Democracy Has Prevailed.

April 22, 2024

Meanwhile, Outside

Yes, the orange vulgarity is in a Manhattan courtroom today. Yes, he's multi-indicted, etc.

However the science from NOAA goes on:

March 2024 was the warmest March on record for the globe in NOAA's 175-year record. The March global surface temperature was 1.35°C (2.43°F) above the 20th-century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F). This is 0.01°C ( °F) warmer than the previous March record set in 2016, and the tenth consecutive month of record-high global temperatures. March 2024 marked the 48th consecutive March with global temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average.


The January–March global surface temperature ranked warmest in the 175-year record at 1.35°C (2.43°F) above the 1901-2000 average of 12.3°C (54.1°F). According to NCEI's statistical analysis, there is a 55% chance that 2024 will rank as the warmest year on record and a 99% chance that it will rank in the top five.

 And so on.

April 16, 2024

We'll See

We'll see.

April 15, 2024


From Judge Marchan's case summary from his letter to counsel regarding jury selection:

The allegations are, in substance, that Donald Trump falsified business records to conceal an agreement with others to unlawfully influence the 2016 presidential election. Specifically, it is alleged that Donald Trump made or caused false business records to hide the true nature of payments made to Michael Cohen, by characterizing them as payment for legal services rendered pursuant to a retainer agreement. The People allege that in fact, the payments were intended to reimburse Michael Cohen for money he paid to Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, in the weeks before the presidential election to prevent her from publicly revealing details about a past sexual encounter with Donald Trump.

Whether he cheated in the 2016 election.

April 14, 2024

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

From The NYTimes:

On Monday, Donald J. Trump will go on trial in Manhattan — the first former U.S. president to be criminally prosecuted.

I'll just leave that there.

April 12, 2024

And Now, A Word From President Biden


Because of Donald Trump, millions of women lost the fundamental freedom to control their own bodies and now women's lives are in danger because of that.

The question is, if Donald Trump gets back in power, what freedom will you lose next?

Your body and your decisions belong to you - not the government, not Donald Trump.

I will fight like hell to get your freedom back.


April 10, 2024

Vietnam, Doug Mastriano, and an Urban Legend

A few days or so ago, PA State Senator Doug Mastriano posted this on his Facebook Page:

He's introducing legislation to establish a Vietnam War Veterans day in Pennsylvania.

Before we get any further, let me state unequivocally that I agree with Doug Mastriano when he said, during the above speech, that:

[Vietnam veterans] deserve our country's admiration, respect and appreciation as well as gratitude.

However it's what Sen Mastriano (and PhD in, uh, History??) said just before that that's the problem.

Here it is:

Thank you Mr President. This morning as chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, we held a service in honor of our Vietnam Veterans Day in Pennsylvania.

I have a lot to say about our Vietnam veterans and what they have been through. They faced circumstances abroad and at home that few veterans had to face.

My message today can be summed up simply with “I'm sorry and thank you.” That's it.

As to the “I'm sorry” part, it's about how our heroes during the Vietnam era were treated when they came back home, when they came back to the United States from country - especially those landing in airports such as San Francisco when they were greeted by being spat upon and called names.

I can't imagine after serving a year or more in theatre losing friends, slugging it through the Mekong Delta or the mountains with the Hmong warriors around the border area of Laos and Cambodia that they be treated in such a way after such intense combat.

They were yelled at often when they came home, heckled and often spat upon.

Compelling story. It's also an urban legend.

Here's sociologist Jerry Lembcke, writing in 2005:

Stories about spat-upon Vietnam veterans are like mercury: Smash one and six more appear. It's hard to say where they come from. For a book I wrote in 1998, I looked back to the time when the spit was supposedly flying, the late 1960s and early 1970s. I found nothing. No news reports or even claims that someone was being spat on.


Like many stories of the spat-upon veteran genre, Smith's lacks credulity. GIs landed at military airbases, not civilian airports, and protesters could not have gotten onto the bases and anywhere near deplaning troops. There may have been exceptions, of course, but in those cases how would protesters have known in advance that a plane was being diverted to a civilian site? And even then, returnees would have been immediately bused to nearby military installations and processed for reassignment or discharge.

Wouldn't Mastriano, the historian, have known this?  Better yet, shouldn't he have? 

Earlier, in 2004, Lembcke explained his fact-finding methodology for his 1998 book, The Spitting Image:

My strategy on the evidentiary question was two-fold. First, I assumed the position of the prosecution and asked myself what it was that someone trying prove that the alleged acts did happen would have to find as evidence and where would they find it. If these things happened as frequently as is now believed, I reasoned that it would be possible to find a record that someone at the time (the late 1960s and early 1970s) at least claimed that such acts were occurring. In newspapers of a city like San Francisco, where many of the spitting incidents supposedly took place, one would expect to find reports and perhaps even photographs that would constitute proof that the alleged incidents occurred. Other places to look included police reports and written histories about the anti-war movement.

My search for evidence turned up a couple of claims which, if interpreted generously, could have been construed to suggest that veterans or servicemen in uniform may have been spat on. But I also found research done by other scholars that showed quite convincingly that acts of hostility against veterans by protesters were almost nonexistent. No researchers cited reports that veterans were spat on (Beamish, Molotch, and Flacks, 1995).

I also found historical evidence for what I came to call "grist" for the myth. There are newspaper reports, for example, of pro-war demonstrators spitting on anti-war activists. In their retelling over the years, the oral accounts of these incidents could easily get reinterpreted and inverted and made into stories about activists spitting on veterans. There is also a record of military authorities warning GIs that they might experience hostility from opponents of the war. Most interesting in this regard were the warnings issued to Vietnam-bound troops that their families might receive harassment phone calls from communist sympathizers saying the soldier had been wounded or killed. 

