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 Dos, 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

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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

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(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.

Something To Hide

Tomorrow is the deadline for filing taxes (or an extention), and sociopath and Putin loyalist Donald "Rump" Trump will again to refuse to release his for the public, breaking four decades of Presidential precedent. His most recent refrain is that the public doesn't care and they voted for him anyway, even though a Global Strategies poll conducted April 5 - 9 indicted that 80% of Americans want Rump to release his tax returns, including 64% of Republicans.

Until recently, he's claimed that since the IRS is auditing his previous years' tax returns, he can't release them, a lie because the IRS has stated that there's nothing preventing him from releasing his taxes, audit or no audit. He's not able to use that dodge with his 2016 tax returns, since they're not under audit.

What's in Rump's tax returns that he's so willing to buck overwhelming public opinion? Loans and investments from Russian oligarchs or Chinese banks? Continued financial connections with mobbed-up individuals or companies? Creative bookkeeping to hide his income? Likely yes, yes, and yes, and more. Whether he gives to charity (himself probably through self-dealing foundations) or not would only be a further affirmation of his narcissism, greed and lack of empathy, so that's not it. He's hiding something that could cripple his hold on power. That's why we need disclosure and why he won't give it.

Photos Of The Day - California Superbloom

Thanks to an unusually wet winter in California (breaking the State's years- long drought), there's a "superbloom" of wildflowers emerging. The visuals are stunning (more here -- note WP advertising will drop in); all photos are by Robyn Beck/ Agence France- Presse via Getty Images.

(click on images to enlarge)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Virginia Tech: In Memoriam

Ten years ago today, a deranged shooter took the lives of 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, VA. Each stone marker (pictured above) has the name of a victim of the mass killing. In the aftermath of the shooting, Virginia closed legal loopholes that had permitted mentally unstable people to legally purchase handguns. The Federal government moved to tighten up its National Instant Criminal Background Check System, unfortunately too late for the 32 slain innocents.

The community of Virginia Tech is committed to never letting the victims be forgotten, and have a website dedicated to them, where you can read their biographies and see their pictures. Heartbreaking.

(photo: Roanoke Times)

Across The Universe, Cont. - Starbursts!

(click on image to enlarge)

From NASA/ ESA, April 10, 2017:  Despite all efforts galaxy formation and evolution are still far from being fully understood. Fortunately, the conditions we see within certain galaxies — such as so-called starburst galaxies — can tell us a lot about how they have evolved over time. Starburst galaxies contain a region (or many regions) where stars are forming at such a breakneck rate that the galaxy is eating up its gas supply faster than it can be replenished!

NGC 4536 is such a galaxy, captured here in beautiful detail by the Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). Located roughly 50 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin), it is a hub of extreme star formation. There are several different factors that can lead to such an ideal environment in which stars can form at such a rapid rate. Crucially, there has to be a sufficiently massive supply of gas. This might be acquired in a number of ways — for example by passing very close to another galaxy, in a full-blown galactic collision, or as a result of some event that forces lots of gas into a relatively small space.

Star formation leaves a few tell-tale fingerprints, so astronomers can tell where stars have been born. We know that starburst regions are rich in gas. Young stars in these extreme environments often live fast and die young, burning extremely hot and exhausting their gas supplies fairly quickly. These stars also emit huge amounts of intense ultraviolet light, which blasts the electrons off any atoms of hydrogen lurking nearby (a process called ionisation), leaving behind clouds of ionised hydrogen (known in astronomer-speak as HII regions).

Credit:  ESA/Hubble & NASA

Sunday Reflection - Time To Decide

"Whatever comes next, there is nothing predestined about it. If America is to be saved, it won’t be because we are us. It won’t be because some columnist wrote soothing words. It will be because enough of us decided America was worth fighting for, and did." -- Leonard Pitts, Jr., in the Miami Herald, on America's time to decide. Please take a moment to read his entire op/ ed. It expresses so much of what so many of us think.

