What Fresh Hell Is This?

November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving - 2017!

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

This piece of music.

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

November 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow-up:

November 20, 2017

More On Rick Saccone

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

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

Where am I going with this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 19, 2017

Hey, I Have An Al Franken Story, Too!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Really?" I asked, beaming.

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

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

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

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


November 16, 2017

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


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

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

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

Yea, I was kidding.

November 14, 2017

My THIRTY-SIXTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your plans when or if that happens?

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

Follow-up:

November 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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