Huh. If you listened to the rest of Mastriano's speech, you'll understand why I included that last paragraph.

That second paragraph references this paper, published in 1995.  And the authors did a study of the San Francisco Chronicle (remember, Doug says that veterans were spat upon in San Francisco):

As a further effort to avoid missing portrayals of anti-troop behavior, we carried out a focused search of the San Francisco Chronicle to discover stories the other papers might have missed. We used this paper for three reasons: 1) Although located in a liberal city, it had a conservative pro-war editorial stance; 2) many protest events, including those organized at UC Berkeley were at its "doorstep," sometimes literally; and 3) the newspaper was located close to the Oakland Army terminal, a major GI disembarkation point and thus a likely target for anti-troop sentiment to be expressed and observed. This logistical and ideological combination was unique in the United States; if movements were perceived as engaging in troop blaming, this newspaper could well have played a role in creating such an image. We confined the Chronicle search to coverage associated with large scale troop withdrawals as sequentially outlined in Olson (1988) and Summers (1985) over the 1969-1973 period. We scanned the front six pages of those days' papers immediately following dates of major troop arrivals in the Bay area, looking for protester-troop confrontations of any sort
And this is what they found:

Here is a simple finding from our Chronicle side study: There was no instance in the San Francisco paper of returning soldiers or troops in general meeting negative demonstrations of any kind or even of an individual showing disapproval. Beyond the Chronicle, there were no reports of behavior as crude as spitting on troops or directly taunting them in any of our media.
Huh.  And if that's not enough, in 1971 The Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs issued a report titled:
A Study of the Problems Facing Vietnam Era Veterans on Their Readjustment to Civilian Life.

 And from the opening:

This Committee Print contains the full report of a survey conducted for the Veterans Administration by Louis Harris & Associates, Inc. entitled "A Study of the Problems Facing Vietnam Era Veterans: Their Readjustment to Civilian Life." It is the first professional research survey by the Veterans Administration conducted among veterans of the Vietnam War. The survey also measures attitudes of the general public and employers towards veterans. Conducted between August 15 and August 30 of 1971 the Harris Associates interviewed 2,003 veterans recently separated from the service, 1,498 households representing a cross - section of the American public and 786 employers.

And contrary to what Sen Mastriano said about the reception those veterans received upon their return, the survey found that in 1971 95% of those surveyed agreed (80% "strongly" and 15% "somewhat") with the statement "Veterans deserve respect for having served their country in the armed forces."

Not only that but 84% agreed (81% "strongly and 13% "somewhat") with the statement "Veterans of the armed forces today deserve the same warm reception given to returning servicemen of earlier wars."

Doug is simply wrong on his facts.

But let's keep going.  They asked returning veterans in 1971 about what they thought about returning. And 79% agreed (47% "strongly" and 32% "somewhat) with the statement, "Most people at home respect you in the armed forces."

And finally, 69% agreed (31% "strongly" and 38% "somewhat") with the statement, "People at home made you feel proud to have served your country in the armed forces."

Doug, you're just plain wrong about the spitting and you're just plain wrong about how the American people felt about the returning Vietnam Veterans.

Yes, they deserve all the respect and gratitude in the world for serving in Vietnam but lying about it in the Pennsylvania Senate Chamber is not the way to do it.

April 8, 2024

How Trump Lies

The NYTimes had an interesting piece yesterday about the rhetorical devices the former (and currently indicted and twice impeached) president uses to lie to the public.

The bullet points:

  • He grossly distorts his opponents’ records and proposals to make them sound unreasonable.
  • He exaggerates and twists the facts to make his record sound better than it is.
  • He relies on both well-worn and fresh claims of election rigging to suggest he can lose only if his opponents cheat.
  • He has turned his criminal cases into a rallying cry, baselessly asserting that he is being persecuted by his successor.
  • He makes unverifiable claims about what the world would have been like had he secured a second term.
  • He describes the United States as a nation in ruins.

Each is followed by a few examples of Trump's dishonesty.

April 1, 2024

Wendy Bell (And Brock) Moon Over A Traitor

Take a look:

You can listen for yourselves (if you choose to) but Wendy tells the story of receiving a phone call from Federal inmage 81981-509 (a.k.a. Elmer Stewart Rhodes).  

This is was found guilty by a jury of 12 of this:

According to the government’s evidence, the Oath Keepers are a large but loosely organized collection of individuals, some of whom are associated with militias. Following the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election, Rhodes, (Rhodes' deputy Kelly) Meggs, and others began plotting to oppose, by force, the lawful transfer of presidential power. Beginning in late December 2020, via encrypted and private communications applications, Rhodes, Meggs, and others coordinated and planned to travel to Washington, D.C., on or around Jan. 6, 2021, the date of the certification of the electoral college vote.

The defendants and their co-conspirators also collectively employed a variety of manners and means, including: organizing into teams that were prepared and willing to use force and to transport firearms and ammunition into Washington, D.C.; recruiting members and affiliates; organizing trainings to teach and learn paramilitary combat tactics; bringing and contributing paramilitary gear, weapons, and supplies – including knives, batons, camouflaged combat uniforms, tactical vests with plates, helmets, eye protection, and radio equipment – to the Capitol grounds; breaching and attempting to take control of the Capitol grounds and building on Jan. 6, 2021, in an effort to prevent, hinder and delay the certification of the electoral college vote; using force against law enforcement officers while inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; continuing to plot, after Jan. 6, 2021, to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power, and using websites, social media, text messaging and encrypted messaging applications to communicate with each other and others.

