What Fresh Hell Is This?

April 22, 2017

Because "There is no Planet B"

Some photos from today's March for Science in Pittsburgh from my friend Joy Sabl. She's a geneticist who's married to a nuclear physicist (because that's how my friends roll).

Brain hat replaces pussy hat today

The #unless refers to "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not." from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Truth!

More truth!

Bonus Points if you get these.

The crowd 

On the move!

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

Note: The quote in the title of this post comes from this article.

Today, In Oakland

From Templeton of the P-G:
Science has been attacked from multiple directions throughout the ages, with current challenges to established research on climate change, evolution and environmental stewardship and continuing cuts in research funding through the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies.

So scientists and the pro-science community are striking back peaceably with a March For Science noon Saturday in Washington, D.C., with sister marches in more than 400 cities worldwide, including one in Pittsburgh’s neighborhood of Oakland that’s expected to attract 2,000 to 5,000 people.
I'm so glad Templeton got to use the phrase "established research on climate change" in the first paragraph - it's almost as if 97% of the planet's experts in that field agree that the science is valid or something.

Compare that to the Trib's coverage of the "March for Science" recently held at Cal U.

The closest it gets to mentioning climate science is this paragraph:
President Donald Trump's proposed budget, released in March, includes a $2.6 billion spending slash to the Environmental Protection Agency. The cut represents a third of the agency's budget and has been widely criticized because it would eliminate billions of dollars for scientific research programs.
But we all know what that means, right? If you're not sure, luckily the Washington Post reported:
The proposed budget, if enacted, would discontinue funding for the Clean Power Plan — the signature Obama administration effort to combat climate change by regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. It would sharply reduce money for the Superfund program and cut the budget for the EPA’s prominent Office of Research and Development roughly in half, to $250 million.
But coming from a paper with such an outspoken science-denying editorial board, it's hardly surprising that someone (perhaps) decided to adios the phrase "climate science" from the Trib's news coverage of the coverage of the March for Science.

Don't get me wrong, on Friday night the Trib did go with some coverage of the upcoming march - but only with the first three paragraphs of this Washington Post article from earlier Friday talking about the the march taking place 240 miles away in Washington DC.

Why no coverage of the local march taking place today?  Isn't the defense of science important enough?

April 21, 2017

Meanwhile, Outside...

From the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):
The combined global average temperature over the land and ocean surfaces for March 2017 was 1.05°C (1.89°F) above the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F). This was the second highest for March since global temperature records began in 1880, behind the record year 2016 by 0.18°C (0.32°F) and ahead of 2015 by +0.15°C (+0.27°F). March 2017 marks the first time since April 2016 that the global land and ocean temperature departure from average was greater than 1.0°C (1.8°F) and the first time the monthly temperature departure from average surpasses 1.0°C (1.8°F) in the absence of an El Niño episode in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Overall, March 2017 tied with January 2016 as the fifth highest monthly global land and ocean temperature departure from average on record (1,647 monthly records). The record monthly temperature departure of 1.23°C (2.21°F) was set in March 2016.
The second highest for March since global temperature records began in 1880.

Meanwhile in Trump's administration, this is going on:
Scott Pruitt, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, has said that the US should back out of its commitment to the Paris climate agreement, the landmark plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to limit global warming to below 2˚C.

This follows President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to cancel the agreement, with a decision on whether he will do so expected within the next month.

“It’s a bad deal for America,” Pruitt told cable news show Fox & Friends last week. “China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030.”
Of course, this being the Trump administration, facts are kept far out of the discussion.  On the other hand, Pruitt got fact-checked by Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post:
Pruitt clearly needs to brush up on the Paris Accord, as it’s false to claim that China and India have “no obligations” until 2030.

China and India, just like the United States, have made commitments that are supposed to be fulfilled by 2030, meaning they have to take action now in order to meet those goals. The United States made more substantial commitments — which the Trump administration is abandoning — because the United States, on a per capita basis, is a much bigger polluter than either country.

Pruitt earns Four Pinocchios.
And Fact-check.org where they found his assertion to be false.

Facts are stubborn things and it's still getting warmer out there and we're still causing it.

Meanwhile, this weekend, science is defended in Pittsburgh.

April 20, 2017

As The Man Said, Follow The Money (The Trib, The Minimum Wage, And America Rising)

Take a look at this editorial from my friends on the Tribune-Review editorial board:
A new study confirming that government minimum-wage diktats hurt the low-income workers they're supposed to help is especially noteworthy because it comes from a local-level government that's nevertheless forging ahead with a higher minimum wage.
Ah, yes. The Trib braintrust writes about a new study that somehow confirms what Republicans already believe.  But take a look at the details of the study itself.  From its last paragraph:
Ultimately, generalizations on the “overall” impacts of the $15 MWP will depend in large part on the importance of - or weight given to - worker incomes vis -à- vis firm - level profits. With such caveats in mind, our estimates suggest that most workers’ incomes will be improved significantly, firm profits will fall slightly, and job loss will be relatively small. [Emphasis added.]
And from its first:
Using our microsimulation model with city - level restricted tax data and publicly available government data, we predict that over 60,000 District residents will be impacted by this policy; residents will observe an average increase of about 20% in wage income, while about 3.4% of District resident workers will experience job loss. We also find that the city’s affected EITC recipients will lose a total of $16.4 million in federal and local EITC payments in 2021 while gaining $56.6 million in additional wages by way of the $15 minimum wage. [Emphasis added.]
And yet, this is what we get from the braintrust:
“This study proves what we've known all along,” says Jeremy Adler, communications director for conservative policy group America Rising Squared — that minimum-wage hikes “will hurt the most vulnerable in the District, costing them jobs and important economic opportunities.”
The folks at America Rising Squared (and their fellow travelers at the Trib) report nothing but bad news.  But where's the part about how the "average increase of about 20% in wage income"?  The $56.6 million in additional wages?

