he'll talk more about Rump's deceitful statements that the Trump Tower Moscow deal had concluded months before the 2016 elections. Here's the transcript of Cohen's statement to the House Oversight Committee. From the Times story:
"In vivid and at times tortured language, Mr. Cohen plans to use his opening remarks to unspool a narrative laced with regret of his decade working alongside Mr. Trump, including episodes during the 2016 campaign that are believed to be at the center of investigations by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and federal prosecutors in New York.

The testimony underscores many of the unsavory themes and stories that have recurred in public reporting about Mr. Trump — he inflates his wealth, makes racist remarks, threatens his enemies and tries to bend the law to his favor — but puts them on the record, under oath, in the voice of a man who was one of Mr. Trump’s closest aides."
(our emphasis)
Expect extremely hostile questioning from the Rethugs on the committee, who will be acting as Rump's defense team trying to demolish Cohen's testimony. The Dems need to limit their talking and let Cohen speak at length within each 5 minute segment that they have. It's certain that Rump (a.k.a. "Individual-1") will be watching through the night and rage tweeting, instead of focusing on how to keep Kim Jong Un from picking his pockets at their meeting. Sad!

BONUS:  You can watch the testimony at C-SPAN here (without inane commentary or breaks).

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tweet Of The Day -- Witness Tampering 101

This bottom- dwelling slug is a stone cold Trump stooge named Matt Gaetz, Republican Congressman from Florida:

We wonder if this came from his own tiny, lizard brain, or if someone whispered in his ear, just as Michael Cohen testifies on Trump's sleazy criminality. FBI may want to question him about this under 18 U.S. Code 1512.

We're reminded of the quote from Dashiell Hammett's "Maltese Falcon," oft cited by Charles P. Pierce: "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter."

Son of a bitch is cheap as they come.

(We took a screenshot of Gaetz's tweet since we knew he'd be deleting it at some point, which he has now...)

Hostilities Escalate Between India and Pakistan

While most attention has been focused on the Trump Follies -- the meeting with North Korea and the testimony of Michael Cohen -- a serious escalation in the volatile region of Kashmir has occurred with the Indian Air Force striking militants in Pakistan. The airstrike on the Pakistani town of Balakot was in retaliation for the group Jaish-e-Mohammad's terrorist attack on February 14 in India, which killed 40 Indian troops. India holds Pakistan responsible for sponsoring the attack and for harboring the group in Pakistan. Pakistan condemned the attack and said it would respond "at the time and place of its choosing."

A 1971 war between India and Pakistan resulted in the nuclear armed countries dividing Kashmir into zones administered by each country, which both claim the entirety of Kashmir. These strikes were the first cross-border airstrikes since the 1971 war.

Just days ago, murderous Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bone Saw visited Pakistan with $20 billion in bribe money to bring the struggling country under Saudi Arabia's sway. His mischief-making could also embolden the Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists:
"Just as India threatens war in retaliation, assurances Pakistan received from both Saudi Arabia and China bolstered its decision that there was no need to go after Jaish-e-Mohammad, the terror group that took responsibility, and whose leadership is still living openly inside Pakistan."
The odds are that this won't end soon or happily.

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(David Fitzsimmons, Arizona Daily Star)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Ann Telnaes, Washington Post Writers Group)

(Dan Wasserman, Boston Globe)

(Steve Benson,

(Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune)

(Jen Sorensen,

Trump's Briefed On North Korea...By Russia

Well now we know whose agenda Kremlin asset and incompetent liar Donald "Rump" Trump will be advancing in his photo-op with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un (Associated Press headline):

Russia: US asks for advice on North Korea talks

The AP story indicates that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who by the strangest coincidence is in Hanoi now, has been bragging to Russian media that the Rump regime has solicited their advice on the talks between Rump and Kim. Lavrov helpfully suggested that the U.S. offer Kim "security guarantees" (i.e., withdrawal of all U.S. forces from S. Korea and a formal peace treaty) in order to get Kim to denuclearize. However, since Kim sees nuclear weapons as his regime's insurance policy, and sees Rump as volatile and subject to whim, he won't disarm (although he'll con Rump into thinking so). That's why national security experts are so worried about Rump's "negotiating" one-on-one and giving away the store for vague or empty promises from Kim. Kim knows Rump is desperate for a "win" on the global stage and for his 2020 campaign and therefore can be had at a low price.

