What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 31, 2018

Just Imagine If His Name Was Marwan

From today's Post-Gazette we get this:
Robert Bowers chose no party when he registered to vote in 1995, then associated with some of the region's more strident conservatives and finally ended his political evolution in one of the most extreme corners of the social media universe.

Mr. Bowers, 46, of Baldwin Borough, is now charged with 11 counts of homicide, six counts of attempted homicide, plus 29 federal counts in association with the Squirrel Hill shootings which have, since Saturday, come to dominate the national political discourse.
Followed shortly afterwards by this:
Archived internet records suggest that by 1999, and through 2006, Mr. Bowers was at least peripherally associated with the “Quinn in the Morning” radio show and host Jim Quinn's conservative "Warroom." Web domain archives show that Mr. Bowers ran onedingo.com, which purported to serve as the archives for Mr. Quinn's show.
And:
In 2000, according to archived versions of warroom.com, the site's "sound guy" was "Rob," with the email address warroom@onedingo.com. Archived versions of the website warroom.com attribute the site’s encoding to "Rob Bowers."
Now let's do a little thought experiment, shall we?

Just imagine if the guy who killed all those people in Squirrel Hill was named, say, Marwan or Ahmed or Mohamed and he was connected in some way to some Islamic podcast some where.

How would our right wing friends be reacting right about now?

Trump's Latest Assault On American Decency (And The GOP's Hypocrisy)

It's all about this - The 14th Amendment:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Trump doesn't like it (probably having something to do with all those people from all those shithole countries thinking that they can have American kids due to some stupid loophole in the Bill of Rights) and so by gum he's gonna change it.

But isn't it a constitutional amendment? How do you change a constitutional amendment?

From Axios:
"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," he said.
So he's gonna do it by Executive Order.

An executive order to rewrite a constitutional amendment.

Weren't there scads of hand-wringing republicans screeching only a few years ago about the executive overreach they saw when the Obama Administration wanted school lavatories to be gender neutral or when it tried to deal with carbon regulations?

They just wouldn't shut up about the tyranny of Obama's executive overreach.

And now?

October 30, 2018

My EIGHTY-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."

Donald Trump continues to call the press "the enemy of the people." This, even after one of his most fervent supporters, sent a pipe bomb to CNN.

I've asked you this before, Senator, but let me ask you again.

Is the press (and let's all remember that the press is constitutionally protected) really "the enemy of the people" like he says?

He has said it. Numerous times. Maybe even in your presence. Do you or don't you agree with him? It's a simple question, Senator.

I suspect that you, like all defenders of freedom, disagree with Trump on this. If that is the case, then why are you not denouncing him every time he attacks the press? Isn't our democracy worth it?

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

Follow-up:

October 28, 2018

The Deceased

From WPXI:
Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland

Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township

Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill

Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood

Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill

David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill

Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg

Sylvan Simon, 87, of Wilkinsburg​​​​​​​

Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill

Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill

Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington
Too sad to write anything else.

Stronger Than Hate



October 26, 2018

Meanwhile Outside...

Yes, I know there's a very important election coming up.

But still, it (and by that I mean the global climate) is getting warmer outside.

The science, from the scientists at NOAA:
With global records dating back to 1880, the September 2018 global temperature across the world's land and ocean surfaces was 0.78°C (1.40°F) above the 20th century average of 15.0°C (59.0°F)—tying with 2017 as the fourth highest September temperature in the 139-year record. The ten warmest September global land and ocean surface temperatures have occurred since 2003, with the last five years (2014–2018) comprising the five warmest Septembers on record. September 2015 is the record warmest September at +0.93°C (+1.67°F). September 2018 also marks the 42nd consecutive September and the 405th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average.
And:
The average global land and ocean surface temperature for January–September 2018 was 0.77°C (1.39°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.5°F)—the fourth highest global land and ocean temperature for January–September in the 1880–2018 record.
Meanwhile, the scientifically (among many other adverbs) illiterate occupier of the Oval Office has said this about the climate:
I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax. I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s manmade.
On the one hand, it's good that he's stepping away from his previous assertion that it's a hoax (although he now only "doesn't think it's a hoax"). But he's showing us, yet again, his vast scientific ignorance by asserting that he "doesn't know it's manmade" (it is.) and that "it'll change back" (if it does, it won't for a very very long time)

On that last bit, does Trump think that we'll wake up one day and POOF! we'll have global temps circa 1950? Or that the temps magically will drop for a few decades?

