Democracy Has Prevailed.

July 31, 2015

Guilty! Chuck McCullough Was Found GUILTY

Guilty and it's about time.

From the P-G:
Charles P. McCullough this morning was found guilty of illegally cutting checks on behalf of an elderly widow to local Republican candidates and a charity his wife ran.

The former Allegheny County councilman was also found not guilty of the remaining 14 of 24 charges in a theft trial that began in April and stemmed from Mr. McCullough, 60, of Upper St. Clair being charged in 2009.
And from the Trib:
Allegheny County Common Pleas Senior Judge Lester G. Nauhaus found McCullough, 60, of Upper St. Clair guilty of 10 counts — five third-degree felonies and five second-degree misdemeanors — for abusing his power of attorney to take money from the $14.7 million estate of Shirley Jordan, an elderly dementia patient who died in 2010 at the age of 93.
Charles P. "Chuck" McCullough will be sentenced on November 9.

In case you need to be reminded, it's been 2353 days since Chuck was arrested.

That's many many days.  How many?  Let's put it into some perspective.

Ronald Reagan was inaugurated January 21, 1981.  2353 days later was July 1, 1987.

July 1, 1987 is 119 days after the date Reagan said this to the nation:
A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not. As the Tower board reported, what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages. This runs counter to my own beliefs, to administration policy, and to the original strategy we had in mind. There are reasons why it happened, but no excuses. It was a mistake. I undertook the original Iran initiative in order to develop relations with those who might assume leadership in a post-Khomeini government.
Yep, Iran-Contra.  Think about that - the time spanning the first day of the first Reagan Administration to the day Reagan admitted selling arms for hostages was, in fact, shorter than the time it took to arrest, try, and find Chuck McCullough guilty.

Updates as necessary.

July 29, 2015

You Have To Be Frickin Kiddin Me - New Kensington Ten Commandments Suit DISMISSED

Sorry for not posting this earlier.  I've been working up a PodCamp presentation.

An astute reader emailed me a link to this Trib piece the other day:
A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument in front of Valley Junior-Senior High School in New Kensington.

The ruling could bring an end to a three-year legal battle.

However, it does not address the underlying question of whether the monument is a prohibited government endorsement of religion or a permissible historical landmark.
That's because the opinion focused on whether the plaintiffs had any standing to bring the suit in the first place.  From the Trib:
U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry accepted New Kensington-Arnold School District's argument that resident Marie Schaub, her daughter, and the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation have not proven they have been sufficiently harmed by the monument to have standing in the case.
The harm, in my humble opinion, is to the Constitution and it's too bad the G.W. Bush appointed judge doesn't see that.

It's too bad this very "no harm no foul" decision got in the way of McVerry following Supreme Court precedent in that at a public school:
The pre-eminent purpose of posting the Ten Commandments, which do not confine themselves to arguably secular matters, is plainly religious in nature, and the posting serves no constitutional educational function. That the posted copies are financed by voluntary private contributions is immaterial, for the mere posting under the auspices of the legislature provides the official support of the state government that the Establishment Clause prohibits. Nor is it significant that the Ten Commandments are merely posted rather than read aloud, for it is no defense to urge that the religious practices may be relatively minor encroachments on the First Amendment.
It's too bad he didn't use the opportunity to point out the Supreme Court precedent that such Decalogue postings are clearly impermissible according to the Constitution.

And they have been for some time now.

From the Freedom From Religion Foundation:
Judge McVerry has not yet ruled on a companion case filed against the Connellsville Area School District over a similar monument.

"It is troubling that judges are closing the courthouse door on plaintiffs who simply want government actors to abide by the Constitution," said Barker.
 Let's hope McVerry doesn't find a way to bury that lawsuit, too.

July 26, 2015

An Important Message From The Nightly Show.

Larry Wilmore has the floor:

Because it's important.

