What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 22, 2017

My TWENTY-FOURTH 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 have to ask you another question about Donald Trump's responses to the violence in Charlottesville.

At a little before 2pm on August 12, a 20-something Nazi-sympathizer drove his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring almost 2 dozen others. That day, Trump made his first statement regarding the violence in which he condemned the violence "on many sides." This statement was almost universally criticized for appearing to blame the counter-protesters for the violence done to them. Two days later he declared (reluctantly, it was reported) that racism was evil and declared the KKK, neo-Nazis and so on to be "criminals and thugs". That same day, you updated your Facebook page to read:
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.
The very next day Trump reverted to his "blame both sides" argument at a news conference in Trump tower. It was so bad that even conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer called it a "moral disgrace."

So here's my 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?

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

Follow-up:

August 20, 2017

Meanwhile, Outside (UPDATE)

While our collective national attention is currently focused on the assault on decency and equality by white supremacists and their enabler/apologist in the White House, NOAA continues to provide a monthly assessment of the state of the global climate (SPOILERS: The Earth is getting warmer and it's all our fault).

Take a look:
The average global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2017 was the second highest for the month at 0.83°C (1.49°F) above the 20th century average of 15.8°C (60.4°F), behind the record year 2016 by 0.05°C (0.09°F). Nine of the 10 warmest Julys on record have occurred during the 21st century (since 2005), with only one year from the 20th century (1998) among the top 10 warmest Julys on record. July 2017 also marks the 41st consecutive July and the 391st consecutive month with a global temperature at least nominally above the 20th century average.
The guv'ment bureaucrats even included some art work:


Of course the science deniers in Washington continue to deny the science. From Politico:
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt said his staff will gauge the “accuracy” of a major federal science report that blames human activity for climate change — just days after researchers voiced their fears to The New York Times that the Trump administration would alter or suppress its findings.
A few paragraphs later:
Scientists called his remarks troubling, especially because the report — part of a broader, congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment — has already undergone “rigorous” peer-review by a 14-person committee at the National Academies. The reviewing scientists backed the report’s conclusion from researchers at 13 federal agencies that humans are causing climate change by putting more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, leading to a clear increase in global temperatures.
How much of that last sentence, do you think, will make it past Pruitt's (and Trump's) EPA?

It's still getting warmer, human activity is still to blame and there are no good Nazis.

UPDATE: I found this in this morning's Washington Post.
The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government’s climate analysis into long-term planning.

The charter for the 15-person Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment — which includes academics as well as local officials and corporate representatives — expires Sunday. On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s acting administrator, Ben Friedman, informed the committee’s chair that the agency would not renew the panel.
Of course they did.

August 18, 2017

Tina Fey, Last Night



You'll want to watch this a few times.

Moral equivalence? Who drove the car into the crowd, Hillary's emails?

August 17, 2017

Men Of Honor

The Navy:
The Army:
The Marines:
The Air Force:
And let's not forget:
In contrast, look at anything said by the current Commander-in-Chief at his most recent news conference.

Even conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer said Trump's comments were "a moral disgrace."

August 16, 2017

I've Looked At Covfefe From Both Sides Now

This weekend a woman was killed by a white supremacist/neo-nazi/alt.right supporter who drove his Chevy Challenger into the crowd she was in. He also injured 19 other people with his car. The woman, Heather Heyer was protesting the white supremacists/neo-nazis/alt.right supporters who had descended onto Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the removal of a statue of a man, Robert E. Lee, who defended the "states' right" to enslave other human beings. He was a traitor for levying war against the United States.

And yet, Donald J Trump said there was blame on "both sides" for the violence.

He also said that there were some "very fine people" among the white supremacists/neo-nazis/alt.right supporters.

David Duke liked what Donald J Trump said.

When you get a hearty thumbs up from a racist for imposing a false moral equivalence onto, as Senator McCain tweeted, "racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry," you're doing something very very wrong.

Even though there are many Republicans who denounced Trump for this, he still is leader of the GOP, he still is the (orange) face of American conservatism right now.

If you voted for Trump, this is yours. You made this happen.

What are you going to do about it?

August 15, 2017

It's Tuesday - But It's DIFFERENT This Tuesday

For the past twenty some odd Tuesdays, I've been posting open letters to my Senator, Pat Toomey. He's answered a few, ignored most and pivoted and dodged when he did respond.

Considering the events of this past weekend, however, I've decided to take a break from the Tuesday letters to Toomey - I'll be back next week.

To his credit, the Senator did post this on his Facebook page - but only two days after the racist violence:
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.
It's good that he's finally there, I suppose.

But condemning Nazis and White Supremacists and the KKK is easy.

