Democracy Has Prevailed.

March 31, 2017

March 31 - J.S. Bach's Birthday!

Yes, I know disgraced former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn is looking to cut an immunity  deal in exchange for his testimony and that the (soon-to-be?) disgraced chair of the House Intelligence Committee, David Nunes, was meeting with a pair of White House sources on White House grounds the night before the hastily called press conference where he just happened to report that Trump was, in fact, "incidentally" caught in some foreign surveillance, but it's March 31.

JS Bach's birthday:

We'll return to the end of democracy in the United States OR the end of Trump's presidency - which ever comes first.

In the meantime, enjoy some great Baroque counterpoint.

March 30, 2017

GOP Climate Science In Pennsylvania

Ain't it good to know that the GOP is the party of ideas?

GOP Gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner "explained" the warming planet this way:
“I haven’t been in a science class in a long time, but the earth moves closer to the sun every year–you know the rotation of the earth,” Wagner said. “We’re moving closer to the sun.”
Now it's been a few years since I've been in a science class as well, but I'm pretty sure this is as close to a true statement as we are to GN-z11 (a galaxy found in the constellation Ursa Major).

At last count, it's about 32 billion light years away.

No, we're not moving closer to the sun.  Sadly, this is what passes for science in some corners of the once great GOP.

March 29, 2017

In Case You Missed It...Mike Doyle's Petition

From Congressman Doyle's Facebook Page:

If you're so inclined, sign the petition.

Meanwhile, Outside...

From the climate scientists at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for February 2017 was 0.98°C (1.76°F) above the 20th century average of 12.1°C (53.9°F)—the second highest for February in the 138-year period of record, trailing behind the record set in 2016 (+1.20°C / +2.16°F) and ahead of 2015 by +0.10°C (+0.18°F). February 2017 was the highest monthly temperature departure from average since April 2016 (+1.07°C / +1.93°F) and the seventh highest monthly temperature departure among all months (1646) on record. This was the 41st consecutive February and the 386th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average. The February global land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of +0.07°C (+0.13°F) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase is twice as great since 1980.
This is what the science says and no amount of denial will change it.

NOAA has some art work for you to see:

And this is how they describe it:
This graphic compares the year-to-date temperature anomalies for 2017 (black line) to what were ultimately the eight warmest years on record: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2010, 2013, 2005, 2009, and 1998. Each month along each trace represents the year-to-date average temperature anomaly. In other words, the January value is the January average temperature anomaly, the February value is the average anomaly of both January and February, and so on. The average global land and ocean surface temperature for January–February 2017 was 0.94°C (1.69°F) above the 20th century average of 12.1°C (53.8°F)—the second highest global land and ocean temperature for January–February in the 1880–2017 record, behind 2016 by 0.18°C (0.32°F), but 0.09°C (0.16°F) higher than 2015.

The anomalies themselves represent departures from the 20th century average temperature. The graph zooms into the warmest part of the entire history.
Forget the incomplete line on the left (that's this year).  Take a look at the other side of the graph.  That's the year-to-date averages at the ends of their respective years (in other words, it's the average of the complete year).  See those top two lines?  That's the last two years.  Notice the gap between those two and the rest of them.

No matter what the pussy-grabber in the Oval Office says, it's still getting warmer out side.  Cutting the funding to the organizations tracking the temperatures won't change them.  Simply calling it a hoax won't either.

That's what the science says.

March 28, 2017

My SEVENTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey (UPDATE)

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."

I listened to your interview yesterday with Mike Pintek on KDKA yesterday (interestingly a day before the by now usual "Tuesdays For Toomey "events) and I was struck by your defense of Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch.

It was particularly interesting to hear you complain about Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer "thinks he has to oppose all things related to Trump" and the Senate Democrats' view that "we will go 4-8 years filling no vacancies on the Supreme Court because they can't get over the results of the election last year" when members of your party held exactly the same positions only a few months ago, on a 4 year vacancy at the Court and opposing all things related to Obama.

So here's my question: isn't that just a little hypocritical?

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

UPDATE 05/13/2017: This letter has been answered here.


March 27, 2017

The Laziest Son-of-a-bitch on the Planet

Nearly a year ago, while Trump was still looking for a running mate, the story came out that Junior reached out to Governor John Kasich's campaign with an offer to make him the most powerful vice president in history:
When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy. 
Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of? 
“Making America great again” was the casual reply.
Of course, Junior denied that the conversation went down that way, but having witnessed the first couple of months of the Trump presidency, no one can doubt the truth of it as Donald Trump has proven to be The Laziest Son-of-a-bitch on the Planet.

How lazy? Too lazy to attend daily intelligence briefings. Too lazy to read the executive orders that he signs. Too lazy to "care or particularly know about health care."