Look, there's a lot of speculation in the media and online right now about what exactly happened to Sandra Bland.  Sometimes the most rational thing say is, "I don't know."  I don't know what happened to Sandra.  And to engage in a guessing game as to how she passed, this or that, it can be reckless.  But I do know that the racial climate is super-charged right now.  We joked about it earlier but the black community is on edge.  And it doesn't surprise me to see a black woman get irritated with a police officer.  Just as it doesn't surprise me to see a police officer neglect to de-escalate a tense situation.  I mean, to almost feels like they were two players in a Greek tragedy marching towards an inevitable conclusion.  Sandra Bland is one victim but her story speaks to a larger issue.  An issue we should be trying to solve before it becomes a problem again.
He said earlier:
The fact that we live in a world where black people have to strategize so they're not brutalized by the police is insane.

July 24, 2015

A 2 Political Junkies Proclamation

WHEREAS, on July 21st, the Huffington Post declared that "The Song Of Summer Is Dead," as it being more than halfway through July and yet, no Song of Summer has emerged as a contender for that title; and, 

WHEREAS, people need a Song of Summer to get us through these cruel months; and,

WHEREAS, recent promotional videos for the City of Pittsburgh--ranging from Time Magazine's business-oriented tribute, to The New York Time's trendy view, to the AMPD Group's barftastic cheesefest--have been very, very, very white/and very, very, very male/for the male gaze; and,

WHEREAS, Adam Shuck's EAT THAT, READ THIS (subscribe already!) has come across a piece--Pittsburgh! Then & Now by DJ Icey White--that comments on the lacking-in-diversity promos of the City of Pittsburgh in a musical manner.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the 2 Political Junkies blog does hereby recognize Pittsburgh! Then & Now and DJ Icey White for promoting and preserving the very, very, very whiteness/malesness of the City of Pittsburgh in a satirical, musical form worthy of the title of Song of Summer.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the 2 Political Junkies blog does hereby declare July 25th, 2015 to be “Pittsburgh! Then & Now and DJ Icey White Day” in the City of Pittsburgh and further declares Pittsburgh! Then & Now to be the "Song of Summer" in the City of Pittsburgh.

Sponsored by Maria of 2 Political Junkies 

In Blogger, July 24th, 2015

July 22, 2015

A Follow-Up On The P-G's Jennifer Graham

Last week, the Post-Gazette's newest columnist/editorial board member, Jennifer Graham, published this fawning column in One Of America's Great Newspapers.

Just to give you an idea as to Graham's frame of reference, let me give you her opening paragraph:
If email had existed in the 1940s, Ayn Rand and Taylor Caldwell might have been friends. Both born at the turn of the century in different countries — Ms. Rand in Russia, Ms. Caldwell in England — they became celebrated American novelists who told stories to advance conservative ideals and extol the primacy of the individual.
And then there's this a paragraph later:
While Ms. Rand published just 10 books in her lifetime, her legacy endures and expands. Ms. Caldwell wrote more than 30 novels (many set in Pennsylvania), but her influence dwindles. The Taylor Caldwell Appreciation Society, a cached Web page says, is defunct. The domain name is offered for sale by a domain squatter. Ms. Caldwell’s books, which just four decades ago topped The New York Times bestseller list before publication, populate the shelves of thrift stores and sell for pennies on Amazon — proof that a thing’s cost has nothing to do with its worth.
Safe to assume she's both a fan of Caldwell and disappointed at the depreciation of her literary worth.

There are, of course, a few issues with the column.  Take, for example, this:
In her memoir, “On Growing Up Tough,” Ms. Caldwell details a childhood bereft of both love and leisure, a life in which she became a conservative by observing the hypocrisies of the liberal. At 16, she owned two dresses and one pair of shoes and worked 12 hours a day in a factory. At lunchtime, she had to decide whether to spend her allotted 15 cents on either a sandwich or car fare home. (If she ate, it was an 8-mile walk home.)
See, this is one part that confuses me.  Caldwell was born in 1900 in the UK and by the age of 7 she was living near Buffalo, NY.  And so wouldn't at least some of the harsh working conditions she endured in the United States in 1916 have been mitigated by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938?

