What Fresh Hell Is This?

June 30, 2016

Shame on Trump for Advocating Torture. Shame on His Supporters For Agreeing With Him

From NBC this week:
Donald Trump on Tuesday prescribed fighting "fire with fire" when it comes to battling terrorism, seemingly making the case for using similarly brutal tactics as terror groups like ISIS have in the past.

The GOP's presumptive nominee has been outspoken on enhanced interrogation, telling Tuesday's enthusiastic crowd once again that he doesn't think waterboarding is "tough enough" and that it's "peanuts" compared to what terrorists have done in the past. Trump lamented being limited by laws when fighting terror, allowing that waterboarding is "not the nicest thing," but advocating for its use when "the enemy" is "chopping off people's heads."
And from The Guardian:
Trump also renewed his praise of waterboarding, which was banned by the Bush administration in 2006 as both potentially illegal and ineffective. “What do you think about waterboarding?” Trump asked the crowd. They cheered as he gave his answer: “I like it a lot. I don’t think it’s tough enough.”
Let me first correct The Guardian.  This is what Bush did in 2006:
President Bush said Saturday he vetoed legislation that would ban the CIA from using harsh interrogation methods such as waterboarding to break suspected terrorists because it would end practices that have prevented attacks.

"The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror," Bush said in his weekly radio address taped for broadcast Saturday. "So today I vetoed it," Bush said.
According to ABC, the CIA banned it (with quiet White House approval) sometime later:
The controversial interrogation technique known as waterboarding, in which a suspect has water poured over his mouth and nose to stimulate a drowning reflex, has been banned by CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden, current and former CIA officials tell ABCNews.com. (Image above is an ABC News graphic.)

The officials say Hayden made the decision at the recommendation of his deputy, Steve Kappes, and received approval from the White House to remove waterboarding from the list of approved interrogation techniques first authorized by a presidential finding in 2002.
So Bush authorized the torture then vetoed a ban and then quietly OKed the CIA's abandonment of it.

That's a little different from what The Guardian said.

In any case, it was illegal all along.  From ABC, again:
The practice of waterboarding has been branded as "torture" by human rights groups and a number of leading U.S. officials, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., because it amounted to a "mock execution."
But that was 2007.  What does McCain think now?

The same.
"It's not the United States of America. It's not what we are all about. It's not what we are," the Arizona lawmaker and former prisoner of war in North Vietnam said to applause at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington on Wednesday.

At a rally Tuesday in Ohio, Trump reiterated his praise for using waterboarding -- banned by the Bush administration -- as an effective tool to fight terror just hours after the attack that left dozens of people dead. "I like it a lot. I don't think it's tough enough," said Trump, adding that the tactic was "peanuts compared to many alternatives."

McCain noted at the event that waterboarding is considered a war crime according to the Geneva conventions, "But perhaps more important than that, if you're not into academics and history is it doesn't work ... Because if you inflict enough pain on someone they will tell you whatever they think you want to hear."
Shame on Donald J. Trump for advocating a war crime.  And shame on his supporters in Ohio (and nationwide) who agree with him.

June 28, 2016

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Concurring

It can be found here:
The Texas law called H. B. 2 inevitably will reduce the number of clinics and doctors allowed to provide abortion services. Texas argues that H. B. 2’s restrictions are constitutional because they protect the health of women who experience complications from abortions. In truth, “complications from an abortion are both rare and rarely dangerous.” Planned Parenthood of Wis., Inc. v. Schimel. See Brief for American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists et al. as Amici Curiae 6–10 (collecting studies and concluding “[a]bortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States”); Brief for Social Science Researchers as Amici Curiae 5–9 (compiling studies that show “[c]omplication rates from abortion are very low”). Many medical procedures, including childbirth, are far more dangerous to patients, yet are not subject to ambulatory- surgical-center or hospital admitting-privileges requirements. See ante, at 31; Planned Parenthood of Wis. See also Brief for Social Science Re- searchers 9–11 (comparing statistics on risks for abortion with tonsillectomy, colonoscopy, and in-office dental surgery); Brief for American Civil Liberties Union et al. as Amici Curiae 7 (all District Courts to consider admitting privileges requirements found abortion “is at least as safe as other medical procedures routinely performed in outpatient settings”). Given those realities, it is beyond rational belief that H. B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law “would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.” Planned Parenthood of Wis. When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux , at great risk to their health and safety. See Brief for Ten Pennsylvania Abortion Care Providers as Amici Curiae 17–22. So long as this Court adheres to Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers laws like H. B. 2 that “do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion,” Planned Parenthood of Wis. cannot survive judicial inspection. [Citations removed for easier reading.]
 But what does this mean for Pennsylvania, where I live?

From Philly.com:
Monday's ruling in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt may have implications for numerous other states. Pennsylvania is among five states that require abortion facilities to be on a par medically with outpatient surgical centers, and four states require hospital admitting privileges, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research center that supports abortion rights.
And from the AP (via KDKA):
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday striking down restrictive abortion regulations in Texas prompted a Pennsylvania state senator to announce he will seek repeal of a 2011 law that imposed expensive facility and staff expansions on clinics that perform abortions in the state.

Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, said in a memo to fellow lawmakers that repealing the four-year-old law would bring Pennsylvania into compliance with the requirements and limitations of the U.S. Constitution.

Pennsylvania’s abortion laws, Leach said, “are forcing women and their families into desperate, life-threatening situations in which they must choose between the law, their health and their Constitutional rights.”

