Democracy Has Prevailed.

July 31, 2019

Meanwhile Outside...

From the science at NOAA:
Averaged as a whole, the June 2019 global land and ocean temperature departure from average was the highest for June since global records began in 1880 at +0.95°C (+1.71°F). This value bested the previous record set in 2016 by 0.02°C (0.04°F). Nine of the 10 warmest Junes have occurred since 2010. June 1998 is the only value from the previous century among the 10 warmest Junes on record, and it is currently ranked as the eighth warmest June on record. Junes 2015, 2016, and 2019 are the only Junes that have a global land and ocean temperature departure from average above +0.90°C (+1.62°F). June 2019 also marks the 43rd consecutive June and the 414th consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average.
They even include a chart to show us what they mean:

We're at the very right-most part of the chart.

Meanwhile, in Trumpville:
The White House tried to stop a State Department senior intelligence analyst from discussing climate science in congressional testimony this week, internal emails and documents show.

The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research declined to make changes to the proposed testimony and the analyst, Rod Schoonover, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, was ultimately allowed to speak before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday.

But in a highly unusual move, the White House refused to approve Dr. Schoonover’s written testimony for entry into the permanent Congressional Record. The reasoning, according to a June 4 email seen by The New York Times, was that the science did not match the Trump administration’s views.
In a New York Times opinion piece, Professor Schoonover explains:
In blocking the submission of the written testimony, the White House trampled not only on the scientific integrity of the assessment but also on the analytic independence of an arm of the intelligence community. That’s why I recently resigned from the job I considered a sacred duty, and the institution I loved.
The "science" in Trumpville: not just ignorance but deplorable ignorance.

It's getting warmer outside even if the Donald Trump (and his administration and most of the GOP) denies it.

July 30, 2019

My HUNDRED AND NINETEENTH 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 - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

Let's talk about the children in Trump's detention centers. They're still there, did you know that? We've read stories in the news about children being held without access to soap or toothbrushes, about children with coming down with chicken pox or flu, about children sitting in their own feces, about children dying in custody.

This is the effect of Trump's "zero tolerance" policy, announced by his Attorney General last April and it is simply cruel.


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


July 28, 2019

From The Baltimore Sun Editorial Board - Quoted In Full.

The Baltimore Sun published this in response to a racist president's more recent racist tweets:
In case anyone missed it, the president of the United States had some choice words to describe Maryland’s 7th congressional district on Saturday morning. Here are the key phrases: “no human being would want to live there,” it is a “very dangerous & filthy place,” “Worst in the USA” and, our personal favorite: It is a “rat and rodent infested mess.” He wasn’t really speaking of the 7th as a whole. He failed to mention Ellicott City, for example, or Baldwin or Monkton or Prettyboy, all of which are contained in the sprawling yet oddly-shaped district that runs from western Howard County to southern Harford County. No, Donald Trump’s wrath was directed at Baltimore and specifically at Rep. Elijah Cummings, the 68-year-old son of a former South Carolina sharecropper who has represented the district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1996.

It’s not hard to see what’s going on here. The congressman has been a thorn in this president’s side, and Mr. Trump sees attacking African American members of Congress as good politics, as it both warms the cockles of the white supremacists who love him and causes so many of the thoughtful people who don’t to scream. President Trump bad-mouthed Baltimore in order to make a point that the border camps are “clean, efficient & well run," which, of course, they are not — unless you are fine with all the overcrowding, squalor, cages and deprivation to be found in what the Department of Homeland Security’s own inspector-general recently called “a ticking time bomb."

In pointing to the 7th, the president wasn’t hoping his supporters would recognize landmarks like Johns Hopkins Hospital, perhaps the nation’s leading medical center. He wasn’t conjuring images of the U.S. Social Security Administration, where they write the checks that so many retired and disabled Americans depend upon. It wasn’t about the beauty of the Inner Harbor or the proud history of Fort McHenry. And it surely wasn’t about the economic standing of a district where the median income is actually above the national average. No, he was returning to an old standby of attacking an African American lawmaker from a majority black district on the most emotional and bigoted of arguments. It was only surprising that there wasn’t room for a few classic phrases like “you people” or “welfare queens” or “crime-ridden ghettos” or a suggestion that the congressman “go back” to where he came from.

