What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 27, 2018

My FIFTIETH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey (UPDATED)

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

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

Senator, I'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.

In her follow-up in the NY-Times, she paints for her fellow conservatives a rather bleak picture of the current "heavily Trumpified" Republican Party and calls for her fellow conservatives to speak out against what she calls "this brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism."

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?

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

The Senator responded (kinda sorta) to this letter here.

Follow-up:

February 24, 2018

Senator Toomey RESPONDS To Another Letter (But Don't Think For A Minute He ANSWERED It)

Yesterday, I received a letter in the post (as it was called in the moving pictures) from one of my Senators, Senator Pat Toomey.

He begins:
Thank you for contacting me in regards to the recent false missile alert in Hawaii. I appreciate hearing from you.
A slight shift in the opening. I am used to seeing "Thank you for contacting me about" rather than "in regards to" but whatever.

Let's go see to what letter he's referring. It's dated February 12, 2018. So we can safely assume it's not anything after that date.

As far as I can tell, I've only once asked Senator Toomey about anything Hawaiian - here.

Here's how I set up my question:
A few days ago, Hawaii was rocked with a false ballistic missile alarm. For nearly 40 minutes the residents of Hawaii thought they were going to die a nuclear death. Hawaii, by the way, has a population of about 1.4 million. If only 10% were panicked, that's still 140,000 panicked US citizens.
Which is good because here's how Toomey set up his response:
On January 13, 2018, an employee of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency initiated a false alarm about an incoming ballistic missile on the state's own emergency management alert system. It took almost 40 minutes for officials to correct the error. This incident is a clear reminder that the United States must continually improve its readiness against threats to our homeland.
So glad we settled that.

Here's my question:
And according to CNN, Donald Trump was on one of his many golf courses, playing golf and having lunch. There was no public comment from him for about 18 hours. In the meantime, however, he tweeted yet another complaint about "fake news."

So here's my question to you, sir: How this is acceptable behavior? That the President of the United States of America could so casually go about his day while so many of his constituents were panicked that they only had a few more minutes to live and yet say nothing about it for nearly a day?
To which Senator Toomey responded with:
On December 21, 2017, I voted in favor of legislation (H.R. 1370) that funded the government through January 19, 2018 in order to avoid a disruptive government shutdown. This continuing resolution also provided an additional $4.7 billion for improving our missile defense system. Among the funds appropriated was $1.24 billion for the Department of Defense "to detect, defeat, and defend against the use of ballistic missiles.

Our country must remain vigilant in the face of growing threats to our national security, especially from rouge states that are developing advanced ballistic missile technology such as Iran and North Korea. Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
Nothing, absolutely nothing about Donald Trump and his horrid non response the false alarm - which was the actual point of my question.

Verdict: a response but not an answer. Another swing and a miss, Pat.

BTW, I didn't typo in my Toomey transcript. He really does call Iran and North Korea "rouge" states.

Here's a detail to prove it:


Here's the entire letter:
I wonder how many more of Toomey's constituents have written him about the Hawaii false alarm only to learn that North Korea is a rouge state?

February 22, 2018

Meanwhile, Outside

Even with all the other very important news happening, it's still getting warmer outside.

From the scientists at NOAA:
The January 2018 temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 0.71°C (1.28°F) above the 20th century average of 12.0°C (53.6°F). January 2018 marks the 42nd consecutive January (since 1977) and the 397th consecutive month (since January 1985) with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average. This was the fifth highest temperature for January in the 1880–2018 record. The last four years (2015–2018) rank among the five highest Januarys on record. The global land and ocean temperature during January has increased at an average rate of +0.07°C (+0.13°F) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase is twice as great since 1975.
Then there's this from the scientists at NASA:
Earth's global surface temperatures in 2017 ranked as the second warmest since 1880, according to an analysis by NASA.

