What Fresh Hell Is This?

June 23, 2018

Time Magazine Cover



Trump: Making America Great Again. One scared, crying little girl at a time.

Thought bubble for what Trump would be thinking in this photo: "Hey this is on you. If you didn't want this to happen to you, you probably shouldn't have left your shithole country."


June 22, 2018

Meanwhile Outside...

From the scientists at NOAA:
The May temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.44°F above the 20th century average of 58.6°F and the fourth highest for May in the 1880-2018 record. The years 2014-2018 rank among the five warmest Mays on record, with 2016 the warmest May at 1.58°F above average. May 2018 also marks the 42nd consecutive May and the 401st consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average.
And:
The May average Arctic sea ice extent was the second smallest in the 40-year record at 420,000 square miles (8.1 percent) below the 1981-2010 average, according to an analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (link is external) using data from NOAA and NASA. Only the May Arctic sea ice extent in 2016 was smaller. The near-record low Arctic sea ice extent was mostly due to much-below-average sea ice in the Bering and Chukchi Seas.
And:
Antarctic sea ice extent during May was 330,000 square miles (8.6 percent) below the 1981-2010 average, the third smallest May extent on record. Antarctic sea ice expanded at a rate faster than average during May, with below-average ice coverage continuing for parts of the Weddell Sea.
Meanwhile in GOPland:
Four Republican senators are calling for an investigation of the National Science Foundation over a program that educates meteorologists on climate change, saying it “is not science — it is propagandizing.”
Ah, the GOP. Where scientific fact (climate science, evolution and so on) is propaganda and outright BS (Pizzagate, Obama's "fake" birth certificate - and of course Climate Science denial) is taken seriously.

And they're the folks in charge.

Meanwhile, it's getting warmer out there.

June 21, 2018

I REALLY DON'T CARE,

DO U?

Springsteen, Last Night

First, he said this:
I never believed that people come to my shows, or rock shows to be told anything.

But I do believe that they come to be reminded of things. To be reminded of who they are, at their most joyous, at their deepest, when life feels full. It’s a good place to get in touch with your heart and your spirit, to be amongst the crowd. And to be reminded of who we are and who we can be collectively. Music does those things pretty well sometimes, particularly these days when some reminding of who we are and who we can be isn’t such a bad thing.

That weekend of the March for our Lives, we saw those young people in Washington, and citizens all around the world, remind us of what faith in America and real faith in American democracy looks and feels like. It was just encouraging to see all those people out on the street and all that righteous passion in the service of something good. And to see that passion was alive and well and still there at the center of the beating heart of our country.

It was a good day, and a necessary day because we are seeing things right now on our American borders that are so shockingly and disgracefully inhumane and un-American that it is simply enraging. And we have heard people in high position in the American government blaspheme in the name of God and country that it is a moral thing to assault the children amongst us. May God save our souls.

There’s the beautiful quote by Dr. King that says the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. Now, there have been many, many days of recent when you could certainly have an argument over that. But I’ve lived long enough to see that in action and to put some faith in it. But I’ve also lived long enough to know that arc doesn’t bend on its own. It needs all of us leaning on it, nudging it in the right direction day after day. You gotta keep, keep leaning.

I think it’s important to believe in those words, and to carry yourself, and to act accordingly. It’s the only way that we keep faith and keep our sanity.

I’ve played this show 146 nights with basically the same setlist, but tonight calls for something different.
Then he sang this:


May God save our souls.

June 20, 2018

Too Brutal To Face

From George Orwell:
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.
And now there's a new political euphemism - Tender-Age Shelters.

From the AP:
Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas, The Associated Press has learned.

Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis.
This is being done, let's remember, to Make America Great Again.
This is being done, let's remember, in our name.
This is what the Trump Administration is doing for all of us to make America great again.

Any citizen who does not denounce this today is complicit in its cruelty.

June 19, 2018

My SIXTY-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."

We need to talk about the crying children at the border. This Trump administration policy (and yes it is a new policy enacted by the Trump administration and not, as Trump dishonestly stated, a holdover from the previous administration that only the Democrats can fix) is so reprehensible and indefensible that you're either against it or you're complicit in its cruelty.

Some recent poll data suggest that about 2/3 of American voters oppose Trump's immigration cruelty while a little over half of members of your party are OK with it. I thought your party was the "pro-family" party.

Simple question this week. Where, exactly, do you stand on this, Senator Toomey? Are you OK with it, as 55% of the members of your party seem to be, or are you against it? When will you stand up to denounce Donald Trump's cruel policy separating children from their parents?

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

Follow-up:

June 18, 2018

We are torturing children over misdemeanors committed by their parents


The media needs to ask every Republican who repeats the line 'when people commit crimes, they are put in jail and separated from their children,' if they walked out of the room right now and jaywalked across the street if they would be thrown into jail and their children would be taken away?

They need to ask that because fully ***91%*** of parents being prosecuted at the border and forcibly separated from their children are being prosecuted for a *misdemeanor.*

A gotdamn misdemeanor!

June 15, 2018

Just stop lying

1) There is no 'law' that says we must separate children from their parents at the border.

2) Not only is it not a 'Democrat law,' it's not even a Democratic policy.

3) Nor are the Democrats 'the only ones who can fix this.' Republicans control Congress and the White House.

4) Every time Trump and Huckabee Sanders repeatedly say any of this, they are lying.

5) I have to stop literally screaming 'liar' at my TV screen when they do as I'm scaring my cat.

June 12, 2018

My SIXTY-FIFTH 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."

We have to talk about this week's G7 meeting and the summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

In the space of a couple of days this week, Donald Trump, the man whose administration and policies you support (and the man, let's all remember, you voted for) picked an unnecessary fight with Canada (a country that's been among our closest allies politically as well as geographically) and yet took time out to say it was "an honor" to meet Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator, a man who is guilty of committing some of the most horrific crimes against humanity.

Simple question for you this week: If this isn't enough for you to finally turn your back on the leader of your own party and say, "Enough!" what then, is?

By remaining silent, Senator, you are complicit in all of Trump's indecencies. You do know that, don't you? You could be among those doing something to stop him from committing more damage to the country. If you choose not to, then part of the responsibility for that damage will be yours. You do know that, don't you?

When can we expect to hear you speaking out?

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

Follow-up:

June 5, 2018

My SIXTY-FOURTH 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."

Senator I'd like to revisit the 22nd letter I sent to you. It's from August of last year if you need to search through your files to find it. You've never sent me a response to it, by the way.

In that letter I asked you about the reporting done at that point by the Washington Post relating to a meeting that Donald Trump's son took with some Russians in Trump Tower. The post said the statement released some time later was dictated by Donald Trump.

The Trump Administration and his legal team had been denying that allegation for nearly a year.

