Democracy Has Prevailed.

November 30, 2017

It's About Frickin Time!!! (Chuck McCullough's Appeal)

From Tuesday's Post-Gazette:
Former Allegheny County Councilman Charles McCullough believes his 2015 conviction for theft and misapplication of funds ought to be thrown out. Or, at the very least, that he be granted a full and fair hearing over his allegations of impropriety against the judge who presided over his trial.

His attorney, noted former federal prosecutor and law professor Bruce Antkowiak, told the state Superior Court on Tuesday that the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence to sustain the conviction and never proved that McCullough intended to steal anything. Instead, he argued, his client was exercising authority granted to him by a power of attorney signed by his elderly, wealthy client.
Last we heard of this case, nine and a half months ago (on the eighth anniversary of Chuck's arrest), the case had yet to be scheduled to be heard before the Superior Court.
And now it has been - yay.

There's also this from the P-G:
On the eve of sentencing in November 2015, McCullough said he learned that Judge Nauhaus had a private, ex-parte conversation with his trial attorney Jon Pushinsky, prior to the start of trial. In that conversation, Judge Nauhaus allegedly told Mr. Pushinsky that McCullough ought to choose to have the case heard by the judge and not a jury.
 This is what I wrote back in February:
Basically, after the non-jury trial was done, [McCullough] said he took a judge-only trial because he feared repercussions from judge Nauhaus (sic) if he didn't. On the other hand, he said under oath that no one threatened or coerced him into taking the judge-only trial. And so (still from The Trib):
The District Attorney's Office charged McCullough in November with two counts each of perjury, false swearing and obstruction of justice, along with one count of unsworn falsification.
So now there's a perjury case while McCullough appeals his conviction that came after his arrest 8 years ago. The perjury case is set to start 5 days after the end of his Superior Court appeal.
I'm not sure I understand the legal argument here but it looks like by simply making this argument for appeal, he's conceding the perjury charge.

But then again, I am not an attorney.

In any event, it's been ten years, eleven months and seventeen days since Dennis Roddy, then writing for the P-G, first broke this story.

November 29, 2017

The Logical Outcome Of The GOP's Reality Creation

Thirteen or so years ago Ron Suskind published this in the NYTimes Magazine:
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
Back then the Republicans in the White House (who, however evil they were, seem so utterly sane now by comparison, don't they?) were creating new realities left and right:
  • Waterboarding isn't torture
  • Iraq had an active WMD program
  • The Iraq war will be over in a few weeks
And so on.

How has that played out a dozen years later?

From the Washington Post:
President Trump has expressed certainty that the special-counsel probe into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia will be finished by the end of the year, complete with an exoneration from Robert S. Mueller III, according to several friends who have spoken with him in recent days.

Trump has dismissed his historically low approval ratings as “fake” and boasted about what he calls the unprecedented achievements of his presidency, even while chatting behind the scenes, saying no president since Harry Truman has accomplished as much at this point.

Trump also has occasionally questioned whether the “Access Hollywood” video of him crowing about assaulting women was doctored or inauthentic, asking confidants whether they think the sexual braggart on tape sounds like him, according to two people who have heard him make the comments.
And from the New York Times:
In recent months, they say, Mr. Trump has used closed-door conversations to question the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. He has also repeatedly claimed that he lost the popular vote last year because of widespread voter fraud, according to advisers and lawmakers.
Scary part is that he's either presenting a "reality" that he knows to be untrue (in which case he's lying to everyone) or he's presenting a "reality" that he actually believes to be true.

For a guy who has the constitutional authority to vaporize all of human civilization into its constituent atoms, it's very scary either way.


November 28, 2017

My THIRTY-EIGHTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey (UPDATED)

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."

Donald Trump is attacking the press again, Senator. Recently, he tweeted,
"[Fox News] is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth from them!"
Answering that attack was conservative writer David Frum, who tweeted:
Inside the US, CNN’s reporting is protected by the First Amendment and the courts. Outside the US, US-affiliated journalists do ultimately depend on the protection of the US government. Trump’s words are a direct attack on those international journalists' freedom & even safety
And former head of the CIA and NSA, General Michael Hayden, who tweeted:
If this is who we are or who we are becoming, I have wasted 40 years of my life. Until now it was not possible for me to conceive of an American President capable of such an outrageous assault on truth, a free press or the first amendment.
Senator, your constituents are watching. You need to pick a side. Do you agree with Donald Trump's attack on the free press or not?
I await your response.
And I will be posting whatever response I get from him or his office.

UPDATE: Senator Toomey kinda sorta almost answers this letter here.