Silence about all that stuff.  Gee, I wonder why.

America Rising Squared.

Who're they?

From The BridgeProject:
America Rising is a for-profit group which is the unofficial research arm of the Republican Party.
But hey, don't take the Bridge Project's word on it.  Follow that link.  It heads to the Wall Street Journal.  Even if you don't have a subscription to the WSJ, the words "unofficial research arm of the Republican party" can be clearly seen in the second paragraph.

But hey (again), what if the Journal were criticizing America Rising?  Hey, maybe America Rising doesn't want to be called the "unofficial research arm of the Republican party" howbow dah? Well, the good folks at America Rising actually excerpted the Journal's piece on them at their website - so I am guessing they agree with the description.

Well, how about that, huh?

So here's my question: why didn't the Trib braintrust describe America Rising with the words "unofficial research arm of the Republican party" and why did they fail to discuss the many benefits actually outlined in that new study they're using to bash any rise in the minimum wage?

Because, my friends, they are hiding the truth from you.

Again.

April 18, 2017

My TENTH 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."

As you may know, this past week thousands of American citizens (including many here in Pittsburgh) took to the streets and demanded that Donald Trump do what presidents have done for 40 years - release his tax returns to the public.

During the campaign he said he'd absolutely release them, then he said he'd release them once his audit is complete (even though there's no legal obligation to withhold them while under audit) and then after the election he said that no one cares about seeing his taxes, anyway.

Do I need to point out the petition currently at Whitehouse.gov with a million signatures on it from citizens who absolutely do care about seeing 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?

That's this week's question.

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

Follow-up: 

April 17, 2017

April 17 - Thorton Wilder's Birthday

In the Age Of Trump, I thought it might be a good idea to remind, gently, of some of the more beautiful things America created pre-Trump.

For example, today is Thorton Wilder's birthday.  He's famous for writing, among a few other things of course, the play Our Town.  For me this triggered this memory:


Something to ponder while pondering the pussy-grabber now sitting (with help from Russian Intelligence) in the Oval Office.

April 14, 2017

When Can We Show Donald Trump The Door?

From the Guardian in the UK:
Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.

GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added.

Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said.
In late 2015.  That was before Paul Manafort joined the Trump Campaign in late March, 2016.  That was before Carter Page was announced as part of Trump's foreign policy team (also March, 2016).

Before we go any further, the Guardian has this to say to our conspiracy-minded Trump defenders out there:
It is understood that GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the US.
They were tracking Russian intelligence assets and then noticed that those Russian intelligence assets were talking to some Trump people.

Back to our story - Both Page and Manafort have been tied to various Russian intrigues in recent months.  So if it wasn't Page or Manafort, who in the Trump campaign was talking to elements of Russian Intelligence in late 2015? When were they talking? And what were they talking about?

How high up the campaign does the treason go?

April 13, 2017

White House Staff Discovers Best Method to Communicate with Boss

According to several sources, West Wing staffers have found a new best way to get the President's attention and impart information to him. Previously, if a top level staffer needed to inform the President of something important, they'd book an appearance on Fox News -- knowing he'd very likely see it and believe if it was mentioned there. Another method used would be to try to get Alex Jones to say it on his Infowars program. Lastly, they'd jockey to be the last person in the room to speak to him, hoping that their words would survive his general lack of interest and astonishingly small attention span. 

But now they are going for a much more direct method -- through his stomach -- after it was revealed in a Fox Business interview that while the President may not remember which country he bombed, he sure as hell remembers that bomb chocolate cake.

The following are some recent "memos' to the President:




While the First Lady and First Lady Daughter may object to the added pounds, White House staff realize that the fate of the world may depend on a bit of flour, sugar, cocoa, and eggs.





Yep, Warmer. Look WAAY Up North.

We'll start with a graph from the National Snow and Ice Data Center:


See the blue line?  That's this year.  The dotted green?  That's 5 years ago.

And from the journal Science (from the good folks at the American Association for the Advancement of Science) we can read a possible explanation:
A new enemy is undermining ice floating on the Arctic Ocean: heat from below.

Sensors that have plumbed the depths of Arctic seas since 2002 have found warm currents creeping up from the Atlantic Ocean and helping drive the dramatic retreat of sea ice there over the last decade. A new study shows this “Atlantification” of the Arctic Ocean as a new, powerful driver of melting, alongside losses due to rising air temperatures.
The journal Science, by the way, is peer-reviewed and one of the oldest and most prestigious science journals on the planet. It's also the journal that Representative Lamar Smith, chair of the House Committee on Science, called "not objective."

And Donald Trump thinks it's a Chinese hoax designed to undermine American productivity.

So I suppose it's the Chinese who're pumping all that warm water into the Arctic?

April 12, 2017

Can We Do That Thought-Experiment Again? PLEASE?

Take a look at this, from the Washington Post:
The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said.

The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.
Of course Page calls it "unjustified, politically motivated government surveillance."

But let's take a look at the FISA Court anyway, shall we?  What does it take to get a FISA Court to OK some surveillance?

From CNN:
The FISA Court's larger mission is to decide whether to grant certain types of government requests-- wiretapping, data analysis, and other monitoring for "foreign intelligence purposes" of suspected terrorists and spies operating in the United States.

