What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 18, 2018

I THINK I got Push-Polled By Jeremy Shaffer's Campaign Last Night

Last night at about 8:10 I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognize. Usually, I ignore these calls but for some reason last night I answered.

Turned out it was a poll taker asking political questions doing a pushpoll!

Most of the questions revolved around the Jeremy Shaffer/Lindsey Williams race.

And here's my evidence I was pushpolled:
  • The pollster referred to it as "the Democrat party"
  • I was only asked the "If you knew X would you be more willing/less willing to vote for Lindsey Williams" questions. Nothing similar about Jeremy Shaffer
  • The "X" in those was only negative stuff about Williams
To be clearer, the point of the poll was not to gather information about what the voters are thinking but rather to plant negative information about one candidate into the minds of the voters.

So I'm guessing yea, it's a pushpoll.

October 16, 2018

My EIGHTY-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 - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

Recently, Donald Trump referred to Democrats as an "angry mob" and "unhinged" and "too dangerous to govern."

Very simple question this week: given that about four million of your constituents are, in fact, members of the Democratic party, do you agree with this assessment? Please note that I am not asking you whether you think it's a good idea for him to say it or whether his rhetoric has gotten out of hand, I am just asking if you agree with him - seeing as he's insulted a very large portion of your constituents.

Oh, and The NYTimes is reporting that the deficit jumped 18% in 2018 due, in large part, to the tax cuts you and your party passed. I thought the GOP took the budget seriously. I suppose now that your guy is in the Oval Office that's no longer the case - your thoughts?.

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


October 9, 2018

My EIGHTY-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 - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

You voted to elevate Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. I am guessing you're already getting a great deal of critical (and necessary, given the severity of the issue) feedback about the sexual assaults alleged to have occurred in his past, so let me ask you about of his perjury instead. 

In voting for Kavanaugh, can the voters of Pennsylvania assume you're completely OK perjury if it fits the GOP agenda - specifically, with the fact that Kavanaugh lied to Congress regarding the memos Manny Miranda stole from some Democratic Senators back in 2003?

Perjury is a very serious crime, Senator. Sitting presidents have been impeached for perjury, as I am sure you know.

So, all politics aside, where are your principles in supporting a man who lied to the Congress in order to sit on the Supreme Court?

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


October 6, 2018

The State Republican Party Is Lying About Conor Lamb

Yea, I know - what a surprise!!

A few days ago I received via the Post Office a mailing from the "Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania."  How do I know it's the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania?

It's in the return address:

And what sort of statewide dishonesty has been aimed at Representative Lamb?


The text reads:
Dangerous for Seniors: Lamb supports a dangerous and radical healthcare plan which robbed over $800 billion from our Medicare program.
With a footnote that leads you here to The Beaver County Times. So, let's go see what The Times had to say about Conor Lamb and healthcare, shall we?

[Message to my new friends on the "Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania": Did you think no one would check?]

Here's what was published:
Lamb said he “fully” supports the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, because it provided insurance to millions of Americans who would not otherwise have coverage. He said the individual mandate, which Republicans repealed under President Donald Trump, was “a very important ingredient” in the ACA.

Also, Lamb said the government should do more to market and recruit Americans into ACA plans, yet the Trump administration has done the opposite. Asked specifically about Medicare for all, Lamb said expansion could cost $3 trillion and he has not seen a plan to pay for it.

“I support ideas that we know we can pay for,” he said.
Look closely at the text - look at what it says and, just as importantly, what it doesn't say. If the committee is talking about Lamb's support of Obamacare, why not just say "Obamacare" instead of "a dangerous and radical healthcare plan"? What are they hiding by the ad hoc relabeling?

The simplest theory is that they simply don't want you to think they're talking about Obamacare (which, according to the Kaiser Foundation is still popular as it has, at this point, a 50% to 40% favorable to unfavorable rating) but about some other healthcare plan (a scary one!) - that has already robbed Medicare of $800 billion. So first, we have a lie of omission.

And what about that second part? Has the ACA actually robbed hundreds of billions from Medicare?

No - this is another lie from our Republican friends. Take a look at this from Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post. The Lamb ad echoes another campaign ad from the beginning of August. That ad states that Daniel O'Connor (who's running against Troy Balderson in Ohio):
...supports a Pelosi-backed plan that cuts Medicare spending by $800 billion.”
Sound familiar?

Kessler says that he looked at this issue way back in 2012 when he wrote:
This $700 billion figure comes from the difference over 10 years (2013-2022) between anticipated Medicare spending (what is known as “the baseline”) and the changes that the law makes to reduce spending. The savings mostly are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries — who, as a result of the health-care law, ended up with new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs. [Emphasis added.]
And then as a follow-up he writes about the current GOP distort:
A Congressional Leadership Fund official acknowledged that the [O'Connor] ad was referring to the Medicare savings in the ACA, using numbers produced by the Congressional Budget Office in 2015 about the impact of repealing the law.

“The provisions with the largest effects reduced payments to hospitals, to other providers of care, and to private insurance plans delivering Medicare’s benefits, relative to what they would have been under prior law,” the CBO said in a report. “Repealing all of those provisions would increase direct spending in the next decade by $879 billion.” (The report also said repealing the law would increase the budget deficit over 10 years.) [Emphasis added.]
Hence, the "over $800 billion" from the Lamb ad. Since Democrats don't want to repeal the ACA, an repeal which would reverse the reduction of Medicare savings of $800 billion, the GOP is asserting that the Democrats want to "rob" Medicare of that $800 billion. See how the GOP "logic" works?

Kessler goes on:
“There were about $540 billion of Medicare cuts assumed in the House budget that passed committee,” said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president at the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “And the president’s budget has something like $350 billion of net Medicare cuts (actual number is larger in part because they move some programs out of Medicare). Those are all on top of the cuts we passed years ago under the ACA.”
Now go back and look at the charge the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania makes about Conor Lamb. Weigh what they've chosen to tell you vs what they've chosen not to tell you in light of what that figure of $800 billion actually means and where it came from.

I'll reduce it to a moderately short sentence: Conor Lamb wants to protect $800 billion in savings to Medicare and the GOP says that means that he wants to rob Medicare of that amount. Despite the fact that the GOP wants to cut Medicare funding even more.

Do you see the lie now?

October 5, 2018

Rewriting A NON-Political Post

I turned 55 today.  Typical day, I woke up my usual time and again, like every October 5 for the last few years, I am missing a phone call I know I'm not going to get.

You see, my mom (who passed away a few years ago) and I had a sweet and curious birthday tradition.  Every fifth of October she'd call me on the phone to tell me the story of my birth.  I'd listen quietly and politely each year even though I knew all the details from the previous year's call. And the the call year before that. And the one before that. And so on - turtles all the way down.

Our conversation would usually go something like this:

"You were a very easy birth," she'd say.  "You can thank your older brother for that."

"It was early in the morning. We were living in the apartment in Hamden and I woke up and knew it was time," she'd continue.  "I tapped your father to wake him up.  'Al,' I said. 'It's time to go.'"

"OK," she would say he said.  "I'll make us some coffee."

"No, Al. We have to go now!"

"OK, let me put on my suit."

"No, Al.  Now."

And so they went to the hospital for my very easy birth.

I heard that story every year for more than 20 years - until I didn't.

And I miss it every October 5.

October 3, 2018

Donald Trump Is A Tax Cheat

From the New York Times:
The most overt fraud was All County Building Supply & Maintenance, a company formed by the Trump family in 1992. All County’s ostensible purpose was to be the purchasing agent for Fred Trump’s buildings, buying everything from boilers to cleaning supplies. It did no such thing, records and interviews show. Instead All County siphoned millions of dollars from Fred Trump’s empire by simply marking up purchases already made by his employees. Those millions, effectively untaxed gifts, then flowed to All County’s owners — Donald Trump, his siblings and a cousin. Fred Trump then used the padded All County receipts to justify bigger rent increases for thousands of tenants.
Make America Great Again - One Swindle At A Time.