Tuesday, July 25, 2017

True colors always shine through

Once upon a time, John McCain was called a "Maverick"; a Republican Senator who was willing to buck his party to DO THE RIGHT THING. He rarely lived up to that nickname, but he did now and then. In his finest moment, during the 2008 Presidential election against Barack Obama, he stood up to a woman in the audience at one of his rallies. Watch:

The election loss apparently broke John McCain because he was never the same since. He lost his objectivity, his sense of right and fairness. Once in a while he would say something that sounded statesmanlike, but over the past 9 years those instances became more or more rare. And, of course, he's the man who unleashed Sarah Palin on the world.

Today, John McCain had a chance to regain his status as a statesman. As a Maverick.

The Senate voted this afternoon to move their Obamacare repeal legislation forward. With two dissenting Republicans, they needed every single other Republican to vote for the measure so that Vice President Pence could break the tie. But McCain was in Arizona due to recent surgery because of brain cancer.

Without revealing how he would vote, John McCain flew back to Washington. There, he had a choice. By voting No, he could end, hopefully for good, the Republican drive to destroy Obamacare and he could SAVE THE HEALTHCARE OF TENS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. Or, he could vote Yes and by his vote DEPRIVE TENS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE OF THEIR HEALTHCARE.

Keep in mind that McCain is currently being treated for a
often fatal
incredibly expensive
form of brain cancer

McCain voted No. Obamacare repeal lives on.


You didn't even have to vote. If you had just stayed in Arizona you could have plead illness and not even gone on the record opposing your party. But you flew all the way across the country to screw over people and families. All for a tax cut for rich people.

You will forever be known as a cranky old hypocrite who foisted Caribou Barbie on us and laid the cornerstone for killing thousands of other Americans by DEPRIVING THEM OF THEIR HEALTHCARE. In the end, you were as craven, immoral and uncaring as the rest of the Republicans in Congress.

You had once last chance and you blew it. You are no Maverick.

You are a monster.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Another rat flees the sinking ship

So long, former White House Spokesman Sean Spicer, you half-witted, colluding, liar. This is yet another time when I kind of wish I believed in Hell, because there would be a place reserved for Sean Spicer.

I agree with this 100%:
The White House attracts all manner of toadies, suckups and flatterers seeking the president's favor, but never did any staffer demean, degrade and humble himself to the chief executive the way outgoing press secretary Sean Spicer did. [...]
[W]e find no Trump transgression so foul that Spicer would not grovel before it. When Trump praised North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and invited thuggish Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House, Spicer dispensed sympathy and understanding upon the despots. No Trump mistake was too mundane for him to correct: He insisted that the word “covfefe,” which appeared in a late-night Trump tweet, wasn’t a typo. When Trump alluded to secret Trump-Comey audio recordings, Spicer dodged all questions about their existence. After the president claimed Obama had tapped his phones at Trump Tower, Spicer created a diplomatic incident by falsely accusing British intelligence of doing the snooping.
 -- Jack Shafer
Go ahead and read the whole article.

The only reason Spicer will be remembered, besides being a liar for the most lyingest President ever who's probably going to end up in jail or kill us all, is because of this:

I love it about 20 seconds in when the audience figures out who's playing Spicer. Sadly, as funny as this sketch is, I would rather it not have been necessary.

I hope the only time I ever hear Sean Spicer's name again is when he's arraigned.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Kids, use this as a cheat sheet in history class!

One of the things that leaders do is inspire us with their wisdom and understanding of the human condition. A knowledge of history is important and good leaders often use history to show where we should go by showing where we've been. And, of course, the ability to communicate directly to people in a relatable, understandable way is key.

(Actual quotes from a New York Times article)

For the time in office, five months and couple of weeks, I think I’ve done more than anyone else. They may have taken it as more than anyone else, period. But I’m talking about for my time. I heard that Harry Truman was first, and then we beat him.

Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death.

Same thing happened to Hitler. Not for that reason, though. Hitler wanted to consolidate. He was all set to walk in. But he wanted to consolidate, and it went and dropped to 35 degrees below zero, and that was the end of that army.
I have had the best reviews on foreign land. So I go to Poland and make a speech. Enemies of mine in the media, enemies of mine are saying it was the greatest speech ever made on foreign soil by a president. I’m saying, man, they cover [garbled]. You saw the reviews I got on that speech. Poland was beautiful and wonderful, and the reception was incredible.
Truly, wisdom has been revealed.