This past week we learned by way of a memo Trump's legal team sent to Special Counsel Robert Mueller that they were lying. They admitted he had written the statement.

So here's my question: Do you still support this administration? If the answer is yes, can I ask why on Earth are you still supporting this administration?

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

Follow-up:

May 29, 2018

My SIXTY-THIRD Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

I'll be dropping this letter to Senator Pat Toomey in the mail today:
Dear Senator Toomey:

It's me, again - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

I need to follow up on the last letter you sent me. Specifically, it's about your shift in support for the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Last summer you wrote to me, about the Special Counsel, saying:
I have every confidence that Robert Mueller will execute these responsibilities with integrity and professionalism.
This past week, however, you wrote:
Mr. Mueller ought to conduct a thorough and complete investigation to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice. It is also important that Mr. Mueller's work be conducted in an apolitical manner so that his findings are credible and nonpartisan.
So here's my set of questions: Do you believe that Robert Mueller is not conducting a "thorough and complete investigation" into the Russian meddling?  Do you believe he's not conducting this investigation in an "apolitical manner"? And upon what are you basing this change of position? Your constituents have a right to know your thinking on this.

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

Follow-up:

May 28, 2018

Fact-Checking Donald J. Trump's Commencement Speech At The US Naval Academy

As of this writing, the speech itself has not yet been posted at Whitehouse.gov. You can, however, read it here or here or here.

And this being the perpetual liar/misinformer Donald Trump, the fact-checkers are doing their patriotic fact-checking duty:
  • Politifact - Trump said:
    "We just got you a big pay raise, first time in 10 years. We got you a big pay increase, first time in over 10 years. I fought for you. That was the hardest one to get."
  • Politico responded:
    That’s flat wrong, which is why we rated a similar statement Pants on Fire. In fact, the last time that service members didn’t receive an annual pay increase was in 1983 (and that was only because of a one-time technical quirk).

    The increase of 2.4 percent in 2018 represented the biggest bump since 2010. But there have been increases every year since then, ranging from 1 percent to 2.1 percent. For 2019, the White House is proposing a 2.6 percent increase; the bill to enact that pay raise is working its way through Congress.

    Other than 1983, you have to go back to 1961 to find a calendar year without a military pay increase, which suggests that the increase wasn't so hard to get.
  • New York Times - Trump said:
    And very soon, we are going to get to 355 beautiful ships. That is almost a couple of hundred more ships
  • NYTimes Responded:
    False.

    In 2016, the United States Navy had 275 active ships in its fleet. Mr. Trump’s plans to increase that number to 355 would amount to just 80 more.
I'd like to add my own fact-check, if I may. In the speech Trump said:
Seventy-five years ago this summer, [LTCD Bruce Voorhis] was in the South Pacific commanding Bombing Squadron 102 during the battle of the Solomon Islands. That was a rough battle. His only brother had been killed and the Bataan Death March. On July 6, Bruce volunteered for a mission to destroy a crucial enemy base. It was a rough time. It was a rough, tough situation. He knew full-well that he would likely never return. He knew he was going to die. But he also knew his daring action could prevent a surprise attack on large-scale American forces.

So, his plane took off alone on a 700-mile flight. Bruce flew through the darkness to his target, a tiny speck on the vast open sea. He braved unrelenting anti-aircraft fire, like nobody had ever seen at that time, and a trail of enemy planes to single-handedly destroy this large enemy base, including multiple fortifications, and a critical communications link. And in this final act of valor, Bruce was caught in the blast of one of his own bombs and perished in a remote lagoon very far from here. His life was lost, but his legacy will live forever.
For his bravery, he was posthumously promoted to Commander and given the Medal of Honor.

So what did the liar-in-chief get wrong?  Reread the paragraphs above again and note the terms "alone" and "single-handedly."  It would be safe to infer that he was flying alone, right? That he "single-handedly" did all that stuff.

That would have been difficult for one man to do all that stuff piloting, as he was, a B-24 (specifically a PB4Y-1 Patrol Bomber). Did you know that there were ten other men on that plane? For their bravery and valor, the co-pilot was awarded the Navy Flying Cross and the rest of the crew the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Doesn't their bravery deserve a mention?

May 27, 2018

Senator Toomey RESPONDS To Another Letter (Toomey has Shifted His Stance On The Mueller Investigation)

It's been about three and a half weeks since Senator Toomey (or his office) has responded to a letter of mine. Last night I received in the postal mail a letter from his office.

This one is different in a number of ways and not so different after all. First off it's two pages (well, one sheet of paper but text on both sides) and that's never happened before.  Second, the punctuation isn't up to Toomey's usual polished standards.

I realize it's perhaps a wee bit nitpicky but when you see a sentence like this one:
President Trump fired Mr. Comey, and nominated Christopher Wray as the next FBI director.
Or this one:
On October 30, 2017, Mr. Mueller announced charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and campaign advisors Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos.
where the use of some completely redundant commas coming from the office of a United States Senator you have to wonder who's checking this stuff? And don't they care about proper punctuation?

It's a tiny point but still.

So which letter is Toomey answering?  Let's go see.

He opens with:
Thank you for contacting me about the ongoing Department of Justice investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. I appreciate hearing from you.
Well that certainly narrows it down!  Too bad I've been keeping copies of Toomey's responses as this letter is looking all too familiar.  With some alterations, Senator Toomey's office has sent me this same letter three times.

The first two, I write about them here, are from the summer of 2017.

Here's how the June '17 opened:
Former FBI Director James Comey recently testified before Congress that an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is still ongoing. While the former director did not say whether any coordination has been found, he confirmed there is no evidence of vote tampering. President Trump recently fired Mr. Comey, and has nominated Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. It is now up to the Senate to vet and confirm this nomination.
And August '17:
Former FBI Director James Comey recently testified before Congress that an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is still ongoing. While the former director did not say whether any coordination has been found, he confirmed there is no evidence of vote tampering. President Trump fired Mr. Comey, and nominated Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. On August 1, 2017, the Senate voted 92 - 5 with my support to confirm Wray's nomination.
And this week's:
On March 20, 2017, former FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress that an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government was still ongoing. While the former director did not say whether any coordination had been found, he confirmed there was no evidence of vote tampering. President Trump fired Mr. Comey, and nominated Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. On August 1, 2017, the Senate voted 92-5 with my support to confirm Mr. Wray's nomination.
Same letter, updated by a year. Can't we expect a real response from an elected official - especially on such an important matter?  So what's changed?