The high court struck down Texas’ 2013 law and follow-up regulations that, in part, required clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery. It is similar to Pennsylvania’s 2011 law, Leach said.
The Republicans, of course, disagree.

My guess is that if it has "little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion, [it] cannot survive judicial inspection" and it's t-o-a-s-t TOAST.

The Notorious R.B.G

June 27, 2016

Well, George WIll Is Gone.

In case you missed it:
Conservative columnist George Will told PJM he has officially left the Republican Party and urged conservatives not to support presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump even if it leads to a Democratic victory in the 2016 presidential election.

Will, who writes for the Washington Post, acknowledged it is a “little too late” for the Republican Party to find a replacement for Trump but had a message for Republican voters.

“Make sure he loses. Grit their teeth for four years and win the White House,” Will said during an interview after his speech at a Federalist Society luncheon.

Will said he changed his voter registration this month from Republican to “unaffiliated” in the state of Maryland.

“This is not my party,” Will said during his speech at the event.
I have to admit I agree with Will about 0.00% of the time.  MAYBEE 0.05%.

He's dangerously wrong on climate science and a few years ago he got some well-deserved bruises regarding campus sexual assault.

His writing on baseball, however, is in a separate brilliant category.

But this time, about politics, he's right.  He's right about the Cheeto-faced ferret wearing shitgibbon (a.k.a "Donald J. Trump") when he wrote this week:
Yes, as Republicans should remember when their convention opens in less than a month, on the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s disparagement of John McCain as unheroic because he was “captured.” McCain was captured (with a broken leg and two broken arms) when North Vietnamese shot down his plane. He chose extra years of torture, refusing to leave when his torturers wanted to release him because he was an admiral’s son.

Trump says, however, that he, too, has been “very brave” by ignoring the danger of venereal disease during his sexual adventures: “It is a dangerous world out there — it’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam era. It is my personal Vietnam, I feel like a great and very brave soldier.” He was serious; irony is not in this narcissist’s repertoire. And there is a reason Britain’s staid Economist magazine refers to Trump’s “look of a rouĂ© gone to seed.”
And so on.

June 26, 2016

Jack Kelly Sunday

I wasn't sure who Jack Kelly, conservative columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was writing about when he opened this week's column with this:
It was the Keystone Kops version of George Orwell’s dystopian novel of a dictatorship, “1984,” in which the past is rewritten to suit the political masters, words are robbed of their meaning. “War Is Peace.” “Freedom Is Slavery.” “Ignorance Is Strength.”
I mean, talk about rewriting history, Jack's the guy who wrote a column about Van Jones that was so fact-phobic the P-G removed it a few days later.  Jack's the guy who tried to spin the Reagan's two administrations into something both "popular" and "successful" (I wonder if his knowledge of Iran-Contra, the S&L and HUD scandals all went down Orwell's memory hole).

And we all know what happened when Jack Kelly wrote about slavery - twice.

So you'll forgive my assumption that the closest example of someone rewriting history to suit his political masters is Jack Kelly himself.

That being said, let's go look at what got Jack Kelly all bothered:
The Justice Department released Monday morning a partial transcript of Omar Mateen’s 911 call from the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. All references to ISIS and Islam were deleted.

“OM: ‘I pledge of allegiance to [omitted]. ‘I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].’”

This effort to drop the killer’s motive down the Memory Hole was hilarious. It wasn’t hard to figure out what was redacted.
And:
That the real reason was to deceive Americans about the killer’s motive is made clear by the efforts of Democrats to blame the massacre on everyone but Islamists.
It wasn't difficult, that part's true, especially since the redactions were announced before hand - wait, didn't Jack tell you that?  He's trying to tell you that the Democrats and their lackeys in the DOJ erased any reference to Islam and the Islamic State and they were hoping you'd not notice.

But take a look at this portion of an interview Attorney General Lynch did with NBC's Chuck Todd a day before the partial transcripts were released:
LORETTA LYNCH: Yes, I'll be going to Orlando on Tuesday to continue my briefings in the case. Actually though what we are announcing tomorrow is that the F.B.I. is releasing a partial transcript of the killer's calls with law enforcement from inside the club. These are the calls with the Orlando P.D. negotiating team who were trying to ascertain who he was, where he was, and why he was doing this, all the while the rescue operations were continuing. That'll be coming out tomorrow and I'll be headed to Orlando on Tuesday.

CHUCK TODD: Including the hostage negotiation part of this?

LORETTA LYNCH: Yes. It will be primarily a partial transcript of his calls with the hostage negotiators.

CHUCK TODD: You say partial. What's being left out?

LORETTA LYNCH: Well, what we're not going to do is further proclaim this individual's pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups and further his propaganda.

CHUCK TODD: So we're not going to hear him talk about those things?
So tell me how that fits into the Orwellian memory hole?

Now let's look at what the DOJ released after  the GOP poop hit the PR fan:
The purpose of releasing the partial transcript of the shooter's interaction with 911 operators was to provide transparency, while remaining sensitive to the interests of the surviving victims, their families, and the integrity of the ongoing investigation. We also did not want to provide the killer or terrorist organizations with a publicity platform for hateful propaganda. Unfortunately, the unreleased portions of the transcript that named the terrorist organizations and leaders have caused an unnecessary distraction from the hard work that the FBI and our law enforcement partners have been doing to investigate this heinous crime. As much of this information had been previously reported, we have re-issued the complete transcript to include these references in order to provide the highest level of transparency possible under the circumstances.
Again - what memory hole?  Didn't they just acknowledge that much of the information they redacted was "previously reported"?