Of that act we learn from Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez that:
The minimum wage is now 75 years old. It became the law of the land with President Franklin Roosevelt's signing of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938. The night before he signed the bill, this is what FDR said about it in one of his storied fireside chats:

"Except perhaps for the Social Security Act, it is the most far-reaching, far-sighted program for the benefit of workers ever adopted here or in any other country. Without question it starts us toward a better standard of living and increases purchasing power to buy the products of farm and factory."
And yet, Graham praises Caldwell in her very next paragraph with this:
She decried “The Dolt” who thinks the world owes him a living and whose favorite expression is “I gotta rightta …” and “Big Mama,” worse than Big Brother because she carries the “stupefying and poisoned syrup” of tender, loving care. Big Mama, Ms. Caldwell said, “is infinitely more dangerous to the national character, infinitely more demoralizing.”
Someone will have to someone to me how this points to "the hypocrisies of the liberal."

Unless, of course, Caldwell wasn't complaining about her tough life.  Or perhaps she was complaining that other people had it somewhat easier than she did (because, you know, of Big Mama guv'ment) and that's just so unfair!

But deeper than that, what sort of person was Jennifer Graham's literary heroine, Taylor Graham?

Graham writes:
Thirty-three of Ms. Caldwell’s sold enough to be considered best-sellers. In those, and a rollicking memoir, she defended a worldview so conservative that she was embraced by the John Birch Society, the group William F. Buckley Jr. denounced as overly radical.
This requires some clarification. Taylor Caldwell's ideas weren't just "embraced by" the Birchers.  She wrote for the Birchers.  And how do I know this?  From the John Birch Society website:
One of Caldwell’s most fascinating works, however, was not a novel but an autobiographical collection of condensed articles originally appearing in American Opinion (the journal established by JBS Founder Robert Welch) entitled On Growing Up Tough. [Italics in original.]
I wonder why Jennifer Graham didn't say that.

But hey, did you know that Taylor Caldwell had an FBI file??

Did you know that in February, 1942 (just 3 months or so after the Pearl Harbor Attacks) Taylor Caldwell wrote a letter to local NY Congressman James W. Wadsworth?  He forwarded the letter to the FBI and the FBI put it in her file.

She wrote:
There has been a great deal of discussion about the removal of Japanese and American-Japanese away from strategic areas along the west coast, a discussion sprinkled with revillings such as "dirty Japs," "filthy little yellow men." Much suspicion has been directed against Japanese-Americans, and their loyalty doubted. However, if, after due investigation, it seems best to remove these people from strategic areas, it must be done.
And then a paragraph later:
If Japanese are to be removed, what about German and Italians also? I live in the suburb of Buffalo, N.Y., which is the third largest Italian population. The German-Americans of Buffalo and vicinity and especially in this German suburb are vicious Nazis.
And then on the second page of this letter we can read:
From personal experience, only recently, I discovered it is dangerous to denounce the Axis in Buffalo. One of the rumors going around, and believed seriously, is that the planes that attacked Pearl Harbor were British planes piloted by Jews!
To their credit the Hoover FBI (THE HOOVER FBI!) knew enough to add a few warnings in the file.  For example this one dated 7/10/62:
This office is aware of the fact that Miss CALDWELL is a world renowned novelist who has produced twenty outstanding books. However it is apparent from her rather involved letters that she is possessed of a vivid imagination which tends to exaggeration.
And this from 1968:
...although previous experience with Miss CALDWELL demonstrates she has a penchant for intermingling fact and fiction indiscriminately, and has, in the past, published an article bearing on the internal security of the United States representing it to be factual whereas it was completely fictional.
Right about now, I am wondering if Jennifer Graham is rethinking her devotion to this Bircher-published, rightwing-paranoid, not-taken-seriously-even-by-Hoover's-FBI, literary giant.

And if she's not, then why the heck not?

