Sunday, March 31, 2019

Across The Universe, Cont.

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ ESA, March 28, 2019The asteroid 6478 Gault is seen with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, showing two narrow, comet-like tails of debris that tell us that the asteroid is slowly undergoing self-destruction. The bright streaks surrounding the asteroid are background stars. The Gault asteroid is located 214 million miles from the Sun, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Credit:  NASA, ESA, K. Meech and J. Kleyna (University of Hawaii), O. Hainaut (European Southern Observatory)

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

We Know What They Meant

The right-wing couch potatoes on Fux and Friends' Sunday edition were 'splaining the issue of cutting aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in order to force them to stem the flow of their migrants to the U.S. through Mexico. Then up popped a chyron to illustrate their network's bigoted ignorance:

We know what they meant: All of the brown people below the southern border are "Messcans" because, well, they're all brown. And speak Messcan. And should be feared because they're brown, not like us, and they speak Messcan.

Good to know that the racist family-separator-in-chief, sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump, is watching this type of sewage and making policies based on it. Not that he needs that much help.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Apparently not content with getting away with international assassinations and dismemberment, the Saudi regime, led by the ruthless Crown Prince Mohammed "Bone Saw" bin Salman, has been hacking into the phones of their perceived enemies, too.

Ever since Bone Saw was implicated in the murder by bone saw of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October, his government's security apparatus has been on the attack against the Washington Post, and specifically its multi-billionaire owner, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. According to Bezos's elite security consultant Gavin de Becker's months-long investigation, Saudi intelligence obtained private messages between Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez while Bezos was in the process of a divorce from his wife. The Trump-allied media outfit AMI then picked up the leaked e-mails and published them in their National Enquirer rag. The Saudis intended to embarrass Bezos and to pressure him to drop the Post's campaign to get to the bottom of Bone Saw's involvement in the Khashoggi murder:
“'Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’s phone, and gained private information,' De Becker wrote. 'As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details.'

De Becker alleged Saudi Arabia has targeted the Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos, following the death last year of one of its columnists, Jamal Khashoggi, in Turkey. Khashoggi, a Saudi national, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

'Some Americans will be surprised to learn that the Saudi government has been very intent on harming Jeff Bezos since last October, when the Post began its relentless coverage of Khashoggi’s murder,'De Becker wrote."
With the Saudis recently getting an initial green light to obtain sensitive nuclear technology from U.S. companies despite not yet agreeing to nuclear proliferation safeguards, while standing accused of torturing a U.S. citizen in their custody, this hacking of a private U.S. citizen's phone is more evidence that the behavior -- and leadership -- of the Saudi regime needs to change.

(photo: Bone Saw. Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPix)

Pic Of The Week

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A beach in Ashkelon, Israel.  (REUTERS/Amir Cohen)

Do those purple clouds portend purple rain?

More great pics from The Week, here.

"Russia, If You're Watching, Go To Bed. Daddy Won."

Saturday Night Live wraps up the Mueller report in its cold open.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Pot Meet Kettle: Republican Hack Edition

Politic-ho helped do a job on potential Dem candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, by mainstreaming dirt brought up by corrupt Republican hack Michael Caputo (apparently no relation to the piece's author):
"...the former vice president must not only determine how to respond, but also how to answer critics who will say Hunter Biden’s business interests make it harder for Biden as a nominee to contrast his record with Trump on the question of ties to Russia.

Trump’s defenders, who have blamed Ukrainian intelligence for some of the Trump-Russia stories, say they look forward to making Democrats pay for it if and when Biden enters the race.

'I’m pretty confident Joe Biden will be called out by his presidential primary competitors for his son getting rich off a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch’s gas company,' said Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign consultant and top Trump defender.
He pointed to a connection with Trump’s former campaign manager that should make Democrats uneasy.

'Wait till they find out Hunter Biden’s oligarch is from the same political party Paul Manafort consulted in Ukraine,' he said. 'Old ‘Lunch Bucket Joe’ would be smart to not even get in the race.'”
(our emphasis)
We don't support a particular Dem yet (although as we've said before, we'd vote for a pail of warm dog poop against Trump), but it's well to consider Caputo's shady history. From his Wikipedia page:
"Caputo moved to Russia in 1994 after the fall of the Soviet Union, and was an adviser to Boris Yeltsin and helped elect Yeltsin to a second term as President of Russia. He worked for Gazprom Media in 2000 where he helped improve the image of Vladimir Putin in the U.S. He moved back to the U.S. and founded a public relations company, and then moved to Ukraine to work on a candidate's campaign for parliament.