Admittedly, it probably wasn't the best decision this DOJ made.

But look at it the other way, as the right wing charges that the left wing wants to "blame the massacre on everyone but Islamists" the truth is far closer to this: The right wing wants to blame no one but the Islamists.

Yes, the reasons for the massacre can't possibly be anything other than the dangerous faith of all those non-Christians and how they want to kill each of us.  All they need is the opportunity and their God-given Constitutional right to a Sig Sauer MCX and all the ammo they can carry.

That's what the right wing is trying to sell to you.  And Jack's Minitrue column is simply part of that doublespeak narrative.

June 22, 2016

Thank You Rep. Mike Doyle and the #NoBillNoBreak Sit-in House!


(Photo courtesy of Rep. Mike Doyle's Facebook page, pictured center.)

Who knew the Democrats in the US House of Representatives had this much cojones/huevos? 

When the Democrats in the Senate's filibuster ended in gun control votes that went down in flames, it seemed like the issue was over, maybe at least until the next horrific mass shooting occurs...say, next Tuesday or so. I mean, the House can't filibuster, right? Right! So the beautiful bastards are holding a sit-in instead!

Damn!

THANK YOU!

And thank you Rep. John Lewis for starting it and my own Rep. Mike Doyle for being down there (literally) on the floor.

#NoBillNoBreak 



June 21, 2016

Wendy Bell To Fox News CEO: "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Ailes!"


With reverse discrimination lawsuit and new blonde 'do in tow,
Wendy Bell readies for an audition with FOX News (we assume).

Wendy Bell Sues.

From The AP (so now it's a national story):
A newscaster fired after her comments in a Facebook post about a shooting were deemed racially insensitive sued her former employer on Monday, saying the television station let her go because she is white.

Wendy Bell said her federal lawsuit that Pittsburgh-based WTAE fired her on March 30 "because of her race," violating her civil rights.

"Had Ms. Bell written the same comments about white criminal suspects or had her race not have been white, Defendant would not have fired her, much less disciplined her," the lawsuit reads. "Ms. Bell's posting of concern for the African-American community stung by mass shooting was clearly and obviously not intended to be racially offensive."
Ah...so that settles it.

You can find the lawsuit here.

In the section section of the lawsuit, one that lays out all Bell's side of the argument.  She's praised by TAE for being such a good egg, having a great connection with her audience and so forth.

Then there's this:
8. Bell’s work and reputation in Defendant’s target audience area was so good that Defendant encouraged Ms. Bell to use social media to communicate with that target audience. Indeed, in Defendant’s last formal performance appraisal of Ms. Bell, Defendant noted she has “launched a Facebook page for her work at the station and “this has proven to be a great platform for her.” According to Defendant, Ms. Bell “is very good about engaging her audience [on that Facebook page]”
And:
11. As part of her duties as a reporter and anchor, Defendant encouraged Ms. Bell to communicate over social media about the stories she covered.
And the rest, as they say, is history.

The basis of the lawsuit, as far as I (a notorious non-lawyer) can tell is found in these three paragraphs:
21. Defendant consistently downplays misconduct by similarly situated reporters and anchors because of their race or gender.

22. For example, Defendant’s African American Sports Director, and 5 p.m. news anchor, Andrew Stockey was not disciplined at all for making lewd comments to interns, conduct that resulted in the termination of Defendant’s internship program in its news department.

23. Another reporter, Guy Junker, was arrested for propositioning an undercover police officer, an arrest that caused significant undue publicity, and was “inconsistent with [Defendant’s] ethics.” Defendant did not even discipline Junker, much less fire him.
Basically, it's a "they did bad stuff and they weren't fired!" argument

For the record Junker was arrested in 1998.  Ands there's no supporting evidence other than Bell's assertion in her lawsuit against TAE about Stockey's "lewd comments" I'll leave it up to you to decide whether they can be trusted.

BTW, here's Bell working with Andrew Stockey.  This was about 6 years ago, by the way:


She offered up an apology then:
“The other night, I made an off-the-cuff comment to my co-anchor, Andrew Stockey, after one of our news stories,” she said in a statement. “The words I said didn’t come out the right way, and as such, offended some of you, which leaves me deeply troubled. I would never want to offend ANYONE, as my words clearly did. I hope you will accept my sincere apology.”
Yea this is going to be interesting.

June 20, 2016

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

These posts have become a regular occurrence, haven't they?

Sadly, yes.

From NOAA - State of the Climate:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for May 2016 was the highest for May in the 137-year period of record, at 0.87°C (1.57°F) above the 20th century average of 14.8°C (58.6°F), besting the previous record set in 2015 by 0.02°C (0.04°F). May 2016 marks the 13th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken—the longest such streak since global temperature records began in 1880.
Not only that, but this:
The March–May seasonal global temperature was 1.06°C (1.91°F) above the 20th century average of 13.7°C (56.7°F)—the first time the period March–May surpassed the 1°C and the highest temperature departure from average for March–May in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.22°C (0.40°F). March–May 2016 also marks the fourth highest three-month departure for any three-month period on record, behind February–April 2016 (+1.16°C / +2.09°F), January–March 2016 (+1.15°C / +2.07°F) and December 2015–February 2016 (+1.12°C / +2.02°F).
But this is all a hoax, right?