November 27, 2017

Exercising My First Amendment Rights At Trump Tower

I spent Thanksgiving on Long Island (burp) and then I made a pilgrimage to Trump's gross, gilded tower where took this pic:

In my defense I point out what the Constitution says here:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
And to this far far greater president (and far far better man) than Donald Trump:
The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.
Donald Trump is a bad president. Donald Trump is a bad man.

It's my patriotic duty to say so.

November 25, 2017

Meanwhile, Outside

It's that time of the month.

From the climate scientists at NOAA:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for October 2017 was 0.73°C (1.31°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.1°F). This value tied with 2003 as the fourth highest October temperature on record since global records began in 1880, behind 2015 (+1.0°C / +1.8°F), 2014 (+0.79°C / +1.42°F), and 2016 (+0.74°C / +1.33°F). The 10 warmest Octobers on record have all occurred during the 21st century, specifically since 2003. October 2017 also marks the 41st consecutive October and the 394th consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average.
And that's just for the month of October.

For the year-to-date, the picture is this:
Averaged as a whole, the January–October 2017 global land and ocean surface temperature was the third highest for January–October since global records began in 1880 at 0.86°C (1.55°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.4°F), behind 2016 (highest) and 2015 (second highest). Nine of the 10 warmest January-October global land and ocean temperatures occurred during the 21st century (since 2005), with only one year from the 20th century (1998) among the top 10. With two months remaining, the 2017 global land and ocean temperature will likely end among the three highest in the 138-year record.

The global land surface temperature was 1.33°C (2.39°F) above the 20th century average of 9.3°C (48.7°F) and the second highest January–October temperature since global records began in 1880, behind 2016. The global ocean surface temperature was the third highest such period at 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20th century average of 16.1°C (61.0°F), behind 2016 and 2015.
On the other hand, on recent NYTimes Op-Ed page we read:
The Trump administration is making it harder to find government information about climate change on the web. If you searched Google for the words “climate change” a little over six months ago, one of the first hits would have been the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

But that was before April 28, when the agency began systematically dismantling its climate change website, which had survived Democratic and Republican administrations and was a leading source of information on a global problem that the president, as a candidate, labeled “a hoax.”

If you search those words today, a link to the E.P.A. site may not appear until the second or third search results page.
When you do get to the EPA webpate, you see these words:
This page is being updated.

Thank you for your interest in this topic. We are currently updating our website to reflect EPA's priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt. If you're looking for an archived version of this page, you can find it on the January 19 snapshot.
However, if you do want to hunt down some pre-inaugural science, you might just come up empty as the Trump/Pruitt EPA has been scrubbing the site of actual science.

Meanwhile, it's still getting warmer out there. From a recent Governmental report (based on science rather than Trumpian non-science):
Many lines of evidence demonstrate that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. Formal detection and attribution studies for the period 1951 to 2010 find that the observed global mean surface temperature warming lies in the middle of the range of likely human contributions to warming over that same period. We find no convincing evidence that natural variability can account for the amount of global warming observed over the industrial era. For the period extending over the last century, there are no convincing alternative explanations supported by the extent of the observational evidence. Solar output changes and internal variability can only contribute marginally to the observed changes in climate over the last century, and we find no convincing evidence for natural cycles in the observational record that could explain the observed changes in climate.
A warmer planet and human influence is the dominant cause.

November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving - 2017!

When I was a boy in New England (where you can find the best pizza on the planet) every year on Thanksgiving day it was a tradition for at least one New York radio station to play one particular 18 minute piece of music - some time around noon.

This piece of music.

BTW, this piece of music has been updated.
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Happy Thanksgiving!

November 21, 2017

My THIRTY-SEVENTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey (Thanksgiving Edition)

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."

First off, let me wish you and everyone around you a Happy Thanksgiving. I don't know if you do it but some people I know take the opportunity at Thanksgiving to acknowledge what they're thankful for.

So let me.  I am thankful that we live in a constitutional democracy where:
  • There is equal protection under the law. Where everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender status or wealth gets treated exactly the same way under the law as every one else. It doesn't matter if you're working an hourly wage or you're a billionaire real estate developer from Queens, your freedom is protected with the same vigor, regardless.
  • There is a healthy respect for the rule of law. Just as everyone has equal protection under the law (see above), everyone lives happily under the same Constitution. Again, it doesn't matter if you're working an hourly wage or you're a billionaire real estate developer from Queens, you're subject to the same Constitution as everyone else - no second class citizens at all!
  • Everyone (again, see above) has exactly the same access to the corridors of political power as everyone else. Working an hourly wage or with a billionaire's real estate portfolio, your voice has exactly the same influence over the country's politics as anyone else's.
That's what America stands for.