Continuing the planet's long-term warming trend, globally averaged temperatures in 2017 were 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.90 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, according to scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. That is second only to global temperatures in 2016.
And yet a month or so ago, Donald Trump said this about the climate:
The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records, so okay, they’re at a record level.
Which turns out to be exactly incorrect (unless Trump meant "a record low level."). From some other scientists at NASA:
Arctic sea ice appears to have reached on March 7 a record low wintertime maximum extent, according to scientists at NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. And on the opposite side of the planet, on March 3 sea ice around Antarctica hit its lowest extent ever recorded by satellites at the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, a surprising turn of events after decades of moderate sea ice expansion.
Take a look at what the science is saying:


Ha. Record levels.

February 21, 2018

Market Square, In A Gentle Rain

In quiet dignity, they stand.


They stand against the violence.

The GOP Is Lying About Conor Lamb

Yea, how is that a surprise?

You've seen the ad on your TEEVEE. It's the one from the Congressional Leadership Fund that contains this bit of fake news about how Lamb worked in the Obama Administration:
...that negotiated the Iranian deal that gave billions to the leading funder of terrorism.
Um, they do know that when that money was returned to Iran in 2016, Conor Lamb was working as an Assistant District Attorney for Western Pennsylvania and had nothing to do with the deal, right?

Lie #1

And about that word "gave" that they use, they do know it's only half of the more factually correct term "gave back" right? (And that's not counting the interest) - take a look, this is from Reuters:
The United States and Iran on Sunday settled a longstanding claim at the Hague, releasing to Tehran $400 million in funds frozen since 1981 plus $1.3 billion in interest, the State Department said.

The funds were part of a trust fund once used by Iran to purchase military equipment from the United States but which was tied up for decades in litigation at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal.
Lie #2
 
Wow two big lies in one little sentence! How much more dishonest can the Trump-defending republicans be?

Sadly, whenever we think Trump's GOP has hit rock bottom in terms of decency/honesty/whatever, they jackhammer their way to even deeper depths of crap.

February 20, 2018

My FORTY-NINTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

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

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

In light of the recent indictments handed down by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller detailing the plans by Russia to interfere with the 2016 election, I'd like to ask you about H.R. 3364 - the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

The bill (now law) provides for sanctions against Russia in response, in part, to that country's interference in the 2016 presidential election. If you had any question about the interference, I'd refer you to Mueller's indictments.

Here's the thing, Senator. Congress voted for this legislation with numbers so big it's veto proof. And then Donald Trump signed it. It is the law of the land.

And yet Trump has so far refused to implement that law.

The Constitution clearly states that the President must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

So here's my question: Russia meddled with the election that brought Trump to power. Congress passed legislation sanctioning them for that meddling and now Trump won't execute that legislation faithfully. What are you going to do about it? Doing nothing lets him get away with flaunting the Constitution. So what are you doing about it? Which side are you on? Trump's or the Constitution's?

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

Follow-up:

February 18, 2018

And Now, Ms Emma Gonzalez

You can read and watch her entire speech here.

Some highlights:
I read something very powerful to me today. It was from the point of view of a teacher. And I quote: When adults tell me I have the right to own a gun, all I can hear is my right to own a gun outweighs your student's right to live. All I hear is mine, mine, mine, mine.
Only yesterday we looked at Joe The Plumber, one time Tea Party Darling of the GOP who actually said:
[Y]our dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.
That was four years ago. The right wing meme is still out there, infecting the brains of lots and lots of our conservative friends. How many innocents have had to die so that Joe (and many others in the "pro-life" GOP) can keep and maintain their gun-boners? Viagra ain't got nothing compared a well-stocked gun cabinet.

Back to Ms Gonzalez:
If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.
And:
To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you.
Shame on you.

February 16, 2018

And Now A Word From The Conscience Of The GOP (A.K.A. Joe The Plumber)

In the event you're wondering how, on God's green Earth and by all that's holy and good, our Republican friends can continue to obstruct sensible gun control legislation, I believe I have an answer for you.

And it comes from Joe The Plumber - remember him?

In an open letter to some previous (mass) shooting victims, JTP wrote:
I am sorry you lost your child. I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through now. But:

As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.
Yea, remember that?

In that letter he went on:
[A]nyone calling for more restrictions on American’s rights need to back off and stop playing into the hands of the folks who merely capitalize on these horrific events for their own political ends.