Donald Trump, the billionaire bigot and presumptive GOP candidate for President said so on twitter.

Ok, so maybe not a hoax, per se, but also not something human beings have contributed to significantly, right?  Our Junior Senator (who's now running for reelection) Pat Toomey voted for that.

But maybe it's still not a fact, right?  At least the science is still out on this, right?  I mean there hasn't been any change in the last 15 or so years, right?  Keith Rothfus, representative from the 12th Congressional district, said so.

You'll note that none of the above positions by any of these Republican candidates for office is, in fact, scientifically accurate. 

Each of them is wrong and to each, I'd like ask: Can you explain to me how 97% of the experts in the field can be wrong and each of you is right?

By the way, it's still getting warmer out there.  Science says so.

June 19, 2016

It's Nice To Revisit A Tribune-Review Smear, Sad To See The Editorial Board Is Still Smearing

From today's Tribune-Review's Sunday Pops column:
The Boston Herald reports that Secretary of State John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz, have put up for sale the $7 million sailboat they purchased in 2010 for $4 million. Depreciation is cited. It's the same 76-foot yacht over which the couple was criticized for docking in Rhode Island to avoid a six-figure Massachusetts sales tax bill. They say the tax eventually was paid. The Herald says the Heinz Kerrys are looking for “a new and bigger motorized yacht.” Aweigh, we say, aweigh! [Bolding in Original]
This non-story goes all the way back to this smear in 2010.

The interesting thing is that in the smear's original reporting, this sentence could be found:
And state Department of Revenue spokesguy Bob Bliss confirmed the senator “is under no obligation to pay the commonwealth sales tax.”
Now go look at what the Tribune-Review's editorial board wrote.

Bliss also stated that Kerry would be obligated to pay the tax if he docked the yacht someplace in Massachusetts within 6 months of purchase.

Oh, wait.  Didn't you know that, according to the Seattle Times, Kerry had yet to take possession of the yacht at the time of the Herald's initial story?

So that 6-month window hadn't even opened yet.

By the following November the Scaife braintrust had dutifully continued the smear with this:
Kerry, D-Mass., originally ported the tony craft in Rhode Island in an apparent attempt to get out of paying taxes on it in his home state. But when the Boston Herald disclosed the boat's location in July, Kerry agreed to promptly pay the equivalent of all taxes owed had the boat been ported in Massachusetts.

Didn't happen.
This is simply a lie. According to the reporting that the braintrust actually sited, a tax return had been filed for the taxes "that would have been owed, had he kept the Isabel in his home state’s waters."

What hadn't been paid was a $500 tax to the town of Nantucket - a tax bill the Kerry's hadn't received yet.

Now go back and look at what the braintrust wrote - this part, specifically:
...the couple was criticized for docking in Rhode Island to avoid a six-figure Massachusetts sales tax bill. They say the tax eventually was paid.
Usually as part of a smear, the verb "to say" means that what has been "said" as taking place maybe hasn't really happened - it's a way to imply dishonesty without really coming right out and saying it.  This unspoken phrase is implied to end the sentence: "...but we all know that's simply not true."

But of course, the braintrust had to know at that point that the tax bill had been paid.  They're just lying to you by phrasing the sentence in such a way as to let you think it (possibly) hadn't.

Look at all the facts here and then look at how the Tribune-Review has presented them to you.  How much more dishonest can they be?

They'd say they're just commenting on the news, the facts - but we all know that's simply not true.


June 18, 2016

The Tribune-Review's Editorial Board Is Misleading You About The IRS. Again.

Take a look:
Three years after the IRS was caught questionably scrutinizing tea party and other conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status, Congress has responded. Legislation passed by the House will bar the nation's tax collector from requiring nonprofits to list donors on their tax returns.
Right from the opening, they're misleading you. Here's why.

In a letter to the Chair and Ranking members of the House Judiciary Committee (Representatives Bob Goodlatte and John Conyers, respectively), Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik explained why the Department of Justice closed down its investigation.  In it there's this set of sentences:
Our investigation uncovered substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgement, and institutional inertia, leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints.  But poor management is not a crime.  We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution.  We also found no evidence that any official involved in the handling of tax-exempt applications or IRS leadership attempted to obstruct justice. [Emphasis added.]
I'll simplify for the Fox "News" conservatives who maybe can't (or won't) understand: There's no evidence the IRS scrutinized tax-exempt groups based on their political viewpoints - the career investigators at the DOJ said so.  Last October.

Now take a look at the very first sentence from the Trib editorial board's very last paragraph:
The IRS clubbed itself over the head when it targeted conservative groups.
After reading the letter from the DOJ, you gotta ask yourself, how much of that is simply incorrect?

How embarrassing this must be for the braintrust.  But yet again facts have no real meaning for them, do they?  And it's sad, frankly, to see them use this bit of conservative propaganda as a cudgel to get a law passed that would further insulate the big donors who've done so much damage to our current political system.

The bill in question is HR 5053 and the CRS sumarizes it this way:
Sec. 2) This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from requiring a tax-exempt organization to include in annual returns the name, address, or other identifying information of any contributor.