What are you thankful for, Senator?
I await your response.
And I will be posting whatever response I get from him or his office.


November 20, 2017

More On Rick Saccone

One of the benefits, I suppose, of writing for an old blog (and the one you're reading is more than 13 years old - that's 91 in dog years) is having a history of writing about the same person/idea.

Something familiar (something peculiar...) bubbles up in the news and I get to ask myself, "Hey, have we written about this before?"

Where am I going with this?

Here - from Potter of the P-G:
Over 500 Democratic committee members gathered in Washington, Pa., on Sunday to pick former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb, who has never run for office before, to be their champion in a special election for the 18th Congressional District to replace Tim Murphy.

“There’s a long road ahead,” Mr. Lamb told the audience gathered inside the Washington High School gym after he earned a majority of votes on the second ballot. “There will be no doubt at the end of these next few months who represents the families of this district.”

The state party’s executive committee must ratify the committee’s pick this week. But barring extraordinary circumstances, Mr. Lamb will face state Rep. Rick Saccone, who Republican leaders picked as their champion last weekend, in a March 16 special election.
Conor Lamb is going up against Rick Saccone.

I'll leave it to others to debate the choice of Lamb as I don't know much about him at all.

But Rick Saccone. Well, we have been here before.

Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth) is the guy who introduced legislation looking to declare 2012 "The Year of The Bible" while also supporting some rather nasty "anti-Sharia" legislation.

Apart from the unconstitutionality of each, does anyone not see the logical inconsistency here?

He's also in favor of waterboarding, which is torture, which makes it a war crime:
Basically, torture is an act intentionally intended to inflict severe and long-lasting physical and mental pain, including amputation, scarring, burning, maiming, mutilation. Coercion means a much lower threshold of pain or discomfort such as stress positions, pushing, temperature change, meal manipulation, loud music, exploiting phobias, trickery, yelling, etc. If done skillfully and in the right circumstances, water-boarding or WB is very effective and causes no long-lasting damage. It is used to train our special forces so I don't consider it torture. The untrained should not try it. Appendectomies are simple procedures for a doctor but I do not want my neighbor performing one on me. In fact, the 911 Commission documented we have only used WB three times in Iraq and those are spelled out in the book for those who want the truth.[Emphasis added.]
This is who Conor Lamb is running against.

November 19, 2017

Hey, I Have An Al Franken Story, Too!

Let's start with what this story is not:
  • It's not about sexual harassment.
  • It's not that important.
But it's mine so here it is anyway.

Sometime before October 2006, I got an freebie from the Jason Altmire campaign to attend a fundraiser (described here) taking place at an amazing loft apartment in the Strip.

The place was packed and sweaty when I got there, armed with a short stack 2PJ business cards ready to network the blog. I think I was on time. Perhaps I was a little late. I really can't remember that detail. Eventually, the place got so crowded it was very difficult to hear clearly anything more than the conversation right in front of you or to even make it over to the kitchen area for the tasty catered nibblies. I remember hanging out with Doug Shields for a little while. I noticed that he was wearing a pair of jeans so new he'd hadn't yet taken off that tape strip that runs down the side and tells you what size the pants are. And I remember meeting Yarone Zober - who angry joked an accusation that we'd outed him on 2PJ. That was a surprise as it's not something we'd ever do here. But just to be sure I checked and no, we hadn't.

Mayor Ravenstahl was there as well - very carefully watched over by his stern-faced, obviously well-armed body-guard.

Then Al Franken arrived. After milling around for a while he addressed the crowd saying among some other things (and I am paraphrasing) that since the Republican Party had moved so far to the right the Democratic Party had become an even bigger "big tent" party. It was now the liberal party AND the conservative party. Remember, this was only 2006. Think of how much farther rightward they went!

Eventually, I got up the courage to introduce myself and to hand him a 2PJ card (that was the goal of the evening - to get a 2PJ card into Al Franken's Harvard-educated hands). I went over to do the usual fan-boy stuff; shake hands, say I'm a big fan and it's great to meet you, etc. That part went off without a hitch. He was shorter than I expected and I noticed, when handing him the card, that his fingernails were bitten short. I gave him the card telling him that his book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" was an inspiration for the blog.

"Oh, I know this blog," he said looking down at the card.

My mood suddenly soared. Al Franken has actually read 2 Political Junkies???

"Really?" I asked, beaming.

"No, I'm just kidding." He answered dryly, taking the card and putting it into his pocket.

My mood suddenly soured. Why do that to someone you don't know, someone who just told you he was a fan?