Watch:


August 14, 2017

How The Local Politicians Responded To The White Supremacists UPDATE - ANOTHER UPDATE

As the man said "All politics is local," it might be a good idea to see how some local elected officia
ls reacted to the violence of this weekend in Charlottesville, specifically whether they denounce or even mention the white supremacists at the heart of it.

First the Governor. In a series of tweets, he got it right. Including this:
Then Senator Casey:
And:
And now Senator Toomey:
Sadly, you'll note that he fails to take that last big step to mention "white supremacy" or "Nazis" or anything more specific than "racism, hate and violence" in his tweet. I mean it's great to see racism as vile, but just as I can imagine the alt.right folks in Pennsylvania concluding that those opposing them are "the real racists," I can imagine a lot of them actually agreeing with Toomey's tweet. At the very least, a clarification is in order, doncha think?

Representative Tim Murphy does the job without explicitly calling out the white supremacists or Nazis by name:
Saturday's violence in Charlottesville was an exhibition of racist hate masquerading as political dissent. There is no "other side" to the debate over racial equality and common decency. The racist extremists who sought and invited this violence should be driven from all venues of public life. Hate is hate, and there is no antidote for it but universal rejection.
His "other side" is probably a reference to this tweet from former Vice President Joe Biden:
Which is itself a repudiation of Donald Trump's offensive "On many sides." moral equivalence. And in doing so Murphy does in fact, though in a round about way, denounce those who stand against racial equality (that is to say, those promoting white supremacy).

Representative Mike Doyle's response was short and to the point, while not specifically denouncing the white supremacists at the center of the protests:
This is almost exactly Pat Toomey's reaction. However, as I can't imagine very many alt.right folks among Doyle's constituency (or indeed looking at Doyle's twitter feed for political reinforcement), the context is different. Still, perhaps a clarification might be in order.

Take a look, for example, at what Senator Lindsey Graham had to say this weekend:
“[Donald Trump] missed an opportunity to be very explicit here,” said Graham on Fox News Sunday. “These groups seem to believe they have a friend in Donald Trump in the White House. I don’t know why they believe that, but they don’t see me as a friend in the Senate and I would urge the president to dissuade these groups that he’s their friend.”
Dissuade these groups that they are your friends. They're white supremacists, they're Nazis and they should be re-fringed to political impotence.

UPDATE: Senator Toomey just posted this on Facebook:
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.
SECOND UPDATE: Representative Mike Doyle updated his Facebook page with this:

August 13, 2017

On Many Sides - Donald Trump Refuses To Condemn Neo-Nazis/White Supremecists

Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history.

Only yesterday:
We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides.

On many sides.
That's what he said. That is what Donald J. Trump said.

He said it a few hours after this happened in Charlottesville, Virginia:
Video recorded at the scene of the car crash shows a 2010 gray Dodge Challenger accelerating into crowds on a pedestrian mall, sending bodies flying — and then reversing at high speed, hitting yet more people. Witnesses said the street was filled with people opposed to the white nationalists who had come to town bearing Confederate flags and anti-Semitic epithets.
So far one person dead and 19 injured. The dead and injured were among those opposing the Neo-Nazis and white supremacists protesting the removal of this statue from Emancipation Park. Formerly known as Lee Park, it was named after the Confederate General who committed treason by levying war against the United States of America in order to protect the institution of slavery.

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.

At the tiki-torched prelude-protest the night before, this is what happened:
Hundreds of white nationalists marched and rallied at the University of Virginia Friday night. They carried torches and chanted, "You will not replace us and "Jews will not replace us."
The day of the protest Joe Heim, staff writer for the Washington Post tweeted this:
This is who invaded Charlottesville this weekend. Racists and bigots of various seasonings and at least one white domestic terrorist - the guy driving the gray Dodge Challenger.

And yet Trump took it upon himself to condemn the "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides."

As if both sides, the racists and those opposing them, held something even remotely resembling equal responsibility for the violence brought to Charlottesville by the racists protesting the removal of the Confederate statue of the guy defending the institution of slavery.

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we will save our country.

And then:
The president ignored several questions, shouted by reporters after his remarks, about white nationalists who support his presidency and whether he has denounced them in strong enough terms. While leading politicians from both parties specifically denounced the white-nationalist cause of the protesters, Trump seemed careful to avoid doing the same.
Gee, I wonder why.

Could this be the answer? From Think Progress:
The popular white supremacist site Daily Stormer called Trump’s remarks “really good,” noting that he “didn’t attack us.” They were also pleased he ignored a question about white supremacists after making his statement.
And:
Some commentators on the white nationalist message board Stormfront also praised Trump, with one noting that the president’s comments could just as easily be read as a criticism of Black Lives Matter.
Which I think is entirely the point.

