Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

DeSantis Refugee Trafficking Fallout

September 22, 2022

DeSantis Refugee Trafficking Fallout

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the future of the MAGA GOP, is basking in the afterglow of flying 48 Venezuelan refugees from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard to “own the Libs,”spending $615,000 in public funds on two charter jets. That’s a cost of $12,300 for each refugee DeSantis trafficked for his own political purposes.

DeSantis still has almost $11.5 million more in purloined federal COVID relief funds left, so he’s doubling down. There’s been a further payment of $950,000, possibly for flights to Delaware (Joe Biden’s home state) or New Jersey. The charter jet contractor, Vertol Systems, owned by Republican donor James Montgomerie, purchased helicopters from Russian government-controlled companies, and received a PPP loan of $255,583 in 2020, during the Trump Administration. Vertol has been associated with James Odom, who went to prison for laundering campaign funds for Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign. It’s not clear if Vertol got a sole-source contract; they’re certainly not the only charter jet outfit in Florida, so state procurement officials should take a look at that, if they’re not afraid of poltical retribution.

DeSantis and his cronies may be liable for other crimes. They fraudulently lured unsuspecting refugee men, women, and children from Texas to a small, isolated town in Massachusetts, promising non-existant jobs and housing. The refugees are suing for fraud, and a Texas sheriff is looking into the matter.

Is it interstate human trafficking? It may be a gray area but, in any case, it’s certainly cruel. Of course, that’s the point.


“DeSantis risks voter backlash in Florida with migrant flights,” Max Greenwood and Ann Parnes, The Hill


“Massachusetts seeks human trafficking probe targeting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over migrants,” John Bacon and Rachael Devaney, USA Today

“The smoking gun in Martha’s Vineyard,” Judd Legum, Popular Information 

“Senator Ted Cruz says that transporting migrants is illegal, but commends GOP governors for it anyway,” Alia Shoaib, Insider

“DeSantis actions on migrants is ‘mini-ethnic cleansing’, expert warns,” Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian


Image (“DeSantis Immigration Hat”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Trump Embraces QAnon Conspiracy Theories

September 21, 2022

Trump Embraces QAnon Conspiracy Theories

Donald Trump is, finally, openly embracing the wacko QAnon conspiracy theory. Tuesday, on his Truth Social platform, he reposted an image of himself wearing a Q lapel pin overlaid with the words “The Storm is Coming.” For QAnon looons, the “storm” refers to a Trump final victory, when he will regain power and his opponents will be tried (and probably executed) on live television.

At a JD Vance campaign rally on Saturday, Donald Trump spoke over QAnon-themed background music while his supporters raised their right index fingers to the sky in a creepy salute. Sure, it might mean “We’re Number 1” or “America First,” or signal the “One Way” of Christian Nationalism, but The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer, author of a forthcoming book on QAnon, tweeted that it could symbolize the QAnon rallying cry ‘Where we go one, we go all.’”

That rally music?  It was either the QAnon anthem “Wwg1wga” or a copyright-free clone of it. Trump had used it in a video on his Truth Social last month.


“Trump openly embraces, amplifies QAnon conspiracy theories,” David Klepper and Ali Swenson, Associated Press

“Trump asks QAnon to stand back and stand by,” Phillip Bump, Washington Post

“Trump’s Gone Full QAnon. There’s No Point in Denying It Anymore.” Jared Holt, Daily Beast

“What’s with the creepy one-fingered salute by Trump supporters?” Imogen Champagne,

“Is Trump fans’ ‘weird’ one-finger salute at rally a QAnon tribute?” Gustaf Kilander, The Independent via Yahoo News

“Trump’s Latest Rally Was Even Weirder Than Usual,” Chas Danner, New York Magazine

“Trump’s New Recruits: He’s embracing the QAnon conspiracy theorists,” Tom Nichols, The Atlantic


“Trump Endorsed QAnon Because He’s Stuck,” Juliette Kayyem, The Atlantic


Image (“Trump Hat, 2022”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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DeSantis: Cheap Trafficking In Human Misery

September 19, 2022

Florida MAGA/GOP governor Ron DeSantis is using newly-arrived refugees — many of them women and children — as hostages, political pawns in a cheap stunt, flying them to the rural island of Martha’s Vineyard. Somehow, he couldn’t find enough unauthorized migrants in his own state of Florida, so he imported 48 of them — by two state-funded charter jets — from Texas. DeSantis paid for the migrant flights with federal COVID stimulus money he didn’t spend on the needs of Florida citizens.