As I wrote at the very tippy top of this blog post, this has nothing to do with sexual harassment. In the grand scheme of things - and let's be honest, in comparison to Franken's harassment story - it's not really that important at all.

But it's my Al Franken story and regardless of anything else, it shows that he could be a real dick.

November 16, 2017

Wait...This Was On FOX NEWS? (Shepard Smith Debunks The Uranium One Fake News)

Again this was on Fox "News."  The Washington Post has a good summary. He started with the charge:
Nine people involved in the deal made donations to the Clinton Foundation totaling more than $140 million. In exchange, Secretary of State Clinton approved the sale to the Russians, a quid pro quo. The accusation [was] first made by Peter Schweizer, the senior editor-at-large of the website Breitbart in his 2015 book “Clinton Cash.” The next year, candidate Donald Trump cited the accusation as an example of Clinton corruption.
Then added Trump's retelling of the charge:
Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia. Well, nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.
The Post goes on:
Smith called the statement “inaccurate in a number of ways,” noting that “the Clinton State Department had no power to veto or approve that transaction.” Rather, it must be approved by an interagency committee of the government consisting of nine department heads, including the secretary of state.

Most of the Clinton Foundation donations in question, he pointed out, came from Frank Giustra, the founder of the uranium company in Canada. But Giustra, Smith noted, “says he sold his stake in the company back in 2007,” three years before the uranium/Russia deal and “a year and a half before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state.”
Smith sums up:
. . . The accusation is predicated on the charge that Secretary Clinton approved the sale. She did not. A committee of nine evaluated the sale, the president approved the sale, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and others had to offer permits, and none of the uranium was exported for use by the U.S. to Russia.
Shepard Smith joins other fact-checking organizations in debunking this story:
But this hasn't stopped our friends at the Trib from pushing this falseness. Only last month they editorialized:
New controversy over a 2010 deal that gave Russia 20 percent of America's uranium-mining capacity raises questions about whether the Obama administration knew about alleged corruption involving Russian nuclear officials.
What an interesting wrinkle! Now it's whether the Obama administration knew about the corruption (that didn't happen)!

A conservative newspaper and a conservative cable news channel. I am wondering if my friends at the Trib caught Smith's debunking and whether those stubborn facts will stick with them.

Yea, I was kidding.

November 14, 2017

My THIRTY-SIXTH 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."

First, I want to commend you for taking a stand against Alabama Senatorial candidate Roy Moore. Especially since you did it before the most recent allegations of sexual assault against him hit the news on 11/13/2017.

Yesterday on the blog (before those latest allegations against Moore were made public) I asked you if the allegations were serious enough for you to demand that Roy Moore "step aside" then what of the very similar allegations leveled against the man you voted for for president, Donald Trump? Should he step aside? Should he have stepped aside last year?

Feel free to answer that question whenever you'd like.That's a freebie.

Today, however, I'd like to ask a different question: What if Roy Moore wins? If he does, then every statement he makes, every bit of legislation he proposes, every vote that's in agreement with the rest of GOP will be pinned to the rest of you. He'll be your guy and you'll have to answer for every last bit of what he does.

What are your plans when or if that happens?

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

The Senator answered this question (kinda, sorta) here.


November 13, 2017

Let's Give Credit Where Credit Is Due (But Raise A Few Questions In The Process)

NBC News is reporting:
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey on Sunday said Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore should "step aside" and suggested current Sen. Luther Strange as a potential write-in candidate to defeat him.

During an interview on Sunday’s “Meet The Press,” Toomey, R-Pa., would not say whether it would be better or worse for Senate Republicans if Moore is elected as Alabama’s next senator, and he did not rule out the possibility that Republicans could work to unseat Moore if he wins the special election against Democrat Doug Jones on Dec. 12.

“You know, this is a terrible situation, nearly 40-year-old allegation, we'll probably never know for sure exactly what happened," Toomey said. "But from my point of view, you know, I have to say, I think the accusations have more credibility than the denial. I think it would be best if Roy would just step aside.”
"I think Republicans have addressed this in a thoughtful and responsible way, right? We've got a 40-year-old allegation that is unprovable, probably," Toomey said. "And despite that, many of us are suggesting that the preponderance of the evidence seems to support the accuser and, therefore, many of us, I'll speak for myself, would prefer for Roy to step aside. I think that's a responsible way to approach this."
Well, not all Republicans have addressed this in a thoughtful and responsible way, have they Pat?

