What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 29, 2019

Representiative Adam Schiff - Champion Of Democracy

This is what he said:
My colleagues might think it’s OK that the Russians offered dirt on a Democratic candidate for president as part of what was described as the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that’s OK.

My colleagues might think it’s OK that when that was offered to the son of the president, who had a pivotal role in the campaign, that the president’s son did not call the FBI, he did not adamantly refuse that foreign help, No, instead that son said that he would ‘love’ the help with the Russians.

You might think it’s OK that he took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that Paul Manafort, the campaign chair, someone with great experience running campaigns, also took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that the president’s son-in-law also took that meeting. You might think it’s OK that they concealed it from the public. You might think it’s OK that their only disappointment after that meeting was that the dirt they received on Hillary Clinton wasn’t better. You might think that’s OK.

You might think it’s OK that when it was discovered, a year later, that they then lied about that meeting and said that it was about adoptions. You might think that it’s OK that it was reported that the president helped dictate that lie. You might think that’s OK. I don’t.

You might think it’s OK that the campaign chairman of a presidential campaign would offer information about that campaign to a Russian oligarch in exchange for money or debt forgiveness. You might think that’s OK, I don’t.

You might think it’s OK that that campaign chairman offered polling data to someone linked to Russian intelligence. I don’t think that’s OK.

You might think it’s OK that the president himself called on Russia to hack his opponent’s emails, if they were listening. You might think it’s OK that later that day, in fact, the Russians attempted to hack a server affiliated with that campaign. I don’t think that’s OK.

You might think it’s OK that the president’s son-in-law sought to establish a secret back channel of communications with the Russians through a Russian diplomatic facility. I don’t think that’s OK.

You might think it’s OK that an associate of the president made direct contact with the GRU through Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks, that is considered a hostile intelligence agency. You might think it’s OK that a senior campaign official was instructed to reach that associate and find out what that hostile intelligence agency had to say in terms of dirt on his opponent.

You might think it’s OK that the national security adviser designate secretly conferred with the Russian ambassador about undermining U.S. sanctions, and you might think it’s OK that he lied about it to the FBI.

You might say that’s all OK, you might say that’s just what you need to do to win. But I don’t think it’s OK. I don’t think it’s OK. I think it’s immoral, I think it’s unethical, I think it’s unpatriotic and, yes, I think it’s corrupt – and evidence of collusion.
This is what Congressional oversight looks like. It does not look like Devin Nunes.

March 27, 2019

A WTF Moment, To Be Sure

Let's start here:
And then here's this:
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Tuesday that Attorney General William Barr told him he would send the special counsel Robert Mueller's final report on the Russia investigation to the White House before the public sees it, in case it wants to claim executive privilege over any parts.
Do I need to as this?
President Trump golfed Sunday with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), former Rep. Ted Gowdy (R-S.C.) and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney as the White House awaits the findings from special counsel Robert Mueller's recently submitted report.
Now imagine if this was 20 years ago and the political roles were reversed.

What. The. Fuck.

March 26, 2019

My HUNDRED AND 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."

Senator, you've called for transparency regarding Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's report. With that in mind, when will you vote to release it (AND ALL the evidence his office gathered) to the public?

Don't you think we have a right to see it?

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

Follow-up:

March 25, 2019

Donald Trump Is Lying To You

He tweeted:
This is a lie.

How do we know?

This is what AG Barr actually wrote:
The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Donald Trump lied.

Side note: Robert Mueller (as seen above in the partial quotation from Trump's AG) could not exonerate Donald Trump.

March 24, 2019

Heard Yesterday On The Streets Of Pittsburgh

What side are you on, my people?
What side are you on?
Antwon Rose was a freedom fighter
And he taught us how to fight.
We gonna fight all day and night
Until we get it right.
What side are you on, my people?
What side are you on?


March 22, 2019

Happy Birthday, Keegan-Michael Key

Born today in 1971.


Remember this? Remember when we had an honorable president?

One with a sense of humor and no scandals? One who agreed with science?

March 21, 2019

Trump, Speaking In Ohio Recently

From The Washington Post:
“I gave him the kind of funeral he wanted, which as president I had to approve,” Trump said inaccurately, an apparent reference to allowing the use of military transport to carry McCain’s body to Washington. “I don’t care about this, I didn’t get a thank-you, that’s okay. We sent him on the way. But I wasn’t a fan of John McCain.”

He added, “I have to be honest, I never liked him much. Hasn’t been for me. I’ve really, probably, never will.”
Let's all say it together: What a little snowflake!

Meanwhile, Outside

From the climate scientists at NOAA:
The February 2019 global land and ocean surface temperature was the fifth highest for February in the 140-year record at 0.79°C (1.42°F) above the 20th century average. While much of the Southern Hemisphere was experiencing unusually warm conditions during February, the Northern Hemisphere was much more variable. The most notable cool temperature departures from average were present across parts of the Northern Hemisphere, specifically across Canada and the contiguous U.S. as well as parts of central Asia, where temperatures were 3.0°C (5.4°F) below average or cooler. Meanwhile, much of Alaska, Europe, central Russia and the Far East had temperatures that were 4.0°C (7.2°F) above average or higher. Across the oceans, the Southern Ocean off the southern coast of South Africa was quite remarkable and record warm for this region, with temperature departures from average at +2.5°C (+4.5°F) or higher. Additional areas with record warm February temperatures include parts of Alaska, Central America, the Barents Sea, the Southern Ocean off Australia's southeastern coast, the Indian Ocean, the East China Sea as well as parts of northeastern Brazil.
And they added (as they usually do) a chart:


That's what the science says.

Of course the orange vulgarity tweeting from some White House toilet says:
Too bad that very little of this is actually true.

For example, Greenpeace itself says that Patrick Moore was not a "co-founder of Greenpeace"

And we all know what the science says.

This is from ten years ago:
A comprehensive review of key climate indicators confirms the world is warming and the past decade was the warmest on record. More than 300 scientists from 48 countries analyzed data on 37 climate indicators, including sea ice, glaciers and air temperatures. A more detailed review of 10 of these indicators, selected because they are clearly and directly related to surface temperatures, all tell the same story: global warming is undeniable. [Emphasis added.]
And this year?  Take a look:
Global surface temperatures were 0.38°–0.48°C above the 1981–2010 average, depending upon the dataset used. This places 2017 as the second or third warmest annual global temperature since records be-gan in the mid- to late 1800s and makes it the warmest non–El Niño year on record, as El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions were neutral through much of 2017, with weak La Niña conditions at the start and end. The four warmest years on record have occurred since 2014.
So despite what the ignorant occupant of the alt-right White House says, it's getting warmer outside.

March 19, 2019

My HUNDREDTH 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 the leader of your political party, Donald Trump said that "I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad."

Basically, he's threatening violence against his (and your) political opponents.

IS THIS OK WITH YOU? HOW CAN THIS POSSIBLY BE OK WITH YOU?

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

Follow-up:

March 18, 2019

Only One Thing To Say About This Trump Tweet

First the tweet:
And now the thing:

What a snowflake.

March 16, 2019

Senator Toomey RESPONDS To Someone Else's Letter

So, I'm not the only one.

An astute reader emailed in some time ago describing with a Toomey response to an online letter.

Here's the complete text of the letter, dated March 8 of this year:
Thank you for contacting me about President Trump's decision to declare a national emergency concerning the southern border of the United States.

America has long benefited from immigration and the contributions of those who have come to this country willing to work hard and seek a better life. Nearly every American has some connection to our immigrant history. My own grandparents emigrated here from Ireland.

At the same time, like many Americans, I believe that our immigration system is fundamentally broken. Our borders are not secure, and large numbers of individuals regularly cross our borders illegally, including some who are violent criminals. That is why I support measures to secure our borders, including physical barriers, patrol agents, and high tech surveillance. I have also repeatedly introduced legislation, the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, which would ensure that local law enforcement officers are able to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

A bipartisan majority of Congress has repeatedly endorsed building physical barriers to secure the southern border. In October 2006, Congress passed, and President George W. Bush signed into law, the bipartisan Secure Fence Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-367). This legislation, which was supported by then-Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, authorized the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to construct a fence, install obstacles such as vehicle barriers, and establish checkpoints along 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. Most recently, a bipartisan majority of Congress passed a funding bill for DHS 2019 operations that spends $1.375 billion to build 55 miles of security pedestrian fencing, i.e. a wall, at critical points on the southern border. On February 15, 2019, President Trump signed this bill into law.

This bill came short of the full $5.7 billion in funding necessary to build barriers in the places where U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says they are necessary. As a result, the President announced on February 15th that he was declaring a national emergency at the southern border in part to reallocate funds from military construction projects in order to build barriers. His declaration states that a national emergency exists because the southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics, as well as illegal immigrants.

It is clear our southern border is in need of additional security measures, including physical barriers in the places identified by CBP. President Trump is right to shine a spotlight on this issue and work to keep Americans safe. Before the President declared a national emergency, however, I made clear that I hoped he would choose to avoid unilateral action and work with Congress on a legislative solution to secure the border. I am concerned by the president's action and the precedent it may set. Accordingly, my staff and I are closely reviewing the president's declaration and its implications.

Thank you again for your correspondence. Do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
Obviously, this was before Senator Toomey voted in favor of the joint resolution to terminate Trump's national emergency declaration.

Trump has since vetoed the resolution.

In an op-ed to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Toomey basically says he agrees with Trump's immigration policy but not with the method Trump used to implement that policy - the national emergency declaration. He said that it's a separation of powers issue.

Interesting to note that, because the astute reader (who's NO Toomey fan by any measure) wrote to me that saying:
Basically, I urged him to support the resolution and questioned how, given his repeated claims of Presidential over reach on the part of the Obama administration, he could now argue that this "emergency declaration" was no problem.
Looks like, on this issue at least, Toomey paid attention to his conservative conscience when it came into conflict with the orange vulgarity who currently leads his party.

Senator Toomey RESPONDS To Another Letter

For the past couple of responses, Senator Toomey (or his office) has use the US Postal Service to get his letter to me.  This time it's email.

It's dated March 8 and it begins thusly:
Thank you for contacting me about the removal of the Russian aluminum company Rusal from the Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) sanctions list. I appreciate hearing from you.
Huh. When did I ask about Rusal? Never, actually. However there's a clue a few paragraphs down:
As you may be aware, on April 6, 2018, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Russian oligarch and Putin ally Oleg Deripaska.
Ah, there it is! I have asked about Deripaska - in my 95th letter, dated January 29, 2019.

Here's what I asked:
According to CNN, earlier this month the Senate failed to move on a resolution that would have stopped the lifting of sanctions of three Russian companies tied to Oleg Deripaska, a man with close ties to the Kremlin who the Treasury Department has been investigated for money-laundering, and accused of extortion and racketeering.

The NYTimes reported that lifting those sanctions could wipe out hundreds of millions of dollars of Deripaska's debt.

Given all that we now know regarding the Russia investigation into the Trump Campaign/Administration, and Paul Manafort (who, as I am sure you're aware, got a $10 million loan from Deripaska) why on Earth would you side with Donald Trump on this and vote in favor of lifting those sanctions?
And you'll note that, after looking at Senator Toomey's opening, that I never asked him about Rusal or its removal from the Treasury Department's sanctions list.

I asked about Trump's lifting of sanctions on Oleg Deripaska - something not mentioned in Toomey's letter until his third paragraph:
As you may be aware, on April 6, 2018, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Russian oligarch and Putin ally Oleg Deripaska. Because of Mr. Deripaska’s controlling ownership stake in the international aluminum company Rusal, sanctions were extended to the company as well. These sanctions were placed on Rusal not for any illicit conduct by the company, but solely because of its association with Mr. Deripaska.
In fact the rest of the letter is about Rusal, not Derpiaska - and nothing about the specific charge of wiping out "hundreds of millions of dollars of Deripaska's debt."

Specifically Toomey, during his self-congratulatory letter, specifically avoided that part of the story.

From the NYTimes we learn of the agreement, that was described in a letter to Congress (but not released publically):
It shows that the sanctions relief deal will allow Mr. Deripaska to wipe out potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in debt by transferring some of his shares to VTB, a Russian government-owned bank under limited United States sanctions that had lent him large sums of money.
The restructuring did this:
And VTB, which reportedly already owned nearly 10 percent of EN+, will receive nearly 92 million additional shares, bringing its total stake in the company to about 24 percent.

In return for the additional shares going to VTB, which were worth nearly $800 million at the close of trading Friday on the Moscow stock exchange, Mr. Deripaska would be released from debts he owes the bank, the document shows. Mr. Deripaska had secured the loans with stock in one of his companies before the sanctions were announced. The stock prices of Rusal and EN+ plummeted after the sanctions were announced last year, but rose on the news of the deal to lift them — in effect allowing Mr. Deripaska to pay off more of the loans than he would have been able to do absent a deal with the administration.
That's what I asked Senator Toomey about and that's exactly what he avoided answering.

Try and a miss, Senator.

Full text of his letter:
Thank you for contacting me about the removal of the Russian aluminum company Rusal from the Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) sanctions list. I appreciate hearing from you.

I have consistently said Vladimir Putin is a dangerous autocrat who should be treated as an international pariah. He and Russia remain dangerous threats, and Congress must be vigilant against our adversaries’ attempts to expand their influence and undermine trust in our government. Towards that end, I was pleased to support legislation (Public Law 115-44) that codified and strengthened existing sanctions on Russia. In addition, on July 24, 2018, I sent a letter with Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) to the Treasury Department urging immediate imposition of sanctions on the 12 Russian military intelligence officers who were indicted for their involvement in cyber operations meant to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. I will also continue to support actions that increase and expand sanctions when appropriate, strengthen our alliance with NATO countries, improve our missile defense system, modernize our military, and minimize the use of Russian energy on U.S. bases in Europe.

As you may be aware, on April 6, 2018, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Russian oligarch and Putin ally Oleg Deripaska. Because of Mr. Deripaska’s controlling ownership stake in the international aluminum company Rusal, sanctions were extended to the company as well. These sanctions were placed on Rusal not for any illicit conduct by the company, but solely because of its association with Mr. Deripaska.

After months of negotiation, the Treasury Department reached a binding agreement with Rusal that severed Mr. Deripaska’s control of the company and achieved compliance with U.S. sanctions law and objectives. The terms of this deal dramatically diminish Mr. Deripaska’s ownership stake, place any dividends in a frozen account that he cannot access, remove his voting control and managerial influence, and impose unprecedented monitoring requirements on the company. Furthermore, Rusal’s new board of directors will be composed of independent directors with no ties to Deripaska or any other sanctioned individual. A majority of directors will now come from outside the company. Similarly, Rusal’s holding company will be led by a board of 12 directors vetted by the federal Office of Foreign Assets Control, eight (two-thirds of the board) of whom will be U.S. or U.K. citizens. The holding company will use its majority control of Rusal to provide additional monitoring for potential involvement of Mr. Deripaska in the company’s affairs. Treasury retains the ability to sanction Rusal or related entities directly should any activities warrant designation in the future.

Continuing to sanction an entity that agrees to change ownership and management in order to comply with U.S. law would undermine the integrity and effectiveness of our sanctions regime. It would signal to foreign actors that the US will no longer adhere to its own rules and that there is no reason for them to do so either.

In this specific case, keeping sanctions in place also would have risked prolonged damage to the US economy. Rusal is the world’s second largest producer of aluminum, and supplies US businesses with about 14% of their aluminum consumption. Sanctioning Rusal caused the price of aluminum to jump by more than 30%, threatening thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania where aluminum manufacturing has a heavy presence.

Furthermore, failure to resolve the situation would have likely only worsened national security. Rusal could have been nationalized by the Russian government, thus negating the original justification for sanctioning Rusal by formally transferring ownership. Without any of the valuable reforms included in the Treasury agreement, we would have lost insight into the company’s future activities and beneficiaries. Alternatively, Rusal could have been sold to a foreign rival like China, which would then dominate the global aluminum industry.

On January 16, 2019, the Senate rejected a resolution introduced by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) to overturn the Treasury agreement. I voted to uphold the Treasury action because, as outlined above, it is consistent with US law and continues to impose the full force of US sanctions on Mr. Deripaska and other Russian oligarchs like him who support Putin’s malign actions around the globe.

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

March 14, 2019

And Now A Message From Kellyanne Conway's Husband George

From a series of tweets:
Have we ever seen this degree of brazen, pathological mendacity in American public life? One day he makes a harmless slip of the tongue, something any mentally balanced person would laugh off.

But instead he lies about it. He denies what the world can see on videotape. Even his donors and supporters wonder, what is wrong with him? Why would be feel compelled to tell such an absurd lie?

But one lie on any subject is never enough for Donald Trump. So he next tells a different lie. Yes, I omitted a word, but to save time. A ridiculous assertion, of course—he really said “Tim Apple” instead of “Tim Cook of Apple” to save **a third of a second**?

This man who recently gave a incoherent, rambling two-hour-plus speech, this man not known for economy of words? Another absurd, crazy lie. Pathological. And now, another one. The judge says, in open court, that Manafort’s lawyers’ “no collusion” “mantra”was patently ridiculous because it was irrelevant to the charges at hand—not that there was no proof of collusion, just that whether there was or wasn’t was irrelevant to the proceedings at hand. And yet he lies again—a blatant lie—about what the judge said in open court.

Again, pathological. It’s not rational, because it’s a lie that no reasonable person would believe. It undermines his credibility. It’s self-defeating.

But these are just two of ... how many examples? Hundreds? Thousands? Is it possible to count? At any level of government in this country, in any party, have we ever seen anything like this? It’s beyond politics. It’s nuts. It’s a disorder.
That was all in response to this tweet:
And for those who don't already know, Conway is a member of "Checks and Balances" a group that describes itself this way:
We are a group of attorneys who would traditionally be considered conservative or libertarian. We believe in the rule of law, the power of truth, the independence of the criminal justice system, the imperative of individual rights, and the necessity of civil discourse. We believe these principles apply regardless of the party or persons in power. We believe in “a government of laws, not of men.”

We believe in the Constitution. We believe in free speech, a free press, separation of powers, and limited government. We have faith in the resiliency of the American experiment. We seek to provide a voice and a network for like-minded attorneys to discuss these ideas, and we hope that they will join with us to stand up for these principles.
Too bad there aren't more Republicans/conservatives/libertarians willing to disagree with the orange vulgarity.

March 13, 2019

Happy Birthday, Al Jaffee!

For those of you who don't know the name, he's the guy who did all those Mad Magazine "fold-in" back covers.

Like this one:

First thing you do is you ask yourself the question in the upper left hand corner.

Then you follow the directions in the upper right by folding the page.

And then you'll get Jaffee's answer:


Happy Birthday, Al Jaffee!

March 12, 2019

My NINETY-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."

I'd like to ask you about Trump's budget, which he unveiled this week. The Washington Post is reporting that it includes a reduction of $845 billion over ten years.

Didn't candidate Trump promise not to cut medicare? (Yes, he did.)

USAToday is reporting that his budget will add $4.8 trillion to the deficit over 5 years.

Didn't candidate Trump promise to eliminate the deficit? (Yes, he did.)

Senator, the pushback among conservatives who support Trump these days is that aside from all the noise, at least he's fulfilling his campaign promises. But given these two huge campaign promise breaks, why are you still 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:

March 11, 2019

No Wailing Or Gnashing Of Republican Teeth Over Yet Another Republican Scandal

Wasn't it only a few years ago that the wingnuts went crazy over a very non-existent sex ring run out of the very non-existent basement of a real life DC pizza parlor that was somehow tied to the Democratic Party?

Yes, they went crazy. I suppose some are still clinging to the story.

Well, take a look at this:
Seated at a round table littered with party favors and the paper-cutout footballs that have become tradition at his annual Super Bowl Watch Party, President Donald Trump cheered the New England Patriots and his longtime friend, team owner Robert Kraft, to victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Feb. 3.

Sometime during the party at Trump’s West Palm Beach country club, the president turned in his chair to look over his right shoulder, smiling for a photo with two women at a table behind him.

The woman who snapped the blurry Super Bowl selfie with the president was Li Yang, 45, a self-made entrepreneur from China who started a chain of Asian day spas in South Florida. Over the years, these establishments — many of which operate under the name Tokyo Day Spas — have gained a reputation for offering sexual services.

Nineteen days after Trump and Yang posed together while rooting for the Patriots, authorities would charge Kraft with soliciting prostitution at a spa in Jupiter that Yang had founded more than a decade earlier.
Here she is with the pussy-grabber in chief:


And here she is with his sons:


If that weren't enough, there's this from Mother Jones:
The latest Trump political donor to draw controversy is Li Yang, a 45-year-old Florida entrepreneur from China who founded a chain of spas and massage parlors that included the one where New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft was recently busted for soliciting prostitution. She made the news this week when the Miami Herald reported that last month she had attended a Super Bowl viewing party at Donald Trump’s West Palm Beach golf club and had snapped a selfie with the president during the event. Though Yang no longer owns the spa Kraft allegedly visited, the newspaper noted that other massage parlors her family runs have “gained a reputation for offering sexual services.” (She told the newspaper she has never violated the law.) Beyond this sordid tale, there is another angle to the strange story of Yang: She runs an investment business that has offered to sell Chinese clients access to Trump and his family. And a website for the business—which includes numerous photos of Yang and her purported clients hobnobbing at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club in Palm Beach—suggests she had some success in doing so.
If that weren't enough, there's this other thing from Mother Jones:
Li Yang, the Florida massage parlor entrepreneur who created and operated a business that sold Chinese business executives access to President Donald Trump and his family at Mar-a-Lago, has yet another intriguing line of work. She is an officer of two groups with ties to China’s Communist government.
When can we expect to see our friends on the other side of the aisle go all Matthew 8:12 over this Republican scandal?

March 8, 2019

So How Much Time DOES A Trump-Guy Get For Tax Fraud and Bank Fraud?

From The Washington Post:
Paul Manafort, who once served as President Trump’s campaign chairman, was sentenced to nearly four years in prison Thursday for cheating on his taxes and bank fraud — a far lesser sentence than the roughly 20 years he had faced under federal sentencing guidelines.

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III called that guidelines calculation “excessive” and sentenced the longtime lobbyist instead to 47 months in prison.
For the arithmetically challenged, that's just under 4 years.

Meanwhile:
Two minutes later Soledad O'Brien clarified:
Yea.

March 7, 2019

Trump, On Trade

From The New York Times:
America’s trade deficit in goods with the rest of the world rose to its highest level in history last year as the United States imported a record number of products, including from China, widening the deficit to $891.3 billion and delivering a setback to President Trump’s goal of narrowing that gap.

The increase was driven by some factors outside Mr. Trump’s control, like a global economic slowdown and the relative strength of the United States dollar, both of which weakened overseas demand for American goods. But the widening gap was also exacerbated by Mr. Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, which has been largely financed by government borrowing, and the trade war he escalated last year.
You can read about it here:
For 2018, the goods and services deficit was $621.0 billion, up $68.8 billion from $552.3 billion in 2017. Exports were $2,500.0 billion in 2018, up $148.9 billion from 2017. Imports were $3,121.0 billion, up $217.7 billion from 2017.
Didn't candidate Trump promise to reduce the trade deficit?

Why, yes. Yes, he did - and he said so in Pennsylvania:
In a 2016 campaign speech in Pennsylvania, Trump called the trade deficit a "politician-made disaster" and promised swift change. "We can turn it all around - and we can turn it around fast," he said.
So if it's a politician-made disaster, and he's been in charge for a couple of years (along with his political party, until recently) doesn't that mean that he's to blame?

March 5, 2019

My NINETY-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."

I'd like to ask you about Donald Trump's recent Emergency Declaration. In the previous administration, you cited your concerns over "executive overreach" as part of the reason you couldn't support a hearing for Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland.

You recently said, regarding the border declaration that you "never thought it was a good idea."

Simple yes/no question. Given all that, will you be voting against Trump's declaration?

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

Follow-up:

March 1, 2019