What Fresh Hell Is This?

April 30, 2019

My HUNDRED AND SIXTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

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

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

As you may know Senator, The Washington Post has been tracking Donald Trump's "false and misleading" claims for some time now.

Recently, they've reached a milestone for Trump's dishonesty: 10,000 false or misleading statements.

He's lied about family separation, a woman's right to choose, and even the size of the crowds at his rallies.

All things easily checked and debunked - and yet he blatantly continues to lie and mislead the American people.

This week's question: Why do you continue to support this dishonest man and his dishonest administration?

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

Follow-up:

April 29, 2019

DONALD TRUMP LIES.

What Trump said IS A LIE:
The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.
This is a lie.

Read:
No one is executing children at birth. Doctors are providing standard medical care.

Pregnancy terminations at or after 24 weeks of gestation, the time largely accepted as viability, are typically performed because of severe fetal anomalies or fetal anomalies combined with maternal health problems.
Read the rest of it.

The writer (Dr. Jen Gunter) included this paragraph:
Politicians who twist the memory of a birth followed by a death to score political points and mislead about the reality of both abortion and newborns who are born to die should be ashamed of themselves.
And so should anyone who supports them.

April 26, 2019

Judge Napolitano From FOX NEWS




And Real Clear Politics has a transcript:
What is obstruction of justice? Late last week when the Attorney General of the U.S. released a redacted version of the report of the special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference with the 2016 election he made a number of conclusions.

One is that the Russians did materially and substantially interfere. They probably did not affect the ultimate outcome but they did interfere. They were physically here and they were digitally here.

Two is that even though the Trump campaign had 127 documented communications with these Russians between July 2015 when the campaign started and November 2016 when it ended -- 127 communications -- the government was unable to prove a conspiracy or illegal agreement between the campaign and the Russians to interfere with the outcome of the election.

The third conclusion that Mueller came to is a little bit more troublesome. That conclusion is that the president of the United States probably committed the crimes of obstruction of justice but probably should not be charged for them. That's a head-scratcher. Is the president above the law? What do we do if the president commits a crime? Do we let him get away with it?

The crime is not a difficult one to understand. Obstruction of justice, the statute making obstruction criminal prohibits interfering or attempting to interfere with a criminal prosecution or an investigation that the government is conducting. So if I'm about to go into a courthouse and testify against my neighbor, and the neighbor's kid comes and tackles me to prevent me from getting into the courthouse and I eventually pick myself up and get in to make the testimony, the neighbor's kid can be charged with obstruction of justice because he attempted to interfere with the work of a jury that was waiting to hear my testimony.

So when Bob Mueller said the president of the United States did about a dozen things to slow down, impede, negate, or interfere with the investigation of his campaign, or of his former national security advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, that is a serious allegation of criminal activity. So when the president asked his former advisor and my former colleague at Fox News, KT McFarland, to write an untruthful letter to the file, knowing the government would subpoena it, that's obstruction of justice. When the president asked Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, to get Mueller fired, that is obstruction of justice. When the president asked his then-White House counsel to get Mueller fired and then lie about it, that's obstruction of justice. When the president asked Don McGahn to go back to the special counsel and change his testimony that's obstruction of justice. When he dangled the pardon in front of Michael Cohen in order to prevent Cohen from testifying against him that is obstruction of justice. Why not charge him?

Because the attorney general would have locked such a charge because the attorney general is of the view that obstruction of justice can only occur if you're interfering with a criminal investigation of yourself. But that's not what the obstruction statute says, that's not what law enforcement believes, and that is not what prosecutors do. Prosecutors prosecute people who interfere with government functions. That is what the president did by obstruction.

Where is this going to end? We don't know. But I'm disappointed in the behavior of the president. His job is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, to uphold and to enforce federal law, not to violate it.

If he had ordered his aides to violate federal law to save a human life or to preserve human freedom he would at least have a moral defense for his behavior. But ordering obstruction to save himself from the consequences of his own behavior is unlawful, defenseless and condemnable.
You can also read Napolitano's piece at Foxnews.com

Judge Napolitano from FOX NEWS. 

April 25, 2019

Just How Stupid Is Donald Trump (Impeachment/Supreme Court Edition)

There's this:
Um, setting aside the false opening (Mueller is a Republican, the report refused to exonerate, etc), can I point out that the Supreme Court doesn't have any jurisdiction over Impeachment.

Let's take a look at the Constitution:
The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment. (Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5)
And:
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present. (Article I, Section 3, Clause 6)
He's not even smart enough to know that.

April 24, 2019

Meanwhile, Outside

From the scientists at NOAA:
Globally, this was the second warmest March in the 140-year record, with a temperature departure from average at +1.06°C (+1.91°F). Only March 2016 was warmer at +1.24°C (+2.23°F). March 2019 also marks the third time (2016, 2017, and 2019) that the March global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average surpasses 1.0°C (1.8°F). The March 2019 global land and ocean temperature tied with January 2016 as the fifth highest monthly temperature departure from average for any month on record (1671 months). The 20 highest monthly temperature departures from average have all occurred since 2015, with March 2016 having the highest monthly temperature departure in the 1671-month record at +1.24°C (+2.23°F).
That's what the science says.

And if you wanted another reason as to why this is occurring (or better, "being allowed to occur") then take a look at this study just published by the National Academy of Sciences:
We find that global warming has very likely exacerbated global economic inequality, including ∼25% increase in population-weighted between-country inequality over the past half century. This increase results from the impact of warming on annual economic growth, which over the course of decades has accumulated robust and substantial declines in economic output in hotter, poorer countries—and increases in many cooler, wealthier countries—relative to a world without anthropogenic warming. Thus, the global warming caused by fossil fuel use has likely exacerbated the economic inequality associated with historical disparities in energy consumption. Our results suggest that low-carbon energy sources have the potential to provide a substantial secondary development benefit, in addition to the primary benefits of increased energy access.
So when the soft-core climate science denialists assert that the solution to climate change is a global redistribution of wealth (downward, from rich to poor), just remember that they're actually protecting a redistribution system that's already in place - one that's shifting money upward from poor to rich. 

April 23, 2019

My HUNDRED AND 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."

Have you had a chance to read the Mueller Report? I'm about half way through volume II. In any event, I'd like to ask you about it as your statement on April 18 only references collusion and not obstruction.

It's been reported that Donald Trump (twice) ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and then, when the story broke, ordered him to lie about it.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitted to lying to the American people regarding FBI support of ousted FBI Director James Comey.

In light of all that, how can you still support this administration?

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

Follow-up:

April 22, 2019

Even More From The Mueller Report

First, there's this:
In mid-June 2017- the same week that the President first asked Lewandowski to pass a message to Sessions- senior Administration officials became aware of emails exchanged during the campaign arranging a meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and a Russian attorney. As described in Volume I, Section TV.A.5, supra, the emails stated that the "Crown [P]rosecutor of Russia" had offered "to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia " as part of "Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." Trump Jr. responded , "[I]f it's what you say I love it," and he, Kushner, and Manafort met with the Russian attorney and several other Russian individuals at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016. At the meeting, the Russian attorney claimed that funds derived from illegal activities in Russia were provided to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats , and the Russian attorney then spoke about the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 U.S. statute that imposed financial and travel sanctions on Russian officials and that had resulted in a retaliatory ban in Russia on U.S. adoptions of Russian children. (p. 310)
Then there's this:
Efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence. In the summer of 2017, the President learned that media outlets were asking questions about the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between senior campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer who was said to be offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." On several occasions, the President directed aides not to publicly disclose the emails setting up the June 9 meeting, suggesting that the emails would not leak and that the number of lawyers with access to them should be limited. Before the emails became public, the President edited a press statement for Trump Jr. by deleting a line that acknowledged that the meeting was with "an individual who [Trump Jr.] was told might have information helpful to the campaign" and instead said only that the meeting was about adoptions of Russian children. When the press asked questions about the President 's involvement in Trump Jr.'s statement, the President's personal lawyer repeatedly denied the President had played any role. (p. 217)
Donald Trump is a liar. His whole administration is dishonest and any elected official not denouncing him is complicit in this corruption.

April 20, 2019

More From The Mueller Report

Regarding that July 27, 2016 press conference where Trump denied any connection to Russia, the report says:
During the press conference, Trump repeated "I have nothing to do with Russia" five times. He stated that "the closest [he] came to Russia" was that Russians may have purchased a home or condos from him. He said that after he held the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013 he had be.en interested in working with Russian companies that "wanted to put a lot of money into developments in Russia" but "it never worked out." He explained , "[t]rankly, I didn't want to do it for a couple of different reasons. But we had a major developer ... that wanted to develop property in Moscow and other places. But we decided not to do it." The Trump Organization , however, had been pursuing a building project in Moscow-the Trump Tower Moscow project from approximately September 2015 through June 2016, and the candidate was regularly updated on developments , including possible trips by Michael Cohen to Moscow to promote the deal and by Trump himself to finalize it.

Cohen recalled speaking with Trump after the press conference about Trump's denial of any business dealings in Russia, which Cohen regarded as untrue. Trump told Cohen that Trump Tower Moscow was not a deal yet and said, "Why mention it if it is not a deal?" According to Cohen, at around this time, in response to Trump's disavowal of connections to Russia, campaign advisors had developed a "party line" that Trump had no business with Russia and no connections to Russia. (p. 231)
Even though he did.

April 19, 2019

More From The Mueller Report

The Trump-loving Post-Gazette Editorial Board sez:
According to a redacted version of the report, released Thursday by the Justice Department, Mr. Mueller found no evidence that President Donald Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia on election inference. Mr. Mueller was unable to determine whether the president tried to obstruct his investigation, although Mr. Trump said and did things during the probe that looked bad.
And yet from the report itself we can read:
Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President 's conduct. The evidence we obtained about the President's actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. (p. 393)
Take a look - they could not not state that Trump did not commit obstruction of justice - not, as the P-G board clearly wishes that they were "unable to determine whether the president tried to obstruct" the investigation.

More to come, obviously.

April 18, 2019

From The Mueller Report

This is all we need to know if we want to understand how AG Barr s the Mueller report.

Remember that 4 page letter "summarizing" the Mueller report?

This is what Barr took from it:
[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
The brackets around the "T" mean that it was not capitalized in the original. So this is a fragment of a sentence.

This is what the original sentence was:
Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.
I bolded and italicized what Barr used from the sentence to show the skew. 

More to come, of course.

Some Things To Keep In Mind Before Today's AG Press Conference

The Fix Is In, as they say.

Consider that Trump's DOJ has already briefed The White House (but not the Congress) on the Mueller Report and that this was done while Barr's team was busy redacting it. The report itself (or what's left of it) will only be released to the Congress after the press conference - thus denying any of the reporters who'd be asking questions any chance of reading it before hand.

And as you're considering all that you should be asking yourself this question: If the report is, in fact, a "total exoneration" of Trump, then why is any of Barr's framing necessary?

Or

Don't you think that if it were a "total exoneration" of Trump, then they'd just simply open up the damn thing for everyone to read and go, "See?"

The Fix is in.

April 16, 2019

Thinking About The Fire In Paris



My HUNDRED AND FOURTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

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

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

Senator, despite the fact that the IRS Code section 6103(f) clearly states that the IRS "shall furnish" any return upon written request and despite the fact that there as been, in fact, been a written request from the House Ways and Means Committee regarding Donald Trump's tax returns, the administration has so far stonewalled the turnover of these legally requested documents.

I'd like to ask you what you are doing, as part of your Constitutionally mandated role a check on the Executive Branch, to guarantee that Donald Trump simply follow the law in this matter.

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

Follow-up:

April 15, 2019

SEE?

Remember yesterday, when I said that Trump's tweets are going to get someone killed?

And now:

April 14, 2019

He's Going To Get Her Killed.

Trump is going to get someone killed.

With this:
Let's make no mistake. Her words (however clumsy) were taken out of context. From The Atlantic:
Last month, Representative Ilhan Omar attended a banquet hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, where she delivered remarks for roughly 20 minutes.

A major theme was prejudice against Muslims. “Here’s the truth,” she said. “For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen. Frankly, I’m tired of it. And every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

Omar’s meaning was clear: Many Muslims felt collectively blamed for something that was indisputably perpetrated by a tiny fraction of their co-religionists and marshaled new resources to protect their civil rights in response. (CAIR was actually founded in the 1990s, but expanded significantly after 9/11.)
And if you're wondering about the "inciting violence" part take a look at something that happened before the Trump-shit hit the Fox-fan:
On March 21, 2019,at approximately l2:20p.ffi., a telephone call was received by a staff member for United States Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a representative from the 5th Congressional District in Minnesota, at Congresswoman Omar's offices in Washington, D.C. During the telephone call, an individual who eventually identified himself as PAT CARLINEO stated to the staff member, "Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are you working for her, she's a fucking terrorist. I'll put a bullet in her fucking skull."
And in his interview with the FBI:
CARLINEO stated that he was a patriot, that he loves the President, and that he hates radical Muslims in our government.
Now, I wonder where he got his news? and how many more Trump-loving, Muslim-hating Pat Carlineo's are there out there?

Trump's gonna get someone killed and anyone who refuses to condemn him for this will shoulder some responsibility for it.

April 12, 2019

April 12 Birthday - Herbie Hancock

Happy Birthday to one of my favorite musicians - Herbie Hancock, born today in 1940.

Have a listen:


And here he is playing some Gershwin:


And then there's this:


Yes, that's all the same guy.

April 11, 2019

More On Trump Corruption

Hey, remember this?

The Time report begins with:
President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.
And included this:
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.
This triggered an investigation into one of those siblings:
Maryanne Trump Barry, President Trump's older sister, has resigned as a federal appellate judge, ending a judicial investigation into apparently fraudulent tax schemes that could have theoretically led to her impeachment by the U.S. House, The New York Times reports. Judge Barry, 82, stopped hearing cases after her brother was inaugurated, but she was still a senior inactive judge on the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, one step short of retirement.