Yea. Oh and there's this:

While certain Oath Keepers members and affiliates breached the Capitol grounds and building, others remained stationed just outside of the city in quick reaction force (QRF) teams. According to the government’s evidence, the QRF teams were prepared to rapidly transport firearms and other weapons into Washington, D.C., in support of operations aimed at using force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.

Seditious Conspiracy.

Oh, and let me add this:

Lawyers for the defendants said they were disappointed in the verdict but believed their clients had received a fair trial.

“I do believe that they gave us a fair trial,” James Lee Bright, an attorney for Stewart Rhodes, told reporters outside the courthouse. Bright added, however, that he believed the verdict “could have been substantially different” if the trial had been moved outside of Washington, DC.

So he got a fair trial for seditious conspiracy, Wendy (and Brock). Even his attorneys say so.

He's incarcerated in a medium-security federal prison in Cumberland, Maryland after being found guilty by a jury (in a fair trial) for his many crimes against the nation. His release date is set for sometime in 2037.

This is not a hero, Wendy (and Brock).  This is an ongoing threat and peril to this country.

The fact that you're mooning over him tells us everything we need to know about you. 

PS: Many thanks to the good folks at Wegner's Grocery (Motto: Come for the Crudités, stay for the truth.) for the link to Wendy (and Brock) fawning over a federal inmate.



March 29, 2024

Meanwhile, Outside

Science, from NOAA:

The February global surface temperature was 2.52°F (1.40°C) above the 20th-century average of 53.8°F (12.1°C), making it the warmest February on record and the ninth consecutive month of record-high global temperatures. According to NCEI’s Global Annual Temperature Outlook, there is a 45% chance that 2024 will rank as the warmest year on record and a 99% chance that it will rank in the top five.

And the chart:


Has been for a while.

March 28, 2024

News About John Eastman -

From The New York Times:

A judge in California recommended on Wednesday that the lawyer John Eastman be stripped of his law license, finding he had violated rules of professional ethics by persistently lying in his efforts to help former President Donald J. Trump maintain his grip on power after losing the 2020 election.

In a 128-page ruling, the judge, Yvette Roland, said Mr. Eastman had willfully misrepresented facts in lawsuits he helped file challenging the election results and acted dishonestly in promoting a “wild theory” that Mr. Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, could unilaterally declare him the victor during a certification proceeding at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“In sum, Eastman exhibited gross negligence by making false statements about the 2020 election without conducting any meaningful investigation or verification of the information he was relying upon,” Judge Roland found, adding that he had breached “his ethical duty as an attorney to prioritize honesty and integrity.”

I'm sifting through the ruling now. 

The Times has this pesky detail:

Mr. Eastman, a constitutional law scholar who once clerked for the Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, was one of the architects of a brazen legal scheme to create fake slates of pro-Trump electors in states that were actually won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. He also promoted the plan to pressure Mr. Pence to use the fake elector slates in an effort to throw the election to Mr. Trump during the proceeding.

Ah, those pesky fake electors. 

Politico has this on those fake electors:

The judge walked through Eastman’s extensive involvement in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, from his early lawsuits that failed to gain traction to his bid to solicit GOP state legislatures to send “alternate” electors to Congress, a last-gasp bid to keep Trump in power. At every turn, Roland said, Eastman ignored evidence that was unfavorable to his case and accepted at face value claims of fraud or misconduct aimed at sowing doubt about the election results. 

And so on.

And we can find this in the ruling:

That same day, Jacob sent Vice President Pence a memo Jacob had prepared which outlined and analyzed some of Eastman's January 6 proposals that had been discussed during the January 4 Oval Office meeting. In the memo, Jacob characterized Eastman's proposals as requiring Vice President Pence to skip opening and reading the electoral certificates for any state for which an alternate but uncertified slate of electors has been submitted; open and read the Arizona , Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada and Pennsylvania electoral certificates at the end of the Joint Session rather than reading the certificates for those states in alphabetical order; and to refrain from counting the electoral certificates for these states until their state legislature determines whether to certify a competing slate of electors. (p 54-55)
And let's not forget the text of the fake certificate that our own fake electors in Pennsylvania signed:

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, on the understanding that if, as a result of a final non-appealable Court Order or other proceeding prescribed by law, we are ultimately recognized as being the duly elected and qualified Electors for President and Vice President of the United States of America from the State of Pennsylvania, hereby certify the following... [Emphasis added.]

The plan.  Always trust the plan.

Let's also not forget that Sam DeMarco, Allegheny County At-Large Representative and Chair of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County was one of those fake electors and that PA State Senator Doug Mastriano was the White House's "point person" on the fake elector scheme.


March 25, 2024

Two Tiers of Justice

The MAGA cult is right about that. Their gaze is just pointed in the wrong direction.

Take a look:

An appeals court panel in New York said Monday that former president Donald Trump would be allowed to post a $175 million bond to stave off enforcement of a nearly half-billion dollar civil judgment against him and his business.


The appeals court panel on Monday did not reduce the initial judgment, only the amount Trump needs to put up for a bond while appealing. His deadline for securing the bond is next Thursday, April 4. The extra 10 days may not be enough of an extension for Trump to turn his real estate into cash, as it typically takes weeks or months to sell properties such as golf courses or hotels.


Although the appeals court gave no reasoning for its decision, Adam Pollock, an attorney who formerly served as assistant attorney general in New York, said the decision could indicate that it might consider permanently reducing the judgment against Trump on appeal.

“It’s extraordinary because the law is clear that you have to post a bond in the full amount, and it additionally suggests that there may be concern that the underlying judgment is itself excessive,” said Pollock.

How many people are in jail right now because they can't come up with bail?  Wouldn't it be so nice if they were to have it reduced by half - just by asking?



From The New York Times:

Monday is judgment day for former President Donald J. Trump — the day he fears a $454 million judgment against him might come due.

