Democracy Has Prevailed.

August 31, 2020

Question For Sean Parnell (Can Someone Please Forward This To Him?)

You asserted this rule in one of your recent videos:

If you don’t denounce the mob, you endorse the mob.

As you know, this past week Kyle Rittenhouse murdered two protestors and injured another in Kenosha Wisconsin.

Today, at the White House, this happened:

So I guess you would say that Donald Trump has endorsed the murders of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, right?

I mean, at this point, he hasn't denounced them, has he?

By the way, have you? Have you denounced the actions of Kyle Rittenhouse?

I mean, if you don't denounce the vigilante, you endorse the vigilante, am I right?

August 30, 2020

Does Sean Parnell Denounce or Endorse ALL of Donald Trump's Misdeeds?

GOP House candidate Sean Parnell posted this this weekend (he's referencing a video he posted a while back on Facebook).

In this weekend's Facebook post, he snowflaked a complaint about the P-G's coverage of the ad:
I filmed this a month ago. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote 2 articles critical of me (but not the mob).

Here's a screen capture:

There are two pieces in the P-G regarding that video. One article's is an analysis of the add and the second is actually an editorial and thus not technically an "article."

It's surprising to me, Sean, that you saw Julian Routh's analysis of your ad as critical. It may have been tough but it was hardly unfair. Routh doesn't actually criticize you in the piece. You see that, right? He does, however, quote people who do.

And this is about as critical as it gets:

In interviews this past week, local political analysts and academics, including one who studies public monuments and another who examines grassroots organizing and its historical implications, deemed the candidate’s rhetoric intense in its voracity, a near-copy of the president’s recent playbook and a vapid and insincere interpretation of a more complex series of movements.

Kirk Savage, a professor of history of art and architecture at the University of Pittsburgh who studies the identity and memory of public monuments, said he’s amazed that the tearing down of statues has triggered this rhetoric, and that over the past several weeks, there have only been a “few high profile take-downs” of monuments. Thousands and thousands of statues remain standing, Mr. Savage said.

“This is a tiny, tiny fraction of them, and much of the [protesting] … most of it has been quite peaceful,” Mr. Savage said, adding that “there are more statues being removed by civic processes than there are by mob or vigilante groups.”

That's it. If that's got your feathers in a flurry...

The editorial a few weeks later, however, was critical of you, although it does also criticize "the mob" a tad (as small and driven by emotion - did you miss it?)

In it, you are being criticized for being polarizing:

There is a mob out there. But they are a relatively small number of people, driven by emotion. An equally emotional response to them fixes nothing, builds nothing, helps no one.

In Mr. Parnell’s either/​or world, “If you don’t denounce the mob, you endorse the mob.” But the entire Democratic Party cannot be equated with people who rip down statues, just as every American who voted for Donald Trump cannot be equated with white nationalists who advocate or incite violence.

We don’t need more political and cultural polarization. We need reason and common ground.

It all leads me here: Let's side step if and continue with your argument, "if you don't denounce something, you endorse it."

Ok, let's do a simple one. Do you denounce Donald Trump's use of tear gas on a group of US citizens exercising their 1st Amendment rights just so that he can have a photo op outside a church? Remember, if you don't denounce it, you've endorsed it.

How about this one? Do you denounce Donald Trump's porn star payoff in order to gain her silence about their affair (one that occurred only one month after First Lady Melania Trump gave birth to their son? Again, denounce or endorse. Your choice.

Or this? Do you denounce Donald Trump's mishandling of the government's response to the COVID-19 outbreak? One that's led to tens of thousands of necessary dead Americans?

Denounce or endorse, Sean. Denounce or endorse.

Another Message From The Lincoln Project

August 28, 2020

More From The WNBA, MLB

Following up on yesterday's post.

The WNBA:

The WNBA's three games scheduled for Wednesday night were postponed as part of the protest among professional sports teams regarding the shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

"This isn't just about basketball. We aren't just basketball players," Washington Mystics guard Ariel Atkins told ESPN broadcaster Holly Rowe in a televised interview from the WNBA bubble in Bradenton, Florida. "We're going to say what we need to say."

The WNBA's games Wednesday were between the Atlanta Dream and defending WNBA champion Mystics, the Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx, and the Connecticut Sun and Phoenix Mercury.

The interview:


MLB:

And if you're in need of an explanation, there's this from MLB.com:

In a powerful show of protest, the Mets and Marlins walked off the field on Thursday after observing a 42-second moment of silence on the eve of Jackie Robinson Day.

Mets and Marlins players milled around their dugouts, stretched and played catch prior to the scheduled 7:10 p.m. ET first pitch at Citi Field, but neither starting pitcher warmed up. As game time approached, Black players Dominic Smith and Billy Hamilton led the Mets onto the field.

Standing on the mound, Mets pitcher Michael Wacha removed his cap as players from both teams lined up in front of their dugouts. Everyone observed a moment of silence in memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others who have lost their lives to police brutality, then walked off the field in unison.

Before leaving, Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson punctuated the protest by placing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt atop home plate.

August 27, 2020

Ivanka Trump's Voice


What am especially not looking forward to tonight is Ivanka Trump's speech. Oh sure it will be full of outright lies and bullshit like the rest of the speakers, but it's her voice that really gets to me.


Ivanka Trump's voice is the aural equivalent of all the plastic surgery that she's had done to her face and body.

Ivanka Trump's voice is as fake in its own way as when Maddona donned a British accent.

Ivanka Trump's voice is meant to be Posh Trump, as well as Soothing Trump.

Ivanka Trump's voice is the voice of the announcements made on Snowpiercer telling you how many days you've been on the train and the number of cars.