They don’t care about your family or your dead children at all. They sound like they do, whereas I sound uncaring and like I say, harsh. Don’t be fooled – I care about your family and mine. The future of our very liberty lies in the balance of this fight.
So there it is: hidden behind all of the ersatz sincerity of the many "thoughts and prayers" tweets we've read recently from the GOP, is this one thought - your dead kids don't trump my Constitutional rights.

That's the root of the root and the bud of the bud of their resistance and that's why you Un-American libtards can't unnerstand! It's their constitutional patriotic duty, dammit! They're protecting us all!

It's just that in this setting, the price of "our very liberty" is simply this: In order to make sure that everyone has easy access to firearms, every now and then (and no one knows where or when), in order to protect our safety and liberty, a few schools/theatres/offices will have to be shot up by someone with easy access to lots and lots of guns and ammo. A few people here and there will have to die a bloody and gruesome death in order to guarantee America's Second Amendment rights.

Thanks be to Joe for pointing this out. They should be celebrating the blood on their hands as the price someone else paid for their freedom.

Your dead kids don't trump my Constitutional rights.

February 15, 2018

It's Happened. Again. (Florida, Senator Toomey, and NRA Cash)

Another school shooting (this time in Florida) and another round of "thoughts and prayers" from our elected representatives in Congress - both in the Senate and in the House.

However:
Lawmakers sending “thoughts and prayers” in the wake of Wednesday’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, are getting slammed for their financial ties to the gun lobby.

Bess Kalb, a writer for “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” is responding to each lawmaker tweeting condolences over the murders by listing how much they’ve taken from the National Rifle Association, which has consistently fought any move to tighten gun control laws.
As they say, all politics is local so let's blatantly copy Ms Kalb's idea and see how this is playing out locally.

Senator Toomey:
According to the Penn Live, Senator Toomey is the recipient of $93,000 of the NRA's money.

In response to a "thoughts and prayers" tweet from the head of the Republican National Committee, Ms Kalb tweeted:
And then:
So next time you see a "thoughts and prayers" message from a pro-2nd Amendment politician, check to see how much NRA money he or she has received.

Then you can add the line "Brought to you by the NRA" underneath their picture.

And because of the political cover the NRA has purchased, you can also do that with the next picture of the next (because you know there's gonna be another one) mass shooting.

February 13, 2018

My FORTY-EIGHTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

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

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

I'd like to ask you this week about White House security clearances.

CNN is reporting that "Thirty to 40 White House officials and administration political appointees are still operating without full security clearances" - including Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law and Rob Porter, who recently resigned under serious allegations of spousal abuse. Reportedly that abuse was one of the obstacles keeping Porter from gaining full security access. It's also been reported that the White House knew about the allegations for some time.

So far Senator you've yet to comment on any security concerns you might have about this situation. You're part of the legislative oversight of the Executive branch (the "checks and balances" written into the Constitution), so let me ask you: Is it acceptable? If so, why? If not, why haven't you said anything about it?

One last question, Senator. If this were a Democratic administration in the White House, do you think you and your Republican colleagues would be similarly silent about the high level lack of security clearances?

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

Follow-up:

February 11, 2018

Toomey Time Round-Up! (Part The Fourth)

So far, I've written 47 letters to Pennsylvania's junior senator, Pat Toomey.  The first round up of letters can be found here. The second, here. The third, here.
Today, it's time for a fourth.

Of letters 33 through 47, Senator Toomey has responded to 5:
Good for him. He really should do a better job, however, of  meeting with his constituents.  All of them.

