What Fresh Hell Is This?

November 14, 2019

Representative Guy Reschenthaler on The Impeachment Hearings

Yesterday, in response to the first day of the House Impeachment Hearings, Representative Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) tweeted:
Holy crap, there's a lot to unpack here. Let's take them one-by-one.
  
No quid pro quo in call transcript
Perhaps Guy was looking to give himself some rhetorical wiggle room when he added the "in call transcript" to his tweet. Perhaps since the exact phrase "quid pro quo" is nowhere to be found in the so-called transcript, he thinks he can simply say that there was no quid pro quo in the phone call. The text, however, says otherwise:
President Zelenskyy:...We. are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. specifically we are almost. ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.

Trump: I would like you to do us a favor though...
If the representative needs an explanation for the "a favor" part, here's Rolling Stone:
Though Trump has repeatedly directed Americans to “READ THE TRANSCRIPT” of his July 25th call with Zelensky, the partial readout of the call released by the White House in September is actually pretty damning. After Zelensky mentions that Ukraine is willing to “cooperate” regarding military aid, Trump says, “I want you to do me a favor though,” before detailing the investigations he wants carried out. The “though” is a pretty explicit indication that the aid in question is contingent upon Ukraine launching the investigations details by the president.
Both leaders said there was no pressure
Well, of course Trump would say there was no pressure. But what about Zelensky? Why would he say that there was no pressure?

Well, what would you do if you were at war with a huge military and dependent on another country's huge military to survive?
Ukraine unaware aid was held
Ukraine took no action to receive aid

Ukraine only learned that the aid had been on hold with the publication of this Politico piece published in August. The aid was released only after the world learned that it was being held. It doesn't change the fact of the extortion.
I'll let another member of the house, Representative Adam Schiff (CA-28) explain:
Some have argued in the President's defense that the aid was ultimately released. That is true. But only after Congress began an investigation; only after the President's lawyers learned of a whistleblower complaint; and only after Members of Congress began asking uncomfortable questions about quid pro quos. A scheme to condition official acts or taxpayer funding to obtain a personal political benefit does not become less odious because it is discovered before it is fully consummated.
Guy needs to do his homework better before he tweets.

November 12, 2019

Hey, Look What I Wrote!!

My latest from The Pittsburgh Current.
[H]ave you ever wondered what the phrase “quid pro quo” actually means? Well, it’s latin and Google translate tells us it means “something for something” while Merriam-Webster goes a bit further, that it’s “something given or received for something else.” Simply speaking, it’s an exchange. I do a favor for you and you do a favor for me. An exchange of something for something else — a quid pro quo.
And to the end, comparing impeachments - Clinton to Trump:
Then, the impeachment cleanse was triggered by a president lying about fellatio. Now, it’s about a different president withholding military aid (already approved by Congress) for another country until that country agreed do him “a favor” regarding a potential political rival of his.
Enjoy!

November 11, 2019

Eat Shit, Bob (Murray)





Make sure you watch till the end.

A Veterans Day (Armistice Day, Kurt Vonnegut's Birthday) Repost -

Happy Birthday, Stanley Tucci, Lee Haney, Demi Moore, and Calista Flockhart.

And of course, a Happy Birthday to Kurt Vonnegut who wrote this:
I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

Armistice Day has become Veterans' Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans' Day is not.

So I will throw Veterans' Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don't want to throw away any sacred things.

What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

And all music is.
All music is sacred.

So it goes.

November 1, 2019

RESOLVED - By A Vote Of 232-196

H. Res. 660

In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

October 31, 2019.

Resolved, That the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committees on Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, the Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, and Ways and Means, are directed to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America.

SEC. 2. Open and transparent investigative proceedings by the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

For the purpose of continuing the investigation described in the first section of this resolution, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (referred to in this resolution as the “Permanent Select Committee”) is authorized to conduct proceedings pursuant to this resolution as follows:
(1) The chair of the Permanent Select Committee shall designate an open hearing or hearings pursuant to this section.

(2) Notwithstanding clause 2(j)(2) of rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, upon recognition by the chair for such purpose under this paragraph during any hearing designated pursuant to paragraph (1), the chair and ranking minority member of the Permanent Select Committee shall be permitted to question witnesses for equal specified periods of longer than five minutes, as determined by the chair. The time available for each period of questioning under this paragraph shall be equal for the chair and the ranking minority member. The chair may confer recognition for multiple periods of such questioning, but each period of questioning shall not exceed 90 minutes in the aggregate. Only the chair and ranking minority member, or a Permanent Select Committee employee if yielded to by the chair or ranking minority member, may question witnesses during such periods of questioning. At the conclusion of questioning pursuant to this paragraph, the committee shall proceed with questioning under the five-minute rule pursuant to clause 2(j)(2)(A) of rule XI.

(3) To allow for full evaluation of minority witness requests, the ranking minority member may submit to the chair, in writing, any requests for witness testimony relevant to the investigation described in the first section of this resolution within 72 hours after notice is given for the first hearing designated pursuant to paragraph (1). Any such request shall be accompanied by a detailed written justification of the relevance of the testimony of each requested witness to the investigation described in the first section of this resolution.

(4) (A) The ranking minority member of the Permanent Select Committee is authorized, with the concurrence of the chair, to require, as deemed necessary to the investigation—
(i) by subpoena or otherwise—
(I) the attendance and testimony of any person (including at a taking of a deposition); and

(II) the production of books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents; and
(ii) by interrogatory, the furnishing of information.
(B) In the case that the chair declines to concur in a proposed action of the ranking minority member pursuant to subparagraph (A), the ranking minority member shall have the right to refer to the committee for decision the question whether such authority shall be so exercised and the chair shall convene the committee promptly to render that decision, subject to the notice procedures for a committee meeting under clause 2(g)(3)(A) and (B) of rule XI.

(C) Subpoenas and interrogatories so authorized may be signed by the ranking minority member, and may be served by any person designated by the ranking minority member.

(5) The chair is authorized to make publicly available in electronic form the transcripts of depositions conducted by the Permanent Select Committee in furtherance of the investigation described in the first section of this resolution, with appropriate redactions for classified and other sensitive information.

(6) The Permanent Select Committee is directed to issue a report setting forth its findings and any recommendations and appending any information and materials the Permanent Select Committee may deem appropriate with respect to the investigation described in the first section of this resolution. The chair shall transmit such report and appendices, along with any supplemental, minority, additional, or dissenting views filed pursuant to clause 2(l) of rule XI, to the Committee on the Judiciary and make such report publicly available in electronic form, with appropriate redactions to protect classified and other sensitive information. The report required by this paragraph shall be prepared in consultation with the chairs of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Oversight and Reform.
SEC. 3. Transmission of additional materials.

The chair of the Permanent Select Committee or the chair of any other committee having custody of records or other materials relating to the inquiry referenced in the first section of this resolution is authorized, in consultation with the ranking minority member, to transfer such records or materials to the Committee on the Judiciary.

SEC. 4. Impeachment inquiry procedures in the Committee on the Judiciary.

(a) The House authorizes the Committee on the Judiciary to conduct proceedings relating to the impeachment inquiry referenced in the first section of this resolution pursuant to the procedures submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the chair of the Committee on Rules, including such procedures as to allow for the participation of the President and his counsel.

(b) The Committee on the Judiciary is authorized to promulgate additional procedures as it deems necessary for the fair and efficient conduct of committee hearings held pursuant to this resolution, provided that the additional procedures are not inconsistent with the procedures referenced in subsection (a), the Rules of the Committee, and the Rules of the House.

(c) (1) The ranking minority member of the Committee on the Judiciary is authorized, with the concurrence of the chair of the Committee on the Judiciary, to require, as deemed necessary to the investigation—
(A) by subpoena or otherwise—
(i) the attendance and testimony of any person (including at a taking of a deposition); and

(ii) the production of books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents; and
(B) by interrogatory, the furnishing of information.
(2) In the case that the chair declines to concur in a proposed action of the ranking minority member pursuant to paragraph (1), the ranking minority member shall have the right to refer to the committee for decision the question whether such authority shall be so exercised and the chair shall convene the committee promptly to render that decision, subject to the notice procedures for a committee meeting under clause 2(g)(3)(A) and (B) of rule XI.

(3) Subpoenas and interrogatories so authorized may be signed by the ranking minority member, and may be served by any person designated by the ranking minority member.

(d) The Committee on the Judiciary shall report to the House of Representatives such resolutions, articles of impeachment, or other recommendations as it deems proper.

October 31, 2019

Franklin and Marshall Poll Data On Impeachment

I'm not sure you caught this in today's Tribune-Review.

It's poll data produced by Franklin & Marshall College.

Here's the money shot:
More than half (57%) of registered voters in the state support an impeachment inquiry, with nearly half (47%) expressing “strong support” for the inquiry. Supporters of the inquiry believe the President has broken the law (36%), has participated in a corrupt or criminal act, or that the inquiry is needed to uphold the Constitution (14%). One in seven (16%) supports the inquiry because they want to discover the truth. On the other hand, nearly two in five (37%) registered voters “strongly opposes” the inquiry. These opponents believe the inquiry is partisan politics (28%), fake news or anti-Trump propaganda (17%), a waste of resources (12%), or that the President did nothing wrong. Few Republicans (21%) or conservatives (18%) support impeachment, while almost all Democrats (84%) and liberals (97%) do. At the moment, majorities of independents (61%) and moderates (67%) support impeachment.
The next paragraph is interesting in itself:
Notably, only one in five (21%) registered voters in the state believes it is acceptable for a president to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent, although Republicans and conservatives are most likely to believe it is acceptable.
Elsewhere in the report, we learn that 71% think it's unacceptable for a president to ask such a thing.

There's also another question that asks:
What, if anything, do you think should be done about the president requesting this political help from a foreign leader?
52% said impeachment.

Granted this is poll data and poll numbers always change but this is a picture of what Pennsylvanians think in late October, 2019.

October 26, 2019

Meanwhile, Outside...

Even while the orange vulgarity in the Oval Office is eroding the foundations of our democratic republic, the warming continues.

From the scientists at NOAA:
The global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average for September 2019 tied with 2015 as the highest for the month of September in the 140-year NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880. The year-to-date temperature for 2019 was the second warmest January–September on record.
And:
The 10 warmest Septembers have all occurred since 2005, with the last five years (2015–2019) being the five warmest Septembers on record.
Of course, the vulgarity's administration, seemingly, just wants to watch the world burn.

From Time:
The Trump administration on Wednesday sued to try to block California from engaging in international efforts against climate change, charging that the state exceeded its constitutional authority by joining with a Canadian province in a program to cut climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions.

The suit, filed in federal court in California, is the latest Trump administration push to stymie state efforts aimed at contesting the administration’s rollbacks of environmental and climate protections. California says it’s being punished for its advocacy.
Here's another question for the Trump-supporting conservatives: Whatever happened to State's Rights?

Doesn't matter. The world is still warming up.

October 24, 2019

LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP!

From The Washington Post:

Republicans’ defense of President Trump grew more frantic and disjointed Wednesday, with House members storming a closed-door meeting, delaying the testimony of an impeachment witness as the GOP grappled with a growing abuse-of-power scandal centered on the president.
And a few paragraphs later:
“I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said Wednesday morning on Twitter, referring to the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. “Still inside — more details to come.”
That's the part that's trouble. From Manu Raju of CNN:
This is a serious breach of security. Now that the last in a long line of investigations into the nearly empty charge of Clinton's emails has ended with "no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information," now can we see an investigation into this breach of national security by the republicans?

There were a couple dozen house republicans who gained unauthorized access to the SCIF. I have a few questions:
  • Who exactly were those house republicans? We only have a few names.
  • How many had unauthorized cell phones?  
  • How and when will the unauthorized (both with cell phones and without) be punished? 
These questions must be answered.

Now.

LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP!

October 20, 2019

But Her Emails...

Read the report of the State Department investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

It ends with this sentence:
There was no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information.
How many times did Trump (and his MAGA-cultists) screech about her emails? How many times did they scream to "lock her up!"?

How many times have we since been told, in effect, that there is no there there?

Instead we have this tweeting from The White House.


Mark Esper estas la Sekretario pri Defendo. Trump akiris sian nomon malĝusta. Trump estas malklera rasisto, kiu probable finos mortigi nin ĉiujn.

October 18, 2019

How Is This NOT A Violation Of The Emoluments Clause? UPDATED

Now class, let's all refresh our memories as to what the emoluments clause is.

It's from Article I, Section 9 of the US Constitution:
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
And what's happened to violate this clause?

This:
President Trump has decided to host the Group of 7 meeting next June at the Trump National Doral near Miami, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, said Thursday, a decision that prompted immediate questions about whether it was a conflict of interest for him to choose one of his own properties for a diplomatic event.
And then there's this from Andrew Napolitano:
The network's legal analyst reacted Thursday after the White House announced the 2020 meeting of world leaders would be held at the president's Doral golf resort, calling this a violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits the president from accepting "any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."

After quoting from this clause, Napolitano noted its purpose is to "keep the president of the United States of America from profiting off of foreign money," and so Trump holding the summit at his private resort is "about as direct and profound a violation of the emoluments clause as one could create."

The White House has claimed the resort was simply the best venue for the event and that Trump will not profit from it. Napolitano, however, dismissed this defense.

"The president owns shares of stock in a corporation that is one of the owners of this, along with many other investors," Napolitano said. "He also owns shares of stock in the corporation that manages it. Those corporations will receive a great deal of money from foreign heads of state because this is there. That's exactly what the emoluments clause was written to prohibit."
How is this NOT a violation?

Trump wimps out:
President Trump announced abruptly Saturday night that he would no longer host next year’s Group of Seven summit at the Trump National Doral Miami resort in Florida, bowing to criticism for having selected his own property as the venue for a major diplomatic event.
But you'll note from the text:
I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders. It is big, grand, on hundreds of acres, next to MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, has tremendous ballrooms & meeting rooms, and each delegation would have . . . its own 50 to 70 unit building. Would set up better than other alternatives. I announced that I would be willing to do it at NO PROFIT or, if legally permissible, at ZERO COST to the USA. But, as usual, the Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners went CRAZY!
And:
Therefore, based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020. We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately. Thank you!
He still doesn't see it as a violation of the Constitution.

October 15, 2019

My Latest Column In The Pittsburgh Current

Read it here.

And excerpt:
For this column, I was originally planning on looking at the 2017 Trump tax cuts, specifically how some members of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation described and defended them over the past few years. I was planning on contrasting those statements with how the Congressional Research Service analyzed those tax cuts. I was planning on showing how the GOP descriptions of those cuts were wrong, wrong, wrong.

But then the news of Donald Trump’s phone calls to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hit the news and the idea of fact-checking a mere multi-billion dollar tax cut that skewed wealthy seemed rather quaint compared to a sitting President of the United States actively corroding the foundations of the republic for his own political gain.
Enjoy.

My HUNDRED AND THIRTIETH (And Last) Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

I'll be dropping this letter (my last) 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."

When will you be upholding your oath to The Constitution and and by that I mean when will you be putting your country above your party and holding the man you voted for for president accountable for his actions?

That's the only question that really matters these days.

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

Follow-up:

October 14, 2019

Message For A Monday Morning

From CNN:
A retired four-star Marine general on Sunday bluntly criticized President Donald Trump over the ongoing Turkish military offensive in northern Syria, saying, "There is blood on Trump's hands for abandoning our Kurdish allies."
And from Fox:

Meanwhile:
Donald Trump paid a Oct. 12 visit to Trump National Golf Club, Washington, D.C. in Potomac Falls, Va., representing the 236th time the 45th President has visited one of his 17 golf clubs (and, for most of them, presumably played some golf) since becoming President on Jan. 20, 2017. He has now paid 238 visits to any golf course as President.

Trump arrived at approximately noon Eastern, as Trump continues to receive bipartisan criticism for his decision to remove American troops that had been assisting and protecting Kurds in Syria. The withdrawal, favored by dictators in Turkey and Russia, signaled a willingness to let those countries' troops attack and kill in an effort to take over the territory.
There is blood on Trump's hands.

October 11, 2019

George Will On Congressional Republicans

From The Washington Post:
Trump’s gross and comprehensive incompetence now increasingly impinges upon the core presidential responsibility. This should, but will not, cause congressional Republicans to value their own and their institution’s dignity and exercise its powers more vigorously than they profess fealty to Trump. He has issued a categorical refusal to supply witnesses and documents pertinent to the House investigation of whether he committed an impeachable offense regarding Ukraine. This refusal, which is analogous to an invocation of the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, justifies an inference of guilt. Worse, this refusal attacks our constitutional regime. So, the refusal is itself an impeachable offense.
While there are certainly many many other positions of Will's that people can rightfully dispute (marriage equality, climate science), he is at the very least a thoughtful conservative - even if he gets some really important stuff really really wrong.

He's right about Trump.

And then there's Representative Guy Reschenthaler:
I'll give the floor back to Will:
Trump is not just aggressively but lawlessly exercising the interests of his place, counting on Congress, after decades of lassitude regarding its interests, being an ineffective combatant. Trump’s argument, injected into him by subordinates who understand that absurdity is his vocation, is essentially that the Constitution’s impeachment provisions are unconstitutional.
And:
In 13 months, all congressional Republicans who have not defended Congress by exercising “the constitutional rights of the place” should be defeated. If congressional Republicans continue their genuflections at Trump’s altar, the appropriate 2020 outcome will be a Republican thrashing so severe — losing the House, the Senate and the electoral votes of, say, Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina and even Texas — that even this party of slow-learning careerists might notice the hazards of tethering their careers to a downward-spiraling scofflaw.
Thus spake the conservative, equality- and science- denying George F. Will.

October 10, 2019

Sure, Be Nice To George W. Bush

I'm sure we've all seen this:
A few things (among others) to remember:
  • The Torture:
  • In a memoir due out Tuesday, Bush makes clear that he personally approved the use of that coercive technique against alleged Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheik Mohammed, an admission the human rights experts say could one day have legal consequences for him.

    In his book, titled "Decision Points," Bush recounts being asked by the CIA whether it could proceed with waterboarding Mohammed, who Bush said was suspected of knowing about still-pending terrorist plots against the United States. Bush writes that his reply was "Damn right" and states that he would make the same decision again to save lives, according to a someone close to Bush who has read the book.

  • Iraq War:
  • As of Wednesday, Sept. 29, at least 4,424 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
Torture is a war crime and those 4400 US Servicemen and women died for Bush's lie.

But yea, it's real important to be nice to him at a football game.

We'll all be better off for it.

October 8, 2019

My HUNDRED AND TWENTY-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 - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

Impeachment inquiries are back in the news.

We all know the details. He asked a foreign country (Ukraine) for "a favor" and that favor was help regarding his own political future. He admitted to it. He's on tape hoping yet another country (China) will do him that same favor.

You've said that the call to Ukraine was inappropriate but not impeachable. So let me ask, at what point would this become impeachable? How much more of the Constitution will he have to ignore for you to stop supporting him?

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

Follow-up:

October 4, 2019

Judge Andrew Napolitano From FOX NEWS, On Donald Trump

Take a look.

Some highlights:
Has Trump committed any impeachable offenses?

A CIA agent formerly assigned to the White House – and presently referred to as the "whistleblower" – reported a July 25, 2019 telephone conversation that Trump had with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. That conversation manifested both criminal and impeachable behavior.
And then, after describing the nature of the military aid promised to Ukraine, Napolitano goes on:
It is easy to see why all of the senior members of the Trump administration involved in security – all of them – advised the president to release the military hardware, which was ready to be shipped, and the foreign aid, which Congress had appropriated.

Trump rejected that advice. Instead, in the Zelensky phone call, he told the Ukrainian president that he needed a personal "favor." The clear unmistakable inference is that the $391 million in aid would be held up until the favor was delivered. The favor he sought was dirt on Biden.
And so far, the bulk of the GOP in The Congress - representing all those gun-toting, freedom-loving, Constitution and/or bible-quoting patriots - have been silent.

October 2, 2019

Hey, Look What I Wrote!

From The Pittsburgh Current:
What the P-G’s board doesn’t seem to understand that impeachment is part of the process. It’s a correction when all else has gone bad. And they have gone bad, haven’t they?
Go read the rest, it's pretty good.

My HUNDRED AND TWENTY-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 - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

This week, Donald Trump accused Adam Schiff, a sitting member of Congress who heads the House Intelligence Committee of committing treason and called for his arrest. As you know, Schiff's committee is investigating Trump for his dealings with Ukraine.

So far, as far as I can tell, you've been silent on the President's threat.

Can I ask why?

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

Follow-up:

September 30, 2019

Just Your Typical Monday Reminiscing About The Weekend...

Sadly, yes. We got that.

September 25, 2019

This Will Not Age Well (Guy Reschenthaler on Impeachment)

From Representative Guy Reschenthaler:
This is a sad day for our democracy. Speaker Pelosi’s decision to begin a formal impeachment inquiry based on secondhand allegations shows just how desperate the Democrats are to undo the will of the American people. President Trump has agreed to release the unredacted transcript of his phone call with the president of Ukraine and the House Intelligence Committee has yet to hold any hearings on this matter. Calling for impeachment before learning the facts sets a dangerous precedent and shows that once again, House Democrats are putting political theatre before the needs of the American people.
A few things:
  • Doesn't Guy know we don't live in a "democracy" but a "representative republic"?? I only ask that because whenever anyone on my TEEVEE says we live in a democracy, some MAGA hatter will snark, "It's not a democracy, it's a representative republic, you idiot!!" (Note: the "you idiot" is silent)
  • Doesn't Guy know that his hero Trump lost the popular vote by about 3 million votes? The "will of the American People" was actually Trump's opponent.
  • Doesn't Guy know that Trump admitted to pressuring a foreign government for his own political gain? Doesn't Guy think that that, alone, is worthy of an impeachment inquiry? I mean, what if Obama did it? Or Hillary?
Yea, this statement won't age well.

September 24, 2019

My HUNDRED AND TWENTY-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 - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

Donald Trump admitted to pressuring the Ukrainian Government to dig up dirt on one of his political opponents.

Senator, you took an oath to "support and defend" the Constitution of the United States. At what point do you think you'll speak out against Trump's actions? If pressuring a foreign country to interfere with US elections isn't an impeachable offense, what do you think is?

Or don't you think he did anything wrong?

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

Follow-up:

September 23, 2019

Stupid

This actually happened:

September 21, 2019

Vice President Joe Biden On Donald Trump

On the reporting that Trump tried to coerce Ukraine into an investigation into his son, Joe Biden released this statement:
If these reports are true, then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country. This behavior is particularly abhorrent because it exploits the foreign policy of our country and undermines our national security for political purposes. It means that he used the power and resources of the United States to pressure a sovereign nation — a partner that is still under direct assault from Russia — pushing Ukraine to subvert the rule of law in the express hope of extracting a political favor.

Such clear-cut corruption damages and diminishes our institutions of government by making them tools of a personal political vendetta. At minimum, Donald Trump should immediately release the transcript of the call in question, so that the American people can judge for themselves, and direct the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to stop stonewalling and release the whistleblower notification to the Congress.
In his defense, Trump said that "it’s nothing … just another political hack job."

And while he doesn't know the whistleblower's name, has heard "it's a partisan person."

Thus spake The Donald.

And since he has thus spaken, I have a few questions:
  • How does he know it's a "political hack job"?
  • Who told him?
  • If he doesn't know the name of the whistleblower, someone must. Who told Trump that the person was "partisan"?
  • Which political party is this "partisan person" a member? 
  • Or at least which party's politics does this person adhere?
  • How is that information known?

September 20, 2019

Meanwhile Outside...

The Science from NOAA:
The August temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.66°F above the 20th century average of 60.1°F and tied with 2015 and 2017 as the second highest for August in the 1880–2019 record. The five warmest Augusts have all occurred since 2014. August 2016 is the warmest August on record with a global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average of 1.76°F.
And:
The June–August 2019 average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.67°F above the 20th century average of 60.1°F and the second highest for June–August in the 1880–2019 record. June–August 2016 was the warmest such period on record at 1.71°F above average. The five warmest June–August periods have occurred in the last five years. The global land and ocean surface temperature for the three-month season has increased at an average rate of 0.13°F per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase is more than twice as great (0.32°F per decade) since 1981.
If you're free today at noon at the City County Building:
On September 20th, students worldwide will strike for climate action. Climate change has reached a crisis point. There is no time left to spare. This global protest will show those in power that they can no longer ignore the damage they have done to our Earth. Pittsburgh will join this global movement, demanding climate action in our community.

Join us at the Pittsburgh City-County Building on September 20th to strike for the future. There will be speakers, food trucks, and fun. Bring your best signs and all the friends you can. We can’t wait to see you there!
Even while Trump was doing whatever it was that he was doing to scare the Intelligence Community (and it looks real bad!), it's getting warmer outside.

September 19, 2019

Um, Guys? We Have A HUGE Problem Here.

From CNN:
A communication between President Donald Trump and a world leader prompted a whistleblower complaint that is now at the center of a dispute between the director of national intelligence and Congress, a source familiar with the case told CNN.

The concern was first revealed by The Washington Post, which reported that an official in the American intelligence community was so bothered by a "promise" Trump made to a foreign leader that the official filed a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community, citing two former US officials familiar with the matter. CNN has not independently confirmed the detail about a "promise" made to the foreign leader.
From Talkingpointsmemo:
There’s a lot of discussion and context in the Post article. But that’s the central reported detail. It’s not clear who the foreign leader was or what was promised or really anything else. The additional key detail is this: the complaint from the unidentified whistleblower was submitted to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson. He determined that the complaint was credible and troubling enough to be a matter of “urgent concern”, a legal standard that requires reporting the matter to Congress.
And:
The decision to withhold the information from Congress was made by acting DNI Joseph Maguire, who’s in that position after the dismissal of Dan Coats. But the Post suggests that it’s not actually Maguire’s choice. The Department of Justice told him to withhold the information from Congress.
And then TPM quotes The Post:
Defenders of Maguire disputed that he is subverting legal requirements to protect Trump, saying that he is trapped in a legitimate legal predicament and that he has made his displeasure clear to officials at the Justice Department and White House.

After fielding the complaint on Aug. 12, Atkinson submitted it to Maguire two weeks later. By law, Maguire is required to transmit such complaints to Congress within seven days. But in this case, he refrained from doing so after turning for legal guidance to officials at the Justice Department.

In a sign of Atkinson’s discomfort with this situation, the inspector general informed the House and Senate intelligence committees of the existence of the whistleblower complaint — without revealing its substance — in early September.
So Trump's DOJ instructed acting DNI Maguire not to inform Congress, as he required to do so by law, about a matter of "urgent concern" regarding Trump's communication with a foreign leader.

Yep, this is normal. This is good for America.

MAGA!

September 18, 2019

LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP!

From The Independent:
Lewandowski hesitantly confirmed every aspect of President Trump's obstructive requests: On June 19 2017, two days after President Trump asked then-White House Legal Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller, Lewandowski met with Trump in the Oval Office. President Trump dictated a message that he wanted Lewandowski to deliver to Sessions which would've ordered Sessions to limit the scope of Mueller's investigation. Trump then followed up with Lewandowski on July 19 2017, and told Lewandowski to tell Sessions that if he refused to meet with him, he would be fired. Lewandowski never delivered either message.

Aside from the obstructive act at hand, there were also some moments where Lewandowski contradicted Mueller's report or outright lied.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and a number of other House Democrats, caught Lewandowski repeatedly claiming that he has taken dictations multiple times for President Trump. Mueller's report states that he has only done so once. Either the Mueller report is incorrect or Lewandowski is lying.
How many Benghazi hearings were there?

How often did Trump lead a "Lock her up" chant at his rallies?

Back to The Independent:
Lewandowski also claimed he knew nothing about the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia. That was a lie.
LOCK HIM UP!

September 17, 2019

Hey, Look What I Wrote!

My second climate science column at The Pittsburgh Current!

An excerpt:
Climate science deniers have two separate but related problems when denying the science; the evidence and the science explaining the evidence. In order to succeed, they’d have to explain how all the known evidence,,,is wrong — and wrong in a way that just happens to be the most agreeable to their position. All the seawater measurements? Wrong. All the satellite data? Wrong. Humidity? Weather stations? Glaciers? Wrong. Wrong. And wrong.

Just try to imagine the scope of the conspiracy necessary to fake all of that data over all those years.

Then there’s the science we looked at in the last column. The data only shows that the temperatures are rising, the oceans are growing and the glaciers and sea ice are shrinking. If the deniers can show that the scientific explanation itself is flawed, then perhaps another, more benign explanation can take its place — one that finds less blame in our human behavior.
But they can't solve either problem (denying the evidence or the science), can they?