Sunday, February 28, 2021

Across The Universe, Cont. -- Black Eye Galaxy

 

(click on image to enlarge)


From NASA/ESA, February 22, 2021: This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope Picture of the Week features NGC4826 — a spiral galaxy located 17 million light-years away in the constellation of Coma Berenices (Berenice’s Hair). This galaxy is often referred to as the “Black Eye”, or “Evil Eye”, galaxy because of the dark band of dust that sweeps across one side of its bright nucleus.

NGC4826 is known by astronomers for its strange internal motion. The gas in the outer regions of this galaxy and the gas in its inner regions are rotating in opposite directions, which might be related to a recent merger. New stars are forming in the region where the counter rotating gases collide. 

This galaxy was first discovered in 1779 by the English astronomer Edward Pigott. 

Credit:  ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Team

Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

The Far Right's Young Threat To Democracy

 



This profile in the Washington Post of young Trumpist zealot rising star Rep. Madison Cawthorn (Sedition - NC) demonstrates the level of deceit at the heart of the Trumpist movement. Cawthorn, wheelchair-bound since an automobile accident in 2014, spoke at both the January 6 sedition rally that turned deadly and two days ago at the white supremacist Conservative Conspiracist Political Action Conference in Orlando. In both, he repeated the Big Lie that his cult leader, Donald "Mango Mussolini" Trump, had won the election, but that it was stolen from him. Here's some of what the Post found about Cawthorn:

"Madison Cawthorn was a 21-year-old freshman at a conservative Christian college when he spoke at chapel, testifying about his relationship with God. He talked emotionally about the day a car accident left him partially paralyzed and reliant on a wheelchair. [snip]

Key parts of Cawthorn’s talk, however, were not true. The friend, Bradley Ledford, who has not previously spoken publicly about the chapel speech, said in an interview that Cawthorn’s account was false and that he pulled Cawthorn from the wreckage. [snip]

Shortly after the speech, Cawthorn dropped out of the college after a single semester of mostly D’s, he said in the deposition, which was taken as part of a court case regarding insurance. Later, more than 150 former students signed a letter accusing him of being a sexual predator, which Cawthorn has denied." (our emphasis)

That's just the beginning; the whole profile is a must read. His backstory is replete with lies and misrepresentations of his academic record and much more. The profile paints a picture of an ambitious, morally vacuous, lying sexual predator who has played upon his disability for attention while engaging in the spread of extreme right-wing talking points and sedition. If you ignore the wheelchair, he's just another Gym Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Greasy Donald Trump, Jr., or a young Mango Mussolini himself.

(photo: Cawthorn stirs up the insurrectionist mob on January 6. Jim Bourg / Reuters)

Today's Cartoons

 

(click on images to enlarge)

 


(Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

(Kevin Kallaugher, Baltimore Sun)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

(Patrick Chappatte, Der Spiegel, Germany)


Tweets Of The Day

 

 

You mean Hoodstock? --

 

 

They did Nazi it coming? --


 

Dancing With the Stars and Bars -- 


 

Keeping it in mind! --

 

 

Fact! --

 

 

 

Sunday Reflection: A Lesson From FDR




"To be a progressive, then, means being a partisan—at least for now. The only way a progressive agenda can be enacted is if Democrats have both the presidency and a large enough majority in Congress to overcome Republican opposition. And achieving that kind of political preponderance will require leadership that makes opponents of the progressive agenda pay a political price for their obstructionism—leadership that, like FDR, welcomes the hatred of the interest groups trying to prevent us from making our society better." --  Winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics, educator and writer Paul Krugman, in his 2007 bestselling book "Conscience of a Liberal." Krugman celebrates his 68th birthday today.

Some 14 years after these prescient words were written, progressives face Republican obstructionism on an even more intense scale, with not only their monolithic votes in Congress, but their actions at the State and local level to suppress and deny Americans that don't share their views their voting rights. We saw their mentality just two days ago, with not a single Republican in the House of Representatives voting to provide assistance to their own constituents suffering from the health and economic effects of the pandemic. It's a multi-generational struggle between progressives and interest groups that want to derail a better future for us.

"Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene" Explains "Sience"

 

Cecily Strong plays low- IQAnon Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Q-GA) on SNL's "Weekend Update."  Does she overplay or underplay Green's crazy?  Hard to say.  

