What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 22, 2017

Toomey Time Round-Up! (Part The Third)

So far, I've written 32 letters to Pennsylvania's junior senator, Pat Toomey.  The first round up of letters can be found here. The second, here.
Today, it's time for a third.

Of letters 19 through 32, Senator Toomey has responded to only one - Letter 24.

So here are the questions that, so far, Senator Toomey has yet to answer:
  • Nineteenth letter - On this one, Toomey probably gets a pass. It's about his failed "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017" and I asked him if he was OK with (according to the CBO) at least 22 million Americans not having health care because of legislation he wrote. Presumably he is OK with it (since he wrote the legislation) but as the legislation failed to make it past the Senate, the point is moo (yes, I know I'm reusing a joke - but it's such a good one!)
  • Twentieth letter - I asked Toomey to comment in the following: Bishop David Zubik is quoted as saying that "health care is a basic human right" and that Toomey's legislation (the failed one, see the previous letter) was "morally unacceptable." Even though the point is moo (again, see the previous letter), Toomey does not get a pass on this one. Is health care a basic human right or not?
  • Twenty-first letter - I asked Toomey about the then-recent rumors that the Trump administration was planning on firing Attorney General sessions in order to make it easier for Trump to fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Specifically I asked if Toomey is OK with Trump's seeming disrespect for the rule of law.
  • Twenty-second letter - The Washington Post reported that Trump personally dictated the first, and misleading, statement describing his son's meeting with some Russians in Trump Tower. I asked Toomey if he was OK with Trump misleading the American people like that.
  • Twenty-third letter - The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump lied about a speech he gave to the Boy Scouts. I asked Toomey (who was, himself, a Boy Scout as a yute) if he was OK with that.
  • Twenty-fifth letter - This one is about disgraced former sheriff Joe Arpaio. I asked Toomey if he was OK with Trump's pardoning of Arpaio, especially after the latter had shown such blatant disregard for the rule of law.
  • Twenty-sixth letter - The Department of Justice filed papers in Federal Court reiterating that they had no records of any wiretaps as mentioned in Trump's tweets of early March of this year. I asked this question:
    Either Trump was lying in that he knew that what he was tweeting wasn't true but tweeted it anyway or he was negligent in that he fail to pick up the phone to confirm the story with the DOJ before tweeting. He's the leader of your party. You voted for him for in November. You're legislating his agenda in the Senate. How can you continue to support Donald J Trump?
    I really really really want an answer to this one. 
  • Twenty-seventh letter -  A few days after the devastating hurricanes that hit the American South and Carribean, th science-denying head of Trump's EPA said it was not the right time to talk about climate change. I asked Toomey, given the fact that actual climate scientists have been saying that climate change makes hurricanes worse, when is a good time to talk about climate change?
  • Twenty-eighth letter - This is another "Appeal and Replace Obamacare" question letter. There was yet another piece of legislation in the Senate, one that would set aside many of the ACA provisions dealing with preexisting conditions. I pointed out that many of the Senator's constituents would loose their health care if the legislation passes. I asked him to explain how he'd be in favor of hurting so many of the people who voted for him.
  • Twenty-ninth letter - This was a follow-up of sorts for the previous letter.
  • Thirtieth letter - It was reported that the Senate had failed to reauthorize CHIP (the Children's Health Insurance Program). A committee the Senator is on had announced a deal to extend the coverage for 5 years. I asked Toomey what he was doing to make sure it happened and if it didn't, how he was going explain it to his constituents, many of whom rely on that coverage.
  • Thirty-first letter - Senator Corker of Tennessee (who's retiring at the end of this term) had some rather harsh characterizations of Donald Trump, he's a liar and everyone know it, he's leading the world into another world war, and so on. In response Representative Mark Meadows said that "it's easy to be bold" when you're not facing reelection. I asked Toomey if that's true - if it's simply a matter of political courage for a member of Congress to speak out against Trump.
  • Thirty-second letter - Trump recently issued an executive order that would raise Pennsylvania premiums by about 30% and add about $194 billion to the federal deficit. Given that the main reason presented by the GOP for appealing and replacing Obamacare was to lower premiums and save money, how could Toomey, as a fiscal conservative, be comfortable with Trump's EO?
These are the as yet unanswered questions.

October 20, 2017

Just Yesterday...

The previous "worst president ever" said this yesterday of our current state of affairs:
Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.
And this:
We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization.
And this:
We've seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.
And finally, this:
In all these ways, we need to recall and recover our own identity. Americans have a great advantage: To renew our country, we only need to remember our values.
And when the guy who lied the country into a war that killed 4500 servicemen and women, authorized illegal domestic surveillance and waterboarding calls out the current occupant of the White House on his bigotry, nativism, and casual cruelty, you know Trump's a bad bad hombre.
Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. - A. Lincoln

October 19, 2017

There is Something Seriously Wrong With Donald Trump

Just as there's something just as seriously wrong with his enablers in Congress:
Republicans are waiting to pass their tax-reform bill before they move to impeach Donald Trump, a former Republican member of Congress reportedly told a former US labour secretary.

