What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 16, 2018

The Catholic Church In Pennsylvania

By now, we've all either heard of or skimmed through or read the report.

This, from the Washington Post, sums it up:
More than 300 Catholic priests across Pennsylvania sexually abused children over seven decades, protected by a hierarchy of church leaders who covered it up, according to a sweeping grand jury report released Tuesday.
The details of the abuse and its coverup are hideous.

Apart from the child-raping priests and the protection they enjoyed by the church hierarchy, apart from the physical and psychological damage inflicted on those raped and the collateral damage done to the victims by that hierarchy for covering it up, I would just like to add something I haven't yet seen in the coverage - there's another wrinkle to this story.

While the Catholic Church was protecting and covering up the sex-crimes of some of its members, let's all remember that it was also lecturing everyone else on the evils of:
  • Birth control
  • Abortion
  • Masturbation
  • Sex outside of marriage
  • Not being straight (i.e. being either "L" or "G" or "B" or "T" and so on)
  • Any number of other issues regarding "sexual morality"
The word you're looking for is hypocrisy. Huge blatant hypocrisy.

No amount of contemporary apologies will change that.


August 14, 2018

My SEVENTY-FOURTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

I'll be dropping this letter to Senator Pat Toomey in the mail Wednesday (again, sorry for the wait a second week):
Dear Senator Toomey:

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

Earlier today, Donald Trump tweeted a comment about Omarosa Manigault Newman, his former aide. In the course of the tweet, he called her "a crazed, crying lowlife" and then, for good measure, a "dog."

My question this week is very simple. Setting aside whatever feelings you might have about Ms Manigault Newman, do you think this is acceptable behavior for a sitting President?

That's a bit of a trap, I confess. Of course it's unacceptable, regardless of the target of the insult. And so, unless you are speaking out against it, we are going to assume you're OK with it.

Are you OK with Donald Trump's behavior?

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

Follow-up:

August 12, 2018

Senator Toomey RESPONDS To Another Letter

Yestiddy, I received another response letter from Senator Pat Toomey.

It's dated June 20, 2018 and it begins thusly:
Thank you for contacting me about North Korea. I appreciate hearing from you.
Nice to know he still appreciates hearing from me. Good to know. Now let's go see to which of my letters my Jr Senator is responding.

It's this one, my sixty-fifth.

The letter frames my question thusly:
We have to talk about this week's G7 meeting and the summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

In the space of a couple of days this week, Donald Trump, the man whose administration and policies you support...picked an unnecessary fight with Canada...and yet took time out to say it was "an honor" to meet Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator, a man who is guilty of committing some of the most horrific crimes against humanity.
And now my question to Senator Toomey:
Simple question for you this week: If this isn't enough for you to finally turn your back on the leader of your own party and say, "Enough!" what then, is?
After that, I basically point out that unless he's resisting Trump's policies, he's complicit in them.

And here are the first two "substance" paragraphs in Senator Toomey response (full letter found at the end of this blog post):
Through its nuclear weapons program, human rights violations and illicit activities, North Korea continues to pose one of the gravest threats to the U.S. and our allies. Under the repressive rule of Kim Jong-un, the U.S.-North Korean relationship has maintained deadlocked. North Korea has successfully launched several more advanced intermediate range nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, in violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions. I also remain concerned over North Korea's treatment of Otto Warmbier, an American student who died after being detained by the North Korean government for over 14 months. The inhumane treatment of Otto and other prisoners in North Korea, along with the nation's disregard for human rights, is deeply troubling.

For these reasons, I have supported the strongest possible sanctions on North Korea. Last Congress, the Senate voted unanimously, and with my support, to pass the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act (Public Law 114-123), which puts mandatory sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile activities, human rights abuses, malicious cyber activities, and illicit mineral trade. I also introduced with Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) the Banking Restrictions Involving North Korea, or BRINK Act. Our bill, which has passed the Senate Banking Committee and awaits further action by the full Senate, places mandatory sanctions on financial institutions that facilitate trade with the North Korean regime.
As you can see he's pivoted away from my question and turned it into a promotion for S.1591, the BRINK Act. Sad to say, but he never actually addresses my question.