Caputo was investigated by the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as part of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. In May 2016, Caputo and Roger Stone met with Henry Greenberg, a Russian national who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Caputo later denied contact with Russian officials or having discussed Russia with Trump or with other campaign aides. Caputo stated it was not until prosecutors informed him that Greenberg was Russian that he learned the man he had spoken with in 2016 was not a US citizen."  (our emphasis)
 For what it's worth, he's also got an affinity for Russian / Ukrainian women; he's married two (divorced the first). A honey trap kompromat? It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

When a desperate hack like Caputo lives in a glass dacha, throwing stones isn't wise.

Tweets Of The Day -- Name That Shitshow!

The Challenge:

Some suggestions:

Well done, all!

Deadbeats Of A Feather....

Con man and multi-bankrupted grifter Donald "Rump" Trump has a reputation in the construction trades for stiffing his contractors for payment, in addition to his reputation as a bad lending risk. So perhaps it should surprise no one that his proposed nominee for the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors would be a deadbeat, too. In a typical demonstration of the Rump crowd's due diligence, non-economist and buffoonish fixture on wingnut media Stephen "No" Moore is reported to have been cited for contempt of court in 2012 for failing to pay his alimony and child support debts, among other obligations. That's on top of the disclosure that Moore owes $75,000 in Federal taxes, interest and penalties.

It's evident that Rump had been watching Moore obsequiously and hypocritically defend his trade, tariff and tax policies on TV, and that was enough vetting for Rump. He sure wasn't listening to economists and experts who think Moore's unqualified for the Fed.

(photo: via Financial Times)

Today's Cartoons

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(Peter Kuper, The New Yorker)

(Jeff Danziger, The Rutland Herald, VT)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

(Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader)

(Jeff Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune)

(Rob Rogers,

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Setting The Barr Lower

Trump's Attorney General and John Goodman's stunt double William "Low" Barr is apparently feeling mounting pressure from Dems in Congress and the general public to release the Mueller investigation report. On Friday, he wrote another letter to Congress explaining that a redacted copy of the report would be supplied to them by "mid-April." He also suggested that his first 4-page letter was not a "summary" of Mueller's report, though his letter clearly said its purpose was "to summarize the principal conclusions" of the report. The stall continues.

It's worth noting that a redacted report would exclude grand jury-sensitive materials, material relating to intelligence sources and methods, and materials that could affect ongoing investigations or prosecutions. The fourth category for redaction seems to relate to Trump's so-far unindicted family members: "information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties."  (He's obviously not referring to Russian agents or prostitutes). That last category will raise red flags for House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, and members of the media that still want to do their jobs.

Sadly for Barr, Chairman Nadler is sticking to his demand for getting the full, unredacted Mueller report released to his committee by April 2. His statement yesterday makes it clear that he's through with the run-out-the-clock strategy of the Trump regime, giving Trump time to create a false narrative and to shift to his cult's red meat issues.

Get the subpoena ready, Mr. Nadler.

No Balls

As the 2019 Major League Baseball season got underway last week, a tradition reaching back over 100 years continues to be ignored by corrupt sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump, who declined to throw out the first pitch for this season. Perhaps his hands are too small to grip the baseball, or perhaps there was concern about his girth getting in the way of a smooth windup. Could be those bone spurs are acting up again. Most likely is that he fears getting booed lustily by fans.

His sports safe space appears to be on the links at one of his branded golf clubs, playing with whatever doofus thinks that Rump is a class act who doesn't cheat. Sad!

Friday, March 29, 2019

QOTD: Trump's Willingness To Betray

"Trump’s treachery goes well beyond his service to Moscow. Transcripts, videos, and government records show that he has repeatedly collaborated with tyrants against our country. He has defended North Korea’s Kim Jong-un against U.S. intelligence that shows Kim is lying about his nuclear programs. He has defended Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, against American intelligence that exposes the crown prince’s role in the murder of a U.S. resident. He has sided with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, against American generals and U.S. law enforcement. He has declared that the Chinese government is more honorable than the American Democratic Party.

There’s a good reason why Mueller didn’t find proof that Trump is a Russian agent. It’s because Trump isn’t a Russian agent. Trump doesn’t particularly care about any country, just as he doesn’t particularly care about any of his employees or wives. And the list of countries Trump is willing to betray includes the one that elected him. He chooses his friends and enemies based on their utility to him, not based on their national allegiance. That’s how Putin turned Trump against the United States. And other governments have learned the same trick."  (our emphasis) -- William  Saletan, writing in Slate, well worth the read.