Bannon Vs. Kushner - Trump Chooses (UPDATED)

Saturday Night Live's cold open killed:

UPDATE: "Sean 'Spicy' Spicer" delivers "his" Easter/ Passover message:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Today's Cartoon Twofer - Trump's "Militant Ignorance"

(click on images to enlarge)

(Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press)

(David Horsey, Los Angeles Times)

Here are some excerpts from a good read by Josh Marshall on Rump's "militant ignorance":
... Trump told a reporter for The Wall Street Journal that his understanding of the problem of North Korea changed dramatically after hearing ten minutes of history from the President of China. Needless to say, Trump didn’t need to admit this. But neither was it candor. [snip] 
So far the Trump Presidency has been a sort of Mr Magoo performance art in which the comically ignorant Trump learns elemental or basic things that virtually everyone in the world of politics or government already knew – things that the majority of adults probably know. [snip] 
What is key though is to understand that this is not just ignorance. Ignorance is just the first stage of Trump’s fairly advanced problem. He is not only ignorant but clearly unaware of his level of ignorance. This is compounded by a seeming inability to understand that everyone else isn’t equally ignorant to him. Those of us who are parents know the wonder of discovery experienced by small children. They find out there were things such as dinosaurs or close primate relatives called lemurs. As loving parents we indulge them, sometimes feigning ignorance of things we actually already knew to support a child’s joy in discovery. 
But Donald Trump is a 70 year old man. And not a terribly nice man.
In fact, we would say a terribly bad man who isn't going to grow, change or "pivot" into a mature adult.

Cinderfella Demands A Golden Coach

This almost reads like a parody, if it weren't involving self- parodying narcissistic vulgarian Donald "Rump" Trump (The Times of London, via Hullabaloo):
Donald Trump waving from the Queen’s royal carriage is not a scenario many would have foreseen a year ago, but it has become a very real prospect, forcing security services to plan an unprecedented lockdown. 
The White House has made clear it regards the carriage procession down the Mall as an essential element of the itinerary for the visit currently planned for the second week of October, according to officials. 
Security sources have warned, however, that the procession will require a “monster” security operation, far greater than for any recent state visit. (our emphasis)
Why would a populist champion of the "Forgotten Man" want to ride in a golden carriage, you ask (not)?  Here's Rump's Trump Tower penthouse entrance way, as a reminder what his "style" is:

(Sam Horine, via Curbly)

Now, here's the Queen's royal carriage:

(Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images)

Any questions?

It's impossible to imagine the Queen would want to be in such close quarters with the p*ssy- grabber- in- chief. Also, think of the cost of sanitizing and restoring the coach after Rump occupied it. Can we all hope, in the best of all worlds, he'll be out of office by October and save everyone the embarrassment?

In the meantime, this is a "coach" better suited to transport the shitgibbon -- it even has a "golden" roof (via Wonkette):

The Easter Dummy

(click on image to enlarge)

"Instead of eggs, you're going to look for lost balls in the water hazards"

For the seventh weekend since his inauguration, narcissist and pathological liar Donald "Rump" Trump has descended on his Mar-a-Lago club in West Palm Beach to spend Easter weekend. As is widely known, each trip costs taxpayers an estimated $3 million, putting him on track to spend as much on personal time travel in one year as President Obama did in all eight years of his presidency. That's money that could be spent on worthwhile programs he's cutting. Every time Rump travels to his private club, he also gives it free advertising and boosts interest (memberships now cost double what they did a year ago), again raising familiar conflict of interest charges.

His constant travels to his Florida club also reveal his utter hypocrisy. During the campaign, Rump criticized Obama for taking vacations "when there's so much work to be done," adding:
"You're in the White House. What's better than the White House? Why these vacations?"
Why, indeed.

(cartoon: Paul Noth, The New Yorker)

White House Visitor Log Secrecy -- What Are They Hiding?

Proving once again that the only thing transparent in the regime of Putin puppet Donald "Rump" Trump is their utter lack of ethics, it was announced that the regime will not continue the policy of the Obama Administration of disclosing the names of visitors to the White (Supremacist) House. In announcing the rationale for the decision, the Trumpers cited "grave national security risks" (too late -- he's already in the Oval Office) and "privacy concerns," the grotesque hypocrisy of which has been nicely summarized in this tweet:

The move has prompted at least one watchdog group to file a lawsuit to force the Rump regime to release the White House visitor logs.