Ivanka Trump's voice is the sound of a futuristic robot pitching you a brand new skin suit to replace your outdated one.

Ivanka Trump's voice is the last sound you'll hear when it calmly tells you what line to get into to be turned into Soylent Green.

Ivanka Trump's voice is the sound of evil.

This Happened Yesterday In America

I'm just going to leave these here.

The fram from The NYTimes

Athletes from the N.B.A., W.N.B.A., Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer took their boldest stand yet against systemic racism and police brutality, boycotting games on Wednesday in response to the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wis. The moves dramatically escalated a season of athletes demonstrating for social justice as some expressed doubts about continuing to play amid widespread social unrest.

The wave of boycotts and postponements was sparked by Milwaukee Bucks players' responding to the shooting of Jacob Blake by refusing to come out of their locker room on Wednesday afternoon for a playoff game against the Orlando Magic. Two more N.B.A. playoff games scheduled for Wednesday night were quickly postponed, inspiring players in other leagues to follow the Bucks’ lead and causing numerous professional basketball, baseball and soccer games to be called off because athletes would not participate.

And then this happened:

A transcript (from about 3:15 in)

Right now, my head is like ready to explode, just in the thoughts of what’s going on, with what the players are feeling and how they’re feeling. I haven’t talked to any of the players, but even coming here and driving to the studio and getting into the studio, and hearing calls and people talking, and for me, I think the biggest thing now is as a Black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to just support the players and not be here tonight.

And figure out what happens after that. I just don’t feel equipped today.

And  this:

A transcript (from about 2:40):

As far as the other situation, it's just so sad. What stands out to me is just watching the republican convention, viewing this fear. All you hear is Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear.

We're the ones getting killed. We're the ones getting shot. We're the ones that we're denied to live in certain communities. We've been hung. We've been shot. All you do is keep hearing about fear (tearing up).

It's amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back. It's really so sad.

Like, I should just be a coach. I'm so often reminded of my color. It's just really sad. We got to do better. But we got to demand better.

It's funny, we protest. They send riot guards. They send people in riot outfits. They go up to Michigan with guns. They're spitting on cops. Nothing happens.

The training has to change in the police force. The unions have to be taken down in the police force. My dad was a cop. I believe in good cops. We're not trying to defund the police and take all their money away. We're trying to get them to protect us, just like they protect everybody else.

I didn't want to talk about it before the game because it's so hard, like, to just keep watching it. That video, if you watch that video, you don't need to be black to be outraged. You need to be American and outraged.

How dare the republicans talk about fear. We're the ones that need to be scared. We're the ones having to talk to every black child. What white father has to give his son a talk about being careful if you get pulled over? It's just ridiculous. It just keeps going. There's no charges. Breonna Taylor, no charges, nothing.

All we're asking is you live up to the Constitution. That's all we're asking for everybody, for everyone.

Thank you.

The Milwaukee Bucks issued a statement:

The statement:

The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings. 

Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.

When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.

We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable. For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform. We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3.



August 24, 2020

Dear Sue, August 24, 2020

Dear Sue

Let's talk Delta Foundation.

But first for anyone reading that doesn't already know, let me get my own of frame of reference out of the way. I'm a middle-aged straight white male who's never felt the need to question his gender or his orientation. I also realize that each part of that previous sentence reflects a number of different privileges - each of which I do my best to not skew my point of view.

Ok, so this week we learned that the Delta Foundation is dissolving:

The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, a 24-year-old organization whose signature event was the annual Pittsburgh Pride celebration that brought together members and supporters of the LGBTQIA+ community for a Downtown festival, plans to dissolve.

The postponement of Pittsburgh Pride this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty about whether the event could be held in 2021 left the nonprofit without a revenue stream and no means to move forward, board president Martin Healey said.

From the article (and from what you've written on your blog) it seems that prior to the arrival of Covid-19, the foundation was the subject of a number of criticisms. However if the dissolution is based simply on the cash-flow problem caused by the cancellation of the 2020 Pride events, then it's reasonable to assume that the foundation would probably not be dissolving were it not for the pandemic.

The criticisms, though, would still be there. So rather than diving into the details of this dissolution, I'd like to ask about what the foundation was supposed to be. From the website I read that:

The mission of the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh is to be a vigilant catalyst for change that produces increased opportunities and a high quality of life for the LGBTQ community in Western Pennsylvania.

Which I realize is a necessary website generalization but, specifically, what do you think it should have looked like?  What was it supposed to be doing that it wasn't? And what, in your opinion, should its successor look like?

With respect,

David


A QAnon/Human Trafficking Rally Update

This will be short. There was another rally to bring awareness to Human Trafficking this weekend. Like the last one, it was at the City-County Building downtown. And also like the last one, QAnon was there.

Of course Human Trafficking is a very bad thing. A horror. A crime against humanity. No wiggle room on the morality of it at all. It's very very harmful.

But if there was any doubt that QAnon was there this weekend, this poster should dispel it:

Of the five hashtags on this poster, three are clear QAnon references. We've mentioned "WWG1WGA" and "Pizzagate" previously. But the third, "The Great Awakening" is a new presence at the rallies. 

 So what's "the great awakening"?  From The Washington Post:

[QAnon is] a concoction of allegations against Democratic politicians, celebrities and supposed members of a “deep state” government bureaucracy, against whom Trump is seen as waging a valiant battle. Purported pedophilia rings are central to the conspiracy theory, along with Satanism and secret judicial proceedings. QAnon believers await the “Great Awakening,” or the moment the general public realizes the conspiracy exists, and the “Storm,” when thousands of wrongdoers face justice.

