Prosecute the torture.

May 24, 2016

My Chat With Representative Mike Doyle

A few days ago, I was lucky enough to score a few minutes of phone time with my congressional representative, Mike Doyle (PA-14).

Like every other House member, he's up for re-election but I didn't want to talk to him about his race.  I wanted to talk about Donald Trump, Clinton vs Sanders, and the general state of the coming election season.

As a bit of framing, let me finally disclose my place along the Clinton/Sanders continuum.  Politically, I remain in closer agreement with Sanders than with Clinton, though Clinton would be an infinitely greater president than Donald Trump or any of the dozen and a half GOP candidates that he vanquished.

On the other hand owing to infrastructure, money, and general party politics, I was never anything but other than completely convinced that Clinton would be the Democratic nominee.

 And so I didn't get involved in the very noisy fighting for a few of reasons:
  1. I didn't want to argue with my friends especially since,
  2. I felt that I couldn't commit to the candidate (Sanders) who I knew was going to fail. And finally,
Doyle, on the other hand, is a Clinton supporter.  He's a super-delegate, in fact, though he was quick to add that in the recent primary Clinton won his congressional district so voting for her not only reflects his support but his constituents' wishes as well.

When I asked him about the presidential campaign on the democratic side, he said that this point offers Senator Sanders a tremendous opportunity to help the Democratic party - OR - he could become Ralph Nader (for the millennial young'uns out there who may not recognize the name, the google machine may help).

However, were Clinton to prevail in New Jersey and/or California, she'll have an even greater delegate advantage than Sanders than she has now even if all the Clinton super-delegates in the states that he won were to switch sides and vote for him.

In the end, Doyle said, he thinks Sanders will do the right thing and make moves to unify the party behind Clinton.

As for Trump, the key word seemed to be "unpredictable" followed closely by "unstable."  Doyle used each a number of times.  For example, what was once a straight out statement about banning Muslims has now been relegated to a mere "suggestion."  Doyle said that Trump has changed his position so many times that it's difficult to see who, in fact, he really is.  And his promises about what he'll do as president only show that he doesn't exactly understand what the office is.

This is apart from Trump's promises to bring back the steel mills and raise Joe Paterno from the dead.

The Clinton/Trump race promises to have some repercussions on the statewide Senate race as well, with Clinton voters and McGinty voters being more or less the same group.  Toomey on the other hand faces the same Trump problem all other Republican candidates have - though Doyle said Toomey's straddling the fence when it comes to Trump.

In a state leaning Blueward (my term, not Doyle's - though he's free to use it if he wishes), where Clinton has a good chance to win, Toomey is at a disadvantage.

The problems facing Trump, the shifting demographics away from the white male population he does well with (he's got some serious problems with women, Hispanics and African-American voters) combined with being a "loose cannon" (Doyle's term, though it fits) mean that he's got a hard path to 270 electoral votes.  A path, it seems, that comes right through Pennsylvania.  If Trump can make advances in Pennsylvania/Ohio/Michigan he might just reach the White House.

It's the 270 that's important and on that note, we had a brief chat about some recent national polls out.

This far out, Doyle says, they're pointless.  Not only that, we don't have one national election but 51 local elections (one in each state and one in the District of Columbia).  It's how the polling data reflects who's winning in each state and then how that impacts on the distribution of each state's electoral votes that's all important.  And at this point, it's waaay to early to even make a guess.

And for that, it'll be a tough race.  Just think of all the 16 Republican opponents who Trump beat.  They got nowhere underestimating him (though Doyle giggled abit at the karma - how the billionaires looking to buy the election towards the end were faced with a choice between the two guys - Trump and Cruz - they definitely did not want).

It's going to be a tough race. 

They'll all be tough races. 

Nothing to be complacent about.