Toomey continues:
Even as efforts to isolate North Korea continue, President Trump met with Kim Jong-un on June 12, 2018 in a new effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. As a result of this meeting, both sides agreed to a general framework for denuclearization and the return of the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean war. President Trump also announced a suspension of large joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States.

As discussions with North Korea continue, it is critical that strong sanctions remain in place until tangible steps toward complete, verifiable, and irreversible nuclear dismantlement are taken. President Trump is right to seek an agreement that compels North Korea to stop this pursuit and I hope he will be successful. The regime in North Korea has made lofty promises to previous administrations only to renege shortly thereafter. For real progress to happen, much work is left to be done.
Surely the Senator already knows that the "general framework" agreed to has already failed, doesn't he?  Here, I'll remind him. This is from NBC on June 29:
U.S. intelligence agencies believe that North Korea has increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months — and that Kim Jong Un may try to hide those facilities as he seeks more concessions in nuclear talks with the Trump administration, U.S. officials told NBC News.
On the other hand, this is from Donald Trump on June 13:
Back to NBC:
Analysts at the CIA and other intelligence agencies don't see it that way, according to more than a dozen American officials who are familiar with their assessments and spoke on the condition of anonymity. They see a regime positioning itself to extract every concession it can from the Trump administration — while clinging to nuclear weapons it believes are essential to survival.
Now go take a look at what Senator Toomey wrote me a full month after the NBC report. He said this:
The regime in North Korea has made lofty promises to previous administrations only to renege shortly thereafter.
What he left out was that this has already happened to the president and administration he supports.

So back to my initial question:
If this isn't enough for you to finally turn your back on the leader of your own party and say, "Enough!" what then, is?
Very scary to ponder what that answer is - what will finally trigger Senator Pat Toomey say, "Enough!" Text of the letter
Thank you for contacting me about North Korea. I appreciate hearing from you.

Through its nuclear weapons program, human rights violations and illicit activities, North Korea continues to pose one of the gravest threats to the U.S. and our allies. Under the repressive rule of Kim Jong-un, the U.S.-North Korean relationship has maintained deadlocked. North Korea has successfully launched several more advanced intermediate range nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, in violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions. I also remain concerned over North Korea's treatment of Otto Warmbier, an American student who died after being detained by the North Korean government for over 14 months. The inhumane treatment of Otto and other prisoners in North Korea, along with the nation's disregard for human rights, is deeply troubling.

For these reasons, I have supported the strongest possible sanctions on North Korea. Last Congress, the Senate voted unanimously, and with my support, to pass the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act (Public Law 114-123), which puts mandatory sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile activities, human rights abuses, malicious cyber activities, and illicit mineral trade. I also introduced with Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) the Banking Restrictions Involving North Korea, or BRINK Act. Our bill, which has passed the Senate Banking Committee and awaits further action by the full Senate, places mandatory sanctions on financial institutions that facilitate trade with the North Korean regime.

Even as efforts to isolate North Korea continue, President Trump met with Kim Jong-un on June 12, 2018 in a new effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. As a result of this meeting, both sides agreed to a general framework for denuclearization and the return of the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean war. President Trump also announced a suspension of large joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States.

As discussions with North Korea continue, it is critical that strong sanctions remain in place until tangible steps toward complete, verifiable, and irreversible nuclear dismantlement are taken. President Trump is right to seek an agreement that compels North Korea to stop this pursuit and I hope he will be successful. The regime in North Korea has made lofty promises to previous administrations only to renege shortly thereafter. For real progress to happen, much work is left to be done.

Thank you again for your correspondence. Please be assured that I value your input and will keep your thoughts in mind. Do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.

August 11, 2018

Something Troubling In Kittanning

This morning, just after finishing my usual plate of eggs (scrambled) and my just as usual mug of coffee (no cream, no sugar), I wandered as I usually do  on mornings like this to the Tribune-Review's website to check aht the area's one-time solitary conservative editorial page.

