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Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

Click on the picture to see larger image.... Low Society News. AP: "... Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were among the guests as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin’s) married a Scottish actress. Mnuchin exchanged vows Saturday night with Louise Linton at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. Mrs. Trump wore a pink blush dress" CW: which, if you follow Reality Chex, you will know was enhanced by some really costly baubles that remind the bride of Grace Kelly or happy times or something.

New Yorker: "In a paper in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers announced that they have pushed back the date of the earliest human remains to three hundred thousand years ago. And the specimens in question were found not in East Africa, which has become synonymous with a sort of paleoanthropological Garden of Eden, but clear on the other side of the continent — and the Sahara — in Morocco." -- CW ...

Washington Post: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took a final, bittersweet bow Sunday, staging its last three shows [in Uniondale, N.Y.,] after 146 years of entertaining American audiences with gravity-defying trapeze stunts, comically clumsy clowns and trained tigers." -- CW 

Guardian: "Pippa Middleton [sister of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge --] has married James Matthews in what has been called the society wedding of the year, in front of royalty, family and friends." -- CW

Washington Post: "Two months before Monday’s [May 8] announcement that Sinclair Broadcast Group would pay $3.9 billion for Tribune Media and add to its dominance as the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations, a top executive at Sinclair beamed a short commentary piece to many of the company’s 173 stations.In the segment, which looks like it belongs in a newscast, Sinclair vice president for news Scott Livingston stands before a wall of video monitors and warns that 'some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.' He accuses the national media of publishing 'fake news stories' — a direct echo of President Trump’s frequent complaint — and then asks viewers to visit the station’s website to share 'content concerns.' The piece was a 'must-run,' meaning news directors and station managers from Baltimore to Seattle had to find room for it.... While partisan coverage is a familiar staple of cable networks — Fox News on the right, MSNBC on the left — it remains mostly unheard of in broadcast TV, where it has generally been accepted that public airwaves should be used in the difficult-to-define public interest.” -- CW 

CNN: "21st Century Fox and the private equity firm Blackstone are in talks to launch a bid for Tribune Media, one of the nation's largest television broadcasting companies, a source with knowledge of the matter said Sunday. The deal currently under discussion would see Blackstone and Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox forming a joint venture. Blackstone would provide the cash for the acquisition while Fox would add all its owned-and-operated television stations to the joint venture." -- CW 

New York Times: "Prehistoric humans — perhaps Neanderthals or another lost species — occupied what is now California some 130,000 years ago, a team of scientists reported on Wednesday. The bold and fiercely disputed claim, published in the journal Nature, is based on a study of mastodon bones discovered near San Diego. If the scientists are right, they would significantly alter our understanding of how humans spread around the planet." -- CW 

If you're curious as to how realistic the New York City apartments of TV sitcom characters are -- in terms of what the characters could reasonably afford -- the Washington Post checks out several of the hovels & dream rentals of a number of shows. Kinda fun. CW: My husband & I (he paid the rent) had a fairly spacious two-bedroom with a galley kitchen (dishwasher included!) & dining room plus teensy closets on Washington Square in the 1980s & '90s. NYU owned the building & helped considerably with the rent.

Politico: "Comedian Hasan Minhaj will be this year's entertainer for the White House Correspondents' Dinner later this month, the association's president announced on Tuesday. Minhaj is a stand up comedian and senior correspondent on 'The Daily Show,' where he has performed caustic bits on ... Donald Trump, liberals and others in between. Minhaj has Washington experience already, having performed as host of last year's Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner." -- CW 

AFP: "After months of uncertainty and controversy, Bob Dylan finally accepted the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature at a jovial, champagne-laced ceremony on Saturday, [April 1,] the Swedish Academy announced. The academy, which awards the coveted prize, ended prolonged speculation as to whether the 75-year-old troubadour would use a concert stopover in Stockholm to accept the gold medal and diploma awarded to him back in October." -- CW 

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The Commentariat -- April 20, 2017

Rachel Maddow's exposure of Drumpf and his team's utter incompetence is worth the watch. --safari

E.J. Dionne: "There are many reasons to stand against Trump, but the one that should take precedence -- because it is foundational for decent governance -- is his autocratic assumption that he is above the expectations that apply to us normal humans.... It's said that Trump always skates away. Not true. Those he ripped off in his Trump University scam stuck with the fight and forced Trump to settle a lawsuit he said (in an untruth typical of his approach) he would never settle. The country's citizens can prevail, too, if we insist on calling out a self-absorbed huckster who treats us all as easily bamboozled fools." -- CW

When Two Megalomaniacs Collide. Nicholas Kristof: "President Trump is scary in many ways, but perhaps the most frightening nightmare is of him blundering into a new Korean war. It would begin because the present approach of leaning on China to pressure North Korea will likely fail. Trump will grow angry at public snickering at the emptiness of his threats. At some point, U.S. intelligence will see a North Korean missile prepared for a test launch -- and it may then be very tempting for a deeply frustrated rogue president to show his muscle." -- CW ...

What part is misleading? I'm trying to figure that out. We were asked a question about what signal sent. We answered the question on what signal it sent. I'm not the one who commented on timing.... The president said that we have an armada going towards the peninsula.... That's a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather. -- Sean Spicer, at a press briefing Wednesday ...

... Missy Ryan, et al., of the Washington Post: "Trump administration officials on Wednesday denied misleading the public about the location of an aircraft carrier and whether it was redeployed as a show of strength against North Korea.... President Trump declared last week that he was 'sending an armada, very powerful' toward the Asian nation. He, like other officials, made that assertion after U.S. Pacific Command's April 9 announcement that the ship was headed from Singapore toward the western Pacific, part of a U.S. response to tensions with Pyongyang.... But ... the ship at the time was actually in the Indian Ocean, thousands of miles to the southwest.... Military officials struggled to give a firm answer for why officials from the Pentagon and other agencies failed to correct at least a week of widespread media reports stating that the ship was already headed north toward the Korean Peninsula.... As media outlets reported widely on the deployment, senior officials made comments in the following days that reinforced the belief that the ship was already headed in the direction of North Korea." -- CW ...