This is the world we now inhabit.

My fellow citizens. We can not escape history. - That is what he said. That is what Abraham Lincoln said.

August 11, 2017

Ah, Those Guardians Of Democracy, Those Fact-Drenched Trump Voters

From The Washington Post:
Nearly half of Republicans (47 percent) believe that Trump won the popular vote, which is similar to this finding. Larger fractions believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted (68 percent) and that voter fraud happens somewhat or very often (73 percent). Again, this is similar to previous polls.

Moreover, 52 percent said that they would support postponing the 2020 election, and 56 percent said they would do so if both Trump and Republicans in Congress proposed this.
But wait a minute. Aren't these folks the same scared jitter-ers who thought that Obama was going to claim a third term?

Jitter-ers like Joseph Farah at WND:
The question this harsh, unprecedented attack by a sitting president on a major-party nominee to succeed him raises should be obvious: What happens if Donald Trump wins the election in November?

Given what Obama has said about Trump, would he not have an obligation to prevent Trump from assuming office? And what would that mean to the peaceful process America has enjoyed for more than two centuries of transitions of power?
Rush Limbaugh in 2009:


A partial transcript from Rush Limbaugh's own website:
I think he has natural sympathies toward authoritarians. He has sympathy for dictators. He relates to them. He inherited his father’s Marxism. It’s not me saying this. It’s somebody from the American Thinker, the Nigerian woman writing last week referring to Obama as average African colonel. You have to wonder if Obama is just trying to lay a foundation for not being a hypocrite when he tries to serve beyond 2016. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in the next number of years there is a move on the 22nd Amendment, which term limits the president of the United States. He may not do it that way, he may not openly try to change the Constitution, but there might be this movement in the country from his cultlike followers to support the notion that a democratically elected leader, who is loved and adored has carte blanche, once elected, just serve as long as he wants because the people demand it, the people want it, the people love it. I wouldn’t put it past Obama to be plotting right now how to serve beyond 2016.
And that's straight out of Rush's mouth.

So they'd support the Republican president doing the same thing that they got so skeert-they-crapped-their-pants when they thought the previous Kenyan-born Democrat president was planning on doing the same thing - even though he wasn't.  (It's just another factual error on their parts, just like the 47% who thought Trump won the popular vote and the 68% who thought that millions of "illegal aliens" voted for Clinton.)

Yea, that's a consistent, fact-based coalition over there, supporting the little-handed pussy-grabber who might just get us all killed.

August 9, 2017

Ok, So We're Still Here. Going To Have To Take Things Day-By-Day, I Suppose, From Now On



With that in mind, I am wondering if, say, Bernie Sanders supporter Susan Sarandon (and all those Sanders folks who agreed with her) still believes that Hillary Clinton is "in a way, more dangerous" than Donald Trump.

More dangerous, of course, because Trump's policies are so implausible.

Implausible? They're right before our eyes. Every day. Every hour. Every tweet.

So far today, no nukular war.

But the day is still young.





August 8, 2017

My TWENTY-THIRD 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."

A week or so ago, Donald J Trump told the Wall Street Journal that, after his controversial speech at this year's Boy Scout Jamboree, "I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful."

As we all know by now, that was a lie.

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?

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

Follow-up:

August 5, 2017

Senator Pat Toomey, Americans United For Freedom, And One Particular Address In Alexandria

It's a Saturday morning and I'm still a week away from Premier League Football so I decided to rummage around in Senator Pat Toomey's campaign contributions to see what I could find.

Being a rank amateur in such things I found nothing but questions.

Let's begin.

According to this FEC page Senator Pat Toomey's largest single donor in the 2016 election cycle was an organization called "Americans United For Freedom" and they gave him a total of $151,357.55.

And according to this FEC page Senator Pat Toomey was the largest recipient of "Americans United for Freedom" campaign disbursements for that cycle.

And according to this FEC page, "Americans United For Freedom" raised $733,905 during that cycle (and that means, if my math is correct, that Toomey received a little more than 20% of the amount raised).

And finally, according to this FEC page, none of that money actually came from Pennsylvania.

I'd say that's an interesting relationship, wouldn't you? But then again, I'm just a rank amateur at such things.

Granted, he had way more than $150 grand to spend and way more than just one donor. But his largest single donor was that committee and the largest recipient of that committee's money was Pat Toomey. And let me say it again, none of that money came from Toomey's home state.

So who is "Americans United For Freedom" anyway?

According to this FEC page, the mailing address for "Americans United For Freedom" is:
228 S WASHINGTON ST
STE 115
ALEXANDRIA, VA 22314
That's also the mailing address for Huckaby Davis Lisker, Inc. Which is where we find someone named Lisa Lisker.