No matter what the orange vulgarity says, it's still getting warmer - the science says so.

October 25, 2018

This Is What Happens When You Call The Press "The Enemy Of The People"

CNN gets a pipe bomb.

After the bombs were discovered, Trump said:
In these times we have to unify. We have to come together and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message that acts or threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.
This from the guy who said this before the election:
"If [Clinton wins, she] gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd began to boo. He quickly added: “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Then just a few hours later at a political rally, he said:
Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective. After doing that, The language of moral condemnation and destructive routine -- These are arguments and disagreements that have to stop. No one should carelessly compare political opponents to historical villains.
Crooked Hillary.

Trump once tweeted:
"Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to 'leak' into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?"
Former CIA chief John Brennan got a pipe bomb, too.

And then there's this:
The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks.
It's a warning: The media has to stop reporting negatively about him. If they don't, they shouldn't be surprised if they get another pipe bomb.

Make no mistake. This was an act of domestic terrorism aimed at an opposing political party two weeks before an election. Trump's verbal attacks have everything to do with these attempted assassinations.

Let me put it another way:
A Florida man who was arrested for groping a woman on a Southwest flight bound for New Mexico told federal agents that President Donald Trump said it's permissible to grab women by their "private parts."
Whoever sent those bombs would probably agree.

October 23, 2018

My EIGHTY-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."

Recently your colleague Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that "entitlement changes ... is the real driver of the debt by any objective standard" (even though that's not true, as Ronald Reagan said in 1984) and then hinted at cutting entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

He said this the same week the Treasury Department announced a huge deficit - caused by, as we both know, the tax-cut your party pushed through Congress.

Simple question this week, Senator: Is that your plan? To pay for your trillion dollar tax cut by cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

Your constituents have a right to know.

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

Follow-up:

October 21, 2018

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board Is Lying To You. Again.

And, interestingly enough, they're doing it while trying to make the case about someone else's dishonesty.

Funny when that happens, right?

It's about Senator Elizabeth Warren's DNA test.

Let's look at what the P-G Editorial Board actually writes about Senator Warren and the test and then let's see if it is, in fact, factual. If it isn't we know they're simply lying. Either that, or an editorial board attached to a news organization couldn't be bothered to check their own facts. I used to ask this about Jack Kelly: which is it, dishonesty or incompetence?

First, there's this from the editorial:
Elizabeth Warren, as everyone knows, by now is no more Native American than most of the rest of us, maybe less than many of us. Her native American blood is 1/​64th to 1/1024th of a percent.
While the board is trying to be sarcastic, this is actually correct.  But let's take a look at what the test said anyway:
The largest segment identified as having Native American ancestry is on chromosome 10. This segment is 13.4 centiMorgans in genetic length , and spans approximately 4,700,000 DNA bases. Based on a principal components analysis (Novembre et al., 2008), this segment is clearly distinct from segments of European ancestry (nominal p -value 7.4 x 10 -7, corrected p -value of 2.6 x 10 -4 ) and is strongly associated with Native American ancestry.
Then there's this from the board:
It should matter to thinking Americans because Ms. Warren based much of her adult academic and political career on being a “woman of color.”
This is presented by the P-G Editorial Board with no evidence. On the other hand the Boston Globe published this - an article with the headline:

Ethnicity not a factor in Elizabeth Warren’s rise in law

And a few paragraphs down we read:
In the most exhaustive review undertaken of Elizabeth Warren’s professional history, the Globe found clear evidence, in documents and interviews, that her claim to Native American ethnicity was never considered by the Harvard Law faculty, which voted resoundingly to hire her, or by those who hired her to four prior positions at other law schools. At every step of her remarkable rise in the legal profession, the people responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman.
So where is the evidence (you know, the facts) upon which the P-G Editorial Board bases its assertion? Can we see it? How does it refute the "clear evidence, in documents and interviews" that the Globe has already written about? An explanation is needed. Unless and until we see it, you're simply lying.