There's this Republican in Alabama:
“Take Mary and Joseph. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler told the Washington Examiner. “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

“There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Ziegler concluded. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.”
Then there's this other Republican in Alabama:
“The idea that accusations like this would stop his campaign is ludicrous. If this was a habit, like you’ve read with Bill Cosby and millions of dollars paid to settle cases and years of witnesses, that would be one thing,” Henry said. “You cannot tell me there hasn’t been an opportunity through the years to make these accusations with as many times as he’s (Moore) run (for office) and been in the news.

Henry said he believes legal action should be considered against Moore’s accusers, finding their story unbelievable.

“If they believe this man is predatory, they are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years. I think someone should prosecute and go after them. You can’t be a victim 40 years later, in my opinion,” [State Rep. Ed] Henry said.
Yes, that's the solution, prosecute the woman making the allegations that a 32 yr old man fondled her when she was 14.

But we're getting slightly off the topic. I would like to give some credit to Pat Toomey for standing up to credible allegations of sexual misconduct and for him to have backbone to ask a member of his own party who's been the target of these allegations to "step aside."

But what about this allegation?
We walked into that room alone, and [he] shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.

Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But [he] is much bigger — a looming figure — and he was fast, taking me by surprise and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when [his employee] burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself.
Can you guess who he is? Yes, Pat. That's the man you voted for for president. The man who's agenda you're pushing in the Senate.  The man who said about the above assault:
“Take a look, you take a look, look at her — look at her words — you tell me what you think. I don’t think so. I don’t think so.”
Pat, how much more would it take from the admitted pussy-grabber in the Oval Office for you to ask him to "step aside"?

November 10, 2017

More On Christopher Ruddy At Point Park (He Said WHAT?)

From The P-G:
“He loves the press,” Mr Ruddy said. When Mr. Trump threatened to pull broadcasting licenses from unfriendly media outlets, Mr. Ruddy surmised, “He’s blowing off steam.”
From Politico:
President Donald Trump charged Friday that the media aren’t an enemy of the White House but an adversary of the American people.

In a since-deleted tweet Friday afternoon, the president blasted what he called “FAKE NEWS media,” singling out in particular The New York Times, CNN and NBC News.

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @CNN, @NBCNews and many more) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people. SICK!” Trump tweeted. The post was deleted shortly after.

He revised his tweet 16 minutes later to include more news organizations in his category of so-called fake news: ABC and CBS.

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” the amended tweet said.
Back to the P-G:
Still, his gentle portrayal of Mr. Trump frustrated some. When Mr. Ruddy said that in all his conversations with Mr. Trump, “I’ve never heard him say anything racially improper,” there were groans. One audience member erupted, “Why didn’t he apologize to the Central Park Five?” — a reference to five black teenagers falsely accused of a 1989 rape. Mr. Trump had publicly called for their execution. Mr. Ruddy said he wasn’t familiar with the case.
Christopher Ruddy wasn't familiar with the case?? Here, Chris. Let me help you a bit. This is from Newsmax (your own news source) thirteen months ago:
Donald Trump this week continued his longtime assertion that the "Central Park Five" were guilty of the brutal 1989 rape of a banker while jogging, despite being exonerated by DNA evidence more than a decade later.

"They admitted they were guilty," the Republican presidential candidate told CNN in a statement on Thursday.
Then there's this from Newsmax from 2014:
New York City's $40 million settlement in the Central Park 5 case is "a disgrace," says Donald Trump, who claims justice has not taken place.

"Settling doesn't mean innocence, but it indicates incompetence on several levels," Trump said in an opinion piece Saturday in the New York Daily News. "This case has not been dormant, and many people have asked why it took so long to settle? It is politics at its lowest and worst form."
And yet, Newsmax CEO (and Trump-friend) Christopher Ruddy said he's not familiar with the case.

November 9, 2017

Christopher Ruddy Wants You To Think He's Not Really That Bad Of A Bad Guy

Well, I was there last night.

So was Potter of the P-G:
Christopher Ruddy, the influential online conservative publisher who sometimes serves as an oracle for the whims of Donald Trump, warned Wednesday that his friend faces difficult days ahead.

“The Republicans had a catastrophic wake-up call with the Virginia election,” in which Republicans were routed this week, the publisher of online site told an audience at Oakland’s Pittsburgh Playhouse. And if current trends continue, “The Republicans will probably lose control of the Senate, and maybe even the House.”
As was Lingala of the Pitt News:
Less than a few minutes into Christopher Ruddy’s presentation at the Pittsburgh Playhouse Wednesday night, about 30 Point Park University students stood up silently with their fists in the air, showing off shirts emblazoned with colorful messages such as “People not Profit” and “Love not Hate.”