Paragraph two from June '17/August '17:
(In the interim/Meanwhile), Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to continue the investigation into any links between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, and any matters that arose from such investigation - an assignment that encompasses the recent allegations surrounding Michael Flynn and Mr. Comey. I have every confidence that Robert Mueller will execute these responsibilities with integrity and professionalism.
And this week's:
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate any links between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, and any matters that arose from such investigation. On October 30, 2017, Mr. Mueller announced charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and campaign advisors Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos. The Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges, among other things, that Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates failed to register as foreign agents while working on behalf of the Ukrainian government, and conspired to launder money. Mr. Gates has since pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel. Further, DOJ has secured a guilty plea from Mr. Papadopoulos for making false statements to the FBI regarding conversations he had with the Russian ambassador. Under terms of his plea agreement, Mr. Flynn will cooperate with the special counsel's investigation going forward. [New Material Highlighted.]
The interesting thing about this, what looks to be a messy rush job on Toomey's part, is found in the last sentence. See that? That's the first mention of "Mr. Flynn" in the letter. Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos each get two mentions, the first with their entire names and a second with a "Mr." All poor Michael Flynn gets is a "Mr." 

Messy editing job, Senator. Your office is looking amateurish.

I'm also wondering why Toomey chose the milder, rather informal "alleges" instead of the harsher, more formal "has charged" or "indicted" in the second sentence.  Manafort was arrested, eventually freed on bail and now there's a scheduled court date. Why camouflage the charges behind a bland "alleges"?

But here's the bug news. Toomey's changed his tune about the Mueller investigation. In last year's letters, he ends with:
While I am not a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, please be assured I understand your concerns and will keep your thoughts in mind moving forward. Thank you again for your correspondence. Do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
This week's letter inserts this sentence before that ending:
Mr. Mueller ought to conduct a thorough and complete investigation to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice. It is also important that Mr. Mueller's work be conducted in an apolitical manner so that his findings are credible and nonpartisan.
Last year's letters included the sentence:
I have every confidence that Robert Mueller will execute these responsibilities with integrity and professionalism.
This week Toomey says that Mueller "ought to conduct" a fair, impartial and apolitical investigation (not that he is already doing so). So no longer does Pat Toomey have "every confidence" that Mueller will conduct himself with integrity and professionalism.

This is a big change. And Pat Toomey owes it to his constituents to explain this change.

Full Text of the letter:
Thank you for contacting me about the ongoing Department of Justice investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. I appreciate hearing from you.

On March 20, 2017, former FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress that an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government was still ongoing. While the former director did not say whether any coordination had been found, he confirmed there was no evidence of vote tampering. President Trump fired Mr. Comey, and nominated Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. On August 1, 2017, the Senate voted 92-5 with my support to confirm Mr. Wray's nomination.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate any links between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, and any matters that arose from such investigation. On October 30, 2017, Mr. Mueller announced charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and campaign advisors Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos. The Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges, among other things, that Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates failed to register as foreign agents while working on behalf of the Ukrainian government, and conspired to launder money. Mr. Gates has since pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel. Further, DOJ has secured a guilty plea from Mr. Papadopoulos for making false statements to the FBI regarding conversations he had with the Russian ambassador. Under terms of his plea agreement, Mr. Flynn will cooperate with the special counsel's investigation going forward.

On February 16, 2018, DOJ charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities with violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes, beginning as early as 2014. In a press conference that same day, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein emphasized that there were no allegations in the indictment that any Americans were aware of the Russian election interference scheme or that the scheme has any effect on the outcome of the 2016 election.

I look forward to reviewing the findings of Mr. Mueller, the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee, and other congressional committees investigating Russian actions during the election. To the extent that the Russian government, or its agents, meddled in our election, they should face serious consequences. Towards that end, I was pleased to support legislation (Public Law 115-44) that codified and strengthened existing sanctions on Russia. If the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government in an attempt to influence the election, then that should be disclosed and acted upon, too. Russia remains a dangerous threat, and Congress must remain vigilant against our adversaries' attempts to expand their influence and undermine trust in our government.
Mr. Mueller ought to conduct a thorough and complete investigation to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice. It is also important that Mr. Mueller's work be conducted in an apolitical manner so that his findings are credible and nonpartisan. While I am not a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, please be assured I understand your concerns and will keep your thoughts in mind moving forward. Thank you again for your correspondence. Do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
[Line Spacing In Original]

May 22, 2018

My SIXTY-SECOND Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

I'll be dropping this letter to Senator Pat Toomey in the mail today:
Dear Senator Toomey:

It's me, again - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

I'd like to as you about our new Director of Central Intelligence, Gina Haspel. You wrote on your Facebook page that you support her nomination. I'm curious about that support, considering how she oversaw a program that tortured someone. Reportedly, she was also involved in the destruction of video tapes showing other detainees at other CIA "black sites" being tortured. There was torture and then covering up torture - all overseen in one way or another by Gina Haspel.

The UN Convention Against Torture was signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988 and ratified by the US Senate in 1994. It is US Law. It says that torture is illegal - no mitigating circumstances allowed. No one can claim to have been "simply following orders" No one can claim it was necessary in the face of an emergency. Torture is simply illegal and Gina Haspel oversaw a torture program.

So here's my question: Now that she's been installed as head of CIA, how could we as a nation possibly criticize any other country for whatever torture programs they might be running when our own Director of Central Intelligence oversaw (and covered up) just such a program?

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

Follow-up:

May 20, 2018

Meanwhile Outside...

From the climate scientists at NOAA:
The global land and ocean temperature departure from average for April 2018 was the third highest for April in the NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880. The year-to-date (January-April) global temperature was the fifth warmest such period in the 139-year record.
And:
The April temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.49°F above the 20th century average of 56.7°F and the third highest for April in the 1880-2018 record. Only April 2016 (+1.94°F) and 2017 (+1.60°F) were warmer. Nine of the 10 warmest Aprils have occurred since 2005. April 2018 also marks the 42nd consecutive April and the 400th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average.
Meanwhile from the Washington Post:
The news came on a Friday evening in late April last year: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had removed an informational website about climate change, taking down a page that had been up, in some form, for nearly two decades and under three presidents.

Before its removal, the page had plainly stated a position on climate change: It is caused by humans, and there’s no significant doubt about that. But that position contradicted statements by the new EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, who had expressed doubts about human activity being the dominant driver of climate change.

EPA said at the time that the site had been taken down for review and that it had been archived and was still available as part of a “snapshot” of the state of the site on Jan. 19, 2017, just as the new administration took command.
This is some of the information you can find from that archived site:
In general, climate changes prior to the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s can be explained by natural causes, such as changes in solar energy, volcanic eruptions, and natural changes in greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations.

Recent climate changes, however, cannot be explained by natural causes alone. Research indicates that natural causes do not explain most observed warming, especially warming since the mid-20th century. Rather, it is extremely likely that human activities have been the dominant cause of that warming.
And this:


On the other hand, on the Trump-era EPA page we see this:


The text immediately below it reads:
Thank you for your interest in this topic. We are currently updating our website to reflect EPA's priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt. If you're looking for an archived version of this page, you can find it on the January 19 snapshot.
And that leads you to the year old data.