Which brings us to the next pair of posters at the rally:

On the bottom, we see the Pedowood hashtag. We've seen it before.

But look at the top poster. While it's a bogus right-wing conspiracy theory in it's own right, what does that top poster have to do with Human Trafficking? 

I mean apart from the fact that she's a Democrat and the (non-fact) that the democrats are running a non-existent sex-trafficking ring from the non-existent basement of the very real Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant in DC. Apart from that.

While I am sure there were people at the rally who where there to sincerely combat Human Trafficking, how many where there to talk about Q?

Remember when that guy drove 360 miles and shot up Comet Ping Pong? He sincerely wanted to combat Human Trafficking as well. He just had some really bad "facts" in his head about where it was.

And that's the danger of injecting conspiracy theories into real-life issues.

Perhaps the organizers of the next rally (if they're not QAnon to begin with) should keep this in mind. If they are QAnon, why not just come out and say it?

Why hide behind the real suffering of those trafficked just in order to spread an immensely complicated (and completely bogus) conspiracy theory?

August 23, 2020

Dear Sue, August 23, 2020

 Dear Sue

Thanks for the letter of the 20th. I really appreciate it and I apologize for not writing back sooner. It's been a hectic coupla days, hasn't it?

It's nice to hear that Ledcat was born the same year as me - 1963. We're both baby boomers! Does that mean you're a "Gen X-er"? And what does that mean, exactly?

The dates themselves are arbitrary, of course. My understanding of the "baby boomer" span is that it's based on the idea it's 1946 (when the GIs returned home from WWII) plus eighteen years (when, presumably, their kids would be adults and having kids of their own). So Ledcat and I are, according to that definition "baby boomers" - just like Farrah Fawcett and Dan Quayle (boomers both).

I actually used to listen to Casey Kasem every now and then in the mid-80s. If memory serves, his American Top 40 was broadcast on one of the local CT radio stations on Sunday mornings and I used to listen to it on the drive to my summer job. As the job was only a mile away, I didn't get to hear that much of each show, but still.

Music is an amazing thing.  I've spent my life studying, practicing and listening to it and I STILL I have no real understanding of it's emotive power, it's ability to move people. Regardless of the type of music or it's cultural setting, it's power is ubiquitous. Different people, of course, value different forms of music in different ways. Someone who swoons at Mahler might find a Gamelan repetitive and frustrating while one who's mesmerized by Gamelan might find Mahler bloated and melodramatic. But to each, their own music is magic beyond compare.

And it's all utterly fascinating to me.

I read about that sports guy. What a stupid idiot. Stupid for at least two reasons; first, for using the slur at all (for thinking it's OK) and second, (and this is far less important) for not knowing what should be Broadcasting 101: always assume every mic is live. What an idiot. Whatever happens to him now, he'll still be that guy who used that word. Fox News money won't ever be able to erase that.

I'm not sure what I'd say if I were to bump into Wendy Bell or Marty Griffin.. On the one hand, their personal space should be respected. For example, Wendy recently broadcast about an incident where someone vandalized a campaign sign she posted on her lawn. As much as I'd agree with the politics of whoever repainted the sign, it's still a BIG no-no to walk onto someone else's property to steal and/or deface...anything. 

Now, scrawling "Wendy Bell: KDKA Radio's The Angel of Death" in chalk on the sidewalk in front of her house is a different story. I have no idea if there even is a sidewalk in front of her house, but you get the idea.

When did GLAAD ask about you going on his show? Is this recent? I'd agree that it would be meaningless if it were just a chance for him to stoke his ratings.

I'm still wrestling with my coverage of that Human Trafficking rally I wrote about recently. I've found  a few more pizza/WWG1WWGA posters. So that makes four. Was the rally a conspiracy theory trap or something real or both? What I'm wrestling with is how to approach it. Obviously there's a very real need to push back against human trafficking, but how to separate the sincere protesters from the QAnon folks?

This is what took up most of my blogging time yesterday. NBC reported that across the nation, QAnon "infiltrated" a number of such rallies. I took a deep dive into some of the references on some of the posters I saw at rallies across the country. The deeper I went the stranger it was. Adrenochrome? Red Shoes? Tom Hanks? (trigger alert: don't go looking to find out what they mean in QAnon-ville. It's all very troubling.)

I have an earworm in my head right now - it's from the middle of the first movement of the Dvorak 9th Symphony (a.k.a. "The New World Symphony"). As earworms go, it's not a bad one, though TBH I'd be much happier if the earworm gods ("Die Ohrwurmgötter" auf Deutsch) planted something from his 7th Symphony rather than the 9th in my cranium. I just like it better. And besides, the New World Symphony is way overplayed!

Dvorak was BBC 3's "Composer of the Week" so that's probably why he's stuck in there.

Everything else in the world is such shit. The possibility of being able to ignore Trump's piss-erosion the foundations of this country, his mismanagement culminating in the deaths of tens of thousands of our fellow citizens and the willful ignorance of his enabling political base is next to zero. On the other hand, the only way to get along IS to look away. Looking into the horrible abyss (and seeing what looks back) paralyzes me.

With great respect,

David




August 22, 2020

KDKA Radio's Wendy Bell Responds! To Me!

And in doing so, she lies about what she said.

Take a look. This is from twitter

I tweeted:

And Wendy responded with:

Hmm. "Fact" is an interesting word isn't it, Wendy?

What is a fact? In this instance, this "fact" hinges on whether you said what I said you said. Did you say that "Covid is officially over" as I said you said? Did you say that "the cycle is 70 days" as I said you said?

If you did say those things, then I got the facts right and you're lying about what you said (or in this case, posted on Facebook).