And while he may have proclaimed that "I Alone Can Fix It" during his convention speech, it appears that instead, He went to Jared.

In addition to "working on trade, Middle East policy in general, an Israel-Palestine peace deal more specifically, reforming the Veterans Administration, and solving the opioid crisis," the First Son-in-law is now also responsible for “modernizing the technology and data infrastructure of every federal department and agency; remodeling workforce-training programs; and developing “transformative projects” under the banner of Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, such as providing broadband internet service to every American.


White Nationalist Steve Bannon is, of course, in charge of blowing everything else up.

Aside from his main duties of tweeting and watching Fox News, Trump's responsibilities will be limited to visiting a Trump property one out of every three days, spending nearly one quarter of his time playing golf, and pining for the days when he could give Putin the old reach around in person, instead of virtually.

I'm Wondering If The Writers Had A Not-So-Hidden Message In Mind (ABC's Designated Survivor)

This season on TV I've been watching, Designated Survivor pretty faithfully. It's not a bad show (though not one of my favorites) and at this point I am watching it to see how it ends.

Here's how ABC describes the show:
Kiefer Sutherland stars as Tom Kirkman, a lower-level cabinet member who is suddenly appointed President of the United States after a catastrophic attack on the US Capitol during the State of the Union. Kirkman will struggle to keep the country and his family from falling apart, while navigating the highly-volatile political arena and leading the search to find who is responsible for the attack.
As far as I can see there are three basic narratives; Kirkman deals with his family issues, Kirkman rebuilds the entire government, and Kirkman investigates the conspiracy.

For me, the first two are far more interesting though as time goes in this post-Jack Bauer TV universe, ABC is weighing more on the somewhat absurd plot of a sitting president investigating what amounts to a politically motivated mass murder.

But what's the production to do once the conspiracy is unearthed?  What do they do then?  That's my problem.

On the other hand, if the investigation were to be wrapped up rather quickly, a bigger ongoing narrative could take center stage: a non-politician rebuilding a demolished political structure - but this time done right!

Sound familiar?

Perhaps I am projecting too much.

I am curious, though, about a speech to the nation that Kirkman gave this past week and whether the show's writers were using their platform to tell us something.  Here's the important text:
My fellow Americans, due to recent events we live in a time of uncertainty, leaving us with more questions than answers.
Tonight, I hope to put us back on the path to confidence and strength.
I do not believe that we can survive as a nation without transparency.
Without truth, there can be no trust.
As your President, I assure you that I and my administration will be honest and open on all matters, regardless of how the truth reflects upon me.
In times of crisis, we must not succumb to cynicism and mistrust.
Instead, we must maintain faith while embracing reason and truth not speculation and rumor.
Again, we can only attain this through transparency.
Believe me, I know what the American people have been feeling.
I know that there is confusion and fear.
I know that some do not even feel safe leaving their homes.
President Lincoln prophetically cautioned, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." We are at a similar crossroads.
But Lincoln did not expect his house to fall and neither do I.
The American people must now make the most important decision they've had to make in generations.
Will we be united in the pursuit of truth and reason? Or break apart because of conjecture and suspicion?
I trust this nation, my nation To make the right choice.
Thank you, good night, and God bless America.
Perhaps I am projecting too much but hot damn it seems like the writers didn't write that speech for Tom Kirkman to deliver to his fictional USA but for Kiefer Sutherland to deliver it to us.

March 26, 2017

Uh-Oh. Pop Some Popcorn. This Is Going To Get Interesting.

Earlier today, Donald Trump tweeted this:
Uh-oh.  It was one thing for the little-handed pussy-grabber to blame his failure to close the deal on the Democrats (when only a few months ago he said the repeal would be "so easy"):

But now, now Trump is blaming Club for Growth and The Heritage Foundation for his failure?

How must that be playing to our good friends on the editorial board over at The Tribune-Review?  Remember, the Trib's former owner, Richard Mellon Scaife, was closely tied to that most conservative of conservative think tanks.  As I wrote in 2009, an astute reader emailed me with some info on the Scaife/Trib/Heritage connections:
[Scaife] and Joseph Coors gave so much money that there's a plaque -- a bas relief of the Scaifer hisself -- in the lobby of the Heritage Foundation. Ever heard of Ed Fuelner? He's the CEO and all-encompassing head of the Heritage Foundation...
Let me interrupt - Ed Fuelner has had a monthly column in the Trib for some time now.  His latest was only 3 1/2 weeks ago.

Then there's the Club for Growth.

Wanna know who  was president of the Club for Growth from 2005 to 2009?

Pennsylvania's junior senator Pat Toomey.

And so now Donald J. Trump is blaming them for the collapse of the AHCA in the House of Representatives.

Assuming Newton's Third Law has some validity in the world of politics, I am looking forward to seeing the reaction(s) from Heritage, Club for Growth, Ed Fuelner and Pat Toomey.

March 25, 2017

Adam Schiff: Congress Must Create an Independent Commission on Russia

Donald Trump, Betrayer Of His Supporters

In a statement in the Oval Office after the Affordable Health Care Act failed, Trump said this:
And I never said -- I guess I'm here, what, 64 days? I never said repeal and replace Obamacare -- you've all heard my speeches -- I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days.
And this is simply not true.

February 9, 2016:
But conman Trump (or his co-conspirator, Sean Spicer) might say that the comment in the Oval Office was about speeches, not tweets - that he never said in a speech that he'd repeal and replace Obamacare.


On a webpage at dated Novemnber 1, 2016, that is in fact titled:
Trump said this in Pennsylvania:
When we win on November 8th, and elect a Republican Congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. I will ask Congress to convene a special session.
For the record "immediately" is a shorter time span than "64 days."

The Daily Press of Newport News Virginia reported this on September 20, 2016:
On Trump's first day in office "he is going to repeal every single Obama executive order, he is going to repeal Obamacare … and on day one, we're going to end the war on coal once and for all," [then-Vice President candidate Mike} Pence said.
Day One. Immediately. And now Trump wants us all to believe that he never said any of that.

How long before his supporters discover he's betrayed them?

March 23, 2017

I hate saying it, but I agree on something with Morning Joe

BREAKING: No Vote Today on Health Care!

Vote not happening today to repeal ACA and replace with TrumpCare!

#TrumpCare (Because he hates that name!)

March 22, 2017

A March 22 Birthday!

Let's ignore the cesspool of Trump corruption for a minute and celebrate the birth of a man who's given so so much to contemporary American culture.

William Shatner, born this day in Quebec in 1931.


And if you doubt The Shat's importance, take a look this.  Take a look at how far his John-Taupin has stretched:

Bill Shatner knows what it takes to be cool, sweetheart.

March 21, 2017

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

On March 4, and repeatedly afterwards, Donald Trump tweeted that President Obama, when was still in office wiretapped Trump Tower and the Trump campaign.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that in testimony before Congress, FBI Director James Comey said:
“I have no information that supports those tweets,’’ Comey said. “We have looked carefully inside the FBI,’’ and agents found nothing to support those claims.

He added that the Justice Department had asked him to tell the committee that the agency has no such information, either.
Ok, so here's the thing. If there's no evidence that supports those tweets, then there has never been any evidence to support those tweets. And yet, Trump repeated the allegation as recently as this week in his press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This, after numerous other refutations of his charge by former NSA/CIA director Michael Hayden, former DNI James Clapper and others.

The facts are clear and yet Donald Trump continues to push this untruth. So here's my question: How much does this erode your confidence in his ability as a leader?
And I will be posting whatever response I get from him or his office.


March 20, 2017

A Message To Chancellor Merkel

Wir wissen, wie du dich fühlst.  Auch wir können nicht glauben, was er sagt.  Und wir hoffen, dass er uns nicht alle umbringt.

Haben Sie einen guten Tag.

March 18, 2017

Happy Birthday To The OPJ!

I first posted this a few years ago:
I discovered a very interesting coincidence today.

As some of you may know, I was born on October 5.  It's a birthday I share with (among others)
  • Larry Fine (of the Three Stooges) - 1902
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson (host of Cosmos) - 1958
  • Chester A. Arthur (President of the United States of America) - 1829
It's that last guy that leads to the coincidence.  Chester A. Arthur was the 21st President, serving from September 19, 1881 (upon the death of James Garfield - who was shot the previous July) to March 4, 1885 when Grover Cleveland, was inaugurated to be the nation's 22nd President.

Grover Cleveland was born March 18, 1837.

You know who ELSE was born on March 18?

Maria, the OPJ.

Guess what, Maria.  You share a birthday with:
  • George Plimpton (founder of the Paris Review) - 1927
  • Reince Priebus (Chairman of the Republican National Committee) - 1972
I still got one of the Three Stooges.

Happy Birthday - 2017!

March 17, 2017

Summary of the Trump Budget

There are easier ways to dump Melania, Donald

While Trump's first budget decimates spending for health, education, the environment, science, the arts, and anything that aids the poor, the elderly, and children, it lavishes money on the military and security. But, not so fast there, New York City. According to the NYPD, Trump's budget would actually gut New York’s counterterrorism efforts, making the city less safe.

Very curious, especially given that that's where his current wife and son, Barron, reside.

Also, particularly nasty that he's cutting security funds for the city seeing as how it's needing to spend $127,000 to $145,000 per day for police protection for his wife and child and an average of $308,000 on those days when Trump is there as well.

Maybe he just wants to follow his buddy Rudy Giuliani's example of making the city as vulnerable as possible during attacks for whatever perverse reason. (It was Giuliani who overrode all objections and put the emergency command center in the World Trade Center.)