July 21, 2015

Meanwhile, Outside...(With A Question Or Two For Senator Toomey)

From NOAA:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for June 2015 was the highest for June in the 136-year period of record, at 0.88°C (1.58°F) above the 20th century average of 15.5°C (59.9°F), surpassing the previous record set just one year ago by 0.12°C (0.22°F). This was also the fourth highest monthly departure from average for any month on record. The two highest monthly departures from average occurred earlier this year in February and March, both at 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 20th century average for their respective months, while January 2007 had the third highest, at 0.89°C (1.60°F) above its monthly average.

June 2015 also marks the fourth month this year that has broken its monthly temperature record, along with February, March, and May. The other months of 2015 were not far behind: January was second warmest for its respective month and April was third warmest. These six warm months combined with the previous six months (four of which were also record warm) to make the period July 2014–June 2015 the warmest 12-month period in the 136-year period of record, surpassing the previous record set just last month (June 2014–May 2015).
It's still getting warmer out there and human activity is a significant contributor to that warming (no matter what Senator Toomey says).

This being a political blog and this being a political season with a significant Senate race just starting, let's take a closer look at Senator Toomey's recent interaction with climate science legislation.

From the Sestak campaign, we learn that:
Having already asserted that climate change science is “still very much disputed, and it’s been debated,” it’s no surprise that Toomey voted yesterday against bipartisan legislation that would have created a grant program for school districts to develop climate science curriculum and materials.
This was sent out July 16, 2015.

And the legislation was this Amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015.

So Senator, why did you vote against this legislation that would have created this grant program to instruct students about climate change?  Could it be that you disagree with some or more of the Amendment's findings?  The Amendment starts with Congress finds that:
(1) carbon pollution is accumulating in the atmosphere, causing global temperatures to rise at a rate that poses a significant threat to the economy and security of the United States, to public health and welfare, and to the global environment;
(2) climate change is already impacting the United States with sea level rise, ocean acidification, and more frequent or intense extreme weather events such as heat waves, heavy rainfalls, droughts, floods, and wildfires;
(3) the scientific evidence for human-induced climate change is overwhelming and undeniable as demonstrated by statements from the National Academy of Sciences, the National Climate Assessment, and numerous other science professional organizations in the United States;
(4) the United States has a responsibility to children and future generations of the United States to address the harmful effects of climate change;
(5) providing clear information about climate change, in a variety of forms, can encourage individuals and communities to take action;
(6) the actions of a single nation cannot solve the climate crisis, so solutions that address both mitigation and adaptation must involve developed and developing nations around the world;
(7) investing in the development of innovative clean energy and energy efficiency technologies will-- (A) enhance the global leadership and competitiveness of the United States; and (B) create and sustain short and long term job growth;
(8) implementation of measures that promote energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy will greatly reduce human impact on the environment; and
(9) education about climate change is important to ensure the future generation of leaders is well-informed about the challenges facing our planet in order to make decisions based on science and fact.
Senator, I am a voter and a constituent of yours and I am asking: With what part of that do disagree?  Why vote against the grant program legislation?

Do you still think that there's a significant debate about the validity of the science?

July 18, 2015


Question: Are the other GOP presidential candidates more happy or sad today? Happy because Trump's comments slamming McCain for being "captured" in Vietnam make them all look less extreme? Or, sad because his racist comments about Mexicans are going to lose the few Latino voters the Republicans had?

July 16, 2015

An Open Letter To The P-G's Jennifer Graham On Caitlyn Jenner's ESPY Award

Hey, Jennie;

It's Dayvoe over at 2PJ.  Did you catch the ESPYs last night?  ABC News had a good story on the last part.

If you didn't catch it, it's really worth a watch.

If didn't see the speech in real time, Time has a transcript.

And if you don't have time to read the whole thing, here are some highlights:
All across this country, right now, all across the world, at this very moment, there are young people coming to terms with being transgender. They’re learning that they are different and they are trying to figure out how to handle that, on top of every other problem that a teenager has.