Read the rest. It's gold. 


Monday is former President Donald Trump's deadline to put up a bond or make a deposit of more than $450 million to shield his assets while he appeals a New York civil fraud trial loss.

The New York Attorney General's Office didn't respond to USA TODAY's request for comment on whether Trump had until the end of Sunday or end of Monday before the office may start collecting. The $454 million judgment against Trump was entered February 23, and the 30-day window for Trump to post the appeal bond or place cash with the New York court would expire Sunday unless extended to fall on a weekday.

Either way, New York Attorney General Letitia James could move to freeze up Trump's assets or seize his property very soon.

The Independent

As deadline day dawns for Donald Trump to pay the $464m bond in his New York civil fraud case, the Republican presidential candidate has been claiming that he has nearly $500m “in cash” despite his own attorneys telling a New York court that he cannot come up with the money.


New York attorney general Letitia James is preparing to seize Mr Trump’s assets if he is unable to come up with the money he needs to appeal the outcome of his Manhattan fraud trial.  

Aw, poor guy.


March 24, 2024

Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow

From The Washington Post:

Donald Trump, who lost a civil fraud case in New York last month, must put up a bond of nearly half-a-billion dollars if he wants to stop New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) from collecting while he appeals. James is poised to begin claiming his assets if he fails to put up the bond by Monday.

That's tomorrow. 

CNN has this about the process:

Experts who spoke to CNN say Attorney General Letitia James and her staff should be poised to start the complicated legal maze of seizing Trump’s assets if the former president does not secure the bonds needed to cover Engoron’s ruling as he appeals.

Assets, such as buildings, houses, cars, helicopters and his plane, are in play. The main focus could be on his bank accounts, which experts say will be easier to take hold of, and properties, which would be more difficult. 

Again. This should start tomorrow.  

But then there's this:

Ok. So start there.


March 22, 2024

PA State Sen Mastriano Complains About Gov. Shapiro - And Uses An Anti-Semitic Dog Whistle

From Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano's "Government Official" FB page:

Did you hear it?

Here. I'll turn up the volume:

And when a Christian Nationalist like Doug Mastriano talks about a member of the Soros family as a "renown globalist" the anti-Semitic dog whistle should be clear.

From the American Jewish Committee:

Today, globalist is a coded word for Jews who are seen as international elites conspiring to weaken or dismantle “Western” society using their international connections and control over big corporations (see New World Order)—all echoing the destructive theory that Jews hold greed and tribe above country.

Both Governor Shapiro and Alex Soros (son of George Soros) are Jewish.

From The Atlantic:

After National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn announced his resignation last week, President Trump offered a back-handed compliment to his departing adviser: “He may be a globalist, but I still like him.” Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, chimed in with his own statement: “I never expected that the co-worker I would work closest, and best, with at the White House would be a ‘globalist.’”

Despite the seemingly joking use of the term “globalist” by Trump and Mulvaney, many were quick to point to the word’s unseemly past as an anti-Semitic slur, embraced in alt-right circles before spreading into broader political discourse. As the Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt put it, “Where the term originates from is a reference to Jewish people who are seen as having allegiances not to their countries of origin like the United States, but to some global conspiracy.” Greenblatt said it’s “disturbing” when public officials “literally parrot this term which is rooted in prejudice.”

Let me say it again:  Both Governor Shapiro and Alex Soros (son of George Soros) are Jewish.

And this is not the first time for Mastriano. From The New York Times:

But a late September campaign finance report showed that Mr. Mastriano had accepted a $500 donation from Mr. Torba in July. His campaign did not respond when asked whether he planned to return the money, and he and his aides ignored a reporter’s shouted questions about the donation during an event on a recent Friday.

Mr. Mastriano has also spread the lie that George Soros, a Holocaust survivor and liberal billionaire often vilified on the right, was a Nazi collaborator.

It was only 10 days ago when Sen Mastriano was giving a press conference outlining  Holocaust Education legislation - SB1100.

And yet a week and a half later he's dog whistling a wealthy Jewish man as a "globalist."

March 19, 2024

I Feel So Bad For The Guy. Really. No Joke. I. Kid. You. Not.

Aw, poor guy:

Donald J. Trump’s lawyers disclosed on Monday that he had failed to secure a roughly half-billion dollar bond in his civil fraud case in New York, raising the prospect that the state could seek to freeze some of his bank accounts and seize some of his marquee properties.

The court filing, coming one week before the bond is due, suggested that the former president might soon face a financial crisis unless an appeals court comes to his rescue.

Aw, poor guy:

If he cannot produce the bond by March 25, Mr. Trump faces the possibility of financial disaster and humiliation. New York’s attorney general, who brought the fraud case, would be entitled to collect the $454 million and could seek to seize Mr. Trump’s New York properties or freeze his bank accounts.

Aw, poor guy.

March 17, 2024

This is What Donald Trump Said

From The New York Times:

The dark view resurfaced throughout his speech. While discussing the U.S. economy and its auto industry, Mr. Trump promised to place tariffs on cars manufactured abroad if he won in November. He added: “Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a blood bath for the whole — that’s going to be the least of it. It’s going to be a blood bath for the country.”


He asserted, without evidence, that other countries were emptying their prisons of “young people” and sending them across the border. “I don’t know if you call them ‘people,’ in some cases,” he said. “They’re not people, in my opinion.” He later referred to them as “animals.”

And then this from The Washington Post

Later in the rally, Trump warned it will be a “bloodbath for the country” if he is not elected. The comment came as he was promising to hike tariffs on foreign-made cars, and it was not clear exactly what Trump was referring to with his admonition.