In a Facebook post, Robert Reich said the former senator, an old friend of his, told him Republicans are "just praying Trump doesn't do something really, really stupid before the tax bill."
Shame on them. And shame on everyone who supports them.

October 18, 2017

Donald Trump Is Completely Unworthy

Not of being president - for we all knew that already.

No he's completely unworthy of being called a human being.

This news hit last night - after the debacle of Trump lying to us about how President Obama never called any Gold Star families.

No, that's just the set up.

Here's the story:
President Donald Trump told U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson's widow Tuesday that "he knew what he signed up for ... but when it happens, it hurts anyway," when he died serving in northwestern Africa, according to U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida.

"Yeah, he said that," Wilson said. "So insensitive. He should have not have said that. He shouldn't have said it."

The president called about 4:45 p.m. and spoke to Johnson's pregnant widow, Myeshia Johnson, for about five minutes. She is a mother to Johnson's surviving 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. The conversation happened before Johnson's remains arrived at Miami International Airport on a commercial Delta Airlines flight. [Emphasis added.]
The Washington Post has confirmed that Rep. Wilson heard the conversation via speakerphone.

Donald Trump is a soulless coward.

October 17, 2017

My THIRTY-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. Your constituent who also writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

Senator, I have to ask you about Donald Trump's recent Executive Order - the one ending the CSR payments (the subsidies that help low-income consumers afford health care insurance).

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that "Pennsylvania insurers offering Obamacare plans will need to raise premiums an average 30.6 percent in 2018, nearly four times the increase that had been anticipated."

Last August, the CBO estimated that ending the CSR payments would raise the federal deficit by $194 billion over the next decade or so.

So here's my question: Does any of this sit well with you? If one of the main reasons the GOP wanted (and presumably still wants) to repeal and replace the ACA was to lower premiums, then what are you going to do now that Trump's actions will raise them for so many Pennsylvanians? As a fiscal conservative, how can you support a plan that would both harm your constituents and add to the deficit?

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


October 16, 2017

Trump vs Bill of Rights

Round One.

A Supreme Court Decision, 75 years ago:
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.
Donald J. Trump, a few weeks ago:
President Donald Trump criticized some in the National Football League Friday night at a rally for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange, saying team owners should fire players for taking a knee during the national anthem.

Trump added that if fans would "leave the stadium" when players kneel in protest during the national anthem, "I guarantee, things will stop."

Trump said NFL owners should respond to the players by saying, "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired. He's fired!"

Round Two.

The First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Donald J. Trump, a few days ago:
He has little understanding of (or respect for) what protects our freedom.

October 15, 2017

Meanwhile, Outside

Sorry folks, I missed this one. It should have been posted a few weeks ago. This is the "State of the Climate" report from September about August.

From NOAA:
The August 2017 global land and ocean temperature was 0.83°C (1.49°F) above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F) and the third highest August global temperature in the 138-year record, behind 2016 (+0.90°C / +1.62°F) and 2015 (+0.88°C / +1.58°F). Nine of the ten highest August global temperature departures from average have occurred since 2005, with only one year from the 20th century (1998) among the top 10 warmest Augusts on record. August 2017 also marks the 41st consecutive August and the 392nd consecutive month with a global temperature at least nominally above the 20th century average.
The seasonal global land and ocean temperature for June–August 2017 was third highest such period since global records began in 1880 at 0.81°C (1.46°F) above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F). This value falls behind the record year 2016 by 0.08°C (0.14°F) and 2015 by 0.05°C (0.09°F).
It's still getting warmer out there. It's happening and it's undeniable, in fact.

Meanwhile in our climate denying White House, this is happening:
President Trump has nominated a skeptic of climate change science to lead the White House’s environmental policy board.

The White House late Thursday announced that Trump picked Kathleen Hartnett White to serve as a member, and eventually chairwoman, of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).
From the Washington Post:
From her post at the [Texas Public Policy Foundation], Hartnett-White often has challenged the conclusions of international experts on climate change science, as well as criticized the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are pollutants that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

“I take issue with that,” she told The Post last fall. “Carbon dioxide has none of the characteristics of a pollutant that could harm human health.”

She has displayed similar contempt for international climate efforts, calling scientific conclusions from United Nations panels “not validated and politically corrupt.” Hartnett-White has also questioned the idea that carbon dioxide is a pollutant at all, calling it “an odorless, invisible, beneficial, and natural gas.”
Yes, but the science actually says that with more CO2 in it, the atmosphere absorbs more infrared radiation, thus warming the planet.

It's getting warmer out there and the current administration (and their many many enablers in the House and Senate) are denying the science.