... Choe Sang-Hun of the New York Times: "Just 10 days ago, when news broke that the Trump administration was sending the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to the Korean Peninsula, many South Koreans feared a possible war with North Korea. Others cheered for Washington.... On Wednesday, after it was revealed that the carrier strike group was actually thousands of miles away and had been sailing in the opposite direction, toward the Indian Ocean, it left South Koreans feeling bewildered, cheated and even manipulated by the United States, their country's most important ally. 'Trump's lie over the Carl Vinson,' read a headline on the website of the newspaper JoongAng Ilbo on Wednesday. 'Xi Jinping and Putin must have had a good jeer over this one.'... The episode raised questions about whether major allies of the United States, like South Korea and Japan, had been informed of the carrier's whereabouts, and whether the misinformation undercut America's strategy to contain North Korea's nuclear ambitions by using empty threats." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Joshua Keating of Slate has the tick-tock on how the false story developed -- and got busted. "It seems like this was a case of the Pentagon not communicating very clearly (Did the strike group's orders actually change on April 8? If so, where was it actually headed?), the media getting a bit overexcited, and the White House just taking a narrative it liked and running with it." CW: Say what? The White House liked the narrative & ran with it? (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Lindsey Graham Officially Sells His Soul. Kyle Cheney of Politico: "South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham enthusiastically praised President Donald Trump on Wednesday for his foreign policy, a continued departure from his sharp criticism of Trump during the 2016 race and even after the election. 'I am like the happiest dude in America right now,' a beaming Graham said on "Fox & Friends." 'We have got a president and a national security team that I've been dreaming of for eight years.'...'I am all in. Keep it up, Donald,'" --safari...

     ... safari: And remember, this is after lying about the lost 'armada' at sea. There are no buybacks when selling your soul. From now on, every time Drumpf shows he's a fucking idiot, and the MSM namecalls Graham and McCain as (the only) adults in the party, call bullshit. ...

... Gail Collins: "Trump was talking about bringing in four warships, one of them an aircraft carrier. Was this going to mean real shooting?... Everybody was talking about the dangers. If North Korea sent up a missile, would the U.S. retaliate? Then what would happen to South Korea and Japan? People debated all the variables. The only thing that did not come up was the possibility that the American flotilla was actually no place near the neighborhood." -- CW ...

The Russia Connection, Ctd. Scott Shane, et al., of the New York Times: "Ever since F.B.I. investigators discovered in 2013 that a Russian spy was trying to recruit an American businessman named Carter Page, the bureau maintained an occasional interest in Mr. Page. So when he became a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign last year and gave a Russia-friendly speech at a prestigious Moscow institute, it soon caught the bureau's attention. That trip last July was a catalyst for the F.B.I. investigation into connections between Russia and President Trump's campaign, according to current and former law enforcement officials.... Mr. Page's role in the Trump campaign appears to have been minimal." -- CW ...

... Reuters: "A Russian government thinktank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 US presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters' faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former US officials have told Reuters. They described two confidential documents from the thinktank as providing the framework and rationale for what US intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the 8 November election. US intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, after the election." Read on. -- CW ...

... Matthias Stewart of The Intercept: "Mary B. McCord, who has been helping oversee the Justice Department's probe into Russian interference in the presidential election, is stepping down from her post as the acting head of the department's national security division and leaving the federal government in the coming weeks.... It was not immediately clear who will take over for McCord.... McCord will be leaving at a time when Justice is already in disarray." --safari

Jeff Pegues of CBS News: "... a manhunt is underway for a traitor inside the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA and FBI are conducting a joint investigation into one of the worst security breaches in CIA history, which exposed thousands of top-secret documents that described CIA tools used to penetrate smartphones, smart televisions and computer systems. Sources familiar with the investigation say it is looking for an insider -- either a CIA employee or contractor -- who had physical access to the material.... Much of the material was classified and stored in a highly secure section of the intelligence agency, but sources say hundreds of people would have had access to the material. Investigators are going through those names." -- CW ...

Marie's Sports Report (Is Seldom about Sports). Victor Mather of the New York Times: "During a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday, President Trump singled out several members of the New England Patriots, including wide receiver Danny Amendola, calling for them to raise a hand or step forward for acknowledgment. But Amendola was not there, nor were two dozen or more other players for the Super Bowl champions. The customary White House visit for sports champions has become especially fraught since Trump was elected, with some athletes saying they would reject an invitation for political reasons. The issue was stark on Wednesday, when a relatively small contingent of Patriots players flanked the president.... Quarterback Tom Brady was among those who did not attend Wednesday's ceremony, citing family matters. Trump did not mention Brady, the Super Bowl's most valuable player.... The visit to the White House came the same day that a former Patriot, Aaron Hernandez, hanged himself in prison, where he was serving a life sentence for murder." (See also yesterday's News Ledes.) -- CW ...

... CW: See also the end of Colbert's illustrated monologue, embedded below. Two pictures; two events. Where have we seen that before? ...

     ... Update: Ah, here are the pix, via Akhilleus:

... Adam Raymond of New York: "[Danny] Amendola later tweeted that he was working out and preparing for a friend's funeral. He thanked the president in the tweet, but deleted it after his followers revolted. Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick spoke after Trump, with each of them heaping praise on the president. It was, Mark Murray of NBC noted, among the most 'political' White House championship ceremonies in a long time." -- CW ...