Ivan Bracy was among the students at the event silently protesting Ruddy’s visit. Ruddy — a long time friend of President Donald Trump and founder and CEO of conservative media outlet Newsmax Media —- was in Pittsburgh to give a presentation and hold a Q&A session concerning the one-year anniversary of Trump’s election.
I think I saw this happen - but I'm not sure as the lights were so low I could barely see my notes. My guess is that with all the floodlights flooding all that light onto the stage, Ruddy himself has no idea it even happened at all (unless someone told him backstage or he reads Pitt News or this blog).

I was struck by how matter of factly he deflected his own participation in the history of fake news while saying, "A free and diverse press fights against fake news." His defense of his "Vince Foster was murdered!" reporting was simply this: "I never said he was murdered" and that he was only "asking questions."

I'm sorry but that's not good enough.  It was disappointing that the story was left with that.

Let's dig a little into the implications of Ruddy's defense of his own Fake News.  His book was published in 1997 some four years after the autopsy "appeared to confirm"  Foster's suicide:
Investigators said today that the autopsy of Vincent W. Foster Jr., the deputy White House counsel, appeared to confirm that his death two weeks ago was a suicide.

Mr. Foster was found dead July 20 in a nearby Virginia park with a gunshot wound to the head. Officials said today that the autopsy found gunpowder burns on Mr. Foster's hand, strong evidence that he had fired the weapon that killed him. The bullet that went through Mr. Foster's head has not been recovered, officials said.
That was August, 1993.

In between there were numerous investigations (including Ken Starr's) that all said one thing: Foster killed himself.

I have a question for that beacon of journalistic integrity, Christopher Ruddy: If all the evidence pointed to suicide and your "questions" were looking to undermine that evidence, what other conclusion other than murder were you hoping your audience would reach back then?  Do you really think your lack of the use of the word "murder" changes anything?  So how can you now hide behind the "only asking questions" defense?  And why didn't you simply say, "Yea I was wrong about all that." when asked?

Kinda cowardly, if you ask me.

Christopher Ruddy - birther of fake news.

November 8, 2017

More On Christopher Ruddy And The Fake News (Part II)

Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax, will be speaking tonight as part of Point Park College's "Talk Back" series.

In case you weren't there back then. Ruddy was the guy at Richard Mellon Scaife's Tribune-Review who at the center of all the "Vince Foster was murrrdered!" fake news.

Yep, that was him. And that's who Point Park has invited to talk tonight.  As I pointed out here, Point Park's Center for Media Innovation was made possible, in part, by a very serious donation from Richard Mellon Scaife - enough that they had a celebration dedication of a plaque honoring Scaife.

In looking around in Ruddy's history, I found this very interesting set of words published by CNN in 1998:
At Scaife's newspaper his reporter Christopher Ruddy doggedly pursues the Foster case. And when Ruddy's book, "The Strange Death of Vincent Foster," got a bad write-up in the American Spectator, saying Ruddy sounded like a "right-wing nut," Scaife cut off the magazine's money.

American Spectator Editor-In-Chief R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. said, "Dick was angered by the review. And called me and said he didn't care to support the American Spectator any further."
The story shows up at The Atlantic, as well:
Richard Mellon Scaife was widely known to entertain conspiracy theories about the 1993 death of Vincent Foster. A Scaife-owned newspaper hired Christopher Ruddy, a reporter who questioned the authorities' conclusion that Foster had killed himself in a park just outside Washington. In 1997 Ruddy published a book, The Strange Death of Vincent Foster, which suggested that Foster had been murdered. The book appeared almost simultaneously with the final report of the independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who concluded after an exhaustive investigation that Foster had killed himself. Most conservative publications took Starr's report as an opportunity to knock down Ruddy's work once and for all, but since Ruddy was a favorite of Scaife's, the Spectator faced a dilemma over whether to review the book. Had it been Pleszczynski's decision, the book would most likely not have been reviewed, but Tyrrell intervened, knowing the issue was a sensitive one for his biggest donor. Tyrrell gave the book to John Corry, who had rewritten the Mena Airport story.

Corry hated the book. Calling Ruddy a "very heavy breather," he compared Foster conspiracy speculation to way-out theories such as that the CIA had introduced crack cocaine into the ghetto, that a Navy missile had brought down TWA Flight 800, and that British Intelligence had assassinated Princess Diana. "Beware when an investigative reporter begins sentences with words like 'oddly,' 'strangely' or 'interestingly,'" Corry wrote. "There may be nothing odd, strange or interesting at all, but the game is to make you think there is." When the review appeared, in the December, 1997, issue, Scaife was livid. He called Tyrrell and told him that the foundation would no longer contribute to the Spectator, ending another relationship of some three decades.
And remember that this take down was at a conservative magazine.