The P-G Ed Board's dishonesty is compounded by this next sentence:
And because she has never apologized for the fabrication.
There's no apology because there was no fabrication. What the board is hoping you'll think, I suppose, is that if you believe their lie about a "fabrication", then the fact that Warren hasn't apologized only supports the existence of that "fabrication." That's another lie.

Then there's this from the board:
And because her appropriation insulted the Cherokee Nation, to which she claimed affiliation. (The tribe has denounced her.)
Again, it's simply a lie that she claimed affiliation. Take a look:
The board's next paragraph:
But the lie matters most of all because, even after she took a rigged DNA test that showed her Indian blood to be extremely minimal, she doubled down: This shows that what I said was right and true all along. [Italics in original.]
Now they're asserting a "rigged DNA test." Again, evidence? And by that I mean: "evidence (other than the fact that it doesn't fit into your right-wing politics?)" Until and unless you can present it, we'll know you're lying.

Let's go back to the report. This is the bio of the guy who wrote it:
Dr. Carlos D. Bustamante is an internationally recognized leader in the application of data science and genomics technology to problems in medicine, agriculture, and biology. He received his Ph.D. in Biology and MS in Statistics from Harvard University (2001), was on the faculty at Cornell University (2002-9), and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010. He is currently Professor of Biomedical Data Science, Genetics, and (by courtesy) Biology at Stanford University. Dr. Bustamante has a passion for building new academic units, non- profits, and companies to solve pressing scientific challenges. He is Founding Director of the Stanford Center for Computational, Evolutionary, and Human Genomics (CEHG) and Inaugural Chair of the Department of Biomedical Data Science. He is the Owner and President of CDB Consulting, LTD. and also a Director at Eden Roc Biotech, founder of Arc -Bio (formerly IdentifyGenomics and BigData Bio), and an SAB member of Imprimed, Etalon DX, and Digitalis Ventures among others. [Bolding in original]
And the methodology:
Methodology.

Analysis was performed to scan the human genome to identify individual chromosomal segments with European, African, East Asian, and Native American ancestry , using the RFMix computer program, which was developed by us (Maples et al., 2013) and is one of the leading methods for ancestry analysis. The ancestry analysis used reference samples from various regional populations used in human genetics (see below). Because available samples do not provide complete coverage of all Native American groups, some segments with Native American ancestry may be missed. In addition, it is not possible to reliably associate smaller segments having Native American ancestry with any specific tribe or group.

Samples.

The individual’s sample contained information on 764,958 sites of genetic variation across the human chromosomes , of which 660,173 overlapped with sites in the reference set used for ancestry analysis. Our population reference set consisted of 148 individuals (a continental reference panel of 37 individuals from across Europe, 37 from Nigeria with Sub-Saharan African ancestry, 37 from across the Americas with Native American ancestry, and 37 individuals from China). To determine whether the Native American ancestry results in the sample were unusually high relative to other individuals of European ancestry, analysis was also performed on 185 individuals from two reference sets from the 1000 Genomes Project — Americans of predominantly European ancestry from Utah (n = 99 individuals) and British individuals of European ancestry from Great Britain (n = 86 individuals)
Politifact, by the way, found the Bustamente report "credible."  Politifact ads:
Bustamante said that the analyst working with the DNA sample didn’t know it was Warren’s when running the test.
So show me the "rigged" part, please. Until and unless you can, you're lying.

As for the board's italicized charge above, we can point to Politifact's last sentence:
The DNA test can’t prove every part of Warren’s family story, but the researchers we reached said it is consistent with her account.
Her account being that she was told that her great-great-great-grandmother was Cherokee. The test is consistent with that.

Finally, the board should be more careful when it writes a sentence like this:
This is either the mark of a totally shameless and utterly cynical person, or the mark of a deluded one.
Because we have to wonder what the "this" designates as it's obvious (considering all the facts laid out above and all the dishonesty discovered in the P-G editorial) exactly who's being shameless and utterly cynical (or deluded).

Here's a hint for writer of this editorial in case you didn't understand that last paragraph:

IT'S YOU.