Chris Mooney, et al., of the Washington Post: "Top Trump officials are feuding over whether the United States should stay in -- or exit -- the historic Paris climate agreement. The president, who promised to 'cancel' Paris during the election campaign, has faced calls from oil, gas and even some coal companies for the United States to remain a party to an accord endorsed by nearly 200 countries. But many conservatives and climate-change doubters have continued to urge Trump to keep his election pledge and quit the agreement. The White House has suggested that Trump would make his decision about the fate of the Paris agreement by late May, when leaders of the Group of Seven major economies are expected to gather in Taormina, Italy. But a decision could also emerge from a meeting of his top advisers that was postponed Tuesday and could take place as early as next week, according to Republican lobbyists. The meeting's ... new date, for now, remains unclear...." -- CW ...

... Paul Waldman: "That's right, we're counting on fossil fuel lobbyists to convince Trump to do the right thing on the environment." -- CW ...

... Enter Right, Scott Pruitt. Eric Levitz of New York: "In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency passed a rule limiting the amount of heavy metals that coal-fired power plants could spew into the air. The agency's research suggested that the rule would prevent 11,000 deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 asthma attacks every year. These findings meant that, for every dollar spent on enforcing the new regulation, the public would enjoy up to $9 in avoided medical costs.... Many red states stood up for their constituents' inalienable right to die from preventable asthma attacks, and sued the federal government over the EPA's rule. In Oklahoma, then -- attorney general Scott Pruitt led that valiant effort. Now, as the EPA prepares to defend its rule in court, the agency's new head, Scott Pruitt, is asking his new underlings a simple question: Is this really worth defending?... Pruitt's EPA asked for [the] court date to be pushed back, as it would need time to 'fully review' its past findings.... That decision comes even as a majority of utilities in the United States are already on pace to meet the new emissions standards." ...

     ... CW: That's right. The life- and cost-savings of the rule have been quantified. But if the "Change in Administration" should deign to defend the law (which seems unlikely), it still is apt to come, eventually, before the guy who stole Merrick Garland's chair, a guy who doesn't believe bureaucrats should be able to make rules Congress has not specifically mandated. ...

... Sam Levin of the Guardian, republished in Mother Jones: "Under Barack Obama, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed an agricultural ban on chlorpyrifos, one pesticide widely used in [California's Central Valley], based on the growing body of research documenting the risks for farm workers and communities, including links to brain damage in children. Donald Trump's administration, however, has rejected the science, announcing a reversal of the ban. That means that despite recent victories for families and environmentalists who have fought for more than a decade for protections from the insecticide, widespread use will continue in California, where a majority of the fruits and nuts in the US are grown.... In California, Latino children are 91% more likely than white students to attend schools near heavy pesticide use, according to state data. Tulare County [in the Central Valley] is also located in a region considered to have the highest poverty rate in the state and the worst air pollution in the US." -- CW ...

     ... CW: Now guess who represents part of Tulare County? Why, it America's most famous White House fence-jumper Devin Nunes. ...

... Nathalie Baptiste of Mother Jones on how Scott Pruitt's deregulation plans will destroy towns like East Chicago, Indiana, a Superfund site host with a lead-polluted water supply, which Pruitt was scheduled to visit Wednesday. -- CW

Jim Acosta, et al., of CNN: "Two sources close to the health care legislative process tell CNN the White House is exploring whether to take one more stab at repealing and replacing Obamacare before ... Donald Trump hits the key milestone of 100 days in office late next week." -- CW ...

... Peter Sullivan of the Hill: "Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Republicans are putting the 'finishing touches' on an effort to revive their ObamaCare replacement bill.... Talks on the healthcare measure have continued during Congress's two-week recess." -- CW

Washington Post: Jason Chaffetz will not run for re-election in 2018. "The Republican congressman from Utah, who became chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2015, has been criticized for a lack of action in investigating the Trump administration and President Trump's potential conflicts of interest. He reversed his position on Trump's candidacy several times in 2016, and recently faced an angry crowd at a town-hall meeting that criticized his tenure as Oversight chairman.... This is a developing story." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Brooke Siepel of the Hill: "Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford (R) is joining calls for President Trump to release his tax returns, saying Trump should 'keep his promise.'" Lankford made his remark in response to a question at a townhall meeting Tuesday night in Claremore, Oklahoma. -- CW

Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Rob Quist surveyed his audience last week at an annual powwow of Montana's Native American tribes ... before turning his thoughts to a very different audience, far to the east: the national Democratic Party. 'They've been on the sidelines a little too long, and it's time for them to get in the game' said Mr. Quist, the banjo-playing Democratic nominee in a special May election to fill Montana's at-large House seat. But, he predicted, 'they're coming in.' They may have little choice. After a hard-fought campaign to fill a House seat in the Atlanta suburbs fell just short of outright victory on Tuesday, the House seat in Montana vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is up next, and a groundswell of new activism on the left is demanding attention." -- CW ...

... Zack Ford of ThinkProgress: "Considering that Montana ranks 48th in the country for population density with only 6.5 people per square mile, it's no surprise that allowing voters to simply cast ballots through the mail would save the state up to $750,000. Nonetheless, this week, Montana House Speaker Austin Knudsen (R) put the final nail in the coffin of a bill that would have made the state's upcoming special election all mail-in votes --  seemingly to avoid the reality that when barriers to voting are removed, Democrats cast more ballots." --safari ...

... Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "Democrats believe that [Democrat Jon] Ossoff's performance [in the Georgia special Congressional election], coming up less than two points shy of the 50 percent threshold he needed to win outright, validated their emerging strategy of focusing on dozens of GOP seats in diverse, well-educated suburbs across the country in advance of next year's elections. Price regularly won this seat north of Atlanta without breaking a sweat, but Trump won the region by just 1.5 percentage points last year." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... ** Tommy Christopher of Shareblue: The main reason Ossoff couldn't hit 50 percent? The GOP-controlled state legislature racially gerrymandered the district. "... a Republican state legislator openly admitted that the district's lines were drawn to disenfranchise Black voters and beat Democrats like Ossoff.... Such an admission would likely prompt a federal civil rights investigation, if the Department of Justice were not under the control of the blatantly racist Jeff Sessions, whose own career has included attempts to disenfranchise Black voters. Such disenfranchisement has been further enabled by a conservative-dominated Supreme Court that gutted the Voting Rights Act, and a Republican-controlled Congress that refuses to fix the problem." -- CW ...

