Sunday, April 30, 2017

Across The Universe, Cont. - Outshining A Galaxy

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ ESA, April 24, 2017: In space, being outshone is an occupational hazard. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image captures a galaxy named NGC 7250. Despite being remarkable in its own right — it has bright bursts of star formation and recorded supernova explosions— it blends into the background somewhat thanks to the gloriously bright star hogging the limelight next to it.

This bright object is a single and little-studied star named TYC 3203-450-1, located in the constellation of Lacerta (The Lizard), much closer than the much more distant galaxy. Only this way a normal star can outshine an entire galaxy, consisting of billions of stars. Astronomers studying distant objects call these stars “foreground stars” and they are often not very happy about them, as their bright light is contaminating the faint light from the more distant and interesting objects they actually want to study.

In this case TYC 3203-450-1 million times closer than NGC 7250 which lies over 45 million light-years away from us. Would the star be the same distance as NGC 7250, it would hardly be visible in this image.
Credit:  ESA/Hubble & NASA

Today's Cartoon Twofer

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(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times-Free Press)

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

Fox Cons Its Rubes With Half-Assed Tweets

Oh, Fox "News"!  You're so transparently deceitful and malicious, but you do treat your knuckle- dragging viewers with the contempt they deserve. For example, the sentient reader will notice something off with this Fox "News" tweet:

Hahahano. Apparently, the Great (Bush) Recession and 75 months of economic growth under Obama have disappeared down Fox's convenient memory hole. Here's the real picture:

Not content with one Big Lie, there are several more equally dishonest tweets comparing the records of presidents Clinton through Trump.

Whether Bill "O'Liely" O'Reilly and Roger Ailes are there or not, Fox "News" will continue to be a primary outlet for the increasingly unhinged, vicious, polarizing politics practiced by Republicans since the network's inception in 1996. In recent years, it's been the tail wagging the dog (dingo?), often setting the terms of the political debate as far right as possible, constructing lies and narratives based on Republican "talking points."

They know their demographic, though, which is why inane attempts at (ahem) whitewashing the economic track records of Republican presidents will be swallowed and digested (with a little Metamucil) without a second thought by their credulous followers.

Sunday Reflection And Reading

"Experience is never at a bargain price." -- Alice B. Toklas, who was born 140 years ago today, with a lesson that we seem destined to have to re- learn over and over again.  Sad!

For those of us who have had enough "100 days of derp with Donald" pieces, Infidel 753 has his round- up that is largely free of that, and has lots of links to interesting and amusing reads. Check it out.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Tweets Of The Day - Signs O' The Times


And (h/t Balloon Juice),

Morning Reading - "Democracy Dies In Dumbness"

Tom Nichols in USA Today has an answer for the question, "Are Trump voters ruining America?":
To be sure, some of Trump’s voters, like any others, are just cynical and expect the worst from every elected official. Others among them grasp Trump’s failings but fall back on the sour but understandable consolation that at least he is not Clinton. But many simply don’t see a problem. “I think I like him more now that he is the president,” Pennsylvania voter Rob Hughes told New York Post writer Salena Zito.
There is a more disturbing possibility here than pure ignorance: that voters not only do not understand these issues, but also that they simply do not care about them. As his supporters like to point out, Trump makes the right enemies, and that’s enough for them. Journalists, scientists, policy wonks — as long as “the elites” are upset, Trump’s voters assume that the administration is doing something right. “He makes them uncomfortable, which makes me happy,” Ohio Trump voter James Cassidy told the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale. Syria? Korea? Health care reform? Foreign aid? Just so much mumbo-jumbo, the kind of Sunday morning talk-show stuff only coastal elitists care about. 
There is a serious danger to American democracy in all this. When voters choose ill-informed grudges and diffuse resentment over the public good, a republic becomes unsustainable. The temperance and prudent reasoning required of representative government gets pushed aside in favor of whatever ignorant idea has seized the public at that moment. The Washington Post recently changed its motto to “democracy dies in darkness,” a phrase that is not only pretentious but inaccurate. More likely, American democracy will die in dumbness.
Should we say it? Sic transit gloria, America.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Today's Cartoons

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(Gary Markstein, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

(Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

Weekend No Excuses Song

Unlike a certain blame- shifting regime, Seattle's own Alice in Chains offers "No Excuses," a cut from their 1994 EP, "Jar of Flies." A hat tip to Silver Spring Bureau Chief and blog musical curator Brian, who is currently on assignment with an expert crew researching the fine gastropubs in Austin, TX, for the selection! Hope you enjoy.