We'll quibble about Trump's relationship with the Kremlin; he may not be an actual agent, but he serves them by being their useful idiot. Whether he'll be useful to them in the long run is debatable, but his being an idiot is undeniable.

Tweets Of The Day

We'll see how long his base is pleased, when "others" turns out to be them:

Sorry, we don't feel one damn ounce of sympathy for any of them.

Weekend Music Threefer

Tomorrow will be the 74th birthday of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, rock guitarist of all, Eric Clapton. In a career that stretches from the early 1960's to today, Clapton has amassed a catalog of some of the greatest blues and rock guitar performances ever recorded. We selected a few songs to celebrate his milestone.

First, a song from the very beginning of his career with The Yardbirds, "For Your Love."  Ironically, Clapton was so annoyed by the move away from blues that this song (The Yardbird's first hit) represented that he quit the band the day it was released -- which is why you never see him playing guitar when old film clips of the song are shown.  Later, Beatle George Harrison, a close friend, co- wrote "Badge" with Clapton, and it became Cream's final hit (Harrison also played rhythm guitar on the recording).  That same year, Clapton was asked to play lead guitar on Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," from the Beatles' 1968 White Album.  The live version below is from 2002's "A Concert for George," and shows Clapton playing lead and also features (among others) Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Jeff Lynne, Gary Brooker and Dhani Harrison, George's son.  Hope you enjoy.

Today's Cartoons -- Trumpcare Edition

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(Kevin Siers, The Charlotte Observer)

(Bill Bramhall, New York Daily News)

(Mike Thompson, USA Today)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Dangerous Nuke Gift To The Saudis

News that the corrupt Trump administration has authorized U.S. energy companies to share sensitive nuclear technology with the Saudi regime led by murderous Crown Prince Mohammed "Bone Saw" bin Salman likely means the beginning of a nuclear arms race in that region. What's disturbing is that the Saudis have pushed back on anti-nuclear proliferation terms as part of constructing commercial nuclear power reactors, which may signal their future intent to reprocess the fuel or enrich uranium to produce weapons-grade nuclear material:
"If a U.S. consortium is to build a reactor in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom would have to commit to what is known as a '123 agreement.' Without that, Congress could vote to block. The kingdom so far has refused to give up its right to enrich uranium or reprocess spent fuel, both of which can be used to build nuclear weapons.

In a '60 Minutes' interview last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that 'Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.'
” (our emphasis)
Seven previously unknown authorizations were given by the Energy Department for U.S. companies to share the sensitive technology without a 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia. Congress has 90 days to block such agreements, and legislation is being developed in the Senate to give increased oversight into any nuclear cooperation agreements with the Saudi regime. It needs to happen before the Saudi tyrant gets more emboldened.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Rep. Adam Schiff Claps Back At Republican Hypocrites

After the shameless, lying, gaslighting, shitstained Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee signed a letter calling for Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) to resign for calling out collusion by Trump campaign officials with Russians, Rep. Schiff let them have it where their twigs and berries should be:

Thanks, we needed that!


BONUS IISteve M. has a message for Democrats.

Today's Cartoons: Totally (Not) Exonerated

(from top: Paresh Nath, Clay Jones, Joel Pett, Nick Anderson)

Poll: 84% Want Mueller Report Released

A poll conducted by Quinnipiac and released on March 26 indicates that 84% of the public wants to see the Mueller report, and not just Attorney General William Barr's whitewash summary. Despite the drumbeat of attacks by demagogue Donald "Not Exonerated" Trump on the Mueller investigation, 55% believe he conducted a fair investigation, while 26% do not.

Also, no Mueller report bump:  Trump's approval rating continues to be underwater with 55% disapproving of his performance, and 39% approving it. A solid minority of 44% believe that Trump's mentally unstable (!), and a large majority of 72% don't believe he's a good role model for children (do tell).

