What Fresh Hell Is This?

December 29, 2017

Well, THAT Was Fast (Trump Tweets Climate - And Shows His Ignorance)

Remember how I warned that someone might bring up the current (and local) frigid weather and look to use it in an argument against climate change?

Remember? It was only yesterday.

Well, guess who brought it up?
Yep. It is he - The Orange Vulgarity, The Pussygrabber-in-Chief, The Donald.

From CNN:
President Donald Trump, on vacation in balmy Florida, suggested that climate change could be a good thing on Thursday, tweeting that cities gripped by freezing temperatures on the East Coast could use some warming.
Too bad that's now how climate change works (see yesterday's blog post - it links to this from NASA).

So there's record cold in NYC. Fine, does Trump know that there's record heat right now in Sydney, Australia?
Sydney is on track to post its fourth warmest December on record, according to Weatherzone. For the year, the city's mean, maximum and minimum temperatures will be in the top five warmest on records going back to 1858, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
Does that mean that Sydney could use some of that "global cooling" that the science deniers keep prattling on about?  Maybe Senator Inhofe could send them a snowball from DC. That'll solve everything.

Trump's ignorance is stunning.

December 28, 2017

Ok So Before Someone Brings It Up, Let's Deal With It

It's 1 degree outside right now (that's Fahrenheit, remember. it's -17 degrees Celsius).

That's very very cold.

But let's remember: Weather does not equal climate:
The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere "behaves" over relatively long periods of time.
So when Senator Inhofe (and other science deniers) think that evidence of a snowball in Washington DC (or a few days of single digit temperatures here in Pittsburgh) are enough to discount the settled science, let's remember what Stephen Colbert said:
The science is true even if you don't believe it.

December 27, 2017

Born Today in 1571 - Johannes Kepler

He's the guy who came up with these rules of planetary motion:
  1. All planets move about the Sun in elliptical orbits, having the Sun as one of the foci.
  2. A radius vector joining any planet to the Sun sweeps out equal areas in equal lengths of time.
  3. The squares of the sidereal periods (of revolution) of the planets are directly proportional to the cubes of their mean distances from the Sun.
That last one is probably the most beautiful thing I've ever read.

Science. It's true even if you don't believe in it.

December 26, 2017

YES, I KNOW IT'S TUESDAY

And yes, I know it's Tuesday and yes I know there's no letter posted.

It's the week between Christmas and New Years Day - I'm taking a break on the Toomey letters.

See you next week.

December 22, 2017

Senator Toomey RESPONDS To Another Letter (But He Gets Credit For TWO)

Howver, given the events of the past few weeks, the point is moo.

Yesterday, I received an email from Senator Pat Toomey.  It opens thusly:
Thank you for contacting me about Alabama's special election for the U.S. Senate. I appreciate hearing from you.
Senator Toomey still appreciates hearing from me!  Good, the letters will continue.

Anyway, I wrote the senator two Roy Moore letters:
  • Letter Thirty-nine: Where I asked, basically, which side he was on. On the one hand, Toomey had at that point already publicly asked Roy Moore to step aside but on the other Donald Trump had publicly endorsed Moore. Which side was Toomey on?
  • Letter Thirty-six: Where I asked the senator what he'd do if Moore were to win.
And here's Senator Toomey's answer in full:
Thank you for contacting me about Alabama's special election for the U.S. Senate. I appreciate hearing from you.

On November 9, 2017, the Washington Post published a detailed news article alleging that then-U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore engaged in appalling behavior with teenage girls in the late 1970s and early 1980s when he was a local prosecutor in his early 30s. Subsequently, additional women made allegations of misconduct against Moore, who has denied any wrongdoing.

The allegations against Moore are very serious and deeply disturbing. After hearing them and Moore's denials, I publicly called on Moore to step aside as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. On November 12, during an interview on the NBC news program Meet the Press, I unequivocally called for Moore to withdraw from the Senate race.

On December 12, 2017, Democratic candidate Doug Jones defeated Moore in Alabama's special election. I look forward to working with Mr. Jones in the U.S. Senate.

Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
And while it's certainly gratifying for a sitting US Senator to thank me (again) for my correspondence, I have to point out a few things:
  • While he didn't actually change his position on Moore, we can probably infer that his answer to the first question is that he's still not a fan - good for him for not siding with Trump on this one.
  • But since Moore lost the election (though at this writing, he still hasn't conceded) the second question is mute.
This was an easy one, Senator.   We still have questions about the $1.5 trillion you just added to the budget, whether you'd still vote for Donald Trump, whether you agree with Trump's attack on the press, and so on.

December 21, 2017

Darlene Harris, Defender of the Faith & Small, Noncompliant Creches

When we last left our heroine, Pittsburgh City Councilor Darlene Harris was keeping an unauthorized $2,000 plaque labeled "Ravenstahl" safe and sound. But now, she's having a devil of a time keeping a wood-and-porcelain nativity scene -- and therefore Christmas, and possibly all of Christianity -- out of harm's way. From the Post-Gazette:
The nativity scene that she places under the council Christmas tree — on display every year in the City-County Building — has gone missing. If it doesn’t turn up within a couple days or so, Mrs. Harris said, she will file a police report. 
“And when I put my police report in, I will let them know who has been at the bottom of all this,” she said, although she didn’t name names in council chambers.
But even if there is no Christmas miracle that sees its safe return, it warms the cockles of all good yinzers' hearts to know that, nevertheless, she persisted.


December 20, 2017

Meanwhile, Outside

While the Congress has been busy making sure the already wealthy will have just a little (or perhaps even a lot) more money in the next few decades by making the rest of us pay for it (MAGA!), it's still getting warmer outside.

And for some reason the Trump administration is still allowing NOAA allowing to report the science:
The November temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.35°F above the 20th century average of 55.2°F. This value tied with 2016 as the fifth highest for November in the 1880-2017 record. November 2017 marks the 41st consecutive November and the 395th consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average.
And:
The year-to-date temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.51°F above the 20th century average of 57.2°F. This was the third highest for January-November in the 1880-2017 record, behind the record year 2016 and 2015 (second highest).
And in Trumps's America (Made Great Again):
One Environmental Protection Agency employee spoke up at a private lunch held near the agency headquarters, saying she feared the nation might be headed toward an “environmental catastrophe.” Another staff member, from Seattle, sent a letter to Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, raising similar concerns about the direction of the agency. A third, from Philadelphia, went to a rally where he protested against agency budget cuts.

Three different agency employees, in different jobs, from three different cities, but each encountered a similar outcome: Federal records show that within a matter of days, requests were submitted for copies of emails written by them that mentioned either Pruitt or President Donald Trump, or any communication with Democrats in Congress that might have been critical of the agency.

The requests came from a Virginia-based lawyer working with America Rising, a Republican campaign research group that specializes in helping party candidates and conservative groups find damaging information on political rivals, and which, in this case, was looking for information that could embarrass the employees who had criticized the EPA.

Now a company affiliated with America Rising, named Definers Public Affairs, has been hired by the EPA to provide “media monitoring,” in a move the agency said was intended to keep better track of newspaper and video stories about EPA operations nationwide.

But the sequence of events has created a wave of fear among employees, particularly those already under surveillance, who said official assurances hardly put them at ease.

“This is a witch hunt against EPA employees who are only trying to protect human health and the environment,” said Gary Morton, the EPA employee in Philadelphia, who works on preventing spills from underground storage tanks. His emails were targeted seven days after he participated in a union rally in March challenging proposed budget cuts. “What they are doing is trying to intimidate and bully us into silence,” he said.
It's been said (many times and many ways) that all politics is local. Such is the case with the above mentioned Mr Morton.  This is what you'll find if you were to click on the link above:


All email exchanged between Gary Morton and the office of U.S. Senator Bob Casey since February 1, 2017.

BTW, the contract with America Rising has been cancelled.
The Republican media monitoring firm Definers Public Affairs canceled its $120,000 contract with the Environmental Protection Agency after a media backlash because of the company's links to GOP opposition research firm America Rising.
How much do you want to bet the surveillance would have continued had it not been exposed?

Meanwhile, it's getting warmer outside. Bullying EPA employees in to silence is not going to stop it.

But this is life in Trump's America. MAGA!!

December 19, 2017

My FORTY-FIRST 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."

Senator, six months or so ago you wrote to me regarding Special Council Mueller's investigation into the Russian meddling into the 2016 election telling me that you had "every confidence that Robert Mueller will execute [his] responsibilities with integrity and professionalism."

Recently it's been reported that there's a rumor floating around DC that Donald Trump plans to fire Robert Mueller before Christmas and thus stop the investigation (though the White House has denied these rumors).

Newsweek is reporting that former Attorney General Eric Holder is calling for nationwide peaceful protests in opposition if Trump were to fire Mueller.

My question is this: Given your stated support of Robert Mueller's integrity, if that were to happen (if Trump were to fire Mueller and/or otherwise shut down his investigation) what will you do? What side will you be on?

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

Follow-up:

December 18, 2017

There's A Political Disconnect Here.

From The Washington Post:
The outcome of the tax votes, however, appears certain after Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.) on Friday pledged their support. The two gave the GOP the Senate votes to pass the bill, even as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is battling an aggressive form of brain cancer, returned to Arizona on Sunday. He is not expected to vote on the final bill.

The measure’s passage would mark the first major legislative accomplishment for Trump and GOP leaders in a year of stumbles, the products of months of negotiations and late adjustments aimed at winning over the last holdouts.

Republicans fanned out across the national news shows Sunday as part of their continued efforts to sell the public on the bill, promising benefits to the middle class both from tax cuts and ensuing economic growth.

“We think as a result of lowering business taxes, wages will go up. So, this is a huge opportunity for creating jobs, for creating tax cuts for working families,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Congress’ nonpartisan tax analysts, joining several other nonpartisan assessments, concluded that the bulk of the bill’s benefits would go to the wealthy and corporations. Those analyses have also projected that the cuts will produce far less economic growth than Trump and administration officials are promising.
Oh, yea. And this:
Polls suggest that the public is skeptical of the promised major gains for the middle class. In a recent CBS poll, 76 percent of respondents said the bill’s biggest benefits would go to the largest corporations. Democrats, who were shut out of the bill’s construction and find themselves all but powerless to prevent its passage, attempted to hammer home that point Sunday.
So the cuts will mean more money to the already wealthy but they won't produce the economic gains our friends in the GOP have promised us - all while a skeptical public watches, more or less powerless to stop it.

Trump's America.

December 16, 2017

Senator Toomey RESPONDS To Another Letter

In yesterday's mail, I received another response from Senator Pat Toomey.

Senator Toomey begins with this:
Thank you for contacting me about reforming our nation's tax code. I appreciate hearing from you.
Again, relieved that he STILL appreciates hearing from me. Whew.

The first task is to ascertain which of my open letters to Toomey he's answering.  As this one is dated November 27, 2017 we can safely assume it doesn't answer any letter after my thirty-seventh (which is about Thanksgiving anyway).

So which one is it?

Letter 33 kind of mentions tax reform, but really only in passing. It's my only "tax" letter so this must be it.

In that letter, I wrote that:
The LA Times reported that "Senate Republicans overcame internal divisions late Thursday to approve a 2018 budget that will increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years to allow for President Trump’s proposed tax cuts. They also reported that the budget "slashes domestic spending, including steep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid."
I also wrote that the NYTimes reporting on how Trump's tax plan is
...potentially a huge windfall for the wealthiest Americans with no benefits for the bottom 1/3 and only modest benefits for the middle class.
And I asked how he could vote for something that does all that and slashes Medicare/Medicaid while increasing the deficit by a trillion or more dollars.

To that letter, Senator Pat Toomey responded with:
Tax reform can help to create sustained economic growth for all Americans. The Congressional Budget Office (CB) has projected the nation's gross domestic product to increase by a meager 1.9 percent each year over the next decade. I refuse to accept sub-two percent growth as the new normal knowing that, in the sixty years before the Obama administration, economic growth averaged 3.4 percent per year.

On November 16, 2017, the House passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) by a vote of 227-205. Later that same day, I joined a majority of my colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee in passing our own version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Passage out of committee was a big step towards enacting pro-growth tax reform, and I look forward to moving this bill to the Senate floor soon.

For example, the bill lowers our country's statutory corporate tax rate of 35 percent, which is the highest in the developed world and far above the average rate of our economic competitors (less than 23 percent). Without a significant reduction in business tax rates, the U.S. will never be the best place to invest and create jobs. And with the increasing international mobility of capital, a significant burden of business taxes now falls on workers, undermining wage growth.

I am confident pro-growth tax reform will deliver hardworking families across Pennsylvania a direct pay raise through cutting individual tax rates across the board as well as doubling both the standard deduction and the child tax credit. Reforms to the business side of the tax code that will make us globally competitive will result in an indirect pay raise as more jobs and new businesses are created, resulting in an upward pressure on wages.