October 18, 2018

I THINK I got Push-Polled By Jeremy Shaffer's Campaign Last Night

Last night at about 8:10 I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognize. Usually, I ignore these calls but for some reason last night I answered.

Turned out it was a poll taker asking political questions doing a pushpoll!

Most of the questions revolved around the Jeremy Shaffer/Lindsey Williams race.

And here's my evidence I was pushpolled:
  • The pollster referred to it as "the Democrat party"
  • I was only asked the "If you knew X would you be more willing/less willing to vote for Lindsey Williams" questions. Nothing similar about Jeremy Shaffer
  • The "X" in those was only negative stuff about Williams
To be clearer, the point of the poll was not to gather information about what the voters are thinking but rather to plant negative information about one candidate into the minds of the voters.

So I'm guessing yea, it's a pushpoll.


October 16, 2018

My EIGHTY-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."

Recently, Donald Trump referred to Democrats as an "angry mob" and "unhinged" and "too dangerous to govern."

Very simple question this week: given that about four million of your constituents are, in fact, members of the Democratic party, do you agree with this assessment? Please note that I am not asking you whether you think it's a good idea for him to say it or whether his rhetoric has gotten out of hand, I am just asking if you agree with him - seeing as he's insulted a very large portion of your constituents.

Oh, and The NYTimes is reporting that the deficit jumped 18% in 2018 due, in large part, to the tax cuts you and your party passed. I thought the GOP took the budget seriously. I suppose now that your guy is in the Oval Office that's no longer the case - your thoughts?.

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

Follow-up:

October 9, 2018

My EIGHTY-SECOND Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey (UPDATE)

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."

You voted to elevate Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. I am guessing you're already getting a great deal of critical (and necessary, given the severity of the issue) feedback about the sexual assaults alleged to have occurred in his past, so let me ask you about of his perjury instead. 

In voting for Kavanaugh, can the voters of Pennsylvania assume you're completely OK perjury if it fits the GOP agenda - specifically, with the fact that Kavanaugh lied to Congress regarding the memos Manny Miranda stole from some Democratic Senators back in 2003?

Perjury is a very serious crime, Senator. Sitting presidents have been impeached for perjury, as I am sure you know.

So, all politics aside, where are your principles in supporting a man who lied to the Congress in order to sit on the Supreme Court?

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

This letter has been answered here

Follow-up:

October 6, 2018

The State Republican Party Is Lying About Conor Lamb

Yea, I know - what a surprise!!

A few days ago I received via the Post Office a mailing from the "Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania."  How do I know it's the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania?

It's in the return address:


And what sort of statewide dishonesty has been aimed at Representative Lamb?

This:


The text reads:
Dangerous for Seniors: Lamb supports a dangerous and radical healthcare plan which robbed over $800 billion from our Medicare program.
With a footnote that leads you here to The Beaver County Times. So, let's go see what The Times had to say about Conor Lamb and healthcare, shall we?

[Message to my new friends on the "Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania": Did you think no one would check?]

Here's what was published:
Lamb said he “fully” supports the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, because it provided insurance to millions of Americans who would not otherwise have coverage. He said the individual mandate, which Republicans repealed under President Donald Trump, was “a very important ingredient” in the ACA.

Also, Lamb said the government should do more to market and recruit Americans into ACA plans, yet the Trump administration has done the opposite. Asked specifically about Medicare for all, Lamb said expansion could cost $3 trillion and he has not seen a plan to pay for it.

“I support ideas that we know we can pay for,” he said.
Look closely at the text - look at what it says and, just as importantly, what it doesn't say. If the committee is talking about Lamb's support of Obamacare, why not just say "Obamacare" instead of "a dangerous and radical healthcare plan"? What are they hiding by the ad hoc relabeling?

The simplest theory is that they simply don't want you to think they're talking about Obamacare (which, according to the Kaiser Foundation is still popular as it has, at this point, a 50% to 40% favorable to unfavorable rating) but about some other healthcare plan (a scary one!) - that has already robbed Medicare of $800 billion. So first, we have a lie of omission.

And what about that second part? Has the ACA actually robbed hundreds of billions from Medicare?