March 16, 2017

REMINDER: Congressman Mike Doyle TOWN HALL

We blogged on this a few days ago.

But I wanted to post a reminder anyway.  Here's the info:

And some coverage from The Trib:
U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, will hold a town hall meeting Saturday in Pittsburgh that will focus on health care and efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act implemented during Barack Obama's presidency.

The program will be from 2 to 4 p.m. in Oakland's Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum, 4141 Fifth Ave. Doors will open at 1 p.m.

Doyle and a panel of guests will make brief opening statements and then take questions from the audience, Doyle's office said. The panel will include Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa D. Miller, a representative for AARP Pennsylvania and two people who bought health insurance through the Affordable Care Act's marketplace.
I'll be there. I'll be the guy who looks exactly like, well, me.

March 15, 2017

March 15, The Ides Of Trump

From The Huffington Post:
President Donald Trump probably won’t be too pleased with a lot of the mail that shows up at the White House this week.

As part of the Ides of Trump campaign, thousands of people plan to send postcards to the president on Wednesday to share messages of concern, frustration and a little bit of mockery.
I'm one of them.

From The Boston Globe:
A president whose preferred mode of communication is a 140-character tweet is about to receive a deluge of opposition the old-fashioned way: via snail mail. Dubbed the “Ides of Trump,” the movement aims to inundate President Trump with postcards and to set a postal record: 1 million pieces of mail to one person in a single day.

Why, you might ask?

Chiefly, to annoy him.
Here are my submissions:

You are in clear 
violation of the 
Emoluments Clause.
For the good of the Country.


The American People
are entitled to
see your
We're entitled to
know whether
you're a


You're a birther.
That was (and still is)
a racist argument.
You should be ashamed.
(But we both 
know you're


You lost the 
popular vote in 2016.
Lost. By
2.9 million votes.
Most Americans
Do not like 

And finally:

Climate science is
Obama's birth certificates 
were real.
3-5 million people did not vote
illegally in 2016.
No, you can't just grab them 
by the pussy.

Happy Ides of Trump!

These will be in the mail today.

March 14, 2017

My FIFTH Open Letter To Senator 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."

As may know the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office recently analyzed the American Health Care Act currently making it way through the House of Representatives.  In the report, they wrote:
CBO and [Joint Committee on Taxation] estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law. Most of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate. Some of those people would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums.

Later, following additional changes to subsidies for insurance purchased in the nongroup market and to the Medicaid program, the increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number under current law would rise to 21 million in 2020 and then to 24 million in 2026. The reductions in insurance coverage between 2018 and 2026 would stem in large part from changes in Medicaid enrollment—because some states would discontinue their expansion of eligibility, some states that would have expanded eligibility in the future would choose not to do so, and per-enrollee spending in the program would be capped. In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.
By my count that's 24 million Americans uninsured by 2026 - that's only 9 years from now, by the way.  Given that some of those 24 million (tens of thousands, perhaps?) are Pennsylvanians, and given that without adequate health insurance, some of those people will be facing some serious medical issues and the corresponding medial bills, what are your plans to protect the health care of so many of your constituents?
And I will be posting whatever response I get from him or his office.


Thank you, Kellyanne

March 13, 2017

Senator McCain, Trump, And (Possible) Libel

Let's start here:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday said President Trump either has to retract his claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, or provide evidence of the allegations.

“President Trump has to provide the American people, not just the intelligence community, but the American people, with evidence that his predecessor, former president of the Unites States was guilty of breaking the law,” McCain told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

If he did, then that would be a serious crime.  If he didn't and Trump either knew he didn't or he didn't even bother to check to see if it was true then it's Trump who could be guilty of a crime - libel.

If whatever intelligence that may exist came from a legal (FISA or criminal) wiretap.  Perhaps the Justice Department was monitoring a person or persons in communication with someone attached to Trump in Trump tower. 

If that's the case, then Trump already has the authority to release that information.  No Congressional investigation is needed.  He can simply declassify and release whatever's there.

If that's the case, let's see it.

Let's see who in the Trump campaign/Organization was talking with someone under Foreign Intelligence Surveillance or let's see who in the Trump campaign/Organization was talking with someone under federal investigation for committing a crime.  And let's see what was being said and when.

There's no evidence Obama committed a wire tap crime here.  But there's lotsa questions about Trump.

March 12, 2017

Um, Thank You For Saying That?

I suppose I'm probably on the wrong side of the joke.

I'd explain what I mean but I suppose it would probably just prove the point.

March 11, 2017

Congressman Mike Doyle - Affordable Care Act TOWNHALL

From the event's Facebook Page:
US Representative Mike Doyle will be holding a town hall meeting focused on health care and legislation to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. The meeting will take place March 18 from 2 to 4 pm at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, 4141 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
We've already posted a few things on Doyle's fight to protect the ACA:
But here's something new you may have missed, as reported by the Huffington Post:
Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) suggested Wednesday that one reason Republicans are unhappy with the Affordable Care Act is because men must pay for health care plans that cover maternity services.

The congressman’s comments came during a lengthy markup session in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of the first steps House Republicans took to advance their bill to repeal and replace the health care law. During the hearing, Rep. Michael Doyle (D-Pa.) asked his colleague Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) to explain what he meant when he said premiums were “skyrocketing” in his state “because of the mandates from Obamacare.”
Yea, that's right. The Vah-jay-jay ruins EVERYTHING!

Here's the video:

And my transcript:
DOYLE: I just like to say to our our friend from Oklahoma none of us think this bill is perfect. I've never heard a single Democrats say that this bill was perfect. We knew that it needed work and we wanted ,for the last seven years, to work with Republicans to try to improve this bill.

You guys weren't very interested in that.

I'm not sure what the gentleman is talking about when he talks about mandates, What mandate in the Obamacare bill that he take issue with? Certainly not with pre-existing conditions or caps on benefits or letting your child stay on the policy to twenty-six . Because i'm curious what is it were mandating -

SHIMKUS: Will the gentleman yield?

DOYLE: Yea, sure.

SHIMKUS: What about men having to purchase prenatal care?

DOYLE: What, it - ?

SHIMKUS: I'm just, I.... Is that not correct?

DOYLE: Reclaiming my time -

SHIMKUS: And should they?

DOYLE: Reclaiming my time.

CHAIR: Woa, woa, woa, woa.

DOYLE: There's no such thing as ala carte insurance, John. You don't you don't get to go down a list and say give me..

SHIMKUS: That's the point. We want the consumer to be able to go to the insurance market and be able to -

DOYLE: Reclaiming my time

SHIMKUS - negotiate on originally my time

DOYLE: tell me what insurance company will do that. There isn't an single insurance company in the world that does that, John. You're talking about something that doesn't exist.
Not the first time:
Rep. John Shimkus is standing by a controversial comment that global warming isn't something to worry about because God said he wouldn't destroy the Earth after Noah's flood.
For the record Congressman Doyle actually understands insurance (he co-founded an insurance company a decade or so before becoming a member of Congress, y'know) and Congressman Shimkus simply does not.

How do I know?

A similar question was posed to Consumer Reports in 2013:
Health insurance, like all insurance, works by pooling risks. The healthy subsidize the sick, who could be somebody else this year and you next year. Those risks include any kind of health care a person might need from birth to death—prenatal care through hospice. No individual is likely to need all of it, but we will all need some of it eventually.

So, as a middle-aged childless man you resent having to pay for maternity care or kids' dental care. Shouldn't turnabout be fair play? Shouldn't pregnant women and kids be able to say, "Fine, but in that case why should we have to pay for your Viagra, or prostate cancer tests, or the heart attack and high blood pressure you are many times more likely to suffer from than we are?" Once you start down that road, it's hard to know where to stop. If you slice and dice risks, eventually you don't have a risk pool at all, and the whole idea of insurance falls apart.
But let's not let rational thought get in the way of the GOP gutting the ACA and let's not forget the reason for this blog post: MIKE DOYLE'S HAVING A TOWN HALL MEETING!

I'll be there.

March 10, 2017

Real Science vs Trump Science

First, we start here at the American Institute of Physics:
[John] Tyndall set out to find whether there was in fact any gas in the atmosphere that could trap heat rays. In 1859, his careful laboratory work identified several gases that did just that. The most important was simple water vapor (H2O). Also effective was carbon dioxide (CO2), although in the atmosphere the gas is only a few parts in ten thousand. Just as a sheet of paper will block more light than an entire pool of clear water, so the trace of CO2 altered the balance of heat radiation through the entire atmosphere.
And then:
The next major scientist to consider the Earth's temperature was another man with broad interests, Svante Arrhenius in Stockholm. He too was attracted by the great riddle of the prehistoric ice ages, and he saw CO2 as the key. Why focus on that rare gas rather than water vapor, which was far more abundant? Because the level of water vapor in the atmosphere fluctuated daily, whereas the level of CO2 was set over a geological timescale by emissions from volcanoes. If the emissions changed, the alteration in the CO2 greenhouse effect would only slightly change the global temperature—but that would almost instantly change the average amount of water vapor in the air, which would bring further change through its own greenhouse effect. Thus the level of CO2 acted as a regulator of water vapor, and ultimately determined the planet’s long-term equilibrium temperature.
That was in the 1890s.  More than a century ago.