“Now we’re going to put a 100 percent tariff on every single car that comes across [the] line, and you’re not going to be able to sell those guys — if I get elected,” he said. “Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole. That’s going to be the least of it. It’s going to be a bloodbath for the country.”

The Biden campaign characterized the comment as a promise of political violence.

And as she said: When someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time.

March 15, 2024

Does Sam ("PA Fake Elector") DeMarco even hear himself?

I caught this on the TEEVEE last night:

An Allegheny County councilman is suing the county executive over her plan to create five ballot drop-off sites for next month's primary election.

Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato announced her plan last month, and Councilman Sam DeMarco believes her actions violated election laws.

"I believe the county executive needs to follow the law..."

This is true. Everyone needs to follow the law. No one is above the law. Not even this guy: 

Has Allegheny County councilman Sam DeMarco ever commented as forcefully on Trump's dozens of indictments?

He was one of Trump's fake electors, you know. In Pennsylvania, Trump's fake electors added some words to the fake certificate to (seemingly) give themselves political and legal cover.

I will let the process play itself out on Allegheny County Executive Innamorato's drop-off sites before commenting.

Law and Order DeMarco goes on:

"My big concern was if she is able to take and do this without pushback, what's to stop what other decisions she might make or unilateral actions she might take either for the primary or for the general election here in November," DeMarco said.

Did he hear himself when those words were coming out of his mouth?

What about the guy (see the mugshot above) behind this?

I mean my big concern is if Donald Trump is able to take and do this without pushback, what's to stop what other decisions Donald Trump might make or unilateral actions Donald Trump might take either for the primary or for the general election here in November?

Everyone has to follow the law. Even Donald J Trump.

You were one of Trump's fake electors, right Sam? 

Did you think (or hope) we'd forget?



March 14, 2024

Pi Day!

Today is March 14 (3/14) or Pi Day.

For those who don't know (or need a reminder) pi is the ration of a circle's circumference to it's diameter.  

So if the diameter of a circle is 1 unit, the circumference is:

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164 062862089986280348253421170679....

The number itself doesn't end and it doesn't repeat. 

Archimedes had a brilliant method of approximating pi:

Archimedes' method finds an approximation of pi by determining the length of the perimeter of a polygon inscribed within a circle (which is less than the circumference of the circle) and the perimeter of a polygon circumscribed outside a circle (which is greater than the circumference). The value of pi lies between those two lengths.

By doubling the number of sides of the hexagon to a 12-sided polygon, then a 24-sided polygon, and finally 48- and 96-sided polygons, Archimedes was able to bring the two perimeters ever closer in length to the circumference of the circle and thereby come up with his approximation.

Specifically, he determined that pi was less than 3 1/7 but greater than 3 10/71. In the decimal notation we use today, this translates to 3.1429 to 3.1408. That's pretty close to the known value of 3.1416. (For simplicity's sake, we round off all figures to four decimal places.)

I teared up the first time I read about Archimedes' method. It was so simple and so beautiful and I knew instantly that there was no way on this (mostly) round Earth that I would have gotten there myself.

Sniffles all around.

March 12, 2024

Donald Trump, Democracy Lover. Or Not. We Report. You Decide.

In case you missed it:

To Donald Trump, Hungarian strongman Viktor Orbán is “fantastic,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping is “brilliant,” North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is “an OK guy,” and, most alarmingly, he allegedly said Adolf Hitler “did some good things,” a worldview that would reverse decades-old US foreign policy in a second term should he win November’s presidential election, multiple former senior advisers told CNN. 

Hitler did some good things, according to Donald Trump. 

CNN has a little more - from former Trump chief of staff, Gen John Kelly:

Trump allegedly reserved some of his most unnerving praise for Hitler, who led Nazi Germany during World War II.

“He said, ‘Well, but Hitler did some good things.’ I said, ‘Well, what?’ And he said, ‘Well, [Hitler] rebuilt the economy.’ But what did he do with that rebuilt economy? He turned it against his own people and against the world. And I said, ‘Sir, you can never say anything good about the guy. Nothing,’” Kelly recounted. “I mean, Mussolini was a great guy in comparison.”

“It’s pretty hard to believe he missed the Holocaust, though, and pretty hard to understand how he missed the 400,000 American GIs that were killed in the European theater,” Kelly told me. “But I think it’s more, again, the tough guy thing.” 


Oh yea - on the very same day, this happened in our very own Pennsylvania:

This is the memo announcing the proposed legislation

In the near future, I will introduce legislation to ensure that all schools in Pennsylvania offer age-appropriate education on the Holocaust.

We are almost 80 years from the end of the Holocaust. Most of those who were alive to witness those horrors have now sadly passed on.

Now more than ever, it’s important for future generations to learn about the genocide which resulted in the deaths of over six million Jews.

Does PA State Senator Doug Mastriano not know that Donald Trump thinks Hitler did some good things?

And now that the truth has come to light, what does Doug think of the former president now?

Any comment for the blog, Senator?

March 11, 2024

Follow-up On Mastriano And That Ethics Charge

Apparently, it's not gonna happen:

A Democratic state senator’s request for an internal ethics investigation into Republican Sen. Doug Mastriano’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results was denied.

Sen. Art Haywood of Montgomery/Philadelphia counties said he received a letter on Thursday saying the six-member Senate Ethics Committeee decided against conducting a formal investigation into what he said was the spreading of “lies and disinformation as well as other activities” documented in his complaint by Washington, D.C.-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.