The bill includes exceptions for: (1) required disclosures regarding prohibited tax shelter transactions; and (2) contributions by the organization's officers, directors, or five highest compensated employees (including compensation paid by related organizations).
But when you take a look at what it's "fixing", an interesting bit of information emerges.  The Research Policy Council from the Congressional Research Services summarizes this way:
Under current law, some organizations that are tax-exempt under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code must report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) the names and addresses or other identifying information of contributors of $5,000 or more on Schedule B of the organization’s Form 990. The bill would limit the Secretary of the Treasury from requiring the name, address, or other identifying information of any contributor regardless of the nature or size of the contribution... [Emphasis added.]
So if I am reading this correctly, under current law if you contributed less than five large to Tea Party Pittsburgh your information wasn't required to be on your group's Schedule B in the first place.

By barring access to that information this bill will only give more cover to the folks who are wealthy enough to have thousands of dollars to throw at political organizations.  More cover for big money corruption of politics.

Thanks, Scaife Braintrust.  We know you're out to protect the little guy here - except that you're not.

June 17, 2016

Put that coffee down, Bernie

Watched your big special live streaming event last night and here's all I have to say: Put that coffee down, Bernie! Coffee's for closers only.

How Much Is Does Pat Toomey "Support" Donald Trump? (A Question For Pat Toomey)

This is an important question.  No room for waddling in any grey-zone of acceptable deniability.

Take a look at Trump's latest:
Donald Trump suggested Monday that President Obama is oblivious to issues of terrorism—and he seemed to suggest in the process that Obama might sympathize with the suspected gunman in the deadly Orlando nightclub shooting.

The unsubstantiated insinuations, in a series of interviews Monday morning, came from the Republican presidential candidate who once led calls for the release of the President’s birth certificate and has more than once indulged conspiracy theories about Obama’s faith and heritage. On Monday, just one day after a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in Orlando—the worst mass shooting in American history—Trump said on Fox News that he believes there’s “something else going on.”
Trevor Noah puts it a little more succinctly:
It was Donald Trump’s 70th birthday on Tuesday, and as Trevor Noah reported on The Daily Show, he celebrated by framing President Barack Obama as a terrorist sympathizer.

During an appearance on Fox & Friends this week, Trump described Obama as “not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” reviving old conspiracy theories about the president’s faith.

“Are you shitting me?” Noah asked. “Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, is saying the president of the United States is a secret agent for ISIS. He’s accusing Obama of treason!
Treason.

By the way, if we go back to that Time article, we see this:
But top military and Middle East experts, including vocal critics of the Obama Administration, condemned Trump’s suggestion as “ignorant,” “willfully ill-informed” and “ridiculous” in a half-dozen interviews with TIME. Several described it as a conspiracy theory.
Senator Toomey, I am a constituent of yours and I have a question for you:

PoliticsPA, while stating that you're "hesitant" to support Trump, nevertheless quoted you as saying, “I will be supporting the Republican nominee, whoever that is.”  Is that still the case?  Will you be supporting the bigoted, birther, conspiracy theorist who now heads your party?

I am a constituent and I want to know exactly your level of support for Donald Trump.

June 16, 2016

The Tribune-Review Editorial Board's Attempt At Snark Fails

Take a look at this:
Oh, by the way, the gun used in the Orlando massacre turns out not to have been an AR-15. It was a Sig Sauer MCX carbine. And more than a few gun experts believe the media's mistake is indicative of an agenda — to push for a ban of one of the most popular weapons in the United States.
A few points here, but let's get to the main one.  Their criticism of "the media's mistake" of confusion of an AR-15 and a Sig Sauer MCX.

But was it really the media's mistake?

Let's be clear in the early reporting period of any crisis, it's not unusual to get some facts wrong - this case included.  Take a look:
In the hours after Sunday’s mass shooting at an Orlando night club, Chief John Mina of the Orlando Police Department said the gunman’s weapons included a pistol and an “AR-15-type assault rifle.”
How can it be a media spin if they're quoting the official source at the scene?

And anyway, what difference does it make (other than being a factual error that needs to be fixed)?

The error was corrected quickly (BTW, this is the next paragraph in the Washington Post's coverage):
On Monday night, officials clarified that the rifle Omar Mateen used in the shooting was not an AR-15, but a Sig Sauer MCX rifle.
Then there's Rachel Maddow's explanation of the Sig Sauer.

Tell me again how this is the media's spin to confuse an AR-15 with a Sig Sauer MCX?

If you're gonna snark, you gotta make sure your facts are right.

But then again this is the Tribune-Review editorial board.

June 15, 2016

UPDATE: Toomey DOES Know The Orlando Murders Took Place In A Gay Nightclub.

Remember a few days ago when I posted this?

In it I pointed out how in three tweets, our conservative Senator Pat Toomey extended condolences to "those murdered at the nightclub in Orlando" while utterly failing to point out that it was a gay night club where those murders occurred.

And I asked:
He does know it was a GAY nightclub, right? And does he know that at present it seems that it was targeted precisely because it was a gay night club, right?
Well, apparently, he does.

From Chris Potter at the P-G:
Democratic Sen. Bob Casey called the killing of at least 49 people at a gay dance club in Orlando “an act of terror and also an act of hate.” But he and his Republican counterpart, Pat Toomey, emphasized different parts of that equation in separate area appearances Monday.

At a morning press conference Downtown, Mr. Casey said the shooter, who police have identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, “was targeting individuals because of who they were and who they loved.”
And as for Pat:
At an afternoon campaign stop in Rochester, Mr. Toomey focused less on anti-gay animus than on the overall threat of Islamic religious extremism. “It was a gay nightclub in Orlando, it could be a football game tomorrow,” he told supporters at Beaver County Republican headquarters.
Yes, but it wasn't.