Bear in mind that the migrants, refugees from failed petro-socialist Venuzuela, are registered with DHS as Asylum Seekers; they are not the criminals DeSantis implies they are. Martha’s Vineyard has no immigration court or ICE center, so the migrants can’t check-in or recieve adjudication, which could jeopardize their status if they don’t get to a major city soon.

In this cruel Republican game, DeSantis is playing catch-up. MAGA governors Greg Abbot (Texas) and Doug Ducey (Arizona) have been sending migrants to New York, Chicago, and DC by chartered bus, often mis-representing where they are going and falsely promising migrants jobs when they arrive. A similar federal strategy was suggested in 2019 by Trump creature Stephen Miller. He threated to cut ICE funding if the federal agency didn’t send migrants to Democratic jurisdictions (it didn’t happen).

And where did lizard-person Stephen Miller get the idea? From short-lived stunts by the racist White Citizens’ Councils of the 1960s, so-called “Reverse Freedom Rides,” which bused Black Americans from the South to Northern cities. Like today’s people-traffickers DeSantis, Ducey, and Abbot, the racist Councils promised that jobs awaited the travelers at their destinations. One bus went to Hyannis, Massachusetts in 1962, where the Kennedy family had a summer home. This past July 26th, Fox News host Tucker Carlson publicly floated the idea of sending refugees to Martha’s Vineyard, pointing out that the Obama’s own a vacation home there.

In 1962, editors of the New York Times called the racist “Reverse Freedom Rides” a “cheap trafficking in human misery.” That’s certainly true for the stunts of MAGA migrant traffickers DeSantis, Abbot, and Ducey.


“Planeloads of Venezuelan Migrants Arrive at Martha’s Vineyard Airport,” Brooke Kushwaha, Vineyard Gazette

“Migrants stranded in Martha’s Vineyard say they were lied to,”Bianca Padró Ocasio, Tampa Bay Times

“Martha’s Vineyard Migrants Leave Island as Outrage at DeSantis Grows,” Chas Danner, New York Magazine

“DeSantis gave GOP donors a glimpse of plans for migrant flights,” Josh Dawsey, Michael Scherer, and Isaac Arnsdorf, Washington Post

“DeSantis Flying Migrants to Martha’s Vineyard May Have Violated Federal Law, Experts Say,” Nikki McCann Ramirez, Rolling Stone

“Surprise is key part of migrant travel from Florida, Texas,” Rodrique Ngowi, Gisela Salomon, and Claudia Torrens, Associated Press


“Ron DeSantis Flew Immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Echoing a Racist Stunt From Exactly 60 Years Ago,” Kate Storey, Esquire

“JFK Library compares DeSantis migrants move to historic ‘Reverse Freedom Rides,’” Graeme Massie, The Independent, via Yahoo News

“This Isn’t the First Time White Racists Have Sent Migrants North on Buses (Though Using Planes Is New),” Kali Holloway, Daily Beast

“The Cruel Story Behind The ‘Reverse Freedom Rides,'” Gabrielle Emanuel, NPR Code Switch

“Biden officials to discuss ‘litigation options’ over migrant buses,” Stef W. Kight, Axios 

“Why Belarus is using migrants as a political weapon,” Ellen Ioanes, Vox

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Trump’s Ex-Employee Hershel Walker Stumbles Downfield

August 25, 2022

Trump's Ex-Employee Hershel Walker Stumbles Downfield

Georgia’ GOP candidate for the US Senate is Hershel Walker, a former University of Georgia Heisman winner, All-American, and  NFL veteran. He was endorsed by Donald Trump, who was his pre-NFL employer as the owner of the failed New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League. In just a few short years, as Mr. Walker raced down the field, Mr. Trump managed to tank the entire USFL.

Hershel Walker and Donald Trump have something else in common: they are both phenomenal liars. Mr. Trump told over 30,000 lies while he was in the White House, and continues to lie about losing the 2020 election. Mr. Walker lied about graduating from college, then lied about lying that he graduated from college. He lied about being a policeman and an FBI agent. He lied about his business ventures, including his “mini-Tyson’s chicken empire“. And while Dr. Oz can’t remember all the houses he owns, Walker can’t recall all the children he’s sired.

Despite his sports celebrity and Trump endorsement, the drip of revelations has raised been understandable questions about Herschel Walker’s electability. All that lying doesn’t help when you’re running against an incumbent who’s a Baptist minister. Weird statements blaming China for US air pollution, evolution denial, claims the US has 52 states, and accusations of spousal abuse should raise even more concern that the ex-Georgia Bulldog is a dog of a candidate.

Herschel Walker was a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice TV show in 2009. Donald Trump fired him. He might want to fire him as a Trump-branded political endorsee, too.


“Herschel Walker declines invitation to debate Senator Warnock in Macon,” Justin Baxley, WMAZ-TV

“Herschel Walker’s ex-wife recalls him threatening to ‘blow my brains out’ in campaign ad released by opponents in Georgia Senate race,” Dave Goldiner, NY Daily News


“Republicans rue price of fame as celebrity Senate candidates struggle,” Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian

“Donald Trump’s Less-Than-Artful Failure in Pro Football,” Joe Nocera, New York Times


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Image (“Commander-In-Chief of the Jersey Generals”) by Mike Licht. Download copies here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.


Carpetbagger Dr. Oz Seeks Pennsylvania Senate Seat

August 22, 2022

Carpetbagger Dr. Oz Seeks Pennsylvania Senate Seat

Noted celebrity quack, TV’s Mehmet C. Öz, is a longtime resident of New Jersey, but he recently registered to vote at his inlaws’ house in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania so he could run for that state’s U.S. Senate seat, soon to be vacated by Pat Toomey (R-PA). It seems Doc Mehmet is running in Pennsylvania while living in New Jersey, but he’s also a dual citizen of the US and Turkey, so what the hell. And the “OZ for PA” operation is strong. The campaign treasurer is the guy who helped Stephen Colbert make a Super PAC for a TV stunt.

While he’s known as a wealthy surgeon and TV green-coffeebean-extract pusher, Dr. Oz in not without Senate experience. He appeared before members of that body’s Consumer Protection Subcommittee in 2014, when Senator Claire McCaskill tore him a new one for promoting quack weight-loss nostrums. More recently, Mehmet Oz has promoted hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment, and apparently convinced the former president, if not medical science. Lately, though, after proving he can’t relate to real people, even fellow TV celebrity Trump has realized the Doctor is a loser.


“Fetterman Ridicules ‘Out of Touch’ Dr. Oz Claim About Happiness and the Super Rich,” Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

“First Snooki, now Little Steven: Fetterman trolls Oz with N.J. celebrities,” Eugene Scott, Washington Post

“A Guide to the Many Houses Mehmet Oz Forgot He Owns,” Margaret Hartmann, New York Magazine


Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.


FBI Seeks Trump’s Stolen Documents at Mar-a-Lago

August 10, 2022

FBI Seeks Trump's Stolen Documents at Mar-a-Lago

Early this past Monday, FBI agents toured Donald Trump’s beautiful Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, executing a search warrant for classified documents he stole while vacating the White House after his failed 2021 coup attempt. At the time of the FBI raid, Mr. Trump was in New Jersey, recuperating after playing golf on his ex-wife’s grave with Saudi officials. FBI Director Christopher A. Wray is a Trump appointee, and the judge who approved the search warrant, Bruce Reinhart, was appointed in 2018, during the Trump administration. Before that, the judge was an attorney, and represented several employees of Donald Trump’s friend Jeffrey Epstein.