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Today's Cartoons

 

(click on images to enlarge)

(Bill Day, FloridaPolitics.com)


(Dave Whamond, caglecartoons.com)

(Jimmy Margulies, jimmymargulies.com)

(David Horsey, The Seattle Times)

(Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(Emanuele Del Rosso, cartoonartsinternational.com)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)


We're Pulling For Ms.Bakalova, Borat's Rudy Bait


 

The 78th Annual Golden Globe awards are set for tomorrow evening. In a pandemic year where film production has slowed to a crawl, it's been a challenge for filmmakers to get their work completed and distributed. Among the nominees are Sacha Baron Cohen (Best Actor, Musical or Comedy) and his film "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" (Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy). There's also the breakout performance by talented Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova in "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm," who was nominated for Best Actress, Musical or Comedy. She's already been nominated for the Screen Actors Guild and Critic's Choice awards for her hilarious, dead-on performance.

Although 24, Bakalova played Borat's 15 year old daughter, Tutar, who manages to get degenerate clown and flatulent Big Lie promoter Rudy "Toot Toot" Giuliani to think she's going to bed with him. In a still from the scene, below, Toot Toot's lying back on the bed, his hands down his pants apparently in a frantic effort to stimulate himself:


We sincerely hope that each award ceremony includes that revealing clip (Toot Toot has claimed he was removing a mic -- bwahahaha). We're also hoping that Ms. Bakalova has a successful career in film and theater. 

Tweets Of The Day

 

Bad faith Republicans are the only Republicans --

 

 

 

 

Right wing "cancel culture" --

 

 

 

Another Don Jr. snow job --

 

 

Junior's girlfriend entertains CPAC geriatrics with some hoochie coochie --

 


Impressive --

 

 

 

Food Waste And Climate Change



Reduce food waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

... More than a third of all food grown for human consumption in the United States never makes it to someone’s stomach, according to the nonprofit ReFED. That’s about $408 billion worth of food, grown on 18 percent of U.S. farmland with 4 trillion tons of water.

The carbon footprint of U.S. food waste is greater than that of the airline industry. Globally, wasted food accounts for about 8 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. The environmental consequences of producing food that no one eats are massive.

Meanwhile, a staggering 26 million American adults told the Census Bureau last fall that they hadn’t had enough to eat in the previous week. The problem was even worse in households with children.

The biggest proportion of food waste occurs in our homes (food not eaten, perishables gone bad, etc.). The article details ways to ameliorate a lot of that food waste both in our homes and in our communities.  When some food inevitably goes uneaten, think before it goes in the trash:

... When food rots in a landfill, it produces huge amounts of methane — a greenhouse gas at least 28 times as potent as carbon dioxide. But in compost bins, microbes convert that organic matter into nutrient-rich soil, keeping the carbon out of the atmosphere and producing valuable fertilizer. Project Drawdown, a nonprofit researching the best ways to reduce planet-warming emissions, reports that increasing composting around the globe could generate carbon savings equivalent to taking roughly 15 million passenger vehicles off the road for 30 years. 

Some communities and apartment complexes offer composting collection services if you're not able to use the compost in your garden or drop it off at a community collection center. 

Please take a few moments to read the article, or go to the ReFed link for more.  

Meanwhile, to help those who don't have food to waste, please consider donating to and/or volunteering with one of these organizations:

Feeding America: With a network of 200 food banks across the US, this organization is helping food banks support communities impacted by the pandemic.

GENYOUth: They are providing grants to schools to supply resources for meal distribution and delivery so students can be fed even when they are not at school during the coronavirus crisis.

Meals on Wheels provides home delivery of food to seniors. The organization faces an increased need for volunteers and donations right now as many seniors find themselves more isolated and in need than usual.

Save the Children: Actresses Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams have teamed up with Save the Children to launch #SAVEWITHSTORIES. The program is providing children in America’s poorest communities with nutritious meals, books and other learning resources during the outbreak closures.

United Way: They are using their Covid-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund to stock food banks with essential staples to help feed children who rely on schools for meals.


World Central Kitchen: Founder Chef José Andrés (who merits a Nobel Peace Prize for what he's been doing now and in other disasters) is turning the kitchens in some of his restaurants into community kitchens offering free to-go lunches for those in need.

Thank you!

 

Who Did Nazi This Coming?