I value your input and I will keep your concerns in mind as I continue working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to fix our broken tax system and advance policies that will help grow our economy and create jobs.
It's always nice to see how he values my input (thanks, Pat!) but I asked about the projected increase in the deficit, the proposed slashing of domestic spending (including Medicare and Medicaid) and the financial windfall for the already wealthy with little or no benefit for anyone else and the Senator pivoted to a discussion about decreasing corporate tax rates and how that'll be increasing jobs.

Swing and a miss Pat, sorry.

And unless this polarized beyond compare Congress can get together on something big, this Tax Reform package will, according to the CBO, trigger millions in Medicare spending cuts:
Without enacting subsequent legislation to either off set that deficit increase, waive the recordation of the bill’s impact on the scorecard, or otherwise mitigate or eliminate the requirements of the PAYGO law, OMB would be required to issue a sequestration order within 15 days of the end of the session of Congress to reduce spending in fiscal year 2018 by the resultant total of $136 billion. However, the PAYGO law limits reductions to Medicare to four percentage points (or roughly $25 billion for that year)...
I wonder how many of Senator Pat Toomey's constituents are aware that the tax plan that'll be lowering the tax rate for big corporations will also be slashing Medicare.

December 15, 2017

A Tale Of Two Senators

While Pennsylvania's Republican Senator (and my part-time pen-pal) Pat Toomey is doing trying to kill Obamacare:
[Toomey] sometimes pretends to care about the poor and middle class, as he did during the nanosecond of Senate debate on the massive tax cut bill that will affect us all for generations.

When he got the floor the first time, he explained why he favored eliminating the tax penalty for uninsured (young and healthy) individuals who refuse to buy health insurance – the individual mandate.
Snip
Pat Toomey did not explain just exactly how all those people, once they are freed from the terrible burden of the individual mandate and thus are free not to buy health insurance, will be able to afford medical care when they suddenly come down with cancer or get hit by a bus.

But that’s their problem. They’ll be gloriously free to die or go bankrupt so long as they are not forced to subsidize the rest of us.
(And to Jodine Mayberry, hello from Pittsburgh!)

Pennsylvania's Democratic Senator is doing this:
“President Trump’s documented history of sexual harassment and assault should have been disqualifying during last year’s election,” Casey told ThinkProgress in a statement Wednesday. “His offensive verbal assault against Senator Gillibrand yesterday demonstrate he still doesn’t get it. And while he should resign, we know he won’t. I support a congressional investigation in order to hold him accountable for his actions.”
But we know the Republican controlled Congress simply won't hold Trump accountable - despite the boasts of pussy-grabbing and the incompetence and the obvious (to anyone not caught in teh Benghazi crazie) obstruction of Justice.

December 14, 2017

From The USAToday, Yesterday...

From the USAToday:
This isn’t about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt.
Well, one of them did OK the use of torture of other human beings and the other one let him get away with it. Oh, and the torture-guy lied the country into a war that killed 4500 American servicemen and women and took an illegal sidestep around the FISA courts to spy domestically, but I understand the point - in comparison to Trump, either man is an angel.

In case you're not catching it, let me reiterate the point being made:
A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.
Agreed. But wait!  There's more:
Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed.
This is something most of Americans knew on November 8, 2016.

Just saying.

December 13, 2017

Let's Start With These Two Words

Or these two:
Trump Looses.
And some numbers (as of 11:59pm last night) from the New York Times:
  • Jones - 671,151 (49.9%)
  • Moore - 650,436 (48.4 %)
Moore lost, Trump lost, decency won.

December 12, 2017

My FORTIETH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey (UPDATED)

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."

According to the New York Times, the recently released report by the Joint Committee on Taxation shows that the Senate's tax reform plan won't pay for itself and will raise the deficit by a trillion dollars. Additionally, the Congressional Budget Office has concluded that the tax plan would add $1.4 trillion.

Just in order to shuttle more money to the already wealthy.

Simple question this week: As a fiscal conservative, how can you possibly approve of such a plan? Or do you no longer consider yourself a fiscal conservative?

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

UPDATE: Senator Toomey responded to (but did not by any means answer) this letter here.

Follow-up:

December 10, 2017

Fake News At Breitbart (In A Piece ABOUT "Fake News")!

I saw this at Breitbart today:
MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), a hard leftist Democrat (sic) senator from New Jersey who spent Saturday campaigning with fellow radical Doug Jones, went on a fake news tirade on Saturday night, pushing inaccurate information about GOP nominee for U.S. Senate Roy Moore and calling for President Donald Trump to resign.
So "pushing inaccurate information" is their definition of "fake news." So be it.

The piece continues:
According to Vice News’s Alex Jaffe, who interviewed Booker at a Jones campaign event in the state of Alabama, Booker called for President Trump to follow Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) in resigning. Franken, this week, announced his forthcoming resignation from the Senate over allegations of sexual misconduct that he has admitted to and apologized for after photographic evidence emerged of him groping radio personality Leann Tweeden. Several other women have similarly accused Franken of sexual misconduct. Franken, in his speech announcing his plans to resign within “weeks,” bashed both Moore and Trump.

Allegations have been made about both Moore and Trump, but in both of their cases no actual evidence has emerged to substantiate the allegations. In Moore’s case, just this week, one accuser admitted she forged the yearbook inscription she and her activist attorney Gloria Allred originally claimed was written by Moore himself decades ago.
Ok. Let's stop right there. Did that accuser really admit that she "forged the yearbook inscription"?

No, that in itself is fake news.  From the BBC:
Beverly Nelson said she noted the date and location beneath what she maintains is his handwriting on her yearbook.

Her lawyer said the "red herring" does not undermine her client's claim Mr Moore attacked her when she was 16.

The candidate's team says Ms Nelson's admission amounts to a "forgery" that debunks her whole allegation.

In a news conference last month, Ms Nelson did not mention any additions.

On Friday morning, Ms Nelson told ABC News she had included some notes beneath an inscription that she says was written by Mr Moore.
Say what you want about the inscription but it's not a forgery.

And yet Breitbart said she admitted to exactly that.

Even Fox News has admitted that their earlier reporting (that Nelson had "forged" the inscription) is inaccurate. According to The Hill in a tweet (since deleted) announcing this story they said:
BREAKING NEWS: Roy Moore accuser admits she forged part of yearbook inscription attributed to Alabama senate candidate.
But Fox has since have issued a correction:
An update to this story reflects that Beverly Young Nelson admits writing what ABC News characterized as “notes” beneath what she says is Roy Moore’s signature, and that the only notes below the signature are the date and location. Furthermore, the headline on story now specifies that Nelson admits to writing part of the inscription herself, rather than forging part of it. [Emphasis added.]
Is Fox News wrong? If you say that the inscription is a forgery, you're saying exactly that. Fox News corrected their reporting while Breitbart has not. And yet they're using it as an example of a bit of "inaccurate information" (i.e. "fake news") being pushed by Senator Cory Booker.

