What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 18, 2017

Donald Trump Is Completely Unworthy

Not of being president - for we all knew that already.

No he's completely unworthy of being called a human being.

This news hit last night - after the debacle of Trump lying to us about how President Obama never called any Gold Star families.

No, that's just the set up.

Here's the story:
President Donald Trump told U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson's widow Tuesday that "he knew what he signed up for ... but when it happens, it hurts anyway," when he died serving in northwestern Africa, according to U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida.

"Yeah, he said that," Wilson said. "So insensitive. He should have not have said that. He shouldn't have said it."

The president called about 4:45 p.m. and spoke to Johnson's pregnant widow, Myeshia Johnson, for about five minutes. She is a mother to Johnson's surviving 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. The conversation happened before Johnson's remains arrived at Miami International Airport on a commercial Delta Airlines flight. [Emphasis added.]
The Washington Post has confirmed that Rep. Wilson heard the conversation via speakerphone.

Donald Trump is a soulless coward.

October 17, 2017

My THIRTY-SECOND 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, I have to ask you about Donald Trump's recent Executive Order - the one ending the CSR payments (the subsidies that help low-income consumers afford health care insurance).

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that "Pennsylvania insurers offering Obamacare plans will need to raise premiums an average 30.6 percent in 2018, nearly four times the increase that had been anticipated."

Last August, the CBO estimated that ending the CSR payments would raise the federal deficit by $194 billion over the next decade or so.

So here's my question: Does any of this sit well with you? If one of the main reasons the GOP wanted (and presumably still wants) to repeal and replace the ACA was to lower premiums, then what are you going to do now that Trump's actions will raise them for so many Pennsylvanians? As a fiscal conservative, how can you support a plan that would both harm your constituents and add to the deficit?

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

Follow-up:

October 16, 2017

Trump vs Bill of Rights

Round One.

A Supreme Court Decision, 75 years ago:
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.
Donald J. Trump, a few weeks ago:
President Donald Trump criticized some in the National Football League Friday night at a rally for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange, saying team owners should fire players for taking a knee during the national anthem.

Trump added that if fans would "leave the stadium" when players kneel in protest during the national anthem, "I guarantee, things will stop."

Trump said NFL owners should respond to the players by saying, "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired. He's fired!"

Round Two.

The First Amendment:
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.
Donald J. Trump, a few days ago:
He has little understanding of (or respect for) what protects our freedom.

October 15, 2017

Meanwhile, Outside

Sorry folks, I missed this one. It should have been posted a few weeks ago. This is the "State of the Climate" report from September about August.

From NOAA:
The August 2017 global land and ocean temperature was 0.83°C (1.49°F) above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F) and the third highest August global temperature in the 138-year record, behind 2016 (+0.90°C / +1.62°F) and 2015 (+0.88°C / +1.58°F). Nine of the ten highest August global temperature departures from average have occurred since 2005, with only one year from the 20th century (1998) among the top 10 warmest Augusts on record. August 2017 also marks the 41st consecutive August and the 392nd consecutive month with a global temperature at least nominally above the 20th century average.
And:
The seasonal global land and ocean temperature for June–August 2017 was third highest such period since global records began in 1880 at 0.81°C (1.46°F) above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F). This value falls behind the record year 2016 by 0.08°C (0.14°F) and 2015 by 0.05°C (0.09°F).
It's still getting warmer out there. It's happening and it's undeniable, in fact.

Meanwhile in our climate denying White House, this is happening:
President Trump has nominated a skeptic of climate change science to lead the White House’s environmental policy board.

The White House late Thursday announced that Trump picked Kathleen Hartnett White to serve as a member, and eventually chairwoman, of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).
From the Washington Post:
From her post at the [Texas Public Policy Foundation], Hartnett-White often has challenged the conclusions of international experts on climate change science, as well as criticized the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are pollutants that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

“I take issue with that,” she told The Post last fall. “Carbon dioxide has none of the characteristics of a pollutant that could harm human health.”

She has displayed similar contempt for international climate efforts, calling scientific conclusions from United Nations panels “not validated and politically corrupt.” Hartnett-White has also questioned the idea that carbon dioxide is a pollutant at all, calling it “an odorless, invisible, beneficial, and natural gas.”
Yes, but the science actually says that with more CO2 in it, the atmosphere absorbs more infrared radiation, thus warming the planet.

It's getting warmer out there and the current administration (and their many many enablers in the House and Senate) are denying the science.

October 12, 2017

Senator Toomey RESPONDS To Another Letter!

Yesterday, I received another response from Senator Pat Toomey.

It starts like this:
Thank you for contacting me about the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. I appreciate hearing from you.
Standard opening and it's about Charlottesville. Good as that narrows things considerably.

To this letter - my 24th to Senator Toomey.

In it, I ask this question:
Given your statement of the 14th, when you asserted your unambiguous disgust with white supremacists (et al) and Trump's departure from his statement and re-embrace of "blame both sides", has your support for Donald Trump, the leader of your political party and the man you voted for for president, wavered in any way?

And if not, why not?
Senator Toomey's "statement of the 14th" was this:
I am disgusted by white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis and believe the racism and hate spewed by these groups have no place in our society.
Just so you know where we are in the chronology.

In his response to me, Toomey addresses the events in Charlottesville AND Trump's comments:
Like you , I am deeply troubled by the racist march in Charlottesville and terribly saddened by the tragic loss of life that occurred there. The racism, hate, and violence seen in Charlottesville are vile and unacceptable. I am disgusted by the white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis, and believe that the racism and hate spewed by these groups have no place in our society.

As to President Trump's statements about the events in Charlottesville, I believe and have publicly stated that there is no moral equivalency between neo-Nazis, bigots, and white supremacists, and those who oppose them. Our country has no room for corrupt ideology or violent acts.
As commendable as all that is (and it is, Senator) I have to ask my audience: Did you notice anything missing? Anything? Anything at all?