And Ruddy will be talking tonight at Point Park. I wonder if anyone will be asking him about his place in the history of American Fake News.

November 7, 2017

My THIRTY-FIFTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

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

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

Senator, as you know today is an election day. Last year, you said you voted for Donald Trump for president.

I wanted to ask you a very simple question today.

Given the scandals plaguing the current White House including (but not limited to):
  • The indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates as well as the guilty plea of George Papadapolous as part of the investigation into Russian meddling of our last presidential election
  • Trump's continued violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution - for instance his son, Eric, continues to give him quarterly updates on the financial health of his businesses (despite Trump's promise not to be involved) and those businesses have done deals with foreign governments (despite Trump's promise that they wouldn't).
If the election for president were to be held today, would you still vote for Donald Trump?.

It's a simple question and the answer is either yes or no.

As the "no" is obvious (it's a "no" because the man you voted for is simply corrupt), you would still have to explain a "yes" answer.

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


November 6, 2017

More On Christopher Ruddy And The Fake News

As I posted recently, Christopher Ruddy will be speaking as part of Point Park University's "Talk Back Series" on Wednesday.

I'm looking to be there - if only to get the opportunity to ask him about his own place in the history of "fake news."

Remember, he was Richard Mellon Scaife's main guy when it came to the death of Vince Foster.

In 1997, Ruddy wrote:
At a press conference in Washington today, an international panel of forensic handwriting experts - including one from Oxford University - will announce its findings that a torn note, said to have been Vince Foster Jr.'s "suicide" note, is a forgery.

Strategic Investment, a Baltimore-based financial newsletter, and its editor, James Dale Davidson, have called the conference to issue the written findings of three experts that analyzed a copy of a note. Twenty-seven pieces (the 28th piece was missing) of the note were claimed to have been found in the late Deputy White House Counsel's briefcase almost a week after his sudden death on July 20, 1993.

If the forensic panel's assertions are true, it could indicate that someone engaged in a major cover-up of Foster's death and obstructed justice by hindering the investigation of the matter. The U.S. Park Police originally determined that the note was written by Foster, and ruled his death a suicide. At the request of former Special Counsel Robert Fiske, the FBI lab examined the note and concluded it was authentic.
Turns out, of course, that the FBI was right and Ruddy was wrong. From the Whitewater report:
On Thursday, July 22, 1993, in front of Park Police, FBI and DOJ personnel, White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum reviewed documents and other items in Foster's office in search of a suicide note. 850 None was found. On Monday, July 26, 1993 (four days later), Associate Counsel to the President Stephen Neuwirth discovered a torn "note" apparently written by Foster, in a briefcase in Foster's office. The White House produced the note to the Park Police on July 27, 1993.

After the note's discovery, DOJ told the FBI to conduct an obstruction of justice investigation. The FBI focused on: 1) whether the note was seen by any individual other than Foster before July 26, 1993; and 2) why it took twenty-seven hours after the note's discovery on July 26 for the White House to give it to investigators.

The Park Police and DOJ/FBI investigations concluded August 10, 1993, with a joint press conference. The Park Po lice concluded Foster's death was caused by a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Fort Marcy Park. The DOJ and FBI had concluded there was insufficient evidence to prosecute any individual or entity for obstruction of justice.
That last part means no cover-up - unless, of course, the DOJ/FBI was in on the cover-up!!!

This is who Point Park has invited to speak.

But let's dig deeper - into how important Ruddy was in the invention of modern day "fake news."