We reported on this earlier this year and you can read CREW's report on Senator Mastriano's involvement in the January 6 insurrection here

So no ethics investigation despite this (from the CREW report):

In the lead-up to January 6th, Senator Mastriano was one of former President Trump’s most important state allies in his failed effort to overturn Pennsylvania’s presidential election results. The day after the Pennsylvania Department of State certified the general election results declaring Joe Biden the winner of the Commonwealth’s electoral votes, Mastriano and other GOP lawmakers hosted Trump lawyers Jenna Ellis and Rudy Giuliani at a “hearing” in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.30 The hearing—which in reality was a town hall-type meeting—gave Giuliani, Mastriano, and former President Trump (who appeared by phone) the opportunity to perpetuate false claims that the general election had been rigged due to so-called voting irregularities in Pennsylvania and other swing states. These claims became part of the larger movement known as “Stop the Steal,” which was based on the false premise that the 2020 election was stolen and that the certification of the 2020 election and the transfer of presidential power needed to be stopped. This movement successfully mobilized and incited thousands of people from across the country to form a violent mob in Washington, D.C. to attempt to intimidate Vice President Pence and Congress to “stop the steal” on January 6, 2021.

Mastriano also served as the Trump campaign’s “point person” in the Pennsylvania fake electors scheme, meaning he was the person the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee were in touch with about selecting a “fake” slate of electors. The fake electors scheme was vital to Donald Trump’s extra-legal January 6th strategy to pressure Vice President Pence to reject the legitimate Electoral College results. The idea was that by receiving multiple slates of electors from so-called disputed states, Pence would be able to falsely claim the results were in dispute and therefore either accept the fake Republican slates or send the issue back to the state legislatures for resolution.

And this:

One video shows Mastriano advancing through breached police lines. Another video shows Mastriano at the base of the Capitol building’s steps, far beyond the police lines he claimed not to have crossed. In response to these videos, Mastriano released a statement, explaining that “[e]ven disingenuous internet sleuths know that police lines did shift throughout the course of the day. I followed those lines as they existed.” Mastriano’s explanation is, at best, misleading. As another video shows, one so-called “shift” in the police lines, which Mastriano witnessed from only a few feet away, involved police officers clearly trying to hold the line while the mob pushed them back and one man in particular forcefully removed police barricades. It is significant that the “shifts” that Mastriano refers to were not the result of intentional, strategic decisions made by Capitol police, but rather due to the force of the mob pushing against the police who were trying to protect the Capitol from further violence.

And so on.

The ethics committee got it wrong.

March 8, 2024

From The State Of The Union - Anyone Else Notice This?

In case you missed it, you can watch it here.

And if you wanna, you know, read it - you can read it here.

My lifetime has taught me to embrace freedom and democracy. 

A future based on the core values that have defined America. 

Honesty. Decency. Dignity. Equality. 

To respect everyone. To give everyone a fair shot. To give hate no safe harbor.  

Now some other people my age see a different story.  

An American story of resentment, revenge, and retribution.

But did anyone else notice that the words "decency" and "dignity" start with a D and the words "resentment, revenge, and retribution" each start with an R?

What party is Biden from?  What party Trump?

Maybe it was an unconscious decision from whomever wrote the address. Maybe it was just a coincidence and I'm connecting dots needlessly.

March 7, 2024

A Reminder

March 6, 2024

Allegheny County Council Voted This Down


Motion of the Council of Allegheny County urging the United States Federal Government to work cooperatively towards an immediate de-escalation and cease-fire in Israel and Palestine as well as the release of all hostages.


Whereas, all human life is precious, and the targeting of civilians, no matter their faith or ethnicity, is a violation of international humanitarian law; and


Whereas, on October 26th, the United Nations General Assembly, in a near unanimous vote, called for an immediate and sustained humanitarian ceasefire; and


Whereas, hundreds of thousands of lives are at imminent risk if a ceasefire is not        achieved, and humanitarian aid is not delivered without delay; and


Whereas, the Federal Government holds immense diplomatic and appropriations powers to save Palestinian and Israeli lives;


The Council of the County of Allegheny therefore hereby moves as follows:


The Allegheny County Council calls upon our US Congressional delegation, both in the Senate and House of Representatives, to join us in urging the Biden administration to:


1.   Immediately call for and facilitate de-escalation and a ceasefire to urgently end the current violence,

2.  Immediately call for and facilitate a release of all hostages held in Palestine and Israel, and,

3.  Promptly send and facilitate the entry of humanitarian assistance, at the scale needed, into Gaza.


Furthermore, the Allegheny County Council moves that, upon its passing, the bodies’ staff shall forward copies of this resolution to the President of the United States and our Congressional delegation. 

As I said, they voted this down.

From The Trib:

Allegheny County Councilman Nicholas Futules summed up about five hours of public comment Tuesday night about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

“This world sucks,” he said.

The comment was made shortly before the 14 county council representatives in attendance voted 3-9-2 not to pass a resolution encouraging a ceasefire in the region.

Resolution sponsors Bethany Hallam, Anita Prizio and Dan Grzybek voted in favor of passage.

But dissenting were Futules, council President Patrick Cetena, Vice President John Palmiere, Jack Betkowski, Sam DeMarco, Robert Macey, Paul Klein, Robert Palmosina and Suzanne Filiaggi.

Council members Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis and David Bonaroti abstained. Councilman DeWitt Walton was absent.

(Side note: Sam DeMarco was one of Trump's "fake electors" and he's STILL on Allegheny County Council - just sayin')

Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting:

The United States on Tuesday revised language in a draft United Nations Security Council resolution to back "an immediate ceasefire of roughly six-weeks in Gaza together with the release of all hostages," according to the text seen by Reuters.