BONUSAlex Ward has some insights on what will come out of the Rump- Kim photo- op.

"Gold Standard" Reached In Identifying Man's Role In Climate Change

Scientists writing in the Nature Climate Change journal said Monday that the evidence that global warming is the result of man-made activity is irrefutable, and that signals from satellite measurements over 40 years indicating that conclusion have reached a "gold standard" level of certainty:
"They said confidence that human activities were raising the heat at the Earth’s surface had reached a “five-sigma” level, a statistical gauge meaning there is only a one-in-a-million chance that the signal would appear if there was no warming.

Such a “gold standard” was applied in 2012, for instance, to confirm the discovery of the Higgs boson subatomic particle, a basic building block of the universe. 
Benjamin Santer, lead author of Monday’s study at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, said he hoped the findings would win over skeptics and spur action.
'The narrative out there that scientists don’t know the cause of climate change is wrong,' he told Reuters. 'We do.'

Mainstream scientists say the burning of fossil fuels is causing more floods, droughts, heat waves and rising sea levels. "
(our emphasis)
As we noted yesterday in "Monday Reading," the fossil fuel-bankrolled Rethuglican party, along with its supreme leader, buffoon and malignant narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump has decided to collect a group of climate denying shills in an ad hoc group to try to undermine climate science, according to the Washington Post:
"The White House plans to create an ad hoc group of select federal scientists to reassess the government’s analysis of climate science and counter conclusions that the continued burning of fossil fuels is harming the planet, according to three senior administration officials.

The National Security Council initiative would include scientists who question the severity of climate impacts and the extent to which humans contribute to the problem, according to these individuals, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations."
(our emphasis)
They might want to start out with the findings of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences in their 2014 publication, "Climate Change: Evidence and Causes."  Or hundreds of other scholarly works over the past 30 years that conclude that man's burning of fossil fuels is causing the earth's climate to warm. But they won't be reading them because this is just another Rump exercise in deceit and delay which will impact us all, everywhere.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Trump Senses Attack On Hate Is An Attack On Him

You may have seen director Spike Lee's remarks upon winning the Best Director Oscar last night, during which he said this:
"If we all connect with our ancestors, we will have love, wisdom, we will regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment. The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let's all mobilize. Let's all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let's do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there!" (our emphasis)
So, who would take umbrage, or object, to the idea of choosing love versus hate; who would see it as a personal attack?

"... racist hit on your President"?  We think we know who the hateful racist is here.

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

(Gary Markstein, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

(Kevin Siers, The Charlotte Observer)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

Monday Reading

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

In a move that should carry weight in future court battles, former national security officials are declaring the "emergency" to build the manhood edifice of Donald "Rump" Trump a hoax:
A bipartisan group of 58 former senior national security officials will issue a statement Monday saying that “there is no factual basis” for President Trump’s proclamation of a national emergency to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. 
The joint statement, whose signatories include former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former defense secretary Chuck Hagel, will come a day before the House is expected to vote on a resolution to block Trump’s Feb. 15 declaration.
The former officials’ statement, which will be entered into the Congressional Record, is intended to support lawsuits and other actions challenging the national emergency proclamation and to force the administration to set forth the legal and factual basis for it. 
Under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the president to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border,” the group said.  (our emphasis)
The House will pass a resolution of disapproval Tuesday, which will then go to the Senate for a vote.  Spineless hypocrites that they are, the vast majority of Republicans in both houses are expected to support Rump rather than stand up for the Constitution's separation of powers and American democracy.  Remember them.

Color us not surprised:
A top cardinal has admitted that the global Catholic Church destroyed files to prevent documentation of decades of sexual abuse of children, telling the prelates attending Pope Francis' clergy abuse summit Feb. 23 that such maladministration led "in no small measure" to more children being harmed. 
In a frank speech to the 190 cardinals, bishops and heads of religious orders taking part in the four-day summit, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx said the church's administration had left victims' rights "trampled underfoot" and "made it impossible" for the worldwide institution to fulfill its mission. 
"Files that could have documented the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed, or not even created," said Marx, beginning a list of a number of practices that survivors have documented for years but church officials have long kept under secret. 
"Instead of the perpetrators, the victims were regulated and silence imposed on them," the cardinal continued. "The stipulated procedures and processes for the prosecution of offences were deliberately not complied with, but instead cancelled or overridden." (our emphasis)
The rot runs old and deep.