Well, here's a screen shot from your Facebook page, Wendy:

Let's see. "Covid is officially over." CHECK. "The cycle is 70 days." CHECK.

Um, so what's that "fake news" that you tweeted? Because it certainly looks like you said what I said you said. 

So I was right. 

You were wrong

And now you're lying about what you said.

And that's a fact.

QAnon And The Human Trafficking Protest - A Pittsburgh Connection!

 Hey, remember this blog post from last week?

Well, NBC News is reporting that the rallies are nationwide:

On the second Saturday of August, about 100 protestors gathered at the "Big Red Wagon," a well-known attraction in downtown Spokane, Washington. Men, women and children marched through the streets chanting, “Save the children.” It was ostensibly an effort “to raise awareness and start a conversation” about child trafficking, according to a local television reporter at the scene.

Many of the marchers held signs that would be expected at such a rally: "Save our kids," "Your silence is deafening," and "Wake up 4 our children," to name a few.

But other signs were less clear, and suggested that something darker was going on during an event that otherwise seemed organic and sympathetic. "Symbolism will be their downfall," one read. Another featured the hashtag "#Pedowood." Yet another was a strange acronym: “WWG1WGA," short for "Where we go one, we go all."

Sound familiar? We saw this last week.

As a reminder, this was one poster at the rally at the City-County building recently in Pittsburgh:

You'll note the "WWG1WGA" in the lower left hand corner. Incidentally, the main text of the poster seems to reflect these two paragraphs from NBC's reporting:

In early August, the hashtag #SaveTheChildren seemed to be everywhere. As it spiked, Facebook briefly disabled the hashtag, with a warning that it went against community standards. That action poured gasoline on the QAnon community, which rallied to circumvent what they claimed in groups was “censorship.”

The hashtag was reinstated and continued to take off but lost steam when QAnon believers moved to #SaveOurchildren after realizing Save the Children, the humanitarian organization founded in 1919, was funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates has been a constant target of unfounded conspiracy theories spread by QAnon groups since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Hey, I have an update. I found a couple more posters from this rally:


You'll note the QAnon "WWG1WGA" on the left and Pizzagate "pizza slice" on the right.

But what's "Pedowood"? That's that portion of the QAnon conspiracy theory dealing with pedophilia in Hollywood (pedophilia + Hollywood = pedowood, get it?), including Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, Portia De Rossi and Oprah Winfrey. That's right. Those folks.

Another rally scheduled for today (though you'll have to find it yourself, sorry). 

 I wonder if QAnon will be there, too.

August 20, 2020

Where Are All Those Strict Constitutionalists Now? (Trump Threatens To Ignore Election Results If He Loses)

 Yesterday, at The White House:

Reporter: "Is the President saying if he doesn't win this election that he will not accept the results unless he wins?"

McEnany: "The President has always said he'll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath."

He has no constitutional authority not to accept results of the election as his first term ends four years after it began:

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years...

And the process for the next term is outlined in the 12th Amendment:

The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;-The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;-The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed;[Emphasis added.]

And so on. The rest of the amendment outlines the process by which the Congress chooses the next president in the event there isn't a majority of electoral votes.

Trump simply does not have any constitutional authority in the matter. If someone else garners a majority of electoral votes, he's out.

For years our friends in the GOP (Senator Pat Toomey, for example) criticized a certain previous administration for "executive overreach." Where is Toomey's outrage over Trump's ultimate executive overreach (threatening to ignore the outcome of the election)?

August 19, 2020

Next Time Any Of Our GOP Friends Says The Russia Story's A Hoax

 From the Senate Report:

The Committee found that Manafort's presence on the Campaign and proximity to Trump created opportunities for Russian intelligence services to exert influence over, and acquire confidential information on, the Trump Campaign. Taken as a whole, Manafort's high-level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services, particularly Kilimnik and associates of Oleg Deripaska, represented a grave counterintelligence threat.
And:
The Committee found that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian effort to hack computer networks and accounts affiliated with the Democratic Party and leak information damaging to Hillary Clinton and her campaign for president. Moscow's intent was to harm the Clinton Campaign, tarnish an expected Clinton presidential administration, help the Trump Campaign after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, and undermine the U.S. democratic process.

So, tell me again why wouldn't the FBI investigate this? Why shouldn't they?

August 18, 2020

Dear Sue, August 18, 2020

Dear Sue;

I'm pretty sure this has a great deal to do with our current shelter in place, but I find myself listening to a lot of music these days.  Today, it was Richard Strauss, the magnificent Four Last Songs (1948). Do you know any Strauss? If you've seen 2001:A Space Odyssey, you've heard at least a snippet of  something he wrote. (One of my old trumpet teachers is on that recording, BTW.)

See, I'm working from home now at a job that requires me to sit at a computer sifting through a slow but steady stream of virtual paperwork. As jobs go it's pretty darned good and, to be honest, I've had much much worse (someday we'll talk about the oil burns on my arms I received frying fish at Arthur Treachers). Anyway to pass the working time and to fill out the silent space, I have internet radio, YouTube and my rather paltry CD collection.

Music fills out the working spacetime very nicely though sometimes I think I just need a reminder that there's still beauty in this world of facemasks, truthiness and all the denials therein.

Some days, it's Barenboim playing Beethoven piano sonatas. Some days, it's Miles. A few weeks ago, I spent an afternoon reacquainting myself with the ska of Prince Buster with a little Skatalites thrown in for good measure. 

Today, it happened to be Renee Fleming singing Strauss. A little bit of beauty found.

On to your letter.