Note: now that the one-time left-of-center editorial page of the Post-Gazette has turned darkly Trumpist, we can no longer say that the Trib's editorial page is the "solitary" voice of wingnut conservatism in tahn.

Lucky us.

Anyway, before heading over to the Trib's op-ed page at the Trib, I usually scan their front page. And today I found this rather troubling article:
Kittanning Council does not have the authority to remove a councilman from office despite charges he engaged in sexual contact with a disabled 14-year-old, Council President Kim Chiesa said Friday.

On Thursday, Council Vice President David John Croyle, 60, was arrested and charged with felony counts of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, aggravated indecent assault of a person with a mental disability, corruption of minors and related charges.

Croyle is the editor and publisher of the Kittanning Paper and senior pastor at the Family-Life Church on South Jefferson Street in Kittanning.

Also arrested and facing identical charges is Applewold Council President Mark Alan Feeney, 55, who also serves as chief of the East Franklin Township Fire Department and fire marshal for North Buffalo Township.
Obviously, the case has yet to go to trial and so I will present no opinion as to the guilt or innocence of Pastor Croyle or of Mr. Feeney.

However, this story has an interesting twist that I've yet to see in the news. From KDKA, we learn this seeming innocuous detail:
Investigators tell KDKA the victim first met Croyle when he applied for a job at the Kittanning Paper.
Remember that part - it will make sense very soon, I promise. I started to research The Kittanning Paper (circulation? ownership?) and found this:
The Reverend David Croyle has responded to an article appearing in today’s Leader-Times, citing an incident that occurred last June of stalking by a former employee.

According to court documents, charges were filed in the incident and the case was scheduled to go to court yesterday. However, Croyle said it was in the best interest of everyone to not continue with the trial and dropped charges.

“Our church and media organization teaches grace toward an individual who repents,” Croyle said. “It is unfortunate that the Trib news staff had to run an article that affected the lives of another person and myself in an incident where the District Attorney’s office was willing to dismiss the case. This damages reputations and does nothing to promote a sense of community in our county.”
This was from 2015 and the mention of Pastor Croyle's criticism of one of the many Tribune-Review papers caught my interest. This is the article to which Croyle was responding. Here's how it opened:
A prominent Kittanning businessman and candidate for Armstrong County commissioner who claimed he was a victim of stalking and assault last year has dropped the charges against his alleged assailant.

The Rev. David Croyle dropped the charges against Charles E. Zimmerman III, 25, of Kittanning on Wednesday, two days after a jury was selected to hear the trial.
Again with no case, there'll be no opinion as to Zimmerman's guilt or innocence from me. However Mr. Zimmerman does show up again on the pages of the Trib a few months later:
A Kittanning man has been accused of stalking, harassing and threatening a public official for the third time in about a year.

Charles E. Zimmerman, 25, of Kittanning was charged this month with several misdemeanors following a complaint filed with police by Mark Feeney of Applewold. The former Applewold president and East Franklin fire chief told police that Zimmerman had threatened him several times recently.
I hope you noted presence of the name "Mark Feeney" in the story. So Mr. Zimmerman was accused of stalking Croyle (charges were dropped) and then accused of stalking Mr. Feeney. Guess what? Croyle shows up in that story, with a curious tidbit of information:
“It's crazy,” Feeney said. “I'm not the first person he did this to. It's just a sad situation. It really is.”

The Rev. David Croyle, a Kittanning councilman, in March dropped charges against Zimmerman days before a trial began for criminal trespass, stalking, simple assault and harassment. The charges were related to alleged incidents about a year ago. Croyle, president of Family-Life Media-Com and publisher of the Kittanning Paper, declined to comment about the case.

Croyle had employed Zimmerman and was his landlord at the time charges were filed in 2014.
So a few years ago both Croyle and Feeney were stalked by a one-time employee of the Kittanning Paper and now in 2018 they're both arrested for allegedly assaulting a 14 year old who allegedly met Croyle when the teenager applied for a job at the Kittanning Paper.

