Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Today's Cartoon Threefer - Tough Negotiator

(click on images to enlarge)

(Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

(Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

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

Cavalier Quote Of The Day

"An Ohio-class guided-missile submarine, the 560-foot-long Michigan carries as many as 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles plus a mini-sub for transporting Navy SEAL commando teams ashore. To put that into perspective, Trump’s April 6 missile strike on Syria’s Sharyat air base—retaliation for the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons—involved just 59 Tomahawks." -- David Axe, writing "This Submarine Could Attack North Korea" in the Daily Beast. You'll recall that the 59 Tomahawks that attacked Syria's Al Sharyat airfield put it out of commission for one day. North Korea's armed forces are many times more formidable than Syria's, and many of its facilities have been placed in hardened tunnels, including aircraft, artillery and missiles; 154 Tomahawks won't make much of a dent, at least not for long. Clearly, it would unleash a bloody, open-ended war and a barrage on Seoul by the North that would decimate that metro area with 25.6 million residents, so any comparison with the pinprick attack on Syria is idiotic.

While saying that sending the USS Michigan to Korea "is a big deal," Axe acknowledges that the USS Michigan would "probably need help," an understatement if there ever was one. However, in an article unfortunately larded with some chest thumping quotes by Navy and military "analysts" on the Michigan's capabilities, the most cavalier, jaw-dropping observation is this:
"The Trump administration is apparently trying to achieve decisive results on the Korean Peninsula before South Korea’s May 9 election...... if Trump plans to pre-emptively attack North Korea—an act that, to be clear, could plunge the world into wide-ranging, catastrophic warfare—then he probably needs to do so before May 9." (emphasis added)
Yeah, no problem, let's do it before the South Korean elections, because we don't want the people of South Korea to have a say. Also, they'd probably be cancelled anyway because, you know, war.

The Trumpanov Dynasty: Princess Ivanka Edition (Cont.)

Looks like the Trump kleptocracy is the only thing succeeding in the first 100 days:
... Ivanka Trump [is] setting up something that sounds a lot like the Clinton Foundation, only in this case run from within the White House by a top presidential aide who is also the President’s daughter, who also runs her own large international company and who also has two brothers who are currently running the President/Father’s company and trying to rake in as much money as possible on the fame and power of the presidency. Also, let’s be honest, the Trumps are a notoriously corrupt family, especially when it comes to running foundations.
The report indicates that both "countries and companies" will be contributing to the foundation which, get this, "will benefit female entrepreneurs around the world." We're guessing the female entrepreneur it will benefit most will be one I. Trump.

But, the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton emails!!

Mid-Week Song: Cindy Bradley

Since her graduation from the New England Conservatory, jazz trumpeter Cindy Bradley has been making great contemporary jazz music, winning multiple awards including 2010's American Smooth Jazz Awards' Best New Artist. Her fifth solo album, "Natural," was released last month and a track off of that album, "Category A" featuring British jazz guitarist Chris Standring, is our song today. Enjoy.

Today's Sociopathy And Treason Round Up

The regime of neo- fascist dolt Donald "Rump" Trump and the craven enablers and sociopaths of the Republican Party are moving quickly to fulfill the dream of plutocrats everywhere: to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable.  At the same time, the clock is running out on former Rump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and his dealings with Russia and Turkey. Here's a brief recap.

Obamacare Repeal and "Replace"
Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) on Tuesday formally unveiled an amendment to the American Health Care Act, the bill to repeal Obamacare that Republicans tried to get through the House last month. The amendment, which HuffPost’s Matt Fuller first reported last week, is the product of negotiations among key Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence. [snip]
... If enacted, it would allow states to re-create the conditions that existed before the Affordable Care Act took effect ― a time when insurance premiums were cheaper, chiefly because insurers didn’t have to pay the big medical bills of people with serious conditions. 
At the same time, the new proposal leaves intact most of the initial bill’s big financial changes. Those include shifting the law’s health insurance subsidies, which would offer less help to poor people, and dramatically cutting funds for Medicaid, which would free up money for tax cuts for the wealthy. (our emphasis)
Of course, these Republican slugs would exempt themselves and their families from the bill's most vicious features that they would happily impose on everyone else.