The once-secret approval of collecting bits and pieces of information from electronic communications -- called metadata -- comes quarterly from judges at the court. To collect the information, the government has to demonstrate to a judge that it is "relevant" to an international terrorism investigation.
And who's on this court?  Again, CNN:
The court is made up of 11 judges who sit for seven-year terms. All are federal district judges who agree to take on the additional duties on a rotating basis. They are appointed by Chief Justice John Roberts, without any supplemental confirmation from the other two branches of government. Roberts has named every member of the current court, as well as a separate three-judge panel to hear appeals known as the Court of Review.
So ALL the judges are Roberts approved.

Back to the Washington Post:
The judges who rule on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests oversee the nation’s most sensitive national security cases, and their warrants are some of the most closely guarded secrets in the world of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence gathering. Any FISA application has to be approved at the highest levels of the Justice Department and the FBI.

Applications for FISA warrants, [FBI Director James] Comey said, are often thicker than his wrists, and that thickness represents all the work Justice Department attorneys and FBI agents have to do to convince a judge that such surveillance is appropriate in an investigation.
I hardly think a "politically motivated" and "unjustified" FISA warrant application from the Obama DOJ is going to make it past all those levels of guv'ment bureaucracy - especially not all those FISA judges appointed by the conservative Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts.

And now onto that thought experiment: Imagine if she won the electoral college and someone (anyone) attached to the Clinton campaign was under similar surveillance.  Imagine the calls for impeachment that would have inevitably risen up out of the otherwise freedom loving conservatives on the right side of our nation's political discourse.  Where there's silence from the right now, there would have been riots and burning effigies.

Forget the damned emails, this is treason!

But that's a different timeline, a different reality.  And in this reality, different rules obviously apply.

April 11, 2017

My NINTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

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

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

It goes without saying that Syria's recent chemical attack was an atrocity - as much an atrocity as Syria's chemical attack in 2013. A response is necessary, though I should point out that Congress refused to approve a military response in 2013 when asked by the Obama Administration.

That being said, I'd like to ask you about the recent cruise missile attack on the Shayrat Airbase in Syria.

The Pentagon announced that, "Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield." Reportedly, the Russians were then able to inform the Syrians of the attack. The runways themselves were not damaged and within a day or so, the base was operational again.We're talking limited damage here.

All this was done before the American people were informed. Let me simplify: Syria's ally Russia (and supposedly, Syria) knew of the attack before the American people knew.

Doesn't this bother you at all?

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

Follow-up: 

April 9, 2017

Senator Toomey Has Responded To A Letter Of Mine

This one, I think.

And I say "I think" only because in the letter (see below for the text), the Senator is giving a response about Trump's Executive Orders regarding immigration and the first letter I sent him is the only one that even mentions immigration.

I'll let you be the judge as to whether Senator Pat Toomey is answering any of my questions.

First let me offer up some background. In unlikely event you hadn't already heard, there's been an ongoing protest against Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey's seeming reluctance to meet with his constituents

There's a Facebook page.

And a Twitter page.

As the group's name implies, every Tuesday a group of people can be expected to protest outside of each of his offices statewide.

I thought it such a good idea, I started my own "Tuesdays with Toomey" project at this blog - hence my open letters to Pennsylvania's Junior Senator (and one of my two Senatorial representatives in the US Congress) Pat Toomey.

I've sent Senator Toomey eight letters so far and this is the first response I've received.

Here's what I wrote two months ago:
Recently on "Face The Nation" Senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller had this exchange with host John Dickerson.  When asked whether the administration had "learned anything" from their experience with the immigration executive order, he replied:
Well, I think that it’s been an important reminder to all Americans that we have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become in many case a supreme branch of government. One unelected judge in Seattle cannot remake laws for the entire country. I mean this is just crazy, John, the idea that you have a judge in Seattle say that a foreign national living in Libya has an effective right to enter the United States is -- is -- is beyond anything we’ve ever seen before.

The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned. [Emphasis added.]
Senator, do you think he's correct?  Given the fact that our Constitution defines three equal branches of government does the president have unquestionable power when it comes to national defense?

Or do you believe that there is judicial and legislative oversight that serves as a check and balance to the president's authority, whatever it is?
And this is how Senator Toomey responded with the letter is dated March 30, 2017 (Full text at the bottom of this post):


So, let's take a closer look at what he does say, shall we?

You'll notice in my blog post that I wasn't actually asking about Trump's executive order. Rather, I was asking whether, in our Constitutionally described checks-and-balances system of government, Toomey agreed with Trump advisor Steven Miller when the latter said that Trump's power to defend the nation "will not be questioned." The immigration angle was tangential. There's an old saying in Washington: Never answer the question that is asked of you. Answer the question that you wish had been asked of you. And I suppose that's what Toomey's doing here - he doesn't want to address the issue I raised so he'll simply ignore it and talk about  something else.

In any event, Toomey's talking about Executive Order 13780 - which he says lays out a "sensible rationale" for banning the entry of individuals to the U.S. from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. He says that the executive order does not set forth a religious test which is interesting, since the letter is dated about two weeks after a Federal Judge in Hawaii ruled:
The Court turns to whether Plaintiffs sufficiently establish a likelihood of success on the merits of their Count I claim that the Executive Order violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Because a reasonable, objective observer—enlightened by the specific historical context, contemporaneous public statements, and specific sequence of events leading to its issuance—would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously-neutral purpose, the Court finds that Plaintiffs, and Dr. Elshikh in particular, are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim.
Which is to say, of course, that it is a Muslim ban. It does set forth a religious test. It's interesting that Senator Toomey doesn't even mention the ruling in Hawaii - even if only to disagree with it. Indeed, reading his letter one is not sure whether the Senator even knows that the implementation of the executive order has even been banned nationwide. He writes:
While I am still reviewing the details of the revised executive order and will closely monitor its implementation, it appears to lay out a more detailed, coordinated and clearer set of rules that will hopefully yield less confusion about who can and cannot enter the country.
So if you didn't already know that the executive order has been blocked by a Federal Judge you wouldn't know it from Toomey's letter to one of his constituents.