She's the treasurer for "Americans United For Freedom" and here's a secret surprise for you - she also happens to be the treasurer for Toomey's leadership PAC, Citizens for Prosperity in America!

So when AUF gave all that money to Toomey's leadership PAC the paperwork didn't even have to leave one desk? Am I getting this right?

And what else can be found at that address?

Did you know as of January 2017, it was the mailing address for not one but two US Senators: John McCain and Lamar Alexander?

You can check for yourself this FEC page to see what other committees call this address home. There's lots and lots. And lots.

It must be a very important address. I don't know what any of this means except that it, perhaps, illustrates how tightly the ties that bind money and politics in our nation's capital.


August 4, 2017

Before It's Too Late - Some Great American Culture

Reports are in that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been busy:
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III began using a grand jury in federal court in Washington several weeks ago as part of his investigation of possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, according to two people familiar with the inquiry.

The development is a sign that investigators continue to aggressively gather evidence in the case, and that Mueller is taking full control of a probe that predated him.

In recent weeks and months, Mueller has been expanding the legal team working on the matter, and recently added Greg Andres, a longtime white-collar lawyer specializing in foreign bribery who previously worked in the Justice Department’s criminal division.

Mueller’s investigation now includes a look at whether President Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James B. Comey, as well as deep dives into financial and other dealings of former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
And he may be getting (if he needs it) some Congressional cover:
Two bipartisan pairs of senators unveiled legislation Thursday to prevent President Trump from firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III without cause — or at least a reason good enough to convince a panel of federal judges.

Senators have raised concerns that the president might try to rearrange his administration to get rid of Mueller, who is spearheading a probe of Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election and any possible collusion between the Kremlin and members of the Trump campaign and transition teams.
Let's just hope he doesn't need that cover and that the rule of law will prevail.

Let's just hope it's not all crashing down around us in slow motion.

Let's try to remember some good parts about the America-That-Was.  And for that, we'll celebrate a birthday today - Louis Armstrong, American musician, born today (yes today) in 1900:


And here he is a few decades later:


Oh, yea. And Barack Obama was born today, too (in 1961 - in Hawaii).


Do you remember when presidents were, uh, presidential?

When they weren't such an insult to decency and honesty? When they weren't under investigation for selling the country out to the Russians? When they weren't a threat to the rule of law and democracy itself?

Yea, good times.

August 2, 2017

Trumpian Greeting Cards










Vote for me (call it a lifetime achievement award)

So this is a thing I'm nominated for (thanks to Sue Kerr who's nominated in multiple categories -- vote for her!). 

You can find me under BEST LOCAL BLOGGER. 

To be honest, David DeAngelo does all the heavy lifting here these days, but maybe I'll blog more if yinz all vote for me. LOL

You can vote daily until the 18th.





Dump Trump


What A Dump!

Hey, remember when this happened?
Vanity Fair has posted photos of President Obama with his feet up on his Oval Office desk. But it's not just any desk. This desk was a gift from Britain's Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880. Known as the Resolute desk, it was built from the timbers of an Arctic exploration ship of the same name. Nothing like disrespecting history.
Much like the rest of the right wing echo chamber, my good friends on the Tribune-Review editorial board were outraged? disappointed? annoyed? (it's hard to tell) by Obama's obvious disrespect of history.

I wrote about why that's bullshit here.

But they are on the record defending the dignity of the White House and its history - that's not in dispute.

So I wonder how this is gonna play with the MAGA crowd:
During election season, [Trump National Golf Club] Bedminster morphed into a kind of permanent campaign rally site. Trump posters and bumper stickers were plastered across the property, and an anti-Hillary shrine was built in a bar in the men's locker room. The club held a Ryder Cup–style competition in which the teams wore either red or black Make America Great Again hats. At most other golf courses in America the TV is tuned to Golf Channel, on mute, but throughout last summer and fall, the television in Trump Bedminster's shop was on Fox News, with the sound blaring. As President, Trump has already made four visits to the club. He has his own cottage adjacent to the pool; it was recently given a secure perimeter by the Secret Service, leading to the inevitable joke that it's the only wall Trump has successfully built. Chatting with some members before a recent round of golf, he explained his frequent appearances: "That White House is a real dump." (A White House spokesperson denies this occurred.) [Emphasis added.]
With all the rampant, out-of-control, honesty oozing out of the Trump Administration every day, every hour, I am absolutely nay resolutely sure that that White House spokesperson's denial is 1000% true. Believe me.

Who's disrespecting the White House?



August 1, 2017

My TWENTY-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."

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?

You voted for him, you have to have an opinion about this. I'd like to know what it is.

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

Follow-up: