What Fresh Hell Is This?

November 13, 2018

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

This past week Donald Trump cancelled a trip to a WWI cemetery in France. As I wrote the other day, the cemetery commemorates those Marines who died in the Battle of Belleau Wood - I learned that this battle was an important event in the history of the United States Marine Corps.

Trump reportedly cancelled his appearance on account of weather and logistics - even though the leaders of France and Germany had absolutely no problem attending the ceremony.

This week's question: How is any of this OK with you? As you haven't said one word about this latest international embarrassment, we have to assume you're OK with Trump's recent bad behavior. When will you be speaking out about this? Will you be?

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

Follow-up:

November 11, 2018

Donald Trump And The Marines' First Crucible

Today is Veterans Day, 2018 and Donald Trump is embarrassing himself (and us) in France right now.

From Reuters:
President Donald Trump could not attend a commemoration in France for U.S. soldiers and marines killed during World War One on Saturday because rain made it impossible to arrange transport, the White House said.

The president was scheduled to pay tribute at a ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, about 85 km (50 miles) east of Paris, with his wife Melania. But light steady rain and a low cloud ceiling prevented his helicopter from traveling to the site.

“(Their attendance) has been canceled due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather,” the White House said in a statement, adding that a delegation lead by Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired general, went instead.
We can ask about the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau and its importance. From the American Battle Monuments Commission:
With headstones lying in a sweeping curve, the 42.5-acre Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in France, sits at the foot of Belleau Wood. The cemetery contains the graves of 2,289 war dead, most of whom fought in the vicinity and in the Marne Valley in the summer of 1918. The memorial chapel sits on a hillside, decorated with sculptured and stained-glass details of wartime personnel, equipment and insignia. Inscribed on its interior wall are 1,060 names of the missing. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. In 1940 during World War II the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery chapel was damaged due to heavy fighting in the vicinity. All damage was repaired except for one shell hole in the chapel, left as a reminder of what took place.

Belleau Wood adjoins the cemetery and contains many vestiges of World War I. A monument at the flagpole commemorates the valor of the U.S. Marines who captured much of this ground in 1918.
That would be the Battle of Belleau Wood.  How important is that battle to the USMC?

Take a look at this, written 20 years ago, at Defense.gov:
Little has changed in the 80 years since 8,000 U.S. Marines, hundreds of Army soldiers and a handful of Navy medical corpsmen fought a prolonged battle to halt the Germans' advance toward Paris, a mere 30 miles away. It was here, in a former hunting preserve named Belleau Wood, that they faced what Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Charles C. Krulak considers the Marines' first crucible.
And then:
France, with the help of the United States, had formed a last line of defense along the Marne River near Chateau Thierry. The U.S. 4th Marine Brigade, made up of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments, was in the center with the French 167th Division on its left and U.S. Army 3rd Brigade to the right. The advancing German spearhead struck the Marine brigade near Belleau Wood on June 4.

New to Europe and the First World War, the combat-ready Marines encountered retreating, battle-worn veteran French troops, who predicted only doom. Turn back, the French advised.

"Retreat, hell. We just got here," responded Marine Capt. Lloyd Williams of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. Untried, but soon to prove their mettle, the Marines surged through a hail of machine gun fire to take Hill 142 on June 6.

During a series of attacks and counterattacks on the way to the wood and in nearby villages, the Americans prevailed despite confusion and poor communications. Expert marksmen surprised German foes, hitting their targets from hundreds of yards away. Individual Marines charged German machine gun nests. When officers fell, sergeants took the lead. When sergeants fell, corporals led the way. When corporals fell, privates fought on.

The Marine Corps lost more men on June 6 than it had in all the rest of its history. The 4th Brigade suffered 31 officer casualties and 1,056 enlisted -- of those numbers, six officers and 222 enlisted men were killed or later died of wounds.
But it wasn't just the Marines who died there that makes this battle important. A more modern Marine Corps also grew out of the lessons learned at Belleau Wood:
The United States Marine Corps entered World War I as a small arm of naval infantry. Three decades later, the Marine Corps was poised for war with enhanced amphibious and aviation capabilities that proved vital in defeating Imperial Japan. Pivotal to the transformation of the Marine Corps was the Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918. The Battle of Belleau Wood, although on land, led to the development and refining of the Marines’ amphibious doctrine. The Marine Corps’ amphibious innovation was motivated in part by a threat to its organizational independence and was aided by lessons in logistics learned at Belleau Wood. Additionally, experiences on the Western Front with artillery and enemy airpower helped motivate the expansion of Marine aviation and artillery, which together led to the development of combined arms capabilities. Without the lessons from Belleau Wood, and the integration of them, the Marines would have been much less adequately prepared for conflict with Japan in World War II.
The Battle of Belleau Wood - The Marines' first crucible.

