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Stop the Truth!

[A brilliantly sarcastic column by Rex Huppke in the Chicago Trubune.]

Republican senators must acquit Trump in impeachment trial before any more truth leaks out

As a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, I demand that Republican senators in charge of the upcoming impeachment trial swiftly acquit the commander in chief before any more truth leaks out.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named seven impeachment managers and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he expects the trial to begin next week. But we learned Tuesday, in documents handed over by an associate of Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, that Giuliani was working with the president’s “knowledge and consent” to press Ukrainians for political dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.

The document cache from Soviet-born Florida businessman Lev Parnas, who is facing federal charges of illegally funneling foreign donations to U.S. political candidates, also suggest that Trump-aligned Americans might have been electronically surveilling the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv around the time the administration was trying to oust her.

Look, I remain convinced Trump did nothing wrong and is totally great and innocent, but that’s only because, like most in the MAGA community, I’m smart enough to ignore evidence that might otherwise change my mind.

But the release of these documents is, to use a legal term, “not good.” A letter from Giuliani to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy sent shortly before Zelenskiy’s inauguration, makes clear that Giuliani was representing Trump “as a private citizen, not as President of the United States.” It was sent before a planned trip to the Ukraine in which Giuliani said he would be pushing Ukrainian officials for an investigation that would be “very, very helpful to my client.”

If one was to pay attention to this “evidence,” it might seem to draw into question President Trump’s defense that he held up military aid to Ukraine because it was in America’s interest. It might seem like further evidence the president was leveraging congressionally approved military funding to an ally to extract dirt he could use against a potential political opponent.

I will not allow this evidence to draw anything into question, but I will allow it to make me not want to see any more evidence. So again, Republican senators need to step to the plate and shut this impeachment thing down.

The appropriate response to these truth leaks is to not hold a proper trial that includes witnesses and documentary evidence but to simply clear the president of wrongdoing before any more examples of so-called wrongdoing surface. I mean, if the dam is leaking, you don’t call witnesses, you stick your finger in the dam and pray that it holds. That’s just common sense.

The last thing we need is to see a great president, who we Trump supporters have built up to be an avatar of American strength and decency, get knocked down by stupid things like facts. Next thing you know we’ll be hearing evidence that suggests Trump-aligned actors were plotting against a U.S. ambassador using language that sounds like they watched too many episodes of “The Sopranos” while drunk!

Why do I fear such a ridiculous thing? Because that very situation is revealed in electronic messages turned over by Parnas to House impeachment investigators, and now we Trump supporters have more items to add to our “Things to Ignore” list.

Several messages are between Parnas and Robert Hyde, a hardcore Trump supporter running for a U.S. congressional seat in Connecticut. They make it sound like Hyde had people in Ukraine surveilling Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

One message from Hyde to Parnas reads: “She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off.” Hyde also referred to Yovanovitch as “that bitch” and wrote cryptically of the people he was dealing with in Ukraine: “They are willing to help if we/you would like a price. … Guess you can do anything in the Ukraine with money.”

Now look, I’m sure there’s a perfectly patriotic and hilarious explanation for those exchanges, but the Democrats and those information-obsessed media types are bound to spin some idle bro-on-bro chitchat that might sound vaguely like putting a hit on a U.S. ambassador into something negative.

Which is why we have to act fast before any more truth leaks out. We, the Trump fans, might have the inner strength to look away from details that point to a massive abuse of power and the sanctioning of dime-store-thug behavior on an international stage, but the weakling liberals out there are too chicken to wear our truth blinders.

And that’s a real threat to our president, who just Tuesday night was at a rally in Milwaukee doing all he can for the forgotten men and women of America by railing against the injustice of low-flow faucets, toilets and showers.

“Sinks, toilets and showers — you don’t get any water!” Trump said. “So we’re getting rid of the restrictors, you’re going to have full shower flow.”

Clearly, we need this man in office. House investigators say there are more Parnas documents to come, and who knows what other information might surface with each passing day. It’s imperative that we not learn that truth. We need a restrictor on information that makes the president look bad. We need low-flow truth.

So do your job, Republicans senators. Quickly end this ridiculous impeachment trial. Before the full shower of facts becomes impossible to ignore.


The Cost of Our Health

A study published this week provides hard facts about the truly bad deal the US is getting for health care. Simply put, the US for-profit health system costs four times as much than Canada’s single-payer system. Even though the two systems provide roughly equivalent results.

Why? Because of a veritable army of administrative workers who play no direct role in providing actual medical care, and the cost of paying dividends to shareholders of insurance companies. These administration expenses add up to an annual cost of $817 billion, which is an average of $2,497 out of the pocket of every American man, woman, and child every single year.