The basic idea is that the sun warms the surface of the Earth and the atmosphere (with the above mentioned water vapor and its regulator, CO2) blocked it's dispersal into space.  More CO2, more insulation more warmth.

Again this scientific idea has been around more than a century.

And yet this week, Donald Trump's Head (Dismantler) of the Environmental Protection Agency was on CNBC and this happened:
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.

"I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"But we don't know that yet. ... We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis."
And yet, in reality (a concept the Trump Administration has yet to fully comprehend), the science has been around for more than a century.

Happy Friday.

March 9, 2017

Congressman Doyle Takes Them To School On The ACA. Again.

My transcript:
Thank You Mr. Chairman, I support the amendment.

You know there is a lot of amnesia on on this committee. Let me just remind my friends where we were before the Affordable Care Act and what your constituents got for their money.

Before the ACA, insurance companies could discriminate against sick people.  We put a waiver on the pre-existing condition clause that they couldn't do that anymore. That didn't exist before ACA. In America, one of the leading causes of bankruptcy - were people that were losing their homes because they had insurance but they had a child or someone in the family with a chronic condition and they come up against their cap and they couldn't get any more payment from the insurance company and they would hold fish fries to try to raise money to buy medicine for their kids and eventually they went bankrupt and lost their homes.

We put an end to that. We said insurance companies can't cap your benefits annually or lifetime. That didn't exist before the for the Affordable Care Act. Women were being charged twice as much as men. We put an end to that. Children could stay on their parents policy now till they're twenty-six. That didn't exist before the Affordable Care Act. We expanded the Medicaid program. Fourteen million Americans got covered on that.  Eleven million of which which never had insurance before. For the first time got insurance under the Affordable Care Act. That didn't exist before we implemented that.

So don't call this a failure because it's not a failure. If it was such a failure why isn't that you haven't just abolished all those things we did? No, you haven't. You're keeping pre-existing conditions. You're keeping caps on the benefits. You know you're letting kids stay on their policy until they're twenty-six. Because these were good things that we did on the Affordable Care Act - that the American people support.

Now all you've done in this bill is basically giveaway six hundred billion dollars over the next ten years to corporations and rich people. You have taken that money out of the bill and now the way you're going to pay for this is to eviscerate the Medicare expansion program - to just eviscerate the Medicaid expansion program - and to take money out of the Medicare trust fund.

This, this is an improvement?

You haven't done a thing to lower costs in this bill. You're going to see the elderly pay more for their insurance because these subsidies aren't based on one's income anymore - they're based on their age. And and now the bands are going to be five - you're going to be able to charge insurance companies five times as much as the as the youngest band in the program, where right now it's three.

All these things that you're making such a big deal - that you're keeping, because if you didn't keep them, you guys to be tarred and feathered out of your districts - that you're keeping them because these were things we did that every one of you voted against, when we did this with the Affordable Care Act. So  don't stand here those of us that did this bill and watch fifty of our colleagues lose their position because they knew it was the right thing to do and cast the vote anyway and try to take credit that you've somehow done something great for the American people.

The only thing that's any good about what you're proposing are the things that we did eight years ago in the Affordable Care Act.

I yield back.
Give 'em hell, Congressman. Give 'em hell.

March 8, 2017

U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA-14), Earlier Today

A transcript:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

For seven years, you promised the American people you're going to repeal and replace Obamacare and this is what you come up with? This is a bad joke.

No wonder you've been hiding this dog in a cave with an armed guard until Monday night. No wonder you're not holding hearings on this bill. No wonder you're rushing through this markup. No wonder you're going to try to vote in two weeks.

Today, Republicans give you a survival-of-the-fittest, starring healthcare for the healthy and wealthy. For the rest of Americans, you're going to pay more money. You're going to get less coverage. The American Enterprise Institute: 10 to 15 million people are going to lose their health care.

And how do they pay with for this dog? Over in The Ways and Means Committee, they're playing reverse Robin Hood. Six hundred billion dollars in tax cuts for companies and rich people!

Boy, they really are looking forward to getting that money.

And you pay for this bill on the backs of the Medicaid expansion and Medicare recipients.

It is disgraceful. And when people find out about this bill you're gonna wish you don't go anywhere near your hometown town-hall meetings.  You've been ducking them and wait till you go home and get a handful of this.
Give 'em hell Congressman! Give 'em hell!

Ah...In Celebration Of International Women's Day

As seen today in NYC:

What a classy guy.

Classiest little-handed pussy grabber, ever.


It's freakishly insane that this is still necessary.

From the UN:
On International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. - — UN Secretary-General, António Guterres
From USAToday:
The Women's March on Washington galvanized women across the globe and gave voice to a rising political force on a history-making day. More than 2 million people took to the streets in Washington, D.C., and cities small and large on Jan. 21 to protest a new administration they fear will roll back civil, human and reproductive rights.

Will that voice thunder again?