Tweets Of The Day: From Chutzpah To Journos

For cosmic chutzpah and projection, weaselly Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Trumpland), who carried water for Trump during Intelligence Committee proceedings as Chair:

From George Conway, expert Trump troller and unfortunate husband of the White (Supremacist) House alternate facts generator Kellyanne:

Hoping and expecting Trump to overplay his hand on everything:

And useful notes to lazy pundits and political journalists:

Russian Agent Butina And The NRA's Troubles

As Putin's pal and not exonerated liar Donald "Rump" Trump thinks he's out of the woods as far as his corruption is concerned, there are the bit players in his circle that are facing justice for their illegal acts. One of them is Russian unregistered agent Maria Butina, who is scheduled to be sentenced on April 26, used gun lobby contacts to worm her way into conservative circles to try to influence them. As long as Butina was packing heat (and bedding some of the gun humpers) she was more than welcome by them to do that.

That brings to mind the role of the National Rifle Rampage Association's record-settng financial support of Rump in 2016, including alleged funneling of Russian money to Rethuglican candidates and Rump in 2016, involving shady Russian grifter Alexander Torshin, who apparently served as Butina's handler for Moscow. The House and Senate have a total of six investigations involving the NRA and its ties to Moscow, including its possible illegal campaign contributions. With the public increasingly supportive of gun safety measures opposed by the NRA, and with its scandals being exposed, the NRA is on the ropes -- but perhaps only temporarily -- and should stay so.

BONUS: Just one of thousands of reasons to root for the NRA to be taken down hard.

Trump Looking At Pardoning His Witches

With sociopath and unfit liar Donald "Rump" Trump and his minions stepping on every rake they can find (destruction of the Affordable Care Act, pulling funds from Special Olympics, punishing Puerto Rico, etc. etc.), it didn't take long for him to find another one. Now that Rump has falsely interpreted his loyal Attorney General and Fred Flintstone cosplayer William Barr's four-page whitewash on the Mueller investigation as a "total exoneration," he apparently feels emboldened enough to consider pardoning his corrupt Russiagate crowd that have already pled guilty, been indicted, sentenced, etc.

As with his malicious attempt to use the Courts to destroy the ACA, many of Rump's Rethug allies are telling him to back off or face a big backlash if he starts pardoning his gang. Of course, once Rump has gotten something fixed in his troubled mind, no amount of reason will sway him, especially if he thinks it's a winner with his cult following. That's a major reason why these figures need to be scrutinized by State attorneys general (as New York is doing with sleazy grifter Paul Manafort) on, for example, tax evasion or fraud issues, etc. relating to this scandal where a Presidential pardon is invalid.

(image: Is the Very Stable Genius making another genius move?)

Praise Trump And Buy My Jet Fuel!

We're certain this was the only place the Pentagon could get its aviation fuel:
The Pentagon agreed to buy nearly $900,000 in jet fuel from the conservative university owned by Jerry Falwell Jr., just months after President Donald Trump took office.
The Department of Defense signed the contract with Freedom Aviation, which is wholly owned by Liberty University, on May 9, 2017, and had since purchased more than $400,000 in turbine fuel from the same company, reported The Daily Beast.
Falwell endorsed Trump’s campaign for the Republican nomination early in 2016, as his candidacy gained momentum during the primary process, and has been one of the president’s more outspoken supporters, sometimes placing him at odds with other evangelical leaders.
Freedom Aviation owns six planes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, and maintains them at the university’s flight school at the Lynchburg, Virginia, campus.
The company provides charter flights to the public, and Falwell travels on the aircraft for his private use.
The Trump campaign paid Freedom Aviation more than $19,000 in air travel expenses about a week after Falwell endorsed the former reality TV star.
Neither Freedom nor C&C Aviation, another university-owned company, had ever won a federal fuel contract before Trump was elected president.
Only the most cynical would think this was a quid pro quo arrangement between evangelical savior Donald "Not Exonerated" Trump and good not- a- Pastor Falwell.  We hope the House Armed Services Committee doesn't look into it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Mid-Week Seemed Happy Song

The Japanese House, the performing name for English singer Amber Bain, just released her debut album, "Good At Falling," three weeks ago. On it, a song that we'd like to feature, the ethereal "You Seemed So Happy." Enjoy.

Tweets Of The Day -- Utah's Pride

Thank you, voters of Utah, for sending this childish clown to the Senate:

Meanwhile, an adult responds to the childish clown's assertion that the Green New Deal is an "elitist issue":

So thank you, Utah, and thank you Sen. Lee;  our children and grandchildren will be sure to thank you and your fellow Republican shitstains in the future as well.