Oh, wait, those are the ravings of a senile grandfather in a sub-standard nursing home.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Losers taking responsibility like losers will

Now that Obamacare repeal has crashed and burned in the United States Senate, a body controlled by Republicans who also control the House, the White House and the Supreme Court, the usual champions of "taking personal responsibility" for the rest of us are certainly not doing so themselves.

Mitch McConnell, Senator Majority Leader:
"I imagine many Democrats were celebrating last night. I hope they consider what they’re celebrating. The American people are hurting, they need relief, and it’s regretful that our Democratic colleagues decided early on that they did not want to engage with us seriously in the process to deliver that relief."
By relief, he means taking away their health insurance. Kind of how you relieve a dog's suffering by putting it down. That kind of relief.

And by "American people are hurting" he means rich people, who need more money for their money fountains. Because golden showers aren't cheap.

Oh, and in case you weren't paying attention, the Senate "healthcare" bill was developed in secret by the Republican leadership without allowing any input from ANYONE, even their own Republican colleagues, not just Democrats. So "decided early on that they did not want to engage"? Not so much.

Idiot manchild with nuclear codes:
I think we're probably in that position where we'll just let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We'll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats will come to us and say how do we fix it, how do we fix it, or how do we come up with a new plan.
Uh, hey asshole, you're the f'ing President of the United States. You already OWN IT. You swore on the Bible and the Constitution to faithfully uphold the laws of the United States. You don't get to ignore that oath because you hate the black guy. Look, I know you're a lazy SOB and you'd rather be golfing than helping Americans, but if you kill Obamacare through neglect, then you are PERSONALLY responsible for every single person who dies because they've lost their insurance.

And if you're really interested, the Democrats already know how to fix the problems with Obamacare and have been trying to get Republicans to cooperate to do so for six years. Democrats are NOT the problem.

You selfish, compassionless, nasty, ignorant, reality ignoring pieces of shite are the problem.

Whatever happened to "family values"?

Weren't the Republicans supposed to be the party of family values?
Jesus Lara, an Ohio father of four American citizens, was deported to Mexico earlier today after nearly two decades in the U.S. Lara had no criminal record, was a taxpayer, and followed ICE’s rules by checking in regularly for years. That didn’t matter to immigration officials, who treated Lara no differently than they would someone who actually did pose a danger to public safety. Instead, he was ordered to leave.  Link

Oh, right. He's not a white American, so Republicans don't value HIS family. Got it.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

He was just spitballin'

Today, a presumably competent adult, one with great responsibility, who is definitely not a moron or insane, said this to the press when talking about a giant wall:
[B]ut you have to have openings because you have to see what's on the other side of the wall. And I'll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don't see them—they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It's over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall. But we have some incredible designs.
So we'll be building a giant, solar-power-generating, transparent wall between the US and Mexico because drug dealers will be throwing 60 pound bags of drugs over the wall and we want wall tourists to be able to see those bags are coming.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Brighton Rock

Queen's Sheer Heart Attack was one of the first albums I ever owned and Queen was the first band I ever called "my favorite". As a teen, I listened to that album A LOT. One of the songs on the album, Brighton Rock, is apparently in the new movie, Baby Driver, and so has garnered recent attention.

The other day, someone posted the lyric video below and I watched it. Even though I had heard the song countless times, I realized I didn't exactly know all the words (hey, it's sung in sing-songy British English). To my surprise, I was struck by how literate and charming the lyrics are.

Check out the song below.  If you'd like to skip back to the lyrics once the instrumental part starts at 1:54, skip ahead to 4:38.  But really you should just listen to the whole thing.

An Important Question

Can we now, finally, put aside the asinine notion that we need business people to lead the United States instead of experienced politicians and civil servants?


Tuesday, July 04, 2017

You'd think he'd know what it is since he takes up so much of it

Below is the actual transcript of Buzz Aldrin (Colonel Aldrin) and Donald Trump (Dumbass) at the signing of an Executive Order revitalizing the National Space Council (without any actual NASA folk on board).
DUMBASS: So, I just want to tell you that we are now going to sign an executive order, and this is going to launch a whole new chapter for our great country. And people are very excited about it and I can tell you, I’m very excited about it. Thank you all very much.
COLONEL ALDRIN: Infinity and beyond. (Laughter.)
DUMBASS: This is infinity here. It could be infinity. We don’t really don’t know. But it could be. It has to be something — but it could be infinity, right?
Our "President" doesn't get a Toy Story reference, and doesn't seem to actually understand what space is.

Here's Buzz at that moment.

I'm with you, my friend.