How about this: He utterly failed to even get close to my question. Which was, let's remember, this:
Given [his responses to the events in Charlottesville] has your support for Donald Trump, the leader of your political party and the man you voted for for president, wavered in any way? And if not, why not?
Why didn't Pat Toomey answer the question? Either his Trump support has wavered or it has not because of Trump's wavering racism. Given all teh udder crazie wafting through the White House these days, don't we have a right to know?

I guess not.

There's an interesting footnote to this story. Whenever I get a Toomey response, I google the first sentence to see if he's already sent it to me (he doubled up once before, doncha know). What did I find this time?

This blogpost - it is word for word the same letter I received.

Welcome to my world, J.S. Brooks (I wonder if you knew that "Bach" means "Brook" in German.)

Toomey's letter in full:
Thank you for contacting me about the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. I appreciate hearing from you.

Like you, I am deeply troubled by the racist march in Charlottesville and terribly saddened by the tragic loss of life that occurred there. The racism, hate, and violence seen in Charlottesville are vile and unacceptable. I am disgusted by the white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis, and believe that the racism and hate spewed by these groups have no place in our society.

As to President Trump's statements about the events in Charlottesville, I believe and have publicly stated that there is no moral equivalency between neo-Nazis, bigots, and white supremacists, and those who oppose them. Our country has no room for corrupt ideology or violent acts.

I hope that what occurred in Charlottesville will be an isolated incident. Moving forward, I pray that members of Congress will put politics aside, unequivocally condemn hate and bigotry, and find ways to work together to protect our shared American values of equality and justice for all.

Thank you again for your correspondence. Please be assured I understand and appreciate hearing your concerns, and will continue monitoring the fallout from the recent events in Charlottesville. Do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Pat Toomey

U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania

October 10, 2017

My THIRTY-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."

Recently in the New York Times your colleague, Senator Corker of Tennessee, had some rather harsh characterizations of the man you voted for. Corker said:
  • I don't know why the President tweets out things that are not true. You know he does it, everyone knows he does it, but he does.
  • Trump may be setting the US on the path to World War III.
  • He concerns me. He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.
The Times also reported that "Mr. Corker said that his concerns about Mr. Trump were shared by nearly every Senate Republican."

So here's my question, Senator. Are you one of those Senate Republicans? If you are, when will you be speaking out and if you're not then why not?

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), said of Corker, "It's easy to be bold when you're not coming back."

Is that true? Is it simply a matter of political courage to speak out against Trump?

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

Follow-up:

October 9, 2017

A Very Expensive Stunt!

This weekend:
Vice President Mike Pence left a football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday after some players knelt during the National Anthem, saying he did not want to "dignify" the demonstration.

"I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem," Pence wrote on Twitter.
This is, of course, bullshit because the protest isn't about anything near what Pence said it was about.

This is what Colin Kaepnernick actually said about his refusal to stand during the National Anthem:
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
And then there's this part from an different interview:
I have great respect for the men and women that have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody. That’s something that’s not happening. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen circumstances where men and women that have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they have fought for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for, on our land. That’s not right.
And in a response his team at the time, the 49ers, issued this statement:
The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.
Bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody.

None of which is untrue.

So the Colts are playing the 49ers - Kaepernicks old team doncha know - and before hand the little handed pussy grabber instructed Pence to leave "if" some players kneeled.

IF?

This was a stunt from the beginning:
Yes, all that money for a racist strawman argument.

This is the America we live in now.

October 5, 2017

One Last Tim Murphy Follow-Up (Until The Next One)

Murphy Resigns:
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), the embattled anti-abortion lawmaker who allegedly encouraged his lover to terminate a pregnancy, on Thursday announced his plan to resign from office later this month — just a day after announcing his plan to retire following the 2018 election.

The Pennsylvania Republican’s about-face came after House GOP leaders and senior Republicans upped the pressure on Murphy to step down. Republican sources familiar with Murphy’s thinking said the married father of one child initially believed he could weather a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story revealing he had sent a series of text messages to his girlfriend — a psychologist half his age — encouraging her to have an abortion. Murphy had been a strongly anti-abortion lawmaker during his 15 years in Congress.
Poor guy.

And to think - if only he'd been faithful to the family values that the rest of his party seems so eager to push onto the rest of country, he would never have put himself into this mess.

Poor guy.

Tim Murphy Follow-up (In Case You Missed It)

A follow-up on yesterday's blog post.

From the Post-Gazette:
Congressman Tim Murphy announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election.
You'll note that the hypocrite is not resigning - he's just not seeking re-election. You'll also note that the present term only started 9 months ago.  He's still on the job for another 15.

October 4, 2017

In Case You MIssed It, Here's Hypocrite Rep Tim Murphy (PA-18)

Before we start, let's get some factual data out of the way
  • Tim Murphy is a Republican.
  • Tim Murphy is pro-life.
  • Tim Murphy is 64.
  • Tim Murphy is married.
And now the woman on the other side of this story:
  • Shannon Edwards is 32.
  • Shannon Edwards is also married.
And now, onto the Post-Gazette:
A text message sent in January to U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy by a woman with whom he had an extra-marital relationship took him to task for an anti-abortion statement posted on Facebook from his office's public account.

"And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options," Shannon Edwards, a forensic psychologist in Pittsburgh with whom the congressman admitted last month to having a relationship, wrote to Mr. Murphy on Jan. 25, in the midst of an unfounded pregnancy scare.
And now it's hit the big time (in the USA):
Yea, so now everyone knows.

What a hypocrite Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania's 18th District is.

October 3, 2017

My THIRTIETH 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."

While everyone in the world (myself included) is trying to come to terms with America's latest mass shooting, I'd like to ask you about something else completely.

ABC news has reported that the House and Senate have both missed the deadline to reauthorize the finding for CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program - a program that covers about 9 million low and middle income children.

The Kaiser Foundation reported that our own state of Pennsylvania will probably exhaust its CHIP money sometime in the last quarter of this year, meaning that unless the Congress does something, lots of low and middle income children will have to do without adequate health care next year.

Politico reported that The Senate Finance Committee (which I believe you're on) announced a deal to a 5-year extension of CHIP funding in the middle of September. And yet the Senate failed to vote on it.