It is bad enough that we pay four times as much for the same thing, but keep in mind that the high cost of US health care is killing people. It also hurts our economy because in the US many of these costs are shouldered by private companies. In my personal experience starting companies and working with other startups, this makes it much harder to start new companies or keep small companies running. And as we all know, small companies are the primary engine of economic growth, providing two-thirds of net new jobs and driving innovation and competitiveness.

Also note that this study did not include the time and energy patients spend dealing with health insurance companies. I primarily live in the US, but I have also lived in three countries that have single-payer systems, and the amount of extra time I have to spend dealing with health insurance companies in the US is staggering.

When people claim that a single-payer system will cost you money, they are simply lying.


The State of Trumpworld

From Twitter: A protestor confronts Senator Lindsey Graham and asks him “How will your children survive extinction with Donald Trump in office?”

Graham replies, “That’s easy, I don’t have any.”

Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, is chatting with Donald Trump at the White House Christmas party. Luntz asks Trump what his middle initial “J” stands for.

Trump responds, “Genius,”


I got nothing!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good impeachment!


The Orange One likes Chocolate


Dirty Job?

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) is retiring at the end of December, but there is just one problem. He is currently the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, and no other senator wants the job. I mean, can you imagine being in charge of enforcing standards of behavior for senators and their staffs, investigating violations of federal law, and making sure all the senators follow the Senate rules? Especially during the impeachment?

The Hill spoke with a number of GOP senators, including current members of the committee. Their response? “Thanks, but no thanks.” One senator said “I’d rather have a root canal.”


Fascist Facebook

Jen Sorensen
© Jen Sorensen

As usual, Jen Sorensen backs up her comics with facts:

Facebook recently sponsored a Federalist Society event at which Brett Kavanaugh was the keynote speaker, despite objections from its own employees and public protests. The speech was understood by many to be an attempt to rehabilitate Kavanaugh’s image in the wake of credible sexual assault allegations. This comes on the heels of Facebook saying it would not vet political ads for accuracy and making white nationalist propaganda outlet Breitbart a “trusted” news source. Indeed, Facebook clearly seems to have chosen to cozy up to the authoritarian right rather than use its influence to defend democratic norms (or sexual assault survivors, for that matter).

Steve Jobs and internet developers of the early computing era came out of a sixties counterculture that saw decentralized communication and individual expression as a bulwark against totalitarianism. There is perhaps no clearer example of this than the famous MacIntosh “1984” ad that appeared during the Super Bowl. In the commercial, Big Brother gets smashed by the power of personal computing. In real life, we can see how Jobs’ utopian vision ultimately failed (with some exceptions in the area of social media activism). Increasingly, as massive technology companies like Facebook partner with the present-day, Russia-corrupted, disinformation-sowing GOP, they’ve become the very Orwellian entities that the Cold War-era developers thought they were rebelling against.

As much as I dislike Facebook, I have to admit that they are more of a symptom than a cause. But the result of Facebook’s bad behavior (including monopolistic goals) is that the entire internet will likely soon be regulated. I hope this regulation will intelligently prevent many of the excesses of the past wild-west Internet, while not killing the good things about it.


High Crimes

© Tom Tomorrow

The Republicans claim Donald Trump did nothing wrong because both he (the accused) and Volodymyr Zelensky (the person being extorted, so essentially had a gun pointed at his head) said there was no pressure to investigate Joe Biden. But as multiple witnesses (yes, including several first hand witnesses) have testified under oath, there was plenty of explicit pressure. Trump was using his official power as president to extort assistance from a foreign country for his own personal gain.

That is a massive swamp, and an illegal one at that. I guess the GOP is so desperate for excuses that easily disproved lies are all they have left to try.


No Gift

It seems like the Republicans were indeed blowing smoke when they claimed they had internal polls showing that impeachment was increasing Donald Trump’s popularity. Because the only polls that actually matter are the ones that happen on an election day, like the one yesterday.

On Monday, the day before the election, Trump held a rally in Kentucky in support of the current Republican governor, Matt Bevin. Trump even begged the attendees to vote for Bevin, saying “You can’t let that happen to me!” because it would mean “Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world.” After all, in 2016 Trump won Kentucky by a huge 30 points.

It didn’t work. And of course, after Tuesday’s loss of Bevin to Democrat Andy Beshear, the GOP tried to blame it on problems with Bevin’s campaign.

But the reality is that impeachment did not fire up Trump’s base. In fact, it did the opposite, it fired up suburban voters to vote Democratic. This is like 2018, when suburban voters turned on the GOP and handed the House of Representatives to the Democrats.

Has Trump even tried to solve this problem? No, he keeps doing things to fire up is base, but his base isn’t growing, it appears to be fixed. In order to win next year, Trump will need to expand to suburban voters, like he did in 2016. But it seems that Trump is too dumb to realize that. Does Trump need attention so bad that he is incapable of stopping pulling the stunts that are now starting to piss off the voters he truly needs?