For all of my political blogging (my first blog post at 2PJ was 15 years, 11 months and 9 days ago), I tend to stay away from "live" politics - politics as it's happening. This includes conventions, speeches and the yearly "State of the Union." Here's why: I find I have little to no patience for political theater. Ideas, yes. Process, yes. But politics for a show, definitely not. Ever notice that a SOTU broadcast is really all about how often which half the room stands and cheers for which content? This follows regardless of party, BTW. If an "R" is delivering the SOTU, the "Ds" will sit on their hands whenever all the other "Rs" in the room decide to cheer, and vice versa. If the "R" speeches something agreeable to the "Ds", it's time for the "Rs" to sit on their hands. Back and forth, a predetermined cheering and pouting choreography that accomplishes absolutely nothing.

If there's anything interesting of the speech to digest (and there usually is), I figured a long time ago that I can turn of the TV, get a good night's sleep and read it on my own the next morning. That's where and when the work begins. For me at least.

Locally, I've been rather disappointed by Conor Lamb - the representative from my district. His opponent, Sean Parnell, has had a much more pronounced web presence over the past few weeks/months and I am waiting for Lamb to catch up or at least to assert himself. I realize Charlie Cook has rated the district as "likely Democratic" (as defined as a "clear edge but an upset is possible") and so perhaps the Lamb campaign doesn't want to lower itself with a political fight they already see themselves as dominating. On the other hand, all we have to do is to look at how the Kerry campaign dealt with the Swiftboaters in 2004 to see that sometimes in politics you have to argue back forcefully.

Had they called bullshit on the bullshitters then perhaps 70,000 voters in Ohio would've voted differently. But they didn't and the actual war hero was painted into something very different while the guy who sat out Vietnam in Texas was seen by more voters as the real hero.

Maybe once the convention's done we'll see a different Lamb campaign.

With great respect,

David




And Now, A Message From The Lincoln Project

August 17, 2020

A Message From Each Of The Two Presidential Candidates

 Trump:

 

Biden:

 

 

Is there anything else to say?

August 15, 2020

Two Curious Posters Seen At A Recent Protest Against Human Trafficking

On August 8th at the City County Building, there was a protest against Human Trafficking.

The United Nations, in 2009, defined "Human Trafficking as:

"Trafficking in persons" shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include. at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery. servitude or the removal of organs;

It's very serious and there are few crimes more heinous than trafficking in human beings. 

Apart from that obvious point, why am I posting this?

Because of this, from the NYTimes:

Recently, an acquaintance posted a photo on her Instagram story showing a map of the United States, filled with bright red dots.

“This is not a map of Covid,” the caption read. “It is a map of human trafficking.”

Under the photo was a hashtag: #SaveTheChildren.

A few days later, I saw the same hashtag trending on Twitter. This time, it was being posted by followers of QAnon, the sprawling pro-Trump conspiracy theory.

The writer explains a few paragraphs later:

The idea, in a nutshell, is to create a groundswell of concern by flooding social media with posts about human trafficking, joining parenting Facebook groups and glomming on to hashtag campaigns like #SaveTheChildren, which began as a legitimate fund-raising campaign for the Save the Children charity. Then followers can shift the conversation to baseless theories about who they believe is doing the trafficking: a cabal of nefarious elites that includes Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey and Pope Francis.

So why bring this up?

It's because of a few photos I saw of that August 8th Pittsburgh rally.

For example, this one:

Take a look at the poster on the steps. I'll zoom in:

As you can see, it reads "Prison for Pedos" (an assertion that no one could disagree with).

But why the pizza? Why are there two slices of pizza on an anti-pedophile poster?

This is why - Pizzagate:

A detailed conspiracy theory known as "Pizzagate" holds that a pedophile ring is operating out of a Clinton-linked pizzeria called Comet Ping Pong.

That was Pizzagate back in 2016.

This is Pizzagate now in 2020:

This time, PizzaGate is being fueled by a younger generation that is active on TikTok, which was in its infancy four years ago, as well as on other social media platforms. The conspiracy group QAnon is also promoting PizzaGate in private Facebook groups and creating easy-to-share memes on it.

Driven by these new elements, the theory has morphed. PizzaGate no longer focuses on Mrs. Clinton and has taken on less of a political bent. Its new targets and victims are a broader assortment of powerful businesspeople, politicians and celebrities, including Mr. Bieber, Bill Gates, Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey and Chrissy Teigen, who are lumped together as part of the global elite. For groups like QAnon, PizzaGate has become a convenient way to foment discontent.

And if you're doubting the presence of a QAnon contingent at that rally, take a look at this second poster:

And see that bit in the lower left hand corner?

It reads, "WWG1WGA."

From The Daily Beast:

QAnon believers even have a slogan, “Where we go one, we go all,” which they often abbreviate to “WWG1WGA.” It’s become a rallying cry for QAnon fans that Q has attributed to President John F. Kennedy, although it actually appears to come from the 1996 action movie White Squall.

Obviously, with only two QAnon/pizzagate posters seen, I can't conclude that anyone else at that rally was a pizzagate conspiracy theorist and frankly I wouldn't be surprised if a large number of people (if not all the others) were there simply and sincerely to protest human trafficking, themselves unaware of the QAnon presence. 

But there were two QAnon posters present at the anti-Human Trafficking rally. That's all I'm saying.

Back to that NYTimes piece:

Some anti-trafficking experts worried that social networks, in an attempt to clamp down on QAnon, might inadvertently hurt the legitimate organizations working to end trafficking.
And:

Mostly, anti-trafficking activists are just incredulous that QAnon has made their cause its own.