It's still getting warmer out there regardless of the efforts of the science deniers in power who are actively blocking that information from you.

May 19, 2018

Toomey Time Round-Up! (Part The Fifth)

So far, I've written 61 letters to Pennsylvania's junior senator, Pat Toomey.  The first round up of letters can be found here. The second, here. The third, here. The fourth, here.

Today, it's time for a fifth.

Of letters 48 through 61, Senator Toomey (or his office) have so far answered only two:
And now, for your edification and amusement, here are the letters Senator Toomey has decided not to answer:
  • Forty-eighth - where I asked about the overall lack of security clearances among his advisors (including Jared Kushner) and wonder what his reaction would be if the same situation were to take place during a democratic administration.
  • Forty-ninth - where I asked about Trump's refusal to faithfully execute the law passed by Congress to sanction Russia for its election meddling.
  • Fifty-first - where I asked about a recent "joke" of Trump's. He "joked" about extending his term beyond the constitutionally limited two. I wondered to Senator Toomey what his reaction would be had a Democratic president made the same "joke."
  • Fifty-second - where I asked about another Trump attack on a free press.
  • Fifty-fourth - where I asked Toomey to comment on whether the $130,000 payoff to adult film star Stormy Daniels constituted an "in-kind" (and illegal) contribution to the Trump Campaign.
  • Fifty-fifth - where I asked Toomey to comment on the reaction of the business community to his tax-cut legislation. He said it would create new jobs and a report from the Atlanta Fed said it didn't.
  • Fifty-sixth - where I asked Toomey if he agreed with Trump regarding the FBI raid on Michael Cohen's offices - were they a disgrace, and a witch hunt as Trump said, or does he still have faith that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller will do his job with "integrity and professionalism."
  • Fifty-seventh - where I asked Toomey if he supported Senator Lindsay Graham's legislation protecting Special Prosecutor Mueller if Trump sought to fire him.
  • Fifty-eighth - where I asked Toomey if he agreed with his Senate colleague Bob Corker when he, Corker, said, "any Republican senator who hasn't been conflicted over this presidency is either comatose or is pretty useless in their blindness."
  • Fifty-ninth -  where I asked Toomey about his reaction to his Senate colleague Marco Rubio's assertion that after the tax cut to big business, "there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.” 
  • Sixtieth -  where I asked about Trump's lies regarding the payoff to Stormy Daniels and whether the Senator was OK with the lies.
  • Sixty-first - where I asked about Trump's violation of "the Iran Deal" and how, in Toomey's eyes, it's made the world safer.
These are the questions that my senator has, so far, refused to answer.

May 15, 2018

My SIXTY-FIRST 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."

I need to ask you about Donald Trump's decision to violate the JCPOA (a.k.a "The Iran Deal"). You posted on your website that you support the decision to withdraw (ie to violate) the agreement adding that the agreement "pav[ed] the way for Iran to develop nuclear weapons in a few short years" and "provided immediate sanctions relief and $100 billion" to Iran.

Let me start about the money. Isn't it true that the $100 billion in question is actually money from the sale of Iranian oil that the US Treasury had frozen in banks around the world? (Yes, it is.) And so aren't you (at the very least) misleading the public by using the verb "provided" rather than the more correct "returned"? It is their money, is it not? The verb "provided" seems to imply that the money was coming from someplace other than Iran itself.

And now the agreement itself. You said that the agreement paved the way for Iran to develop nukes in a few short years. But isn't it far more accurate to say that it stopped Iran from developing those weapons that quickly? It reduced Iran's capability of producing weapons grade uranium, reduced the number of advanced centrifuges and so on.

But now with those controls off, now Iran is capable of creating a nuclear weapon much more quickly, isn't that true?

So here's my question: How have you made the world safer? No, wait. I'll answer that one for you: You haven't.

But if you can comment on why you're misleading your voters about The Iran Deal, that'll be great. THANKS.

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

Follow-up:

May 11, 2018

The New GOP - Even More Disgusting Than The Last

As far back as I can remember, I had always perceived a rather nasty narrative emanating from the conservative right in this country.

This goes at least as far back as Ronald Reagan's "Welfare Queen" homey anecdotes, I suppose. While she  was certainly a real person who committed real crimes, as Mark Levin wrote in Slate:
Linda Taylor, the haughty thief who drove her Cadillac to the public aid office, was the embodiment of a pernicious stereotype. With her story, Reagan marked millions of America’s poorest people as potential scoundrels and fostered the belief that welfare fraud was a nationwide epidemic that needed to be stamped out. This image of grand and rampant welfare fraud allowed Reagan to sell voters on his cuts to public assistance spending. The “welfare queen” became a convenient villain, a woman everyone could hate. She was a lazy black con artist, unashamed of cadging the money that honest folks worked so hard to earn.
By magnifying the reality, the GOP was able to redefine everyone on welfare as possibly or even probably a "lazy black con artist, unashamed of cadging the money that honest folks worked so hard to earn." With that they were able to assert that the welfare state, for the sake of those honest Americans, needs to be dismantled.

Never mind the real suffering such a dismantling based on a dishonest magnification of one person's crimes caused.

However disgusting that was, it's rather different from the current disgusting.

From The Hill:
A White House official mocked Sen. John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis at an internal meeting on Thursday, a day after the Arizona Republican announced his opposition to President Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel.

Special assistant Kelly Sadler made the derisive comments during a closed-door White House meeting of about two-dozen communications staffers on Thursday morning.

“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” Sadler said, according to a source familiar with the remarks at the meeting.
And on Fox this happened:
Former Fox News military analyst Thomas McInerney on Thursday condemned Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) rebuke of President Trump's CIA director nominee Gina Haspel, saying that torture "worked on" McCain, whom he referred to as "Songbird John."
You can agree with Senator McCain's politics or not (and I definitely do not) but such open attitudes abound in Trump's GOP.

 And we all know where this comes from, right? Here:
Appearing on Saturday at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, the real estate mogul took his running feud with Arizona Sen. John McCain to a new level.

“He’s not a war hero,” said Trump. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
But even that wasn't exactly new to the disgusting GOP. Take a look at what I found back in 2008. The "Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain" called him a "songbird" ten years ago and the story had enough traction that Politifact had to address it - ten years ago.

Can we not take a lesson from Reagan's "Welfare Queen" anecdote and now safely assume that every Republican, unless they publicly denounce this current GOP disgusting narrative of Senator McCain, actually agrees with it? Can we not ask, every Republican to answer for it?

Yea, I think we can. And we should.

May 8, 2018

My SIXTIETH 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."

I'm sorry Senator but we have to hold our collective noses and wade back into the ever-steaming swamp of Donald Trump scandals.