Today's Cartoons

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(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Joe Heller, Green Bay Press-Gazette)

(Jim Morin, Miami Herald)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Kevin Siers, The Charlotte Observer)

The Intentional Cruelty Of The Trump Regime

We've noted in posts yesterday and today that the regime of corrupt sociopath Donald "No Exoneration" Trump is using the Federal courts to try to eliminate the Affordable Care Act (ACA), thereby eliminating affordable health care to some 30 million Americans. In contrast, just as Trump is trying to gut the ACA, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Dems are rolling out a bill to strengthen the ACA -- or Obamacare -- by expanding subsidies and tax credits for the middle class.

The Trumpian malice and cruelty doesn't end with his action toward the ACA:
 -- Billionaire Secretary of Education Betsy "DeVille" DeVos, sister of Blackwater mercenary thug and Russian whisperer Erik Prince, proposes eliminating all Federal funding for the Special Olympics ($17.6 million),

-- Dictator-loving Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. would expand its anti-abortion policies abroad, withholding funds for foreign NGOs that provide funding for women's reproductive services, endangering millions of women worldwide, and
-- After virtually ignoring our fellow Americans on Puerto Rico after his paper towel-throwing stupidity, Trump has promised not to give the hurricane-ravaged island one more cent, apparently upset that they haven't kissed his yuuuge ass sufficiently.
These people are cruel, vindictive and without decency. So organize, resist, speak out, register and vote.


BONUS II:  Regarding the first outrage above, the Washington Post reports that eliminating 5 trips by Trump to Mar-a-Lago would cover the cuts to the Special Olympics. Obscene.

QOTD: The Charge Trump's Guilty Of

"Americans should expect far more from a president than merely that he not be provably a criminal. They should expect a president to comport himself in accordance with the high duties of his office. As all presidents must, Trump swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, and to faithfully execute his office and the laws in accordance with the Constitution. That oath requires putting the national interests above his personal interests.

Yet virtually from the moment he took office, in his response to the Russia investigation, Trump has done precisely the opposite: Relentlessly attacked an attorney general, Mueller, the Justice Department — including suggesting that his own deputy attorney general should go to jail. Lied, to the point that his own lawyers wouldn’t dare let him speak to Mueller, lest he commit a crime. Been more concerned about touting his supposedly historic election victory than confronting an attack on our democracy by a hostile foreign power.

If the charge were unfitness for office, the verdict would already be in: guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
(our emphasis) -- George Conway, Trump nemesis and husband of Trump's sycophantic alternative facts generator Kellyanne, in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post.

BONUS:  Keep reminding yourself of this:

Republicans In Disarray After Trump Supports Killing Affordable Care Act

The current "thought" rattling around inside the empty head of Putin's useful idiot (and all- around idiot) Donald "Not Exonerated" Trump is that he now has "political capital" to spend after "Coverup General" Barr wrote his whitewash letter on the Mueller report.  As we noted yesterday, he immediately took his presumed "political capital" and handed it right back to Democrats by supporting the striking down of the Affordable Care Act, which would kill affordable health insurance for nearly 30 million Americans.

His rotted out Republican Party thought they had a powerful message going into the 2020 election: "Those socialist Democrats want pie- in- the- sky single- payer health insurance and we reasonable Republicans will just tinker around the edges to make the system better!  Freedumb!"  Now, thanks to their Very Stable Genius' decision to support striking down the ACA in toto, their party has been lashed to the gunwales of the S.S. Titanic Trump.  Gone would be coverage for pre- existing conditions;  gone would be Medicaid expansion;  gone would be subsidies for premiums and deductibles;  gone would be the safety net for nearly 30 million Americans who've come to enjoy such life- saving benefits over time.  Also gone?  Future health care savings from a system that delivered $2.3 trillion in reduced health care spending from 2010 to 2017.

The panic level for Republicans who already know what Dimbulb Donnie apparently doesn't -- that Democrats ran on protecting health care in 2018 and won big -- is sure to increase as polling continues to show that Americans don't want Republicans messing around with their health insurance.  Here's yesterday's Quinnipiac poll:
American voters say 55 - 32 percent they would prefer to improve rather than replace the health care system in the U.S. No listed group prefers replacing the health care system. 
(Single- payer has strong support (43%), but still isn't the majority opinion.)