Why not?

Isn't that troubling? Isn't it troubling that a U.S. Senator (who's avoiding town hall meetings with his constituents) will avoid a question posed to him about the integrity of our constitutional republic and in its place offer an answer that's a misleading picture of our political reality.

I just wonder what Toomey's next letter to me will say.

Full text of Toomey's letter below:
Dear David,

Thank you for contacting me about President Trump's executive order concerning entry of certain foreign nationals to the U.S. I appreciate hearing from you.

On March 16, 2017, President Trump rescinded a prior immigration executive order and issued a revised one concerning the entry of certain foreign nationals from six countries into the U.S. The President laid out a sensible rationale for covering each nation, explain how these states fail to provide the information we need to vet their residents for terror ties. President Trump's executive order does not set forth a religious test. It sets forth a national security test to protect the American people.

The executive order also specifies that any nation can remove itself from the list by sharing information on terrorists with the United States. In this way, the new executive order is similar to the American SAFE act, which I and a bipartisan majority of the House and Senate supported last Congress. Furthermore, I was pleased to see that President Trump took into account concerns I raised that the previous order did not strike the right balance between defending our people against the deadly threat of international terrorism and providing a safe haven for innocent refugees seeking peace and freedom. For instance, the new order wisely clarifies that green card holders and those who were granted visas for assisting our military will be able to enter the U.S.

While I am still reviewing the details of the revised executive order and will closely monitor its implementation, it appears to lay out a more detailed, coordinated and clearer set of rules that will hopefully yield less confusion about who can and cannot enter the country.

Thank you again for your correspondence. I value knowing your input on this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.

Sincerely

Pat Toomey
U.S. Senator

April 7, 2017

A Trump Contradiction?

This happened yesterday:
Q Can I follow up, sir? Last year, you seemed to be reluctant to get involved -- or to intervene in Syria directly. Is that one thing that’s changed after yesterday?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, one of the things I think you’ve noticed about me is, militarily, I don’t like to say where I’m going and what I doing. And I watched past administrations say, we will attack at such and such a day at such and such an hour. And you, being a warrior -- you would say, why are they saying that? And I’m sure you sat back in Jordan, and you said, why are they saying that?

I watched Mosul, where the past administration was saying, we will be attacking in four months. And I said, why are they doing that? Then a month goes by, and they say, we will be attacking in three months, and then two months, and then we will be attacking next week. And I’m saying, why are they doing that? And as you know, Mosul turned out to be a much harder fight than anyone thought, and a lot of people have been lost in that fight.

I’m not saying I’m doing anything one way or the other, but I’m certainly not going to be telling you, as much as I respect you, John. Thank you.
Ah, yes.  But look at this:
The U.S.’ unilateral strike against the Assad regime will undoubtedly spark tension with Russia. Moscow has supported Syria both politically and militarily for years and launched an air campaign to support Assad in September 2015.

The U.S. did not coordinate with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tillerson said. According to Davis, the Pentagon spokesman, Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using an established “deconfliction line.” The U.S. took precautions to “minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield,” he said. Davis did not indicate whether the strike resulted in any casualties.
Now, imagine if Clinton won, if Clinton had all those business/personal/whatever connections to the Russians, if Clinton launched a Tomahawk attack on Syria (a Russian ally) and then just before the attack, let them know it was coming.  What would the reaction be on the right?

What is it now?

April 6, 2017

We DO Have A Right To Know (Mike Pence and Susan Rice)

From The Hill, yesterday:
Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that Americans “have a right to know” details about allegations that President Obama's National Security Adviser Susan Rice asked for the identity of Trump transition team members to be unmasked in intelligence reports.

“Well I think the American people have a right to know what was going on. And we have every confidence that intelligence committees in the House and the Senate will get to the bottom of all of these allegations,” Pence told Fox News.
This is absolutely true.

We DO have a right to know what's going on.

But before we get to the details, we have to look at what Susan Rice actually did.

From ABC:
Unmasking is a term used by the intelligence community to describe the process of unveiling the identity of a U.S. person who appears in a classified foreign intelligence report. The law requires that identities of U.S. persons picked up or mentioned during the course of foreign surveillance be masked; that is, that they be shielded from people reading the reports.

However, there are 20 high-ranking officials within the U.S. government who have to power to approve requests to reveal those identities if they deem that information is necessary to understanding the value of the intelligence. That process is called "unmasking," and Rice had the authority to do so while serving as national security adviser.

When a name is unmasked it is only provided to the official who requested it, and therefore unmasking is not equivalent to leaking the name.
Former NSA-guy John Schindler explains more:
Every day, the National Security Agency intercepts lots of calls between foreigners in which Americans are discussed. If they’re important Americans—top politicians, for instance—that intercept may have intelligence value. If it doesn’t, the intercept is deleted and forgotten.

More rarely, the NSA intercepts phone calls in which one of the interlocutors is an American. As long as this operation has been approved per the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—meaning a top-secret Federal court has issued a warrant for this collection—this is perfectly legal SIGINT. Here, too, an intelligence report will be issued in top-secret channels if the NSA determines there’s foreign intelligence value here and somebody, usually the FBI, needs to know what the intercept reveals.
And:
When the NSA receives a request to “unmask” that American’s identity, to use the proper spy-term, the Agency office which issued the report is asked if they’re ok with the unmasking. The request then goes up a chain, potentially as high as the NSA director, for final approval.
So let's see what we have, the NSA (with FISA court approval) was surveilling a person or persons deemed to have foreign intelligence value (i.e. a "spy" or "spies") and discovered they were talking to some American citizens who just happened to be working on the Trump Campaign.  A report was filed that made its way to Susan Rice - with the identities of those Americans "masked" so she couldn't see them.  She had the authority to request those identities and she did so.  The NSA apparently approved and she found out the names.