But in any case, Conservative Family-values Pat Toomey did the right thing, I suppose, and finally called Pulse "a gay nightclub" but he also de-emphasized the fact that it was an attack on the LGBT community there.  Oh well.  Baby steps.

I wonder why he said it.  Perhaps he read this blog.  Perhaps not. 

Screw it.  I'm taking credit for it anyway.

June 14, 2016

Tell Congress

"...[T]he right of the people...to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

It's time to use your voice to tell Congress:



#NoMoreThoughtsAndPrayers  #NoMoreMomentsOfSilence


A Sonnet from Lin-Manuel Miranda



My wife’s the reason anything gets done.
She nudges me towards promise by degrees.
She is a perfect symphony of one.
Our son is her most beautiful reprise.

We chase the melodies that seem to find us
until they’re finished songs and start to play.
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
that nothing here is promised, not one day.

This show is proof that history remembers.
We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger.
We rise and fall and light from dying embers
remembrance that hope and love last forever.

Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.
I sing Vanessa’s symphony. Eliza tells her story. We’ll fill the world with music, love, and pride. 
Fourteen lines in (mostly) iambic pentameter, three quatrains with a rhyming couple at the end, and all of it in an abab - cdcd - efef - gg rhyme scheme.

Shakespeare all the way, baby.

And if you think it was all about "Hamilton" or a Tony Award, you haven't been watching the news.

June 13, 2016

Senator Toomey, You Do Know It Was A GAY Nightclub, don't you?

By now everyone knows the basic story:
ORLANDO, Fla. — It had been an evening of drinking, dancing and drag shows. After hours of revelry, the partygoers crowding the gay nightclub known as the Pulse took their last sips before the place closed.

That’s when authorities say Omar Mateen emerged early Sunday, carrying an AR-15 assault-type rifle and spraying the helpless crowd with bullets. Witnesses said he fired relentlessly — 20 rounds, 40, then 50 and more. In such tight quarters, the bullets could hardly miss. He shot at police. He took hostages.

When the gunfire finally stopped, he had slain 50 people and critically wounded dozens more in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
And so on.

I will leave it to each of you to grieve in your own way.  Whoever you are reading this at this very moment, you certainly don't need me to tell you how horrible it must have been or how heartbreaking it must be for members of the LGBTQ community and their allies.

But this being a political blog and this being a political season, we have to look at the politics of the shooting.

At least at this one sliver of this story.

For a frame of reference, in a set of tweets about the shooting, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton included this:
See those letters?  They'll become noticeable in their absence in a few minutes.

Think progress has noticed their absence, in some obvious places:
The largest mass shooting perpetrated by a single gunman in U.S. history took place early Sunday in Orlando’s Pulse gay club. As the terrible news circulated, Republican members of Congress responded with lots of “thoughts and prayers” and no discussion of the role easy access to an AR-15 might’ve had in the massacre.
Sadly, this seems to be the case in Pennsylvania.

At this point, Senator Pat Toomey has two twitter accounts; one his Senate account and the other his campaign account (did you know he's running for reelection??).

His campaign account had three tweets on the mass murder at the gay night club in Orlando:

His Senate account has the same three tweets.

He does know it was a GAY nightclub, right?  And does he know that at present it seems that it was targeted precisely because it was a gay night club, right?

I wonder why no mention of that.

Remember this is the guy who, in 2010 according to the Christian Coalition, supported a:
  • "Federal Marriage Amendment to prevent same sex marriage."
  • "Enforcing the 1993 law banning homosexuals in the military."
So it's hardly surprising that he can't seem to bring himself utter the phrase "gay nightclub" when expressing sympathy for those slaughtered at one.

But the day is still young.  Pat might still do the right thing.



June 11, 2016

TODAY - Rally by Bigoted Birther "Billionaire" Donald Trump. With Senator Toomey Be There?

I know this is short notice but...
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will return to the Pittsburgh area for a rally on Saturday.

This will be Trump’s second rally in Pittsburgh, and the first since he secured the number of delegates needed to win the nomination.

Saturday's rally will be held at a hangar at Atlantic Aviation in Moon Township. It is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., with doors opening at noon.
And with a Newtonian equal/opposite reaction, some of our political friends are planning a counter rally:
On Saturday, June 10 at 11:30 AM, SEIU 32BJ, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, Equality PA, and NextGen Climate Pennsylvania, will roll out the carpet for Donald Trump with a homegrown gong show of our own. Throughout his campaign for the Oval Office, Donald Trump has unleashed racism, bigotry, and blatant lies. The partners at tomorrow’s event will highlight Trump’s dangerous rhetoric and ask Senator Toomey why he continues to support Trump’s hate-filled campaign for the White House.
The Deets (Do the kids these days still say "deets" when they mean "details"?  I don't know as I'm just a middle aged guy zealously grasping any possibility of being seen as hip and interesting to the yutes who will soon take over.):

WHO:
NextGen Climate Pennsylvania
SEIU 32BJ
SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania
Equality PA
WHEN:
Saturday, June 11, 2016
11:30 AM
WHERE:
Airside Industrial Park Parking Lot
Airside Drive, Moon, PA
(Near the entrance to the Trump Rally.)

Will Senator Pat Toomey be there?  Will he be there to support the presidential candidate of his own party?  Does he agree with Donald Trump that Climate Change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese?  That asbestos is safe and that the push to remove it is mob related?  Does he think that that supporting a Presidential candidate who said something "deeply offensive" about a judge born in Indiana, is still a politically smart thing to do?