A few days ago the NYTimes reported that Donald Trump knew about the $130K payoff to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford "months before he denied any knowledge of it to reporters aboard Air Force One in April." If true, that would mean he out and out lied in public when he said he didn't know about the payment.

In a tweet on May 3, Donald Trump acknowledged that the payments were done as "a monthly retainer" and that money was a reimbursement for those payments. If true that would mean Trump out and out lied in public about the source of the payments only a few seconds after lying about knowing about the payment to Ms Clifford.

So this week's question: Is ANY of this acceptable with you? If so, how much are you ok with? And if it's not acceptable with you when will you be denouncing the man you voted for in November 2016? And if it IS acceptable to you, for Heaven's sake, what WOULD it take for you to find Trump's behavior unacceptable?

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

Follow-up:

May 6, 2018

Donald J Trump Lies. And Then Lies About Lying

This is May 4 - a few days ago - and this is the official transcript found at Whitehouse.gov:
Q    Mr. President, why did you change your story on Stormy Daniels?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m (We're) not changing any stories.  All I’m telling you is that this country is right now running so smooth.  And to be bringing up that kind of crap, and to be bringing up witch hunts all the time — that’s all you want to talk about.  You’re going to see —

Q    But you said —

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me —

Q    — on Air Force One that you did not know (anything about the payments).

THE PRESIDENT:  No, but you have to — excuse me.  You take a look at what I said.  You go back and take a look.  You’ll see what I said.

Q    You said, “No,” when I asked you, “Did you know about the payment?”

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me, you go take a look at what we said.  But this is a witch hunt like nobody has ever seen before.  And what they should do is look at the other side, where terribly bad things have happened, where terribly bad things have been done. (My minor corrections are in blue)
You can watch it for yourself:


And this is the conversation that reporter referenced.
Q    Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

THE PRESIDENT:  No.  No.  What else?

Q    Then why did Michael Cohen make those if there was no truth to her allegations?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen.  Michael is my attorney.  And you’ll have to ask Michael Cohen.

Q    Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I don’t know.  No.
In between there was this:
President Donald Trump said Thursday reimbursement to his personal lawyer for hush money paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels was done through a monthly retainer and “had nothing to do with the campaign.”
And here's what Trump said in a series of tweets:
Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA. These agreements are...very common among celebrities and people of wealth. In this case it is in full force and effect and will be used in Arbitration for damages against Ms. Clifford (Daniels). The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair,...despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair. Prior to its violation by Ms. Clifford and her attorney, this was a private agreement. Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction.
So the money was repaid by Trump via a retainer - so he did know.

So he lied and then lied about lying.

May 3, 2018

Senator Toomey RESPONDS To Another Letter (This Time Regarding Pennsylvania Gerrymandering)

Nothing to worry about. It looks like I am back in the good graces of Pennsylvania's junior United States Senator, Pat Toomey.

As it had been more than a month since Toomey had responded to one of my letters I was at the point where I was beginning to think that perhaps his responding to my letters had reached an end. But then I got an email response from Toomey's office and world was set right again and there was much rejoicing.

Yesterday, I got some snail mail (full text at the bottom of this blog post). So that's two responses from Toomey in less than a week.

This new letter begins thusly:
Thank you for contacting me about the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's recent ruling regarding Pennsylvania's congressional map. I appreciate hearing from you.
He still appreciates hearing from me. See? No reason to worry.

So which letter was Toomey answering? This one, from March 20. It was about Senator Toomey's response to the State Supreme Court's striking down as unconstitutional the Congressional Redistricting Act of 2011. Here's what I wrote:
The Hill reported that you referred to the recent State Supreme Court ruling striking down the Congressional Redistricting Act of 2011 as a "blatant, unconstitutional, partisan power grab that undermines our electoral process." You also refused to reject the idea of impeaching members of the State Court for that reaching that decision. The State Supreme Court in striking down the act, however, said that it "clearly, plainly and palpably violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." It was from that point alone (which is to say, by relying only on state law), they found the Redistricting Act to be unconstitutional.
The US Supreme Court refused to overturn that ruling only one day before so I asked two related but separate questions:
[D]o you still think that the State Supreme Court decision is unconstitutional? Do you still think it appropriate for state legislators to discuss impeachment for deciding that the then-current redistricting plan unconstitutionally favored one party (yours) over the other?
 In his response to me, Senator Toomey reiterated his charge that the State Supreme Court is guilty of a "power grab of breathtaking audacity and overreach" while completely avoiding the question about impeachment.

So guess it's more of a half response than a full response. Oh, well.

But let's take a look at what Toomey says anyway. He writes:
In his dissent to the court's initial ruling, Chief Justice Thomas Taylor stated that "the crafting of congressional district boundaries is quintessentially a political endeavor assigned to state legislatures by the United States Constitution." Pennsylvania's current congressional map was written an approved by majorities in the Pennsylvania House and Senate, and signed by Pennsylvania's governor. Democrats in the Pennsylvania House voted for the map and it would not have been approved without their support, The proper role of judges is to enforce the law, not to legislate their political beliefs from the bench, which is clearly what happened in this case. As such I strongly disagree with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling and its redrawing of the Pennsylvania congressional map.
Wow, a clear answer from Senator Toomey. That doesn't happen often. Too bad it's built on a strawman. Look at the penultimate sentence:
The proper role of judges is to enforce the law, not to legislate their political beliefs from the bench...
Now look at the opening paragraph of the majority decision invalidating The Act:
This adjudication was based upon the uncontradicted evidentiary record developed in the Commonwealth Court, wherein the Petitioners established that the 2011 Plan was a partisan gerrymander and that this gerrymander was extreme and durable. It was designed to dilute the votes of those who in prior elections voted for the party not in power in order to give the party in power a lasting electoral advantage. In stark contrast, Article I, Section 5 of our Constitution provides: “Elections shall be free and equal; and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.” Pa. Const. art. I, § 5. On this record, it is clear that the 2011 Plan violates Article I, Section 5, since a diluted vote is not an equal vote.
You'll note that the decision doesn't take a partisan political position. It states that as the act was designed to dilute the voting power of all of those who voted for the losing side in previous elections (regardless of which side won/lost in that election) it's unconstitutional for that point alone.

The decision was to protect the voting rights of everyone.  That's what Toomey characterized as a "blatant, unconstitutional, partisan power grab that undermines our electoral process" - the idea that everyone's vote should have equal weight.

But this part is the most curious:
A lawsuit seeking an injunction against the map drawn by the Democrat majority on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been filed in federal court.
On the one hand, I would have thought that the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to get involved in a strictly state matter would be enough to weaken any further lawsuits. However, as Bruce Ledewitz, professor of Law at Duquesne University told me in an email:
Supreme Court rejection of a lawsuit does not preclude a federal lawsuit in a lower federal court.
And while the case seems to be settled, according to The Brennan Center, there's still some judicial life left in the gerrymander-defenders. Some further appeals to the Supreme Court (the same court that rejected earlier appeals) and so on.

