What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 24, 2018

Senator Toomey RESPONDS To Another Letter (But Don't Think For A Minute He ANSWERED It)

Yesterday, I received a letter in the post (as it was called in the moving pictures) from one of my Senators, Senator Pat Toomey.

He begins:
Thank you for contacting me in regards to the recent false missile alert in Hawaii. I appreciate hearing from you.
A slight shift in the opening. I am used to seeing "Thank you for contacting me about" rather than "in regards to" but whatever.

Let's go see to what letter he's referring. It's dated February 12, 2018. So we can safely assume it's not anything after that date.

As far as I can tell, I've only once asked Senator Toomey about anything Hawaiian - here.

Here's how I set up my question:
A few days ago, Hawaii was rocked with a false ballistic missile alarm. For nearly 40 minutes the residents of Hawaii thought they were going to die a nuclear death. Hawaii, by the way, has a population of about 1.4 million. If only 10% were panicked, that's still 140,000 panicked US citizens.
Which is good because here's how Toomey set up his response:
On January 13, 2018, an employee of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency initiated a false alarm about an incoming ballistic missile on the state's own emergency management alert system. It took almost 40 minutes for officials to correct the error. This incident is a clear reminder that the United States must continually improve its readiness against threats to our homeland.
So glad we settled that.

Here's my question:
And according to CNN, Donald Trump was on one of his many golf courses, playing golf and having lunch. There was no public comment from him for about 18 hours. In the meantime, however, he tweeted yet another complaint about "fake news."

So here's my question to you, sir: How this is acceptable behavior? That the President of the United States of America could so casually go about his day while so many of his constituents were panicked that they only had a few more minutes to live and yet say nothing about it for nearly a day?
To which Senator Toomey responded with:
On December 21, 2017, I voted in favor of legislation (H.R. 1370) that funded the government through January 19, 2018 in order to avoid a disruptive government shutdown. This continuing resolution also provided an additional $4.7 billion for improving our missile defense system. Among the funds appropriated was $1.24 billion for the Department of Defense "to detect, defeat, and defend against the use of ballistic missiles.

Our country must remain vigilant in the face of growing threats to our national security, especially from rouge states that are developing advanced ballistic missile technology such as Iran and North Korea. Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
Nothing, absolutely nothing about Donald Trump and his horrid non response the false alarm - which was the actual point of my question.

Verdict: a response but not an answer. Another swing and a miss, Pat.

BTW, I didn't typo in my Toomey transcript. He really does call Iran and North Korea "rouge" states.

Here's a detail to prove it:

Here's the entire letter:
I wonder how many more of Toomey's constituents have written him about the Hawaii false alarm only to learn that North Korea is a rouge state?

February 22, 2018

Meanwhile, Outside

Even with all the other very important news happening, it's still getting warmer outside.

From the scientists at NOAA:
The January 2018 temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 0.71°C (1.28°F) above the 20th century average of 12.0°C (53.6°F). January 2018 marks the 42nd consecutive January (since 1977) and the 397th consecutive month (since January 1985) with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average. This was the fifth highest temperature for January in the 1880–2018 record. The last four years (2015–2018) rank among the five highest Januarys on record. The global land and ocean temperature during January has increased at an average rate of +0.07°C (+0.13°F) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase is twice as great since 1975.
Then there's this from the scientists at NASA:
Earth's global surface temperatures in 2017 ranked as the second warmest since 1880, according to an analysis by NASA.

Continuing the planet's long-term warming trend, globally averaged temperatures in 2017 were 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.90 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, according to scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. That is second only to global temperatures in 2016.
And yet a month or so ago, Donald Trump said this about the climate:
The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records, so okay, they’re at a record level.
Which turns out to be exactly incorrect (unless Trump meant "a record low level."). From some other scientists at NASA:
Arctic sea ice appears to have reached on March 7 a record low wintertime maximum extent, according to scientists at NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. And on the opposite side of the planet, on March 3 sea ice around Antarctica hit its lowest extent ever recorded by satellites at the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, a surprising turn of events after decades of moderate sea ice expansion.
Take a look at what the science is saying:

Ha. Record levels.

February 21, 2018

Market Square, In A Gentle Rain

In quiet dignity, they stand.

They stand against the violence.

The GOP Is Lying About Conor Lamb

Yea, how is that a surprise?

You've seen the ad on your TEEVEE. It's the one from the Congressional Leadership Fund that contains this bit of fake news about how Lamb worked in the Obama Administration:
...that negotiated the Iranian deal that gave billions to the leading funder of terrorism.
Um, they do know that when that money was returned to Iran in 2016, Conor Lamb was working as an Assistant District Attorney for Western Pennsylvania and had nothing to do with the deal, right?

Lie #1

And about that word "gave" that they use, they do know it's only half of the more factually correct term "gave back" right? (And that's not counting the interest) - take a look, this is from Reuters:
The United States and Iran on Sunday settled a longstanding claim at the Hague, releasing to Tehran $400 million in funds frozen since 1981 plus $1.3 billion in interest, the State Department said.