This is a president who will happily debase himself at the slightest provocation. And given Mr. Cummings’ criticisms of U.S. border policy, the various investigations he has launched as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, his willingness to call Mr. Trump a racist for his recent attacks on the freshmen congresswomen, and the fact that “Fox & Friends” had recently aired a segment critical of the city, slamming Baltimore must have been irresistible in a Pavlovian way. Fox News rang the bell, the president salivated and his thumbs moved across his cell phone into action.

As heartening as it has been to witness public figures rise to Charm City’s defense on Saturday, from native daughter House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, we would above all remind Mr. Trump that the 7th District, Baltimore included, is part of the United States that he is supposedly governing. The White House has far more power to effect change in this city, for good or ill, than any single member of Congress including Mr. Cummings. If there are problems here, rodents included, they are as much his responsibility as anyone’s, perhaps more because he holds the most powerful office in the land.

Finally, while we would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner — or ruefully point out that he failed to spell the congressman’s name correctly (it’s Cummings, not Cumming) — we would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are “good people” among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.
Donald Trump is a racist.

July 26, 2019

Donald Trump's NEW Presidential Seal!

Notice the golf clubs and cash.

Notice the two headed eagle, reminiscent of Russian Federation's Coat of Arms.

Notice the motto, ""45 es un títere" its Spanish for "45 is a puppet."

In case you missed it, here's the story:
President Trump stood in front of a fake U.S. presidential seal before giving a speech in front of supporters in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. The sign resembled the official Russian coat of arms and contained other subtle shots at the commander in chief.

As Mr. Trump was being introduced at a teen summit hosted by conservative group Turning Point USA earlier this week, the altered presidential seal popped up next to him onstage. Instead of arrows and olives branches clutched in their talons, a closer look reveals two eagles holding a set of golf clubs on one side and a pile of cash on another.
Proof for the Trumpers out there:

This would be the same summit where Trump asserted (incorrectly, of course) that Article 2 of the Constitution gave him the authority to "do whatever I want as president."

Nothing says presidential competence like this, my friends. Nothing.

July 25, 2019

Is There Anything Else To Discuss?

And then there's this:
What else is there to say?

July 24, 2019

Donald Trump Does Not Understand The Constitution

Here it is:
This is not true. Donald Trump does not know how the Constitution works.

Here is Article 2 of the Constitution. Doesn't say anything about giving the President "the right to do whatever" he wants.

It does include this:
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
And we all know how that's playing out, don't we?

And this:
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Rule of law, anyone?

And Article 2 includes this:
The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
And for that we have Representative Nadler (via CNN):
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler on Sunday said Robert Mueller's report presents "very substantial evidence" that President Donald Trump is "guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors" -- an impeachable offense.
Question for my rightwing readers: What if Obama had claimed that Article 2 gave him the authority to do whatever he wanted?

You'd've impeached him for that alone, wouldn't you?

July 23, 2019

My HUNDRED AND EIGHTEENTH 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 - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

Senator, we need to keep talking about Donald Trump's racist attacks on Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley,and Rashida Tlaib.

Senator, you're on record saying that each woman's American citizenship is as valid as yours.

So why, Senator, have you remained silent regarding the recent "Send her back" chant heard at a recent Trump/MAGA rally triggered by Trump's criticism of Representative Omar? Why have you remained silent about Trump's repeated dishonesty regarding that chant?

For example, he said he tried to stop it by talking over it right after it started, but that's just a lie, isn't it? He said he didn't like it but then praised the chanters as patriotic, and so on.

Senator, if Representative Omar's citizenship is as valid as yours, how is it patriotic to demand that she be "sent back" (to where, exactly?) on account of her politics?

When will you speak up against such un-American bigotry?

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


July 21, 2019

Full Stop - The Trib Editorial Board Wrote THIS??