Quote And Tweet Of The Week

What accounted for the Giant Toddler's reversal on pulling out of NAFTA?
Newly-sworn-in Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue brought to the Oval Office an illustration of the areas that would be hardest hit if the U.S. pulled out of the compact, particularly in agriculture and manufacturing. It highlighted that many of those who would suffer from a trade war – especially exporters – live in “Trump country,” the counties that voted most overwhelmingly for him last November. 
“It shows that I do have a very big farmer base, which is good,” Trump recalled in an interview with The Washington Post last night. “They like Trump, but I like them, and I’m going to help them.”

What. A. Deranged. Fool.

Trump's 100 Day Failures = Win For America

As the official end of the first 100 days of the regime of bumbling ignoramus Donald "Rump" Trump approaches, the media is bursting with assessments of the "chaos and failure."  As one observer sagely notes, Rump's failures are a win for America.

Two of the most recent examples of this are the imploding Republican effort to revive TrumpCare and Rump's trickle down tax "reform" plan- on- a- napkin. The former effort, shepherded by the sociopathic Sneaker of the House Paul "Lyin'" Ryan (R- Galt's Gulch), was a hasty effort to get a 100 day "win" for Rump on Obamacare repeal by acceding to an even more cruel proposal than TrumpCare 1.0.  How's that workin' out for ya?
Despite pressure from the White House, Republicans determined late Thursday that they did not have the votes to pass a health-care revision and would not seek to put the proposal on the floor on Friday.
A Win for America!

The expectation of many is that, once the magical 100 days window closes, this awful piece of legislating will fade quickly since getting the Republican House caucus to agree on something that both satisfies the mouth- breathers in the "Freedom Caucus" and the vulnerable Republicans in swing districts is, well, impossible. Should they thread this impossible needle, though, the Senate would be the graveyard for any proposal that gutted the main features of the ever more popular Obamacare.

The second example of a Rump failure that's a Win for America is his stillborn trickle down tax "reform." The one- page, 16- bullet "plan" unveiled this week is getting panned from left and right (and far right). In fact, some Republicans are seeing the Rump "plan" as upstaging a year of effort on the part of Ryan to pass his Ayn Randian tax "reforms."  But while it's going nowhere, Rump's "plan" serves as another clear example of the shallow, self- serving ignorance that is a hallmark of this regime.

Catherine Rampell summarizes:
Credit where credit is due: President Trump’s tax plan is only one page long and yet contains volumes’ worth of dumb ideas. And there’s fierce competition for which part is dumbest.
(Spoiler alert: she thinks the tax rate on "pass- through" income, which would -- surprise! -- benefit plutocrats like Rump while gutting Medicare and Social Security. In other words, a Rump twofer.)

Eugene Robinson focuses on what used to be near and dear to Republican hearts (when a Democrat is in the White House anyway):
In his desperate quest to do something yooge, Trump proposes massive tax cuts for businesses and individuals, especially the wealthy. The impact, according to experts, would be to make federal budget deficits soar, adding as much as $4 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. I’ve never thought of myself as a deficit hawk, but this kind of profligacy is ridiculous. [snip] 
I don’t know whether this is the most cynical tax plan I’ve ever heard or the most ignorant. I guess those distinctions are not mutually exclusive. Anyone who supports this mess automatically forfeits the right to be a deficit scold ever again.
But, we'll leave it to another Post-er, Tom Toles, to make it simple:

(Tom Toles, Washington Post)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Today's Cartoons

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(Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

(Nick Anderson, Houston Chronicle)

(Matt Davies, Newsday)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Dirty Watters In Fux's Sewer

Proving that the turd doesn't fall far from the orifice, Bill "O'Lielly" O'Reilly protégé Jesse "Dirty" Watters abruptly announced he was going on a brief "vacation," just three days into his new gig as a Fux Network host, in the wake of the sexual remark he made about Princess Ivanka Trump's way of handling a microphone. The on-air remark came seconds after Dirty Watters attacked "liberals" for booing Trump's comments at Berlin's W20 conference defending her father's misogyny.  Dirty Watters was O'Lielly's nasty roving henchman, ambush interviewing everyone from Bill Moyers to Jesse Jackson to progressive reporter Amanda Terkel to homeless people. As we said, a turd. What next, Sean Hanni...oh right.

The misogynist culture at Fux continues without reflection or reform. As some on Twitter noted:

Staying Focused (UPDATED)

A "firehose" of distractions and inept attempts at multiple "policy" initiatives have been the hallmark of the first 100 days of the regime of neo- fascist dangerous incompetent Donald "Rump" Trump. When he's not tweeting inane comments about "wire tapping" or judicial reviews of his authoritarian dictums, he's desperately trying to give the impression his regime is achieving its goals when, in fact, it's a befuddled sh*t show.

In that context, E.J. Dionne, Jr., puts his finger on the "greatest single achievement" of Rump's first 100 days:
In the outpouring of commentary on President Trump’s first 100 days in office, his greatest single achievement is almost never mentioned, which is itself a sign of what a major triumph it is: We are not talking much about whether Russia colluded with Trump’s campaign to help elect him. 
... Given the substantive emptiness of Trump’s presidency so far, his greatest achievement is that he is still standing there, making pronouncements as if he means them and moving noisily but without any clear plan from one thing to the next. Every day he can postpone his reckoning with Russia is a victory.
With his one- page Trickle Down Tax "Reform" "plan" that even economists of Rump's party are calling a "magic unicorn" proposal built "on a fairy tale," the temporary revival of an even more draconian "Trumpcare" proposal, and crumbling positions on NAFTA and funding a border wall taking up so much news media oxygen, Rump's reckoning on his Russia ties is being delayed, as Dionne notes. But it's such a profoundly sinister story that -- with the intelligence community engaged (and leaking) and the likes of Sen. McCain promising "more shoes to drop" --  the reckoning will come as long as there is a continuing focus amidst the noise and clutter.

UPDATE:  "Nevertheless She he persisted!"
Newly released documents reveal that the Department of Defense warned former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn against taking money from foreign governments — but nevertheless, he persisted. 
CNN reports that the new documents show Flynn was warned by the Defense Intelligence Agency to not accept cash from foreign governments in 2014 as he entered retirement. Flynn nonetheless took money from both the Russian and Turkish governments for paid speeches and for lobbying work, respectively. 
“These documents raise grave questions about why General Flynn concealed the payments he received from foreign sources after he was warned explicitly by the Pentagon,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who released the documents on Thursday. 
 Lock him up! Lock him up!

(Image: via Wonkette)

So Much Winning, Please Stop!

A recap:

1) Border wall fail. Bigoted loser Donald "Rump" Trump backed away from his threat to put funding for his border wall with Mexico in the continuing resolution, which would have triggered a revolt in Congress and a government shutdown. Rump attempted to cover his tracks with a vague promise that someday, someway, somehow the wall would be built...and Mexico would pay for it, even if we have to pay for it, wait.

2) NAFTA reversal. Last night, the White (Supremacist) House released a statement that, after calls with Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Rump would not be pulling out of NAFTA "at this time." Instead, Rump will use his magical negotiating skills which have been so evident in the first 100 days of his administration to get a better deal "for all three countries, his "America First" demagoguery notwithstanding. Reportedly, corporation-owned Rethuglicans pulled the chain on Rump, getting him to back off his empty "termination" threat.