 

According to the Anti-Defamation League, a common neo-Nazi symbol is the Othala Rune, a symbol from the runic alphabet system that was adopted by Nazi Germany as one of its runic symbols. This is what it looks like:

There are slight variations of the symbol, especially one used by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement to distinguish it from the Nazi swastika. For example, if you look closely at photos from the neo-Nazi / alt Right riot in Charlottesville in 2017,  you'll see this symbol and variations of it on banners, shields, patches, etc.:



With that as background, is it so hard to believe that the unusual design of the stage at the current Conservative Conspiracist Political Action Conference, pictured below, was intentional, and meant as a wink and nod to the Trumpist white supremacist base? 



 

BONUS:  And they're "horny for another insurrection" --

 


(h/t to Daily Kos)

Friday, February 26, 2021

Senators Hate Ted Cruz, Part Infinity




NBC News reports that one of neo-fascist seditionist and smarmy demagogue Sen. Ted "Cancun Cruz" Cruz's many detractors in the Senate had some fun with Cruz's bungling trip to Cancun while his Texas constituents froze in the dark:

"When senators arrived at the Senate gym on Wednesday morning, they found that one of them had taped memes on the lockers welcoming Cruz home and showing him in the short-sleeve polo shirt, jeans and Texas-flag mask that he had at the airport, according to two people familiar with the prank. 'Bienvenido de Nuevo, Ted!' was the “welcome back” message typed at the top of the color printouts, one of which was viewed by NBC News.

The rendering featured a manipulated photo of Cruz from his well-documented trip to Mexico, dragging his luggage across an arctic landscape while holding a tropical cocktail garnished with a slice of fruit in his other hand. He is shown walking toward an image of a masked Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. with his arms crossed and wearing striped, knitted gloves — a pose famously captured during January’s inauguration."

The equally slippery, opportunistic charlatan Sen. Lindsey "Huckleberry" Graham (Sedition-SC) had this to say about Cruz in 2016, so you know it could have been anyone, Dem or Republican:

“If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you."

Meanwhile today, Cruz was doing his best Shecky Greene imitation (apologies to Mr. Greene) at the Conservative Conspiracists Political Action Conference in Orlando.  

"Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida, on Friday, the Texas senator bombed his way through what can only be described as an ill-advised attempt at stand-up comedy. Cruz’s routine cycled through jokes on so-called cancel culture—”Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t tell comedy anymore because every joke has been canceled” (what?)—while he intermittently scream-demanded for people to “JUST HAVE FUN” before reiterating his absolute fealty to the twice-impeached former president who had once insulted his wife’s appearance and claimed that Cruz’s father had played a part in JFK’s assassination. “Let me tell ya right now: Donald J. Trump ain’t goin’ anywhere.” Cruz also tried to make light of his disastrous decision to jet off to Cancun last week while millions of Texans remained without power, hospitals in his state ran out of water, and at least 80 people died from the catastrophic storms.

'I’ve got to say, Orlando is awesome,' Cruz boomed into the microphone. 'It’s not as nice as Cancun, but it’s nice." (our emphasis)  

Hyuk hyuk, you're killin' 'em Ted, KILLIN' 'em, although it's probably best you don't take your comedy act back to Texas just yet. Hyuk hyuk.

(photo: A pathetic-looking Cancun Cruz tows his roller bag thru the Cancun Airport)

Today's Cartoons

 

(click on images to enlarge)

(Nick Anderson, gocomics.com)

(Jeff Danziger, The Rutland Herald, VT)

(Robert Ariail, gocomics.com)

(Joe Heller, hellertoon.com)

(Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun)

(Rob Rogers, Counterpoint)

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

(Steve Breen, San Diego Union-Tribune)

(Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News)

(Jeff Koterba, Patreon.com)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Ann Telnaes, Washington Post)


Tweets Of The Day

 

Adam's spare rib, or the jawbone of an ass --

 

 

Another phony god botherer smited --

 

 

Believe them when they tell you who they are --

 

 

Want fewer of these crackpots elected?  Try this, Dems --

 

 

 

The "civil war" is over and the insurrectionists won --

 

 

Box of rocks, meet sack of hammers --


 

 

Priorities One And Two

 

There are two legislative priorities that are absolute musts for Democrats to pass:  the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill and comprehensive voting rights legislation.  Both efforts have garnered near- universal opposition by bad faith Republicans anxious to sink the Obama Biden Administration and put the country back on the white nationalist, proto- fascist Trumpist road it was on when they held power.