Take a look at these paragraphs from this Tribune-Review editorial:
Today there may be more technology in a child’s pocket than there was the NASA control room that managed a flight into space to a distant rock. But we spend our time sharpening the tools we already have rather than looking at other problems that are crazy to even dream of solving.

We have challenges that can be met. We have races we can run. We can reach for distant stars.

We have it in our hands to end the very problems that rip us into factions and tear our world into shreds. There is no reason to fight about climate change when we could put a stopwatch on a solution. [Emphasis added.]
How many years did the Trib deny climate change?

They wrote this four years ago:
Chicken Little climate cluckers issue one failed doomsday prediction after another. Think of, eight years ago, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declaring that “as little as eight years were left to avoid” global-warming catastrophe.
To which I responded:
Their mistake (intentional or not) is subtle but still very telling. Look at what they want you to think. They want you to think that the IPCC declared eight years ago a "global-warming catastrophe" would occur within eight years (meaning "by now"). Since this "doomsday prediction" hasn't happened, they must be reasoning, the climate cluckers must've been wrong.
Ten years ago, they wrote this:
Another month, another set of data that counters global-warming orthodoxy -- and another reason why the climate debate must stop generating more heat than light if it's to arrive at scientifically valid conclusions.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center has released its "State of the Climate National Overview October 2009." The report finds that the month just past was America's third-coolest October on record. All but six states and all but one of nine "climate regions" had below-normal temperatures.

Though it covers just the U.S. climate during a brief period and the data are preliminary, it's reports such as this that, over time, add up to a most inconvenient truth for "green" high priests:

There's been no significant warming since 1998.
To which I responded:
And so on. I want everyone to note the qualifiers the Brain Trust has liberally (yea, I said it) sprinkled into the text. While they admit that the data "covers just the U.S. climate during a brief period" they're using the data to counter what they call global warming orthodoxy.
Turns out that the Trib was misleading on the science for at least a decade.

But now they're saying there's no need to debate it and further "we can put a stopwatch on a solution"?

Doesn't the use of the phrase "a solution" imply that there was a problem?

When did the Tribune-Review finally accept reality?

This is what I wanna know this hot hot Sunday morning.

July 20, 2019

It's OUR America

I'll just leave that there for you to ponder.

July 17, 2019

Trump's GOP Enablers In The US House Of Representatives (Western PA Edition)

All but 4 GOP members of the US House Of Representatives voted against this.

The resolution states that it's a resolution:

Condemning President Trump’s racist comments directed at Members of Congress.

And it ends with this text:
Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) believes that immigrants and their descendants have made America stronger, and that those who take the oath of citizenship are every bit as American as those whose families have lived in the United States for many generations;

(2) is committed to keeping America open to those lawfully seeking refuge and asylum from violence and oppression, and those who are willing to work hard to live the American Dream, no matter 10their race, ethnicity, faith, or country of origin; and

(3) strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should ‘‘go back’’ to other countries, by referring to immigrants and asylum seekers as ‘‘invaders,’’ and by saying that Members of Congress who are immigrants (or those of our colleagues who are wrongly assumed to be immigrants) do not belong in Congress or in the United 1States of America.
In order to protect Donald Trump, this is what all but four GOP members of the house voted against.

That would include these gentlemen:
  • Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14)
  • Mike Kelly (PA-16)
  • Glenn Thompson (PA-15)
  • John Joyce (PA-13)
No matter what they say in their own defense, the bottom line is that they voted to protect Donald Trump and his racist tweets.

Did you know that:
So instead of pointing that out, representatives Reschenthaler, Kelly, Thompson, Joyce, and all but four of the GOP members if the US House of Representatives voted to protect the man who tweeted the racist tweets.

July 16, 2019

My HUNDRED AND SEVENTEENTH 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 - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

Senator, we need to talk about Donald Trump's racist tweets attacking four members of the House of Representatives - all women of color.

First let me commend you for your statement, release yesterday, pointing out that "[t]hree of the four were born in America and the citizenship of all four is as valid as" yours and that it was "wrong" for Trump to suggest they "go back to where they came from." You argue that "We should defeat their ideas on the merits, not on the basis of their ancestry."