So here are the questions between 33 and 47 that Senator Toomey has yet to answer:
  • 34th letter - In this letter I ask Toomey if his position that the investigation into possible Russian collusion in the 2016 election were "overblown" has changed, given the then-recent charges filed against Paul Manafort and the guilty plea of George Papadapolous.
  • 35th letter - This letter was sent almost exactly a year after election day, 2016. I ask Toomey if he still would have voted for Donald Trump had he known the scandals which followed Trump's election. I ask him if he still would have voted for Trump, to explain why.
  • 37th letter - This is the Thanksgiving letter where I point out the things I'm thankful for (a healthy respect for the rule of law, equal protection under the law, etc) and I ask Toomey what he's thankful for.
  • 41st letter -  In this letter I ask Toomey what he'd do if Trump were to fire special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
  • 42nd letter - In this letter I ask Toomey if he still supports the presidency of Donald Trump given Trump's many many misstatements and other distortions of the truth.
  • 43rd letter - In this letter I ask Toomey (in essence) if he agreed with Donald Trump's assault on the First Amendment, given Trump's attempts to stop the publication of the book "Fire and Fury".
  • 44th letter - In this letter I ask Toomey if he thought it acceptable behavior for Trump to "casually go about his day" while millions of Hawaiians thought they only had a few hours to live.
  • 45th letter - This letter's about the pornstar. I ask Toomey how, given his solid standing among the nation's social conservatives, would he still have voted for Trump had he known that Trump had unprotected sex with a woman who wasn't his wife (and then had her paid off to secure her secrecy).
  • 46th letter - This letter is follow up, of sorts, to the 41st letter. I ask Toomey, since we already know that Trump did attempt to fire Robert Mueller, if would support legislation to protect the Special Prosecutor.
  • 47th letter - In this letter I ask Toomey, given how Trump has defined "not applauding during a State of the Union Address" as both Un-American and treasonous, if he, Toomey, still supports the presidency of Donald Trump.
These are the unanswered questions in this Volume of Toomey Open Letters.

February 10, 2018

Senator Toomey RESPONDS to Another Letter

And so quickly!

It was only yesterday when I posted another non-answer response from Senator Pat Toomey.

This one is interesting - not necessarily for what it says but what it represents. I'll explain.

First the letter. It begins with this:
Thank you for contacting me about impeachment of President Trump. I appreciate hearing from you.
IMPEACHMENT? When did I ever ask Senator Toomey about impeachment?

The letter is dated January 31, 2018 so we can safely assume he's not responding to any letter written after that date.

This is a mystery as I've never, as far as I can tell with a google advanced search, specifically asked Senator Toomey about "impeachment." The Senator writes:
As you may know, the U.S. Constitution provides that the President is removable from office "on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."
In my 47th open letter to the Senator I do specifically as about treason

In that letter, I ask about Donald Trump's commentary on his State of the Union address, specifically when he (Trump) called out those Democrats who decided not to applaud him as "un-American" and "traitorous." I asked Senator Toomey if he ever felt like he was committing treason whenever he decided not to applaud any part of any Democratic President's State of the Union address. Then there's the question:
If not, then how can you continue to support, as president, a man who just accused some of your Senatorial and Congressional colleagues of committing treason for simply not applauding him enough? The Constitution is very clear on a definition of treason. Political dissent is not a part of it. So which side are you on? Trump's or the Constitution's?
But that's not necessary about Trump's treason but his charge that disloyalty in the Democratic Party equals treason. And in any case it's in a letter written after January 31 so unless there's a Senatorial TARDIS that no one knows about, this can't be about that.

So let's go backwards from there. What are my recent Toomey + Trump letters and can any of them be said to address "impeachment"?
  • 46th letter - Where I ask if Toomey is willing to support legislation protecting Robert Mueller's investigation into the Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
  • 45th letter - Where I ask if Toomey, a social conservative, still supports Donald Trump, who had unprotected sex with an adult film star even though he was married to another woman.
  • 44th letter - Where I ask for Toomey's reaction to Trump's inaction regarding the false missile alarm in Hawaii.
  • 43rd letter - Where I ask whether Toomey thinks Trump's assault on the First Amendment regarding the publication of the book "Fire and Fury" is acceptable.
  • 42nd letter - Where I ask for Toomey's reaction to some then-recent false statements of Trump's as well as his assertion that he has the "absolute right" to do what he pleases with the DOJ.
  • 41st letter - Where I ask Toomey what he'd do if Trump were to fire Robert Mueller.
  • 39th letter - This one is about Roy Moore and Toomey responded to it.
  • 38th letter - Where I ask Toomey about Trump's relationship with the First Amendment and which side he (Toomey) is on: Trump's or the Constitution's. Toomey responded here, too.
Do we need to go any further back?  We've hit two letters that Toomey (or his office) has already responded to and there's still nothing about impeachment.

