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The Day Democracy Died

This is actually pretty good. I love the animations.

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The bigger catastrophe?

Ahead of today’s primary election in New Hampshire, UMass Lowell polled Democratic voters in NH and asked them the following question:

Which of the following outcomes would you prefer occur on November 3, 2020?
– Donald Trump wins re-election
– A giant meteor strikes the earth, extinguishing all human life

You can see the question on page 11 of the poll results, which were that 62% would prefer a meteor extinguishing all human life, compared to 38% for a Trump victory.

Apparently, women are more angry at Trump, voting 68% for the meteor, versus men who are 53% for the meteor.

Likewise, voters who consider themselves moderates were more likely to vote for the meteor (69%) compared to either liberals (59%) or conservatives (28%).

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SNL on Acquittal

This is one of the funniest Weekend Updates I’ve seen for a while.

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The Cult of Trump

I reminded folks that I’m a conservative, but I said conservative policies aren’t good enough. Decency, honesty and compassion matter, too. But they wanted nothing to do with it. There was more booing, more yelling, and I caught a middle finger or two. I’m a big boy, and I can take a tough crowd, but leaving the caucus that night, I realized once and for all that nobody can beat Trump in a Republican primary. Not just because it’s become his party, but because it has become a cult, and he’s a cult leader. He doesn’t have supporters; he has followers. And in their eyes, he can do no wrong.

They’re being spoon-fed a daily dose of B.S. from “conservative” media. They don’t know what the truth is and—more importantly—they don’t care. There’s nothing that any Republican challenger can do to break them out of this spell. (Thanks, Hannity.)

— Joe Walsh, who ended his primary challenge to Donald Trump for the Republican nomination yesterday, and apparently gave up on the GOP as well.

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Post Impeachment

“I want to say again how profoundly sorry I am for what I said and did… and for the great burden they have imposed.”
— Bill Clinton, February 1999.

“It was all bullshit.”
“It was evil, it was corrupt, it was dirty cops, it was leakers, it was liars.”
— Donald Trump, February 2020.

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Romney

Regardless to anything I might have said about Mitt Romney in the past, today I want to say “Thank you”. Romney did something that I can’t imagine will benefit him personally in any way, but it was the right thing to do. That takes guts.

Read why in The Atlantic.

© Jen Sorensen

An anonymous quote, attributed to a friend of Romney: “John McCain’s thumbs down was just matched by Mitt Romney’s finger up.”

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Acquittal

© Tom Tomorrow

The Republicans have learned to throw everything, no matter how ridiculous, up against the wall to see what will stick. Because 40% of the country will believe it, and the rest of us will typically tune it out and ignore it. Heaven help us.

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Buying Votes

Why does nothing shock or surprise me anymore? I mean, this is something I would expect in some corrupt third-world country run by a warlord, but here we are:

Allies of Donald Trump have begun holding events in black communities where organizers lavish praise on the president as they hand out tens of thousands of dollars to lucky attendees.

The money is being funneled through a 501(c)3 charity, which allows the donors to remain anonymous and their contributions to be tax deductible. So you are paying for part of this.

The winners’ names are picked from a bin, and most of the winners get $300 – $500, just below the $600 where the lucky recipient would have to fill out an IRS W-9 form in order to comply with tax law.

Of course, charities are supposed to use their money for charitable activities, and giving out money in a lottery to arbitrary people in return for them listening to political speech is hardly that. But don’t hold your breath waiting for Trump’s “Justice” department to investigate.

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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.

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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.

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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,”

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I got nothing!

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

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The Orange One likes Chocolate

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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.”

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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.

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