How much does Pat Toomey agree with the bigoted birther billionaire who now heads the GOP?

Did he even know that his presidential candidate is a birther?

June 9, 2016

I'll be on KDKA Radio tonight with John McIntire in the 8pm Hour

For the dozen or so of you not watching the Penguins game tonight, I'll be on John's show again tonight talking, what else, politics (Hillary!).

Please tune into Newsradio 1020 KDKA or listen online @ http://player.radio.com/listen/station/newsradio-1020-kdka/ 

And, this happened:

 

June 7, 2016

Making History


Hillary Clinton made history yesterday by becoming the first woman to become the presumptive nominee of a major party in the U.S. Hell, she's been making history all her life. Congratulations, Secretary Clinton!

And to think, it only took 96 years for this to happen after women won the right to vote and 227 years after the first presidential race.

Notes for the Haters: 1) Obama was declared the presumptive nominee in 2008 when he reached the magic number on June 3rd -- months before the convention -- which he was only able to do with the aid of superdelegates. He wasn't declared the presumptive nominee until after the last primary election only because it took him that long to clinch it.  2) Despite what Bernie Sanders has to say about superdelegates now, back in 2008 he endorsed Obama two days after Obama had clinched the nomination acknowledging that Obama was then the presumptive nominee.

June 5, 2016

Jack Kelly "Sunday"

Before I get to the rest of this blog post, let me explain the quotation marks in the title.

Before the Jack Kelly's cancer diagnosis, his columns appeared in the Post-Gazette on Sundays and I would blog on them that day.  Now that he's (yay!) a cancer survivor, his columns aren't on Sundays.

But the time necessary to fully debunk the P-G's completely debunkable conservative columnist simply isn't available to me during the week.  So If I do get to a Jack column, it'll have to be a few days late and on a Sunday.  Hence the quotation marks.

Now let's get on to Jack.

Last week, he left a barely transparent hint about what this week's column would be.  Here's the hint:
But through the thickening gloom, a light shines in Fremont, Nebraska. It may yet be possible to save America. About that, more in my next column.
When I read that I thought, what the heck's in Freemont, Nebraska?

Checking with the "all-knowing" (hint: THOSE quotation marks are meant to be ironical) Wikipedia, I saw a few things.
  • It's a town of about 26,000 and it's the county seat for Dodge County (pop: 36,000).  Safe to say that most people in Dodge County live in Fremont.
  • Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor who created Mount Rushmore, lived in Fremont in the late 19th century. 
  • In 2010, the town (which is about 95% white) voted to banish all illegal immigrants from jobs and rental homes.
I just couldn't see what was Jack's fuss about this Nebraskan county seat.  Until I saw that it was home to Midland University and that current Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse had once been president of Midland.

And here's what tickled Jack's pickle (politically, of course):
Sasse’s highest-profile slap at Trump came late at night on February 28, when he posted “an open letter to Trump supporters” on Facebook, explaining why he could not support their guy. It was a long, impassioned discourse on American exceptionalism, the role of political parties, constitutional restraint, and other grand concepts that ultimately boiled down to: “he displays no understanding of the fact that, in the American system, we have a constitutional system of checks and balances… have you noticed how Mr. Trump uses the word ‘Reign’—like he thinks he’s running for King? It’s creepy, actually.”
Turns out, I was right.  Jack's column this week is an impassioned plea for his readers to support Senator Ben Sasse for president.

Here's Jack's opening:
On the night Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, while other GOP “leaders” were rushing to kiss his ring, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb, posted this on Facebook:

“With Clinton and Trump, the fix is in … Why are we confined to these two terrible options? This is America. If both choices stink, we reject them and go bigger.”

Handsome and energetic, Mr. Sasse, 44, is as solid a constitutionalist as Ronald Reagan, as magnificent an orator as Marco Rubio.
Let me say that I never actually considered Marco Rubio a "magnificent" orator but hey, maybe Jack does.  And to each his/her/their own.

But I am not sure I can consider the guy who was at the top of the Iran/Contra affair to be a great respecter of the Constitution.  Remember Iran/Contra?  The Reagan administration broke a number of laws by selling arms to arms-embargoed Iran and then funneling the profits to the anti-Sandanista Contras and then lied about it to the American People - THAT Iran/Contra.  How does that a solid constitutionalist make, Jack?

The rest of the column is rather silly.

And anyway, I would think that Jack's track record in these sorts of columns is bad enough so that we don't need to take him seriously at all.

Anyone else remember this?  Almost exactly 8 years ago Jack Kelly wrote this about Senator John McCain's possible picks for VP:
There is one potential running mate who has virtually no down side. Those conservatives who have heard of her were delighted to learn that McCain advance man Arthur Culvahouse was in Alaska recently, because they surmised he could only be there to discuss the vice presidential nomination with Gov. Sarah Palin.
Yes, Jack Kelly used his column 8 years ago to push for Sarah Palin to be Senator McCain's running mate and we all know how well that turned out for the GOP.

So tell me again, why should we think Jack's right now?

Oh, and one last thing, Jack.  You have to do your homework better.

You gave your readers a list of what they could do to help out Sasse and his family.  On the list was this:
Be willing to go to Fremont, mow his lawn, take the kids to school or soccer practice, whatever else might make it easier for him to answer destiny’s call. [Emphasis added.]
You do know his kids are homeschooled, right?