The NSA could have said no.

As Schindler later tweeted:
So damn straight, the American People have a right to know:
  • Who in the Trump Campaign was talking to people under NSA (and FISA-approved) surveillance?
  • How many times did they talk?
  • What did they talk about?
  • Who in the Trump Campaign knew about these communications and for how long?
No Donald, Susan Rice didn't commit a crime.  She was doing her job.  But we do have a right to know whether you or anyone else in your campaign committed treason.

April 5, 2017

Senator Pat Toomey's Next Voter "Outreach" (UPDATED)

At about 5pm Wednesday afternoon Senator Pat Toomey posted this on his Facebook page:


UPDATE: Here's a screen capture of Senator Toomey's Facebook announcement:


So let's see if I get this right.  With 24 hours notice, Senator Toomey has scheduled a "Tele-Town Hall" to begin right at the beginning of the evening commute - coincidentally when most of the Pennsylvania's working people will just happen to be offline.

Hmmm.


The Senate, Neil Gorsuch, and GOP Hypocrisy

From her speech on the Senate floor, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said:
Mr. President, it is clear that President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, does not have enough support in the Senate to be confirmed under our rules. When a Supreme Court nominee does not have enough support to be confirmed, the solution is to pick a new nominee. But Republicans in the Senate are threatening to pursue a different path - they are considering breaking the Senate rules to force this nominee onto the Supreme Court anyway.

I’ll be honest - I think it’s crazy that we are considering confirming a lifetime Trump nominee to the Supreme Court at a moment when the President’s campaign is under the cloud of an active, ongoing FBI counterintelligence investigation that could result in indictments and appeals that will go all the way to the Supreme Court-so that Trump’s nominee could be the deciding vote on whether Trump or his supporters broke the law and will be held accountable. That is nuts, and I believe we should tap the brakes on any nominee until this investigation is concluded.
Only a short time ago when a different president nominated a different judge to the Supreme Court, the GOP senators were quite reluctant to fulfill their constitutional duties to "advise and consent" for one simple reason: they didn't like where they were in the calendar.

(Actually, that was just an excuse: they'd already agreed 8 or so years before not to allow that president any political successes.)

Now, we have a president who's presidential campaign is under some serious scrutiny:
With just two sentences on Monday, FBI Director James Comey cast a long, dark shadow over the presidency of Donald Trump and the campaign that resulted in his election.

“I’ve been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” Comey said in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. “That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
Then the GOP balked over the calendar.  Now they're perfectly fine with possible treason (as long as it's one of their own).  If you think that's silly just switch the parties.  Imagine if Clinton had won and then within a few months was under FBI investigation and then nominated someone for the Supreme Court.  What would Mitch McConnell be doing then?

See how that goes?

Finally, from Josh Marshall:
As Rep. Adam Schiff put it yesterday on Twitter, Mitch McConnell's historically unprecedented and constitutionally illegitimate decision to block President Obama from nominating anyone a year before he left office was the real nuclear option. The rest is simply fallout. Senate Republicans had the power to do this. But that doesn't make it legitimate. The seat was stolen. Therefore Gorsuch's nomination is itself illegitimate since it is the fruit of the poisoned tree.

Democrats likely have no power to finally prevent this corrupt transaction. It is nonetheless important that they not partake in the corruption. Treating this as a normal nomination would do just that.
But it'll probably happen anyway.  They always get their way.

April 4, 2017

My 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."

You'll note that this is my eighth such letter to you. So far I've received nothing in response. Is there a reason you're not responding to a motivated constituent? Is it because I disagree with you?

We touched on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch last week so I won't belabor the point. However, I've read at Philly.com that you're in favor of doing away with the Senate filibuster in order to confirm Judge Gorsuch. Again, isn't that a tad hypocritical since only a few months ago you weren't even in favor of giving Merrick Garland the courtesy of a Senate vote?

But let's talk privacy. You voted in favor of S.J. Res.34. That's the bill that would have banned ISPs from selling our personal internet browsing information. Are you aware of the poll data that shows that very few people (it's only 6% according to the poll) actually favor that bill? I think it's safe to assume that very few of your voters support the bill as well.

Why would you vote in favor of something so overwhelmingly opposed by your own voters?

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

Follow-up: 

April 3, 2017

The "I-" Word

Almost 3 years ago, in what's increasingly looking like a different country, Donald J Trump tweeted this:
Of course, Donald is (as far a I can see) incorrect.  As The Heritage Foundation points out, the standard is not simply "gross incompetence" but:
Impeachment is the constitutionally specified means by which an official of the executive or judicial branch may be removed from office for misconduct. There has been considerable controversy about what constitutes an impeachable offense. At the Constitutional Convention, the delegates early on voted for "mal-practice and neglect of duty" as grounds for impeachment, but the Committee of Detail narrowed the basis to treason, bribery, and corruption, then deleting the last point. George Mason, who wanted the grounds much broader and similar to the earlier formulation, suggested "maladministration," but James Madison pointed out that this would destroy the President's independence and make him dependent on the Senate. Mason then suggested "high Crimes and Misdemeanors," which the Convention accepted.
And:
In The Federalist No. 64, John Jay argued that the threat of impeachment would encourage executive officers to perform their duties with honor, and, used as a last resort, impeachment itself would be effective to remove those who betray the interests of their country. Like the limitations on the offense of treason, the Framers placed particular grounds of impeachment in the Constitution because they wished to prevent impeachment from becoming a politicized offense, as it had been in England.
High crimes and misdemeanors to remove those who betray the interests of their country.

