Democracy Has Prevailed.

April 30, 2020

Michael Flynn - Let's All Remember What He Admitted To Doing

The right's all aflutter today about this story:
Michael Flynn's attorneys made public on Wednesday a handwritten note from Bill Priestap, the then-counterintelligence director at the FBI, that mused how agents should approach a critical interview with President Donald Trump's first national security adviser in the White House in January 2017.

"What's our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?" Priestap wrote. "If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ & have them decide. Or, if he initially lies, then we present him [redacted] & he admits it, document for DOJ, & let them decide how to address it."

Lawyers for Flynn, who pleaded guilty late in 2017 to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia's ambassador, said they believe the document along with others support their accusations of investigative misconduct. It's now part of their effort in court to try to exonerate Flynn, and part of their public relations push for a presidential pardon for Flynn.
Trumpers, like GOP candidate Sean Parnell feel this way:
While CNN has included this in its story:
Greg Brower, a former US attorney and the FBI's chief congressional liaison until 2018, said that without the context around the notes, it's hard to assign any deeper meaning to them.

"To the extent this is being advertised as evidence of something nefarious, I certainly don't see it in that way," Brower said. "I don't know what this means and I don't know that it's important at all."
While that's being played out, let's all recall what Michael Flynn admitted to doing. All these documents can be found here.

Let's start with his statement of December 1, 2017:
After over 33 years of military service to our country, including nearly five years in combat away from my family, and then my decision to continue to serve the United States, it has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of "treason" and other outrageous acts. Such false accusations are contrary to everything I have ever done and stood for. But I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right. My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel's Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions. [Emphasis added.]
What's in the plea agreement?

Flynn signed and dated the document that includes this:
Your client agrees that the attached "Statement of the Offense" fairly and accurately describes your client's actions and involvement in the offense to which your client is pleading guilty.
And the "Statement of the Offense" includes this:
The defendant, MICHAEL T. FLYNN, who served as a surrogate and national security advisor for the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump (“Campaign”), as a senior member of President-Elect Trump's Transition Team (“Presidential Transition Team”), and as the National Security Advisor to President Trump, made materially false statements and omissions during an interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on January 24, 2017, in Washington, DC. At the time of the interview, the FBI had an open investigation into the Government of Russia”s (“Russia”) efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Campaign and Russia, and whether there was any coordination between the Campaign and Russia's efforts.
FLYNN'S false statements and omissions impeded and otherwise had a material impact on the ongoing investigation into the existence of any links or coordination between individuals associated with the Campaign and Russia's efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
And so what did he admit to lying about, exactly? This:
On or about January 24, 2017, FLYNN agreed to be interviewed by agents from the FBI ("January 24 voluntary interview"). During the interview, FLYNN falsely stated that he did not ask Russia's Ambassador to the United States ("Russian Ambassador") to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia. FLYNN also falsely stated that he did not remember a follow-up conversation in which the Russian Ambassador stated that Russia had chosen to moderate its response to those sanctions as a result of request.
During the January 24 voluntary interview, FLYNN made additional false statements about calls he made to Russia and several other countries regarding a resolution submitted by Egypt to the United Nations Security Council on December 21, 2016. Specifically FLYNN falsely stated that he only asked the countries' positions on the vote, and that he did not request that any of the countries take any particular action on the resolution. FLYNN also falsely stated that the Russian Ambassador never described to him Russia's response to request regarding the resolution.
On March 7, 2017, FLYNN filed multiple documents with the Department of Justice pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act ("FARA") pertaining to a project performed by him and his company, the Flynn Intel Group, Inc. ("FIG") for the principal benefit of the Republic of Turkey ("Turkey project"). In Filings, FLYNN made materially false statements and omissions, including by falsely stating that (a) FIG did not know whether or the extent to which the Republic of Turkey was involved in the Turkey project, (b) the Turkey project was focused on improving US business organizations' confidence regarding doing business in Turkey, and an op-ed by FLYNN published in The Hill on November 8, 2016, was written at his own initiative; and by omitting that officials from the Republic of Turkey provided supervision and direction over the Turkey project.
Finally, Flynn signed the document right under this:
The preceding statement is a summary, made for the purpose of providing the Court with a factual basis for my guilty plea to the charge against me. It does not include all of the facts known to me regarding this offense. I make this statement knowingly and voluntarily and because l am, in fact, guilty of the crime charged. No threats have been made to me nor am I under the influence of anything that could impede my ability to understand this Statement of the Offense fully.

I have read every word of this Statement of the Offense, or have had it read to me. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11, after consulting with my attorneys, I agree and stipulate to this Statement of the Offense, and declare under penalty of perjury that it is true and correct.
He admitted under oath ("under penalty of perjury") to committing the offenses. Under oath he stated:
I make this statement knowingly and voluntarily and because l am, in fact, guilty of the crime charged.
Facts are stubborn things.