... CW BTW: Trump viewed Ostoff's narrow loss of the majority against a field of 4 other Democrats & 11 Republicans as a big win for ... Trump: "Despite major outside money, FAKE media support and eleven Republican candidates, BIG 'R' win with runoff in Georgia. Glad to be of help! -- Donald J. Trump April 19, 2017." As Greg Sargent points out, "For all of Trump's 'help,' the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the GOP runner-up, Karen Handel, who will face Ossoff in the runoff, never mentioned Trump in her speech last night." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Alex Shephard of the New Republic: "... Trump did not help; in fact, he almost certainly hurt. Every race in the country is now a referendum on his presidency, evidenced by the huge swings we've seen toward the Democrats in special elections in Kansas and Georgia.... Any Republican trying to argue that a twenty point swing toward Democrats in Georgia and Kansas is a good thing is selling something." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Leveling the Playing Field, Literally. Robert Barnes of the Washington Post: The Supreme Court hears a church v. state case & the Justices seem sympathetic to the church. -- CW ...

... Dana Milbank: "Restraint was in short supply during oral arguments in the Trinity Lutheran Church case at the high court. It was a manufactured controversy, cooked up by conservative interest groups that are hoping to chip away at constitutional provisions in 39 states restricting taxpayer money from going to churches.... The complaint became irrelevant last week when the state's new governor, Eric Greitens, reversed Missouri's position and said he would allow religious organizations to compete for ... [state Department of Natural Resources] grants." -- CW

Alan Gomez of USA Today: "President Trump will confront a familiar figure in the lawsuit over a DREAMer who was deported by federal immigration agents: U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. He's the judge who oversaw a lawsuit involving Trump University who Trump accused of being biased because of his 'Mexican heritage.' Curiel, who was born in Indiana, approved a $25 million settlement between Trump and students who claimed they overpaid for real estate seminars.... Curiel has been assigned to handle a lawsuit brought on behalf of Juan Manuel Montes, 23, a California resident who was deported in February despite being approved for the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides protective status for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. Curiel's assignment to the case was completely coincidental...." CW: My sympathies to Judge Curiel. ...

     ... P.S. JeffBo Has a Message for Montes: "Tough Luck, Hombre." Margaret Hartmann: "Wednesday on Fox News, Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied that DACA recipients are being targeted for deportation. 'I don't know why this individual was picked up,' Sessions told Jenna Lee. 'Everybody in the country illegally is subject to being deported, so people come here and they stay here a few years and somehow they think they are not subject to being deported -- well, they are.'" -- CW

The Chili Bowl Defense. Charlie Warzel of BuzzFeed: "... the first full day of [winger conspiracy theorist & Friend of Trump Alex] Jones' battle to retain custody of his three young children was filled with bizarre allegations -- claims that Jones took his shirt off during a joint family counseling session and once blamed his inability to recall basic facts about his children during a pretrial deposition on having 'had a big bowl of chili for lunch.' The news from the Travis County courtroom -- breathless tweets from a gaggle of journalists covering the trial -- bled across the internet instantly.... Jones' unenviable position then -- disavow your lucrative professional views or risk losing your family -- feels like a rare shot at the truth at a time when disinformation and professionalized trolling are staples of both sides of the political spectrum." CW: Thanks for the both-sides-do-it shout-out, Charlie!

White Men's Lives Matter Most. Jamelle Bouie: As the New York Times reported recently, "'More workers in general merchandise stores have been laid off since October, about 89,000 Americans. That is more than all the people employed in the coal industry.'... Despite this ongoing challenge and threat to millions of ordinary Americans [in the retail industry], Washington is silent.... Politicians -- and a multitude of voices in national media -- are preoccupied with the prospects of blue-collar whites and the future of the Rust Belt.... For all of the impersonal economic reasons for the decline of retail, for all the understandable reasons motivating political attention to manufacturing, it's also the case that this is a story of race and gender. A story of who matters in our society; who deserves our collective concern." -- CW

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Clifford Krauss of the New York Times: "Exxon Mobil is pursuing a waiver from Treasury Department sanctions on Russia to drill in the Black Sea in a venture with Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, a former State Department official said on Wednesday. An oil industry official confirmed the account. The waiver application was made under the Obama administration, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity, and the company has not dropped the proposal.... The appeal did not come up during Senate confirmation hearings for Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, who was Exxon Mobil's chief executive before his nomination by President Trump and was known to have a strong working relationship with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. At the time, Mr. Tillerson and other company officials said they had not lobbied against the sanctions, which were imposed on Russia in response to its military intervention in Ukraine.... Hal Eren, a former official in the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, said that such waivers were rarely requested or granted and that in most cases such permission was given only for environmental or safety reasons. The Exxon request is particularly unlikely to succeed, he said, because of the narrow nature of the current sanctions." ...

     ... CW: In other words, if the Trump administration grants Exxon the waiver, it will be because it's a crooked administration.