So much winning there. We're certain that his cultish following will rationalize these things somehow as "wins" for Rump in their upside down, inside out alternate reality world because they always manage to reward and to blame the wrong people.

BONUS: Apropos of the Rump cult, the border wall and NAFTA (h/t to Mock Paper Scissors):

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Today's Cartoon Threefer - Tough Negotiator

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(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

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(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

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(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!

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Darrin Bell, Washington Post Writers Group)

(Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Decision Time For France

Today's preliminary elections for President of France have grave significance for the future of the European Union, the western alliance, and Russia's ambitions. Of the four leading candidates, Emmanuel Macron represents s steady, center- left model for governing who would maintain France's position in the EU. His leading opponent, the far-right xenophobic Marine Le Pen, is the Donald Trump of France: far right bluster, extreme rhetoric, and a threat to isolate France from Europe. He's barged into their election by endorsing her, too. All of this pleases none other than Russia's kleptocratic thug Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin, who has been trying to fragment the EU and the western alliance through election meddling and propagating disinformation. His goal would be advanced by the election of Le Pen, who has visited him in the Kremlin and who (like Trump) has spoken warmly of the Russian autocrat.

We'll know later this afternoon who the top two candidates will be to face each other in a runoff election on May 7.

Help These Organizations In Our Fight

Progressive organizations will need you to help them push back on the reactionary, destructive and un-American policies coming out of the Trump White House, the Rethuglican Congress, and Rethugs at the state and local levels. As a regular feature, we're linking to several organizations that will do just that, and encourage you to contribute to them generously.

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Planned Parenthood

Emily's List

Natural Resources Defense Council

American Civil Liberties Union

Southern Poverty Law Center

Union of Concerned Scientists

Sunday Reading

Whether you're stuck inside or not today, there's a lot of good reading to dive into.

-- Infidel 753 has assembled another eclectic link round-up.  This is the best place to start if you want a broad set of topics of interest to sample.

-- Adam Gopnik at The New Yorker has a great read about why pearl- clutching about the left having a "Trump Derangement Syndrome" completely misses the point:
... The problem is that it refuses to see, or to entirely register, the actual nature of Trump and his actions. Our problem is not Trump Derangement Syndrome; our problem is Deranged Trump Self-Delusion. This is the habit of willfully substituting, as a motive for Trump’s latest action, a conventional political or geostrategic ambition, rather than recognizing the action as the daily spasm of narcissistic gratification and episodic vanity that it truly is.
Recent broad examples of this have come from "things that go boom make Trump presidential" Fareed Zakaria (who was Gopnik's likely target because of this inane piece) and click- bait concern trollers like Caitlin Flanagan (who blames meanies like Samantha Bee for Trump's rise -- really).

-- Showing nascent signs that they may have heard the calls to "do your job," the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is asking for proof that Trump isn't violating the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution:
On Friday, the Oversight Committee sent a letter to Sheri Dillon — the lawyer who detailed how Trump planned to avoid conflicts of interest during a January 11 news conference — asking her to detail how that plan is being implemented by no later than May 12. [snip]
The Oversight Committee specifically asks Dillon for documents detailing how payments from foreign governments are identified, how they’re calculated, the manner in which they’re donated to the Treasury, how those donations are tracked and reported, whether Trump or his business plan to claim them as a gift for tax deduction purposes, and which entities within the Trump Organization will be responsible for making sure all that happens.
We're certain this caused great butthurt to Trump loyalist/ coverup co- conspirator and Committee chair Rep. Jason "Clouseau" Chaffetz, who's decided to bail out of Congress to avoid any further pain that comes from doing his job.