Happy Independence Day 2017 edition

Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post:

We have a president who neither understands nor respects the basic norms of American democracy. Make no mistake: Donald Trump is a true aberration. There is no figure like him in U.S. history, for which we should be thankful.
Trump’s inexperience is unique; he is the only president never to have served in government or the military. This weakness is exponentially compounded by his ignorance of both policy and process, his lack of curiosity, his inability to focus and his tremendous insecurity. He refuses to acknowledge his shortcomings, let alone come to terms with them; and he desperately craves the kind of sycophantic adulation that George Washington, a genuine hero, pointedly rejected. [...]
The Founders, mindful of their own faults, ultimately designed a system to contain a rogue president. They limited his elective term to four years, gave checking and balancing powers to the legislative and judicial branches, and designed impeachment as a last-ditch remedy. The Trump presidency compels all of us to be mindful of our constitutional duties.

David Remnick at the New Yorker:

Donald Trump, who, in fairness, has noted that “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job,” represents an entirely different tradition. He has no interest in the wholeness of reality. He descends from the lineage of the Know-Nothings, the doomsayers and the fabulists, the nativists and the hucksters. The thematic shift from Obama to Trump has been from “lifting as we climb” to “raising the drawbridge and bolting the door.” Trump may operate a twenty-first-century Twitter machine, but he is still a frontier-era drummer peddling snake oil, juniper tar, and Dr. Tabler’s Buckeye Pile Cure for profit from the back of a dusty wagon.

Trump is hardly the first bad President in American history—he has not had adequate time to eclipse, in deed, the very worst—but when has any politician done so much, so quickly, to demean his office, his country, and even the language in which he attempts to speak? Every day, Trump wakes up and erodes the dignity of the Presidency a little more.

Hat tip to Daily Kos.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Uh . . . yay?

Trump's Lies

Check this out. The New York Times is cataloging Trump's Lies. These aren't just accidental misstatements or misspeaking. These are catalogued, empirically false statements that the "President" made and then, often, repeated.

One of their conclusions:

"He said something untrue, in public, every day for the first 40 days of his presidency. "

Have we ever seen anything like this "President"?

Nope. And that's not a good thing.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Trumpcare Comparison

Want to see how the two GOP bills to harm America differ from each other and from Obamacare?

Here's a handy, dandy chart for you. Try not to weep.

Click to embiggen.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

I guess as long as you don't know any of these people it's okay

Senate Republican leadership released their "healthcare" bill today. The bill would dismantle Obamacare protections and deprive millions of health insurance. It would also end Medicaid as we know it. The program would be phased out over a number of years as the new bill cuts funding, causing it to eventually fail.

My 71 year old Mother, who had hip replacement surgery today, depends on Medicaid. Without it, she could never have afforded to have the hip replaced and would spend the rest of her life in pain, nearly immobile. Her quality of life would have been severely compromised and her life shortened.

This is what Republicans have in store for all who depend on the rest of us for their health and their very lives. This horror is a rejection of our shared humanity.

Here are the people who depend on Medicaid.

Gee, that doesn't seem like such an important thing at all, does it?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cars 3

We're Pixar fans and have never missed a Pixar film in theaters, so over the weekend we saw Cars 3. I like the original Cars well enough, though it's near the bottom of the great Pixar lineup, but Cars 2, focusing on Mater as a "man who knew too much" unintentional spy, was pretty terrible. From the trailers, it looked like Cars 3 would have a different tone from the first two, so I was interested.

Turns out, it did have a different tone than the first two. The plot takes the Cars story an unknown number of years beyond the first two films, with Lightning McQueen now the venerable racing champ, being unexpectedly supplanted by younger, faster new cars. McQueen coming to terms with his age and limitations after a terrible crash, takes him to new sponsors and trainers, and one last race to prove that he's still a champ. Basically, this is a Rocky story.

The Cars franchise has always been Pixar's most child-friendly property, but about halfway through the movie I realized that there wasn't nearly the usual amount of silliness or a great deal of humor. The story was definitely more serious than the previous films and the subject matter more geared towards adults. The original kid-friendly characters, including Mater, are absent for long chunks of the story as McQueen trains for his big race.  I found myself wondering if the story would even work for kids.

(Now, I don't want to give the wrong impression. There is a good amount of humor and silliness, but the balance is not the same as in the previous films.)

You may remember that in the original film, Paul Newman voiced McQueen's foil, then mentor, Doc Hudson. Newman died before the second film was completed, so he doesn't appear in Cars 2 other than a quick mention. In this new film, Doc Hudson and his relationship to Lightning McQueen are a major part of the story with a number of flashbacks and dream conversations between the two. They apparently had some unused audio from Newman, because he's credited as voicing Doc Hudson. I found those scenes very effective and even touching.