May 23, 2016

A Non-Political Departure (SNL vs Dead Poets Society)

It's Monday morning and in case you missed it, this was on Saturday Night Live this weekend:

For those few who don't get the joke, it'll be much more obvious once you've seen this:

Oh my God, the attention to detail!
  • The box of Champion Lamps in the closet
  • The map of England, the globe and the movie screen in the corner
  • The picture of Walt Whitman above the chalkboard (though it's a different picture)
  • The chalkboard at the back of the room
  • The colors of and the logo on the school jackets
  • The design of the classroom door
  • The NUMBER on the classroom door (it's a 10)
  • The background music when the boys stand on their desks
This took a long time to do - a very long time.

O, Captain! My Captain! I sing my song for all to hear.

May 20, 2016

You've GOT To Be Frickin' Kiddin' Me! (More On Chuck McCullough)

You remember Chuck McCullough, right?

He was arrested February 19, 2009, went on trial 2,245 days later, was found guilty late last July and finally sentenced last December.

Let me remind you how long 2,245 days is.  It's longer than:
  • WWII in the Pacific - December 7, 1941 (Attack on Pearl Harbor) to August 15, 1945 (VJ Day): 1,347 days
  •  WWII in Europe - September 1, 1939 (Germany invades Poland) to May 7, 1945 (Germany Surrenders) 2,075 days
  • Nixon Presidency - January 20, 1969 (Nixon's First Inauguration) to August 9, 1974 (Nixon's resignation): 2,027 days
That's right.  The time between Chuck's arrest and the beginning of his trial was longer than the US involvement in the Second World War, longer than the time between the Third Reich's invasion of Poland and its surrender, longer even than the entire time Richard Nixon was president.

Chuck was found guilty of five felonies.  He then complicated his life by filing papers with the court saying that he agreed to a judge-only trial because he felt coerced nto it.  This was in direct contradiction to his own statements under oath.  And so now he's been charged with perjury.

It's now May 5, 2016, 294 days since he was found guilty of that first set of charges, and so what happened yesterday?

An Allegheny County judge on Thursday agreed to put a hold on former county Councilman Chuck McCullough's perjury trial while he appeals his theft conviction to state Superior Court.

McCullough sought a stay of the June jury trial while appealing his July 2015 conviction on five counts each of felony theft and misdemeanor misapplication of entrusted funds. The latter stem from 2009 charges that he donated money from his elderly client's estate to political campaigns and his wife's charity.

Common Pleas Judge David Cashman granted the stay but said the second trial would be scheduled to begin five days after the Pennsylvania Superior Court's decision in the theft case if it does not rule in McCullough's favor.
So he's not begun serving any jail time, awaiting the outcome of an appeal and his second trial will start after that.

But here's the kicker.  It's the last sentence of the Trib's piece:
The Superior Court has not set a date for arguments in McCullough's appeal.
You've got to be frickin' kiddin' me.

May 19, 2016

The Tribune-Review And David Brock

It always amazes me how little research The Tribune-Review's editorial board thinks its readers should do.

Today is a purr-fect example - in which they actually get a fact wrong (gasp!) in a smear.

Take a look:
You can almost imagine Dawn Le foaming at the mouth and shouting at the top of her lungs as she wrote her latest press release for American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal advocacy group. In a Tuesday email, she writes that the Koch brothers “sow chaos in states to protect their puppet senators.” One of them, supposedly, is Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who's being challenged by uber-left Democrat Katie McGinty. Of course, there's no mention in Ms. Le's rant that American Bridge was the brainchild of liberal pecan David Brock and who's first large donor was “progressive” moneyman George Soros. Cue the laugh track.
You can see Dawn Le's piece here.  Notice first, how little of it involves Pat Toomey.  It's almost as if he's added as an after thought.

Anyway, I want to focus on what the braintrust had to say about David Brock - that his "first large donor" was George Soros.


Take a look at this piece from David Brock himself:
ther than shaking his hand at various conservative galas around Washington, I sat down for an audience with Richard Mellon-Scaife, a big financial supporter of my anti-Clinton work at The American Spectator, where I was the lead investigative reporter, just once. One morning in 1994, I was summoned to the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown to meet my benefactor for lunch.
For the record, 1994 is twenty-two years ago. I'd say this is some pretty good evidence that David Brock's first "first large donor" was none other than the former owner of the Tribune-Review, the late Richard Mellon Scaife.