The funds were part of a trust fund once used by Iran to purchase military equipment from the United States but which was tied up for decades in litigation at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal.
Lie #2
Wow two big lies in one little sentence! How much more dishonest can the Trump-defending republicans be?

Sadly, whenever we think Trump's GOP has hit rock bottom in terms of decency/honesty/whatever, they jackhammer their way to even deeper depths of crap.

February 20, 2018

My FORTY-NINTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

I'll be dropping this letter to Senator Pat Toomey in the mail today:
Dear Senator Toomey:

It's me, again. Your constituent who also writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

In light of the recent indictments handed down by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller detailing the plans by Russia to interfere with the 2016 election, I'd like to ask you about H.R. 3364 - the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

The bill (now law) provides for sanctions against Russia in response, in part, to that country's interference in the 2016 presidential election. If you had any question about the interference, I'd refer you to Mueller's indictments.

Here's the thing, Senator. Congress voted for this legislation with numbers so big it's veto proof. And then Donald Trump signed it. It is the law of the land.

And yet Trump has so far refused to implement that law.

The Constitution clearly states that the President must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

So here's my question: Russia meddled with the election that brought Trump to power. Congress passed legislation sanctioning them for that meddling and now Trump won't execute that legislation faithfully. What are you going to do about it? Doing nothing lets him get away with flaunting the Constitution. So what are you doing about it? Which side are you on? Trump's or the Constitution's?

I await your response.
And I will be posting whatever response I get from him or his office.


February 18, 2018

And Now, Ms Emma Gonzalez

You can read and watch her entire speech here.

Some highlights:
I read something very powerful to me today. It was from the point of view of a teacher. And I quote: When adults tell me I have the right to own a gun, all I can hear is my right to own a gun outweighs your student's right to live. All I hear is mine, mine, mine, mine.
Only yesterday we looked at Joe The Plumber, one time Tea Party Darling of the GOP who actually said:
[Y]our dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.
That was four years ago. The right wing meme is still out there, infecting the brains of lots and lots of our conservative friends. How many innocents have had to die so that Joe (and many others in the "pro-life" GOP) can keep and maintain their gun-boners? Viagra ain't got nothing compared a well-stocked gun cabinet.

Back to Ms Gonzalez:
If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.
To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.
Shame on you.

February 16, 2018

And Now A Word From The Conscience Of The GOP (A.K.A. Joe The Plumber)

In the event you're wondering how, on God's green Earth and by all that's holy and good, our Republican friends can continue to obstruct sensible gun control legislation, I believe I have an answer for you.

And it comes from Joe The Plumber - remember him?

In an open letter to some previous (mass) shooting victims, JTP wrote:
I am sorry you lost your child. I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through now. But:

As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.
Yea, remember that?

In that letter he went on:
[A]nyone calling for more restrictions on American’s rights need to back off and stop playing into the hands of the folks who merely capitalize on these horrific events for their own political ends.

They don’t care about your family or your dead children at all. They sound like they do, whereas I sound uncaring and like I say, harsh. Don’t be fooled – I care about your family and mine. The future of our very liberty lies in the balance of this fight.
So there it is: hidden behind all of the ersatz sincerity of the many "thoughts and prayers" tweets we've read recently from the GOP, is this one thought - your dead kids don't trump my Constitutional rights.

That's the root of the root and the bud of the bud of their resistance and that's why you Un-American libtards can't unnerstand! It's their constitutional patriotic duty, dammit! They're protecting us all!

It's just that in this setting, the price of "our very liberty" is simply this: In order to make sure that everyone has easy access to firearms, every now and then (and no one knows where or when), in order to protect our safety and liberty, a few schools/theatres/offices will have to be shot up by someone with easy access to lots and lots of guns and ammo. A few people here and there will have to die a bloody and gruesome death in order to guarantee America's Second Amendment rights.

Thanks be to Joe for pointing this out. They should be celebrating the blood on their hands as the price someone else paid for their freedom.

Your dead kids don't trump my Constitutional rights.

February 15, 2018

It's Happened. Again. (Florida, Senator Toomey, and NRA Cash)

Another school shooting (this time in Florida) and another round of "thoughts and prayers" from our elected representatives in Congress - both in the Senate and in the House.

Lawmakers sending “thoughts and prayers” in the wake of Wednesday’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, are getting slammed for their financial ties to the gun lobby.

Bess Kalb, a writer for “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” is responding to each lawmaker tweeting condolences over the murders by listing how much they’ve taken from the National Rifle Association, which has consistently fought any move to tighten gun control laws.
As they say, all politics is local so let's blatantly copy Ms Kalb's idea and see how this is playing out locally.

Senator Toomey:
According to the Penn Live, Senator Toomey is the recipient of $93,000 of the NRA's money.

In response to a "thoughts and prayers" tweet from the head of the Republican National Committee, Ms Kalb tweeted:
And then:
So next time you see a "thoughts and prayers" message from a pro-2nd Amendment politician, check to see how much NRA money he or she has received.

Then you can add the line "Brought to you by the NRA" underneath their picture.

And because of the political cover the NRA has purchased, you can also do that with the next picture of the next (because you know there's gonna be another one) mass shooting.