Am I the only one who noticed this? I haven't seen that reported yet - that's all I am saying.

August 7, 2018

My SEVENTY-THIRD Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

I'll be dropping this letter to Senator Pat Toomey in the mail Wednesday (sorry for the wait):
Dear Senator Toomey:

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

Donald Trump has now admitted that the June 16, 2016 meeting was about "get(ting) information on an opponent" and not, as we were previously told by his administration, "about the adoption of Russian children."

We were also told back then that the meeting was "was not a campaign issue at the time" even though we now know that it most certainly was.

Senator, you understand I have to ask you about this. The man you voted for for president, the head of your party and the head of the executive branch our government has been lying to the American people about something very important for a very very long time.

Here's my question: Will this finally be enough for you to renounce your political support for him? And if not, what would it take for you to do just that? What could be worse than this?

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

Follow-up:

August 6, 2018

Um...Yea. That's NOT Simply "Misleading"

First there was this:
Then:
President Trump said on Sunday that a Trump Tower meeting between top campaign aides and a Kremlin-connected lawyer was designed to “get information on an opponent” — the starkest acknowledgment yet that a statement he dictated last year about the encounter was misleading.
Um, no.

If you'll recall this is the statement that Trump dictated about for his son regarding that meeting:
It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.
It was a lie. Donald Trump lied to the American people about that meeting.

August 5, 2018

Um...Can I Point Something Out (Hope Hicks On Air Force One)

This happened a while back, in the America-That-Was:
An airport encounter this week between Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and former President Bill Clinton has welled into a political storm, with Republicans asserting that it compromised the Justice Department’s politically sensitive investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices while she was secretary of state.
Remember? As a result, the guardians of the conservative rule of law were, as expected, appalled
Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately with former President William J. Clinton on board a parked private plane on the west side of Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona on June 29, 2016, according to multiple press reports.

President Clinton is the spouse of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former Secretary of State, who is purportedly the subject of a national security crime investigation pertaining to the mishandling of national defense information processed by Mrs. Clinton’s personal server during her tenure as secretary.

Additionally, there are press reports that a federal public corruption investigation is on-going concerning conflicts of interest and abuse of official government office involving the financial “commitments” to the Clinton Foundation, speaking fees for President Clinton and former Secretary Clinton’s official acts. President Clinton may be a target of that investigation.

Attorney General Lynch’s meeting with President Clinton creates the appearance of a violation of law, ethical standards and good judgment. Attorney General Lynch’s decision to breach the well-defined ethical standards of the Department of Justice and the American legal profession is an outrageous abuse of the public’s trust.
And so on and so forth.

Why am I telling you this?

Because this happened this weekend in Trump's America:
Former White House communications director Hope Hicks was seen boarding Air Force One on Saturday.

A White House pool report stated that Hicks was among those who boarded the plane in Morristown Municipal Airport in New Jersey to travel with President Trump for Saturday evening's campaign rally in Ohio.
And who's Hope Hicks?

Take a look:
By Friday, if the reported timeline is correct, White House communications director Hope Hicks will have been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into potential collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government.

Hicks is one of many White House officials cooperating with Mueller — a list that now includes Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser.
And:
Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, told House investigators on Tuesday that her work for President Trump, who has a reputation for exaggerations and outright falsehoods, had occasionally required her to tell white lies.

But after extended consultation with her lawyers, she insisted that she had not lied about matters material to the investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible links to Trump associates, according to three people familiar with her testimony.
She's a federal witness about the Russian interference in to the 2016 election who has already admitted to lying for Trump.

It's easy to see this happened this weekend:
Will our friendly guardians of the rule of conservative law be looking into this? Will any Republican with any sort of congressional oversight be looking into this?

They saw all sorts of corrupting demons swirling around the Phoenix tarmax in 2016. Will they look up to see anything untoward happening over the lush greens of the Garden State this past weekend?

Sadly, I think we all know the answer.

Vote this November. Vote like your freedom depends on it.

Because it probably does.