So, the Very Stable Genius has, once again, wrong- footed the message his bad faith party wanted to ride into 2020, and (schadenfreude alert) it's causing alarm in the ranks of the sociopaths:
Over the past 24 hours, Republican officials have watched in horror as the Trump administration once again fully embraced the repeal of Obamacare, just over a year after the issue proved toxic for the party at the ballot box. [snip]
GOP officials couldn’t help but marvel at Trump’s inability to enjoy a rare grace period. “They are completely tone deaf,” texted one of the party’s top strategists. “How bout a few more victory laps on Mueller while you can get away with it? WTF is wrong with them?”
But seasoned Trump hands were hardly surprised at the rake Trump had placed his foot on. “And there’s something unusual about him stepping on a good message?” one former administration official said, laughing when asked about the timing of the announcement. [snip]
As such, the department’s new position set off alarm bells among Republicans who had spent much of the 2018 election cycle trying to alleviate voter concerns that their attempts at health care overhaul would—contrary to the likely outcomes—leave those with preexisting conditions vulnerable to the whims of private insurers. Fergus Cullen, the former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee and a critic of the party’s approach to Obamacare repeal, compared the rejoining of the debate to the famous battle-of-wits scene in The Princess Bride.
“The one,” Cullen stressed, “where he talks about the rules that you should never get into a land war in Asia.”
Meanwhile, rational people (a.k.a., the Democratic Party) will be working to strengthen the ACA, providing a sharp contrast to the sabotaging efforts of Republicans over the past few years.  Until we get a new Senate and a Democratic President, though, the ACA remains in peril and improvements such as single- payer remain a goal to be fought for.

BONUS:  An "anonymous Republican Senator" (stay spineless!) wants nothing to do with Trump's latest genius move.  Too late, jackass!  You own this.

BONUS II:  Oops.  Now it's the top Republican in the House telling Trump to back off.  You can almost smell the panic.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

True Colors, Shining Through

From neo-fascist demagogue and pathological liar Donald "Rump" Trump's comment that KKK and Nazi marchers in Charlottesville, VA in 2017 were "very fine people" to disgraced white supremacist agitator Rep. Steve King's racist social messaging, the Rethuglican / New Confederate Party under Rump has a record of racism and xenophobia. Now, they appear to be emboldened by the still-unverified "Barr Report", which purports to "summarize" the principal conclusions of the Mueller investigation. Now, Rethugs are quoting Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in their attacks against Dems.

Far-right white nationalist Rep. Mo "No Mo" Brooks (R-Alabammy) was on the House floor using an expression popularized by the Nazis:
"Brooks, a five-term Republican, accused Democrats and members of the media of propagating a 'big lie' about collusion. The expression was coined by Hitler to describe how Jews used their “unqualified capacity for falsehood” to blame a top German military commander for the country’s losses in World War I. A lie could be so big, Hitler claimed, that it perversely defied disbelief. 
It was unclear if Brooks grasped that by leveling charges of the “big lie,” he had inverted his own analogy, making Democrats the equivalent of interwar German and Austrian Jews. He set out to compare the other side to fascists, but he was the one employing a fascist smear — one that, ironically, came to define Nazi propaganda." (our emphasis)
In a classic case both projection and deflection, "No Mo" even implied that the Nazis were "socialists," despite the historical record that the Nazis murdered socialists, Social Democrats, and Communists during the 1930s. The latest Rethug strategy is to use the term "socialist" as a fear tactic to gin up their ignorant and fearful base, not expecting it will backfire once their people realize that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are fundamentally democratic socialist programs.

The Rethugs will never deal honestly with who they are, and will lie / project / divert to change the subject and move the spotlight from their corrupt and bigoted essence. It's in their DNA.

Today's Cartoons -- Lowering The Barr Mega Edition

(click on images to enlarge)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

(Lalo Alcaraz, LA Weekly)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Matt Wuerker, Politico)

(Steve Breen,

(Rob Rogers,

(Matt Bors,

(Alan Moir, Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia)



Lawyering Down: Avenatti's Legal Problems

What to say about the downward spiral of celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti? Charged by Feds in New York and Los Angeles with crimes ranging from extortion and embezzlement to bank fraud, it looks very bad for him. Stephen Colbert's monologue last night took a look at the situation and hilarity ensued.


"I tend to think it's like having your brother summarize your report card to your parents.  We should be deeply suspicious, especially since he had 12 tardies and at least 3 times ditching class." -- Stacey Abrams on "Coverup- General" Barr's letter "summarizing" principal conclusions of the Mueller report. ("The Fs?  That means Donnie's doing Fine!")