From The Public Eye in 1999:
Christopher Ruddy, the most energetic of the journalists claiming vast Clinton conspiracies, left the New York Post after his early 1994 stories on the death of Vincent Foster were heavily criticized in other media outlets. Hired by The Pittsburgh Tribune- Review, Ruddy was assigned by publisher Scaife to pursue stories about Clinton. Scaife learned of Ruddy through the Western Journalism Center, a Scaife grantee, which had placed ads consisting of republished Ruddy articles on Foster. Some of the most interesting information on Ruddy comes from his ally, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. While praising Ruddy in his book [The Secret Life of Bill Clinton], Evans-Pritchard details how Ruddy was an activist in a nationwide right-wing network:
He waged war on the airwaves, broadcasting night after night across the country on the radio talk circuit where he soon became a folk hero. He gave speeches, endlessly. He lobbied on Capitol Hill. He lobbied at the Christian Roundtable meetings in Tennessee. He lobbied wherever people would listen. He built alliances: with Reed Irvine’s Accuracy in Media in Washington; with Jim Davidson’s Strategic Investment; with the Western Journalism Center in California; with Jeremiah Films (which made the Clinton Chronicles). He signed up with Richard Scaife, writing about the Foster case for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. It was a modest little brigade. But it was enough for insurgent warfare.
Evans-Pritchard also discusses the crucial role played by the Internet: “What was bothering the White House most about the Internet was the enormous amplification it gives to newsletters like Strategic Investment, ” or articles by Evans-Pritchard or Ruddy. According to Evans-Pritchard:
In the 1980s our stories would not have gained any traction. Now they are “posted” within hours of publication, and are then perused by the producers of radio talk shows, who surf the Net in search of avant-garde material. A good scoop may be picked up....[and] read on the air by G. Gordon Liddy, Paul Harvey, or Chuck Harder. It might be featured by Blanquita Column, or by Rush Limbaugh, with his 20 million “ditto heads.”
Fake News 90s-style. Sound familiar?

And this is who Point Park has invited to speak this week.

November 3, 2017

Christopher Ruddy And The Fake News

An astute reader emailed me a notice about this.

The astute reader astutely wrote:
Point Park is making a big deal out of a speech by Christopher Ruddy. They’re supposed to be a school of journalism and they’re giving a platform to a man who authored fringe theories about the deaths of Vincent Foster and Ron Brown. What could they be thinking?
Here's how Point Park is describing the event:
The Point Park University Talk Back Series and Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy look back on the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s election. A longtime friend of the president, Ruddy founded Newsmax Media in 1998, a multimedia company covering news, politics, health, lifestyle and finance. Newsmax TV is emerging as the fastest growing cable news channel as its digital properties reach 50 million Americans monthly. Newsweek named Ruddy one of America’s top 20 new media personalities. He has served as a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. Following a short presentation, attendees take part in an extended Q&A session with Ruddy. Andrew Conte, director of Point Park’s Center for Media Innovation, moderates the event. Previously, Conte worked as an investigative journalist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Oh, the stuff they leave out. First, we'll go with this:
The Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University will celebrate its one-year anniversary Tuesday with two student-moderated panel discussions and the dedication of a plaque honoring Dick Scaife, late owner of Trib Total Media and chairman of the Allegheny Foundation, which provided a grant to build the center.
Then there's this:
Christopher Ruddy founded the West Palm Beach, Florida-based Newsmax in 1998 with a $25,000 investment along with Richard Mellon Scaife, who owned the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, where Ruddy worked as a national correspondent. According to a report in Forbes, the duo quickly raised $15 million from 200 private investors and then bought them out in 2000. Ruddy now owns a 60 percent stake with the rest owned by Scaife.
Funny that they don't point out the Scaife/Trib/Ruddy connections. I guess it's a small small world, after all.

But what of my astute reader's charges?

Well, Ruddy did write "The Strange Death Of Vince Foster" in the late 90s. On the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown's death, Ruddy wrote:
A circular hole in the skull of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown could have been a gunshot wound and certainly should have prompted an autopsy, according to an Air Force lieutenant colonel and forensic pathologist who investigated the jet crash in which Brown died.
Why even bother asking if (as Ruddy states three paragraphs later) it's the case that "On April 3, 1996, an Air Force jet carrying Brown and 34 others, including 14 business executives on a trade mission to Croatia, crashed into a mountainside." How did the shooter not also die in the crash?

Oh, and did you know that Newsmax is also a source for your Obama Birth Certificate conspiracies?

For example there's this about Ruddy's friend, Donald Trump:
Billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump says he recently was told that President Barack Obama’s birth certificate is missing. While declining to reveal Monday to CNN’s Anderson Cooper how he received the information, Trump said Obama’s lack of a birth certificate would be a shame, since he would like to take the president on “one-on-one.”

“Well, I've been told very recently, Anderson, that the birth certificate is missing,” Trump said in an interview for “Anderson Cooper 360,” to be aired Monday night. “I’ve been told that it’s not there and it doesn’t exist — and if that’s the case it’s a big problem. I’ve just heard that two days ago from someone — I don’t want to say who.
And this about Ruddy's friend Donald Trump:
Potential 2012 GOP presidential contender Donald Trump is doubling down on his call for President Barack Obama to produce a birth certificate, saying “facts are emerging” that have raised a “real question” as to whether Obama is constitutionally eligible to serve as president.
By the way, I snagged a ticket to the event. If the Q&A is as extensive as they say and if I get the chance, I'm going to ask Christopher Ruddy about his own past as a "fake-newser."