Looks like there's some quiet rumblings beginning to be heard on this front:
The Massachusetts city of Cambridge will be weighing in Monday on whether the city should call for an impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump.

If the resolution passes, Cambridge would become the first city in Massachusetts and the fifth in the nation to call for Trump’s removal. Town and city councils have no actual legal authority to call for an impeachment, but they can send a powerful message.

The proposed order calls on the U.S. House to back a resolution directing the Judiciary Committee to investigate whether there are grounds to impeach Trump.
Largely symbolic with no legal authority and so far only a half dozen city councils across the country.  So we're not talking a large movement here.

Or are we?

Take a look at this poll data from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling:
PPP's new national poll finds that Donald Trump's popularity as President has declined precipitously just over the last two weeks. On our first poll of his Presidency voters were evenly divided on Trump, with 44% approving of him and 44% also disapproving. Now his approval rating is 43%, while his disapproval has gone all the way up to 53%. If voters could choose they'd rather have both Barack Obama (52/44) or Hillary Clinton (49/45) instead of Trump.

Just three weeks into his administration, voters are already evenly divided on the issue of impeaching Trump with 46% in favor and 46% opposed. Support for impeaching Trump has crept up from 35% 2 weeks ago, to 40% last week, to its 46% standing this week.
Look at the date, it's from about 2 months ago.  Do you really think Trump's approval rating has gone up since then?

As his Russian connections are unearthed, do you think the number of city councils and percentage of voters calling for his impeachment will go up or down?

Happy Monday.

April 1, 2017

No, This ISN'T An April Fool's Joke.

This is from the White House website:

President Donald J. Trump Proclaims April 2017 as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

So in his honor:
I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful... I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything.

[...]

Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.
That was Donald J. Trump, in 2005.

Then there's Natasha Stoynoff's account of being assaulted by Donald J. Trump later that year.

Then there's Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks.  Each having their own account of being assaulted by Donald J. Trump - the first in the early 80s and the second, again, in 2005.

Then there's Donald J. Trump's behavior when he owned a beauty pageant:
Well, I'll tell you the funniest is that before a show, I'll go backstage and everyone's getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I'm allowed to go in because I'm the owner of the pageant and therefore I'm inspecting it, You know, I'm inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.

You know, the dresses. 'Is everyone okay?' You know, they're standing there with no clothes. 'Is everybody okay?' And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.
He gets away with things like that.

March 31, 2017

March 31 - J.S. Bach's Birthday!

Yes, I know disgraced former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn is looking to cut an immunity  deal in exchange for his testimony and that the (soon-to-be?) disgraced chair of the House Intelligence Committee, David Nunes, was meeting with a pair of White House sources on White House grounds the night before the hastily called press conference where he just happened to report that Trump was, in fact, "incidentally" caught in some foreign surveillance, but it's March 31.

JS Bach's birthday:






We'll return to the end of democracy in the United States OR the end of Trump's presidency - which ever comes first.

In the meantime, enjoy some great Baroque counterpoint.

March 30, 2017

GOP Climate Science In Pennsylvania

Ain't it good to know that the GOP is the party of ideas?

GOP Gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner "explained" the warming planet this way:
“I haven’t been in a science class in a long time, but the earth moves closer to the sun every year–you know the rotation of the earth,” Wagner said. “We’re moving closer to the sun.”
Now it's been a few years since I've been in a science class as well, but I'm pretty sure this is as close to a true statement as we are to GN-z11 (a galaxy found in the constellation Ursa Major).

At last count, it's about 32 billion light years away.

No, we're not moving closer to the sun.  Sadly, this is what passes for science in some corners of the once great GOP.

March 29, 2017

In Case You Missed It...Mike Doyle's Petition

From Congressman Doyle's Facebook Page:
 

If you're so inclined, sign the petition.

Meanwhile, Outside...

From the climate scientists at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for February 2017 was 0.98°C (1.76°F) above the 20th century average of 12.1°C (53.9°F)—the second highest for February in the 138-year period of record, trailing behind the record set in 2016 (+1.20°C / +2.16°F) and ahead of 2015 by +0.10°C (+0.18°F). February 2017 was the highest monthly temperature departure from average since April 2016 (+1.07°C / +1.93°F) and the seventh highest monthly temperature departure among all months (1646) on record. This was the 41st consecutive February and the 386th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average. The February global land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of +0.07°C (+0.13°F) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase is twice as great since 1980.
This is what the science says and no amount of denial will change it.

NOAA has some art work for you to see:


And this is how they describe it:
This graphic compares the year-to-date temperature anomalies for 2017 (black line) to what were ultimately the eight warmest years on record: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2010, 2013, 2005, 2009, and 1998. Each month along each trace represents the year-to-date average temperature anomaly. In other words, the January value is the January average temperature anomaly, the February value is the average anomaly of both January and February, and so on. The average global land and ocean surface temperature for January–February 2017 was 0.94°C (1.69°F) above the 20th century average of 12.1°C (53.8°F)—the second highest global land and ocean temperature for January–February in the 1880–2017 record, behind 2016 by 0.18°C (0.32°F), but 0.09°C (0.16°F) higher than 2015.