What happens when an ignorant, threatened, narcissistic demagogue thinks he can do diplomacy with his Big Brain and (vastly bigger) gut?  We're about to find out:
His intelligence chiefs warn that North Korea is unlikely to surrender its nuclear weapons. His advisers fret that a breakthrough could prove elusive and that he might make an impulsive concession to score headlines. And his allies around the world worry he could get easily outmaneuvered. 
Yet, President Trump is steadfast in his determination to meet face-to-face here this week with Kim Jong Un, aides say, because he has an unwavering faith in the power of the pen-pal relationship he has cultivated with the North Korean leader not only to bend the course of history, but to shape his own legacy. [snip]
Trump gloats about the half dozen or so letters Kim has written him as if he were a smitten teenager in possession of valentines from a crush. White House officials refer to the diplomatic correspondence jokingly as “love letters.” Kim addresses Trump as “Your Excellency” and employs flowery language to describe the president’s energy and political smarts, according to people who have read them. Trump has shown the documents to dozens of Oval Office visitors and bragged about them in public. 
“He wrote me beautiful letters — and they’re great letters,” Trump said in September at a rally in West Virginia. “We fell in love.”  (our emphasis)
What. A. Dangerous. Moron.

Elections have consequences, global climate change edition:
The White House plans to create an ad hoc group of select federal scientists to reassess the government’s analysis of climate science and counter conclusions that the continued burning of fossil fuels is harming the planet, according to three senior administration officials. 
The National Security Council initiative would include scientists who question the severity of climate impacts and the extent to which humans contribute to the problem, according to these individuals, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. 
The group would not be subject to the same level of public disclosure as a formal advisory committee. 
The move would represent the Trump administration’s most forceful effort to date to challenge the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions are helping drive global warming and that the world could face dire consequences unless countries curb their carbon output over the next few decades[snip]
... Rear Adm. David Titley, who served as oceanographer of the Navy and chief operating officer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the new initiative could imperil national security by clouding “truthful assessments of the risks stemming from a changing climate.” 
“I never thought I would live to see the day in the United States where our own White House is attacking the very science agencies that can help the president understand and manage the climate risks to security of today and tomorrow,” said Titley, who sits on the advisory board of the Center for Climate and Security, a nonpartisan group focused on climate-related risks. “Such attacks are un-American.” 
More than un- American, they're attacks on human life and civilization, all to wring out more profits for the fossil fuel industry that bankrolls the rotted- out Republican Party. 

As always, we conclude by recommending you check out Infidel 753's link round- up for many more topics of interest.  We would also recommend, if you haven't already, checking out his blog on a regular basis for his comments on politics, philosophy, religion, technology, etc. Always stimulating reading.


A debate about ideas is healthy, a debate about motives is not. The Democrats should hash out their differences in 2020 without slashing up one another — not casting aspersions on each other’s integrity, motivation or intentions. It is that latter path that creates an opening for Trump’s reelection in 2020.”  -- Ron Klain, former Chief of Staff to Al Gore and Joe Biden.  The click- baiting media, the Trumpists and their allied Russian bots will be doing enough aspersion- casting;  seeing Democrats do it to themselves must not be part of the political landscape leading up to 2020.  Removing Trump from office in 2020 (if he's not already gone by then) is the existential priority for us. Period.

Wednesday's Must-See TV

On Wednesday, at roughly the time that murderous North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un will be hot tubbing with Kremlin asset and playable buffoon Donald "Rump" Trump in Hanoi (a trip to Vietnam that Rump should have made before a mysterious case of bone spurs kept him stateside in the '60s), former Rump fixer Michael Cohen will be singing in an open hearing to the House Oversight Committee. By agreement with the Special Counsel, Cohen won't be discussing anything related to the Russiagate probe. His testimony, however, will cover everything that Rump is desperate to hide: the dirty business of the Trump Organization, Rump and his crime family's shady practices, Rump's connections with the Mafia and Russian crime syndicate, some possible insurance fraud related to Merde o' Lardo, and many other tasty topics. Let's hope he packs a lot of details in his opening statement. The House Intelligence Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee will hold closed hearings with Cohen this week also.