Took me about 30 seconds to find this at the Washington Post:
Sasse and his wife, Melissa, homeschool their three kids, Corrie, 12, Alex, 10, and Breck...
Did you not see that when you were writing your column?  Did you even bother to look?

How embarrassing it must be to have such an obvious (though let's face it, tiny) mistake to be found in a column of yours.

Not the first time, though.  And we both know it.

Later, Jack!  See you next week.








June 4, 2016

Holy Crap! THIS Was Published In The National Review Online??

Yes, I read NRO every now and then.

Not that I agree with much of what I read (rest assured, I don't) but the writing's very good and it's a relief to actually read some (relatively) thoughtful conservative commentary in this age when the GOP's presidential nominee seems to get some of his talking points from Alex Jones.

Take a look at what Matthew Continetti (did you know he's William The Bloody's Son-in-law?) had to say about the upcoming presidential election.  I found this at William F. Buckley's magazine, though it was originally published in the Washington Free Beacon.

First his extended caveat about how he thought Romney could win in 2008:
Around this time in 2012, I believed Mitt Romney had a good chance of beating President Obama. I was not alone. The thinking went like this: Obama was unpopular. The economy was sluggish. The Democrats had been drubbed in the previous midterm. Independents did not support the president.

I scoured every new poll and piece of economic data for nuggets that confirmed my biases. Job growth was unsatisfactory, men were dropping out of the workforce, polls sampled more Democrats than Republicans — these notions reinforced my thesis. In late October, when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and the president performed well in a crisis, I began to think Romney would lose. On the morning of Election Day, as I walked to my polling place in Alexandria and saw nothing but Obama-Biden signs, I knew he would lose. And by the time the election was called that night, I understood that I should have been more skeptical of his chances all along.
And then he discovers why he was wrong. It's all about the economy and the presidential approval ratings.

And then he buries The Donald with the facts:
  • Obama's approval rating is higher now than it was in 2008
  • The economy is doing better
  • On a generic ballot, Democrats fare better than Republicans
  • While Clinton IS unpopular, Trump is even more unpopular-er.
On the economy, I want to quote Continetti in full.  Remember, my friends, this is found at the National Review Online:
Part of the reason President Obama’s numbers have improved, in my opinion, is that he has been out of the news. But most of the reason has got to be the economy. It’s getting better. The average fuel price in the early summer of 2008 was $4.00 a gallon. When Obama was reelected four years later, the average was $3.61. Today the average price is $2.32.

The unemployment rate in April of 2012 was 8.1 percent. By April of 2016, the rate had fallen to 5.0 percent. Most extraordinarily, April was the seventy-fourth consecutive month of job growth under this administration. As the country has approached full employment, the tightening labor market has led to expected increases in personal income and consumer spending.

No one is saying the economy is perfect. No one is saying President Obama is wholly responsible for the improvement. What’s undeniable is that the picture has brightened since the Democrats won the elections of 2008 and 2012. Voters tend to reward that track record by sticking with the incumbent party. [All links in original.]
Something to remember when one of your Fox News watching friends tells you that Obama's ruined the country.

And then after touching on the whole Clinton/Sanders thing (and whether Sanders voters will split the Democrat's advantage) he ends with this:
It’s an unlikely scenario. But keep it in mind. Otherwise the Democrats will come home, the candidates’ negatives will cancel out, and the popular incumbent and improving economy will make Hillary Clinton the next president. Barring a stunning outside event, the question won’t be whether she’ll win. It will be by how much.
And this is The National Review Online.

June 2, 2016

GOP: Still The Party Of Stupid

In commenting on the recent events in Cincinnati, GOP group-thinker Rush Limbaugh dropped this little bit of science on us:
By the way, you know there's another factor in this, Snerdley? A lot of people think that all of us used to be apes. Don't doubt me on this. A lot of people think that all of us used to be gorillas. And they're looking for the missing link out there. The evolution crowd. They think we were originally apes. I've always -- if we were the original apes, then how come Harambe is still an ape, and how come he didn't become one of us?
I remember hearing this "argument" way back in 5th grade (and for me that would've been in the mid-70s).

The correct answer to this argument is this:

Gorillas did not evolve into humans.  They share a common ancestor but that was millions of years ago.  So asking why gorillas exist and didn't evolve into "us" is remarkably absurd. 

But none of that actually matters to the party of stupid.

June 1, 2016

Something More For Senator Toomey To Worry About

From PoliticsPA:
A lot has changed since the Cook Political Report issued their last electoral college map projection on May 4th.

Donald Trump has wrapped up the GOP nomination and drawn even with Hillary Clinton in national polls.

Nonetheless, Cook is not moving many states. In fact, they’re only moving one state. Michigan has gone from “Likely Democratic” to “Lean Democratic”.

Pennsylvania did not change at all with the commonwealth staying in the “Lean Democratic” column.
Because, my friends, Toomey's political fate is inexorably tied up with Trump's.  The better The Donald does in Pennsylvania, the better Toomey's chances at being reelected.

That being said, I wonder when Pat Toomey will be asked about Trump's:
  • Birth Certificate conspiracy theories
  • Climate change conspiracy theories
  • Antonin Scalia conspiracy theories
  • Vince Foster conspiracy theories
And so on.

I mean Trump IS at the top of the GOP party ticket and Toomey is a part of that ticket.

That means they're tied together, politically.

And since Charlie Cook tags the state as "leaning Democratic" it ain't looking good for ole Pat.