They’re getting bullied, they’re getting beaten up, they’re getting murdered and they’re committing suicide.
And then she (yes, SHE) offered up some data:
Just last month, the body of 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson, a transgender young woman of color, was found in a field in Mississippi stabbed to death. I also want to tell you about Sam Taub, a 15-year-old transgender young man from Bloomfield, Michigan. In early April, Sam took his own life. Now, Sam’s story haunts me in particular because his death came just a few days before ABC aired my interview with Diane Sawyer. Every time something like this happens, people wonder, ‘Could it have been different, if spotlighting this issue with more attention could have changed the way things happen?’ We’ll never know.
A few paragraphs later, Caitlyn said:
But this transition has been harder on me than anything I could imagine. And that’s the case for so many others besides me. For that reason alone, trans people deserve something vital. They deserve your respect. And from that respect comes a more compassionate community, a more empathetic society and a better world for all of us.
And then later:
It’s not just about one person, it’s about thousands of people. It’s not just about me, it’s about all of us accepting one another. We are all different. That’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing.
Why am I pointing all this out?

Because about six weeks ago, you wrote this in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Actually, it’s not fine for many Americans, who view gender dysphoria as a psychiatric disorder, not a laudable lifestyle choice. To them, the Annie Leibovitz depiction of a beguiling Caitlyn in a corset, legs coyly crossed, arms tucked behind her as if bound, is a Photoshopped finger in the face. Worse, they — unlike Mr. Jenner — are forbidden authenticity of response. Faced with the omnipresent image of a person who is female from the waist up, male from the belly button down, they are ridiculed as bigots if they suggest, in the quietest of voices, that such a person would have headlined the tragic freak shows in carnivals of old.
It’s still “mister,” despite the fiction presented by Vanity Fair and its breathless cheerleaders, because until below-the-belt surgery is done, Mr. Jenner is still male, albeit a male with great hair and breast implants. The truth, obscured by the noisy hosannas, is that the image is no more — or less — a lie than any other magazine cover. It comes, however, with a sinister bonus: the suggestion that anyone who is sexually conflicted can, and should, be awarded a radical rearrangement of their privates (even at taxpayer expense) and be awarded all the rights and privileges of their desired gender, to include bathroom privileges, without anyone protesting that the bearded lady has no clothes.

It’s issues like these, not a wild-eyed bent for injustice, that makes conservatives wince as Mr. Jenner joins Chaz Bono and Laverne Cox in the don’t-call-them-freaks parade.
So Jennie, given what you wrote and what Caitlyn Jenner said, don't you think you have another column to write?  One that, oh I dunno, at the very least walks back some of your freakshow rhetoric?  Perhaps even a mea culpa of some sort?

If you do that, if you can get that column published, then you'll be on the right side of history - at least on this issue.

But if you don't, if you never write it, you'll simply always be wrong.



July 15, 2015

The Tribune-Review Misleads Its Readers Again. Not Surprising.

From today's Trib:
Details matter, President Barack Obama said early Tuesday, announcing a deal with Iran to, supposedly, stunt its nuclear weapons program. That must be why the president omitted some of the most important details that render this “accomplishment” the rank appeasement it is.

The agreement “is not built on trust, it is built on verification,” the president insisted. But that's where the devil — or in this case, the ayatollah — is in the details. For key provisions of the inspection regimen redefine “ineffectual.”

Read past the technical prohibitions and you'll learn that United Nations inspectors are allowed to only press for visits to Iranian military sites. Iran can refuse. And then there's a protracted appeals process giving Tehran all the cover it needs to hide illicit activity. It's pretty much the same deal for International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.
Yes, details do matter. And it's obvious from the above that my good friends on the Trib braintrust utterly failed to grasp a significant number of details in the agreement.

Let's look at what the agreement actually says about the inspectors, visits to Iranian military sites and whether Iran can "refuse."  On pages 42-43 of the agreement we read:
75. In furtherance of implementation of the JCPOA, if the IAEA has concerns regarding undeclared nuclear materials or activities, or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA, at locations that have not been declared under the comprehensive safeguards agreement or Additional Protocol, the IAEA will provide Iran the basis for such concerns and request clarification.