Barry, a federal judge since 1983, had been notified Feb. 1 that complaints filed last October about possible violations of judicial conduct rules were "receiving the full attention" of a judicial conduct council, the Times reports. She filed her resignation papers 10 days later. Retired judges are not bound by the conduct rules, and the people who filed the complains were notified last week that the inquiry had been dropped without a finding on the allegations' merits, the Times reports.
You'd think that if the allegations were false, she'd fight them, right?

No. She retires, slinks away with the fraudulent millions and:
Barry did not respond to requests for comment from the Times, which notes that as a retired judge, she is entitled to between $184,500 and $217,600 a year.

April 10, 2019

POW! Donald Trump's a Hypocrite

Official Trump, on Tuesday:
On National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, we honor the Americans captured and imprisoned by foreign powers while carrying out their duties to defend this great Nation. Throughout our history, hundreds of thousands of American service members have been held as prisoners of war (POWs), enduring harsh treatment, unforgiving conditions, and the anguish of being separated from their families. These brave Americans are true patriots, and their inspiring legacy of selfless courage is a testament to their fierce spirit, unshakeable loyalty, and enduring resilience.
And:
As a Nation, we must never forget or take for granted the traumatic ordeals of our former POWs. With honor and valor, they served to keep our country safe, and they stayed the course — despite conditions that were often harsh and agonizing.
Candidate Trump:


This is what he said of Senator John McCain:
He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.
Donald Trump is an asshole.

And he's been one for some time.  Take a look at this from 1999:
This is what he said of Senator John McCain:
The question is, does being captured make you a hero? I don't know.
Donald Trump is an asshole.

April 9, 2019

My HUNDRED AND 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."

Senator, CNN has reported that Donald Trump, while speaking to a number of border agents told them to block everyone from entering the country. He even said to them, it is reported, that if a judge gives you any trouble to say, "Sorry, judge, I can't do it. We don't have the room."

In effect, he ordered them to break the law and then lie to about it to a judge.

He took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution and the Constitution itself states that his job is to "take care that the laws are faithfully executed."

Given all this, can you explain to me how and why you're still supporting this president and this administration?

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

Follow-up:

April 8, 2019

Some Sagan Sagacity For A Monday Morning

From the Demon-Haunted World:
I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.
Wind turbines cause cancer.

April 7, 2019

April 5, 2019

Birthday - JS Bach

Unforgivable.

I missed JS Bach's birthday last week.

My penance - listen to and ponder the exquisite:


And the same piece, different setting:


And another:


Exquisite.

April 4, 2019

Um...THIS?

First, from The New York Times:
Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.
Whaaah?!?!?!

Wait, The Washington Post follows with:
Members of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team have told associates they are frustrated with the limited information Attorney General William P. Barr has provided about their nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether President Trump sought to obstruct justice, according to people familiar with the matter.

The displeasure among some who worked on the closely held inquiry has quietly begun to surface in the days since Barr released a four-page letter to Congress on March 24 describing what he said were the principal conclusions of Mueller’s still-confidential, 400-page report.

In his letter, Barr said that the special counsel did not establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. And he said that Mueller did not reach a conclusion “one way or the other” as to whether Trump’s conduct in office constituted obstruction of justice.

Absent that, Barr told lawmakers that he concluded the evidence was not sufficient to prove that the president obstructed justice.

But members of Mueller’s team have complained to close associates that the evidence they gathered on obstruction was alarming and significant.
But Dear Leader Trump declared that he'd been completely and totally exonerated!

When has The Dear Leader ever been wrong?

April 3, 2019

Oranges Of The Investigation!

Stephen Colbert, last night.


Knock knock!
Who's there?
Oranges.
Oranges who?
Aren't you ashamed we have a president who can't pronounce "origins"?

No, collusion!

April 2, 2019

My HUNDRED AND SECOND Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

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

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

Senator, I am going to revisit the topic of last week's question - the full release of the Mueller report. You've been quoted as saying that "we should err on the side of disclosure" regarding the release of the report.

Does this mean you're supporting the release of the report and it's underlying evidence (minus the necessary redaction of any sensitive National Security/Grand Jury material) to the public?

Does this mean that you're supporting the release of the full report (with no redactions) to all members of Congress?

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

Follow-up:

April 1, 2019

Trustworthy News

We know where the P-G's Trump-friendly editorial cartoonist stands:


On the other hand, I wonder if he saw this this weekend on Fox "News":



Or this from last year:

Hey, Steve, speaking of inappropriate language, any cartoons on Trump grabbing women "by the pussy" on the way?  How about immigrants from "shithole countries"?