-- Finally, Prof. Jacquelyn Gill writes about yesterday's March for Science, and why science is intertwined with politics, especially in this age of reactionary denialism:
When science is for everyone, it is transparent, accessible and broadly communicated. It has direct benefits to public health and our economy, contributes to a culture of innovation and discovery, and supports education and engagement at all stages of life. The intersections between science and politics may feel new, but they’re not. The outcomes of scientific research have always extended well beyond the lab and the boardroom. Our work has implications for our environment, public health, civil rights, economics, education and national defense. This means science has always been political. And I believe that this is a feature, not a bug.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Belated Weekend Music

Brooklyn- based indie band Beverly (comprised of Drew Citron and Scott Rosenthal) released their second album, "The Blue Swell," in 2016.  This is a recently released cut from that album, "South Collins." Hope you enjoy.

Republican Crime Blotter -- This Perp Hit The Wingnut Trifecta

That's a screenshot of Republican former judge Tim Nolan of Campbell County, KY, who has been indicted on 1) felony human trafficking of a minor, 2) felony inducing a minor to engage in sex and 3) a third count of giving alcohol to a minor.  In other words, a thoroughly respectable Republican.

But that's only a crime trifecta.  There's a wingnut trifecta Nolan managed to accomplish as well.

As we read the article, bells kept going off.

Bell one:
News anchor Cammy Dierking of WKRC described Judge Nolan as an, “outspoken supporter of the local Tea Party.”
Bell two:
... The sex trafficking allegedly occurred in August 2016 — while Judge Nolan was serving as the chair of the Donald Trump campaign in Campbell County, KY. 

Bell three:
... Nolan was appointed by Governor Matt Bevin to the Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Commission, but was removed only days later when a scandal erupted over a Ku Klux Klan photo posted to Nolan’s Facebook. 
Unlike Republican Governor Bevin, the Trump Campaign chose not to drop Judge Nolan after the KKK scandal.
Tea Party, Trump and the KKK! A wingnut trifecta! (At the time of his arrest, Nolan was serving as a school board member in Campbell County, but we're not even including positions such as opposing using local property tax revenue for schools and supporting school vouchers -- rather prosaic Republican pathologies.)

Maybe the judge's defense will include extreme "economic anxiety" as a cause of his aberrant criminal behavior because Party of Personal Responsibility!

"Duty To Warn": Psychiatrists Discuss Trump's Mental Unfitness

Last Thursday, a group of psychiatrists at Yale University held a town hall meeting to discuss their "duty to warn" publicly about unfit sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump's mental state. What made the town hall meeting extraordinary was the willingness of trained psychiatrists to openly discuss what they believe to be Rump's mental illness, breaking from a decades-long tradition (known as the "Goldwater Rule") of psychiatrists refraining from diagnosing public officials who have not been examined by them in person. Underlying the psychiatrists' decision to discuss Rump's psychological unfitness is the concept of a "duty to warn", meaning a responsibility of a psychiatrist to break confidentiality and warn authorities if a patient is dangerous to himself or the community.

Some excerpts from the article: 
The Hippocratic oath to First Do No Harm — sworn to Apollo the physician — has been turned into a self-serving hypocritical oath, charges Dr. John Gartner, a former assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School. 'The American Psychiatric Association looks out for the welfare of its members, to protect them from lawsuits. They’re not worrying about whether 300 million Americans are vulnerable to the life-and-death actions taken by this abnormal president.' And he and an increasing number of his colleagues are ready to declare that President Trump, whose actions are often described with neutral terms like 'unprecedented,' is in fact mentally ill." -- (emphasis added) 
"Dr. James F. Gilligan, a senior clinical professor of psychiatry at NYU Medical School, was on next, and offered that Trump’s mental unfitness had multiple causes. And before the meeting was over, the following diagnoses had been brought up: narcissism combined with a sociopathic personality, pathological lying, and paranoia, which makes him vulnerable to conspiracy theories. Anyone who doesn’t flatter him extravagantly is meant to be destroyed. He engages in exploitation and violation of the rights of others, and sometimes goes as far as sadism, with no evidence of remorse." (emphasis added)
Take time to read the whole article. The mental health issues of former President Richard Nixon's alcoholic instability as he neared impeachment and former President Ronald Reagan's creeping dementia were raised largely after they left office. Now, we have a sitting (un)President who is being identified openly by mental health professionals as mentally ill. And we're less than 100 days into his term.