So was it any good? I have to admit that I enjoyed it. It's certainly better than the second one and only another viewing will tell me whether it holds up better than the first one. I hope it's the end of the Cars movies, as the trilogy tells a complete story and doesn't need any followup. But hey, they're doing Toy Story 4, so there's no hope they'll stop now.

Two more quick points.

Lots of people complained about Cars because it steals the plot from Doc Hollywood and I've heard the same complaints about this movie and its similarity to the Rocky sequels. I won't deny that the plots are very similar. But you know what? Stories are more often than not based on previous stories and since these are kids movies, I think that matters very little here. How many kids will have seen Doc Hollywood or the Rocky movies?

And finally, after the first Cars, the rundown, forgotten town on Route 66 where the story takes place experiences a renaissance due to McQueen's fame. That renaissance is still in full view at the beginning and end of the second movie. But in this movie, Radiator Springs seems once again to have become tattered and forgotten. Was this an oversight, or were the filmmakers making a specific point about the fleeting nature of fame by condemning the town to obscurity once again? In either case, I found it a little sad.

Monday, June 19, 2017

There are more than just Republicans in America

As you know if you pay attention, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) took over a year from introduction until passage. The legislation underwent dozens of public hearings, markups by both parties, days of open floor debate, consultation with hundreds of outside shareholders, and more. Republicans were allowed to propose amendments, and some of them passed. Despite this, for years Republicans have claimed that Democrats somehow "crammed Obamacare down Americans' throats." And way too many people repeat the lie.

Now, in an act of utter hypocrisy, Senate leadership is crafting their version of the Trumpcare bill to repeal Obamacare in complete secrecy. They're not even allowing other Republicans to see it, and have shut out interested medical professionals and Health and Human Services from having any input. That's because they know that if the details get out, public backlash will put pressure on them not to pass it.

Tonight, the Senate Democrats are trying to bring the draft bill out into the open with a Senate floor talk-a-thon.  Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut had this to say:
My constituents, even though they're represented by Democrats, have no less rights than the citizens of Iowa or the citizens of Texas who are represented by Republicans. Why are my constituents not allowed to see the details of what's about to happen to their lives? Why are only a select group of Americans able to have a voice inside that room? Why are the people of Connecticut going to get like three minutes to look at this bill once it hits the senate floor? My constituents are Americans just like the constituents in Republican states are Americans.They deserve to know what's about to happen to them. You're breaking the Senate. And it won't get put back together that easily. 
Damn straight. Double damn straight. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. It's not making America Great Again, it's destroying America. And if you think this is anything like when Obamacare was passed, you're also wrong, wrong, wrong. Empirically and utterly wrong.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Praise from Useless Idiots

This is absolutely pathetic. And nauseating.

At Trump's first meeting with his full Cabinet today, instead of getting down to business, he had each of them go around the table and PRAISE HIM on live television.  (As you read below, imagine if President Obama had done the same thing and what the Republican reaction would have been.)

Here are a few of the comments made by these leaders of men, these towers of intellect and integrity, these thoughtful public servants, knowledgeable and aware of the state of the country and the world.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (referring to his delayed Senate confirmation)
"First of all, I apologize for being late to work. I got bogged down in that swamp that you've been trying to drain."
Energy Secretary Rick Perry
"America is not stepping back, but we're stepping into place and sending some messages, that we're still going to be leaders in the world when it comes to the climate, but we're not going to be held hostage to some executive order that was ill thought out. And so, my hat's off to you for taking that stance and presenting a clear message around the world that America's going to continue to lead in the area of energy."
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley
"It's a new day at the United Nations. You know, we now have a very strong voice. People know what the United States is for, they know what we're against, and they see us leading across the board. And so, I think the international community knows we're back."
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney
"Thanks for the kind words about the budget. You're absolutely right: We are going to be able to take care of the people who really need it. And at the same time, with your direction, we were able to also focus on the forgotten man and woman who are the folks who are paying those taxes."
Vice President Mike Pence
"It is just the greatest privilege of my life is to serve as the -- as vice president to the President who's keeping his word to the American people and assembling a team that's bringing real change, real prosperity, real strength back to our nation."
Let's see. Over 140 days in office. No legislative accomplishments. The courts striking down his ill-conceived illegal executive orders. Multiple members of his team, including his Attorney General and his son-in-law, under investigation for ties to Russia. Our alliances teetering on collapse because of Trump's boorish behavior and his inability to not spill intelligence secrets. His White House in collapse with many people already fired or quit. His former FBI Director testifying that the President obstructed justice. The only thing he actually got done was naming a new Supreme Court Justice but Senate Republicans were set to confirm even a dog Trump named so long as that dog was anti-abortion. (And even then the Republicans had to CHANGE THE RULES OF THE SENATE to get it done.)

So either these awesome folk are COMPLETELY UNAWARE OF THE SHITSHOW that has been the Trump Administration so far, or they are just sycophantic enablers of our delusional, narcissistic Commander in Thief, hoping that by praising him publicly he won't throw them under the bus when given the chance.

That chance is coming soon and this sickening display of North Korean style brown-nosing will not save them. Or us.

Don't worry, this is another promise he won't keep

After former FBI Director James Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week, Hair Furor Trump made a very stupid promise.

President Donald Trump said he was “100 percent” willing to testify under oath about his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, who claims the president inappropriately pressured him to drop an investigation.
"One-hundred percent, under oath,” Trump said Friday in response to a reporter’s question.

First of all, as he's a pathological liar, NO ONE (except Congressional Republicans and his delusional true-believers) actually believe Trump would tell the truth, even under oath.

Second of all,

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Great Companion Makes for a Great Show

This is Bill, played by Pearl Mackie.

Bill is a wonderful, fun character. Just absolutely delightful. 

This is The Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. 

The Doctor is timeless, funny, and always fantastic.

This is Bill and the Doctor, running from danger.

Bill is the Doctor's companion for this season of Doctor Who. And the two of them are absolutely joyous together.

That is all. (Oh, and Pearl Mackie rules.) Now that is all.

Attempted fratricide

I saw this opinion cartoon on USA Today yesterday (reprinted from the Detroit Free Press) and I've been trying to parse out its message. It seems to be saying that the success of the movie Wonder Woman, or maybe the fictional exploits of Wonder Woman, is being given misplaced attention. That the single mom on the right is the real Wonder Woman and that the movie is  . . . what?

See, as a non-conservative, I have a lot of sympathy and respect for the woman being portrayed on the right. I think society should help her by providing a livable minimum wage, affordable childcare, workplace protections and food and healthcare assistance if necessary. Yes, call her a wonder woman and I won't object.

But I also recognize the symbolic importance of the figure on the left. How Wonder Woman is the first, modern, superhero movie starring a woman and how this provides vital representation for little girls (and women) everywhere who want to see themselves as strong, smart, capable, and on the screen, saving the world just like the guy superheroes have been doing forever. The Wonder Woman movie may be just a movie, but what it represents is LONG overdue and vital for our future.

This cartoonist is attempting to play these ideas off each other. He's trying to say that Wonder Woman the movie isn't important. This is the same argument you get from people complaining about women becoming CEOs, and Senators, and running for President; who cares if women are underrepresented in government and business when there are other, bigger problems women face? It's how you get arguments that women shouldn't worry about not having voting rights or freedom of choice, because, hey, some women somewhere in the world are actually enslaved.

You can have both. You can be concerned about all these issues at the same time and work on all of them at the same time. Or you can work on the issues where you can have an impact. It's not helpful (or rational) to portray every bit of progress as unimportant because another, bigger injustice is happening elsewhere.

In the end, the argument espoused by this cartoon is a repudiation of all progress.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Wonder Woman

On Friday night we saw Wonder Woman, DC's latest attempt at producing a non-sucky superhero film, their last success being 2008's The Dark Knight. The recent reboot cycle, including Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad, have all been dark, depressing and badly written.

So how was Wonder Woman? Great! Gal Gadot is delightful in the title role, obviously having a fantastic time and portraying Wonder Woman as spirited, highly principled, intelligent, and in all ways fantastic. Her infallible sense of what's right is a huge part of her character and the key to her appeal. She is also ably supported by a fun group of guys, with Chris Pine in the lead, whose slack-jawed amazement at her skills is a joy. This movie is so much the opposite of what DC has done before, I really hope the studio gets the message here; superhero movies should, as a general rule, be FUN.

Anyway, I thought the final battle missed a bit of the mark because the action turned into a giant CGI slugfest, but boy did I enjoy the rest. And especially Gal Gadot.

If you're a fan of the modern superhero movie, this movie has the most in common with probably my favorite Marvel film, Captain America: The First Avenger. The setting in WW is World War I, very similar to CA:TFA's World War II setting, and at the heart of both movies is a wonderful, earnest, fun character who always try to do the right thing.

DC finally has a winner.

The Paris Agreement

I'll have more to say. But for now . . .