That in itself is more than the vast majority of members of your own party have done. However close you got to using the "r" word, you didn't exactly point out (much less denounce) the racism of telling four non-white women to "go back to where they came from" did you?

But in a sea of otherwise silent Republican complicity in the face of Trump's racism, it's something. So here's my question: Now that you've put at least some amount of distance between you and the leader of your party, when can we expect you to denounce Trump's treatment of children in those detention centers on the southern border? It's still going on, you know.

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


July 15, 2019

Racist. Donald Trump Is A Racist.

Exhibit, um what number are we up to?

And this is who he was talking about:
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, American citizen, born in New York City
  • Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, American citizen, born in Detroit
  • Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, American citizen, born in Cincinnati 
  • Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, American citizen, born in Mogadishu
As American citizens each is guaranteed the right to speak on any subject (and certainly as members of Congress, they have the right to discuss issues of government policy) and none of their free speech rights are subject to any government filter.

It's certainly un-American for him to say that just because they say stuff with which he disagrees, they should leave the country.

The fact that none of them are men and none are white can't possibly have anything to do Trump's distaste for their dissenting presence on American soil, can it?

July 14, 2019

This Is America Today

Last night in Manhattan a problem at a ConEdison substation winked out the power for about 73,000 customers from 72nd Street to the West 40s, and from Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River.

This included Carnegie Hall and Broadway - where the night's performances had to be cancelled.

So this happened:

And this:

And this:

And this:

But let's refrain from too much self-back patting about how great America is because this, too, is America these days:

In an interview about what he saw in the camps, Trump's Vice-President said:
I think what we saw today was a very fair representation of how families are being treated
But you'll note in the video that it's all men - where are the women and children?  As one twitter writer wrote, someone should remind the VP that all those men were once fetuses.

Then there's this:
Read it. Read it all.

This is America.

July 13, 2019

Title IX, The Trib Editorial Board, And Passage Of Time

Recently, (and surprisingly to anyone following the antics of a right-wing editorial page of a right-wing news source) the Tribune-Review editorial board published a positive piece about Title IX.

The piece is framed by the World Cup victory of the U.S. Women's National Team and it was given this title:

Editorial: Title IX scored USWNT victory

And it contains this:
Title IX is why the U.S. Women’s National Team won the World Cup for a record fourth time.
And this:
The USWNT grew up not just with talent and drive but permission to use them. Little girls had opportunity and ran with it. Big girls honed their skills and watched for their openings. Women scored.

And everyone won because equality is about putting everyone on the same playing field.
Let me just say that were I to have written this, I would not have gone with "permission" or the "little girls to big girls to women" time progression, but that's just me.

But take a look at that second sentence and how it begins:
And everyone won...
Certainly a positive view of Title IX, doncha think?

Getting back to the use of time as a framing device, the Trib Editorial Board opens this piece with this:
You can’t watch a glacier move. You can’t watch the continents shift. You can’t watch a redwood grow.

The big things take a long time to come to fruition. But that doesn’t mean nothing is happening.
Time passes and things change, right?

You'll be surprised (or perhaps not) that it was only 7 years ago that the Trib editorial board had this to say about Title IX:
Title IX, bane of collegiate men’s sports teams, turns 40 this month — an occasion to regret, not celebrate, its sanctioning of “social justice” discrimination and twisted notion of “equality.”
Ever more an anachronism in an America where women are the campus majority, Title IX turns the very notion of discrimination on its head, purportedly rectifying one sort by substituting another. It’s brought higher education no closer to genuine nondiscrimination than has its close cousin, so-called affirmative action.

Those who do celebrate Title IX’s 40th birthday celebrate the codification of gender discrimination. How regrettable indeed.
That cracking sound you're now hearing is your own neck whiplashing.

July 12, 2019

Trump's Attack On Democracy Continues

We'll start here:
Let's go see what the Constitution (remember that one, Trump fans?) says:
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. [Emphases added.]
Doesn't say anything about whether "you see something good and then you purposefully write bad" does it?