On Wednesday, International Women's Day, the organizers behind the January march are planning a showing of economic solidarity in walkouts, rallies and marches dubbed A Day Without a Woman.
From KDKA:
Wednesday is International Women’s Day, and some groups are calling on women to go on strike to make a point about women’s rights and equal pay.

Some groups here in Pittsburgh and elsewhere are supporting “A Day Without a Woman,” similar to the “Day Without Immigrants” held last month.

Women, who are able, are asked to strike and actually walk off the job on Wednesday, and then join a rally in Downtown Pittsburgh to be held in front of the City County Building Downtown at 4 p.m.

In January, women marched through the streets of D.C. and other cities, including Pittsburgh, to show solidarity and protest President Donald Trump’s Administration.

Some marchers fear he will roll back both civil and reproductive rights.
It's simply embarrassing that this is still necessary.

March 7, 2017

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

This week, I'd like to ask you about Planned Parenthood.  In a recent piece at the York Dispatch, I found this:
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., was brief in explaining his support for defunding Planned Parenthood, saying any taxpayer dollars going to the organization “are at least indirectly subsidizing abortions.”
You have to know that this is, at least indirectly, misleading, don't you?  Since the government funding going to Planned Parenthood is mostly in the form of Medicaid and Title X reimbursements for testing and treatment of STDs, cancer screening and prevention, and so on.  As most of that money is from Medicaid, a plan designed to help out low-income people, denying that funding to Planned Parenthood, at least indirectly, would more or less directly result in a lessened level of preventative care for thousands of low income Pennsylvanians - your constituents.

Are you comfortable with that?
And I will be posting whatever response I get from him or his office.


March 6, 2017

Trump's FISA Court Problem

More than a few years ago I learned about something called the law of the excluded middle (in symbolic logic, it's
p ∨ ~p

And that means for any proposition (p), it is either true or it's negation (that's the ~ negating the "p") is true.  It can't be both, it can't be neither and it can't be anything in the middle.  This middle is, as they say, excluded.

So when Trump tweeted:
(We'll ignore the "McCarthy" part as it's not pertinent to this exercise.)

The proposition that Obama had his "wires tapped" is either true or it isn't.

First off, a president can't legally order a wire tap.  So if Trump is saying that President Obama did so and did so illegally (even though there's no evidence to that fact), he's opening himself up to a libel/defamation charge.  Either that, or he's spouting even more non-truths that he believes to be true.  The Congress needs to investigate his dishonesty or his competence.

If it was a legal wiretap, then as the NYTimes writes:
If it was a criminal wiretap, it would mean that the Justice Department had gathered sufficient evidence to convince a federal judge that someone using the phone number or email address probably committed a serious crime. If it was a national security wiretap, it would mean a federal judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had a basis to believe the target was probably an agent of a foreign power, like Russia.
And let's remember that the members of the FISA Court are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, at this point the exactly not at all liberal John Roberts.  And if they're holdovers from the previous Chief Justice, that would be the even less liberal William Rehnquist.

So which is it?  Trump's dishonesty?  His mental competence?  Or that there is evidence that he committed a crime?

For the record:
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Sunday denied any suggestion that Trump Tower communications were wiretapped before the election.

For the part of the national security apparatus that he oversaw, "there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign," Clapper told Chuck Todd in an exclusive interview on Sunday's "Meet The Press."
So it looks like we're left with dishonesty/mental competence.

March 4, 2017

Senator Toomey's Poll Data Hypocrisy

In his recent defense of Trump's address to the Congress, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey wrote this:
The American people overwhelmingly want the Democrats to take the same approach-to reach across the aisle and look to cooperate with President Trump where possible. There are many issues where a bipartisan Congress and the President can make real progress: reforming the tax code, fixing our schools, improving our broken health care system. I hope my Democrat colleagues will look at each discrete issue, work constructively, and then decide whether or not to support an idea based on its merits. Unfortunately, some of my friends on the other side of the aisle may be hearing a call to promote gridlock. I hope the recent level of obstructionism, meant to prevent the President from even having advice from his own cabinet, does not foretell their approach to legislation.

None of us will agree with the President all the time. Nevertheless, the country needs lawmakers to resist the call of obstructionism and work with the President, where they can, to tackle the great fiscal, economic, and security challenges of our time.
First Senator, you're not exactly being truthful about that poll you cite, are you?  Here's what it says:
A nationwide poll of 2,148 registered voters by Harvard University’s Center for American Political Studies (CAPS) and the Harris Poll reveals a strong yearning for compromise and bi-partisanship after a tumultuous honeymoon period for the Trump administration. More than 2 in 3 registered voters (68%) believe President Trump should compromise on his agenda and work together with Congress, and nearly 3 in 4 registered voters (73%) feel Democrats should look to cooperate with President Trump and his administration to make deals on the issues they support, rather than boycott and resist. [Emphasis added.]
It's "on issues they support," not on issues "where possible."  Any issue is a "where possible" issue, isn't it?