76. If Iran’s explanations do not resolve the IAEA’s concerns, the Agency may request access to such locations for the sole reason to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA at such locations. The IAEA will provide Iran the reasons for access in writing and will make available relevant information.

77. Iran may propose to the IAEA alternative means of resolving the IAEA’s concerns that enable the IAEA to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA at the location in question, which should be given due and prompt consideration.

78. If the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA cannot be verified after the implementation of the alternative arrangements agreed by Iran and the IAEA, or if the two sides are unable to reach satisfactory arrangements to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA at the specified locations within 14 days of the IAEA’s original request for access, Iran, in consultation with the members of the Joint Commission, would resolve the IAEA’s concerns through necessary means agreed between Iran and the IAEA. In the absence of an agreement, the members of the Joint Commission, by consensus or by a vote of 5 or more of its 8 members, would advise on the necessary means to resolve the IAEA's concerns. The process of consultation with, and any action by, the members of the Joint Commission would not exceed 7 days, and Iran would implement the necessary means within 3 additional days. [Emphases added.]
Looks to me like that's at most 24 days.  That's what the braintrust says is enough time for Iran to hide its "illicit activity."

And if the resolution isn't resolved?  For that we can turn to pages 19-20 of the agreement.  After describing another 30 day process the agreement reads:
Upon receipt of the notification from the complaining participant, as described above, including a description of the good-faith efforts the participant made to exhaust the dispute resolution process specified in this JCPOA, the UN Security Council, in accordance with its procedures, shall vote on a resolution to continue the sanctions lifting. If the resolution described above has not been adopted within 30 days of the notification, then the provisions of the old UN Security Council resolutions would be re-imposed, unless the UN Security Council decides otherwise.[Emphasis added.]
So if the Iranians have somehow built a new plant that the IAEA wants to see and if they refuse all access to it and if the issue isn't resolved, then (by my count) about 8 weeks later all the old sanctions snap into place.

That's what the braintrust described as "ineffectual."

And for some intellectual backup, they do this:
As John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a regular Trib columnist, told us Tuesday, “This deal is an American Munich. Barack Obama is trying to appease the mullahs in Tehran by making one concession after another.

“The result will be not just a nuclear Iran but half a dozen nuclear weapons states in the world's most volatile and dangerous region,” Mr. Bolton warned.
I can't see how any of that is accurate after reading the agreement.

Let's remember, class, that 13 years ago, John Bolton said this:
We are confident that Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction and production facilities in Iraq.
And this:
There is no doubt in our mind that Saddam Hussein has an active chemical and biological warfare effort.
And of the war his boss started in order to deal with Iraq's WMD, he said:
I expect that the American role actually will be fairly minimal. I think we'll have an important security role.
None of which turned out to actually be true.

So why should we take anything that John Bolton says seriously?  More importantly, why does the Trib treat him with any sort of credibility?

July 13, 2015

It's Monday, So The Tribune-Review Editorial Board Is Misleading You.

It's amazing that we get to do this so darn often.

In today's Trib, the braintrust has this bit of nonsense:
Just in time for the 2016 presidential election comes a push by Democrats to “automatically” register people to vote unless they opt out.

Attention, illegal aliens: Your seat at the table is being prepared.
So the Democrats are introducing legislation to get "illegal aliens" voting rights, right?  That's what they said, right??  And what do you think the implication is when we read this a few paragraphs later?
Not that the idea is anything new or revolutionary — at least among Democrats. Hillary Clinton in the run-up to her party's presidential coronation has called for automatic voter registration and chastised Republican presidential candidates for “trying to stop millions of citizens from voting,” The Hill newspaper reports.

The key word here is “citizens.” The message to illegals in the 10 states and the District of Columbia that provide them driver's licenses couldn't be more clear: Welcome to the party! [Emphasis added.]
And which party would that be?

And which party do you think the braintrust wants their readership to think it is?

The mislead here is clear.  They want their readers to think that the Democrats are putting up legislation to "automatically" register "illegal aliens" to vote and join Hillary Clinton's party.

Now let's look at that legislation.  It's H.R. 2694 and you wanna know something?  All that stuff about "illegal aliens" is completely missing from the text.  It's not there.

Take a look:
A Bill to amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to require each State to ensure that each individual who provides identifying information to the State motor vehicle authority is automatically registered to vote in elections for Federal office held in the State unless the individual does not meet the eligibility requirements for registering to vote in such elections or declines to be registered to vote in such elections, and for other purposes. [Emphases added.]
And what sort of "identifying information" is that?  From the bill (that's now just sitting there on Capitol Hill):
(A) The individual’s legal name.
(B) The individual’s age.
(C) The individual’s residence.
(D) The individual’s citizenship status.
(E) The individual’s electronic signature.[Emphasis added.]
See that?  So if someone doesn't have the proper citizen status, that info is transmitted to the election officials who'd then deny the "automatic" voting registration for that person.  So all that stuff about "illegal aliens" being registered to vote is simply not in the bill.

They made it up or they didn't bother to check the facts before making the charge.

So which is it?  Dishonesty or incompetence?

We report.  You decide.

July 9, 2015

So Nice Bush Can Make A Buck Or Two Nowadays.

Did you see this from ABC yesterday (July 8):
Former President George W. Bush charged $100,000 to speak at a charity fundraiser for U.S. military veterans severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, and former First Lady Laura Bush collected $50,000 to appear a year earlier, officials of the Texas-based Helping a Hero charity confirmed to ABC News.

The former President was also provided with a private jet to travel to Houston at a cost of $20,000, the officials said.
How nice.  How nice that he wasn't inconvenienced by having to pay for his own transportation to a gig where he made $100K.

But this isn't about the charity, of course.  Considering the damage Bush's wars caused they probably need all the help they can get.  No, this is about Dubya hisself.  From ABC:
According to the charity’s yearly reports to the IRS, it raised about $2,450,000, after expenses, from the 2012 gala where President Bush spoke. The following year, the gala netted the charity substantially less, about $1,000,000.
So it's safe to assume that his presence at this charity function (a charity made necessary, let's remember, by the consequences of his disastrous policies in the first place) netted them $1.45 million they wouldn't have otherwise snagged.  Nothing but good for the charity, of course. It could have been a wee bit more, of course. From ABC:
A spokesperson for the former President, Freddy Ford, confirmed the payment but declined to comment on the criticism over the $100,000 speaking fee from the veterans' charity.

In an e-mail statement, Ford said, “President Bush has made helping veterans one of his highest priorities in his post presidency.”
Just not enough of a priority to make $1.45 million into $1.55.  The charity which, according to ABC "helps to provide specially-adapted homes for veterans who lost limbs and suffered other severe injuries" could probably have done something nice with that money they gave to Bush - if only he'd donated that money back to them.

How nice that George W. Bush got to profit so handsomely off of the unnecessary suffering he caused.  With that extra $170 grand, I am sure his retirement looks just a little more comfortable these days.

How nice for him.

July 7, 2015

PodCamp Announcement

I'll be hosting a PodCamp session this year.  This one, specifically:
Writing – Is it simply nouns and adjectives, verb and adverbs, determiners and pronouns arranged in some sort of “proper” grammatical order? Well, yes it is and no it really isn’t. In writing well, there’s also rhythm and meter, tempo, texture and sound to wrestle with. What separates you as a writer from the writer sitting next to you? What separates interesting writing from boring writing? In a word it’s style – particularly YOUR style. This session is designed to give you some tools to be a better writer and to grow your own style as a writer.
It's at Saturday August 15th at 1pm.

I realize there are a few caveats that need to be addressed: first, that I know what good writing is and second, that I'd know how to achieve it.

Valid points, of course. (On the other hand, I have been doing this for almost eleven years.)

The event is free and you might get to meet some other more important local bloggers.

July 4, 2015

Liberty Will Reign

And "John Adams - While I live, let me have a country, a free country!" here (embedding disabled).

July The Fourth

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.

They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.