March for Science: Earth Day 2017

Today, Earth Day 2017, marchers around the globe are calling for support of science and its role in combatting global climate change. Under the "March for Science" banner, thousands of marchers in Washington, D.C. have gathered at the Capitol in preparation for a march to the White House to demand an evidence-based policy toward environmental challenges worldwide. From Sydney to Berlin to London to dozens of cities in the U.S., marchers are hoping to energize people to resist the anti-science positions of neo-fascist sociopath Donald "Rump" Trump who has proposed deep cuts in environmental and earth science programs. One organizer, Dr. Roger Morris of King College London, summed up the worldwide events:
"These marches are brilliant -- a spontaneous, global response led by young scientists empowered by social media, keenly aware of the global challenges that need to be addressed if their world is to have a civilized, sustainable future. Insular populist politics, which have temporarily triumphed in the US and UK, need to be balanced by the broader vision of youth."
With anti-science nationalism spreading in the U.S. and Europe, it's critical that not only the science community but also the general public demonstrate the belief that science plays a vital role in human progress.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Today's Cartoons: Presidential Timber

(click on images to enlarge)

No doubt many of his loyal, mouthbreathing fans would love Bill "O'Lielly" to run for office, like they did with sexual abuser and fellow blowhard Donald "Rump" Trump. Anger, misogyny, ignorance, fear and tribalism rule them. It's a sickness in America that we have to fight until it's overcome.

(top: Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, bottom: Signe Wilkinson, Philadelphia Daily News)

Trump's Toxic Budget Cuts: Lead Poisoning Edition

Of the many budget cuts in domestic programs proposed by sociopathic narcissist Donald "Rump" Trump none may be more deadly than the cuts proposed for lead poisoning prevention. The catastrophic, Rethuglican-engineered disaster in Flint, Michigan, where mindless politically-driven "cost saving" exposed tens of thousands of mainly minority residents to high lead concentrations is fresh in memories. Now, that disaster times hundreds is on the horizon if Rump's war on health through budget slashing succeeds.

Reuters has been looking at lead levels in cities across the country, which are now facing cuts in programs to eradicate lead poisoning hazards. In their alarming finding, some 3,300 cities have childhood lead poisoning levels at least double those identified in Flint. Rump is proposing cuts of $4.7 billion in HUD and EPA programs aimed at identifying and eliminating lead poisoning hazards:
"Cuts would be felt across the country. The Trump administration would eliminate a $27 million program that trains private contractors on lead removal, and a $21 million program that funds lead abatement projects in Alaska, Illinois, Ohio, Oklahoma and California. It would kill a program that provided funds to a Rhode Island nonprofit to upgrade housing, and end a $970 million affordable-housing program that has fixed up dilapidated homes in hundreds of U.S. cities, including Flint."
It's another example of the social Darwinist mentality of right-wing Rethuglicans, who are concerned neither with the immediate effects on elevated lead levels in children nor with the long-term impacts of treating them for neurological diseases and brain damage years from now. They want the money for tax cuts for their wealthy contributors, for more superfluous military weaponry, and a foolish "wall" that Mexico will never pay for.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pic Of The Day: Trump's Brain (Dead) Trust

The White (Supremacist) House released a photo of sociopath and buffoon Donald "Rump" Trump's "brain trust" of strategic advisors. He's finally found a group matching his intellectual level and maturity.

Left to right: Shemane "She Man" Nugent, draft-dodging pedophile Ted "Crap My Pants" Nugent, shrieker Sarah "Snowbilly Grifter" Palin, Rump, Audrey "Dingle" Berry, and has-been Kid "Rocks-in-the-Head" Rock.

After the picture, they broke into a few choruses of "White Trash Blues."

