What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 23, 2017

Meanwhile, Outside...

And now we're back on schedule.

From the climate scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):
Averaged as a whole, the global land and ocean temperature for September 2017 was 0.78°C (1.40°F) higher than the 20th century average of 15.0°C (59.0°F). This was the fourth highest September temperature on record for the globe since records began in 1880, behind 2015 (+0.93°C / +1.67°F), 2016 (+0.88°C / +1.58°F), and 2014 (+0.79°C / +1.42°F). The 10 warmest Septembers have occurred during the 21st century, specifically since 2003. September 2017 also marks the 41st consecutive September and the 393rd consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average.
And then there's the year-to-date:
The first nine months of the year have each ranked among the top four warmest months on record, giving way to the second highest January–September period in the 138-year record at 0.87°C (1.57°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.5°F), trailing behind the record year of 2016 by 0.13°C (0.23°F), but ahead of 2015 by 0.01°C (0.02°F). Nine of the 10 warmest January-September global land and ocean temperatures occurred during the 21st century (since 2005), with only one year from the 20th century (1998) among the top 10.
Meanwhile in the climate-denying White House, the assault on science continues:
Before becoming President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Scott Pruitt spent years fighting environmental regulation. Since taking over the EPA, Pruitt has denied the scientific community’s consensus opinion on global warming and removed most mentions of climate change from the EPA website, leaving agency employees worried that they will be prevented from keeping the public informed about climate change. Those concerns appear to have been borne out over the weekend, when the EPA barred three of its scientists from giving presentations on climate change at a conference in Rhode Island.

As the New York Times first reported, EPA scientists Autumn Oczkowski, Rose Martin, and Emily Shumchenia were scheduled to speak at Monday’s State of the Narragansett Bay and Watershed, an event that will coincide with the release of a report on the health of Narragansett Bay. Oczkowski, Martin, Shumchenia all contributed to the report, which, according to organizers, features “significant” discussion of how climate change has affected the bay. Tom Borden, whose Narragansett Bay Estuary Program is hosting the conference, told the Times that an EPA official called him on Friday to cancel the scientists’ appearances. “I was not really provided with a clear explanation,” Borden said. “He advised me that it was the decision of the E.P.A. Office of Public Affairs.”
It's hardly surprising that the Trump White House would attempt to stop the science, given that the report's Executive Summary actually begins with this:
Today’s environmental status of Narragansett Bay (Bay) and the entire Narragansett Bay Watershed (Watershed) is the result of hundreds of years of human activities and environmental variability. Numerous organizations have worked together for decades to reverse trends of declining environmental conditions and to understand new threats such as those associated with climate change.
And then a few paragraphs later:
Stressors associated with climate change are increasing rapidly. Air and water temperatures are warming, the intensity and seasonality of precipitation are changing, and sea level is rising. These stressors are already causing ecological responses such as altering the estuarine fish community, with warm-water species increasing and cold-water species declining. Impacts of climate change on the cities, towns, and ecosystem of Narragansett Bay are projected to intensify, such as increased flooding and erosion of coastal properties, loss of salt marshes, and potentially more beach closures due to pathogens. Adaptation will require well-informed action by local communities.
Meanwhile it's still getting warmer out there, no matter what the little-handed pussy-grabber says.

October 22, 2017

Toomey Time Round-Up! (Part The Third)

So far, I've written 32 letters to Pennsylvania's junior senator, Pat Toomey.  The first round up of letters can be found here. The second, here.
Today, it's time for a third.

Of letters 19 through 32, Senator Toomey has responded to only one - Letter 24.