“When I talk to my friends in the anti-trafficking movement, we’ll say, ‘Oh, it’s Pizzagate all over again,’” [Erin Williamson, the U.S. programs director for Love146, an anti-trafficking group]said. “And this time, it’s even worse.”

There's another rally scheduled for August 22

And then another for September 5.

Will QAnon be there, too?

Dear Sue, August 14, 2020

Dear Sue;

You know, I've never TRIED to make my own ice cream. You'll have to post some pictures of the peach ice cream, once it's made.  I've watched Alton Brown make his own, of course but I've never had the courage to do it myself.  In the summers during college I worked at a Friendly's in my hometown - scooping ice cream, flipping burgers, washing dishes. Everything but breakfast and counting the money.

There, I developed a profound love of Friendly's Chocolate Almond Chip ice cream. It was a light chocolate ice cream base with milk chocolate covered almonds mixed in. For something mass-produced, it was mega-tasty.

Someday, we'll talk the Fribbles with sprinkles.

From Antney's I got a scoop of the chocolate (their best flavor by far) and a scoop of the cookie dough.  The lovely wife got some of the burnt butter crumble. Each was, as always, excellent.

I'm not usually consciously aware of my own privilege, no. For me, it's like pondering the question, "What does the roof of my mouth taste like?" It's always there but unless I think about it...

I suppose that's as good a metaphor for privilege as any. "Privilege" means not having to think much about one's privilege, I guess.

What was my good friend Marty like at Antney's? This is Marty Griffin, we're talking here, right? Of KDKA? Marty and me, we go way back. He once read an entire blog post of mine on the air. That was as much of a hoot as when Wendy Bell said to her adorers, "Did you know that someone called me the angel of death this weekend?"

As I am working from home these days, I've taken to listening to him during the day. He's a confusing mix when he's dealing with local Covid-19 shutdowns. On the one hand, he's completely on the side of the attorneys protesting the state of affairs at the courthouse downtown. On the other, he's just as completely not on the side of teachers who are reluctant to go back into the classroom.

But this is Marty. Who said he needed to be consistent?

Yours,

David

PS I actually HAVE had peach ice cream once or twice. I don't remember any skins, though.

August 11, 2020

It's ALREADY Started - The Elligibility Argument Has Returned.

As you all must know by now, Senator Kamala Harris was picked by Joe Biden to be his running mate.

But this blog post isn't about that. To get where we're going, let's start with the BBC:

"My name is pronounced "Comma-la", like the punctuation mark," Kamala Harris writes in her 2018 autobiography, The Truths We Hold.

The California senator, daughter of an Indian-born mother and Jamaican-born father...

Anyone want to be what's already begun?

Take a look at this from USA Today:

A post on Facebook claims Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., cannot serve as president because of her parents' citizenship.

"If (Biden) cannot serve his full term, Kamala cannot by constitutional law become President," the post reads. "She is an anchor baby, mother is from India, father is Jamaican, and neither were American citizens at time of her birth."

We've seen arguments like this before, haven't we?

Before we go any further, let's take a look at the Constitution, the 14th Amendment to be specific. It begins with this:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.

She was born in the US. She's eligible.

Factcheck and Politifact have already posted on this.

Get used to it. You're going to have to explain this to your MAGA friends for a while.

August 10, 2020

He Said This Today

From Axios:

Nobody understood [the coronavirus] because nobody's ever seen anything like this. The closest thing is in 1917, they say, right? The great pandemic. Certainly was a terrible thing where they lost anywhere from 50 to 100 million people. Probably ended the Second World War, all the soldiers were sick.

The flu pandemic back then was actually 1918

And the Second World War ended in 1945.

Man. Woman. Camera. Person. TV.

August 8, 2020

KDKA Radio's Wendy Bell Asks If The Pandemic Is Real

Let's start at the end of Friday's monologue Karen-rant:

Look, does a real pandemic require a complicit media pushing death numbers to scare you? Fake videos showing hospitals packed with people from foreign countries that aren't even here? Does it involve 81% false positives? Faulty virus models? Manipulated death certificates? Questionable data and censorship of anyone who questions what's really going on?

Think. Because it doesn't add up.

Did you catch what she did there? If you didn't, I'll emphasize the important word in her rhetorical question:

Look, does a real pandemic require a...?

The list of conservative scaries that follows is meant to discredit the use of the adjective "real." Here's how: Wendy Bell is saying that since a real pandemic would not require these things (a complicit media and so on) and as this one does, it follows that this is not a real pandemic.

And the purpose? Her own description gives a conspiracy-theorist answer:

They’ve finally done it. The bureaucracy’s obvious agenda to politicize this crisis and CONTOL US (sic) has finally pushed anough (sic) people over the edge and now - the usually complicit and compliant are FIGHTING BACK.

 It's not a real pandemic and "the bureaucracy" is using it to control. Us.

Meanwhile in reality about 158,000 actual people have actually died from the virus in this country. Countless more are suffering real pain in hospitals and at home. 

But for Wendy, it's not a real pandemic.

How is this OK with KDKA Radio?

But that's not Wendy's only covid-skepticism. She asks:

And furthermore, if this virus is so dangerous - well we lose 1.5 million people in this country to tuberculosis - not in this country, on planet Earth, excuse me - why don't we have a tuberculosis pandemic?

While she corrects her obvious mistake of the death rate, had she used the actual number of actual tuberculosis deaths in the US we would have seen how misleading her argument actually is. 

Take a look at what the CDC reports:

In 2017, the most recent data available, 515 deaths in the United States were attributed to TB. This is a decrease from 528 deaths attributed to TB in 2016.