We’ll see.


A Gift

This is a gift for us. Our internal polling shows that Donald Trump’s support has gone up thanks to the impeachment inquiry. Since Nancy Pelosi called for this we have seen the numbers go up… We can let them keep going with this because the American people are not distracted by this.

— Lara Trump (wife of Eric Trump), in an interview on Fox News

Who did the Trump administration hire to do internal polling? More sycophants like the ones Trump has surrounded himself? Because a new poll shows that Trump has hit an all-time low among Republicans of 74%, which is 13 points lower than the 87% approval rating he had in July. Not only that, but support for removing Trump from office by impeachment and conviction has increased to 82% among Democrats.

So the number of Republicans that approve of Trump is declining, while the Democrats are becoming energized about impeaching him. That’s some gift.


Helen Philpot is back!

I admit it, I love Margaret and Helen. But I was getting worried as there had been no posts since March. Finally, last week we got a wonderful new post from Helen. You should go read it. I’m not going to post the whole thing, because they should get lots of money from the ads on their site to encourage them to post more. Now more than ever.

If you need convincing, here’s the start of the current post:

Margaret, nobody is perfect. Lord knows I’ve been known to have a mental lapse every now and then. Like when I thought Tulsi Gabbard might have some good ideas to add to the debates. She didn’t and that’s ok. I’m a big enough person to admit when I’m wrong. Having that capacity – that strength – to admit your mistakes, learn from them, grow from them, and then move on – well that’s actually a sign of good character. Which is exactly the reason why I can say without a doubt that Donald J. Drumpf, the 45th (gulp) President of these United States must have a really, really, really tiny penis.

Now hear me out…

Now go read it. I mean it. Really.


Hypocrisy, thy name is Donald Trump Jr.

I wish my name was Hunter Biden. I could go abroad, make millions off my father’s presidency. I’d be a really rich guy.

— Donald Trump Jr. speaking (naturally) on Fox News

For a bit of added irony (and stupidity), note that junior said “presidency”, not “vice presidency”. Is Don-ette talking about the past or the future?

The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree. The US economy grew at an annual rate of 1.9% in the third quarter of this year. Yesterday, Donald Trump said this was “The Greatest Economy in American History!”. But in 2012, Donald Trump described a 1.9% increase in GDP by saying “The economy is in deep trouble.


Going Down

© Jen Sorensen

Do not underestimate the power of propaganda promulgated by right-wing “news” sources. As Sorensen says in her commentary to this comic, “The fact that Facebook is bending the knee and promoting Breitbart as a legitimate news source should send chills down everyone’s spine.”

Facebook has also decided that they will run any ad from a politician, no matter how clearly false it is. This will clearly help Donald Trump and the GOP. I guess ad revenue is more important to Facebook than avoiding spreading lies and destroying our democracy.

This would not be the first time that overconfidence backfired. We must remember that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.


Out of excuses

© Ruben Bolling

The noose is slowly tightening around Donald Trump. Government employees are ignoring his orders to disobey congressional subpoenas, which is Trump’s own fault since he has shown that being loyal to him doesn’t make you any less likely to be thrown under a bus (or two). And you’ll notice that Republicans no longer dispute any of the facts of the impeachment. Instead, they pull desperate stunts, like refusing to leave the room where witnesses are going to be questioned.

There is pretty much no question that Trump is going to be impeached. The only question is how many GOP Senators will have the guts to vote to convict him.


This is how you trump Trump

On Wednesday, Donald Trump called the top Democrats to the White House, supposedly to talk about Syria and Turkey. But just before the meeting, the House voted to rebuke Donald Trump about his decision to withdraw all US troops from Syria and allow Turkey to invade. In a surprising display of anger against the leader of their party, 129 House Republicans voted against Trump (out of 197 GOP representatives total), along with all of the Democrats. Making it a stunning rebuke.

Of course, when Trump gets attacked, he always fires back. But this time he pretty much had a meltdown, raining insults not only at the Democrats (for example, calling Nancy Pelosi a “a third-rate politician” to her face), but also railing against his own former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who said on TV that Trump’s actions in Syria opened the door for ISIS to return, and that “It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.” In response, Trump interrupted and said that Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general.”

Trump also claimed that his move did not put any US soldiers “in harm’s way”. However, a senior Department of Defense official later said that Trump’s claim was not true.

The Democrats ended up walking out of the meeting, but Trump wasn’t done. He took to Twitter and posted a photo from the meeting attacking Nancy Pelosi, saying “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!”.

Here’s when magic happened. Instead of engaging Trump, Pelosi took the photo and made it her Twitter cover shot. One of her staff tweeted “Thanks for the new cover photo @realDonaldTrump!” Here’s the photo on her Twitter profile:

I have to say that I am very impressed by Pelosi’s response.