So here are the questions that, so far, Senator Toomey has yet to answer:
  • Nineteenth letter - On this one, Toomey probably gets a pass. It's about his failed "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017" and I asked him if he was OK with (according to the CBO) at least 22 million Americans not having health care because of legislation he wrote. Presumably he is OK with it (since he wrote the legislation) but as the legislation failed to make it past the Senate, the point is moo (yes, I know I'm reusing a joke - but it's such a good one!)
  • Twentieth letter - I asked Toomey to comment in the following: Bishop David Zubik is quoted as saying that "health care is a basic human right" and that Toomey's legislation (the failed one, see the previous letter) was "morally unacceptable." Even though the point is moo (again, see the previous letter), Toomey does not get a pass on this one. Is health care a basic human right or not?
  • Twenty-first letter - I asked Toomey about the then-recent rumors that the Trump administration was planning on firing Attorney General sessions in order to make it easier for Trump to fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Specifically I asked if Toomey is OK with Trump's seeming disrespect for the rule of law.
  • Twenty-second letter - The Washington Post reported that Trump personally dictated the first, and misleading, statement describing his son's meeting with some Russians in Trump Tower. I asked Toomey if he was OK with Trump misleading the American people like that.
  • Twenty-third letter - The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump lied about a speech he gave to the Boy Scouts. I asked Toomey (who was, himself, a Boy Scout as a yute) if he was OK with that.
  • Twenty-fifth letter - This one is about disgraced former sheriff Joe Arpaio. I asked Toomey if he was OK with Trump's pardoning of Arpaio, especially after the latter had shown such blatant disregard for the rule of law.
  • Twenty-sixth letter - The Department of Justice filed papers in Federal Court reiterating that they had no records of any wiretaps as mentioned in Trump's tweets of early March of this year. I asked this question:
    Either Trump was lying in that he knew that what he was tweeting wasn't true but tweeted it anyway or he was negligent in that he fail to pick up the phone to confirm the story with the DOJ before tweeting. He's the leader of your party. You voted for him for in November. You're legislating his agenda in the Senate. How can you continue to support Donald J Trump?
    I really really really want an answer to this one. 
  • Twenty-seventh letter -  A few days after the devastating hurricanes that hit the American South and Carribean, th science-denying head of Trump's EPA said it was not the right time to talk about climate change. I asked Toomey, given the fact that actual climate scientists have been saying that climate change makes hurricanes worse, when is a good time to talk about climate change?
  • Twenty-eighth letter - This is another "Appeal and Replace Obamacare" question letter. There was yet another piece of legislation in the Senate, one that would set aside many of the ACA provisions dealing with preexisting conditions. I pointed out that many of the Senator's constituents would loose their health care if the legislation passes. I asked him to explain how he'd be in favor of hurting so many of the people who voted for him.
  • Twenty-ninth letter - This was a follow-up of sorts for the previous letter.
  • Thirtieth letter - It was reported that the Senate had failed to reauthorize CHIP (the Children's Health Insurance Program). A committee the Senator is on had announced a deal to extend the coverage for 5 years. I asked Toomey what he was doing to make sure it happened and if it didn't, how he was going explain it to his constituents, many of whom rely on that coverage.
  • Thirty-first letter - Senator Corker of Tennessee (who's retiring at the end of this term) had some rather harsh characterizations of Donald Trump, he's a liar and everyone know it, he's leading the world into another world war, and so on. In response Representative Mark Meadows said that "it's easy to be bold" when you're not facing reelection. I asked Toomey if that's true - if it's simply a matter of political courage for a member of Congress to speak out against Trump.
  • Thirty-second letter - Trump recently issued an executive order that would raise Pennsylvania premiums by about 30% and add about $194 billion to the federal deficit. Given that the main reason presented by the GOP for appealing and replacing Obamacare was to lower premiums and save money, how could Toomey, as a fiscal conservative, be comfortable with Trump's EO?
These are the as yet unanswered questions.

October 20, 2017

Just Yesterday...

The previous "worst president ever" said this yesterday of our current state of affairs:
Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.
And this:
We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization.
And this:
We've seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.
And finally, this:
In all these ways, we need to recall and recover our own identity. Americans have a great advantage: To renew our country, we only need to remember our values.
And when the guy who lied the country into a war that killed 4500 servicemen and women, authorized illegal domestic surveillance and waterboarding calls out the current occupant of the White House on his bigotry, nativism, and casual cruelty, you know Trump's a bad bad hombre.
Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. - A. Lincoln

October 19, 2017

There is Something Seriously Wrong With Donald Trump

Just as there's something just as seriously wrong with his enablers in Congress:
Republicans are waiting to pass their tax-reform bill before they move to impeach Donald Trump, a former Republican member of Congress reportedly told a former US labour secretary.

In a Facebook post, Robert Reich said the former senator, an old friend of his, told him Republicans are "just praying Trump doesn't do something really, really stupid before the tax bill."
Shame on them. And shame on everyone who supports them.

October 18, 2017

Donald Trump Is Completely Unworthy

Not of being president - for we all knew that already.

No he's completely unworthy of being called a human being.

This news hit last night - after the debacle of Trump lying to us about how President Obama never called any Gold Star families.

No, that's just the set up.

Here's the story:
President Donald Trump told U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson's widow Tuesday that "he knew what he signed up for ... but when it happens, it hurts anyway," when he died serving in northwestern Africa, according to U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida.

"Yeah, he said that," Wilson said. "So insensitive. He should have not have said that. He shouldn't have said it."

The president called about 4:45 p.m. and spoke to Johnson's pregnant widow, Myeshia Johnson, for about five minutes. She is a mother to Johnson's surviving 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. The conversation happened before Johnson's remains arrived at Miami International Airport on a commercial Delta Airlines flight. [Emphasis added.]
The Washington Post has confirmed that Rep. Wilson heard the conversation via speakerphone.

Donald Trump is a soulless coward.

October 17, 2017

My THIRTY-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."

Senator, I have to ask you about Donald Trump's recent Executive Order - the one ending the CSR payments (the subsidies that help low-income consumers afford health care insurance).

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that "Pennsylvania insurers offering Obamacare plans will need to raise premiums an average 30.6 percent in 2018, nearly four times the increase that had been anticipated."

Last August, the CBO estimated that ending the CSR payments would raise the federal deficit by $194 billion over the next decade or so.

So here's my question: Does any of this sit well with you? If one of the main reasons the GOP wanted (and presumably still wants) to repeal and replace the ACA was to lower premiums, then what are you going to do now that Trump's actions will raise them for so many Pennsylvanians? As a fiscal conservative, how can you support a plan that would both harm your constituents and add to the deficit?

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


October 16, 2017

Trump vs Bill of Rights

Round One.

A Supreme Court Decision, 75 years ago:
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.
Donald J. Trump, a few weeks ago:
President Donald Trump criticized some in the National Football League Friday night at a rally for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange, saying team owners should fire players for taking a knee during the national anthem.

Trump added that if fans would "leave the stadium" when players kneel in protest during the national anthem, "I guarantee, things will stop."

Trump said NFL owners should respond to the players by saying, "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired. He's fired!"

Round Two.

The First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Donald J. Trump, a few days ago:
He has little understanding of (or respect for) what protects our freedom.