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Oh the Irony! Natasha Geiling of ThinkProgress: "A Kentucky coal company announced Tuesday that it is planning to build a solar farm on a reclaimed mountaintop removal coal mine and that the project would bring both jobs and energy to the area. Berkeley Energy Group, the coal company behind the project, billed it as the first large-scale solar farm in the Appalachian region, which has been hit hard by the decades-long decline in the U.S. coal industry." --safari

Buh-Bye, Bill-O. Emily Steel & Michael Schmidt of the New York Times: "Bill O'Reilly has been forced out of his position as a prime-time host at Fox News, the company said on Wednesday, after the disclosure of settlements involving sexual harassment allegations against him. His abrupt and embarrassing ouster ends his two-decade reign as one of the most popular and influential commentators in television.... Mr. O'Reilly is departing two and a half weeks after an investigation by The New York Times revealed how Fox News and 21st Century Fox had repeatedly stood by him even as sexual harassment allegations against him mounted. The Times found that the company and Mr. O'Reilly had reached settlements with five women who had complained about sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior by him. The agreements totaled about $13 million. Since then, more than 50 advertisers had abandoned his show, and women's rights groups had called for his ouster. Inside the company, women expressed outrage and questioned whether top executives were serious about maintaining a culture based on 'trust and respect,' as they had promised last summer when another sexual harassment scandal led to the ouster of Roger E. Ailes as chairman of Fox News." -- CW ...

Bill O'Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news. In fact, his success by any measure is indisputable. -- Excerpt, Fox "News" statement on firing of mutual agreement with O'Reilly ...

... German Lopez of Vox: "As it fires former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly following sexual harassment allegations, 21st Century Fox wants people to know that O'Reilly is actually great." -- CW ...

... Sarah Ellison of Vanity Fair: "The most unsettling feeling among some at Fox News..., is that Wednesday's events are only the beginning. 'There's more to come,' one Fox News insider told me, suggesting that there are more women with stories of harassment who have not come forward publicly. This estimation was affirmed by two people who heard such stories directly." -- CW ...

... CW: Maybe Bill-O can go back to his old gig anchoring "Inside Edition":

Bill-O's No. 1 satirist bids him farewell:

... Andrew Kirell of the Daily Beast: "The reign of the most-watched host on the right-wing cable news network is coming to an end after two full decades, brought down by a perfect storm of newly unearthed sexual-harassment accusations, a massive advertiser boycott, and the absence of Roger Ailes, a fellow serial harasser of women, to protect him.... Bill-O can rest easy, however, knowing he has one defender: ... Donald Trump, who said, 'I don't think Bill did anything wrong.'" -- CW ...

... Michael Grynbaum & John Koblin of the New York Times: "Tucker Carlson, a conservative provocateur who joined Fox News's prime-time ranks only three months ago, has been tapped to replace Mr. O'Reilly at 8 p.m. Eastern, beginning on Monday, the network said. Mr. Carlson has become, seemingly overnight, one of the network's most vital players, a remarkable turnaround for a pundit whose bow-tied heyday had seemed behind him. Fox News's afternoon ensemble show, 'The Five,' which features a chatty round table of hosts, will take over Mr. Carlson's 9 p.m. slot." -- CW

Beyond the Beltway

Rocco Parascandola & Graham Rayman of the New York Daily News: "Secret Service agents detained a Brooklyn man who slithered into a Tribeca building where former President Obama's daughter Malia interns -- and begged the 18-year-old to marry him. Jair Nilton Cardoso showed up on the fourth floor of the building on April 10, held up a sign in an office window and loudly begged for her hand in marriage, sources said. The agents recognized Cardoso as a man who had repeatedly tried to get into the White House in the past, sources said." -- CW

Paul Bond of the Hollywood Reporter: "It appears UC Berkeley is in for another political brawl, this time with Ann Coulter, who tells The Hollywood Reporter that she'll speak at the famously progressive campus even though administrators are trying to prevent her from doing so. 'Yes, it was officially banned,' Coulter said of her planned April 27 appearance. 'But they can't stop me. I'm an American. I have constitutional rights.'... On Wednesday, though, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the powers that be at Berkeley ordered that Coulter's speech be canceled, citing riots that erupted when Milo Yiannopoulos and other conservatives have visited the university." -- CW

Way Beyond

Henry Meyer, et al., of Bloomberg: "Vladimir Putin is seizing on mixed signals from the U.S. to quietly tighten Russia's grip on two rebel regions of Ukraine, burying hopes for a European-brokered peace deal and relief from sanctions anytime soon. While the Kremlin continues to publicly back the accord that Germany and France oversaw in 2015, Putin's real strategy in Ukraine is to fully separate the two border areas known as the Donbas through incremental integration with Russia, three people close to the leadership in Moscow said. He has no plans to recognize or annex the territories, they said." -- CW

Radio Free Europe: "A prominent Russian journalist known for articles criticizing Russia's government and President Vladimir Putin has died at a hospital in St. Petersburg after being severely beaten by unknown assailants. Nikolai Andrushchenko, a 73-year-old co-founder of the weekly newspaper Novy Petersburg, had been unconscious since he was attacked on March 9.... He became a renowned journalist as a result of his investigative reporting about human rights issues in Russia, organized crime, and police brutality. Andrushchenko began to express concerns about Putin after he came to power in 2000, writing that the secret services were taking control over Russia." -- CW

Reader Comments (24)

When O'Reilly was fired you could heartbeats going arrhythmic in nursing homes all across Murica.

April 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Another Then and Now photograph showing clearly what a loser Trump is compared to a real president, Barack Obama. Not as dramatic as the shot of the shockingly few people who showed up for the coronation, but still a good demonstration of the disregard generally felt for President* Pretender.

What's his excuse this time?

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Does Fox HQ (aka Misogynist's Delight) have a screen door, do you think?

Hmm. I was hoping maybe someone could have told Loofah Boy not let it hit him in the ass on the way out.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Looking at the 2015 v. 2017 photos Akhilleus posted above, I noticed that the flowers are growing in the balcony boxes in 2015, but nary a bloom in 2017. Nature abhors a vacuum-headed blowhard.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

What I am going to miss is when O'Reilly has two women on his screen shots who have differing views but Bill never lets them spout for too long––constantly talking over them and at the end of their non-discussion he says, "Thanks, ladies, good discussion," as we view both ladies' dire demeanor. Gonna miss that, for sure.