The Rethuglicans on the Committee, including corrupt Trump cultists Jim "Gym" Jordan, Mark Meadows, Virginia Foxx and Paul Gosar, will undoubtedly try to derail the hearings, attack Cohen's credibility, and generally cover for Rump's criminal activities. Dems on Rep. Elijah Cummings' Committee include Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, along with razor-sharp Reps. Jamie Raskin and Jackie Speier. The hearing starts at 10 a.m. Eastern in the Rayburn House Office Building, and we understand popcorn will not be offered by the Committee.

(photo: Rex/Shutterstock)

Twit Tweet, Thwap -- Yankee Doodle Dummy

Twit tweet:


And, finally,

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Across The Universe, Cont. -- Looks Like Stormy Weather

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ESA, February18, 2019Since Pluto’s status-change from fully-fledged planet to dwarf planet, Neptune holds the title of outermost planet in the Solar System. This new image of the planet was made during Hubble’s Outer Planet Atmosphere Legacy (OPAL) programme, under which it has observed the four outermost planets, including Neptune, on a yearly basis since 2014.

The observations of Neptune carried out in September and November 2018 show the first evidence of a huge storm brewing, with the discovery of a new northern Great Dark Spot (visible here to the upper left of the planet’s disc, partially overlapping a large patch of white). This new dark storm is of a similar size and shape to the storm discovered in 1989 by the Voyager 2 space probe.

While the future evolution of the storm will be tracked through the continued yearly Hubble observations and also by ground-based telescopes, older OPAL observations from Hubble show that its appearance was preceded by increased cloud activity throughout the region. There are hints of the storm forming in images from as early as 2015. This slow origin process indicates that the storm developed deep within Neptune's atmosphere, pulling up dark material from its depths, and only became visible once the top of it reached higher altitudes.

Credit: NASA, ESA, A.A. Simon (NASA Goddard), and M.H. Wong and A.I. Hsu (University of California, Berkeley)

Other views of Uranus here and here (artist's impression).

Two Milestones In History

On this day in 1868, President Andrew Johnson was impeached by the House of Representatives with 11 articles brought, the first President to be impeached. Nine of the 11 articles related to his attempted removal of radical Republican Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, which violated the Tenure of Office Act (repealed in 1887). The vote was 126 to 47. Interesting how the attempted removal of a Cabinet official prompted impeachment proceedings, when today, it's Trump's m.o.

Also on this day in 1988, the Supreme Court voted unanimously to overturn a ruling that awarded right-wing Bible bigot and huckster Jerry Falwell $200,000 over a satirical article in Hustler magazine. Hustler had parodied Falwell's first sexual experience, and Falwell sued. The Court stated that however offensive the satire was, the First Amendment protected the magazine's satirizing a public figure. Now recall Trump's empty threat against NBC over last weekend's SNL satire of him and his wall nonsense; he so wants to be a dictator.

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

(Robert Ariail,

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

(John Darkow, The Columbia Missourian)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Right's Obsession With A Civil War

Chris Hayes covers the curious, but extremely dangerous, obsession of the Trumpist right (many safely ensconced in studios) with a second civil war (via Media Matters):

They seem all too serious, so it would behoove us to take their threats seriously and not be blindsided if these anti- democratic, anti- American right- wing authoritarians put their fantasies into action.

QOTD: Trump's Continuum Of Cons

"Nearly four decades ago, Donald Trump deceived me into including him on the first Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans. He claimed a net worth of $100 million but was actually worth less than a tenth of that. Last week, President Trump declared a national state of emergency to bypass the constitutional budgeting powers of Congress and divert money to build a wall on the border with Mexico. What do these acts have in common? Only that they are the first and latest entries on the continuum of cons that have defined Trump’s success." -- investigative journalist Jonathan Greenberg, writing today in the Washington Post. In his excellent article, Greenberg goes on identify and detail six cons that define Trump:
To borrow billions, Trump lies to inflate his net worth. 
To avoid taxes, Trump lies to deflate his net worth.  
To be a winner, Trump makes losers of those he does business with. 
To win in politics, Trump makes voters believe that his presidency benefits them.  
To avoid accountability, Trump makes the media, and truth, the “enemy of the people." 
To stoke fear, Trump recasts perpetrators as victims.
The details of the various cons and lies that Greenberg provides are outrageous and disgusting. It points to Trump as a malignant, cheating narcissist with no core except to aggrandize himself.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Pic Of The Week

(click on image to enlarge)

(Reuters/ Sumaya Hisham)

A pig paints at an animal sanctuary near Cape Town, South Africa.  The pig's name? Why Pigcasso, of course.