The wildly popular COVID Relief bill is expected to pass the House of Representatives today via budget reconciliation with no Republican votes. It then goes to the Senate where it will face the same wall of bad faith Republican opposition.  With the Senate Parliamentarian ruling against including the $15 minimum wage that was causing some conservaDems heartburn (assuming she's not overruled), chances of passage on a party- line vote have increased somewhat.  The House will have to vote on any changes made by the Senate, but the bill is expected to pass before mid- March.

As we witness gerrymandered State legislatures controlled by Republicans begin to introduce and pass a flood of voter suppression laws based on Trump's bogus "Big Lie" assertions about voter fraud, it's becoming more imperative than ever that the right to vote is enhanced and protected.  The vehicles for that are H.R. 1, the For the People Act, and H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.  Since the budget reconciliation process (which requires only a majority vote) isn't possible for passage of these bills, Republicans will use the filibuster in the Senate to try to kill them... unless Democrats act to change the Senate rules to allow these democracy- defending bills to be voted on.  It's possible for this to happen in such a way that it mollifies objections by conservaDems like Sens. Manchin and Sinema, by weakening rather than abolishing the filibuster outright.  Ian Millhiser points to several options:

  • Make fewer bills subject to the filibuster: The Senate can create carveouts and exempt certain matters from the filibuster altogether, as it does with bills subject to the reconciliation process.
  • Reduce the power of individual rogue senators: The Senate could make it harder to initiate a filibuster. Right now, unanimous consent is required to hold a vote without invoking the time-consuming cloture process. But the rules could be changed to allow an immediate vote unless a larger bloc of senators — perhaps two or five or 10 — objected to such a vote, instead of just one.
  • Make it easier to break a filibuster: The Senate could reduce the number of votes necessary to invoke cloture. This could be done as an across-the-board reform, like the 1975 change to the filibuster rule that reduced the cloture threshold from 67 to 60. Or it could be done by creating a carveout for certain matters, such as the 2013 and 2017 reforms that allowed presidential nominees to be confirmed by a simple majority vote.
  • Reduce or eliminate the time it takes to invoke cloture: The Senate could reduce the amount of time necessary to invoke cloture and conduct a final vote. This could be done by allowing a swifter vote on a cloture petition, by reducing or eliminating the time devoted to post-closure debate, or both.


By the way, support for voting reforms is also very popular, besides being the right thing to do:

 

 

However it is done, the voting rights measures must pass soon. If not, the election rigging going on in many states by the proto- fascist Republican party will ensure their return to power and the end of what's left of our democracy.

Weekend Roots Music

 

We couldn't finish our look at the vital contributions to American music by Black Americans without touching on Gospel music.  Gospel music is a derivative of African-American spirituals, which has been an essential part of worship in Black churches in one form or another since antebellum days.  While its popularity peaked in the 1945-1955 period, Gospel music has had a strong influence on rhythm and blues, soul, rock and popular music;  one would be hard- pressed to find any Black singer who didn't sing Gospel music in his or her church, from Little Richard, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye to Beyonce and John Legend. 

Without question, the greatest Gospel singer of them all, and one of the greatest vocalists of our time,  is the Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972).  Idolized by the powerful and the powerless around the world, in 1947 she released what would become the best- selling Gospel record of all time, "Move On Up A Little Higher."  Among other tributes, the song is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of 500 songs that shaped rock.  If you've never heard her warm contralto voice, now's your chance.  Hope you enjoy.

Pic Of The Day -- "The Golden Jackass"

 

 

Staffers at the Conservative Conspiracists Political Action Conference roll a golden statue of cult leader Donald "Mango Mussolini" Trump through the lobby for display at this weekend's nutfest.  As President Biden would say, "Not a joke."

Some great reactions on Twitter here, including the inevitable references to worshiping a Golden Calf.


Another Trump Legacy: Attacks on Asian Americans




Bigoted demagogue and seditionist liar Donald "Mango Mussolini" Trump always found a way to shift blame for his own failures, never taking responsibility and never admitting he was wrong. As the COVID-19 pandemic exploded last year and his failure to control it became obvious, Trump saw a convenient scapegoat that would appeal to his racist base: China, the presumed origin of the corona virus. In one press conference after another, Trump kept referring to COVID-19 as the "Chinese virus," even after being called out for the explicit racism it represented.