The third revision of the text - first proposed by the U.S. two weeks ago - now reflects blunt remarks by Vice President Kamala Harris. The initial U.S. draft had shown support for "a temporary ceasefire" in the Israel-Hamas war.
The U.S. wants any Security Council support for a ceasefire to be linked to the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

 And from The NYTimes, there's this about VP Harris' remarks:

Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday called for an “immediate cease-fire” in Gaza, saying that Hamas should agree to the six-week pause currently on the table and that Israel should increase the flow of aid into the besieged enclave amid a humanitarian crisis.

Ms. Harris’s remarks, delivered in Selma, Ala., bolstered a recent push by President Joe Biden for an agreement and came a day before she was to meet with a top Israeli cabinet official involved in war planning, Benny Gantz. Her tone echoed a sharper and more urgent tone coming from the White House as its frustration with Israel grows. Last month, the president called Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack “over the top.”

Ms. Harris assailed the dire conditions in Gaza, calling the situation a “humanitarian catastrophe.” It was her most forceful assessment to date of the Middle East conflict, which has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, according to Gazan health authorities, and put the enclave on the brink of famine.

“What we are seeing every day in Gaza is devastating,” Ms. Harris said. “We have seen reports of families eating leaves or animal feed. Women giving birth to malnourished babies with little or no medical care. And children dying from malnutrition and dehydration. As I have said many times, too many innocent Palestinians have been killed.”

Cease fire. Too many innocents have been killed.

But the County Council voted it down.

March 5, 2024

Meanwhile, Outside

Science from NOAA:

The January global surface temperature was 1.27°C (2.29°F) above the 20th-century average of 12.2°C (54.0°F), making it the warmest January on record. This was 0.04°C (0.07°F) above the previous record from January 2016. January 2024 marked the 48th-consecutive January and since March 1979 with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th-century average.

And so on.

March 3, 2024

Let's Talk About Sam DeMarco

We'll start here at WTAE:

And the piece is about this:

President Biden's administration is leading the way to wipe out student loan debt for thousands of people in the country, including about 5,600 here in Pennsylvania.

And so on.  

In a fairly typical move the reporter, Chandi Chapman, got a response from the opposing side of the political aisle. In this case Sam DeMarco, chairman of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County:

He said, "The term forgiveness is a misnomer because no one is forgiving anything. What they are doing is, the Biden administration is trying to shift the burden of paying loans back on the taxpayers and people who never took these loans out in the first place."

And so on. 

Let's dig into DeMarco's bio, shall we?

For example, there's this from the Allegheny County. Sam's an At Large Council Representative. And included in that official Allegheny County bio is this:

The Councilman is also very involved in our non-profit community and currently sits on the Board of Trustees for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the Board of Trustees for Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum Trust, and the Board of Visit Pittsburgh, the official tourism promotion agency for Allegheny County. He is also an Honorary Board Member of the Tuskegee Airman Memorial of Western Pennsylvania Region, and a member of Amen Corner.
No where in this bio is there any mention of this: Sam DeMarco was one of Trump's fake electors in late 2020.

It's a curious story and as I wrote it up in January of 2022, Pennsylvania is one of the two special case "swing states with fake Trump electors."

Let me explain.  Joe Biden won the election and Donald Trump tried to subvert the certification of that election by seeking to get his own fake electors from seven swing states recognized by Congress.  

They were seven of these states and five of them:

  • Nevada
  • Wisconsin
  • Arizona
  • Michigan
  • Georgia

Each sent in "certificates" that had this language:

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, being the duly elected and qualified Electors for President and Vice President of the United States of America from the State of Nevada, do hereby certify the following...
However two states:

  • New Mexico
  • Pennsylvania

Altered the text of their fake certifications.  For the purposes of our story here, this is what Pennsylvania's fake certification stated:

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, on the understanding that if, as a result of a final non-appealable Court Order or other proceeding prescribed by law, we are ultimately recognized as being the duly elected and qualified Electors for President and Vice President of the United States of America from the State of Pennsylvania, hereby certify the following...

And in case you missed it, this is what they added:

...on the understanding that if, as a result of a final non-appealable Court Order or other proceeding prescribed by law, we are ultimately recognized as...

Otherwise it's exactly the same. 

About that, CNN has this:

One of the pro-Trump electors from Pennsylvania, Sam DeMarco, told CNN there was a last-minute dispute, where the state’s GOP electors pushed Trump campaign officials to add legal caveats to the fake certificate to say they were only electors-in-waiting, if Trump’s legal challenges prevailed.

The fake documents from Pennsylvania and New Mexico ultimately contained these caveats, but the documents from the other five states explicitly claimed, falsely, that the pro-Trump electors were the rightful electors.

It’s not clear that any of the fake electors themselves participated in strategy sessions with top Trump campaign brass. But both Maddock from Michigan and DeMarco from Pennsylvania have said they were in direct contact with members of the Trump campaign. 

And on that "hedged language" (CNN's phrase), CNN had this:

If anything, this provided a veneer of legal protection for Trump supporters who were trying to exploit the Electoral College process to overturn an election. 

That link goes back to Mike Wereschagin at Lancaster Online reporting that:

Republican electors in two other states — Pennsylvania and Nevada — hedged the language on their certificates to say they’d cast their votes for Trump only if his election challenges succeeded in the courts.

That small distinction could spare Trump electors in those two states the legal trouble potentially facing their counterparts in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin.

So the added text was added was for political and legal cover. Got it.

Why would they feel they needed such cover?

However much they may have disliked the original language, they still participated in the plot to overturn the election - why else would they sign the altered fake certificates?

One last question:  Does the Carnegie Library know that one of Trump's fake electors sits on its board?

He's one of its "Public Trustees" you know.

March 1, 2024

Cease Fire

That's it.

Cease fire.

Get help the non-combatants and get them to safety. They're non-combatants.

Cease fire.