Granted, it's a nuanced skew on your part, but it's a skew none the less.

And by the way, where's the part about how that same poll says that 68% believe Trump "should compromise on his agenda"?  Why did you leave that part out in your attack on your "Democrat colleagues?"  Nearly as many think that he should compromise than think that Democrats should cooperate with Trump on issues they support (see how that works?) Where's your call to Trump for him to compromise?

Why did you decide to leave that part out?

In any event, if you want some cooperation, you can start by being a tad more courteous and dump the incorrect "Democrat" in favor of the correct "Democratic"  when you're picking out adjectives for your political opponents.

Oh and let me ask you this: don't you think it's hypocritical of you to cite poll data to back this whole argument up?  Democrats should cooperate, you say, because the American people say so.

Where was that exact same idea 11 months ago when 64% of the American people wanted the GOP-controlled Senate to hold hearings and vote on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland?

Do you think we've forgotten your participation in GOP obstructionism?

March 3, 2017

More On Jeff Sessions' Perjury

From The Wall Street Journal:
The Trump administration says Attorney General Jeff Sessions was acting as a then-U.S. senator when he talked to Russia’s ambassador at an event during last year’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, but Mr. Sessions paid for convention travel expenses out of his own political funds and he spoke about Donald Trump’s campaign at the event, according to a person at the event and campaign-finance records.

Mr. Sessions made comments related to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign at a Heritage Foundation event during the Republican convention in July, when he met with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, according to a person at the event in Cleveland.
And remember he said under oath that he "did not have communications with the Russians" and a lie under oath is called perjury.  And remember, he voted "guilty" on President Clinton's perjury charge.

So far, all he's doing is recusing himself.  He needs to resign.

And an independent investigation needs to be set up into Trump's Russian connections.


March 2, 2017


Just asking for a friend

Was This Perjury? What Sessions Said And Then What He Said...

First, the frame:
Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.

One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.
During his confirmation hearings then-Senator Sessions this happened:

When asked what he'd do if he discovered any communication between "anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign" and the Russian government, he said under oath:
Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities.  I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.  And I'm unable to comment on it.
 And yet in his own Senate office, he himself talked to the Russian Ambassador.

The wiggle room is obvious when you look at Sessions' denial:
I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. [Emphasis added.]
But that's not what he said under oath.  He said no communications with the Russians - at all.  None.  Zip.  Nada.  The null set.  The big goose egg.

By the way, Kislyak was the guy at the center of Mike Flynn's troubles:
National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.
Say it with me: And independent investigation, independent of the Sessions' DOJ, independent of the GOP-dominated House, independent of the GOP-dominated Senate.



March 1, 2017

Just Before Trump Spoke Last Night, The House Gave Him Political Cover

You may have missed this story:
House Republicans have rejected a Democratic effort to require the Justice Department to provide Congress with information about President Donald Trump's finances and possible campaign ties to Russia.

The GOP-led Judiciary Committee on Tuesday defeated the resolution on a party-line vote of 18-16. Republicans said it would be premature and duplicative of their own efforts on the matter.

The committee vote came a day after the full, Republican-led House blocked an attempt by Democrats to force Trump to release his tax returns to Congress.
What they blocked was this legislation - it's a "Resolution of Inquiry" that is looking for any information regarding:
(1) any criminal or counterintelligence investigation targeting President Donald J. Trump, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Roger Stone, or any employee of the Executive Office of the President;

(2) any investment by any foreign government or agent of a foreign government in any entity owned in whole or in part by President Donald J. Trump;

(3) President Trump’s proposal to maintain an interest in his business holdings, while turning over day-to-day operation of those interests to his sons Donald J. Trump, Jr., and Eric Trump;

(4) President Trump’s plan to donate the profits of any foreign governments’ use of his hotels to the United States Treasury, including the decision to exclude other payments by foreign governments to any other business holdings of the Trump Organization from that arrangement;

(5) the Foreign Emoluments Clause (U.S. Constitution, Article I, § 9, Clause 8) as it may pertain to President Donald J. Trump or any employee of the Executive Office of the President
As well as any documents regarding any other conflict of interest and so on.

The Constitution constructs the three branches in such a way that each has the responsibility to be a check and balance for the other two.  In this case it's the responsibility of the House Judiciary Committee to investigate any possible criminal activity of the Executive Branch (like ties to the adversarial power that hacked the DNC in order to influence a presidential election OR any conflicts of interest arising out of the Chief Executive's refusal to separate himself from his business enterprises OR his violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause).

Or the the majority republicans on the committee can give Trump some political cover.

Yay, America!