Can anyone find a letter of mine where I ask about impeachment? I really wanna know.

But this leads me to a rather larger broader question. As I've been able to find a couple of letters he sent to me posted elsewhere online, it should be obvious that the letters I receive from Senator Toomey are, in one way or another, form letters. The basic idea must be this: You write about Afghanistan, he sends you "the Afghanistan letter." You write about tax policy, he sends you "the tax policy letter." And so on.

But think of what that means in regards to this letter.

It means that Senator Pat Toomey has a constituent letter already prepared for whenever a someone writes to him about impeaching Donald J Trump. It's "the impeachment letter."
How interesting/scary/funny - take your pick (I'll take the shovel) is that?

Text of the letter
Thank you for contacting me about impeachment of President Trump. I appreciate hearing from you.

As you may know, the U.S. Constitution provides that the President is removable from office "on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." As a Senator, I am unable to begin impeachment proceedings. Impeachment proceeding s must originate in the House of Representatives, with a majority voting to impeach the President. If this occurs the U.S. Senate holds a trial, and can only convict with a vote of two-thirds of members present.

Currently, the Senate has not received an impeachment resolution from the House of Representatives. Please be assured that I value your input and will keep your thoughts in mind.

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

February 9, 2018

Senator Toomey RESPONDS to Another Letter

Yesterday, in the (snail) mail I received another response from my Senator, Pat Toomey (R-PA). Well, as you'll see he "responds" but he doesn't actually "answer" my letter.

He begins with this:
Thank you for contacting me about reforming our nation's tax code. I appreciate hearing from you.
I'm so glad he still appreciates hearing from me.

Now let's go find out which letter he's answering.

What he sent was dated January 24 so we can safely assume he's not answering any of my letters sent after that date (the 45th and the 46th). And we know from his opening it's about taxes.

So when did I ask him about taxes?
  • 40th - Where I ask him about how a fiscal conservative can support a budget that adds $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next decade.
  • 33rd - Where I ask him to explain his support of the budget that, according to the NYTimes, provides a windfall for the wealthiest Americans and little or no support for everyone else. This letter was kinda sorta responded to here.
So it must be the 40th.  Specifically, after mentioning the trillion dollar addition to the deficit this budget represents I asked:
As a fiscal conservative, how can you possibly approve of such a plan? Or do you no longer consider yourself a fiscal conservative?
You can read his response at the bottom of this blog post.

Pat Toomey simply avoids any mention of trillion. He refused to answer my question at all.

The interesting thing about his answer, in fact, is found in his previous response to the 33rd letter.

Take a look. This is the second paragraph of the 33-response:
Tax reform can help to create sustained economic growth for all Americans. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has projected the nation's gross domestic product to increase by a meager 1.9 percent each year over the next decade. I refuse to accept sub-two percent growth as the new normal knowing that, in the sixty years before the Obama administration, economic growth averaged 3.4 percent per year.
And this is the second paragraph of the 42-response:
Tax reform will help to create sustained economic growth for all Americans. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has projected the nation's gross domestic product to increase by a meager 1.9 percent each year over the next decade. I refuse to accept sub-two percent growth as the new normal knowing that, in the sixty years before the Obama administration, economic growth averaged 3.4 percent per year.
Uh-oh. He's reusing material. It's never a good sign. In fact, a reddit user from Philadelphia (and let's remember the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots this past Super Bowl) posted this exact same letter back in December.

While ignoring my question, Toomey also ignores the fact that, in his bill, the tax cuts for people that he praises so lavishly are temporary. And they are skewed to the already wealthy.

Politifact summarizes the research done by the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation:
By 2027, every income group below $75,000 sees a tax increase. Only those income ranges above $75,000 still see a cut by 2027. That’s a significantly different pattern than in 2019, when every group saves, on average.

Meanwhile, if you look at the income groups who gain in 2027, there’s an even stronger skew toward the wealthiest taxpayers. The top 1 percent of taxpayers -- those earning at least $500,000 -- take 48 percent of the gains.
But Toomey doesn't mention any of this in his non-answer to my letter.

Another swing and a miss, Pat. Sorry.

The text of the letter:
Thank you for contacting me about reforming our nation's tax code. I appreciate hearing from you.