Let's move on to the next sentence:
What’s more, Booker falsely claimed that Moore was “banned” from the shopping mall in his hometown of Gadsden, Alabama, decades ago, something the mall manager has proven was untrue and fake news.
Really? This is proven as untrue and fake news?  Let's take a look at Breitbart's own reporting on this:
Barnes Boyle, 86, told local Alabama news station WBRC on Thursday that they kept track of reports and that Moore was never banned from the mall.

“Sure, it’s part of the job, yeah. We did have written reports and things, so, but to my knowledge, he was not banned from the mall,” he said during a brief interview.

WBRC Fox 6 News anchor Janet Hall said the station checked on the report in the New Yorker that alleged Moore had been banned from the mall in the 1980s.

“We cannot confirm that,” she said.

Boyle told the station he is a Roy Moore supporter and plans to vote for him in December. [Emphasis added]
In case you didn't think that was important, just imagine how Breitbart would report it if the details were switched: that even with no paper trail to support it either way, the then manager of the mall specifically remembers a ban. And oh, by the way, he's planning on voting for Moore's opponent.

I'd think the reporting would be a tad different, don't you?

But because it aligns with Breitbart/Bannon's defense of Roy Moore (a guy who even his friends admit pursued teenage girls because of their "purity"), it gets an passing mention, otherwise unnoticed, and then nothing more.

Where's the fake news? Brietbart has the fake news.

Interesting.

December 7, 2017

More On Daryl Metcalfe (Part II)

I gotta, I just gotta.

So how far has State Rep Daryl Metcalfe's "I'm definitely not gay" rant gone?

This far:
Luckily, Penn Live has followed up with interviews of each.

First, Metcalfe (who's hinting at some sort of legal recourse, I think). It's interesting that he's profoundly in favor of a person's right not to be touched, a defense of their personal sovereignty. Funny, then, that he's still such a big fan of the pussy-grabber in the Oval Office. Huh.


Second, Matt Bradford, (who's trying his best to be cordial and civil in the face of an uncordial and uncivil man). How difficult must it be to try to deal with a nut job who, as he says, can go off the rails at any moment?


Note to Rep. Bradford: DEFCON 5 is the lowest state of readiness. You probably meant DEFCON 1.

December 6, 2017

More On Daryl Metcalfe - Who's Definitely Not Gay.

As the OPJ pointed out yesterday, State Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Straightville) had a bit of a meltdown over being (gasp!) touched by a man.

In response, he defended his most sacred honor by declaring to everyone in that room that he is definitely a straight man, a man's man, a heterosexual man - that he's just a regular straight guy who loves his wife (who's a woman, by the way). It's obvious, isn't it? I mean he said it with such thrusting power.

You can go to Maria's post to see the video in all its glory.

Now I'm curious to see how far the story's gotten. Apart from the expected local Pennsylvania coverage this story's made it to:
The P-G's coverage has this:
“Representative Bradford,” said Mr. Metcalfe, interrupting Mr. Bradford in mid-sentence. “Look, I’m a heterosexual. I have a wife, I love my wife. I don’t like men, as you might. But stop touching me all the time.”

He then added: “It’s like, keep your hands to yourself. Like, if you want to touch somebody, you have people on your side of the aisle that might like it. I don’t.”
It's interesting to see what Metcalfe uses as a counter to what he obviously thinks is an attack on his manhood and his masculinity, "No, I'm not, I'm not! But maybe you (and your fellow Democrats) are!!"

If he weren't a politician he could, maybe, find work at a movie theatre.

December 5, 2017

Dear Men, Daryl Metcalfe wants you to know he is not your plaything!

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Conservative state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe wants everyone to know that he's a heterosexual, has a wife and doesn't want to be touched - at least not by a male colleague. 
The Republican from Butler County made that very clear Tuesday during a meeting of the House committee he chairs.
And there's video!



This is even more pathetic than the time, a few years ago, when he appeared on Night Talk and after going into the standard "homosexuality is a choice" rant, the host asked him if he had chosen to be heterosexual. Metcalfe answered that yes, he "chose heterosexuality" (here and in the comments here).

While these incidents are almost cartoonishly and jaw-droppingly funny, never forget that Metcalfe is also a nasty, evil, and dangerous little fuck:
Openly gay Pennsylvania state Representative Brian Sims (D) planned to speak on the legislature floor on Wednesday about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act — but he was blocked from talking by a Republican colleague who said his comments would be “open rebellion against God’s law.” 
Now, Sims is asking for a reprimand of his Republican colleague. Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R), who is known for his inflammatory remarks, also blocked two of Sim’s colleagues who wanted to speak about DOMA, and openly admitted that his religious beliefs compelled him not to let Sims speak.
Obviously, Metcalfe doth protest too much on this subject, as anyone who protests this much has to secretly be the gayest man on the planet. Just waiting for his "wide stance" moment when he's finally outed. It can't come soon enough!

My THIRTY-NINTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey (UPDATE)

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."

I'd like to ask you again about Alabama Republican Senatorial candidate, Roy Moore. A few letters ago I asked you:
Today, however, I'd like to ask a different question: What if Roy Moore wins? If he does, then every statement he makes, every bit of legislation he proposes, every vote that's in agreement with the rest of GOP will be pinned to the rest of you. He'll be your guy and you'll have to answer for every last bit of what he does.

What are your plans when or if that happens?
Now that the leader of your party, Donald J Trump, has endorsed the candidate you're on record as saying should "step aside" and the RNC has decided to re-engage in the race, have your views on the allegations raised against Moore changed? Do you still think that those allegations "have more credibility than the denial" (as you said on Meet The Press in November)?

Or do you agree with Mitt Romney who tweeted:
Roy Moore in the US Senate would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation. Leigh Corfman and other victims are courageous heroes. No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.
Which side are you on?

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

The Senator answered this question here.

Follow-up:

December 4, 2017

Ladies And Gentlemen, YOUR Republican Party!

In a discussion recently in the Senate about funding the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), these words were heard coming out of the mouth of man who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, Senator Orrin Hatch Republican of Utah:
The reason CHIP is having trouble is because we don't have any money anymore. We just add more and more spending and more and more spending, and you can look at the rest of the bill for the more and more spending.