We think that also makes it pig of the week.

(h/t and more great photojournalism here)

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

(Phil Hands, Wisconsin State Journal)

(Kevin Kallaugher, Baltimore Sun)

(Kevin Siers, The Charlotte Observer)

(Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune)

QOTD: You Don't Represent Us

“An illegally constituted General Assembly does not represent the people of North Carolina and is therefore not empowered to pass legislation that would amend the state’s constitution.” --Wake Co. North Carolina Superior Court Judge G. Bryan Collins in a ruling against the state's constitutional amendment requiring voter IDs. The judge based his ruling on the corruptly partisan, Rethuglican-favoring gerrymandering of the state's General Assembly voting districts, which were drawn in such a biased way that the legislature did not truly represent the people of North Carolina. Stunning.

Here's a map of the state districts and a demonstration that, despite losing to Dems in the popular vote 51% to 49%, the split of seats was 65 Rethuglican to 55 Dem in the Assembly (click to enlarge).

attribution: Stephen Wolf

Can You Pick Out The Sucker In This Scenario?

Under daily pressure from the looming Mueller report into his ties with Russia and indictments to come, the upcoming Michael Cohen hearing on his family's corrupt business dealings, his inauguration committee's pay- for- play scandals, and his cabinet's incompetence and corruption, all the while facing resistance to his power grab over his manhood wall, Donald "Rump" Trump, who reads nothing, believes Putin rather than his intelligence community, and who's looking for a distraction is getting ready for another "summit" with North Korean dictator Kim Jong UnWhat could possibly go wrong?
President Donald Trump is eagerly anticipating his second summit with Kim Jong Un, touting his “really meaningful” relationship with the North Korean strongman and insisting he’s ready to give up his nuclear arsenal. 
In Washington, he’s pretty much the only one who feels that way. 
Many, including several of the president’s top advisers, are less excited. Some have expressed trepidation not only that the summit, scheduled to take place next week in Hanoi, may not yield big results. They worry, too, that Trump, eager to declare victory on the world stage, could make big concessions in exchange for empty promises of denuclearization.
The push for a second summit came almost entirely from the president himself, according to current and former White House officials — but Trump remains undeterred. He has gushed about the “wonderful letters” he has received from Kim, as well as the “good rapport” he has developed with the North Korean leader and the enormous media coverage the event in Vietnam's capital is likely to attract. Trump even bragged, in a phone call Tuesday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, that he is the only person who can make progress on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, according to a person briefed on the conversation, and complained about negative news coverage he has received. (our emphasis)
The North Koreans, who aren't led by a moron, know how to get the most from the U.S. without giving up anything:
“If the working-level people were achieving what they wanted to achieve, then I’d feel really good about this, but the North Koreans know that they can get a better deal from the president, so they’d rather talk to just him,” [former NSC official Victor] Cha said. 
“The North Koreans basically won’t deal with anybody other than Trump. They won’t deal with [Special Representative for North Korea Stephen] Biegun, they won’t deal with Pompeo, so if there’s going to be any movement, it’s going come at that level,” said a former administration official. “The summit does have some potential to do good because it can break the logjam. But coming out of the summit, Trump is going to want to declare it a success and a victory and everybody else will be frustrated because nothing really has changed.”  (our emphasis)
Rump's own intelligence community has been telling him over and over that the North Koreans aren't going to denuclearize, and are in fact continuing to conduct a long- range nuclear missile program. What they want is for the U.S. to agree to a peace treaty and, most importantly, the destablilizing removal of American troops from South Korea (the latter something Rump has been amenable to in the past).  Having a narcissistic ignoramus in this fraught situation, who's looking for a "win" in the midst of the daily shitshow of his regime, is needless to say a recipe for disaster, particularly now that the supposed "adults" in the room are all gone, replaced by sycophants and weaklings.  So, the question isn't if Rump will give away something, it's what and at what cost it will be to the security of the U.S. and our east Asian allies.

Somewhere in the Kremlin, Putin is enjoying himself immensely.