Tax reform will help to create sustained economic growth for all Americans. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has projected the nation's gross domestic product to increase by a meager 1.9 percent each year over the next decade. I refuse to accept sub-two percent growth as the new normal knowing that, in the sixty years before the Obama administration, economic growth averaged 3.4 percent per year.

On December 20, 2017, the Senate passed the final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) by a vote of 51 - 48. After passage of H.R. 1 in the House of Representatives, President Trump signed the bill into law on December 22, 2017. Passage of this bill brings the most historic reform to our tax code in over three decades.

This pro-growth bill achieves two major accomplishments. First, it provides a direct pay raise by lowering the tax burden on hardworking individuals and families across Pennsylvania. The bill cuts individual tax rates across the board as well as doubles both the standard deduction and the child tax credit. The vast majority of lower and middle-income taxpayers will pay less in federal taxes beginning in 2018.

Second, the bill significantly reforms our outdated and uncompetitive business tax code, thus enabling American workers and businesses to compete globally, encouraging a surge in economic growth, and creating better paying jobs. By reducing our business rates below the average of our foreign competitors, we are encouraging companies to invest and create new jobs in the United States. Moreover, the bill allows businesses to fully write-off the cost of capital expenditures, such as the buying of equipment, vehicles, and machinery, in the year of purchase. Promoting invested capital grows the productive capacity of the economy and requires workers to build and operate these tools. This places upward pressure on wages and brings people back into the workforce. The result is that workers will have an increasing share of the wealth this country produces.

I am glad that the House, Senate, and Administration came together to finish our work on this bill to deliver on our promise of a better and brighter economic future for all Americans.

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

Sincerely,

Pat Toomey
U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania

February 7, 2018

Jimmy Fallon Joins Up.

It was only a few short months ago when we read this:
Donald Trump's presidency has undoubtedly inspired a sense of urgency in entertainers across the country. Awards shows of all kinds are filled with explicit shots at the president. Eminem just dropped a four-minute rap takedown of Trump. The list of celebrities who've publicly condemned the president must be longer than his unfulfilled campaign promises at this point.

As critical issues like healthcare, immigration and climate change are being debated and attacked in Washington, most people can't help but react be they famous or not.

That is, except for Jimmy Fallon.

"It's just not what I do," Fallon told Willie Geist during a preview of his interview on "Sunday Today." "I think it would be weird for me to start doing it now," he said of engaging in jokes or critiques of the president like some of his late-night counterparts.
And yet, the evening that the Patriots lost the Super Bowl (Editors note: YAY!), Jimmy Fallon did this:


The words:
Come gather round people wherever you roam
And admit that our country don't feel like our home
And that silence speaks louder than those who condone
If a tweet to you is worth favin'
Then lift up your voices and put down your phones
For the times they are a-changin'

Come women and men who hashtag Me Too
And believe me when I say that we believe you
For weak is the man who calls truth "fake news"
Time’s up, our silence we’re breaking
And even though Mel Gibson was in Daddy's Home 2
Well the times they are a-changin'

Come athletes with platforms throughout the land
Who by taking a knee are taking a stand
And before you shout out that they should be banned
Listen to what they are saying
Perhaps they'd stand up if you reached out your hand
Well the times they are a-changin'

Come journalists, writers who report the facts
And brandish your pen to fend off his attacks
Look past what he says and look at how he acts
The fire and fury is raging
For his words can hurt, but your words can fight back
New York Times, they aren't a-failin'

Come leaders who bully like Internet trolls
We'll curse you with four-letter words 'love' and 'hope'
For we will go high even when you go low
The order is re-arranging
For you have the power, but we have the vote
The times they are a-changin'
Hmm. Who do you think he's singing about when he sings about "leaders who bully like Internet Trolls" or the weak man who calls "truth 'fake news'" or "his attacks" on journalists?

Yea, I think Jimmy Fallon's doing political humor. 

The Rubes and the Con





February 6, 2018

My FORTY-SEVENTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

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

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

This week, I'd like to ask you about treason.

In Ohio yesterday, Donald Trump delivered a speech about tax reform when he briefly mentioned his State of the Union Address. He first mentioned the "half of the room" who cheered for him and then he mentioned the other half who didn't.