The anomalies themselves represent departures from the 20th century average temperature. The graph zooms into the warmest part of the entire history.
Forget the incomplete line on the left (that's this year).  Take a look at the other side of the graph.  That's the year-to-date averages at the ends of their respective years (in other words, it's the average of the complete year).  See those top two lines?  That's the last two years.  Notice the gap between those two and the rest of them.

No matter what the pussy-grabber in the Oval Office says, it's still getting warmer out side.  Cutting the funding to the organizations tracking the temperatures won't change them.  Simply calling it a hoax won't either.

That's what the science says.

March 28, 2017

My 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."

I listened to your interview yesterday with Mike Pintek on KDKA yesterday (interestingly a day before the by now usual "Tuesdays For Toomey "events) and I was struck by your defense of Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch.

It was particularly interesting to hear you complain about Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer "thinks he has to oppose all things related to Trump" and the Senate Democrats' view that "we will go 4-8 years filling no vacancies on the Supreme Court because they can't get over the results of the election last year" when members of your party held exactly the same positions only a few months ago, on a 4 year vacancy at the Court and opposing all things related to Obama.

So here's my question: isn't that just a little hypocritical?

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

Follow-up: 

March 27, 2017

The Laziest Son-of-a-bitch on the Planet


Nearly a year ago, while Trump was still looking for a running mate, the story came out that Junior reached out to Governor John Kasich's campaign with an offer to make him the most powerful vice president in history:
When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy. 
Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of? 
“Making America great again” was the casual reply.
Of course, Junior denied that the conversation went down that way, but having witnessed the first couple of months of the Trump presidency, no one can doubt the truth of it as Donald Trump has proven to be The Laziest Son-of-a-bitch on the Planet.

How lazy? Too lazy to attend daily intelligence briefings. Too lazy to read the executive orders that he signs. Too lazy to "care or particularly know about health care."

And while he may have proclaimed that "I Alone Can Fix It" during his convention speech, it appears that instead, He went to Jared.

In addition to "working on trade, Middle East policy in general, an Israel-Palestine peace deal more specifically, reforming the Veterans Administration, and solving the opioid crisis," the First Son-in-law is now also responsible for “modernizing the technology and data infrastructure of every federal department and agency; remodeling workforce-training programs; and developing “transformative projects” under the banner of Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, such as providing broadband internet service to every American.

Whew!

White Nationalist Steve Bannon is, of course, in charge of blowing everything else up.

Aside from his main duties of tweeting and watching Fox News, Trump's responsibilities will be limited to visiting a Trump property one out of every three days, spending nearly one quarter of his time playing golf, and pining for the days when he could give Putin the old reach around in person, instead of virtually.

I'm Wondering If The Writers Had A Not-So-Hidden Message In Mind (ABC's Designated Survivor)

This season on TV I've been watching, Designated Survivor pretty faithfully. It's not a bad show (though not one of my favorites) and at this point I am watching it to see how it ends.

Here's how ABC describes the show:
Kiefer Sutherland stars as Tom Kirkman, a lower-level cabinet member who is suddenly appointed President of the United States after a catastrophic attack on the US Capitol during the State of the Union. Kirkman will struggle to keep the country and his family from falling apart, while navigating the highly-volatile political arena and leading the search to find who is responsible for the attack.
As far as I can see there are three basic narratives; Kirkman deals with his family issues, Kirkman rebuilds the entire government, and Kirkman investigates the conspiracy.

For me, the first two are far more interesting though as time goes in this post-Jack Bauer TV universe, ABC is weighing more on the somewhat absurd plot of a sitting president investigating what amounts to a politically motivated mass murder.

But what's the production to do once the conspiracy is unearthed?  What do they do then?  That's my problem.

On the other hand, if the investigation were to be wrapped up rather quickly, a bigger ongoing narrative could take center stage: a non-politician rebuilding a demolished political structure - but this time done right!

Sound familiar?

Perhaps I am projecting too much.

I am curious, though, about a speech to the nation that Kirkman gave this past week and whether the show's writers were using their platform to tell us something.  Here's the important text:
My fellow Americans, due to recent events we live in a time of uncertainty, leaving us with more questions than answers.
Tonight, I hope to put us back on the path to confidence and strength.
I do not believe that we can survive as a nation without transparency.
Without truth, there can be no trust.
As your President, I assure you that I and my administration will be honest and open on all matters, regardless of how the truth reflects upon me.
[...]
In times of crisis, we must not succumb to cynicism and mistrust.
Instead, we must maintain faith while embracing reason and truth not speculation and rumor.
Again, we can only attain this through transparency.
Believe me, I know what the American people have been feeling.
I know that there is confusion and fear.
I know that some do not even feel safe leaving their homes.
President Lincoln prophetically cautioned, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." We are at a similar crossroads.
But Lincoln did not expect his house to fall and neither do I.
The American people must now make the most important decision they've had to make in generations.
Will we be united in the pursuit of truth and reason? Or break apart because of conjecture and suspicion?
I trust this nation, my nation To make the right choice.
Thank you, good night, and God bless America.
Perhaps I am projecting too much but hot damn it seems like the writers didn't write that speech for Tom Kirkman to deliver to his fictional USA but for Kiefer Sutherland to deliver it to us.

March 26, 2017

Uh-Oh. Pop Some Popcorn. This Is Going To Get Interesting.

Earlier today, Donald Trump tweeted this:
Uh-oh.  It was one thing for the little-handed pussy-grabber to blame his failure to close the deal on the Democrats (when only a few months ago he said the repeal would be "so easy"):


But now, now Trump is blaming Club for Growth and The Heritage Foundation for his failure?