I do have to say, however, that since the PA Supreme Court decided this state issue based on the Pennsylvania Constitution, it's oh so interesting to see how the "states' rights!!" crowd is looking for an intervention from the big bad fed'rul guv'ment.

And we all know what side Senator Toomey is on this: States Rights! (just as long as it doesn't interfere with the GOP's hold on power). Good going, Pat.

FULL TEXT OF SENATOR TOOMEY'S LETTER:
Dear David, Thank you for contacting me about the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's recent ruling regarding Pennsylvania's congressional map. I appreciate hearing from you.

On January 22, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the Pennsylvania General Assembly to redraw the Commonwealth's congressional map by February 9, 2018 even though the map had been in place for six years and was enacted into law with bipartisan support by the General Assembly. In a power grab of breathtaking audacity and overreach, the court simultaneously arrogated to itself the authority to redraw Pennsylvania's congressional districts if Governor Tom Wolf failed to approve a new map, drawn by the Pennsylvania state legislature, by February 15, 2018. After Governor Wolf rejected the legislature's proposed map, on February 19, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a completely new congressional map that it drew.

In his dissent to the court's initial ruling, Chief Justice Thomas Taylor stated that "the crafting of congressional district boundaries is quintessentially a political endeavor assigned to state legislatures by the United States Constitution." Pennsylvania's current congressional map was written an approved by majorities in the Pennsylvania House and Senate, and signed by Pennsylvania's governor. Democrats in the Pennsylvania House voted for the map and it would not have been approved without their support, The proper role of judges is to enforce the law, not to legislate their political beliefs from the bench, which is clearly what happened in this case. As such I strongly disagree with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling and its redrawing of the Pennsylvania congressional map.

A lawsuit seeking an injunction against the map drawn by the Democrat majority on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been filed in federal court.

Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.

May 1, 2018

You can't handle the truth!


I demand to know the truth! Is Trump an "idiot" like Kelly said or is he a "fucking moron" like Tillerson said?

My FIFTY-NINTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

I'll be dropping this letter to Senator Pat Toomey in the mail today:
Dear Senator Toomey:

Senator, I'd still like to steer clear of the many many scandals tainting this administration, our nation, and your political party and ask you about your most recently enacted tax reform. You said of that reform (before it was enacted) that it "will promote domestic economic growth, create jobs, and raise wages."

However, your Republican colleague, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, is on record saying that “There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers. In fact they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”

So here's this week's question: Assuming both statements are correct (yours made before and his made after the legislation), what went wrong with your legislation? If it was so important to enact the tax reform in order to create jobs and raise wages and this is not happening, what will you be doing differently in the future to make sure the same mistakes don't recur and (more importantly) to fix the mistakes that Senator Rubio points out?

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

Follow-up:

April 29, 2018

New Smokey Lies Eyeshadow!


Michelle Wolf, Last Night at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner (A Full Transcript)




She beings with:
Alright, this is long. This has been long. Good Evening, good evening. Here we are the White House Correspondents Dinner. Like a porn star says when she's about to have sex with a Trump, "Let's get this over with."
And ends with:
Flint still doesn't have clean water!
In between there was this (my transcript - apologies in advance for any errors):
Yep, kiddos. This is what you're getting tonight. I'm going to skip alot of the normal pleasantries. We're at a Hilton. It's not nice. This is on C-Span. No one watches that. Trump is president. It's not ideal.

White House Correspondents' Association, thank you for having me. The monkfish was fine.

And just a reminder to everyone: I'm here to make jokes. I have no agenda. I'm not trying to get anything accomplished. So everyone that's here from Congress, you should feel right at home.

Before we get too far, a little bit about me. A lot of you might not know who I am. I am 32 years old. Which is an odd age - 10 years too young to host this event and 20 years too old for Roy Moore. I know, he almost got elected, yea. It was fun. It was fun.

Honestly, I never really thought I would be a comedian, but I did take an aptitude test in seventh grade and this is 100% true. It said my best profession was a clown or a mime. At first it said clown and then it heard my voice and said, maybe mime.  This about mime.

And I know as much as some of you might want me to, it's 2018 and I'm a woman so you cannot shut me up -- unless you have Michael Cohen wire me $130,000. Michael, you can find me on Venmo under my pornstar name, Reince Priebus.   Reince just gave a thumbs up.

Now people are saying America is no more divided than ever. But I think, no matter what you support politically, we can all agree that this is a great time for craft stores. Because of all the protests, poster board has been flying off the shelves faster than Robert Mueller can say, "You've been subpoenaed."

Thanks to Trump, pink yarn sales are through the roof. After Trump got elected, women started knitting those pussy hats. When I first saw them I was like that is a pussy? I guess mine has more yarn on it.

You should have done more research before you got me to do this.

There is a lot to cover tonight. There is a lot to go over. I can't get to everything. I know there's a lot of people want me to talk about Russia and Putin and collusion, but I am not going to do that because there is also a lot of liberal media here. And I've never really wanted to know what any of you look like when you orgasm. Except for you, Jake Tapper. I bet it is something like this. Ok, that is all the time we have.

It is kind of crazy that the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia, when the Hillary campaign wasn't even in contact with Michigan.

Of course, Trump isn't here. If you haven't noticed, he is not here. And I know, I would drag him here myself but it turns out The President of the United States is the one pussy you are not allowed to grab. He said it first. Yea, he did. You remember. Good.

I know people really want me to go after Trump tonight, but i think we should give the president credit when he deserves it. Like, he pulled out of the Paris agreement. I think he should get credit for that because he said he was going to pull out and then he did and that is a refreshing quality in a man. Most of men are like, I forgot. I will get you next time. Oh, there is going to be a next time? And people say romance is dead.

People call Trump names all the time. Look, i could call Trump a racist or misogynist or incompetent or ustable or impotent, but he has heard all of those and he doesn't care. So tonight, I am going to try to make fun of the president in a new way, in a way that I think will really get him. Mr. President, I don't think you are very rich. Like, I think you might be rich in Idaho, but in New York you are doing fine.

Trump is the only person who still watches "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" And thinks, "Me!" Although I'm not sure you would get very far. He'd be like the third question and be like, "I have to call a Fox and Friend."

We're going to try a fun new thing, ok? I'm going to say "Trump is so broke" and you guys go "How broke is he?" Alright? Trump is so broke, [How broke is he?] he has to fly in failed business class. Trump is so broke, [How broke is he?] he looked for foreign oil in Don Jr's hair. Trump is so broke, [How broke is he?] Southwest used him as one of their engines. I know, it is so soon, it is so soon for that joke, why did she tell it?, it is so soon. Trump is so broke, [How broke is he?] he had to borrow money from the Russians and now he is compromised and now susceptible to blackmail and possibly responsible for the collapse of The Republic. Yay. It is a fun game. 