Now, we're dealing with the legacy of Trump's scurrilous, racist smear: Asian Americans are becoming targets of Trumpist thugs on the streets of America. The New York Times reports that attacks on Asian Americans in New York City jumped last year:

"The number of hate crimes with Asian-American victims reported to the New York Police Department jumped to 28 in 2020, from just three the previous year, though activists and police officials say many additional incidents were not classified as hate crimes or went unreported.

Asian-Americans are grappling with the anxiety, fear and anger brought on by the attacks, which activists and elected officials say were fueled early in the pandemic by former President Donald J. Trump, who frequently used racist language to refer to the coronavirus.

In New York City, where Asian-Americans make up an estimated 16 percent of the population, the violence has terrified many.

'The attacks are random, and they are fast and furious,' said Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation, a nonprofit network of community groups. 'It has stoked a lot of fear and paranoia. People are not leaving their homes.'”  (our emphasis)

A similar report in yesterday's Washington Post describes the scene in the San Francisco Bay area, where safety patrols have become necessary following an increase in hate crimes:

"They gather almost every night at San Francisco’s Dragon Gate, the ornately decorated entrance to the nation’s oldest Chinatown. Armed with only whistles and pamphlets, the volunteer neighborhood patrol roams the streets, checking out ATMs and mom-and-pop shops in areas where Asian residents have experienced attacks that have left this neighborhood on edge.

Some volunteers drive more than an hour to walk these blocks — largely deserted by a combination of fear and pandemic lockdown — to hand out bilingual fliers that explain how to report a crime to police. Similar patrols have sprouted in Asian neighborhoods in Oakland, Calif., Los Angeles and New York City, a response to what these communities say is a wave of racist violence and harassment since headlines about a virus from China began appearing in U.S. media a year ago."  (our emphasis)

 If one wants to assign a name for a virus that's ravaged America and caused over 500,000 deaths, "Trump virus" is much more fitting: it was Trump that downplayed the pandemic and put opening the economy over public health and safety here in this country. He disparaged mask wearing and social distancing as the numbers climbed. To paraphrase him, he alone screwed it up. It's his virus.

(photo: Demonstrators protest the murder of an elderly Thai man in San Francisco. Damian Dovarganes/AP)


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Republicans Unite Against Providing COVID Relief [UPDATED]

 

Headline: "GOP rallies solidly against Democrats’ virus relief package"

To those that have been suffering from the economic catastrophe brought on by malicious sociopath and pathological liar Donald "Mango Mussolini" Trump's willful downplaying and mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic when it arrived in the U.S., remember that headline. Remember that the Republican / Trump Party has almost without exception closed ranks in opposition to the relief package, which has support from 76% of the public (and 60% of Republicans) and everyone from the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, to the AFL-CIO, to Republican mayors and governors, to think tanks and economists from left to right. The House is poised to vote on the $1.9 trillion package tomorrow. Here's the article's cursory summary of the bill:

"The overall bill would provide millions of Americans with $1,400 direct payments to help them weather the pandemic that’s stalled much of the economy for a year and killed half a million people. It contains billions of dollars for vaccines and COVID-19 testing, schools, state and local governments and emergency jobless benefits while providing tax cuts or payments for many families with children."

It takes sheer cruelty and selfishness to deny your fellow citizens relief in extending unemployment benefits, extending loans to struggling small businesses, and providing resources to state and local governments to keep hospitals open, schools safe, and public safety employees on the job. Will voters remember that headline and the sentiments behind it in 2022, 2024 and beyond? It's possible, but not assured at all.

Fortunately, the budget reconciliation process gives the Dems the power to pass it without Rethug support by a simple majority vote in the House and Senate. Perhaps today, the Senate parliamentarian is determining whether the popular raise in the minimum wage to $15 phased in over 4 years can be included in the reconciliation bill. Using the relief package to raise the minimum wage has been opposed by conservative Dems Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ). The main objective is to get money out before it's too late for millions of Americans, something the despicable party of Trump ("it is what it is") couldn't care less about.

UPDATE: The Senate parliamentarian ruled against including the $15 minimum wage provision in the COVID relief bill.

Today's Cartoons


(click on images to enlarge)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Ann Telnaes, Washington Post)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(David Horsey, The Seattle Times)

(Kevin Kallaugher, Counterpoint)

(Steve Benson, Arizona Mirror)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Ward Sutton, The Nib)

(Robert Ariail, gocomics.com)

(Monte Wolverton, caglecartoons.com)

(Michael de Adder, Counterpoint)

(Patrick Chappatte, Boston Globe)