Trickle Down Tax "Reform"
President Trump plans to unveil a tax cut blueprint on Wednesday that would apply a vastly reduced, 15 percent business tax rate not only to corporations but also to companies that now pay taxes through the personal income tax code — from mom-and-pop businesses to his own real estate empire, according to several people briefed on the proposal. (our emphasis)
Will the plan close the myriad of loopholes corporations use to routinely pay less than the current 35% rate?
... His plan would put off the difficult part of a tax overhaul: closing loopholes and increasing other taxes to limit the impact of tax cuts on the budget deficit. 
What about the effect on the budget deficit, that hobgoblin that's only a concern when a Democrat is in the White House?
... Most analysts say the notion that Mr. Trump’s tax cuts will pay for themselves is unrealistic. A Tax Foundation analysis concluded this week that, on its own, a 15 percent corporate tax rate would reduce federal revenue by about $2 trillion over a decade. To make up for those losses without raising taxes elsewhere, the economy would have to become 5 percent larger. 
Even the chief tax counsel for Sneaker of the House Rep. Paul "Lyin'" Ryan (R- Galt's Gulch) sees it as a magic unicorn endeavor.

Incompetent hypocrites in the pocket of big corporations and Wall Street.  "Drain the swamp!" my ass.

The Noose Closes Around Flynn's Neck
President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, appeared to violate federal law when he failed to seek permission or inform the U.S. government about accepting tens of thousands of dollars from Russian organizations after a trip there in 2015, leaders of a House oversight committee say. 
The congressmen also raised new questions about fees Flynn received as part of $530,000 in consulting work his company performed for a businessman tied to Turkey’s government. 
The bipartisan accusations that Flynn may have broken the law come as his foreign contacts are being examined by other congressional committees as part of investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential ties between Trump associates and the Kremlin.
Flynn, who finally registered as a foreign agent in early March but whose activities on behalf of Turks friendly with Russia were known to Rump's team during the transition, has already sought immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony (a request that was refused). What is important, beyond the immediate question of Flynn's potentially treasonous but certainly illegal actions, is how he connects with the nexus of Russian oligarchs and agents that have been actively cultivating Rump and many of his associates for years, if not decades. That, we believe, will eventually lead to the answer to the question "what do the Russians have on Trump?"

BONUS:  A hopeful and serious sign -- April Doss, former NSA chief of intelligence law, is joining the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into the Trump- Russia connection.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Women's Panel Not Buying What Ivanka's Selling (UPDATED)

Ivanka "Complicit" Trump, eldest daughter and de-facto First Lady for sociopath and misogynist Donald "Rump" Trump got a rude awakening from women in Berlin at a W20 Summit panel on women's entrepreneurship when she laughably called her sexual predator father a "champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive," which is certainly true in her nepotistic case. The audience booed and hissed as she attempted to portray her father, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment, as supportive of women in the workplace. When the skeptical moderator responded, "some attitudes toward women your father has publicly displayed in former times might leave one questioning whether he's such an empowerer for women," Princess Ivanka prompted laughter when she responded that her father believed in "the potential of women and their ability to do the job as well as any man." No doubt only if she's at least a "9." (Insert self- written joke: "He likes women so much, he's got three wives to show for it" =rimshot=.) Further proof she's inherited the delusion gene from the old goat. Sad!

Any notions that she might be more than merely an enabler for President Pussygrabber's reactionary policies and retrograde view of women have disappeared, as they should. As John Oliver reminded us  on Sunday, Princess Ivanka wrote in her book, "The Trump Card: Playing To Win in Work And Life":
"Perception is more important that reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true. This doesn’t mean you should be duplicitous or deceitful, but don’t go out of your way to correct a false assumption if it plays to your advantage."
Her daddy's girl alright.

UPDATE:  More evidence she's daddy's girl in her business practices. ("Made in America! China!")