February 28, 2024

February 25, 2024

February 25

Fredrick Douglass

When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful
and terrible thing, needful to man as air,
usable as earth; when it belongs at last to all,
when it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,
reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more
than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians:
this man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro
beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world
where none is lonely, none hunted, alien,
this man, superb in love and logic, this man
shall be remembered. Oh, not with statues’ rhetoric,
not with legends and poems and wreaths of bronze alone,
but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives
fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing.
      Robert Hayden

February 24, 2024

And Now A Message From CPAC - Via Jack Posobiec

First, take a look:

Jack Posobiec: I just wanted to say welcome to the end of democracy. We're here to overthrow it completely. We didn't get all the way there on January 6 but we will endeavor to get rid of it and replace it with this right here [at this point he's holding up a cross necklace]. We'll replace it with this right here.

Steve Bannon: Alright, amen. 

Posobiec: Alright. Because all glory is not to government. All glory to God.

That was received by a warm warm round of applause. 

NBC has a bit of context:

Posobiec — known for internet trolling, conspiracy theories and blustering rhetoric — said in a subsequent speech and in an interview with NBC News that his statements were largely satirical, poking fun at what he sees as a lack of democratic values from President Joe Biden’s administration.

“We are always supportive of a constitutional republic,” Posobiec said on Friday, referring to conservatives at large. 

“What we’re trying to do is return it to the original system. We’re not destroying all of democracy, just their [Democrats'] democracy,” he added. 

But in his speech Friday, Posobiec continued to use rhetoric evocative of a violent revolution.

"After we burn that swamp to the ground, we will establish the new American republic on its ashes, and our first order of business will be righteous retribution for those who betrayed America," he declared. 

You'll notice there's nothing in there about the cross he was holding up as a replacement for what he wants to destroy.  Maybe I'm wrong maybe the "righteous retribution" is the description of Posobiec's Christianity.

February 23, 2024

February 22, 2024

February 21, 2024

Meanwhile, Outside

Climate science from the climate scientists at NOAA:

The Decmeber global surface temperature was 1.43°C (2.57°F) above the 20th-century average of 12.2°C (54.0°F), making it the warmest December on record. This was 0.30°C (0.54°F) above the previous record from December 2015. December 2023 marked the 48th-consecutive December and the 538th-consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th-century average.

And of course, the chart:

Still getting warmer out there.

February 17, 2024

The Decision

Read it here.

The Summary as found in Judge Engoron's decision:

Donald Trump and entities he controls own many valuable properties, including office buildings, hotels, and golf courses. Acquiring and developing such properties required huge amounts of cash. Accordingly, the entities borrowed from banks and other lenders. The lenders required personal guarantees from Donald Trump, which were based on statements of financial condition compiled by accountants that Donald Trump engaged. The accountants created these “compilations” based on data submitted by the Trump entities. In order to borrow more and at lower rates, defendants submitted blatantly false financial data to the accountants, resulting in fraudulent financial statements. When confronted at trial with the statements, defendants’ fact and expert witnesses simply denied reality, and defendants failed to accept responsibility or to impose internal controls to prevent future recurrences. As detailed herein, this Court now finds defendants liable, continues the appointment of an Independent Monitor, orders the installation of an Independent Director of Compliance, and limits defendants’ right to conduct business in New York for a few years.

Some highlights:

Defendants Donald Trump, Allen Weisselberg, Jeffrey McConney, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump, Jr. are each liable under the second cause for action for repeatedly and persistently falsifying business records, thus violating Executive Law § 63(12) and New York Penal Law § 175.05. (p. 77)
Note: the first cause for action was dealt with in the Summary Judgement.

From CNBC:

A judge on Tuesday ruled that Donald Trump and his company are liable for fraud by misstating the true values of multiple real estate properties for years and thus grossly overstating the former president’s net worth by billions of dollars.

And so on.

Back to the ruling:

As detailed in the Findings of Fact, there is overwhelming evidence that each of these defendants made or participated in making a false statement in the business records of an enterprise, the Trump Organization, with the intent to defraud.

Donald Trump was aware of many of the key facts underpinning various material fraudulent misstatements in the SFCs: he was aware of having deeded away the right to use Mar-a-Lago as anything other than a social club, and notwithstanding, continued to value it as if it could be used as a single family residence; he was aware that the Triplex apartment in which he, a real estate mogul and self-identified expert, resided for decades was not 30,000 square feet, but actually 10,996 square feet; he was aware that he did not control the Vornado partnership interest even though he represented it as “cash”; he was aware that he had permission to build only 500 private residences in Aberdeen, notwithstanding that he represented that he had permission for 2500; and he was aware that 40 Wall Street was operating at a deficit despite proclaiming that it was running a net operating income of $64 million.

And so on, and so on, and so on.

And the money shot:

ORDERED that defendants Donald Trump, the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, the Trump Organization, Inc., Trump Organization LLC, DJT Holdings LLC, DJT Holdings Managing Member, Trump Endeavor 12 LLC, 401 North Wabash Venture LLC, Trump Old Post Office LLC, 40 Wall Street LLC, are jointly and severally liable to plaintiff in the amount of $168,040,168, with pre-judgment interest from March 4, 2019; and it is further

ORDERED that defendants Donald Trump, the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, the Trump Organization, Inc., and Trump Organization LLC, and the Trump Old Post Office LLC are jointly and severally liable to plaintiff in the amount of $126,828,600, with pre-judgment interest from May 11, 2022; and it is further

ORDERED that defendants Donald Trump, the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, the Trump Organization, Inc., and Trump Organization LLC are jointly and severally liable to plaintiff in the amount of $60,000,000, with pre-judgment interest from June 26, 2023; and it is further

$168,040,168 + $126,828,600 + $60,000,000 = $354,828,600.