April 29, 2020

Wendy Bell, Coronavirus Denier, On Who's A "Hack"

Yesterday, KDKA Radio's Wendy Bell tweeted:
Um, so what happened with Jonathan Karl on April 27?

Admiral Giroir had just responded to a question about Coronavirus testing with some very healthy numbers. That's when Jonathon Karl asked this:
But we sat here in the Rose Garden, back on March 13, and these companies were here, some other companies were here. By my count, only 69 drive-through test sites have been set up by the companies that were here.

I’m wondering if you — and, of course, Mr. Vice President, back in early March, you said we’d be at 4 million tests by the following week. We’re just now got there in the last few days.

So what have you learned about what went wrong, you know, a month and a half — or over the last month and a half or two months?
For the record, there are 45 days between March 13 and April 27.

And this is how Vice President Pence responded:
Jon, I appreciate the question, but it represents a misunderstanding on your part and the — and frankly, the — a lot of people in the public’s part about the difference between having a test versus the ability to actually process the test. [Emphasis added.]

Let's go back to the March briefing where the 4 million tests thing was floated and actually it's March 9  (so I guess that proves Bell is right - Jonathan Karl IS a hack!!).

Pence says:
We also met today in a conference call with 47 of America’s governors. We were able to brief them on the latest — the progress that we’ve made. We were able to confirm with them that testing is now available in all state labs in every state in the country. Over a million tests have been distributed. Before the end of this week, another 4 million tests will be distributed. But as I said before, with the deployment of the commercial labs, we literally — we literally are going to see a dramatic increase in the available — availability of testing, and that’s all a direct result of the President’s leadership.
This is the context surrounding Karl's question of April 27 (and, by extension, Wendy Bell's pronouncement of Karl's hackitude).
So allow me to paraphrase. Karl, with the understanding that these would be processed tests, said that the administration had promised 4 million tests per week. To which Trump-booster Pence responded by pointing out that when he said what he said he only meant that there'd be 4 million available tests.

As CNN's Daniel Dale points out, this is a lie by omission:
Vice President Mike Pence claimed on Monday that much of the American public has a "misunderstanding" of his March 9 claim that 4 million coronavirus tests would be distributed by the end of that week. Pence was doing again on Monday what he had done on March 9 and has done regularly since: leaving out a critical piece of information. This time, he failed to explain that it had been his own words that created the "misunderstanding" -- instead laying the confusion at the feet of the media and average citizens.

Pence's comments on the subject of testing, including the remarks he was asked about on Monday, have consistently painted a picture that is far rosier than the actual situation on the ground.

Unlike President Donald Trump, Pence has not been flat lying. Rather, he has misled by omission.
If Pence had wanted to make clear on March 9 that he did not mean 4 million people could actually get tested fast, he could have said so. Instead, he conveniently omitted it.
A lie of omission.

Elsewhere in the briefing, Pence announces:
And let me ask the Secretary of HHS to give us the latest on the availability of testing to the American public and at the states.
Secretary Azar frames his remarks with:
Great. Thank you, Mr. Vice President. So we continue with our strategic plan at HHS, across all of the components represented by many of the leaders here, which is to diagnose, to treat, to contain, to mitigate, to research, and communicate. It’s what we do in a healthcare crisis situation.
And then finally gets to:
We, by the end of this week, expect to be able to be producing up to 4 million tests per week in the United States.
Note how even Secretary Azar's used the verb "producing" in his remarks - so the lie isn't just Pence. Azar knew what they were doing as well.

So Jonathan Karl stumbles into a huge lie of omission by the Trump administration and instead of pointing out the dishonesty, KDKA Radio's Wendy Bell dutifully calls ABC's Jonathan Karl a "hack" instead.

But then again, this is the human being who is "on a fence" about whether it's a good idea keep the economy locked down "for less than one percent of our population, many of whom are already ill? Or aged?"

Wendy Bell is a vile cruel person.

Maybe someday she can call me a hack in public.

Wendy, with 55,000 dead so far (a crisis made much worse by the actions and inactions of Donald J. Trump) it would be a badge of honor, snowflake. A badge of honor.

April 25, 2020

Wendy Bell, Ryan Deto and Governor Wolf

Luckily, the City Paper's Ryan Deto has already done most (if not all) of the heavy lifting to this story:
A large majority of Pennsylvanians approve of both the social distancing guidelines currently under order in the commonwealth due to coronavirus and of Gov. Tom Wolf's job at handling the pandemic.

But these facts don’t seem to care about Wendy Bell’s feelings.

Despite a recent poll showing only 17% percent of Pennsylvanians think the social distance orders are too strict, and 59% of Pennsylvanians approving of Wolf’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bell still managed to claim the opposite during an April 24 broadcast of her show on KDKA Radio.

In fact, she went as far as to claim that Pennsylvanians are victims under Wolf’s orders and said that those who disagree with the closures are like the victims of the Benghazi attacks of 2012.
There's one place that I'd like to address that Deto doesn't. A few minutes before the Benghazi stuff, Bell says this:
There is this tremendous disconnect between people who are struggling right now - the millions upon millions of us who are struggling right now in the midst of this pandemic, the shutdown, some of these highly totalitarian restrictive closures by these governors who think they have the ability to just blanket rule whether or not you have the ability to go out and make a living or feed your family, right?
So Governor Wolf's closures are not only restrictive but totalitarian. And she only thinks that he has the authority to make such "blanket" rules.

So DOES Governor Wolf have that authority?

Let's take a look at the Governor's Stay At Home order. It includes this:
WHEREAS, as of March 6, 2020, I proclaimed the existence of a disaster emergency throughout the Commonwealth pursuant to 35 Pa. C.S. § 7301(c)
And so what does 35 Pa. C.S. § 7301(c) say?
A disaster emergency shall be declared by executive order or proclamation of the Governor upon finding that a disaster has occurred or that the occurrence or the threat of a disaster is imminent. The state of disaster emergency shall continue until the Governor finds that the threat or danger has passed or the disaster has been dealt with to the extent that emergency conditions no longer exist and terminates the state of disaster emergency by executive order or proclamation...
And then there's this:
WHEREAS, these means include isolation, quarantine, and any other control measure needed. 35 P.S. § 521.5.
And so what does 35 P.S. § 521.5 say?
Upon the receipt by a local board or department of health or by the department, as the case may be, of a report of a disease which is subject to isolation, quarantine, or any other control measure, the local board or department of health or the department shall carry out the appropriate control measures in such manner and in such place as is provided by rule or regulation.
There are more regulations but you get the picture. Looks like Governor Wolf does have the authority to declare a state of emergency and to declare a shelter in place directive. What Wendy Bell calls "totalitarian" is actually quite legal.

And considering how many Americans have died on Trump's watch (more than 50,000), absolutely necessary. Lifting the shelter in place one day early would mean more people will die.

Just so that the economy will get healthy sooner rather than later.

Any sort of comparison between that and Benghazi is just bat-shit crazie.

April 22, 2020

No, Wendy Bell Is NOT An Epidemiologist (But Yet, She Offers Us Her "Expertise')

Continuing my deep dive into last Thursday's monologue. The first part can be found here.

It's difficult to follow her argument in this second section. What I do see, however, are some troublesome manipulations of numbers. Believing these manipulations to be could lead to any number of her listeners becoming very, very sick. Or worse.

Let's go to the money shot. Cut to the chase. Get to the brass tacks. About 16 minutes in, Wendy Bell says (as she's pointing to the number of seasonal flu deaths and projected Covid-19 deaths) this:
This political virus which looks a lot like seasonal flu, when you look at the data.
I should say upfront that her use of the term "virus" at the beginning of the sentence is a metaphor. That she's also using the same word ("virus") to talk about a real, non-metaphorical virus is but her smallest sin here. Her point is that governmental reaction to Covid-19 is a sort of "political virus" that is in her words "more infectious than the coronavirus. Period."

(And yes, she did include the word "period" at the end of that sentence.)

The full passage (this is about 10 minutes in):
Because this is a pandemic, ladies and gentlemen, and to your safety is all that matters - or that's the line that's being spread, OK? That's the "rhetoric" that's the "logic" and that, on the left, is more infectious than the Coronavirus. Period.
A few things before we proceed. You might not be able to tell by the above text but Wendy Bell is mocking the idea that there's a pandemic in the first place. She even uses ironic "air quotes" while saying the words  "rhetoric" and "logic." That there's a pandemic is a rhetorical line that's being spread, she says, for political gain.

This is her "political virus" ladies and gentlemen. The political reaction to the Coronavirus is an over-reaction that's being used to spread a liberal political agenda. That's her story. Period.

Oh, and this overreaction is being used to dismantle Trump's many successes. It's a lefty-plot! It's Rahm Emanuel's dictum of "never letting a crisis go to waste"! It's coming, like they tried with the failed impeachment, to dismantle our great president!!!

How does she presenting this to us? She tries to make the case that while yes, the Coronavirus is bad, but so is the seasonal flu. "And boy-oh-boy are they similar," she says.

In a discussion of the similarities between the seasonal flu and the Coronavirus, she talks symptoms:
Very similar. Fever, coughs, fatigue, maybe pneumonia. Trouble breathing.
And then treatment:
No treatment, right? All we can do is try to address your fever, try to help you with your cough and aches, but you gotta ride this out.

This is where it gets tricky. People with certain underlying issues fare poorly with the flu and Coronavirus.
See? Look how similar it is to the seasonal flu! You just gotta ride it out, Wendy Bell says.

Then she lists some differences. Vaccine for some strains of the flu. None for Covid-19. Some treatments for the seasonal flu. None for Covid-19 (apart from "riding it out," I suppose.).

Then she gets to the numbers. 2 million Coronavirus sufferers. 1 billion ("billion with a 'b'," she reminds.) flu sufferers.

This is where we get to the danger in what Wendy Bell poses. The seasonal flu kills upwards of 61,000 per year, she says. Covid-19 is projected to kill about the same.

So similar. And yet, that's not the case at all, Wendy. Either you know that and you're not telling the truth or you think you are.

Which is worse? Your ignorance or your dishonesty?

With 44,000 Americans dead, the stakes could not be higher.

Too bad the otherwise conservative Wendy Bell didn't bother to read this piece in The National Review.

First sentence:
Although there is still much we don’t know about the coronavirus, we know enough to say that it is far more dangerous and deadly than the flu.
A paragraph or so further down:
Not only does the new coronavirus have the potential to infect many more people than the seasonal flu does, it appears to kill a greater percentage of those infected. You don’t need to rely on various statistical models to come to that conclusion. You just have to look at the reality of what has already happened around the world and in our own country.
Again, this is The National Review.

Then there's the artwork. The National Review article references another piece in The New Atlantis.

The New Atlantis includes this chart. Wendy, please take a look at that nearly vertical red line just to the left of center:

THAT'S COVID-19, Wendy.

The problem with Wendy, as I've said before, is that there are people in her audience that will believe the crap she's spewing.

Imagine someone listening to her program who doesn't have the time to research the virus. That person might think that what Bell is saying is solid, right?

The left is using the coronavirus to undermine Donald Trump. Wendy said so!
The coronavirus, while bad, is very similar to the seasonal flu. Wendy said so!!
The left is using the crisis to take change the dynamic of America! WENDY SAID SO!

Now imagine how often that takes place in Wendy Bell's audience. How many of them will get sick because she's convinced them that those three things are true?

How many will die?

Shame on KDKA Radio for giving her that platform.

April 20, 2020

Wendy Bell Is Lying To Us (And As A Result, Some Pennsylvanians Will Die)

I am taking a semi-deep dive into the first part of Wendy Bell's batshit crazie monologue from this past Thursday.

It's amazing how she manipulates the numbers, all to "prove" that the numbers of projected deaths due to the Coronavirus have been manipulated to control you.

KDKA Radio should be ashamed by allowing her a platform. This isn't political opinion. This isn't a First Amendment issue. She's misleading her audience. And it's going to get some of them killed. Not only that, it's likely to lead to some of the rest of us dying as well.

Shame on KDKA Radio. This is more important than your ratings.

But let's get back to teh crazie.

Bell starts by setting up her baseline:
Back on March 18th, the Imperial College of London, these are the wizards of brilliance, yes? The smartest people, very intelligent folks. Crunching the numbers, looking at this thing and they're saying, 2.2 million deaths in the United States, ladies and gentlemen.
This is her first mislead.

How do I know?

Well let's take a look at what the Imperial College of London said and I'll show you.

The report that she's babbling on about (actually dated March 16 - but that's the least of her problems) contains this sentence:
In total, in an unmitigated epidemic, we would predict approximately 510,000 deaths in GB and 2.2 million in the US, not accounting for the potential negative effects of health systems being overwhelmed on mortality.[Emphasis added.]
Do you see it?  I italic/bolded the part that Wendy Bell misunderstood, passed over or otherwise decided not to tell you.

What do you think "unmitigated epidemic" means? It means that if no one did anything to stop it,  then you'd see 2.2 million deaths. If you were in doubt about this, the report's next sentence makes it clear. It begins with:
For an uncontrolled epidemic...[Emphasis added.]
The report was describing what would happen if there was no attempt to control the spread of the virus.

So what does Wendy Bell do next? She sets up her argument that the numbers can't be trusted, that the guv-ment is lying to you!:
But wait a minute. March 31st after Governor Wolf shuts down the entirety of Pennsylvania, right? These numbers are projected down quite a bit. A hell of a lot.

The new projected death rates are between 100,000 and 240,000 people.
Don't worry, you'll see it in a minute.  Back to her rant. Where does that last number come from?

That would be Drs Fauci and Birx. This reporting is from The The NYTimes:
The top government scientists battling the coronavirus estimated on Tuesday that the deadly pathogen could kill 100,000 to 240,000 Americans as it ravages the country despite social distancing measures that have closed schools, banned large gatherings, limited travel and forced people to stay in their homes.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who is coordinating the coronavirus response, displayed that grim projection at a White House briefing, calling it “our real number” but pledging to do everything possible to reduce it.

As dire as those predictions are, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx said the number of deaths could be much higher if Americans did not follow the strict guidelines vital to keeping the virus from spreading. The White House models they displayed showed that more than 2.2 million people could have died in the United States if nothing were done.
Does Wendy Bell not actually read her own monologuing research?  The message is very clear: with the social distancing measures, the number that could have been as high as 2.2 million is projected to be much lower - somewhere between 100,000 and 240,000. They also say that as that's still too high, they'll work to reduce it.

But to Bell, there doesn't seem to be a reason to discard the first number for the second. There's only a passing reference to it happening "after Governor Wolf shuts down the entirety of Pennsylvania."

Completely missing (gee, I wonder why) is the message that without the social distancing, the dead would number in the millions.

Now let's look at the rest of Bell's numbers. Take a look at her bullshit board, (that's her term, though Bell herself  calls it "BS" - newsflash: I completely agree with her.):

We have some very specific numbers and some very specific dates, don't we? This is a good thing, google search-wise.

The more specific a number is, the easier it is to find it on the internet. And these numbers are a good example as it looks like their source is  this 21 page report from the Decision Sciences Institute - specifically pages 16-17.

Take a look and see for yourself.  Go find her very specific numbers and then marvel at what Wendy Bell filtered out for you:
Beyond simple reporting, the data on Covid-19 is also used to generate forecasts that are used to shape public policy. It was the Imperial College model (Ferguson et al., 2020) that created serious concerns in the US and caused policy makers to react (Bruce-Lockhart, Burn-Murdoch, & Barker, 2020). That model predicted that left unchecked, the disease would result in 2.2 million deaths in the US, and 510 thousand in the UK. This report was a major impetus for the strict measures taken in the US and around the world (Adam, 2020). These projections were subsequently downgraded based on government actions, and the modeler told the UK Parliament that UK deaths would likely be under 20,000 (WSJ, 2020b). [Emphasis added.]
Let me stop here. Do you see what Wendy Bell completely glossed over? I'll clarify for you (and her):
[L]eft unchecked, the disease would result in 2.2 million deaths. [Snip] These projections were subsequently downgraded based on government actions...
Now back to the report:
While widely criticized, this change can be justified based on the significant actions taken by governments. A more focused assessment of the issues related to data quality can be derived from an analysis of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) models and was believed to be the source of White House estimates of 100,000 to 240,000 US deaths (Kesslen, 2020; Leary, Calfas, & Ping, 2020). This model was also subject to significant revisions (Wan & Johnson, 2020). Over the course of a little more than a week, in early April, well after serious mitigation efforts had been implemented across the country, the IMHE issued three different versions of its model.

The aggregate death count in the first model had a mean of 93,530 and a confidence range of [36,697, 177,866]. Within a week IMHE issued two revisions. The first downgraded the estimate to a mean of 81,766 on a confidence range of [49,430 , 136,401], a decrease of 12.6%. In the announcement accompanying the April 5th update to the model, IMHE cite the use of additional data, beyond the initial data from China (IMHE, 2020a). Just two days later they issued a further downgrade to a mean of 60,414 with a confidence range of [31,221 , 126703], a decrease of another 26.1%. Over the course of a week the total estimate was downgraded by 35.4%. The press release associated with the April 7th downgrade specifically identifies some of the reliability issues with the data highlighted in this analysis, such as inconsistent reporting (IMHE, 2020b). [Bell's numbers are emphasized to make them easier to see.]
All Bell's numbers are there. In order. I'll leave it to you to decide if I found her source. Seems pretty solid to me.

In any event, we need to take a step back to grasp Bell's argument here. She starts with a position that ("Numbers don't lie") that she then seeks to discredit by pointing out how much they do. And then once she's "made" her case, she then states that the now-shown to be unreliable numbers are actually being implemented in order for the government to gain control. Over you.

Her words:
Numbers do lie.

And when numbers are allowed to shut down an entire economy, the greatest economy this world has ever known, and when governors continue to hold the power and to squeeze you to prevent you from going out and clawing back any semblance of survival financially, with a job.

What you're talking about isn't a pandemic.

What you're talking about is control.

And that's exactly what's going on, ladies and gentlemen.
However, the conclusion of the report says something very different:
Covid-19 has created a significant world-wide health and economic crises. Driven by the intense interest globally, web sites have popped up with near real time data on the number of individuals infected and the number of deaths. Comparisons are made across geography and across time and reported like the scores in a sporting event or the prices on a stock exchange. Newspaper headlines regularly report when a country achieves a milestone or takes the lead in some metric. The data reported is used to produce models and the output of those models are used to shape public policies. Governments across the United States, and across the world have taken unprecedented actions, in good faith, to minimize the public health impact of the pandemic.

The point of this paper is not to question those actions, but rather to point out the uncertain and unreliable nature of the data.We regularly teach our students to treat uncertain data as uncertain and report out levels of confidence. While confidence levels have been reported for forecasts, they have essentially been ignored by the media and the public. Furthermore, the actual data on cases and deaths have been reported as deterministic point values. When models are updated based on newer data, the revisions are used to discredit the model and the modelling process. Many lessons will be learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, but one thing that needs to be considered is the way in which data is collected and reported in future outbreaks. [Emphasis added.]
Take a look at what I emphasized.  That's exactly what Wendy Bell did here. I wonder if she even knows.

The not-only sad but screamingly scary part here is that  a segment of the population will believe Wendy Bell's bat-shit crazie monologue (and I haven't even gotten to the part where she equates Covid-19 with the flu) and they'll go about their lives as if nothing is wrong - content in the notion that the numbers the lamestream media has told them are simply manipulations done in order for the government to exert more control over their lives. Patriotically emboldened, some may then ignore shelter in place and do exactly what they want to do, exactly as they always have done. Wendy Bell said it's about control, right? I'm not going to let the government control me that way!

Of course, this will spread the virus and more Americans will die because of it.

Shame on KDKA Radio for giving Wendy Bell this platform. History won't be as forgiving when all this is over.

April 16, 2020

GOP Congressional Candidate Sean Parnell, Enter Stage Far FAR Right!!

In the US House of Representatives, the representative from PA-17 (where I live) is Congressman Conor Lamb.

He's the guy who beat Rick Saccone a while back, in case you've forgotten. As far as I can tell, he's a center-left/centrist Democrat. Contemporary politics being what it is, of course, the Trumper's think he's a flaming liberal who's to blame for everything including the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby.

A real American must be found to save us from the socialist scourge!! (Lamb actually reached the rank of Major in the USMC reserves, BTW. Just so you know.)

Enter, in a most peculiar way from stage far-far right, Sean Parnell. The story begins last October when the orange vulgarity himself was speaking at an energy conference in Pittsburgh. This is how the P-G saw it:
Sean Parnell said he was asleep last week when President Donald Trump announced that the Army veteran was going to challenge U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania’s 17th congressional district.

Speaking Tuesday night at the Allegheny County Republican Committee, Mr. Parnell said he had no idea how Mr. Trump knew his plan or that the president was going to make it public.
Timing is everything, they say.

Today, Parnell posted this tired conservative protest on his Facebook page:

With the caption:
This is what media bias looks like.
Too bad Sean didn't do his homework on this. You'll see why in a minute.  Perhaps he did. But IF he did, then he's actively lying (by omission) with his many FB friends. So let's just assume for the sake of civility that he's just sloppy and careless and NOT outright dishonest.

Everyone cool with that?


To look at it, Parnell's saying that the media is so biased that presented with the exact same picture (a president presenting a $4 trillion budget proposal to Congress) of two different presidents (one a Democrat the other a Republican) the media can't help but trash the Republican.  However by coming conclusion with just the headlines, Sean's left out some very important info: the details of each budget proposal, for example.

I googled each headline above and found that the former is from February, 2015 and the latter from about three years later.

This is what the NYTimes had to say about the Obama budget proposal in 2015:
Under the president’s plan, the federal deficit would drop from $583 billion this year — or 3.2 percent of the economy — to $474 billion in 2016, 2.5 percent of the economy.
And this is what the NYTimes said of the Trump budget proposal in 2019:
The White House budget request would add $984 billion to the federal deficit next year, despite proposed cuts to programs like Medicare and food stamps and despite leaner budgets across federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency.
See that? The Obama budget proposed $474 billion in deficits (which was lower than the year before) but the Trump budget proposed a deficit of MORE THAN DOUBLE that.

So which one had those "soaring deficits"?

Now go back and look at what Sean Parnell presented to his FB friends.

It's still early in the campaign, so I'll leave it to you to decide whether Sean Parnell was sloppy or dishonest.

April 14, 2020

Trump Claims "Total Authority"

From The Washington Post:
When President Trump was asked during Monday’s news briefing what authority he has to reopen the country, he didn’t hesitate to answer. “I have the ultimate authority,” the president responded, cutting off the reporter who was speaking.

Trump later clarified his position further, telling reporters, “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total and that’s the way it’s got to be. … It’s total. The governors know that.”

The local leaders, Trump said, “can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.”
And with that, the leader of the Republican Party challenged decades worth of conservative party-based federalism.

Even the otherwise odious Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) disagreed with the orange vulgarity:
Even the otherwise odious John Woo (he of the Bush-era Torture memos) disagreed with his high orangeness. Writing in The National Review:
Presiding Trump claims that he has the right to determine when businesses open their doors, employees return to work, and consumers shop again. “For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government,” he tweeted earlier today. “Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect . . . It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons.”

But the federal government does not have that power. The Constitution’s grant of limited, enumerated powers to the national government does not include the right to regulate either public health or all business in the land.
States possess the “police power” to regulate virtually all activity within their borders. As the Supreme Court has recognized, safeguarding public health and safety presents the most compelling use of state power. Only the states can impose quarantines, close institutions and businesses, and limit intra-state travel. Democratic governors Gavin Newsom in California, Andrew Cuomo in New York, and J.B. Pritzker Illinois imposed their states’ lockdowns, and only they will decide when the draconian policies will end.
This presents a challenge to our conservative friends (especially those in Congress or running for a seat in Congress). For years we heard their political lamentations regarding the abuses of President Obama's "executive overreach." Like this one, from Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey. Sen. Toomey is explaining his decision to block President Obama's nomination for the Supreme Court, Garland Merrick:
Yet when Toomey emerged, he was more resolute than ever that Garland should not be confirmed. And it wasn't just the principle that the court seat should remain vacant. For Toomey, it's also the person.

Toomey said that his main issue regards executive overreach — that President Barack Obama has circumvented Congress, and future presidents will do the same. On that topic, Garland did little to sway to him.

"We talked about concerns I have about his record and his judicial philosophy. Unfortunately, for me, throughout the process of this discussion, he did not assuage my concerns," Toomey told reporters. "I'm not convinced that he would be willing to play the role of a sufficiently aggressive check on an administration."
Where is Senator Toomey's denunciation of Trump's "executive overreach" now?

Where is Representative Guy Reschenthaler's denunciation of Trump's "executive overreach" now?

Where is GOP candidate Sean Parnell's denunciation of Trump's "executive overreach" now?

April 12, 2020

This Just In: Trump's Self-Evaluation Is As Expected!

Here it is:
Donald Trump was briefed about the virus in January and yet spent the better part of the next two months downplaying its severity.

His mismanagement has made what would have been bad situation horribly horribly worse.

As of this writing there have been more than 20,000 deaths in the US on Donald Trump's watch.

And yet, he thinks he's doing "an excellent job."

No sir, you're not. You mishandled this from the beginning and US citizens are dying because of it.

It's simple. For the future of the nation, Trump needs to be voted out of office. For the future of the nation anyone in his party who supports him needs to be voted out of office. Anyone not in office but ontherwise in the public eye who supports him needs to be publicly shamed for supporting such a horrible horrible man.


April 11, 2020

Wendy Bell Claims Free Speech Victimhood

From Friday's rant (about 35 seconds from the end):
The phone lines are always open for conversation but beware anyone who wants to silence me for my views or you for yours. Because that's what we saw happen this week. That's not America.
After the negative press over her Sunday monologue Wendy Bell posted this rhetorical question on her Facebook page:
Where do you believe an American’s right to free speech ends? Should facts be thrown out over you not agreeing with them?
I don't think that Wendy Bell understands what free speech in a free society actually means. However horrid her "on the fence" views are (and they are) she has every right to hold them.

If other people, on the other hand, find those view abhorrent (and there certainly are a lot of people who do!), they have every right to communicate their disgust to KDKA Radio and/or Wendy Bell's advertisers. Her free speech rights do not shield her from such criticism. It's embarrassingly sad for her that she seems to think so.

If, after all this bad publicity, those entities don't want to be associated with her "on the fence" cruelty, they have every right to sever whatever ties they might have with her (for example, her advertisers pulling ad revenue or KDKA Radio showing her the door).

If they wish to continue to be associated with her, that's their right, too. But even then their freedom to associate with Wendy Bell (either KDKA Radio or her advertisers) does not shield them from public criticism, by any means.

And yet, Wendy Bell seems to think that any criticism of her is an assault (by the left, of course) to undermine her First Amendment rights. It isn't. Criticism does not equal censorship. In the unlikely event that her advertisers pull their ads and KDKA Radio fires her, she'll still have those rights. It's ridiculous for her to be claiming some sort of First Amendment victim hood here.

Wendy Bell is not the victim here. The people who are dying are the victims here. The victims would be those who would die if the stay at home guidelines are lifted too early - lifted because of someone's belief that an earlier recovery of the economy is worth more than the lives of a few hundred thousand already old/frail American citizens.

April 9, 2020

A Wendy Bell Follow-Up

[Note: She's STILL a horrible person, that'll never change.]

Pittsburgh's own Wendy Bell is making news again. Last time it was for saying something incredibly stupid and racially insensitive. This time, it's for saying something incredibly stupid and cruel.

I posted a partial transcript from her 10 minute long rant yesterday. I just didn't have the stomach to finish. Perhaps today (or tomorrow) I'll finish the transcript (anyone got any Maker's Mark?).

She sheds her human looking skin to reveal her true self with this part:

This is is what she said:
We're told that we need to shut down the economy. There's a cost. Everything shuts down. But to what end? Yes, every life lost is one too many. Yes that's the talking point, that's what we're going to say -
[At this point, she's doing the sort of "blah-blah" hand gesture that usually means "what I am saying is nonsense."]
- but dollars and cents boil down to, "are you going to bankrupt America and the future for less than one percent of our population, many of whom are already ill? Or aged?"
Let's be clear on one thing, Wendy Bell is NOT advocating letting "less than one percent of our population (however "ill" or "aged" they may be)" die just to protect the economy.  She's not.

However, in saying that she's "on a fence" about it, she's simply saying that she's just not convinced that it's a horrible horrible idea.

I can't see how that's any better but it's a necessary point of clarification.