If the pattern holds into 2020, we can expect that something around, perhaps just above, 500 people in the United States will die of tuberculosis this year.

An estimated 500 TB deaths in this country vs 158,000 COVID-19 deaths (so far).

Hey, Wendy! Tell us again why we don't have a tuberculosis pandemic? Had you used the correct numbers, you would have known why.

So why didn't you use the correct numbers?

Then there's this from the far from compassionate conservative:

If this virus is so dangerous, then why don't we have the homeless population dropping like flies? They can't social distance, they're not safe at home because they don't have one. They can't be socially distant. Why don't we have epidemic numbers there?

Because we don't.

This is just plain wrong. And not even a little cruel. 

But had Wendy actually done some research she might have found this from San Francisco:

When the corononavirus first hit the country, experts feared the disease would rip through homeless populations like a tsunami. Living outside in terrible sanitary conditions and with no safe place to hide, the feeling was that if COVID-19 got into even one camp there would be no way to stop it.

Those fears have fallen flat. So far.

It turns out that homeless people in San Francisco, and throughout the country, are contracting the coronavirus at about the same rate as housed people. Apparently, isolating people in hotels and thinning out shelters has helped — and for those left outside, the fresh open air is a greater protector than experts anticipated. [Emphasis added.]

But that wouldn't have fit the narrative that KDKA Radio's Angel of Death wants her listeners to believe. She doesn't want them to think the pandemic is serious. She wants them to think that "the bureaucracy" is trying to take their freedom for no real reason.

And the more they believe it, the greater the risk the virus will spread in the general population.

WHY IS THIS OK WITH KDKA RADIO?


August 7, 2020

On Trump, Biden and Faith

A few days ago, Donald Trump (who once botched a bad joke about a pair of Corinthians) said this about Joe Biden:

He’s following the radical-left agenda: take away your guns, destroy your Second Amendment, no religion, no anything, hurt the Bible, hurt God. He’s against God.

None of which is actually true.

 But then again, this is Donald Trump we're talking about here

In response, Joe Biden said this:

Like so many people, my faith has been the bedrock foundation of my life: it’s provided me comfort in moments of loss and tragedy, it’s kept me grounded and humbled in times of triumph and joy. And in this moment of darkness for our country — of pain, of division, and of sickness for so many Americans — my faith has been a guiding light for me and a constant reminder of the fundamental dignity and humanity that God has bestowed upon all of us. 

For President Trump to attack my faith is shameful. It’s beneath the office he holds and it’s beneath the dignity the American people so rightly expect and deserve from their leaders. However, like the words of so many other insecure bullies, President Trump’s comments reveal more about him than they do about anyone else. They show us a man willing to stoop to any low for political gain, and someone whose actions are completely at odds with the values and teachings that he professes to believe in.

My faith teaches me to love my neighbor as I would myself, while President Trump only seeks to divide us. My faith teaches me to care for the least among us, while President Trump seems to only be concerned about his gilded friends. My faith teaches me to welcome the stranger, while President Trump tears families apart. My faith teaches me to walk humbly, while President Trump teargassed peaceful protestors so he could walk over to a church for a photo op.

As I’ve said so many times before, we’re in the battle for the soul of our nation, and President Trump’s decision today to profane God and to smear my faith in a political attack is a stark reminder of what the stakes of this fight truly are.

Yea, it's a battle for the soul of the nation.

August 6, 2020

ANOTHER Message To KDKA Radio's Marty Griffin

Yes, yes, I know. Two in a row.

But what is going on at KDKA Radio these days? On the one hand, there's The Angel of Death in afternoon drive-time and then there's Marty Griffin.

Marty has spent days complaining about how Governor Wolf has suspended school immunizations, ranting all without any sort of reality-based context. He doesn't understand the reasoning behind Wolf's decision. Isn't this putting children at risk? Isn't it sending a mixed message now?

Then he trots out something else out-of-context. That the reason for the suspension of immunizations is because school nurses may be needed for  complaint. Marty saying that school nurses may be called away for "mass COVID-19 vaccination clinics."

But, Marty dutifully reminds his gullible audience, there are no COVID-19 vaccinations!

Listening to Marty, it would be easy to infer that Wolf has suspended immunizations forever for the stupidest of reasons.

WHAT MUST GOVERNOR WOLF BE THINKING?

Doesn't Marty Griffin do any research? Or if he does, why would KDKA Radio allow him to offer up an incomplete picture of the issue?

From official statement, titled:

Temporary Regulatory Suspension of Requirements for Children's Immunizations

Wait. "Temporary"? Marty didn't say anything about "temporary"!!

And it actually says:

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, there are risks and difficulties attendant on requiring immunization of children to enter and attend school. During last winter, spring and continuing to the present, preventive medical visits, including those associated with the administration of vaccines, have been postponed to mitigate the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, many children in Pennsylvania have not obtained vaccinations on the appropriate schedule and may not have the immunizations required to enter and attend school in the fall of 2020.

Typically, if normal vaccination is not possible, schools and the Department of Health (Department) hold "catch-up" vaccination clinics to administer the required school immunizations to children. The possibility of the persistence of COVID-19 into the fall and the potential need for school nurses and the Department's public health nurses to be tasked with pandemic-related mitigation, including the possibility of mass COVID-19 vaccination clinics, may prevent schools and the Department from holding "catch-up" clinics for children's well-child immunizations.