Lisa Bloom, Dragon Slayer

With the quick demise of Fux Network's disgraceful chief sexual harasser and racist blowhard Bill "O'Lielly" O'Reilly, praise is due to the unrelenting commitment of Los Angeles super lawyer Lisa Bloom for taking on the right-wing's most prominent media outlet and their top "star" and toppling him. Bloom was the central figure in pressing the case against O'Lielly, keeping it in the public forum and standing by her client Wendy Walsh who was perhaps O'Lielly's most effective accuser. She also represents O'Lielly's latest accuser, an African-American woman who claims that he made sexist and racist comments ("hot chocolate") and suggestive noises to her while she worked at Fux. Bloom, a graduate of UCLA and Yale Law School, is also the daughter of women's rights attorney Gloria Allred, who herself is pursuing a defamation suit against sociopath and sexual predator Donald "Rump" Trump on behalf of a former contestant on Rump's reality show, Summer Zervos.

In commenting on her takedown of O'Lielly, Bloom had this to say in a statement to Variety:
This is what happens when women speak our truth: we can slay dragons. I am very proud to have stood with my brave clients who stood up for themselves and all the silenced women. Fox News should have fired him in 2004 when Andrea Mackris spoke out, but at least they did it now. They did it because we persisted.” (emphasis added)
There are more "dragons" to slay, and we're certain that the courageous Lisa Bloom will be fighting the good fight against them and winning.

Colbert's Hilarious Send-Off For O'Reilly

Stephen Colbert delivers the boot to Fux Network's resident misogynist and racist Bill O'Lielly like no one else. He patterned his blowhard, reality-averse right-wing character on his Comedy Central show after O'Lielly after all. Love it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mid-Week Song: Brian Culbertson

Jazz pianist Brian Culbertson has been a leading fusion/jazz/r&b funk artist for over two decades after his 1994  release of "Long Night Out" album. We first featured him in 2014 with his recording of "Fullerton Avenue." His latest album, "Funk!," has a number one hit track, "Hey Girl," which we're featuring today. Enjoy.

He'll Be Spending More Time With Loofahs And Falafel*

Twenty-First Century Fox, the parent corporation of the Fux Network, announced today that right-wing sexual harasser Bill "O'Lielly" O'Reilly would not be returning to the network after news of Fux's $13 million payments to settle sexual harassment suits broke and after advertisers abandoned his show in droves, not wanting to be associated with the creep. In a statement, 21st Century Fox said:
“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.”
Before he left on his "vacation," O'Lielly assured his viewers that he would return to the network:
“Around this time of year, I grab some vacation because it’s spring and Easter time. Last fall I booked a trip that should be terrific. Not going to tell you where it is but...I’ll have a full report when I return.”
While his "full report" will be delayed permanently, it should not mean the end of investigations into the Fux Network's sewer of sexual harassment and hush payments.

BONUS: Amanda Terkel, whom O'Lielly had stalked by one of his producers, explains why this was long, long overdue.
* To jog your memory....

"Clouseau" Chaffetz Won't Run For Reelection

We're cheered by today's announcement that Benghazi Benghazi!BENGHAZI!! bumbling villain Rep. Jason "Clouseau" Chaffetz won't be seeking re-election in 2018. Chaffetz, while central to the smearing of Secretary Clinton as Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee both in the Benghazi hearings and over her private e-mail server, refused to investigate corrupt Putin loyalist Donald "Rump" Trump's ties with Russia and his conflicts of interest. In recent town hall meetings, Chaffetz was roundly booed over his support of repealing the Affordable Care Act, his refusal to investigate Rump's scandals, and his failure to support violence against women legislation.

While it's not likely that Dems could flip his seat in 2018, given its deep red demographics, it's good enough to see this cynical, party-before-country villain leaving government.

The Vanish Armada

For over a week now, we've been told that a carrier task force led by the nuclear aircraft carrier Carl Vinson was heading toward the Korean peninsula as a show of force regarding North Korea's ballistic missile test launch. Incompetent buffoon Donald "Rump" Trump even referred to the task force as "an armada". The Beltway media stenographers and punditocracy took the bait, citing it as an example of Rump flexing America's military muscles toward North Korea.