News of her fascism made it onto the pages of the P-G:
KDKA Radio host Wendy Bell is facing backlash on social media Wednesday over comments she made addressing the decision to shut down businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms. Bell’s name was trending on Twitter after a clip surfaced of the former WTAE-TV anchor questioning the government’s decision to risk a potential economic shutdown in order to save a small percentage of lives from the virus. The comments were made on-air in the KDKA Radio studio Sunday while Ms. Bell streamed a 10-minute segment on Facebook Live.
And the Pittsburgh City Paper:
On Sun., April 5, Wendy Bell gave a monologue on her KDKA radio show similar to what some other right-wing radio hosts have espoused. She questioned if it was worth shutting down many parts of the American economy to avoid millions of Americans dying from coronavirus.
And they point out something that the coriaceous Ms Bell missed:
If 1% of the U.S. population were to die from COVID-19, the country would lose more than 3.2 million people. Economic experts have said such a large population loss could still result in a powerful negative effect on the U.S. economy.
Still, she's horrid.

April 8, 2020


She's also a vile vile person.

Here's why.

Watch this:
It's a half minute or so from this rant from PALM SUNDAY.

About 3 minutes in, she says:
I understand following the rules. I understand "danger that we've been told is here."
[Note: Wendy is using air quotes while saying those words.]
But I'm on a fence. It is proverbial yes, but it exists.

Alright? I think we need to talk about this. Because we're at this crisis point now - we have our Surgeon General saying, "What we're walking into in the coming days, is our "9/11"
[More air quotes.]
Well we've already had 9/11. It's our Pearl Harbor. I wasn't here for Pearl Harbor.

But the analogy confounds me. It confuses me. And I'm getting angry.

Why does the analogy bother me?

Pearl Harbor - Men drowned. They were blown to smithereens. They were blown to bits and burned in oil. They drowned!

9/11 - People jumped out of the World Trade Center Towers. They jumped. Think about that.

And so we have a virus that none of us is immune to without having it and living through it. It is unknown. And yes, by golly, researcher scientists, you know it, are working their behinds off, trying to figure this stuff out.

But I gotta tell you, I'm on a fence.
[She turns to the white board at this point]
Here's my fence. It's a red picket fence because I feel like I'm burning right now, OK?
[Here she starts on her topics]
The mask thing. The fence between "I want to be safe" and "I feel totally silly." Thinking, everyone should wear a mask now? We should wear a mask now? This is going to save stuff now? Or should we have been doing that two weeks ago? A month ago? Now. Wear a mask. Now.

That feels silly to me. But I want to be safe.

I'm on a fence.

Science and Speculation. We're following science to the granular level. Dr Brix tells us. I don't doubt that she's the smartest person in the room, at all!  But science, when you're dealing with an unknown, is a lot of speculation, too! It just is! We're told 2.2 million people could die in this country - or not. You can get it and have terrible symptoms or not even know you have it. Right?

I'm on a fence.

We're told that we need to shut down the economy. There's a cost. Everything shuts down. But to what end? Yes, every life lost is one too many. Yes that's the talking point, that's what we're going  to say -
[At this point, she's doing the sort of "blah-blah" hand gesture that usually "this is nonsense."]
- but dollars and cents boil down to, "are you going to bankrupt America and the future for less than one percent of our population, many of whom are already ill? Or aged?"

I'm on a fence. Do you see? The struggle? Internal? Struggle?

Truth and Doubt - I want to believe. The Governor says, "Wear a mask." The president says, "I'm not wearing a mask." What do you do? Whom do you believe?

The rest is more of the same.

One big takeaway here:

Wendy Bell is having trouble deciding between her two options: "bankrupting" America or saving hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of American lives - people who are old and frail.

Is she actually on the fence about this?

Cold, vile and cruel.

April 4, 2020

In Case You, Sean Parnell, Missed It

Yesterday, republican candidate for House seat PA-17, Sean Parnell posted this on Facebook.

It's a copy of this tweet:
And here is my FB response:
OF COURSE it's necessary for the Congress to investigate Trump on his (failed) response to the Coronavirus. He has made a bad situation horribly horribly worse.

Here are some facts: Trump was warned by the intelligence community about a "likely pandemic" BACK IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY and yet downplayed the severity of the virus for months. He said it would miraculously go away. He said that the number would be "close to zero" by April. His administration said it was contained.

With the numbers of the dead and suffering rising, how and why did he get things so wrong?

Why has Jared Kushner (who has absolutely no expertise in medicine or government) been given any responsibility into this?

Shouldn't SOMEONE be looking into these questions? People are dying and it was only a few weeks ago that he said it was all going to go away.

And let me clarify the timeline here: The House Impeached Trump on December 18 a week and a half BEFORE China informed the World Health Organization of "pneumonia of an unknown cause" in Wuhan. The WHO announcement was made January 5, 2020.

Donald Trump has gone golfing more than a half dozen times between January 5 and March 8 - two days BEFORE telling everyone to "stay calm. It will go away."

So yes, it's necessary to investigate Trump's horrendous mishandling of this crisis.
So far, no response from Parnell (not that one is expected, of course).