I happen to think that CHIP has done a terrific job for people who have really needed the help. I have taken the position around here for my whole Senate service that I believe in helping those who cannot help themselves but would if they could. I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who will not help themselves--who will not lift a finger--and expect the Federal Government to do everything.
And then in answering a question about letting CHIP shut down due to lack of funding, Hatch added:
I don't intend to let that happen. I think that we will get CHIP taken care of and, hopefully, a number of other things, too, but we are going to have to resolve some of these big problems around here, it seems to me, before we do get those problems solved.
Meaning after the $1.5 trillion tax reform bill goes through.

According to the Washington Post:
Nearly 9 million youngsters and 370,000 pregnant women nationwide receive care because of [CHIP].
And it needs $15 billion in funding or it'll shut down. By the way a billion is .1% of a trillion. It's one one thousandth of a trillion.

But Orrin Hatch wants to "resolve some of these big problems" before taking care of the CHIP program.

This is the face of the Republican Party - shuttle more and more money to people who already have lots of it, claim the government is out of funds and then (using that as an excuse) shave away funding from people who really need it (rationalizing it with the notion that some probably don't because they "will not help themselves and expect the Federal Government to do everything."

Meanwhile 9 million kids will lose their health insurance, thanks to the "pro-family" party.

Ask your Republican representatives (House or Senate, Federal or Statewide) if they agree with Hatch.

December 3, 2017

November 30, 2017

It's About Frickin Time!!! (Chuck McCullough's Appeal)

From Tuesday's Post-Gazette:
Former Allegheny County Councilman Charles McCullough believes his 2015 conviction for theft and misapplication of funds ought to be thrown out. Or, at the very least, that he be granted a full and fair hearing over his allegations of impropriety against the judge who presided over his trial.

His attorney, noted former federal prosecutor and law professor Bruce Antkowiak, told the state Superior Court on Tuesday that the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence to sustain the conviction and never proved that McCullough intended to steal anything. Instead, he argued, his client was exercising authority granted to him by a power of attorney signed by his elderly, wealthy client.
Last we heard of this case, nine and a half months ago (on the eighth anniversary of Chuck's arrest), the case had yet to be scheduled to be heard before the Superior Court.
And now it has been - yay.

There's also this from the P-G:
On the eve of sentencing in November 2015, McCullough said he learned that Judge Nauhaus had a private, ex-parte conversation with his trial attorney Jon Pushinsky, prior to the start of trial. In that conversation, Judge Nauhaus allegedly told Mr. Pushinsky that McCullough ought to choose to have the case heard by the judge and not a jury.
 This is what I wrote back in February:
Basically, after the non-jury trial was done, [McCullough] said he took a judge-only trial because he feared repercussions from judge Nauhaus (sic) if he didn't. On the other hand, he said under oath that no one threatened or coerced him into taking the judge-only trial. And so (still from The Trib):
The District Attorney's Office charged McCullough in November with two counts each of perjury, false swearing and obstruction of justice, along with one count of unsworn falsification.
So now there's a perjury case while McCullough appeals his conviction that came after his arrest 8 years ago. The perjury case is set to start 5 days after the end of his Superior Court appeal.
I'm not sure I understand the legal argument here but it looks like by simply making this argument for appeal, he's conceding the perjury charge.

But then again, I am not an attorney.

In any event, it's been ten years, eleven months and seventeen days since Dennis Roddy, then writing for the P-G, first broke this story.

November 29, 2017

The Logical Outcome Of The GOP's Reality Creation

Thirteen or so years ago Ron Suskind published this in the NYTimes Magazine:
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
Back then the Republicans in the White House (who, however evil they were, seem so utterly sane now by comparison, don't they?) were creating new realities left and right:
  • Waterboarding isn't torture
  • Iraq had an active WMD program
  • The Iraq war will be over in a few weeks
And so on.

How has that played out a dozen years later?

From the Washington Post:
President Trump has expressed certainty that the special-counsel probe into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia will be finished by the end of the year, complete with an exoneration from Robert S. Mueller III, according to several friends who have spoken with him in recent days.

Trump has dismissed his historically low approval ratings as “fake” and boasted about what he calls the unprecedented achievements of his presidency, even while chatting behind the scenes, saying no president since Harry Truman has accomplished as much at this point.

Trump also has occasionally questioned whether the “Access Hollywood” video of him crowing about assaulting women was doctored or inauthentic, asking confidants whether they think the sexual braggart on tape sounds like him, according to two people who have heard him make the comments.
And from the New York Times:
In recent months, they say, Mr. Trump has used closed-door conversations to question the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. He has also repeatedly claimed that he lost the popular vote last year because of widespread voter fraud, according to advisers and lawmakers.
Scary part is that he's either presenting a "reality" that he knows to be untrue (in which case he's lying to everyone) or he's presenting a "reality" that he actually believes to be true.

For a guy who has the constitutional authority to vaporize all of human civilization into its constituent atoms, it's very scary either way.

But hey, HILLARY'S EMAILS! BENGHAZI!

November 28, 2017

My THIRTY-EIGHTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey (UPDATED)

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."

Donald Trump is attacking the press again, Senator. Recently, he tweeted,
"[Fox News] is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth from them!"
Answering that attack was conservative writer David Frum, who tweeted:
Inside the US, CNN’s reporting is protected by the First Amendment and the courts. Outside the US, US-affiliated journalists do ultimately depend on the protection of the US government. Trump’s words are a direct attack on those international journalists' freedom & even safety
And former head of the CIA and NSA, General Michael Hayden, who tweeted:
If this is who we are or who we are becoming, I have wasted 40 years of my life. Until now it was not possible for me to conceive of an American President capable of such an outrageous assault on truth, a free press or the first amendment.
Senator, your constituents are watching. You need to pick a side. Do you agree with Donald Trump's attack on the free press or not?
I await your response.
And I will be posting whatever response I get from him or his office.

UPDATE: Senator Toomey kinda sorta almost answers this letter here.

Follow-up:

November 27, 2017

Exercising My First Amendment Rights At Trump Tower

I spent Thanksgiving on Long Island (burp) and then I made a pilgrimage to Trump's gross, gilded tower where took this pic:


In my defense I point out what the Constitution says here:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
And to this far far greater president (and far far better man) than Donald Trump:
The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.
Donald Trump is a bad president. Donald Trump is a bad man.

It's my patriotic duty to say so.

November 25, 2017

Meanwhile, Outside

It's that time of the month.

From the climate scientists at NOAA:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for October 2017 was 0.73°C (1.31°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.1°F). This value tied with 2003 as the fourth highest October temperature on record since global records began in 1880, behind 2015 (+1.0°C / +1.8°F), 2014 (+0.79°C / +1.42°F), and 2016 (+0.74°C / +1.33°F). The 10 warmest Octobers on record have all occurred during the 21st century, specifically since 2003. October 2017 also marks the 41st consecutive October and the 394th consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average.
And that's just for the month of October.

For the year-to-date, the picture is this:
Averaged as a whole, the January–October 2017 global land and ocean surface temperature was the third highest for January–October since global records began in 1880 at 0.86°C (1.55°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.4°F), behind 2016 (highest) and 2015 (second highest). Nine of the 10 warmest January-October global land and ocean temperatures occurred during the 21st century (since 2005), with only one year from the 20th century (1998) among the top 10. With two months remaining, the 2017 global land and ocean temperature will likely end among the three highest in the 138-year record.

The global land surface temperature was 1.33°C (2.39°F) above the 20th century average of 9.3°C (48.7°F) and the second highest January–October temperature since global records began in 1880, behind 2016. The global ocean surface temperature was the third highest such period at 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20th century average of 16.1°C (61.0°F), behind 2016 and 2015.
On the other hand, on recent NYTimes Op-Ed page we read:
The Trump administration is making it harder to find government information about climate change on the web. If you searched Google for the words “climate change” a little over six months ago, one of the first hits would have been the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

But that was before April 28, when the agency began systematically dismantling its climate change website, which had survived Democratic and Republican administrations and was a leading source of information on a global problem that the president, as a candidate, labeled “a hoax.”

If you search those words today, a link to the E.P.A. site may not appear until the second or third search results page.
When you do get to the EPA webpate, you see these words:
This page is being updated.

Thank you for your interest in this topic. We are currently updating our website to reflect EPA's priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt. If you're looking for an archived version of this page, you can find it on the January 19 snapshot.
However, if you do want to hunt down some pre-inaugural science, you might just come up empty as the Trump/Pruitt EPA has been scrubbing the site of actual science.

Meanwhile, it's still getting warmer out there. From a recent Governmental report (based on science rather than Trumpian non-science):
Many lines of evidence demonstrate that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. Formal detection and attribution studies for the period 1951 to 2010 find that the observed global mean surface temperature warming lies in the middle of the range of likely human contributions to warming over that same period. We find no convincing evidence that natural variability can account for the amount of global warming observed over the industrial era. For the period extending over the last century, there are no convincing alternative explanations supported by the extent of the observational evidence. Solar output changes and internal variability can only contribute marginally to the observed changes in climate over the last century, and we find no convincing evidence for natural cycles in the observational record that could explain the observed changes in climate.
A warmer planet and human influence is the dominant cause.

November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving - 2017!

When I was a boy in New England (where you can find the best pizza on the planet) every year on Thanksgiving day it was a tradition for at least one New York radio station to play one particular 18 minute piece of music - some time around noon.

This piece of music.

BTW, this piece of music has been updated.
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Happy Thanksgiving!

November 21, 2017

My THIRTY-SEVENTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey (Thanksgiving Edition)

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."

First off, let me wish you and everyone around you a Happy Thanksgiving. I don't know if you do it but some people I know take the opportunity at Thanksgiving to acknowledge what they're thankful for.

So let me.  I am thankful that we live in a constitutional democracy where:
  • There is equal protection under the law. Where everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender status or wealth gets treated exactly the same way under the law as every one else. It doesn't matter if you're working an hourly wage or you're a billionaire real estate developer from Queens, your freedom is protected with the same vigor, regardless.
  • There is a healthy respect for the rule of law. Just as everyone has equal protection under the law (see above), everyone lives happily under the same Constitution. Again, it doesn't matter if you're working an hourly wage or you're a billionaire real estate developer from Queens, you're subject to the same Constitution as everyone else - no second class citizens at all!
  • Everyone (again, see above) has exactly the same access to the corridors of political power as everyone else. Working an hourly wage or with a billionaire's real estate portfolio, your voice has exactly the same influence over the country's politics as anyone else's.
That's what America stands for.

What are you thankful for, Senator?
I await your response.
And I will be posting whatever response I get from him or his office.

Follow-up:

November 20, 2017

More On Rick Saccone

One of the benefits, I suppose, of writing for an old blog (and the one you're reading is more than 13 years old - that's 91 in dog years) is having a history of writing about the same person/idea.

Something familiar (something peculiar...) bubbles up in the news and I get to ask myself, "Hey, have we written about this before?"

Where am I going with this?

Here - from Potter of the P-G:
Over 500 Democratic committee members gathered in Washington, Pa., on Sunday to pick former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb, who has never run for office before, to be their champion in a special election for the 18th Congressional District to replace Tim Murphy.

“There’s a long road ahead,” Mr. Lamb told the audience gathered inside the Washington High School gym after he earned a majority of votes on the second ballot. “There will be no doubt at the end of these next few months who represents the families of this district.”

The state party’s executive committee must ratify the committee’s pick this week. But barring extraordinary circumstances, Mr. Lamb will face state Rep. Rick Saccone, who Republican leaders picked as their champion last weekend, in a March 16 special election.
Conor Lamb is going up against Rick Saccone.

I'll leave it to others to debate the choice of Lamb as I don't know much about him at all.

But Rick Saccone. Well, we have been here before.

Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth) is the guy who introduced legislation looking to declare 2012 "The Year of The Bible" while also supporting some rather nasty "anti-Sharia" legislation.

Apart from the unconstitutionality of each, does anyone not see the logical inconsistency here?

He's also in favor of waterboarding, which is torture, which makes it a war crime:
Basically, torture is an act intentionally intended to inflict severe and long-lasting physical and mental pain, including amputation, scarring, burning, maiming, mutilation. Coercion means a much lower threshold of pain or discomfort such as stress positions, pushing, temperature change, meal manipulation, loud music, exploiting phobias, trickery, yelling, etc. If done skillfully and in the right circumstances, water-boarding or WB is very effective and causes no long-lasting damage. It is used to train our special forces so I don't consider it torture. The untrained should not try it. Appendectomies are simple procedures for a doctor but I do not want my neighbor performing one on me. In fact, the 911 Commission documented we have only used WB three times in Iraq and those are spelled out in the book for those who want the truth.[Emphasis added.]
This is who Conor Lamb is running against.

November 19, 2017

Hey, I Have An Al Franken Story, Too!

Let's start with what this story is not:
  • It's not about sexual harassment.
  • It's not that important.
But it's mine so here it is anyway.