About Those Stories On The Mueller Report

Last week's feverish speculation that the report on Russia's interference in the 2016 elections would be released next week proved to be false. It's not the first time that hints of an imminent report have been leaked, presumably by aides to demagogue and Kremlin asset Donald "Rump" Trump. Recall that goggle-eyed fool Rudy "Ghouliani" Giuliani predicted last summer that the report would be out around last September. Then the date was November, then next week.

Cheryl Kelley, writing at the Palmer Report, sees Rump and his allies' malign hands in planting stories that the report would be issued (fill in the blank) in order to build pressure on Special Counsel Mueller to end his investigation before additional indictments and rolling up some of the key conspirators at the top of the Rump pyramid, including his greasy son Junior, son-in-law Jared, and even Rump himself. From the linked article:
"It is true that there is evidence that the Mueller investigation is nearing the finish line: namely, the number of lawyers who have returned to their previous positions and/or reportedly started lining up new job prospects. Still, today we know one thing. The investigation is not ending next week, and the story that it was ending did not come from the DOJ. 
This smells just like the pattern used in the past by Donald Trump of painting a narrative he wants to be true, as a way to pressure people to support his story." (our emphasis)
Advice to the shiny object-chasers in our broken media: please don't run with "scoops" provided by anonymous White (Supremacist) House sources, or political appointees at the Justice Department. It's certain that they're intended to interfere in the Mueller investigation by raising and then dashing expectations, all the while pressuring the Special Counsel.

BONUS: For a good insight into what scenarios may be unfolding, check out Garrett Graff's piece in Wired.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Nick Anderson, Washington Post Writers Group)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

The Doctor Is In.....Trouble

What is it about the Fux / Trump TV channel that attracts sexual predators and abusers? From ranter Bill O'Liely to Roger "Jabba The Nut" Ailes, they have a track record unmatched elsewhere. Now, add far-right unhinged shrink Keith "Blows" Ablow, who has been accused by three female patients in the past year of sexually abusing them while under his "care." The details at the link are pretty disgusting, with Blows alleged to have sexually humiliated the victims, slapping them and telling them he "owned them," among other claims. One said Blows convinced her to get a tattoo with his initials to prove his "ownership" of her. Sadly for Blows, there are also witnesses, including former co-workers:
"Three former co-workers of Ablow’s reportedly filed affidavits supporting the patients’ claims, and also accusing Ablow of sexual harassment. Amy Dixon, a former staffer, told the newspaper she had an on-and-off sexual relationship where he would hit her and tell her he wanted a 'master/slave relationship' with her. She claimed that Ablow pointed a gun directly at her during sex at one point, and their encounters often left 'bruises and abrasions.'"
He sounds like a sick monster with fascist domineering tendencies. In the past, he's "diagnosed" former President Obama as hating America and sneered that former First Lady Michelle Obama needed to lose weight, more signs of his simmering racism. Now he'll face the justice he deserves.

Weekend Birthday Musical Twofer

Late, great Beatle George Harrison would have celebrated his 76th birthday on February 25, so we want to feature two songs from his songwriting catalog today.  Previously unreleased "Poor Little Girl" is from his "Best of Dark Horse" compilation album, released in 1989 on his Dark Horse label, and includes Jeff Lynne (ELO, Traveling Wilburys) playing bass and keyboards.  "I Need You," of course, is from the Beatle's "Help!" album, and features him on both 12- string and acoustic guitars as well as lead vocal.  It was one of the earliest Harrison compositions featured on a Beatles album and let the world know there was another songwriting genius in the band.  Hope you enjoy.