No - this is another lie from our Republican friends. Take a look at this from Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post. The Lamb ad echoes another campaign ad from the beginning of August. That ad states that Daniel O'Connor (who's running against Troy Balderson in Ohio):
...supports a Pelosi-backed plan that cuts Medicare spending by $800 billion.”
Sound familiar?

Kessler says that he looked at this issue way back in 2012 when he wrote:
This $700 billion figure comes from the difference over 10 years (2013-2022) between anticipated Medicare spending (what is known as “the baseline”) and the changes that the law makes to reduce spending. The savings mostly are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries — who, as a result of the health-care law, ended up with new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs. [Emphasis added.]
And then as a follow-up he writes about the current GOP distort:
A Congressional Leadership Fund official acknowledged that the [O'Connor] ad was referring to the Medicare savings in the ACA, using numbers produced by the Congressional Budget Office in 2015 about the impact of repealing the law.

“The provisions with the largest effects reduced payments to hospitals, to other providers of care, and to private insurance plans delivering Medicare’s benefits, relative to what they would have been under prior law,” the CBO said in a report. “Repealing all of those provisions would increase direct spending in the next decade by $879 billion.” (The report also said repealing the law would increase the budget deficit over 10 years.) [Emphasis added.]
Hence, the "over $800 billion" from the Lamb ad. Since Democrats don't want to repeal the ACA, an repeal which would reverse the reduction of Medicare savings of $800 billion, the GOP is asserting that the Democrats want to "rob" Medicare of that $800 billion. See how the GOP "logic" works?

Kessler goes on:
“There were about $540 billion of Medicare cuts assumed in the House budget that passed committee,” said Marc Goldwein, senior vice president at the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “And the president’s budget has something like $350 billion of net Medicare cuts (actual number is larger in part because they move some programs out of Medicare). Those are all on top of the cuts we passed years ago under the ACA.”
Now go back and look at the charge the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania makes about Conor Lamb. Weigh what they've chosen to tell you vs what they've chosen not to tell you in light of what that figure of $800 billion actually means and where it came from.

I'll reduce it to a moderately short sentence: Conor Lamb wants to protect $800 billion in savings to Medicare and the GOP says that means that he wants to rob Medicare of that amount. Despite the fact that the GOP wants to cut Medicare funding even more.

Do you see the lie now?

October 5, 2018

Rewriting A NON-Political Post

I turned 55 today.  Typical day, I woke up my usual time and again, like every October 5 for the last few years, I am missing a phone call I know I'm not going to get.

You see, my mom (who passed away a few years ago) and I had a sweet and curious birthday tradition.  Every fifth of October she'd call me on the phone to tell me the story of my birth.  I'd listen quietly and politely each year even though I knew all the details from the previous year's call. And the the call year before that. And the one before that. And so on - turtles all the way down.

Our conversation would usually go something like this:

"You were a very easy birth," she'd say.  "You can thank your older brother for that."

"It was early in the morning. We were living in the apartment in Hamden and I woke up and knew it was time," she'd continue.  "I tapped your father to wake him up.  'Al,' I said. 'It's time to go.'"

"OK," she would say he said.  "I'll make us some coffee."

"No, Al. We have to go now!"

"OK, let me put on my suit."

"No, Al.  Now."

And so they went to the hospital for my very easy birth.

I heard that story every year for more than 20 years - until I didn't.

And I miss it every October 5.

October 3, 2018

Donald Trump Is A Tax Cheat

From the New York Times:
The most overt fraud was All County Building Supply & Maintenance, a company formed by the Trump family in 1992. All County’s ostensible purpose was to be the purchasing agent for Fred Trump’s buildings, buying everything from boilers to cleaning supplies. It did no such thing, records and interviews show. Instead All County siphoned millions of dollars from Fred Trump’s empire by simply marking up purchases already made by his employees. Those millions, effectively untaxed gifts, then flowed to All County’s owners — Donald Trump, his siblings and a cousin. Fred Trump then used the padded All County receipts to justify bigger rent increases for thousands of tenants.
Make America Great Again - One Swindle At A Time.

October 2, 2018

My EIGHTY-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."

There are only two possible answers to this next question; yes or no.

Yes or no, do you believe that Christine Blasey Ford is telling the truth?

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

Follow-up: