September 21, 2020

My Email To Senator Pat Toomey

Remember when I was mailing a letter every Tuesday to Pat Toomey? Remember when I thought it might at some point make a difference?

Yea, good times (keeping your head above water, making a wave when you can).

Well, in light of the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I emailed him. This is what I emailed:

4 years ago you denied even an up or down vote for President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland because it was too close to a presidential election. That was about 8 months before the 2016 election.

We're now 6 WEEKS before the next presidential election and Donald Trump is set to nominate someone for the Supreme Court.

Sen. McConnell set a precedent that you followed in 2016. I expect you to do the same in 2020. If not, you'll be a hypocrite for the rest of your political life.

Do the right thing, Senator. Disagree with Donald Trump on this one.

And this is the auto-response I received:

Thank you for contacting my office. I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts about current issues. Out of an abundance of caution, my Washington D.C. office is currently closed. While some staffers are able to telework, mail is affected. Please be assured that your correspondence will receive a reply in the near future. Meanwhile, I am actively working to help Pennsylvania hospitals, health care providers, and state and local officials with testing and other concerns in combatting the epidemic. Thank you for your patience.
I will be posting whatever response I receive from the Senator.

PS: I linked to the page where you too can email Senator Toomey. Use it in good health.

September 18, 2020

How Trump And His Enablers in the GOP Are Corrupting The Postal Service To Aid His Re-Election

From the AP:

A U.S. judge on Thursday blocked controversial Postal Service changes that have slowed mail nationwide, calling them “a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service” before the November election.

Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima, Washington, said he was issuing a nationwide preliminary injunction sought by 14 states that sued the Trump administration and the U.S. Postal Service.


The judge noted after a hearing that Trump had repeatedly attacked voting by mail by making unfounded claims that it is rife with fraud. Many more voters are expected to vote by mail this November because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the states have expressed concern that delays might result in voters not receiving ballots or registration forms in time.

“The states have demonstrated the defendants are involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service,” Bastian said.

He also said the changes created “a substantial possibility many voters will be disenfranchised.”

BTW, the "defendants" here are Donald Trump and Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General.

You can read the order here.

From the Judge's analysis:

Although not necessarily apparent on the surface, at the heart of DeJoy’s and the Postal Service’s actions is voter disenfranchisement. This is evident in President Trump’s highly partisan words and tweets, the actual impact of the changes on primary elections that resulted in uncounted ballots, and recent attempts and lawsuits by the Republican National Committee and President Trump’s campaign to stop the States’ efforts to bypass the Postal Service by utilizing ballot drop boxes, as well as the timing of the changes.It is easy to conclude that the recent Postal Services’ changes is an intentional effort on the part the current Administration to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state,and federal elections, especially given that 72% of the decommissioned high speed mail sorting machines that were decommissioned were located in counties where Hillary Clinton receive the most votes in 2016.

And this happened in Pennsylvania: 

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court extended the due date for mail ballots in the November election, a decision that will likely result in more votes being counted in the state — and more time to determine the final results.

Mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania have previously been due by the time polls close on Election Day. But the court's order adds a three-day extension to receive ballots that are postmarked by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Ballots with a preelection postmark will now be counted as long as they are received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 6, three days after the polls close.

The court also wrote that ballots "received within this period that lack a postmark or other proof of mailing, or for which the postmark or other proof of mailing is illegible, will be presumed to have been mailed by Election Day unless a preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that it was mailed after Election Day."

Of course, to our good friends in the GOP, this was an assault on democracy and the rule of law itself.

The idea of having more citizens voting has always been anathema to the GOP - they only want the right voters voting (see what I did there?).

September 17, 2020

Representative Guy Reshenthaler Voted AGAINST A House Resolution Condemting Anti-Asian Sentiment

First, we'll start with Guy's tweet:

Got me wondering, "What the devil is he talking about?"

Then I found this. HR 908 was voted on today and it describes itself as a resolution:

Condemning all forms of anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID–19.

This is what Guy Reschenthaler (and 163 other GOP House members) voted against:

    Whereas 23,000,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders account for 7 percent of the Nation’s population in the United States;

    Whereas over 2,000,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are working on the frontlines of this COVID–19 pandemic in health care, law enforcement, first responders, transportation, supermarkets, and other service industries;

    Whereas the use of anti-Asian terminology and rhetoric related to COVID-19, such as the “Chinese Virus”, “Wuhan Virus”, and “Kung-flu” have perpetuated anti-Asian stigma;

    Whereas since January 2020, there has been a dramatic increase in reports of hate crimes and incidents against those of Asian descent;

    Whereas according to a recent study, there were over 400 cases related to COVID-19 anti-Asian discrimination between February 9, 2020, and March 7, 2020;

    Whereas the increased use of anti-Asian rhetoric has resulted in Asian Americans being harassed, assaulted, and scapegoated for the COVID–19 pandemic;

    Whereas in March 2020, anti-Asian violence includes: a woman wearing a mask was kicked and punched at a New York City subway station; two children and two adults were stabbed at a wholesale grocery in Midland, Texas; a couple was assaulted and robbed by a group of attackers in Philadelphia; and a 16-year-old boy was sent to the hospital after being attacked by bullies in Los Angeles, California;

    Whereas the increased use of anti-Asian rhetoric has also resulted in Asian-American businesses being targeted for vandalism;

    Whereas there are approximately 2 million Asian American-owned businesses that generate over $700 billion in annual revenue and employ nearly 4.5 million workers;

    Whereas the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognize that naming COVID–19 by its geographic location or linking it to a specific ethnicity perpetuates stigma;

    Whereas in 2015, the WHO issued guidance calling on media outlets, scientists, and national authorities to avoid naming infectious diseases for locations to avoid stigmatizing groups of people;

    Whereas, on February 27, 2020, the Secretary of Health and Human Services stated “ethnicity is not what causes the novel coronavirus” and that it is inappropriate and inaccurate to call COVID-19 the “Chinese virus”;

    Whereas, on February 28, 2020, Dr. Mitch Wolfe, the Chief Medical Officer of the CDC said, “Stigma is the enemy of public health”;

    Whereas, on March 10, 2020, Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the CDC, testified that use of the term “Chinese coronavirus” is wrong and inappropriate; and

    Whereas the Secretary General of the United Nations called for international solidarity and an end to any ill-founded discrimination of the outbreak’s victims: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) calls on all public officials to condemn and denounce any and all anti-Asian sentiment in any form;

(B) to combat misinformation and discrimination that put Asian Americans at risk.

One question: Why?

Fact-checking Trump's Philadelphia Town Hall

This past Tuesday, Donald Trump held a town hall type meeting in the city of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia.

Things did not go well.  

President Donald Trump faced life outside his own political bubble on Tuesday, where his self-congratulation, buck passing and audacious falsehoods conspicuously failed to meet the moment when he was confronted by undecided voters.

And the media's fact-checkers went to work. Take a look.


During the town hall, Trump said he "didn't downplay" the virus -- when in fact, he has admitted to just that.

"I wanted to always play it down," Trump said in a March 19 interview with veteran journalist Bob Woodward, according to CNN, which obtained an audio recording of the interview, and The Washington Post. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."


Trump claimed opponent Joe Biden said in March that the pandemic was "totally over-exaggerated."

Facts First: We could not find any evidence of Biden saying anything like this in March.

Biden did say in late February and early March that people shouldn't "panic" about the virus, but even conservative Breitbart News noted that Biden added in his February comments that "coronavirus is a serious public health challenge" and in March that people shouldn't "downplay" the situation. In other words, he wasn't saying that it was being overblown. [Bolding and Italics in original.]


"They said at the Democrat convention they're going to do a national (mask) mandate. They never did it, because they’ve checked out and they didn’t do it."

This is off target. In his nomination acceptance speech, Biden said, "We'll have a national mandate to wear a mask, not as a burden, but to protect each other."  We noted that current law makes it tough for the federal government to impose a mask mandate on the states. 

But Biden was talking about what he would do if he won. Trump’s criticism that "they never did it" ignores that Biden has no power to make that happen now.

Also from CNN:

Trump is a serial liar.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

September 16, 2020

Wendy Bell, Trump-defender And Snowflake

Over on her Facebook page this morning, the disgraced and chastised Wendy Bell wrote:

Actress Debra Messing took to Twitter yesterday and called President Trump a rapist and a pedophile in an attempt, some people suspect, to get the hashtags trending on social media.

Twitter, which has recently blocked or deleted tweets the President has made because it has deemed his comments misleading, has neither fact checked Messing’s comments nor blocked them from the platform.

 Twitter’s CEO maintains his company is not politically motivated.

 Does it concern you that social media giants like Twitter and Facebook can filter the views and information shared by some people, but not others?

This is what snowflaked Wendy Bell:

Wendy Bell wants a Debra Messing fact check. Ok, so let's do it.

From Courthouse News:

A woman who says Donald Trump raped her at a private sex party when she was 13 years old refiled a lawsuit against him Friday, two weeks after voluntarily dismissing a suit based on the same claims.

The new complaint, filed in the federal court in Manhattan, restates plaintiff Jane Doe’s claims of the earlier lawsuit. Namely, that she was lured by a recruiter to summer parties hosted by co-defendant Jeffrey Epstein at an Upper East Side mansion on East 71st St., tied to a bed and forcibly raped by Trump, who slapped her with an open hand and told her he would do whatever he pleased with her.

And you can see the actual court documents with the story.

It begins with this:

Plaintiff was subject to acts of rape, sexual misconduct, criminal sexual acts, sexual abuse, forcible touching, assault, battery, intentional and reckless infliction of emotional distress, duress, false imprisonment, and threats of death and/or serious bodily injury by the Defendants that took place at several parties during the summer months of 1994. The parties were held by Defendant Epstein at a New York City residence that was being used by Defendant Epstein at 9 E. 71st St. in Manhattan. During this period, Plaintiff was a minor of age 13and was legally incapable under New York law of consenting to sexual intercourse and the other sexual contacts detailed herein. NY Penal L § 130.05(3)(a).
She was 13, Wendy. And this was at a party Donald Trump attended at Jeffrey Epstein's, if you need a reminder. Donald Trump was friends with Jeffrey Epstein, Wendy.

The document has some gruesome details, Wendy:
Defendant Trump initiated sexual contact with Plaintiff at four different parties. On the fourth and final sexual encounter with Defendant Trump, Defendant Trump tied Plaintiff to a bed, exposed himself to Plaintiff,and then proceeded to forcibly rape Plaintiff. During the course of this savage sexual attack, Plaintiff loudly pleaded with Defendant Trump to stop but with no effect. Defendant Trump responded to Plaintiff’s pleas by violently striking Plaintiff in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted.

All Debra Messing was doing was quoting actual court documents, Wendy.

THAT'S your fact-check, Wendy.

September 15, 2020

House Resolution 1094 - Condemning QAnon And Rejecting The Conspiracy Theories It Promotes.

I wonder how many of those sitting in the House of Representatives (or currently campaigning for such a seat) would support HR 1094 ("Condemning QAnon and rejecting the conspiracy theories it promotes.").

Some highlights from the legislation: 

Whereas throughout history, conspiracy theories that falsely blame secret cabals or marginalized groups for society’s ills have fueled prejudice, genocide, and acts of terrorism;

Whereas QAnon is a movement promoting a collection of unfounded conspiracy theories that have spread widely on the internet since 2017;

Whereas QAnon initially alleged that prominent Americans are engaged in a secret plot to control the world, while using their power to exploit children, and has expanded to embrace virtually every popular conspiracy theory of the last several decades, from questioning the Kennedy assassination, to believing in alien landings, to denying the safety of vaccines;

Whereas many QAnon followers express anti-Semitic views, and the Anti-Defamation League has said that the movement’s central conspiracy theory includes anti-Semitic elements;

Whereas the FBI has assessed with high confidence that “fringe political conspiracy theories”, including QAnon, “very likely motivate some domestic extremists, wholly or in part, to engage in criminal or violent activity”, and that these conspiracy theories “very likely encourage the targeting of specific people, places and organizations, thereby increasing the likelihood of violence against these targets”;


Whereas the FBI further assesses that “these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread and evolve in the modern information marketplace … fostering anti-government sentiment, racial and religious prejudice, [and] increasing political tensions”;

Whereas according to the Combatting Terrorism Center at the West Point Military Academy, “QAnon is arguably no longer simply a fringe conspiracy theory but an ideology that has demonstrated its capacity to radicalize to violence individuals at an alarming speed”;

You can read that FBI assessment here.

You can read the Cobating Terrorism Center's report here.

Back to the resolution. Before the "Resolved" parts, there's this:

Whereas QAnon adherents have been harming legitimate efforts to combat child exploitation and sex trafficking, including by overwhelming anti-trafficking hotlines with false reports; and

Whereas the conspiracy theories promoted by QAnon undermine trust in America’s democratic institutions, encourage rejection of objective reality, and deepen our Nation’s political polarization...
We've seen QAnon's presence at a few rallies seeking to combat child exploitation here in Pittsburgh.

Finally, the "Resolved" part:
Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) condemns QAnon and rejects the conspiracy theories it promotes;

(2) encourages the Federal Bureau of Investigation and all Federal law enforcement agencies to continue to strengthen their focus on preventing violence, threats, harassment, and other criminal activity by extremists motivated by fringe political conspiracy theories; and

(3) urges all Americans, regardless of our beliefs or partisan affiliation, to seek information from authoritative sources, and to engage in political debate from a common factual foundation.