No mention of that in the braintrust's foaming rant about David Brock and Dawn Le, of course.

But take a look at what they're accusing Soros of and now read what Brock had to say about Scaife:
Despite his legendary low profile, quiet demeanor and apparent hands-off style, Scaife, who died last week at the age of 82, certainly had vast sway in shaping the modern conservative movement. Long before the era of SuperPACs enabled big money to shape our political system, he did this, first, by using his banking fortune to move politics far to the right by heavily funding activist think tanks like the Heritage Foundation (where I also once worked) and, later, to upend the presidency in the Clinton era, by bankrolling several scandal-mongering publications, including the Spectator, the Western Journalism Center, NewsMax and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. They were part of a then-nascent right-wing media echo chamber—the forerunners to the Drudge Report and the Fox News Channel.

Whatever else one can say about him, Scaife was generous with his largesse. I have vivid recollections of the “Dear Mr. Scaife” letters that Spectator staffers would send off to Pittsburgh requesting six-figure sums for anti-Clinton research. The checks typically arrived promptly, no questions asked.
Scaife was doing that two decades ago.  Can we cue the laugh track now?

May 18, 2016

Meanwhile, Outside...It's Still Getting Warmer.

From the scientists at NOAA:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for April 2016 was 1.10°C (1.98°F) above the 20th century average of 13.7°C (56.7°F)—the highest temperature departure for April since global records began in 1880. This value surpassed the previous record set in 2010 by 0.28°C (0.50°F). This was also the fourth highest monthly temperature departure among all 1,636 months on record, behind March 2016 (1.23°C/2.21°F), February 2016 (1.19°C/2.14°F), and December 2015 (1.12°C/2.02°F). Overall, 13 out of the 15 highest monthly temperature departures in the record have all occurred since February 2015, with February 1998 and January 2007 among the 15 highest monthly temperature departures. April 2016 also marks the fifth consecutive month (since December 2015) that the global monthly temperature departure from average has surpassed 1.0°C (1.8°F) and it is the 12th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken, the longest such streak in NOAA's 137 years of record keeping. [Emphasis added.]
But we know all of this a lie because one Senator from Oklahoma was able to find enough snow in DC in February to make a snowball.

A reminder: Both Donald Trump and Pat Toomey are, in one way or another, climate science deniers.

And both are, of course, in the GOP.

ANOTHER Question For My Readers Who are BOTH Women and Republican

Do you really think that "No one respects women more than Donald Trump"?


May 16, 2016

Meanwhile, Outside...(How Can Global Warming Be True When There Was Snow In Pennsylvania This Weekend? IN MID-MAY??)

From The Weather Channel:
April 2016 was the warmest April on record for the globe, according to data released on Saturday by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. This also marks the seventh consecutive month in a row in NASA's dataset that the earth has recorded its warmest respective month on record.

The global temperature departure in April was 1.11 degrees Celsius above the 1951-1980 average. This crushed the previous April record set in 2010 by 0.24 degrees Celsius.
Every month from October 2015-April 2016 has now had a departure of 1 degree Celsius or greater above the 1951-1980 average used by NASA. The departure from average in a single month had never exceeded 1 degree Celsius prior to October dating back to 1880.
Of course, because this happened yesterday:
Following a blast of unseasonably cold air that brought snow to at least one part of Pennsylvania on Sunday, temperatures are set to rebound, beginning with a sunny and warmer start to the work week.

This after near record low temperatures descended on much of the region over the weekend, even bringing a trace amount of snow to Williamsport, the National Weather Service reports.

It was reportedly the first snow ever recorded on May 15 in Williamsport, where record-keeping began in 1895.
We know our friends in the science denying crowd are all set to declare victory over the hoax and go home.

It'll be the same illogic as this:
Happy Monday!

It's still getting warmer outside.