The former president fled Washington with 15 cartons of purloined pages, and some are still missing. Withholding or destroying the documents is a violation of the Presidential Records Act and provisions of the Federal Records Act, felonies punishable by up to three years in prison. Conviction might make him ineligible to hold public office in the future.

The FBI agents brought a safecracker to Mar-a-Lago to help search for the remaining stolen documents, which reportedly include a “love letter” from Kim Jong Un. Maybe the feds brought a forensic plumber, given Donald Trump’s habit of flushing documents down the toilet.


“Trump says FBI searched estate in major escalation of probe,” Eric Tucker and Michael Balsamo, Associated Press

“FBI searches Trump’s Florida home as part of presidential records probe,” Brian Ellsworth and Sarah N. Lynch, Reuters

“Here’s what we know about the FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago,” Brett Samuels, Rebecca Beitsch, and Emily Brooks, The Hill

“The consequences Trump could face for mishandling White House records,” Melissa Quinn, CBS News

Presidential Records (44 U.S.C. Chapter 22)

“Lara Trump incorrectly claims that Donald Trump had ‘every authority’ to take documents from White House,”
Stephen Proctor, Yahoo Entertainment

“Fox News Is Having a Nuclear Meltdown Over the Feds Raiding Mar-a-Lago,” Ryan Bort, Rolling Stone

“Republicans dust off familiar playbook to weaponise Mar-a-Lago FBI search,” David Smith, The Guardian

“Pelosi responds to GOP criticism of search at Trump’s estate: ‘No person is above the law,’” Anna Kaplan, NBC Today

“Feds Seizing Documents at Mar-a-Lago Unable to Find Trump’s Health-Care Plan,” Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker


“Mar-a-Lago search appears focused on whether Trump, aides withheld items,” Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind S. Helderman, Jacqueline Alemany and Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post

“‘Defund the FBI!’ Trump allies are not happy with Mar-a-Lago raid.” Peter Weber, The Week

“The FBI’s Search of Mar-a-Lago Is a Reminder That Trump Has Always Been a National Security Threat,” David Rothkopf, Daily Beast

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.


Anvils Over Kabul

August 8, 2022

Anvils Over Kabul

In Kabul on Sunday morning, July 31st, Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of al-Qaeda, was out on the balcony of his villa, smoking a cigarette, maybe, when his revery was interupted by two Hellfire AGM-114R9X missles, which killed him instantly without disturbing other occupants of the building.

The R9X (Romeo Hellfire) missile does not have an explosive warhead. While it has been called the “Flying Ginsu” since it sprouts a bunch of knife blades immediately before impact, it is the blunt kinetic force of the laser-guided, rocket-powered 100 lb. object dropping out of the the sky like a falling anvil that makes it effective. The missiles have been used to minimize collateral damage to bystanders while eliminating targeted individuals, often while they are in automobiles.

Face it, it’s a precision-guided assassin’s weapon, often called the Ninja Bomb, more a tool of vengeance than justice. Whether it’s an appropriate or ethical instrument for anti-terrorism or foreign policy is another matter.