Sometime before October 2006, I got an freebie from the Jason Altmire campaign to attend a fundraiser (described here) taking place at an amazing loft apartment in the Strip.

The place was packed and sweaty when I got there, armed with a short stack 2PJ business cards ready to network the blog. I think I was on time. Perhaps I was a little late. I really can't remember that detail. Eventually, the place got so crowded it was very difficult to hear clearly anything more than the conversation right in front of you or to even make it over to the kitchen area for the tasty catered nibblies. I remember hanging out with Doug Shields for a little while. I noticed that he was wearing a pair of jeans so new he'd hadn't yet taken off that tape strip that runs down the side and tells you what size the pants are. And I remember meeting Yarone Zober - who angry joked an accusation that we'd outed him on 2PJ. That was a surprise as it's not something we'd ever do here. But just to be sure I checked and no, we hadn't.

Mayor Ravenstahl was there as well - very carefully watched over by his stern-faced, obviously well-armed body-guard.

Then Al Franken arrived. After milling around for a while he addressed the crowd saying among some other things (and I am paraphrasing) that since the Republican Party had moved so far to the right the Democratic Party had become an even bigger "big tent" party. It was now the liberal party AND the conservative party. Remember, this was only 2006. Think of how much farther rightward they went!

Eventually, I got up the courage to introduce myself and to hand him a 2PJ card (that was the goal of the evening - to get a 2PJ card into Al Franken's Harvard-educated hands). I went over to do the usual fan-boy stuff; shake hands, say I'm a big fan and it's great to meet you, etc. That part went off without a hitch. He was shorter than I expected and I noticed, when handing him the card, that his fingernails were bitten short. I gave him the card telling him that his book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" was an inspiration for the blog.

"Oh, I know this blog," he said looking down at the card.

My mood suddenly soared. Al Franken has actually read 2 Political Junkies???

"Really?" I asked, beaming.

"No, I'm just kidding." He answered dryly, taking the card and putting it into his pocket.

My mood suddenly soured. Why do that to someone you don't know, someone who just told you he was a fan?

As I wrote at the very tippy top of this blog post, this has nothing to do with sexual harassment. In the grand scheme of things - and let's be honest, in comparison to Franken's harassment story - it's not really that important at all.

But it's my Al Franken story and regardless of anything else, it shows that he could be a real dick.


November 16, 2017

Wait...This Was On FOX NEWS? (Shepard Smith Debunks The Uranium One Fake News)


Again this was on Fox "News."  The Washington Post has a good summary. He started with the charge:
Nine people involved in the deal made donations to the Clinton Foundation totaling more than $140 million. In exchange, Secretary of State Clinton approved the sale to the Russians, a quid pro quo. The accusation [was] first made by Peter Schweizer, the senior editor-at-large of the website Breitbart in his 2015 book “Clinton Cash.” The next year, candidate Donald Trump cited the accusation as an example of Clinton corruption.
Then added Trump's retelling of the charge:
Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia. Well, nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.
The Post goes on:
Smith called the statement “inaccurate in a number of ways,” noting that “the Clinton State Department had no power to veto or approve that transaction.” Rather, it must be approved by an interagency committee of the government consisting of nine department heads, including the secretary of state.

Most of the Clinton Foundation donations in question, he pointed out, came from Frank Giustra, the founder of the uranium company in Canada. But Giustra, Smith noted, “says he sold his stake in the company back in 2007,” three years before the uranium/Russia deal and “a year and a half before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state.”
Smith sums up:
. . . The accusation is predicated on the charge that Secretary Clinton approved the sale. She did not. A committee of nine evaluated the sale, the president approved the sale, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and others had to offer permits, and none of the uranium was exported for use by the U.S. to Russia.
Shepard Smith joins other fact-checking organizations in debunking this story:
But this hasn't stopped our friends at the Trib from pushing this falseness. Only last month they editorialized:
New controversy over a 2010 deal that gave Russia 20 percent of America's uranium-mining capacity raises questions about whether the Obama administration knew about alleged corruption involving Russian nuclear officials.
What an interesting wrinkle! Now it's whether the Obama administration knew about the corruption (that didn't happen)!

A conservative newspaper and a conservative cable news channel. I am wondering if my friends at the Trib caught Smith's debunking and whether those stubborn facts will stick with them.

Yea, I was kidding.

November 14, 2017

My THIRTY-SIXTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey (UPDATE)

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."

First, I want to commend you for taking a stand against Alabama Senatorial candidate Roy Moore. Especially since you did it before the most recent allegations of sexual assault against him hit the news on 11/13/2017.

Yesterday on the blog (before those latest allegations against Moore were made public) I asked you if the allegations were serious enough for you to demand that Roy Moore "step aside" then what of the very similar allegations leveled against the man you voted for for president, Donald Trump? Should he step aside? Should he have stepped aside last year?

Feel free to answer that question whenever you'd like.That's a freebie.

Today, however, I'd like to ask a different question: What if Roy Moore wins? If he does, then every statement he makes, every bit of legislation he proposes, every vote that's in agreement with the rest of GOP will be pinned to the rest of you. He'll be your guy and you'll have to answer for every last bit of what he does.

What are your plans when or if that happens?

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

The Senator answered this question (kinda, sorta) here.

Follow-up:

November 13, 2017

Let's Give Credit Where Credit Is Due (But Raise A Few Questions In The Process)

NBC News is reporting:
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey on Sunday said Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore should "step aside" and suggested current Sen. Luther Strange as a potential write-in candidate to defeat him.

During an interview on Sunday’s “Meet The Press,” Toomey, R-Pa., would not say whether it would be better or worse for Senate Republicans if Moore is elected as Alabama’s next senator, and he did not rule out the possibility that Republicans could work to unseat Moore if he wins the special election against Democrat Doug Jones on Dec. 12.

“You know, this is a terrible situation, nearly 40-year-old allegation, we'll probably never know for sure exactly what happened," Toomey said. "But from my point of view, you know, I have to say, I think the accusations have more credibility than the denial. I think it would be best if Roy would just step aside.”
And:
"I think Republicans have addressed this in a thoughtful and responsible way, right? We've got a 40-year-old allegation that is unprovable, probably," Toomey said. "And despite that, many of us are suggesting that the preponderance of the evidence seems to support the accuser and, therefore, many of us, I'll speak for myself, would prefer for Roy to step aside. I think that's a responsible way to approach this."
Well, not all Republicans have addressed this in a thoughtful and responsible way, have they Pat?