And the place Donald Trump couldn't be bothered to visit because of the rain.

He did, however, tweet the Marine Corps a happy 243rd. It is, of course, a picture of himself:

So it's all good.

November 9, 2018

#ProtectMueller

As I posted yesterday, there was a definite reaction to Trump's firing of AG Sessions.

The Washington Post:
Tens of thousands of protesters nationwide spent Thursday evening decrying President Trump’s removal of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, a move they fear threatens the independence of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

Those gathered in cities and towns from Boston to Houston to Seattle said Trump “crossed a red line” when he picked Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general after asking and receiving Sessions’s resignation on Wednesday. Whitaker, a political loyalist, had criticized the special counsel’s probe into possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
And, just as I posted yesterday, there was a protest in downtown Pittsburgh as well.

The Post-Gazette:
Hundreds protested outside the City-County Building in Pittsburgh during rush hour Thursday night in support of special prosecutor Robert Mueller, chanting and waving signs to dissuade President Donald Trump from interfering with the Russia investigation.

The crowd filled the building’s front steps and stretched for nearly a block in both directions along Grant Street. Demonstrators waved American flags at passing motorists, some of whom shouted or honked their horns in support.

“No one is above the law, not the president, not the smallest child,“ said Tracy Baton, a social worker from Park Place who organized the event. “In a constitutional democracy, everyone operates under the rule of law.”
I was there.
This is what the crowd looked like: [Note: I took a picture of a woman who had a GREAT t-shirt on. I told her the name of this blog - she'd never heard of it - and in my haste I don't think I got her consent to post her picture online. So if you see this, drop me a line and let me know if I can post the picture!]

November 8, 2018

Lawrence O'Donnell, Last Night



From Moveon:
Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee the special counsel's Trump-Russia investigation, crossing a red line set to protect the investigation. By replacing Rod Rosenstein with just-named Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as special counsel Robert Mueller's boss on the investigation, Trump has undercut the independence of the investigation. Whitaker has publicly outlined strategies to stifle the investigation and cannot be allowed to remain in charge of it. The Nobody Is Above the Law network demands that Whitaker immediately commit not to assume supervision of the investigation.
And so tonight at 6pm at the City-County Building: Protest!

November 7, 2018

Whew.

Ok so now the Democrats have control of one of the houses of Congress.

That's a very good thing - perhaps we'll soon be on the road back to a fully functioning democracy, now that we'll have some real oversight.

Some things to oversight:
  • Trump's violation of The Emolument Clause of the Constitution
  • Trump's tax returns
Just a to name a few.

And here should be what's coming - as Jake Tapper said on CNN:
If [Trump] thinks that the media is annoying, wait till he meets a Democratic House that has subpoena power and actually has the legal ability to force them to turn over documents. We’re going to look like nothing compared to that.”
Maybe, we're headed back to some real oversight.

November 6, 2018

November 5, 2018

Open Letter To Robert Bowers' (Current and Cuture) Defense Attorney

[Note: I don't yet know the name of his attorney so if you do, please forward this blog post along to the appropriate person or persons.]
Counselor,

Your client has been accused of a horrendous set of crimes. The impact of those crimes will be felt for generations to come both nationally and locally.

That being said I don't envy you, the job you now have.

It's not my place here to discuss your client's guilt or innocence. I'd rather spend this time echoing something that I am guessing you already believe; that everyone accused of any crime is entitled to a rigorous defense - even Robert Bowers.

We live in tenuous times. The existential threats to our democracy are evident with each early morning tweet-rant coming from Donald Trump's unsecured phone. If our democracy is to survive this administration the rest of us must zealously protect the rule of law everywhere.

Your defense of Robert Bowers is one small part of that protection.

I am sure you already believe  this. I just wanted you to know that I believe it, too.

With great respect

Dayvoe
And if you know who his defense attorney is, please forward this blog post along to them.