Perhaps Trump was talking defamation - and for that (and with the usual caveats that I'm not a lawyer, etc etc) we can go to New York Times v Sullivan which states:
The constitutional guarantees require, we think, a federal rule that prohibits a public official from recovering damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with "actual malice" - that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.
Note they're talking false/not false, not good/bad.

And in a concurring opinion, Justice Goldberg wrote:
In my view, the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution afford to the citizen and to the press an absolute, unconditional privilege to criticize official conduct despite the harm which may flow from excesses and abuses. The prized American right "to speak one's mind," cf. Bridges v. California, about public officials and affairs needs "breathing space to survive,". The right should not depend upon a probing by the jury of the motivation of the citizen or press. The theory of our Constitution is that every citizen may speak his mind and every newspaper express its view on matters of public concern and may not be barred from speaking or publishing because those in control of government think that what is said or written is unwise, unfair, false, or malicious. In a democratic society, one who assumes to act for the citizens in an executive, legislative, or judicial capacity must expect that his official acts will be commented upon and criticized. Such criticism cannot, in my opinion, be muzzled or deterred by the courts at the instance of public officials under the label of libel. [Emphases added.]
And yet the vulgarity sitting in the Oval Office wants to deny free speech protections to anyone writing anything "bad" about him when he thinks it should be "good."

The threat to all of our freedoms is right there. In the open. For all to see.

July 9, 2019

My HUNDRED AND SIXTEENTH 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 - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

Senator, a few years ago and on more than a few occasions, you criticized the Obama administration over what you saw as "executive overreach."

Recently, the United States Supreme Court denied the Trump Administration the opportunity to add a "citizenship" question to the next census. A few days ago, Donald Trump said he was considering an "executive order" to get the question on the census, despite the rebuke from the Supreme Court.

Let me ask you, Senator, how is that not executive overreach? Or do you think that a simple executive order can countermand a decision by the Supreme Court? Or just an executive order from this president and not any other?

Your silence on this matter is evidence of your complicity.

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


July 4, 2019

July 4th.

For the past few years on each 4th of July, I've posted the entire text of the Declaration of Independence for you to read.

This year I cannot in good conscience do that.

As Stephen Colbert said a few days ago:
I'm happy to say I love our country.

I love America.

I believe in my heart of hearts, our great country is the last, best hope for all mankind.

And what makes us great is what we believe in - "All men are created equal" [and] "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. "

But here's the problem with high ideals: you actually have to live up to them.
My reasons for posting The Declaration every year is to restate at least some of the ideals upon which this society was founded and built. There are a few others:
  • Freedom of religion
  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of the press
  • Equal justice under the law
While it's obvious to anyone paying attention to our history that this nation has faltered many times in upholding these ideals, ideals to a more perfect union they still are. Pursuing them is all important to realizing a just society.

But each of these ideals (and that's not even an exhaustive list) have been under constant and increasing attack by the current administration and its enablers in the legislative and judiciary branches of government.

And so for that, I have a question for any right-leaning friends who may be reading this: How do the concentration camps on the border and the mistreatment of children in those camps conform to this from Ronald Reagan:
I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.
Note: I could have used any number of other examples. It's just that separating children from their parents and then forcing some children to take care of other younger children while denying all of them soap is just the most recent disgusting example of GOP governance in what was once promised to be a shining city on a hill.

Happy 4th.

July 2, 2019

My HUNDRED AND FIFTEENTH 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 - the constituent who writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

A year to the day after the Capital Gazette shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, Donald Trump joked with Russian President Vladimir Puting about "getting rid" of "fake news." Within a day or so, Trump praised Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman even though the latter has been linked to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post.

Trump has been known to call the press "the enemy of the people."

I've asked this before but in light of Donald Trump's actions this past week, I have to ask it again: DO YOU THINK THAT THE PRESS IS THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE?

If not, then why haven't you spoken out against Trump's assault on the nation's free press?

Unless you speak out against this assault on our democracy, you're complicit in it.

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