There's this Republican in Alabama:
“Take Mary and Joseph. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler told the Washington Examiner. “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

“There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Ziegler concluded. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.”
Then there's this other Republican in Alabama:
“The idea that accusations like this would stop his campaign is ludicrous. If this was a habit, like you’ve read with Bill Cosby and millions of dollars paid to settle cases and years of witnesses, that would be one thing,” Henry said. “You cannot tell me there hasn’t been an opportunity through the years to make these accusations with as many times as he’s (Moore) run (for office) and been in the news.

Henry said he believes legal action should be considered against Moore’s accusers, finding their story unbelievable.

“If they believe this man is predatory, they are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years. I think someone should prosecute and go after them. You can’t be a victim 40 years later, in my opinion,” [State Rep. Ed] Henry said.
Yes, that's the solution, prosecute the woman making the allegations that a 32 yr old man fondled her when she was 14.

But we're getting slightly off the topic. I would like to give some credit to Pat Toomey for standing up to credible allegations of sexual misconduct and for him to have backbone to ask a member of his own party who's been the target of these allegations to "step aside."

But what about this allegation?
We walked into that room alone, and [he] shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.

Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But [he] is much bigger — a looming figure — and he was fast, taking me by surprise and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when [his employee] burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself.
Can you guess who he is? Yes, Pat. That's the man you voted for for president. The man who's agenda you're pushing in the Senate.  The man who said about the above assault:
“Take a look, you take a look, look at her — look at her words — you tell me what you think. I don’t think so. I don’t think so.”
Pat, how much more would it take from the admitted pussy-grabber in the Oval Office for you to ask him to "step aside"?

November 10, 2017

More On Christopher Ruddy At Point Park (He Said WHAT?)

From The P-G:
“He loves the press,” Mr Ruddy said. When Mr. Trump threatened to pull broadcasting licenses from unfriendly media outlets, Mr. Ruddy surmised, “He’s blowing off steam.”
From Politico:
President Donald Trump charged Friday that the media aren’t an enemy of the White House but an adversary of the American people.

In a since-deleted tweet Friday afternoon, the president blasted what he called “FAKE NEWS media,” singling out in particular The New York Times, CNN and NBC News.

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @CNN, @NBCNews and many more) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people. SICK!” Trump tweeted. The post was deleted shortly after.

He revised his tweet 16 minutes later to include more news organizations in his category of so-called fake news: ABC and CBS.

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” the amended tweet said.
Back to the P-G:
Still, his gentle portrayal of Mr. Trump frustrated some. When Mr. Ruddy said that in all his conversations with Mr. Trump, “I’ve never heard him say anything racially improper,” there were groans. One audience member erupted, “Why didn’t he apologize to the Central Park Five?” — a reference to five black teenagers falsely accused of a 1989 rape. Mr. Trump had publicly called for their execution. Mr. Ruddy said he wasn’t familiar with the case.
Christopher Ruddy wasn't familiar with the case?? Here, Chris. Let me help you a bit. This is from Newsmax (your own news source) thirteen months ago:
Donald Trump this week continued his longtime assertion that the "Central Park Five" were guilty of the brutal 1989 rape of a banker while jogging, despite being exonerated by DNA evidence more than a decade later.

"They admitted they were guilty," the Republican presidential candidate told CNN in a statement on Thursday.
Then there's this from Newsmax from 2014:
New York City's $40 million settlement in the Central Park 5 case is "a disgrace," says Donald Trump, who claims justice has not taken place.

"Settling doesn't mean innocence, but it indicates incompetence on several levels," Trump said in an opinion piece Saturday in the New York Daily News. "This case has not been dormant, and many people have asked why it took so long to settle? It is politics at its lowest and worst form."
And yet, Newsmax CEO (and Trump-friend) Christopher Ruddy said he's not familiar with the case.

November 9, 2017

Christopher Ruddy Wants You To Think He's Not Really That Bad Of A Bad Guy

Well, I was there last night.

So was Potter of the P-G:
Christopher Ruddy, the influential online conservative publisher who sometimes serves as an oracle for the whims of Donald Trump, warned Wednesday that his friend faces difficult days ahead.

“The Republicans had a catastrophic wake-up call with the Virginia election,” in which Republicans were routed this week, the publisher of online site Newsmax.com told an audience at Oakland’s Pittsburgh Playhouse. And if current trends continue, “The Republicans will probably lose control of the Senate, and maybe even the House.”
As was Lingala of the Pitt News:
Less than a few minutes into Christopher Ruddy’s presentation at the Pittsburgh Playhouse Wednesday night, about 30 Point Park University students stood up silently with their fists in the air, showing off shirts emblazoned with colorful messages such as “People not Profit” and “Love not Hate.”

Ivan Bracy was among the students at the event silently protesting Ruddy’s visit. Ruddy — a long time friend of President Donald Trump and founder and CEO of conservative media outlet Newsmax Media —- was in Pittsburgh to give a presentation and hold a Q&A session concerning the one-year anniversary of Trump’s election.
I think I saw this happen - but I'm not sure as the lights were so low I could barely see my notes. My guess is that with all the floodlights flooding all that light onto the stage, Ruddy himself has no idea it even happened at all (unless someone told him backstage or he reads Pitt News or this blog).

I was struck by how matter of factly he deflected his own participation in the history of fake news while saying, "A free and diverse press fights against fake news." His defense of his "Vince Foster was murdered!" reporting was simply this: "I never said he was murdered" and that he was only "asking questions."

I'm sorry but that's not good enough.  It was disappointing that the story was left with that.

Let's dig a little into the implications of Ruddy's defense of his own Fake News.  His book was published in 1997 some four years after the autopsy "appeared to confirm"  Foster's suicide:
Investigators said today that the autopsy of Vincent W. Foster Jr., the deputy White House counsel, appeared to confirm that his death two weeks ago was a suicide.

Mr. Foster was found dead July 20 in a nearby Virginia park with a gunshot wound to the head. Officials said today that the autopsy found gunpowder burns on Mr. Foster's hand, strong evidence that he had fired the weapon that killed him. The bullet that went through Mr. Foster's head has not been recovered, officials said.
That was August, 1993.

In between there were numerous investigations (including Ken Starr's) that all said one thing: Foster killed himself.

I have a question for that beacon of journalistic integrity, Christopher Ruddy: If all the evidence pointed to suicide and your "questions" were looking to undermine that evidence, what other conclusion other than murder were you hoping your audience would reach back then?  Do you really think your lack of the use of the word "murder" changes anything?  So how can you now hide behind the "only asking questions" defense?  And why didn't you simply say, "Yea I was wrong about all that." when asked?

Kinda cowardly, if you ask me.

Christopher Ruddy - birther of fake news.