Any comment Senator Toomey? Congressman Reschenthaler? Candidate Parnell?

September 14, 2020

More UnConstitutional Talk From The Donald Trump

The 22nd Amendment of the United States Constitution begins with this:

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice...

And yet, this weekend the leader of one of the two major political parties in this once-great nation (and the party that claims to be the "law and order" party) said this:

And there was much rejoicing in the un-masked crowd.

But wait, only a few years ago the right-wing crazies were warning the faithful about an Obama third term:

Baltimore-based businessman Porter Stansberry is at it again.

The man who in the past has been found guilty of swindling customers with fabricated investment information is now trying to cash in on some of the public's dislike of President Barack Obama.

In an E-mail solicitation blasted across the Internet — including on Monday over a listserv previously devoted to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign — Stansberry warns that Obama is secretly planning to seek a third term.

"Most people believe the election was all about whether or not Obama will have a second term. But it was not," says the E-mail. "What was actually at stake was whether or not he will have a third-term."

Then there's this:

Roger Stone is making baseless accusations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election and is urging Donald Trump to consider several draconian measures to stay in power, including having federal authorities seize ballots in Nevada, having FBI agents and Republican state officials “physically” block voting under the pretext of preventing voter fraud, using martial law or the Insurrection Act to carry out widespread arrests, and nationalizing state police forces.

Stone, a longtime confidant of the president, made the comments during a September 10 appearance on far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars network.

Of course it was Infowars.

Anyway, a few short years ago the right wing crazies were ranting loudly enough about this that a Fact-Check smack-down was necessary:

Q: Has President Barack Obama signed 900 executive orders, some of which create martial law?

A: No. Obama’s executive orders do not create martial law. And so far he has signed 139 executive orders — not 900.

You can go to that Factcheck piece for the details. 

Meanwhile, 193,000+ US Citizens have died from COVID-19 and Donald Trump lied to us about its severity. Then he lied about the lying.

As candidate Sean Parnell said, if you don't denounce something, you endorse it.

What say you, Sean? Do you denounce Trump's proffer of an unconstitutional third term? How about Roger Stone's idea of martial law in the event Trump loses the election? How about his lying about COVID-19?

Remember, if you don't denounce, you endorse.

September 12, 2020

A Special Message To KDKA Radio's MARTY GRIFFIN

[Please pass this along to Marty. Thanks, I appreciate it.]


I appreciate that you're really pushing for the state and/or county to open up restaurants for more customers. In your push, I've heard you say that there's no science to warrant the decision to restrict the number of customers dining in restaurants (and so therefore those restrictions are unfair and burdensome).

Well, Marty, here's some science from the CDC:

In this investigation, participants with and without COVID-19 reported generally similar community exposures, with the exception of going to locations with on-site eating and drinking options. Adults with confirmed COVID-19 (case-patients) were approximately twice as likely as were control-participants to have reported dining at a restaurant in the 14 days before becoming ill. In addition to dining at a restaurant, case-patients were more likely to report going to a bar/coffee shop, but only when the analysis was restricted to participants without close contact with persons with known COVID-19 before illness onset. Reports of exposures in restaurants have been linked to air circulation. Direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance. Masks cannot be effectively worn while eating and drinking, whereas shopping and numerous other indoor activities do not preclude mask use. [Emphasis added.]

I'm sorry that this is the case. I, too, miss going out to eat. But the stakes these days are very high and not only for my own personal health but for everyone's.  

This is very important - just as important as me protecting my own health - because even if I were to catch the virus and be among those lucky enough to be asymptomatic, I could inadvertently still be part of a transmission chain that could end up getting people sick and/or killing someone. This is the part of the story that you almost always seem to omit on-air.

If limiting the number of people sitting in a restaurant or at a bar is needed to keep the transmission down, then this is something that has to be done. The alternative, opening up the restaurants for the sake of someone's bottom line even when knowing that some of the patrons/employees are going to get sick and some of those will die because of it, is simply unacceptable.

Some other solution to the restaurant industry's plight has to be found. If anything instead of this false choice between the health of the industry and the public health, we should be discussing the need for a more robust social safety net so that that choice doesn't have to be made.

Sadly, with the GOP in control of the state legislature (and one chamber of the Congress in DC) a "more robust social safety net" will never be an option discussed.