How must that be playing to our good friends on the editorial board over at The Tribune-Review?  Remember, the Trib's former owner, Richard Mellon Scaife, was closely tied to that most conservative of conservative think tanks.  As I wrote in 2009, an astute reader emailed me with some info on the Scaife/Trib/Heritage connections:
[Scaife] and Joseph Coors gave so much money that there's a plaque -- a bas relief of the Scaifer hisself -- in the lobby of the Heritage Foundation. Ever heard of Ed Fuelner? He's the CEO and all-encompassing head of the Heritage Foundation...
Let me interrupt - Ed Fuelner has had a monthly column in the Trib for some time now.  His latest was only 3 1/2 weeks ago.

Then there's the Club for Growth.

Wanna know who  was president of the Club for Growth from 2005 to 2009?

Pennsylvania's junior senator Pat Toomey.

And so now Donald J. Trump is blaming them for the collapse of the AHCA in the House of Representatives.

Assuming Newton's Third Law has some validity in the world of politics, I am looking forward to seeing the reaction(s) from Heritage, Club for Growth, Ed Fuelner and Pat Toomey.

March 25, 2017

Adam Schiff: Congress Must Create an Independent Commission on Russia

Donald Trump, Betrayer Of His Supporters

In a statement in the Oval Office after the Affordable Health Care Act failed, Trump said this:
And I never said -- I guess I'm here, what, 64 days? I never said repeal and replace Obamacare -- you've all heard my speeches -- I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days.
And this is simply not true.

February 9, 2016:
But conman Trump (or his co-conspirator, Sean Spicer) might say that the comment in the Oval Office was about speeches, not tweets - that he never said in a speech that he'd repeal and replace Obamacare.

Well...

On a webpage at DonaldJTrump.com dated Novemnber 1, 2016, that is in fact titled:
DONALD J. TRUMP PLEDGES TO IMMEDIATELY REPEAL AND REPLACE OBAMACARE
Trump said this in Pennsylvania:
When we win on November 8th, and elect a Republican Congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. I will ask Congress to convene a special session.
For the record "immediately" is a shorter time span than "64 days."

The Daily Press of Newport News Virginia reported this on September 20, 2016:
On Trump's first day in office "he is going to repeal every single Obama executive order, he is going to repeal Obamacare … and on day one, we're going to end the war on coal once and for all," [then-Vice President candidate Mike} Pence said.
Day One. Immediately. And now Trump wants us all to believe that he never said any of that.

How long before his supporters discover he's betrayed them?

March 22, 2017

A March 22 Birthday!

Let's ignore the cesspool of Trump corruption for a minute and celebrate the birth of a man who's given so so much to contemporary American culture.

William Shatner, born this day in Quebec in 1931.

Enjoy:


And if you doubt The Shat's importance, take a look this.  Take a look at how far his John-Taupin has stretched:


Bill Shatner knows what it takes to be cool, sweetheart.

March 21, 2017

My 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."

On March 4, and repeatedly afterwards, Donald Trump tweeted that President Obama, when was still in office wiretapped Trump Tower and the Trump campaign.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that in testimony before Congress, FBI Director James Comey said:
“I have no information that supports those tweets,’’ Comey said. “We have looked carefully inside the FBI,’’ and agents found nothing to support those claims.

He added that the Justice Department had asked him to tell the committee that the agency has no such information, either.
Ok, so here's the thing. If there's no evidence that supports those tweets, then there has never been any evidence to support those tweets. And yet, Trump repeated the allegation as recently as this week in his press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This, after numerous other refutations of his charge by former NSA/CIA director Michael Hayden, former DNI James Clapper and others.

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

Follow-up: 

March 20, 2017

A Message To Chancellor Merkel



Wir wissen, wie du dich fühlst.  Auch wir können nicht glauben, was er sagt.  Und wir hoffen, dass er uns nicht alle umbringt.

Haben Sie einen guten Tag.

March 18, 2017

Happy Birthday To The OPJ!

I first posted this a few years ago:
I discovered a very interesting coincidence today.

As some of you may know, I was born on October 5.  It's a birthday I share with (among others)
  • Larry Fine (of the Three Stooges) - 1902
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson (host of Cosmos) - 1958
  • Chester A. Arthur (President of the United States of America) - 1829
It's that last guy that leads to the coincidence.  Chester A. Arthur was the 21st President, serving from September 19, 1881 (upon the death of James Garfield - who was shot the previous July) to March 4, 1885 when Grover Cleveland, was inaugurated to be the nation's 22nd President.

Grover Cleveland was born March 18, 1837.

You know who ELSE was born on March 18?

Maria, the OPJ.

Guess what, Maria.  You share a birthday with:
  • George Plimpton (founder of the Paris Review) - 1927
  • Reince Priebus (Chairman of the Republican National Committee) - 1972
I still got one of the Three Stooges.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARIA!
Happy Birthday - 2017!

March 17, 2017

Summary of the Trump Budget

There are easier ways to dump Melania, Donald


While Trump's first budget decimates spending for health, education, the environment, science, the arts, and anything that aids the poor, the elderly, and children, it lavishes money on the military and security. But, not so fast there, New York City. According to the NYPD, Trump's budget would actually gut New York’s counterterrorism efforts, making the city less safe.

Very curious, especially given that that's where his current wife and son, Barron, reside.

Also, particularly nasty that he's cutting security funds for the city seeing as how it's needing to spend $127,000 to $145,000 per day for police protection for his wife and child and an average of $308,000 on those days when Trump is there as well.

Maybe he just wants to follow his buddy Rudy Giuliani's example of making the city as vulnerable as possible during attacks for whatever perverse reason. (It was Giuliani who overrode all objections and put the emergency command center in the World Trade Center.)