Another thing that makes me happy is the fact that our scientists are taking to the streets and protesting the demise of science in the Trumpy Dumpty administration with Scotty Pruitt poo-pooing anything that smacks of scientific findings/facts. Most scientists are comfortable in their lab coats in their labs doing what they love to do, but the atmosphere has become so toxic they no longer can keep silent. Here's a report from PBS News with video that addresses this problem.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe


Thanks for the PBS link. I'll take the opportunity for one more nag ('til next week, anyway).

Please join the march:

I plan to board DC Metro at Suitland Rd around 9am for L'Enfant Plaza station. Anyone wishing to rendezvous, let me know.

My tee shirt for the day reads:

"Science is how we try to keep from fooling ourselves."
~ Richard Feynman

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterD.C.Clark

Had an idea.

Don't know what he's up to these days, but was thinking that if Dick Cheney had a little time on his hands he might want to drop by the White House to give its current denizens some lessons in subtlety.

At least Darth Vader tried to work his shady deals with Halliburton, the company he formerly headed, and with the entire fossil fuel industry behind closed doors....

Admittedly, those smalls wars that ensued did make things a bit obvious, but up to that point Cheney's methods could serve the Pretender and his current crop of bozos as the very model of discretion.

BTW, my wife and I (both deep Obama admirers) are with Periscope on this one.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Is this some kind of bad movie we're in the middle of?

What kind of human beings would knowingly, willingly risk the incineration of millions of people just to look tough? And I'm not just talking about Trump. Mattis, McMaster, all of them.

Unless they know something we don't, like say, the fat crazy kid doesn't have any of the capabilities he claims and this is all just a pissing contest, they need to stop with the bluster. Are they all really that monstrous? or dumb? Hard to believe either (well, except Trump), so I'm going with the fat crazy kid doesn't have shit and they're forcing his hand.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Action has its benefits.

While it may seem (and has, in fact, been the case much of the time) that the knuckledraggers, liars, haters, racists, misogynists, and all other species of Confederate vermin often get the upper hand, the game is a long one and directed action, focused on specific wingnut iniquities and democratic remedies, do have an effect.

Look at Trumpy's two shots at banning Muslims (but not from countries where he makes money, natch). The hew and cry from all decent people pushing back against the fear mongering most heartily wished by President* Baboon had its effect and Trump's Master (race) Flag had to be taken in off the line and shoved back in the closet.

Likewise the ACA. Once even wingnut Fox watchers started showing up at Confederate town hall meetings (at least the ones that allowed anyone to show up; smarties like Li'l Randy decided that the best way to hold a "town hall" meeting was to make it invitation only. Democracy, Confederate style) and yelling about it, confusion reigned and Trump lost. Bigly.

With the Trump University scam (is it just me or is the association of the name "Trump" with a word standing for advanced learning and research one of the great contemporary knee-slappers? Kinda like the Mitch McConnell Center for Ethics in Politics), DFT was sufficiently scuppered so as to settle, something he bellowed Trump! never does. Had the victims of his scheme held their tongues, Trumpty Dumpty would be smirking on his way to the bank, Monopoly top hat and monocle in place, with their hard-earned but shamefully plucked simoleons. Instead, he was forced to knuckle under and pay the piper, like any other cheap chiseler.

Loofah Boy, for years, lived the life of O'Reilly, find 'em, feel 'em, harass 'em, pay 'em to shut up, until there were just too many women standing up to him. Once it became clear what a scum sucking pig he is (well, clear to everyone), he fell faster than Trump's approval rating. Fade to black.

The Tax Rallies of last week haven't yet forced President Pay no Taxes to release his returns, but the pressure is still on and the fact that he cries incessantly about it indicates that that crepe thin skin is being badly bruised.

Even better, most of this action has come from the ground up. What we need, in addition to that, is a coordinated attack plan from the Democratic Party. Bernie has been speaking in red states, pointing out the iniquities heaped upon these places by their hee-roes in red. Senator Warren has been making the rounds (saw her on Charlie Rose last night, got to hear her in between Charlie's interruptions, but she's always a lighthouse in the dark; Alexandria should have been so lucky). 2018 is around the corner. The out party has typically picked up quite a few seats in the off year elections and this is our turn.

Of course, Confederates have gerrymandered the living shit out of most areas they control so it will be a much bigger challenge than if things were fair, but there is no chance (I believe) that Trump is going to suddenly become a respectable, decent, effective president and save the day for Confederates. Instead, he'll be sticking his orange nose in every race he thinks he can "win" and hopefully will be as the typhus to the flagging immune system.

Action has produced some big victories in a short time. So many of Trumpy's fantasies of glory have come a cropper already. But there are plenty more vicious reveries to puncture.

D.C. has been assiduous in reminding us of the chances for participation. A number of us have already done so. But even if we can't make it to a rally or march, spreading the word has great value as well.

Inaction, especially in the face of the Ignorant Boob and the phalanx of lying liars is death.

But the action we're seeing and its effects are not ex nihilo. There is trouble in Wingnut Paradise.

Confederates are dancing on a string and hoping for the best. Fox is floundering, O'Reilly and Ailes are lunch meat. Trump looks as foolish as he truly is. Bannon is Lord of Darkness and two weeks later he's dry mopping the hallways in the West Wing. A celebrity big shot like Chaffetz is cashing in his chips (there's a lot more to that one, I am positive; a publicity hound like Chaffetz, who would attend the opening of an envelope, throws in the towel, just like that? C'mon...oh, wait, he's Cincinnatus, going back to his plow, right? Yeah, sure) and snowflake congressional bullies are hiding under their beds lest their constituents corner them and ask a question. Oh no, not that!

The really big loss so far has been (and will be) the Supreme Court. Their current stupefying dalliance with sending taxpayer money to fund churchy stuff is alarming in the extreme.