So here's my question: What will you be doing to make sure the Senate reauthorize CHIP and if the Senate does not reauthorize, how are you going to explain it to the many Pennsylvania parents who rely on that funding?

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

Follow-up:

October 2, 2017

(Artist unknown)

ANOTHER Mass Shooting

From The Washington Post:
A gunman in a high-rise hotel opened fire on concertgoers at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip late Sunday, killing at least 50 people and injuring more than 200 in one of the worst mass shootings in modern U.S. history.

The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, was later killed during a standoff with police, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters. NBC and others reported that Paddock was 64.
Stephen Paddock, a 64 year old white guy from Nevada.

So let's build that wall to keep out the Muslims!!

THAT'LL keep us safe!

MAGA!!

September 29, 2017

Trickle Down Authoritarianism

The Washington Post is reporting:
A high school in northwest Louisiana will punish students with suspensions or removal from sports teams if they demonstrate during the national anthem.

Principal Waylon Bates of Parkway High School in Bossier Parish called such demonstrations a “disruption” in a letter sent Thursday to students and parents.
Here's the letter:
But haven't we been here before?

Yes, we have. And the Supreme Court was here, too. About 75 years ago:
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.
So when they write:
Parkway High School requires student athletes to stand in a respectful manner throughout the National Anthem during any sporting event in which their team is participating. Failure to comply will result in loss of playing time and/or participation as directed by the head coach and principal.
The folks at the Parkway High School might think they're acting as good patriots and in the best interest of the country, they simply are not.

The dangers to the republic were spelled out by the Court in 1943 (on Flag Day, in the middle of WWII):
Struggles to coerce uniformity of sentiment in support of some end thought essential to their time and country have been waged by many good as well as by evil men. Nationalism is a relatively recent phenomenon but at other times and places the ends have been racial or territorial security, support of a dynasty or regime, and particular plans for saving souls. As first and moderate methods to attain unity have failed, those bent on its accomplishment must resort to an ever-increasing severity. As governmental pressure toward unity becomes greater, so strife becomes more bitter as to whose unity it shall be. Probably no deeper division of our people could proceed from any provocation than from finding it necessary to choose what doctrine and whose program public educational officials shall compel youth to unite in embracing. Ultimate futility of such attempts to compel coherence is the lesson of every such effort from the Roman drive to stamp out Christianity as a disturber of its pagan unity, the Inquisition, as a means to religious and dynastic unity, the Siberian exiles as a means to Russian unity, down to the fast failing efforts of our present totalitarian enemies. Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.

It seems trite but necessary to say that the First Amendment to our Constitution was designed to avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings. There is no mysticism in the American concept of the State or of the nature or origin of its authority. We set up government by consent of the governed, and the Bill of Rights denies those in power any legal opportunity to coerce that consent. Authority here is to be controlled by public opinion, not public opinion by authority.
Not so much in Trump's America.




September 28, 2017

REMINDER: Podcamp Pittsburgh Session

It's THIS SATURDAY, Point Park University, at one in the afternoon, in the big room:
It’s been shown time and time again that the current administration has been, shall we say, less than honest when speaking about, shall we say, anything. For the electorate, for the average citizen this can be a challenge. How do you separate the news from the fake news? I’d like to offer a few suggestions.
Will you be there?  I will. I'll be the middle-aged, balding guy at the podium.

September 26, 2017

My TWENTY-NINTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey (With A Special Offer)

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 as you may already know, the CBO has issued a "Preliminary Analysis" of the latest GOP attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. It reads:
The number of people with comprehensive health insurance that covers high-cost medical events would be reduced by millions compared with the baseline projections for each year during the decade, CBO and JCT estimate.
The Brookings Institute estimates that it might go as high as 21 million fewer insured.

Here is this week's set of questions: Why are you favoring a bill that would reduce the insurance coverage of so many Americans - including so many of your fellow Pennsylvanians? How will you explain it to your constituents that loose their insurance coverage that you played an active part in that loss?

Here's the thing: this weekend I'll be giving a talk at this year's PodCamp where I'll be discussing "Fact-checking in the Age of Trump." Here's my special offer: I'll scrap all of it if you show up for a chat. We can talk about anything you want: Donald Trump's presidency, your party's attempts to repeal and replace the ACA, the state of the world so far. Anything. I'll even bring some donuts.

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

Follow-up:

September 25, 2017

Trump's Latest Attempt to MAGA!


"Well, not ALL of them," I'm sure Trump would say. "The good ones can keep their jobs," he'd almost as surely add.

 Donald J Trump in 2011:
I've always had a great relationship with the blacks.
This is the current occupant of the White House.

Meanwhile, on Puerto Rico (where about 3.5 million Americans live):
Without power and communications in much of the island, millions of people, including city leaders and first responders, have been cut off from the world since Maria hit Wednesday.

Authorities flew over the island Saturday, and were stunned by what they saw. No cellphones, water or power. Roads completely washed away and others blocked by debris, isolating residents.
For Trump, tweeting about the NFL instead is so much more MAGA!

September 24, 2017

Senator Toomey RESPONDS To Another Letter!

It's been just under a month since I posted my last Toomey response and so it filled my heart with glee (the mundane human emotion kind not the TV High School Glee club singing impossibly well kind) when I received another letter from Pennsylvania's junior Senator yesterday - via the Post Office.

It begins thusly:
Thank you for contacting me about President Trump. I appreciate hearing from you.
Standard opening but look: He's answering a Trump letter!!

Which one?  That's the problem.  Since the letter is dated September 12 we can dispense with any of my letters sent after that date (to be honest though, there were only two and not about Trump - my point here is moo.)

So which letter is it?
  • Letter 2 - where I ask about Trump's difficulty in being truthful:
    Doesn't it at all concern you that the leader of the free world (and head of your political party, by the way) has, on numerous occasions, made public statements that are demonstrably untrue? We're not talking about differences of opinion here, there was no immigrant/terrorist incident that night in Sweden, he did not have the highest number of electoral votes since Ronald Reagan, the murder rate is not the highest its been in 47 years and there were not between 3 and 5 million illegal votes cast.

    There are only two possibilities. He knows they're not true but he says them anyway (in which case he's lying on a massive scale) or he believes them to be true (in which case he must have a problem comprehending reality).

    Doesn't that concern you? And if not, why not?
  • Letter 3 -  where I ask about Trump's tweet regarding the press:
    Do you agree with Donald Trump (your chosen candidate this past November) that the news media (including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and the New York Times) constitutes an "enemy of the people" of the United States?
  • Letter 6 -  where I ask about Trump's continued claim that the Obama administration had wiretapped him, despite being debunked by the Justice Department:
    The facts are clear and yet Donald Trump continues to push this untruth. So here's my question: How much does this erode your confidence in his ability as a leader?
  • Letter 10 - where I ask about Trump's refusal (so far) to release his tax returns:
    The reason the American people are entitled to see any sitting president's tax returns is simple: we have a right to know if decisions are being made for the good of the American people or simply for the good of that president's finances. One of the best ways to know that is to know see that president's financial details.

    If it was good enough for Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, it should be good enough for Donald J. Trump, don't you agree?
  • Letter 13 - where I ask about Trump's meeting in the Oval Office with Russian officials:
    Given the events of the last few days (the Comey firing and the disclosure of highly classified information to the Russians) do you a still have confidence in Donald J Trump's ability to be president and commander in chief? If not, what are your plans to deal with him? If you still do have confidence in his leadership abilities, considering the events of the past few days, what would it take for you to lose that confidence?
  • Letter 14 - where I ask again about Trump's meeting in the Oval Office with Russian officials, when he called the recently fired FBI Director James Comey "a real nut job":
    Are you OK with the president of the United States in effect bragging to the Russian Ambassador that he'd just fired the guy in charge of the investigation into whatever connections there may have existed between his presidential campaign and Russian intelligence?
  • Letter 21 - where I ask about the news reports that Trump was looking at replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Note: as of this writing Sessions has not been replaced) possibly in order to stop the Mueller investigation:
    Given that you've already publicly declared that you have "every confidence" in Mueller's "integrity and professionalism", is this OK with you?

    Is it OK with you that Donald J. Trump, as elected leader of the country and (more importantly, it seems) leader of your party, has chosen a route so disrespectful of the rule of law? If he gets away with it would the phrase "rule of law" have any meaning anymore?
  • Letter 22 - where I ask about Trump's dictation of his son Donald Jr's first statement regarding his meeting with the Russians:
    That statement said the meeting was primarily about Russian adoption and it has since been shown to be misleading, at best. Dishonest, at worst. By any reckoning, it was a personally dictated presidential deception about Russian meddling with our election.

    So, here's my question: How comfortable are you with the President of the United States misleading the American people on such an important matter?

    You voted for him, you have to have an opinion about this. I'd like to know what it is.
  • Letter 23 - where I ask about Trump's speech to the Boy Scouts:
    Not only did Donald J Trump lie about the Boy Scouts but that speech, as you probably know by now, triggered an apology from the Scouts to anyone offended by the "political rhetoric injected into the jamboree."

    Senator Toomey, you were a Boy Scout (an Eagle Scout, in fact). So here's this week's question: How and why do you continue to support such a man who would blatantly politicize the Boy Scouts and then lie about it later?
  • Letter 24 - where I ask about Trump's response to the white supremacists' rally in Charlottesville:
    Given your statement of the 14th, when you asserted your unambiguous disgust with white supremacists (et al) and Trump's departure from his statement and re-embrace of "blame both sides", has your support for Donald Trump, the leader of your political party and the man you voted for for president, wavered in any way?
  • Letter 25 - where I ask about Trump's pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio:
    Is this OK with you? That a man convicted of "flagrantly disregarding" a federal judge's direct order not to violate anyone's constitutional rights gets a pardon for it?

    Do you agree with your Senate colleague, John McCain, when he said that "The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”?
  • Letter 26 - where I ask about Trump's tweet regarding his claim that President Obama wiretapped his phone:
    Either Trump was lying in that he knew that what he was tweeting wasn't true but tweeted it anyway or he was negligent in that he fail (sic) to pick up the phone to confirm the story with the DOJ before tweeting. He's the leader of your party. You voted for him for in November. You're legislating his agenda in the Senate. How can you continue to support Donald J Trump?
As you can see I've been asking Senator Toomey about Donald Trump for almost as long as I've been writing to Senator Toomey. The first letter on the above list, in fact, was posted March 7. You'll note that the letters seem to be in this format:
  1. I say that Trump has done something "iffy"
  2. I ask Senator Toomey, "Are you OK with that?"
And this is Toomey's response, verbatim:
On January 20, 2017 Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Since the inauguration, I have heard from a number of Pennsylvanians both in support and opposition to the President. In a state as large and diverse as ours, I can certainly understand there being a wide array of opinions regarding the President, and I appreciate you taking the time to share yours.

When talking about the President during her concession speech, Hillary Clinton said that "we owe him an open mind and the chance to lead" and that she hopes "he will be a successful president for all Americans." I agree with her sentiments and look to work with the President and his administration to help improve the lives of all Pennsylvanians - but also stand up against the President when he does not carry out his duties appropriately.

Clearly, there is much to be done to turn Washington around, and we need to work together on ways to to help grow the economy, strengthen our national security, and bring back some common sense to federal regulations.

Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
As you can guess, I have no idea which of my eleven letters Senator Toomey is addressing as he doesn't actually refer to any one specifically. But let's take a closer look at what he does say. If the letter is to be believed, he's still approaching Trump with "an open mind" and giving him "a chance to lead" still hoping he'll be "successful" even after all of the Trump-stuff I asked about about.

And so that's our answer, my friends:
Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey is OK with Donald J Trump's many assaults on American democracy, decency, and the rule of law.
One last thing, Senator.  You've taken Clinton out of context just a tad. Here's the full paragraph from her concession speech immediately following her "we owe him" sentence:
Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power and we don't just respect that, we cherish it. It also enshrines other things; the rule of law, the principle that we are all equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values too and we must defend them.
How much of that runs in direct opposition to what we know now about Trump?  It's oh so interesting that Pat Toomey isn't using that text to tell us that we owe Trump and open mind and the chance to lead.