Lindsey Graham's Role In Steele Dossier

After days of attacks on the late Sen. John McCain by bone spur sufferer and demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump blasting McCain for passing the overwhelmingly accurate Steele dossier to the FBI, it appears from his own admission that Rump kisser and friend-from-hell Sen. Lindsey "Huckleberry" Graham (R-Secession State) was the one urging McCain to do that. So, after allowing his late friend to be singled out for Rump's abuse, Huckleberry finally summons the limited manhood he possesses to confess to his prompting role in the dossier's delivery to the FBI. Someone with direct knowledge of this event must have threatened Huckleberry with exposure unless he came out of the closet clean.

Huckleberry has done a complete 180 on his relationship with Rump, going from someone who called Rump a "kook," "crazy" and "unfit for office" just three years ago, to a dishonest sycophant and lapdog for him, mostly out of fear that Rump's rabid base will turn on him as he faces re-election in 2020. This admission once again exposes Huckleberry as a cynical, hollow opportunist who let his deceased erstwhile friend dangle in the wind as long as it was convenient. Kudos to whomever told Huckleberry to come clean about his role or else.

(photo: Lindsey Graham butching it up for the cameras. REX Shutterstock)

Trump Regime Wants Affordable Care Act Struck Down (UPDATED)

The bastards are feeling emboldened:
The Trump administration on Monday said the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down, in a dramatic reversal.
In a filing with a federal appeals court, the Justice Department said it agreed with the ruling of a federal judge in Texas that invalidated the Obama-era health care law.
In a letter Monday night, the administration said "it is not urging that any portion of the district court's judgment be reversed." [snip]
It's a major shift for the Justice Department from when Jeff Sessions was attorney general. At the time, the administration argued that the community rating rule and the guaranteed issue requirement -- protections for people with pre-existing conditions -- could not be defended but the rest of the law could stand.
After the Justice Department took that position, federal District Judge Reed O'Connor struck down the entire law and the case is currently before a federal appeals court.
Trump and the administration repeatedly promised -- particularly leading up to the midterm election -- to protect people with less-than-perfect medical histories.
But this shift in the Justice Department's stance doubles down on stripping away all the protections that were a hallmark of the landmark heath reform law.
Overturning the law would have far-reaching consequences -- way beyond disrupting coverage for the millions of people who get their health insurance on the exchanges or through Medicaid expansion.
Obamacare saves senior citizens money on their Medicare coverage and prescription drugs. It lets many Americans obtain free birth control, mammograms and cholesterol tests. And it allows children to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until they turn 26.  (our emphasis)
The case is in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which covers judicial districts in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi and is considered one of the most conservative of the 13 U.S. courts of appeals.  It's unclear, though, that the "unmoored" legal judgement by crackpot Texas Judge O'Connor, now supported by the unmoored Trump regime, will pass the smell test even with this court top- heavy with Republican appointees.  Either way, it will be appealed to the Supreme Court, especially if the law is struck down.  This is an issue that touches so many peoples' lives that it's almost inconceivable that the courts would be so mindless of the impact of scuttling health insurance for so many million Americans.  But, there's already been one jackass judge who thought nothing of it, and we all know the Republican ethos: "Afflict the afflicted, comfort the comfortable."

Health care was a major issue for voters in the 2018 mid- terms, and Democrats running for President are making health care a major issue for 2020.  If in the unlikely but possible event the ACA ("Obamacare") is struck down -- without a replacement! -- the Republicans will be handing Democrats a huge cudgel to beat them with, and rightly so. 

UPDATE:  Not standing for it --

Monday, March 25, 2019

QOTD: "Coverup-General Barr"

"Back in 1992, the last time Bill Barr was U.S. attorney general, iconic New York Times writer William Safire referred to him as 'Coverup-General Barr' because of his role in burying evidence of then-President George H.W. Bush’s involvement in 'Iraqgate' and 'Iran-Contra.'

General Barr has struck again—this time, in similar fashion, burying Mueller’s report and cherry-picking fragments of sentences from it to justify Trump’s behavior. In his letter, he notes that Robert Mueller 'leaves it to the attorney general to decide whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.'”  (our emphasis) -- Thom Hartmann, Independent Media Institute, in Raw Story, detailing Barr's faithful service to his Rethuglican Presidents / patrons, no matter the damage to the rule of law and public trust. Note that Barr's nickname comes from a partisan Rethuglican, the late Nixon acolyte William Safire, who was no friend of Dems.

No wonder his audition to be Trump's Attorney General was so successful.

(photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Russia's Presence In Venezuela Growing

Two Russian military planes with cargo and some 100 troops aboard landed in Caracas, Venezuela on Saturday, according to a report from Reuters. One of the two planes was a cargo aircraft reportedly carrying 30 tons of supplies and equipment. The other plane carried Russia's chief of staff for ground forces and the personnel.  Venezuela's endangered authoritarian leader, Nicholas Maduro, has allied himself with Russia and China in the crisis involving Venezuela's recent elections which apparently ousted him from power.

This most recent Russian attempt to secure a foothold in South America follows their joint military exercises three months ago on Venezuelan soil, including a visit last December by two Russian strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Russia knows it can assert itself in the western hemisphere during this time of demagogue and Russian asset Donald "Rump" Trump's foreign policy weakness and fragmentation of its allies.

(photo: Russian personnel on tarmac at Caracas airport.

Tweets Of The Day -- Keep Dumbing It Down!

And the Republicans have willing, puerile partners:

Don't look for the corporate media to save our democracy, part infinity.

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Monday Reading

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

We're doing a Mueller report- free- zone for your Monday reading, since you can look at many other sites for takes, hot and not.

Eliza Newlin Carney reminds us all why Republicans are so afraid of voter turnout:
Recent findings that voter turnout broke a century-old record last year and could cause another “100-year storm of voters” in 2020 must play on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s worst fears.
Not only did the annual America Goes to the Polls report, put out by Nonprofit VOTE and the U.S. Elections Project, show historic jumps in Latino and youth voter turnout. The report also found that voter-friendly policies, such as same-day and automatic voter registration, are vastly boosting turnout. The top ten states with the highest turnout—averaging 61 percent—were also the ones that made it easiest for voters to cast ballots. By contrast, the ten lowest-ranking states had turnout averaging in the low forties.
This is one of the leading reasons McConnell is so hostile to HR 1, the package of democracy reforms that House Democrats recently approved unanimously, with nary a GOP vote. The legislation does far more than facilitate voting, of course. It also sets out to overhaul the political money, ethics and lobbying rules, among other changes. But a big part of the so-called For the People Act is about removing barriers to the polls.
Again, Democrats are walking and chewing gum at the same time, contrary to what you might read about investigations into the Trump crime family taking too much attention and time away from "real legislatin'."

Meanwhile, the selling off of America continues unabated. Lance Williams at the Center for Investigative Reporting:
Gathered for a private meeting at a beachside RitzCarlton in Southern California, the oil executives were celebrating a colleague’s sudden rise. David Bernhardt, their former lawyer, had been appointed by President Donald Trump to the powerful No. 2 spot at the Department of the Interior. [snip]

Dan Naatz, the association’s political director, told the conference room audience of about 100 executives that Bernhardt’s new role meant their priorities would be heard at the highest levels of Interior.
“We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues,” Naatz said, according to an hourlong recording of the June 2017 event in Laguna Niguel provided to Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.
The recording gives a rare look behind the curtain of an influential oil industry lobbying group that spends more than $1 million per year to push its agenda in Congress and federal regulatory agencies. The previous eight years had been dispiriting for the industry: As IPAA vice president Jeff Eshelman told the group, it had seemed as though the Obama administration and environmental groups had put together “their target list of everything that they wanted done to shut down the oil and gas industry.” But now, the oil executives were almost giddy at the prospect of high-level executive branch access of the sort they hadn’t enjoyed since Dick Cheney, a fellow oilman, was vice president. (our emphasis)
As has become his practice, the Very Stable Genius (a.k.a., Individual 1) is nominating a fellow dolt to an important position.  Here's Jon Chait:
Stephen Moore’s career as an economic analyst has been a decades-long continuous procession of error and hackery. It is not despite but precisely because of these errors that Moore now finds himself in the astonishing position of having been offered a position on the Federal Reserve board by President Trump.
Moore’s primary area of pseudo-expertise — he is not an economist — is fiscal policy. He is a dedicated advocate of supply-side economics, relentlessly promoting his fanatical hatred of redistribution and belief that lower taxes for the rich can and will unleash wondrous prosperity. Like nearly all supply-siders, he has clung to this dogma in the face of repeated, spectacular failures.
Moore is likely to face stiff opposition for confirmation, but expecting the supine Republican Senate not to go along with Individual 1's pick is hard to imagine.

Finally, you can find plenty of non- Mueller- report topics over at Infidel 753's blog round- up to engage your mind.  As always, a visit is highly recommended.