“Ayman al-Zawahiri: How US strike could kill al-Qaeda leader – but not his family,” Bernd Debusmann Jr, BBC News

“Ayman al-Zawahiri’s death: What is the Hellfire R9X missile that the Americans purportedly used?” Sandra Favier, le Monde

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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LIV Golf: Trump Welcomes His Saudi Masters to New Jersey

July 29, 2022

LIV Golf: Trump Welcomes His Saudi Masters to New Jersey
While Joe Biden was criticized for his recent fist bump with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Donald Trump has given a big, wet, sloppy kiss to the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Toursportswashing” campaign. The third tournament of the new pro golf league‘s tour is being held at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Mr. Trump may have embraced the insurgent tour because he’s peeved at the U.S.-based PGA for pulling its 2022 championship tourney from Bedminster, but he has backed upstart sports leagues before, and this is not the first time Donald Trump has taken Saudi money. Far from it. Saudi cash saved Trump from bankrupcy, and, despite anti-Saudi rhetoric during his 2016 campaign, he and son-in-law Jared Kushner have kept their shoddy businesses afloat on an Arabian Gulf of Saudi money.

There have been strong objections to Trump’s embrace of Saudi golf money by the PGA, of course, but also by survivors of the victims of 9/11, and National Press Club members who remember the “grisly-bonesaw” murder of their collegue Jamal Khashoggi.


“Trump Seeks Money and Revenge in Hosting the New Saudi Golf League,” John Cassidy, The New Yorker

“Hosting Saudi Golf Tourney, Trump Has Forgotten He Used to Blame Kingdom for 9/11,” Nikki McCann Ramirez, Rolling Stone


“Trump: LIV Golf tournament a ‘great thing’ for Saudi Arabia,” Jared Gans, The Hill

“LIV Golf’s latest stop brings together Trump, Saudi Arabia and plenty of criticism,” Bryan Armen Graham, The Guardian

“The marriage of LIV Golf and Donald Trump is the stuff schemes are made of,” Eamon Lynch, Golfweek

“Bill Maher mocks Trump over golf course comments, suggests US trade him for Griner’s release,” Chloe Folmar, The Hill

“LIV Golf Tournament at Trump Club Sees Thin Crowds, $1 Tickets: Reports,” Jason Lemon, Newsweek

“LIV Golf spectator yells, ‘Do it for the Saudi royal family’ at Phil Mickelson,” Riley Hamel, Golfweek

“Golf takes back seat at Saudi-backed, Trump-hosted event,” Bryan Armen Graham, USA Today

Updated Updates:

“LIV Golf sellouts bailed on the PGA Tour. Now they want back in?” Sally Jenkins, Wasghington Post

“Judge rules LIV golfers can’t play in PGA Tour postseason,” TuAnh Dam, Axios


“Donald Trump’s Sketchy Playbook for Blowing Up a Pro Sports League,” Ian Ward, Politico

“Remembering The Tour De Trump, Donald Trump’s Failed Bike Race,” Patrick Redford, Deadspin

“Does Saudi Arabia Own Donald Trump?” NotionsCapital

“Tiger Woods turned down offer in ‘neighborhood’ of $700M to $800M to play in Saudi-backed tournament, Greg Norman says,” Sarakshi Rai, The Hill

“Ivana Trump was buried near the first hole of Trump National Golf Club. Her gravesite could offer tax breaks for the business.” Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert and Isabella Zavarise, Business Insider

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Image (“Trump Welcomes His Saudi Masters to New Jersey”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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Running Gag

July 25, 2022

Running Gag

James Dator of sports website SB Nation calculated that Sedition Caucus Senator Josh Hawley ran a 7.2 second 40-yard dash on January 6, 2021 while fleeing for his life from the MAGA mob he saluted earlier.


“Run Hawley Run’: Video of Josh Hawley fleeing Jan. 6 rioters sparks memes,” Jonathan Edwards, Washington Post

“Republican Josh Hawley fled January 6 rioters – and Twitter ran with it,” Martin Pengelly, The Guardian

“Josh Hawley Fleeing Capitol Rioters Gets a Britney Spears, Kate Bush & Monty Python Soundtrack,” Joe Lynch, Billboard


“Hawley Concerned That Being a Coward Is Overshadowing His Work as a Fascist,” Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker


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Image mashed-up by Mike Licht, Copies here.

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Bye Bye Boris

July 18, 2022

UK commentator Jonathan Pie gives a proper “Ta ta!” to Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Jonathan Pie website

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