September 22, 2017

Announcement: PODCAMP PITTSBURGH 2017

On Saturday the 30th, I'll be giving a talk at this year's PodCamp.

It's titled "Fact-Checking In The Time Of Trump." The description:
It’s been shown time and time again that the current administration has been, shall we say, less than honest when speaking about, shall we say, anything. For the electorate, for the average citizen this can be a challenge. How do you separate the news from the fake news? I’d like to offer a few suggestions.
One O'Clock. I'll be in the big room.

That is all.

September 21, 2017

Hey, Who Said That?? Maybe Someone Should Ask Senator Toomey.

Take a look at this:
Although we support providing states with greater flexibility in shaping health care options for their residents, we share the significant concerns of many health care organizations about the proposed Graham-Cassidy bill. The bill contains provisions that would allow states to waive key consumer protections, as well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing medical conditions. The legislation reduces funding for many states significantly and would increase uncertainty in the marketplace, making coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans’ choice of health plans. Legislation must also ensure adequate funding for Medicaid to protect the most vulnerable.
Who said that???

That would be Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

How about this:
Throughout the debates this year we have consistently recommended that any proposals to replace portions of current law should ensure that individuals currently covered do not become uninsured. Proposals should maintain key insurance market reforms, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, guaranteed issue, and parental coverage for young adults; stabilize and strengthen the individual insurance market; ensure that low- and moderate-income patients are able to secure affordable and meaningful coverage; and guarantee that Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other safety-net programs are adequately funded.

Unfortunately, the Graham-Cassidy Amendment fails to match this vision and violates the precept of “first do no harm.” Similar to proposals that were considered in the Senate in July, we believe the Graham-Cassidy Amendment would result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage, destabilize health insurance markets, and decrease access to affordable coverage and care. We are particularly concerned with provisions that repeal the ACA’s premium tax credits, cost-sharing reductions, small business tax credit, and Medicaid expansion, and that provide inadequate and temporary block grant funds (only through 2026) in lieu of the ACA’s spending on marketplace subsidies and the Medicaid expansion.
That would be the American Medical Association.

Or this:
The Graham-Cassidy bill, as proposed on September 13, 2017, threatens to make health care unaffordable and inaccessible for millions of older Americans. The bill eliminates two sources of financial assistance – premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions – critical to ensuring that low-to moderate-income older adults are able to afford the coverage they need. For a 60-year old earning $25,000 a year, premiums and out-of-pocket costs could increase by as much as $ 16,174 a year if they wanted to keep their current coverage. The bill may also allow states to charge older adults age 50 - 64 significantly higher premiums than under current law on the basis of their age by waiving federal protections that limit the practice known as age rating.
That would be the AARP.

Are you paying attention, Senator Toomey?

September 19, 2017

My Twenty-Eighth 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."

News hit over the last few days that Senate Republicans are trying again to repeal and replace Obamacare. The latest attempt, the Graham-Cassidy bill, would reportedly waive key provisions of Obamacare protections for those with pre-existing conditions. In other words insurers can raise premiums based on someone's medical history, probably pricing more than a few out of coverage. The bill also replaces several ACA provisions with block grants to the states - which then are phased out by 2026. Millions of people (including many of your constituents) will loose their healthcare coverage. Some of those people will die because they can't afford to see a doctor.

The Congressional Budget Office said yesterday that they won't have time to fully analyze the bill before the end of the month, coincidentally exactly when Senate Republicans will no longer be able to pass this with only 50 votes. So you don't have any idea as to what this bill will do to the deficit or how it will impact the American People.

Here's my question: Is any of this OK with you? And if it is, you'll have to explain to me how you can be comfortable with hurting so many of your fellow Pennsylvanians, your constituents.

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

Follow-up:

September 18, 2017

September 15, 2017

What Do People Think Of Donald Trump?

From Axios:
A Trump adviser says that after a tumultuous seven months in office, it had finally dawned on the president: "People really f@&@ing hate me." For someone who has spent his life lapping up adulation, however fake, it was a harsh realization. This is a man with an especially acute need for affirmation.
Yes, that's true.  People fucking hate you, Donald Trump.  Lots of them.

We're just hoping to get out this alive.

September 14, 2017

All Politics Is Local (Some Senatorial Hypocrisy)

From The Washington Post:
The top Republican in the Senate is ready to formally dispense with a long-running practice that gives senators an early chance to block federal judicial nominees who would have jurisdiction over their states — at least at the appeals court level.

In an interview with the New York Times this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he wants to get rid of individual senators’ power to block nominees to the appeals courts — the dozen powerful circuits just one notch below the Supreme Court — from being considered.

“My personal view is that the blue slip, with regard to circuit court appointments, ought to simply be a notification of how you’re going to vote, not the opportunity to blackball,” Mr. McConnell said on the Times’ “The New Washington” podcast, referring to the custom senators from affected states need to sign off on a physical blue slip before a nominee can formally start the congressional vetting process.
And from that NYTimes piece:
Now, with some Democrats refusing to consent as the Trump administration moves to fill scores of judicial vacancies, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, is for the first time publicly advocating that the blue slip be made strictly advisory when it comes to appeals court nominees — the most powerful judges after those on the Supreme Court.
Guess what?

From the Post-Gazette a few years ago:
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday grilled four nominees for federal judgeships, but one Pennsylvania jurist isn’t on the confirmation agenda even though he appears to have wide support.

Judge L. Felipe Restrepo, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District, was nominated six months ago to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, but his confirmation hearing is being held up, and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. is at the center of the delay.

Mr. Toomey said he strongly supports Judge Restrepo, but he hasn’t formally endorsed by officially signing off on the nomination. On judicial confirmations, the Senate traditionally defers to home-state senators whose signatures on blue slips of paper allow confirmation hearings to move forward.
He finally did turn in the blue slip - 6 months after Restrepo's nomination.

The point here is that if McConnell's proposed rule was in place then, there would not have been any delay at all. Toomey's support would have presumably been reflected in his "notification of how...to vote" and it would have been over much sooner.

On the other hand, Toomey wouldn't have been able to make a passive aggressive protest against Obama's immigration policy. Now that the legislative shoe is on the other foot...

Yea I know. Surprising, huh?

September 12, 2017

My TWENTY-SEVENTH 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."

Now that a few days have passed since Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have made landfall, I'd like to ask you about climate change. You're on record, by the way, denying that "human activity significantly contributes to climate change."

Time magazine recently reported that climate scientists have been citing global warming as having an impact on the severity of hurricanes - by making them worse.

Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump's climate denying head of the E.P.A., recently said, on the other hand, that now is not the time to discuss climate change.

Let me ask you a question: When is a good time to discuss climate change?

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

Follow-up:

September 11, 2017

Today - 9/11 - Trump.

From ABC News:
To mark the 16th anniversary Monday of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will attend a commemoration ceremony in the morning at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.
Yes, this is the guy who said this:
Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.
And then after being challenged on his assertion, he stuck with it:
There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don’t like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.
None of that was, in fact, true.

Then there's this:
Columbus, Ohio (CNN)Donald Trump said Monday that he witnessed people jumping out of the Twin Towers on 9/11 from the view in his apartment.

"Many people jumped and I witnessed it, I watched that. I have a view -- a view in my apartment that was specifically aimed at the World Trade Center," Trump said Monday during a rally in Columbus, Ohio.

"And I watched those people jump and I watched the second plane hit ... I saw the second plane hit the building and I said, 'Wow that's unbelievable,'" Trump continued.
CNN points out a few paragraphs later:
The Republican presidential contender lives in Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, more than four miles away from where the World Trade Center towers once stood.
His eyes must be really good to be able to see that level of detail from that far away.

Either that or he's lying.

A few things to think about as you're watching the little-handed pussy-grabber talk about 9/11 today.


September 8, 2017

THIRTEEN YEARS!

2 Political Junkies is THIRTEEN YEARS OLD this week.

We're now the age of pimply adolescents whose hormones are just starting to drive them (and their parents) crazy.

Here is Maria's first blog post at 2PJ.

It was a Bushism:
Too many OB-GYN's are having to get out of the business. Too many OB-GYN's are unable to practice their love with women all across the country.
Here's my first blog post here. It was about how Bush skipped out on his military service. I quoted Salon:
In retrospect, it's doubtful that even White House aides understood all the information embedded in the records, specifically the payroll documents. It's also unlikely they realized how damaging the information could be when read in the proper context. Seven months later, the document dump is coming back to haunt the White House, thanks to researcher Paul Lukasiak, who has spent that time closely examining the paperwork, and more important, analyzing U.S. Statutory Law, Department of Defense regulations, and Air Force policies and procedures of the 1960s and 1970s. As a result, Lukasiak arrived at the overwhelming conclusion that not only did Bush walk away from his final two years of military obligation, coming dangerously close to desertion, but that he attempted to cover up his absenteeism through swindle and fraud.
Yea, you remember when BUSH was the worst president ever? When BUSH was the existential threat to our democracy and the world?

How I miss those carefree naive days of yesteryear.

Happy blog-Birthday, Maria!!

September 7, 2017

Hmmm...Congressman Murphy? There's A Disconnect Here, Isn't There?

Representative Tim Murphy was endorsed by/given a 100% rating by:
Yesterday, In the Post-Gazette:
Congressman Tim Murphy publicly admitted Wednesday to having an extramarital affair with a personal friend, issuing a statement about the relationship hours after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette prevailed in a court motion to unseal a divorce action.
If you think this blog post unfair, just switch the party affiliations and imagine how our conservative friends and colleagues would be reacting right now to a pro-family Democrat caught having an affair with "a personal friend".

September 6, 2017

Reactions To Trump's DACA Decision

President Obama:
Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation.
Vice-President Biden:
These people are all Americans. So let's be clear: throwing them out is cruel. It is inhumane. And it is not America. Congress and the American people now have an obligation to step up and show our neighbors that they're welcome here, in the only place they've ever called home.
The US Conference Of Catholic Bishops:
The cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible. It causes unnecessary fear for DACA youth and their families. These youth entered the U.S. as minors and often know America as their only home. The Catholic Church has long watched with pride and admiration as DACA youth live out their daily lives with hope and a determination to flourish and contribute to society: continuing to work and provide for their families, continuing to serve in the military, and continuing to receive an education. Now, after months of anxiety and fear about their futures, these brave young people face deportation. This decision is unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.
Indecent, cruel, inhumane, and reprehensible - Donald J. Trump.

September 5, 2017

In Today's News




My TWENTY-SIXTH 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."

I'd like to revisit this (unanswered) letter, if I may.

As you probably know the Department of Justice in papers filed in Federal Court last week reiterated that, "Both FBI and NSD confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets."

Those would be the tweets where Donald J Trump claimed the Obama Administration had Trump's "wires tapped" before the November 2016 election. He then questioned the legality of that act. I'm no lawyer but I am guessing it's very illegal - probably a felony - to wire tap someone without a court order of some sort.

So basically a sitting president is accusing a former president of committing a very serious crime. However as the DOJ has confirmed in court On September 1, there is no evidence that this occurred.

Here is my question: Either Trump was lying in that he knew that what he was tweeting wasn't true but tweeted it anyway or he was negligent in that he fail to pick up the phone to confirm the story with the DOJ before tweeting. He's the leader of your party. You voted for him for in November. You're legislating his agenda in the Senate. How can you continue to support Donald J Trump?

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

Follow-up:

September 1, 2017

Senator Pat Toomey Lies Right After His Recent "Town Hall" (His Superstorm Sandy Funding Vote)

First off, let me say that this was a "Town Hall" in name only (a THINO?).

Look at the set-up:
Of the 54 seats in the audience, 24 will be split between Democratic and Republican committees in the Lehigh Valley. The remaining 30 became available to the public at 9 a.m. this past Saturday – and according to DaWayne Cleckley, vice president of marketing at PBS39, they ran out at 9:06 a.m.
So he was guaranteed at least 12 republicans from Lehigh Valley Republican Committee.

You'll remember that before he was Senator, Pat Toomey was a member of the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania's 15th Congressional District - which includes the Lehigh Valley.

So this was very friendly territory for good old Pat.

I am guessing this is by design - keep your friends close and your enemies...on the other side of the studio door so you won't have to answer their questions on live TV.

But we all knew this was going to happen, didn't we?

But let's get to Pat's lie. The AP is reporting this bit of nonsense:
Speaking to reporters afterward, Toomey warned lawmakers against larding any relief bill with spending unrelated to the devastating storm, which dumped about 52 inches (132 centimeters) of rain on part of Texas and caused dozens of deaths. Toomey said that’s why he voted against a Superstorm Sandy aid package in 2013.

“If it becomes a Christmas tree where every member of Congress adds whatever his or her favorite pork barrel spending program, well, then, I’m going to fight that,” he said. “That’s what Sandy became.”
Currently the Texas Republicans, like Senator Ted Cruz, who voted against Sandy funding are now scrambling to explain why they want guv'ment funding now have the same problem as Pat.

This story (that Sandy funding was filled with political pork) simply isn't true:

From the Washington Post fact-checker:
Cruz is repeating a number of myths about the funding for Sandy disaster relief. The vast majority of the spending was for Hurricane Sandy, including elements (such as Smithsonian repairs) that some lawmakers incorrectly believed were unrelated to the storm. The slow rate of projected spending that Cruz had criticized at the time was actually based on how quickly the government had spent funds after previous major storms.

Cruz clearly misspoke about the “two-thirds” being pork. Still, it is wildly incorrect to claim that the bill was “filled with unrelated pork.” The bill was largely aimed at dealing with Sandy, along with relatively minor items to address other or future disasters. He earns Three Pinocchios.
In the piece there's also this:
The Congressional Research Service issued a comprehensive report on the provisions, and it’s clear that virtually all of it was related to the damage caused by Sandy. There may have been some pork in an earlier Senate version, but many of those items were removed before final passage. There were also some items that appear to have been misunderstood. [Emphasis added.]
As you can see here. Pat Toomey voted with Ted Cruz against that funding and he's using the same dishonest justification for it.

You lied, Pat. You lied about your Superstorm Sandy funding vote right after your so-called "Town Hall."

August 30, 2017

Donald Trump, In Houston. Comforting Americans Slammed By Hurricane Harvey

First, from the press pool:
He stood on a raised platform of some type. Couldn’t tell if it was a step ladder or not. But he was not on a truck. Spoke into a microphone.

“I love you, you are special, we’re here to take care of you. It’s going well.”

“What a crowd, what a turnout.”

Reporters heard no mention of the dead, dying or displaced Texans and no expression of sympathy for them. The message was services are coming and Texans will be OK.

“Texas can handle anything,” POTUS said.

“We are going to get you back and operating immediately,” he told the crowd (this contradicts the “Long haul” Sen. John Cornyn has publicly discussed and the caveat from FEMA administrator long moments earlier that it’s going to be a slow process).
Some more info from a TV station in Kansas City:
President Donald Trump gave what was described by a White House pool reporter as an "impromptu rally" after meeting with Texas officials on Tuesday about the government response response to Hurricane Harvey.

According to a White House pool report prepared by a reporter from the Dallas Morning News, a group of hundreds of Trump supporters managed to know where Trump was meeting with officials. The group stood outside of a fire station near Corpus Christi.
And now some commentary from the Washington Post:
As rescuers continued their exhausting and heartbreaking work in southeastern Texas on Tuesday afternoon, as the rain continued to fall and a reservoir near Houston spilled over, President Trump grabbed a microphone to address hundreds of supporters who had gathered outside a firehouse near Corpus Christi and were chanting: “USA! USA! USA!”

‘Thank you, everybody,” the president said, sporting one of the white “USA” caps that are being sold on his campaign website for $40. “I just want to say: We love you. You are special. . . . What a crowd. What a turnout.”

Yet again, Trump managed to turn attention on himself.
I'll just leave it at that.

August 29, 2017

My TWENTY-FIFTH 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."

I'd like to ask you about Donald Trump's pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

As you may know, Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for willfully violating a judge's order to stop "detaining persons for further investigation without reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed."

He was violating their constitutional rights. He was told to stop by a federal judge. He disregarded that order and then bragged about it.

Donald Trump, the man you voted for for president and the leader of your political party, pardoned him.

Is this OK with you? That a man convicted of "flagrantly disregarding" a federal judge's direct order not to violate anyone's constitutional rights gets a pardon for it?

Do you agree with your Senate colleague, John McCain, when he said that "The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”?

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

Follow-up:

August 28, 2017

Heard on HBO Last Night

There was a line spoken last night on HBO that got my attention. It was something about how if enough people lie often enough then "the truth" doesn't matter anymore. Jon Snow said it when he was being chided for not lying to Cersei Lannister.

It's been stuck in my ear ever since and I'm not the only one who heard it.

The Mooch even tweeted it!
Tell me he (either the once and future King of the North or the always nauseating Tony Mooch) wasn't talking about Donald J Trump and his enablers in the GOP.

Well maybe not - I might just be connecting un-connected dots.

August 27, 2017

I'm Not Sure The Faithful In North Huntington Get The Irony Of Their Actions

From Joe Napsha at The Trib, resurrecting a long dead story:
To Shawn Teamann, posting a sign of the Ten Commandments in the front yard of his North Huntingdon home is an affirmation of his faith and his stance against what he sees as an erosion of religious freedom in America.

“It's just standing up for what you believe in. We feel religious freedom is being taken away,” said Teamann, a member of the Immaculate Conception Church of Irwin.
I can not and will not question the sincerity of Mr. Teamann for standing up for his beliefs. Saying that however, I am not sure that Mr Teamann realizes that he's actually exercising a remarkable level of religious freedom by posting The Decalogue on his own front lawn. I can disagree with the commandments but in the end, since it's his sign and his lawn whatever disagreements I might have are meaningless.

He has every right to do what he's doing. It's a right that's protected and it is fundamental to our society's freedoms.

He's even entitled to do this:
Having a sign in his Herold Street yard is a reaction to the removal of the Ten Commandments from publicly owned buildings, Teamann said.
Again. His lawn, his sign, his right to post The Decalogue. If you're offended by seeing them there, you're out of luck, pal.

But look at what he and his pastor, the Rev. John Moineau, are protesting:
Moineau, a Lower Burrell native, said he was prompted to get Ten Commandments signs for parishioners because officials at Valley Junior-Senior High School in New Kensington this year removed a monument etched with the Ten Commandments. The monument on school grounds was removed under the terms of an out-of-court settlement in February with the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wis. An atheist had filed a lawsuit in 2012, claiming the school district violated the constitutionally required separation of church and state.
Turns out, it was constitutional.  Constitutional as far back as 1980:
A Kentucky statute requiring the posting of a copy of the Ten Commandments, purchased with private contributions, on the wall of each public school classroom in the State has no secular legislative purpose, and therefore is unconstitutional as violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
So, Mr. Teamann and Father Moineau, removing the commandments from the public school grounds is not an example of a "religious freedom being taken away" but an example of everyone's religious freedom being protected - including your own.

Father Moineau, your freedom to write about the Ten Commandments is protected.

Shawn Teamann, your freedom to post them on your front lawn is protected.

What you can't do is post them in a public school and in a way so as to force anyone else to read and/or live by them - if you think that you have that right, you're completely (and unconstitutionally) wrong.

It's a sad state of affairs that we still have to have this discussion.

August 26, 2017

Senator Toomey Responds - Kinda, Sorta, But YES! (But NO!)

I got another email response from Senator Pat Toomey Thursday afternoon.

It begins with this:
Thank you for contacting me about Russian actions during the 2016 election. I appreciate hearing from you.
Waitagoshdernminnut!

Haven't we seen this sentence before?

Why yes, Dayvoe. Yes, we have.

Here - on June 28, 2017 and I remember it like it was only 59 days ago.

Well, let's see how the two letters compare, shall we? We already know the first paragraphs match.  How about the second? This is from June:
Former FBI Director James Comey recently testified before Congress that an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is still ongoing. While the former director did not say whether any coordination has been found, he confirmed there is no evidence of vote tampering. President Trump recently fired Mr. Comey, and has nominated Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. It is now up to the Senate to vet and confirm this nomination.
From Thursday:
Former FBI Director James Comey recently testified before Congress that an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is still ongoing. While the former director did not say whether any coordination has been found, he confirmed there is no evidence of vote tampering. President Trump fired Mr. Comey, and nominated Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. On August 1, 2017, the Senate voted 92 - 5 with my support to confirm Wray's nomination.
I'd say that's a very close match, wouldn't you? (Note: The yellowed text in each is the material not found in the other letter.)

The third paragraph? This is from June:
In the interim, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to continue the investigation into any links between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, and any matters that arose from such investigation - an assignment that encompasses the recent allegations surrounding Michael Flynn and Mr. Comey. I have every confidence that Robert Mueller will execute these responsibilities with integrity and professionalism.
From Thursday:
Meanwhile, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to continue the investigation into any links between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, and any matters that arose from such investigation - an assignment that encompasses the recent allegations surrounding Michael Flynn and Mr. Comey. I have every confidence that Robert Mueller will execute these responsibilities with integrity and professionalism.
I am so glad they changed "In the interim" to "Meanwhile." It was just so necessary.

Fourth paragraph? This is from June:
I look forward to reviewing the findings of Special Counsel Mueller and the findings by the various House and Senate Committees investigating these issues. If the Russian government or its agents meddled in our election, they should face serious consequences. Towards that end, I was pleased to support legislation (S. 722) that codified and strengthened existing sanctions on Russia. If the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government in an attempt to influence the election, then that should be disclosed and acted upon, too. Russia remains a dangerous threat, and Congress must remain vigilant against our adversaries' attempts to expand their influence and undermine trust in our government.
From Thursday:
I look forward to reviewing the findings of Special Counsel Mueller and the findings by the various House and Senate Committees investigating these issues. If the Russian government or its agents meddled in our election, they should face serious consequences. Towards that end, I was pleased to support legislation (Public Law 115-44) that codified and strengthened existing sanctions on Russia. If the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government in an attempt to influence the election, then that should be disclosed and acted upon, too. Russia remains a dangerous threat, and Congress must remain vigilant against our adversaries' attempts to expand their influence and undermine trust in our government.
Now this part is somewhat interesting. Without looking into the matter, one might be tempted to assume that S.722 was simply signed into law as Public Law 115-44.

But my children, pray that ye enter not into such temptation (Luke 22:40) for you'd have an incomplete picture of the whole. S.722 was incorporated into a House bill (H.R. 3364) that also included sanctions against North Korea. Not a big deal either way. I'm just showing off.

Finally the fifth and last paragraph - This is from June:
While I am not a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, please be assured I understand your concerns and will keep your thoughts in mind moving forward. Thank you again for your correspondence. Do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
And Thursday:
While I am not a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, please be assured I understand your concerns and will keep your thoughts in mind moving forward. Thank you again for your correspondence. Do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
No changes.

The funny thing is that, if you remember the June 28 response, I wasn't actually able to establish exactly which letter of mine Senator Toomey was answering. It looks like it's the same story here.

Since then, the only letter that's even close is the Twenty-second. Here is the question from that letter:
Yesterday, the Washington Post published a story asserting that Donald J Trump himself "personally dictated" the initial, and misleading, statement describing his son's meeting in Trump Tower - a meeting Donald Jr took after being promised in an email damaging information on the Clinton Campaign from the Russian government.

That statement said the meeting was primarily about Russian adoption and it has since been shown to be misleading, at best. Dishonest, at worst. By any reckoning, it was a personally dictated presidential deception about Russian meddling with our election.

So, here's my question: How comfortable are you with the President of the United States misleading the American people on such an important matter?
How damaging is it to assume that's the case? I ask if Senator Toomey is comfortable with the President of the United States misleading the American people and he responds by sending me (AGAIN) an answer to a question I didn't ask.

Maybe I should just tailor a question to fit his answer. Maybe then I'll get a straight answer about Trump's dishonesty.