New Election Called In North Carolina Republican Voter Fraud Case

North Carolina Republican vote fraudster (and evangelical "Christian" minister) Mark Harris abruptly changed course at yesterday's election board hearing and called for a new election in the state's 9th Congressional district, a request the bipartisan board was all too happy to declare after months of legal wrangling by Harris and the state's Republican Party to avoid a new election. So why did Harris suddenly abandon his previous stance against a new election, particularly amid overwhelming evidence of widespread absentee ballot fraud by his campaign?  It seems, while Minister Mark was happy telling lies, his son (a federal prosecutor) wasn't:
The board’s decision capped a dramatic week that included testimony from Harris’s son, John Harris, a federal prosecutor, who said Wednesday that he warned his father in phone calls and emails that he believed [Leslie] Dowless had broken the law in a previous election and should not be hired for the 2018 campaign. 
Mark Harris hired Dowless anyway. 
In one email exchange displayed during John Harris’s testimony, father and son discussed whether to hire Dowless. The younger Harris wrote: “Good test is if you’re comfortable with the full process he uses being broadcast on the news.” 
In his testimony Thursday, the elder Harris maintained as he had in interviews with reporters that he was unaware of red flags about the operative’s alleged tactics — notwithstanding what his son told him in spring 2017. [snip] 
[Josh] Lawson, the board counsel, asked Harris if he had told anyone this week that he did not expect his email exchanges with John Harris to be made public in the hearing. Harris said four times that he did not recall. 
After the fourth time, Harris’s lawyer, Freedman, abruptly stood up and asked to speak to the five-member board in private. 
When the board reconvened, Harris took the stand again and explained that he had been mistaken about that recollection — and had in fact told his younger son, Matthew, in the phone conversation Tuesday evening, that he did not expect those emails to surface the next day. 
Harris said the episode made him realize that he was not prepared for the “rigors” of the evidentiary hearing. He called for a new election, then promptly excused himself from the proceeding and walked out.  (our emphasis)
To Harris, the "rigors" of the evidentiary hearing equal "telling the truth." He should walk directly into jail.  (No one's betting Harris will be on the ballot in the re- do.)

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper now has two Congressional elections to schedule: the re- do in the 9th, and one in the 3rd District to fill the seat of Republican Walter Jones who recently passed away.

(Photo:  Republican con men Trump and Harris)

Acosta Acted Illegally In Sex Trafficking Case

Federal Judge Kenneth Marra ruled yesterday that the Federal prosecutorial team led by now-Labor Secretary Alex Acosta broke the law in concealing a plea agreement from 30 juvenile victims of sex trafficker and hedge fund mogul Jeffrey Epstein. The judge ordered prosecutors to confer with the victims and their attorneys within 15 days to determine whether they want to pursue a settlement. From the Miami Herald's excellent and detailed report:
"Marra, in a 33-page opinion, said prosecutors not only violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act by not informing the victims, they also misled the girls into believing that the FBI’s sex trafficking case against Epstein was still ongoing — when in fact, prosecutors had secretly closed it after sealing the plea bargain from the public record. [snip] 
Instead of prosecuting Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws, Acosta allowed Epstein to quietly plead guilty in state court to two prostitution charges and he served just 13 months in the Palm Beach County jail. His accomplices, some of whom have never been identified, were not charged." (our emphasis)
The role of Acosta is particularly disgusting. He essentially acted as a lawyer for the defense in concealing information that would have helped the victims of Epstein.  The matter has come to the attention of Congress, three dozen of whom have convinced the Justice Department to open an investigation of how Epstein's case was handled by Acosta and his team.

Epstein skated on more serious felony charges because of the influence wielded by his great wealth and his friendships with the likes of serial assaulter and pathological liar Donald "Rump" Trump, his defender Alan Dershowitz, bonnie Prince Andrew, man-who-never-learns-his-lesson Bill Clinton, and many prominent world leaders and celebrities. Can anyone doubt that Acosta's elevation to Secretary of Labor was Rump's way of thanking him for protecting a friend...and a procurer?

(photo: Acosta, left, and Epstein)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

BREAKING: The Ratf*cker's Day In Court

Federal District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has heard the arguments for why degenerate veteran political ratf*cker and Zippy the Pinhead cosplayer Roger Stone should not be penalized in some way for his Instagram post that pictured Judge Jackson with a crosshairs by her head and his suggestions that she couldn't be an impartial judge given her appointment by President Obama. Stone knew exactly what he was doing, only he is used to operating outside the judicial sphere. Big mistake.

Jackson had numerous options, including another warning, a more restrictive gag order, and sending Stone to jail (where, in our opinion, he has always belonged). She decided on a strict gag order, after Stone kowtowed deeply to the Court, that would ban him from speaking publicly about his case. She said that:
"...she didn’t find the former Trump adviser’s defense credible, and that he “couldn’t keep his story straight on the stand” when she allowed him the opportunity to explain his decision to post an image of her on social media with what appeared to be the crosshairs of a gun near her head."
If he'd been tossed in jail for his attempt to tamper with the jury pool, he'd undoubtedly had cast himself as a martyr. Judge Jackson has given him one more chance to shut his vile mouth. We're hoping that he won't.

(photo: Rethuglican pervert Roger Stone)