Today's Cartoon Threefer - First 100 Days

(click on images to enlarge)

(David Horsey, Los Angeles Times)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch)

The Trumpanov Dynasty: UN Edition

We've noted before that the White (Supremacist) House of neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump resembles the Czarist Romanov family of Russia before the revolution. The self-enrichment, the blatant nepotism and the entitlement are all there in full view. There doesn't seem to be a meeting with foreign leaders or corporate heads that Rump daughter/de-facto First Lady Ivanka and her husband Jared "Mr. Ivanka Trump" Kushner aren't present at. Yesterday, Rump had the ambassadors of the current UN Security Council to the White (Supremacist) House for lunch, where he gracelessly threatened them about "reform." Note in the picture that Ivanka is seated at the table with the foreign ambassadors (blond in right foreground). Several seats to her left, but cropped out of this shot, is hubby Jared, man of many portfolios and few accomplishments.

Photo: Susan Walsh, AP

Adding to the awkwardness, Rump, in his usual boorish style, asked the ambassadors whether they liked UN Ambassador Nicky Haley, and before they responded said, "she could be easily replaced" if they didn't. Hardy har, such wit! What it actually revealed is Rump's insecurity about not only women in positions of power, but about anyone in his administration who is getting more positive attention than he is. That's his pathological narcissism at play.

Trump's Disastrous (For Him) First 100 Days

Seth Meyers takes "A Closer Look" at the first 100 days of the regime of neo- fascist dolt Donald "Rump" Trump:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Today's Tomorrow Cartoon - Trump Regime Flow Chart

(click on image to enlarge)

(Tom Tomorrow, via Daily Kos)

Tweets Of The Day

Turns out, it's an all- Schooley day:

And, regarding the Associated Press interview discussed below:

Delusional Trump's "Two Theater Seats And A Park Bench" 100 Days

James Hohmann took a look at "what Trump's giving -- or lack of it -- foreshadowed about his presidency" and gave us this analysis:
The result was that Trump – a man who loves putting his name on things – wound up with almost no physical evidence of his charitable giving. 
I searched for any items that a charity had named in Trump’s honor, and came up with a theater seat in New Jersey, a theater seat in Florida, and a park bench in New York. By thinking only in the short-term, and tending to relationships rather than seeking a broader cause, Trump had missed a chance to make a real difference in the world – and to burnish his personal brand with a monument to his philanthropy. 
As president, of course, Trump has seemed to prize personal relationships, and short-term wins, above long-term policy aims. He backed off tough rhetoric about China’s role in North Korea, after getting a 10-minute tutorial from Chinese President Xi Jinping. He was pulled away from his campaign-trail rhetoric on health care – promising to “take care of everybody” – by a desire for a policy “win,” and the wiles of a strong negotiator: House Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). In fits of pique, Trump has Twitter-roasted the very people whose help he will need later to make deals, like Freedom Caucus members and top Senate Democrat Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.). 
The result, after nearly 100 days, is a familiar one. Trump’s list of presidential achievements so far looks like the policy equivalent of two theater seats and a park bench.  (our emphasis)
Really, should any vaguely sentient person have expected different outcomes from this "unitelligable" 70- year- old sociopath with malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

But does that keep Trump from imagining otherwise?  For a "clue," check out this annotated version of his recent boastful, blame- shifting interview with the Associated Press.  Here's a brief taste of the delusional cray- cray:

On his tense meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel:
TRUMP: Yeah, it's funny: One of the best chemistries I had was with (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel. 
(Crosstalk) AP: Really? 
TRUMP: Chancellor Merkel.
On his State of the Union speech:
TRUMP: A lot of the people have said that, some people said it was the single best speech ever made in that chamber.
On the "bigness" of the Federal government (speaking in his Giant Toddler voice):
AP: Can I ask you, over your first 100 days — you're not quite there yet — how do you feel like the office has changed you? 
TRUMP: Well the one thing I would say — and I say this to people — I never realized how big it was. Everything's so (unintelligible) like, you know the orders are so massive. I was talking to — [snip]
TRUMP: It's massive. And every agency is, like, bigger than any company. So you know, I really just see the bigness of it all...
On his belief that the press should like him more since his win:
TRUMP: ... I used to get great press. I get the worst press. I get such dishonest reporting with the media. That's another thing that really has — I've never had anything like it before. It happened during the primaries, and I said, you know, when I won, I said, “Well the one thing good is now I'll get good press.” And it got worse. (unintelligible) So that was one thing that a little bit of a surprise to me. I thought the press would become better, and it actually, in my opinion, got more nasty.
On his obsession with t.v. ratings:
TRUMP: It had 9.2 million people. It's the highest they've ever had. On any, on air, (CBS “Face the Nation” host John) Dickerson had 5.2 million people. It's the highest for “Face the Nation” or as I call it, “Deface the Nation.” It's the highest for “Deface the Nation” since the World Trade Center. Since the World Trade Center came down. It's a tremendous advantage. 
There's enough right there in that one interview to serve as the text for a course on delusional personalities. To pretend otherwise is to deny reality in the most basic sense.

Heading for 100 days with an ignorant, shallow twit in the most powerful office in the world. Sic transit gloria, America (rough English translation: "We're well and truly f*cked").

BONUS: More takes on the interview from Charles Pierce and Tengrain.  Steve M. turns one segment into poetry.

Fox Sexual Harassment File: Hannity Edition

Rabid Islamophobe and wingnut propagandist Debbie Schlussel is notorious for her smearing of Muslims, and as such, was a welcome guest on the Fux Network whenever there was fear to whip up among their viewers. In particular, fellow Islamophobe and hate speech purveyor Sean "Insanity" Hannity welcomed Schlussel to his rancid hate show. But now, Schlussel has told an Oklahoma radio host that she has been barred from Hannity's show because she refused his sexual advances. According to her, after a function in Detroit, Hannity invited her back to his hotel room (presumably not to discuss sexual harassment at Fux). When she rebuffed the right-wing meathead's advances, she was not invited back on his program.

While you couldn't imagine two more unsympathetic characters as these, it shows that the sexual harassment culture at Fux runs wide and deep, and that disgraced former host Bill "O'Lielly" O'Reilly and former Network chief Roger "Jabba the Nut" Ailes aren't the only predators in that disgraceful zoo (indeed, former Fux reporter and current CNN host Alisyn Camerota has come forward to allege that Ailes sexually harassed her while she was at Fux, adding to the list of several victims of his).  Schlussel's not easily dismissed, since she's still a member in good standing of the Wingnut Wurlitzer. We're wagering in the days and weeks ahead that more women will come forward and tell their story of the depraved predatory environment at Fux.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Across The Universe, Cont. - Lensed Supernova Explosion

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ ESA, April 20, 2017:  The Palomar Observatory, located on Palomar Mountain, California, created this wide-field view of the night sky. In the lower central part of the image scientists discovered a supernova explosion, being lensed by a foreground galaxy.

Credit:  ESA/Hubble, Palomar Observatory/California Institute of Technology

Trump's Biggest 100 Day Accomplishments

Credit where due:  deluded nitwit Donald "Rump" Trump has indeed accomplished something that no other president in the past 60 years has accomplished -- sad, abject failure from the get go.

Here's polling from NBC News/ Wall Street Journal:

He's sinking fast. But there's still about 35% of the population that's equally delusional:

A corroborating poll from the Washington Post/ABC News:
The president’s approval rating stands at 42 percent, the lowest recorded at this stage of a presidency dating to Dwight Eisenhower. Trump’s 53 percent disapproval rating is 14 percentage points higher than Bill Clinton’s 39 percent disapproval in April 1993, the worst before Trump. Eight years ago, then-president Barack Obama’s approval was 69 percent, his disapproval 26 percent. 
The Post-ABC poll finds 43 percent of Americans said they strongly disapprove of Trump’s performance. That’s also the worst by far of any president since George H.W. Bush by more than double. In the spring of 1993, 21 percent said they strongly disapproved of Clinton’s performance. 
Well done (like your ketchup covered steaks), shitgibbon!