To enable children to enter and attend school or an early childhood program without the required immunizations, with Governor Wolf's authorization as conferred in the March 6, 2020 Proclamation of Disaster Emergency, the Department is temporarily suspending the regulations at 28 Pa. Code § 23.83, which provides the list of immunizations a child must have and the grades for which the child must have them; 28 Pa. Code § 23.85, which states that children who do not meet the requirements should be excluded and places certain duties on schools to verify that children with medical exceptions who are on a plan to get their immunizations actually obtain the vaccinations; and 28 Pa. Code § 23.86, which requires schools to report to the Department the numbers of vaccinations and children taking exceptions; and 28 Pa. Code § 27.77(b), which requires that a child currently enrolled in a child care program maintain updated immunizations in accordance with federal guidelines. The regulations are suspended for a two-month period after the beginning of the school year or the beginning of enrollment in an early childhood education program. [Emphasis added.]

See that, Marty? Two months. Did you ever tell your audience that? They trust you to tell them the truth. Did you tell them that it's a plan to give parents more time to immunize their kids if they didn't get a chance to go to a pediatrician's office during lock down?

No. You didn't.

All you did was spin the story into a Wolf-bash.

And it was embarrassing. Even for you.

August 5, 2020

A Message To KDKA Radio's Marty Griffin

Marty, I heard some of your show yesterday.

I heard the part where you toss a racist caller off the air.

This was the guy who, when he asked for the reason why some families couldn't just buy laptops for their own kids to use at school, you answered, "Because they're poor." To which he responded, "Yea but they can afford to buy drugs..." and that's where you called him a racist and hung up on him - good for you.

I also heard your conversation with County Executive Rich Fitzgerald where you expressed support for the local restaurant community and pushed back on some of the restrictions in place to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. You said (if my memory serves) that there was no evidence that going out to a restaurant was linked to the spread of the virus.

You're wrong. Let me do your homework for you (but just this once).

Chris Potter, over at WESA posted this recently:
See the bluish chart?

Some evidence for you.

Then there's this from The Hill:

An uptick in in-restaurant spending can predict an increase in COVID-19 cases over three weeks, according to a research note from J.P. Morgan.

"Looking across categories of card spending, we find that the level of spending in restaurants three weeks ago was the strongest predictor of the rise in new virus cases over the subsequent three weeks," wrote Jesse Edgerton, of the bank's economic and research department.

Restaurant purchases with cards presented in person, rather than online, were particularly predictive.

Some more evidence for you, Marty.

And then there's this. Here's the abstract of the study:
During January 26–February 10, 2020, an outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus disease in an air-conditioned restaurant in Guangzhou, China, involved 3 family clusters. The airflow direction was consistent with droplet transmission. To prevent the spread of the virus in restaurants, we recommend increasing the distance between tables and improving ventilation.
Do you need any more evidence, Marty? This only took me about a half an hour.


August 2, 2020

KDKA Radio's Angel of Death Is Not Pro-life. Not Even Close.

This question was posted today on Wendy Bell Radio's FB page:
Two pro-life students were arrested in Washington D.C. Saturday for chalking the statement “Black Preborn Lives Matter” on the ground outside a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic.

The mayor of D.C., however, has allowed protestors to paint the phrases “Black Lives Matter” and “Defund the Police” on the streets without penalty.

Do you believe the arrests of the pro-life protestors represents an effort to limit speech to government-approved topics?
Apparently, KDKA Radio's Angel of Death is defending the pro-life protesters who were arrested for chalking up a sidewalk despite the fact that doing so is, in fact, against the law in DC:
It shall be unlawful for any person or persons willfully and wantonly to disfigure, cut, chip, or cover, rub with, or otherwise place filth or excrement of any kind; to write, mark, or print obscene or indecent figures representing obscene or objects upon; to write, mark, draw, or paint, without the consent of the owner or proprietor thereof, or, in the case of public property, of the person having charge, custody, or control thereof, any word, sign, or figure upon...any property, public or private...
But let's side-step the issue of choice vs forced birth and which side Wendy finds herself in.

But for the record:
  • Abortion is health care.
  • It's never acceptable to force a woman to be pregnant.
  • The decision to terminate a pregnancy is hers and hers alone.
Let me ask a broader question: How can the Angel of Death defend a so-called "pro-life" position? She's not pro-life and she proved it when she asked this:
[A]re 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.
To show how no self-professed "pro-life" person could possibly be "on a fence" about such widespread death all for the sake of the economy, let's use another example. Imagine a pregnant woman, a single mother who determines that she simply can not afford to raise another child and thus decides to terminate this last pregnancy.

What would the "pro-life" response be to this woman's situation?

I don't think I'd be too far off to guess that the response would be something like, "No. You can't. You can't end a life simply for economic reasons."

Now look at Wendy's "on the fence" conundrum. While she does not advocate allowing "less than 1% of our population" to die in order to help the economy, she doesn't denounce it, either.

She's on the fence over it. Hardly "pro-life" is it?

Then there's Wendy's active promotion of coronavirus "herd immunity" while ignoring the massive death that that would entail:
Don't we want this virus to work its way through the people so that we can be immune? So that we can develop some semblance of herd immunity? As we anxiously await the arrival of a vaccine?
As the experts who know much more medical science than the rest of us at Johns Hopkins pointed out:
To reach herd immunity for COVID-19, likely 70% or more of the population would need to be immune. Without a vaccine, over 200 million Americans would have to get infected before we reach this threshold. Put another way, even if the current pace of the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the United States – with over 25,000 confirmed cases a day – it will be well into 2021 before we reach herd immunity. If current daily death rates continue, over half a million Americans would be dead from COVID-19 by that time.
By advocating "some semblance of herd immunity" Wendy Bell is acknowledging that fine with about 350,000 more dead citizens.

No, ladies and gentlemen. Wendy Bell is not pro-life in any definition of the term.

She's still KDKA Radio's Angel of Death.