We must do whatever we can.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus


Hey, I thought the same thing about those flowers. Likely, Trumpy hasn't gotten around to hiring any gardeners after firing all the Obama groundskeepers, those traitors. Either that or Bannon was out there after a bender and the beer farts killed everything.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

For the record: Someone has said that Obama, if he resurfaces in the political arena "will have to answer for his extravagant vacations." This stopped me up short. Whoa, Nelly, I says to myself––where did that come from? because the facts are that Trump's trips to his Winter Palace have cost taxpayers an estimated $10 million not to mention security $$$ for sons, daughters, wife, Trump residence...Trump is on track to far exceed the amount Obama's travel cost in eight years.

And I have a question re: those bigly boats going in the wrong direction or in the right direction or maybe not––who knows? There is, in the White House a large room called "The Situation Room" where the brass, security folks, et al. sit at a long table and make decisions usually along with the president. They have a large screen where they can see moving pictures exactly where those bigly boats are going . They also have phones where they can call personnel on those ships––"hey, Joe, how's the weather on the high seas today?" Somehow this administration is operating very differently and our president* prefers Fox and Friends to let him know whats happening, baby!

I think I like Nancy's "pissing contest" context––the visual brings tears to my eyes.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

North Korea warns of "super mighty preemptive strike."

My goodness! All those braggart bullies suffering from arrested development even sound the same.

From what I heard our lost armada is super-mighty, too.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

My two cents:

So the Obamas are (or were) on David Geffen's yacht.

Big deal?

Well, maybe. I am in complete agreement that the Obamas are due a boatload (wrong word?) of R&R after what must have been eight very tough years. They went through the ringer. And not just the ringer most presidents go through, they also had the delightful racist ringers attaching themselves to their every move. They most definitely deserve some serious downtime. In fact, I've been wondering what Obama's thoughts might be in light of the new president*'s stupidity, antagonism, and failures, but I fully expect that, unlike Trump, Obama will likely keep his own counsel for some time and when and if he does decide to weigh in, his words will be well considered and finely wrought. Until then, knock yourself out.

That being said, Periscope has a point about how it looks.

Hobnobbing with the rich and the powerful and the beautiful people is all well and good. Would I do it if I had the chance? Ahh.....prob'ly not. But not because I'm somehow more morally grounded or stoic. I just wouldn't know what to say to say to Tom Hanks other than, "Hey man, love your work." I might, however, decide to get into some musical conversations with Bruce Springsteen should that opportunity arise (we're both fans of Gary U.S. Bonds), but trading stock tips with David Geffen, I'd have to resort to "Yo, Dave, how 'bout them blue chips?"

But optics count. I'm sorry, but they do. You remember how we all beat up on Lyin' Ryan (and deservedly so) for his fake dish washing photo-op? How about Trump's Hitler salute? I suppose it depends on what he intends to do with his post presidential career. But the clock on that has already started. I thought Jimmy Carter was a terrible president (yes, he was unlucky, but he often did not help himself, and his people did him no favors either) but he's been a fabulous ex-president. A model of presidential decorum and decency. The Habitat for Humanity projects, the diplomacy, his speaking out against The Decider and his pet shark and their made up war, all intensified by the applied force of an ex-president who walks the walk. Reagan in his short stint as an ex tried to rake in the dough (remember that $2 million speech in Japan?). Bush paints his toes and, outrageously, pictures of the service men and women (did he paint any women? I'm not even sure) whose lives he jeopardized so that he could pretend to have balls, not desiccated walnuts.

Trump? I can't even imagine what that horror show will be like, but I'd love to find out. How 'bout next year?

But Obama has such a huge card to play here. A one time only, never to be repeated legacy. The first black president. The guy who triumphed over so many whose first and last thought every day was to ensure his failure. I'm not suggesting that a few days with David Geffen off the coast of wherever eighty-sixes all that, and I'm not even sure that his legacy is truly tarnished. But there is a price, I believe, to paid in the moral high ground. It's certainly not something that he can't regain, but after all that hard work, it seems a damn shame that this, and we all know how it will be trumpeted, gives his (and our) enemies a chance to snigger and point fingers and say "See? Toldya."

So I don't think it's a terrible thing (certainly not anything like a sitting president spending more time golfing and tweeting while battleships steam in the wrong direction), but it's unfortunate. And unnecessary.

He has my undying respect and loyalty, but if I had him on the phone, I might be apt to say, "Barack. Jesus, man. What the fuck?" Of course he might tell me to back off because he was entitled to some R&R. And sure he is. But take the kids to Bermuda, skiing, to Paris, out for some Ben and Jerry's, anything but on a fucking $590 million dollar yacht with billionaires and the BP's.

It makes it a lot harder to speak out for the poor and the dispossessed when Fox is running pictures of you drinking Mai-Tais with David Geffen and Oprah on a yacht the size of a small town.


April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Jason Chaffetz is unsure if he’ll finish his current term. It’s from The Washington Examiner (yeah, I know), but it is what it is.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Speaking of interesting optics — with the approach of the WH Correspondence Dinner sans the presence of our glorious leader. — this is my Obama favorite moment from one event: " Obama's Anger Translator." After watching it again, makes me think that a nicely deserved vacation for all those years was in order! Sometimes it's too bad that pictures are taken of everything these days..and posted instantly on social media. On the other hand, avid amateur bystanders often provide the much needed 'this is the way the situation went down' photographs that change the truthiness of glossed over official reports.

Akhilleus mentioned: "Look at Trumpy's two shots at banning Muslims (but not from countries where he makes money, natch)."

Maybe that will change. Here's story hitting many business & some front pages! More reductions of this sort of thing, and one may see his 'friends' from countries where he has hotels and golf courses increase the pressure.

Emirates (Airline) cuts flights to U.S. as Trump's policies hit bookings: " huge scheduling cuts to flights to U.S. cities." Sure to have an impact on someone's wallet.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMAG


Trumpy thinks he can do things in a vacuum. People will admire his strength and resolve as a Glorious Leader and countries he's singled out for punishment will just take it.