Now, it appears that all of last week the task force was engaged in exercises with the Australian Navy, and was in the Sunda Straits in Indonesian waters last Saturday, and not headed toward the Sea of Japan some 3,500 miles away until earlier this week. As one news outlet charitably observed:
"It isn't clear yet whether the storyline about the Carl Vinson was the product of deliberate deception by the Navy, defense officials in Washington or the White House, or whether internal miscommunication within the government might have turned the snowball into the avalanche."
We'd surmise that it's a combination of deliberate deception and bumbling from Rump's White (Supremacist) House which keeps tripping on its shoelaces.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Rebel Smell

The "treason in defense of slavery" dirtbags are at it again, right in the home of secessionist treason, South Carolina. The Congressional seat of former Rep. and far-right nutjob Mick Mulvaney, now the OMB Director under neo-fascist incompetent Donald "Rump" Trump, is open and the Rethug candidate clown car there is full heading to a May 2 election. Hanging on to the roof of the car is one Sheri "Eww" Few, who is staking her candidacy on bringing the traitorous and racist Confederate flag back into the public square. For Eww, the flag's a symbol of a "war on history" and it's removal a sign of "political correctness," despite its historical and unequivocal association with racism, slavery and hatred. She identifies herself as an "anti-Establishment" Rethuglican (i.e. a TrumpChump), but her views also accurately reflect the position of white supremacist groups and far-right militia, who have incorporated the racist symbol into their insignia.

It's long past time that the flag of treason in defense of slavery be banished from public display. Let a few rot in museum cases, or thumb-tacked to Eww's bedroom walls and those of other redneck cretins. But get it out of the sight of the rest of us.

Trump's Expanding Legal Problems

The non-profit watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has amended its lawsuit against narcissist and ethics-flouting Donald "Rump" Trump for violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. The amended suit adds new plaintiffs, the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, Inc. and Jill Phaneuf, a Washington, DC hospitality event booker, who are claiming that they've lost business to Rump's hotel in Washington, which has drawn foreign dignitaries and businessmen who are seeking influence with Rump. The Emoluments Clause prohibits Federal officials from receiving gifts and emoluments (i.e., a salary, fee or profit) form foreign entities. By staying in Rump's hotel, the foreign officials and businessmen are directly contributing to Rump's family business.

In addition, the lawsuit cites China's granting of trademark rights to Rump immediately after he announced support of the "One China" policy, in an apparent quid pro quo that will have a positive impact on his commercial interests in China.

The "me-first" corruption of the orange shitgibbon is out in full view, but he's banking on brazening it out as he has done with countless lawsuits in his past. He knows his cult following is with him to the bitter end, and that Congress fears his cult at the ballot box. It's up to the courts to bring him to heel.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Was He Waiting For The Russian National Anthem?

Study: Racism A Main Factor in 2016 Election

We've noted before that the 2016 elections was not really about "economic anxiety" as it was racial resentment by low-information voters who responded to neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump's xenophobic and racist rhetoric about Mexicans and Muslims. In the aftermath of the elections, the pent-up rage burst forth in a flurry of vandalism, attacks on minorities and other products of Rump's incitement.

Now, the 2016 American National Election Study (ANES) says that the 2016 elections were indeed about racial hostility and xenophobia. The study, which has been done post-election since 1948, involved 1,200 participants, and gauged whether Rump voters were voting on the basis of Rump's authoritarianism or the underlying racial message he was sending in his speeches and comments. According to a key finding:
"Since 1988, we’ve never seen such a clear correspondence between vote choice and racial perceptions...Racial attitudes made a bigger difference in electing Trump than authoritarianism."
There are jobs being lost to automation and corporate cost-cutting, but the overwhelming number of Rump voters were not in the throes of economic distress; on the contrary, the median household income for Rump's core primary voters was $72,000. The media, looking for a narrative to explain his unexpected electoral college win, grabbed "economic anxiety" as their facile conventional wisdom, when in fact it had far more to do with his base's racial resentments toward minorities and immigrants.