We know why they're hiding the information (=cough= Swamp wins =cough=);  right now, we just don't know what specific shenanigans would be revealed.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Today's Cartoon Threefer

(click on images to enlarge)

(Lalo Alcaraz, via

(Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

(Jeff Danziger, The Rutland (VT) Herald)

That last cartoon refers to this Rump quote from Thursday:
“What I do is I authorize my military,” in response to a press question about the use of a massive bomb in an assault on Islamic State group positions in Afghanistan. “We have the greatest military in the world, and they’ve done the job, as usual. We have given them total authorization, and that’s what they’re doing." (our emphasis)
"My military," said the man searching for a balcony.

Weekend Glass Music

Philip Glass is one of the most influential composers of the last century. In 1985, he composed the music for "Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters," a film by Paul Schrader. His "Mishima/Closing" is, in our opinion, one of his most beautiful, haunting works (a big h/t to our Silver Spring Bureau Chief and musical curator Brian). It's so lovely, in fact, we'd like you to experience the versions both for string quartet and for piano.

This is The Catalyst Quartet version (String Quartet No. 3 "Mishima":VI. Mishima/Closing):

Now, the piano version played by Philip Glass:

The Guns Continue To Smoke

For the record:

"WikiLeaks. I love Wikileaks." -- hostile intelligence purveyor Donald "Rump" Trumpon October 10, 2016.

"It's time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors, like Russia." -- CIA Director Michael Pompeo, speaking yesterday to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Remember this traitorous Twitter twit, too:

Donnie's Dud

In 2015, while he was a candidate for the Rethuglican nomination, incompetent military genius Donald "Rump" Trump promised that he'd "bomb the shit out of ISIS." After-action assessments by the U.S. military on yesterday's attack on an ISIS facility in Afganistan which used the massive GBU-43 "Mother of All Bombs" indicate that 3,600 360 36 ISIS members were killed. Given the bomb's $16 million pricetag, that's $450,000 per ISIS fighter in crude cost/benefit terms.* As the Guardian observes:
"Until now, the MOAB had been something of a very costly white elephant...Thursday evening’s strike against what amounts to a handful of largely lightly armed Isis fighters in a crude tunnel system seems unlikely to change that assumption."
At that rate, we'd better produce a few thousand more GBU-43s. Getting tired of all this winning yet?

* Later estimates place the dead at 94, making the cost per ISIS fighter at $170,000.

"Would You Like Some Salmonella With Your Sushi?"

Who says dimbulb ripoff artist Donald "Rump" Trump doesn't run the classiest joints?
Just days before the state visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach private club, Florida restaurant inspectors found potentially dangerous raw fish and cited the club for storing food in two broken down coolers. 
Inspectors found 13 violations at the fancy club’s kitchen, according to recently published reports — a record for an institution that charges $200,000 in initiation fees. 
Three of the violations were deemed “high priority,” meaning that they could allow the presence of illness-causing bacteria on plates served in the dining room. (our emphasis)
What's that old saying? "A fish rots from the head down."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Today's Cartoons

(click on images to enlarge)

(Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee)

(Drew Sheneman, The Star-Ledger, Newark)

(Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Tweets Of The Day - The Shart Of The Deal

Totally smart dealmaker Donald "Rump" Trump thinks he has Democrats over a barrel on his latest Obamacare repeal scheme. Hahano.

BONUSLooks like the Democrats have other ideas.

Our Broken Media: Flash! Boom! Edition

Another week, another display of the broken media's infatuation with things that go flash! boom! Last week, it was the almost orgasmic display of fascination with the sea-launched Tomahawk missile attack on a Syrian military airfield. Today, it's the distracting spectacle of a massive super bomb -- the "Massive Ordinance Air Blast" or MOAB -- that was dropped on a subsurface facility used by an ISIS affiliated organization. It's the first use of that weapon by the U.S.

Leaving aside the military efficacy of the attack -- we'll be seeing damage assessments later -- and the deserving target, we're focusing on the media's almost childlike awe at the exploding bomb. We observed panels on CNN and MSNBC dropping what they were discussing to slip into their keyboard kommando uniforms to gush about the size and explosive power of the bomb, with the attack video itself on a continuous loop along with images of the weapon. Is it news? Of course, but it's the giddy approach to it that many in the broken media take. Some observers had more thoughtful reactions:

All of this on a day, as we note below, there is confirmation that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian agents during the election. But as long as there's no massive explosion involved, nothing to see here.