But hey, he's the writer (well, not really, that was some other guy) of the "Art of the Deal" and, according to one of his flacks, is the "greatest negotiator in the history of the world". Hmmm. Wow. Sounds impressive. I guess he's savin' all that wicked great negotiatin' for some later deal. It'll be a pip, I'm sure.

Anyway, this jamoke has many ways to screw with the American economy and to do that thing Trump and the Confederates are always accusing others of doing: "Hurting American workers."

So I ran across an interesting piece earlier today that outlines all the ways that Trump is working to Make America Second Rate. The other day he went on a tirade, exhorting others (but not him, of course) to "Buy American" and "Hire American". Trump, however, who is well known for hiring low wage employees from other countries (rather than Americans) then stiffing them, also declines to Buy American as well. It's that old standby of Confederate duplicity and fraudulence, Rules for Thee, but not for Me.

So here is a short list (actually, it's pretty long) of the things Trump does NOT buy from American businesses for his hotels, courtesy of Business Insider:

Headboard: China
Minibar: China
Decorative mirror: ditto
Disposable slippers: Hong Kong
Golf club head covers: Hong Kong
Hangers: Hong Kong (He can't find hangers in the US? C'mon...)

(Seems like Donaldo is perfectly fine with that One China policy when it comes to his pocket book. He's not buying from Taiwan.)

Notepad/pen holder: Thailand
Ice bucket: Thailand (They know ice buckets in Thailand.)
Trump Vodka: Israel (Really?)
Carver Chair: Italy
Shampoo/shower gel: Italy (What, no Prell?)
Marble slabs: Italy (Autographed by Michelangelo?)
Light fixtures: Czech Republic
Synthetic grass (Wait, what?): United Kingdom
Lock parts: Norway. (Because there are so many parts to a padlock)
Hookers: Hand picked by Trump from around the world.

(Okay, that last one I made up, but admit it, you were thinking "Hmmm...could be...")

Trump. A tower of hypocrisy. Always looking out for Trump.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Incompetence may be the watchword for the Trump Debacle, but not for everything they do.

In some areas (mainly screwing average American workers and servicing corporations and the filthy rich) they are eminently competent. Not just competent, they are predatorily competent (yeah, it's a word; I looked it up to make sure).

And this shit is going on every day. Every.Day.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I confess I was sorta thinking that last one "you made up" might actually be one of the reasons that WH visitor logs have gone dark!

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

I can't believe anybody gives a flying fuck what the Obamas do on vacation when none of them holds public office. The Obamas go around with Tom Hanks & Oprah, etc. because these people are friends of theirs & have been for some time. They are not putting on airs; these are the people they know.

Some of the people they know -- like Hanks & Winfrey -- are far richer than they are. So when their rich friends pick up the tab, there's nothing wrong with that. When I go out with someone who is on a stricter budget than I am, I pick up the tab, too, & I don't make a show of it. It isn't a favor; I don't want anything in return; it's just courtesy. If I go out with someone I think is on an equal economic footing or better, I split or let them pay, depending on the situation. I imagine the Obamas do more or less the same. I don't happen to have any friends who are rich & famous right now, but I used to. I'd like to think I've treated them all with the same regard. I'll bet the Obamas do the same with their large circle of friends of differing means.

As for the "optics," that's their business. They shouldn't have to hide their recreational pursuits. Neither are they advertising that their friends are rich & famous. It's the press who are doing that.


April 20, 2017 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

@MAG: You might be onto something. Time for the press to get behind the bushes & do a little get-Gary-Hart-style sleuthing. Or not. Hookers in the White House would be a good thing if it cut down on Fox "News"-watching in the residence.

As for those flowerless window boxes in the pic above, they're on the second storey where the residence is. They might be evidence against the hookers theory. Golden Rain Boy conditional statement: If no hookers, then flower pots.


April 20, 2017 | Registered CommenterThe Constant Weader

Here's more on Chaffetz. Reuters reports Utah is prepping for a special election to fill the remainder of his term.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Well hey, here's some good news. A seriously stupid asshole will be out of the country for at least a few years.

Racist Beefcake Boy, Scott Brown, who enjoyed himself as a wingnut heartthrob senator for less than three years, during which time he did less than a worm in a Saharan sand dune, then lost two other senate races (to "girls"), is being sent to New Zealand, if confirmed, for who knows how long, at least until Donaldo is either voted out or impeached (good luck on that last one).

But Brown, a racist, torture loving slimeball who left the senate after three years of doing nothing, to....fix bicycles, is being welcomed, sort of, by the Kiwis. A lede in the New Zealand Herald puts it like this:

"Man tipped for US ambassador role in NZ a former nude model who supports waterboarding,"

If that doesn't smack of a perfect sort of Trumpian load of shit, I'm not sure a more unsavory example can be found.

So fare thee well, Scotty boy. I'm sure there are some indigenous tribes in New Zealand you can insult.


April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

As far as Jason Chaffetz goes. Has this guy so far performed in any way for purely altruistic reasons? Orrin hatch is 83 years old. (Sorry Orrin but your days are numbered.)

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJustAGuy


Understand your feelings enough to agree with you halfway on the Obamas, who it seems are still in the spotlight.

Yes, what they do is their business and as far as their business goes I don't begrudge them a nanosecond of the time they can spend with their rich and famous friends. Regardless of how rich their friends might be, the Obamas deserve all the fine treatment they receive from anyone and everyone far more richly than even the wealthiest of their friends might be able to provide.

My point and I think that of a few others was directed not at the Obamas' private lives but to my possibly vain hope that down the road they will again step back onto the public stage and play a very public part. No retirement to the Texas ranch for them, pretty please, I'd say were they to ask.

But if and when they do return to rally the troops, the optics, as they do for everyone in the public eye in our less than ideal world, will matter whether we like it or not, and right or wrong, fair or unfair, that's what I had in mind when I seconded Periscope.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes
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