Trump is racist, though. He loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a white nationalist is like calling a pedophile a kid friend, or Harvey Weinstein a ladies man. Which isn't really fair, he also likes plants. 

Trump is also an idea guy, he has got loads of ideas. You got to love him for that. He wants to give teachers guns, and I support that because then they can sell them for things they need, like supplies - a lot of protractors.

A lot of people want Trump to be impeached. I do not because just when you think Trump is awful you remember Mike Pence. Mike Pence is what happens when Anderson Cooper isn't gay. Mike Pence is the kind of guy that brushes his teeth and then drinks orange juice and thinks, "Mm!" Mike Pence is also very anti-choice. He thinks abortion is murder, which first of all, don't knock it until you try it. And when you do try it, really knock it, you have to get that baby out of there. You can groan all you want, I know a lot of you are very anti-abortion, you know, unless it is the when you got for your secret mistress. 

It is funny how values can waiver. But good for you.

Mike Pence is a weirdo, though, he is a where it little guy. He won't meet with other women without his wife without his wife present. People first heard that and thought, that's crazy, but now in the current climate they say, that is a good witness. 

Which of course, brings me to the me too movement, it's probably the reason why I'm here. They were like, a woman is not going to jerk off in front of anyone, right? And to that I say, "Don't count your chickens." 

Now, I worked in a lot of male dominated fields before comedy.  I worked at a tech company and before that I worked on Wall Street, and honestly I have never really been sexually harassed. That being said, I did work at Bear Stearns in 2008 so although I haven't in sexually harassed I have definitely been fucked . The whole company went down on me without my consent. And no man got in trouble for that either. 

Things are changing. Men are being held accountable. Al Franken was ousted, that one really hurt liberals but I believe it was the great Ted Kennedy who said, "that is crazy, I murdered a woman." Chappaquiddick, in theaters now. 

I did have a a lot of jokes about cabinet members but I had to scrap all of those because everyone has been fired. You guys are going through cabinet members quicker than Starbucks throws out black people. Don't worry, they are having an afternoon. That'll solve it. We just needed an afternoon. 

Mitch McConnell's isn't here tonight. He had a prior engagement. He is finally getting his neck circumcised. Mazel. Paul Ryan also couldn't make it. Of course, he's already been circumcised. Unfortunately, while they were down there they also took his balls. Yea, bye, Paul, great acting though in that video. 

Republicans are easy to make fun of. It is like shooting fish in a Chris Christie. 

But I also want to make fun of democrats. Democrats are harder to make fun of because you guys don't do anything. 

You think you might flip The House and Senate this November but you guys always find a way to mess it up. You are somehow going to lose by 12 points to a guy named Jeff Pedophile Nazi Doctor. Oh, he's a doctor? 

We should definitely talk about the women in the Trump Administration. There is Kelly Anne Conway. Man, she has the perfect last name for what she does. Conway. It is like if my name was Michelle Jokes Frizzy Hair Small Tits. You guys gotta stop putting Kelly Anne on your shows. All she does his lie. If you don't give her a platform she has nowhere to lie. It's like that old saying, "If a tree falls in the woods, how do we get Kelly Anne under that tree?" I'm not suggesting she gets hurt - just stuck. Stuck under a tree.

Incidentally, a tree falls in the woods is a Scott Pruitt's definition of porn. We all have our kinks. 

There's also of course Ivanka. She was supposed to be an advocate for women but it turns out she is about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons. She has done nothing to satisfy women. So I guess, like father like daughter. Oh, you don't think he is good in bed. Come on. She does cleanup nice, though. Ivanka cleans up nice. She is the diaper genie of the administration. On the outside she looks sleek but the inside, it's still full of shit. 

Of course we have Sarah Huckabee Sanders. We are graced with Sarah's presence tonight. I have of to say I am a little starstruck. I loved you as Aunt Lydia in "The Handmaid's Tale." 

Mike Pence, if you haven't seen it, you would love it. 

Every time Sarah steps up to the podium, I get excited because I am really not sure what we are going to get. A press briefing, a bunch of lies or a divided into softball teams. It is shirts and skins and this time don't be such a little old bitch, Jim Acosta. I actually really like Sarah. I think she is very resourceful. Like, she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Maybe she was born with it, it's probably lies. 

And I am never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Is it Sarah Sanders? Is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Is it cousin Huckabee, is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like what's "Uncle Tom" but for white women who disappoint other white women? I know - "Anne Coulter." 

We've got our friends at CNN here. Welcome guys. it is great to have you. You guys love breaking news, and you did it. You broke it. Good work. The most useful information on CNN is when Anthony Bourdain tells me where to eat noodles. 

Fox News is here, you know what that means, ladies? Cover your drink. Seriously.

People want me to make fun of Sean Hannity tonight but I cannot do that. This dinner is for journalists. 

We have MSNBC here. MSNBC's new slogan is, "This is who we are." Guys, this is not a good slogan. "This is who we are" is what your mom thinks the sad show on NBC is called. "Did you watch 'This is who we are' this week? Someone left on a on a crockpot and everybody died." 

I watch "Morning Joe" every morning. We now know that Mika and Joe are now engaged. Congratulations, you guys. It's like when a "me too" works out. 

We cannot forget about Rachel Maddow, she is the Peter Pan of MSNBC. But instead of never growing up she never gets to the point. Watching Rachel Maddow is like going to Target. You went in for mile but you left with shampoo, candles and the entire history of the Byzantine Empire. 

And of course, Megyn Kelly. What would I do without Megyn Kelly? I would probably be more proud of women. Megyn Kelly got paid $23 million by NBC. Then NBC didn't let Megyn go to the Winter Olympics. Why not? She's so white, cold and expensive she might as well be the Winter Olympics. And by the way, Megyn, Santa is black, the weird old white guy going through your chimney is Bill O'Reilly. You may want to put a flue on it or something.

There's a lot of print media here. There's a ton of you guys. But I am not going to go after print media tonight because it is illegal to I attack an endangered species. 

There's a ton of news right now, a lot is going on and we have all these 24 hour news networks. And we could be covering everything but instead we are covering like three topics. Every hour, it is Trump, Russia, Hillary, and a panel of four people that remind you why you don't go home for Thanksgiving. Milk comes from nuts now, all because of the gays!

You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn't sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric but he has helped you. He has helped you sell your papers and her books and your TV. You helped create this monster and now you are profiting off of him. And if you are going to profit off of Trump you should at least give him some money, because he doesn't have any. 