Then he accused that other non-cheering half of being "un-American" and "treasonous" for simply not applauding him. .Adding they were traitors because they showed "they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much" by not applauding him.

Senator, you've been to a few State of the Union Addresses, right? There were times when you didn't applaud President Obama at one if his addresses, right? Were you committing treason when you sat silently in a room half-filled with cheering Democrats?

If not, then how can you continue to support, as president, a man who just accused some of your Senatorial and Congressional colleagues of committing treason for simply not applauding him enough? The Constitution is very clear on a definition of treason. Political dissent is not a part of it. So which side are you on? Trump's or the Constitution's?

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

Follow-up:

February 5, 2018

No, No, No. Not For A Dodge Truck. No.

Like a lot of other people, I watched the Patriots lose last night (oh God, how I loved typing out those seven words!) and there was one thing that really bothered me: The Dodge Truck commercial.

I won't link to it, I won't attach it to this blog post. (It's in the news. You want to see it? Go find it yourself.)

This was the voice over narration (made truly complete with orchestral swells worthy of any well made movie trailer):
If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That's a new definition of greatness.

And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, (Everybody) because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. (All right) You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.
It's from this sermon, delivered February 4, 1968.

And Dodge decided to use that text in a commercial airing at the beginning of Black History Month to sell trucks. Big, shiny, powerful pick-up trucks.

Especially ironic, (doncha think?) given how a few paragraphs later in that sermon, Dr King says this:
Now the presence of this instinct explains why we are so often taken by advertisers. You know, those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion. And they have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying. In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey. In order to make your neighbors envious, you must drive this type of car. In order to be lovely to love you must wear this kind of lipstick or this kind of perfume. And you know, before you know it, you're just buying that stuff. That's the way the advertisers do it. [Emphasis added.]
In a political age where this protest against racial injustice:


Has been deemed offensive to the troops by a man who got to sit out the Vietnam war with five draft deferments (four for college, one for bad feet), a sermon about how, in order to serve "[y]ou only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love" was used to try to sell you some trucks.

This is Trump's America.







February 1, 2018

Um, Actually THIS Is How The "Division Becomes Toxic" (The Tribune-Review Defends Trump's SOTU By Lying About It A Little)

The Tribune-Review Editorial Board delivered unto us an expected defense of Donald Trump's State of the Union Address.

Mostly favorable, a few jabs and so on.

But I'd like to take a mini-slice out of it to show you, yet again, how they mislead you, their reading public.

Take a look at this paragraph:
But when changes that directly benefit Americans — for example, an economy that has boosted 401(k)s, college funds and retirement accounts — are met with such demonstrable contempt, when some Democrat caucus members hesitate to rise for a 12-year-old's initiative to place more than 40,000 American flags on veterans' graves, such division becomes toxic. [Emphasis added.]
Huh? Those lousy Democrat thugs hesitating to stand for a patriotic 12 year old?

It happened at this part of the speech:


You note however that everyone stands when Trump gets to this part of the speech:
Here tonight is Preston Sharp, a 12-year-old boy from Redding, California, who noticed that veterans’ graves were not marked with flags on Veterans Day. He decided to change that, and started a movement that has now placed 40,000 flags at the graves of our great heroes. Preston: a job well done.
Where is the hesitation? Can someone show me? And how do you define "hesitation" anyway?

If anything it's after Trump reads this next paragraph from his Teleprompter:
Young patriots like Preston teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans. Preston’s reverence for those who have served our Nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.
Look at the video. Some on the "Not-fans-of-the-pussy grabber" side do remain seated when he talks about the "our civic duty" to "stand for the national anthem."

Let me think of why that might be. It's simple. It's about Colin Kaepernick and all those other NFL players taking a knee to protest police violence against African-Americans. Somehow the man who's under investigation for so many things having to do with selling out the country for Russian help during the election thinks protesting police brutality is not patriotic.

And now look back at how the Trib braintrust spun it at you. They said, "Look! The Dems are disrespecting a patriotic kid!!"

That's a lie. That's how they lie. That's how the "division becomes toxic."