Trump is so broke [How broke is he?] he grabs pussies because he thinks there might be loose change in them. 

Alright, like an immigrant who was brought here by his parents and didn't do anything wrong, I have to get the fuck out of here, good night.
Trump has already tweeted on Wolf's smart-ass media intervention:
No, she didn't.

You, on the other hand, are the one who had to borrow money from the Russians and now you're compromised and susceptible to blackmail and possibly responsible for the collapse of The Republic.

Yay. it's a great game.

April 28, 2018

Senator Toomey RESPONDS To Another Letter (With Another Example Of A Pivot and Deflect)

I was beginning to worry.

You see, it's been a month and half since I received any sort of response from Senator Pat Toomey (or his office). I'm not sure, but it feels like the response was longer than usual. I really should take the time to analyze the data, to ascertain the average response rate, average time between my letter to him and his response to me regarding those letters and so on.

But that's for another blog post.

This letter, which arrived via email, starts thusly:
Thank you for contacting me about recent reports of sexual harassment and misconduct by government officials. I appreciate hearing from you and share your concerns about these deeply troubling reports.

There have been a number of recent allegations of misconduct and harassment against current members of Congress. In the wake of these reports, each chamber's respective, nonpartisan Committees on Ethics confirmed that they had each opened investigations into several of these matters.
Ha! See that? I was worried about nothing. He says it right there: "I appreciate hearing from you..."

Whew.

So what letter is he referring to?  I searched for the keywords "Toomey" and "sexual harassment" in that the blog and found only one letter that even gets close - this one, from two months ago.

This is what I wrote:
Senator, I'd like to take a step back from the many Trump scandals now plaguing this nation and ask you about the direction of your political party, the G.O.P.

Recently at a CPAC conference, conservative columnist Mona Charen asked "How can conservative women hope to have any credibility on the subject of sexual harassment or relations between the sexes when they excuse the behavior of President Trump?" And for that she was booed by members of the audience and security had to escort her from the hall.
That was my frame. You may need to cast your eyes up a few degrees to see how differently Toomey framed his response. To my question regarding Charen's position regarding the lack of sexual harassment credibility in the GOP as seen in the light of Donald Trump's behavior, he responds with "recent reports of sexual harassment and misconduct by government officials" who are "current members of Congress" using "taxpayer dollars to settle claims of sexual harassment."

No, senator. We're just talking about one government official (who, by the way is not a member of Congress): Donald J Trump.

Let's get back to my letter. Charen followed up with an op-ed in the NYTimes where stated, after pointing to the hypocrisy in our great nation's once great conservative party:
There is nothing more freeing than telling the truth. And it must be done, again and again, by those of us who refuse to be absorbed into this brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism, by those of us who refuse to overlook the fools, frauds, and fascists attempting to glide along in his slipstream into respectability.
And in response to that I asked him a specific question:
So here's my question: Is she right about your party? And if you believe she is, when will you start to speak out against the brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism?
To that, Toomey sent a letter basically lauding himself for supporting legislation designed to deny taxpayer funds to settle sexual harassment claims and legislation mandating sexual harassment training for the Senate and the House of Representative. After which he adds:
I voted in favor of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the past.
(Except he also voted against reauthorizing it in the past as well.)

Don't mistake me - all those things he says are good things. They also have absolutely nothing to do with what I asked him about. It's almost as if he's looking to, oh I don't know, pivot and deflect away from the topic of my letter - which was about the "brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism" currently infecting his political party.

Toomey pivoted. Toomey deflected.

And Toomey did so to avoid confronting Charen's charge about Trumpism in the GOP.

As Charen wrote in her column:
For traditional conservatives, the past two years have felt like a Twilight Zone episode. Politicians, activists, and intellectuals have succumbed with numbing regularity, betraying every principle they once claimed to uphold.
Sad to say but if this letter is any indication, Pat Toomey is one of those who has succumbed.

Full text of Toomey's letter:
Dear David,

Thank you for contacting me about recent reports of sexual harassment and misconduct by government officials. I appreciate hearing from you and share your concerns about these deeply troubling reports.

There have been a number of recent allegations of misconduct and harassment against current members of Congress. In the wake of these reports, each chamber's respective, nonpartisan Committees on Ethics confirmed that they had each opened investigations into several of these matters.

Many Pennsylvanians have raised concerns, which I share, about the use of taxpayer dollars to settle claims of sexual harassment. The Congressional Office of Compliance (OOC) recently revealed that since 1997 it has paid out approximately $17 million in taxpayer funds to settle 264 claims of labor and employment law violations involving congressional employees. While the OOC did not break out the settlements based on the type of claim, some of them likely involved claims of sexual harassment.

The use of taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment claims is appalling and completely unacceptable. As I have said publicly, it is incumbent on Congress to prevent this from occurring, and I will vigorously support efforts that make it impossible for congressional offices to use public funds for such purposes.

On November 15, 2017, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced legislation - the Member and Employee Training and Oversight On (ME TOO) Congress Act (S. 2159) - that is intended to bring more transparency and accountability to the OOC's settlement process. Among its provisions, this bill would require a Member of Congress to repay the Treasury for any settlements paid if the Member is an alleged harasser. S. 2159 also requires the OOC to publish on its website the settlements paid by congressional offices. S. 2159 is currently pending before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, of which I am not a member. Please be assured, however, that I will continue to monitor the status of this legislation.

Recent reports of sexual misconduct and harassment have also understandably raised questions about the lack of mandatory anti-harassment training for House and Senate staff. As a result, on November 9, 2017, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution (S.Res. 330) mandating anti-harassment training for Senators, officers, employees, detailees, and interns of the Senate. On November 29, 2017, the House of Representatives passed similar legislation (H.Res. 630) mandating harassment prevention training.

Finally, as you know, sexual misconduct continues to persist in our society. During my congressional career, I have worked to prevent and redress the terrible crime of sexual violence. I voted in favor of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the past. Also, I have led the successful fight to dramatically increase funding for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse-specifically by stopping Congress from raiding the Crime Victims Fund. The Crime Victims Fund receives no taxpayer dollars; it is funded by criminal fines and penalties collected in federal court. Under law, money in the fund is supposed to go to assisting victims of crime. But, for over a decade, Congress diverted billions to fund unrelated discretionary spending projects.

I have been pleased to see my efforts yield success. Congress increased the amount disbursed to assist victims from $745 million in 2014 to over $2.6 billion in 2016. Pennsylvania groups that assist victims saw available funding more than quadruple, rising from $17.5 million in 2014 to $80 million in 2016. I was also pleased to see that the omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 244) passed on May 4, 2017 included a similar number, $2.57 billion.

Thank you again for your correspondence. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts on the recent reports of sexual harassment and misconduct, and I value your input. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.