Prosecute the torture.

September 29, 2016

Um, You May Have Missed This (What With All The Trump Dishonesty And All) But The Atmosphere Is STILL Getting Carbon-ier

Anyone out there heard about the Keeling Curve?

It's a chart of the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and its data has been collected, continuously, from an observatory on Mouna Loa, Hawaii.

From the Keeling Curve website:
The idea of making measurements at Mauna Loa arose while Charles David Keeling was a post-doc at Cal Tech. In the course of working on a project involving carbon in river water - a project that incidentally required making measurements of CO2 in air - Charles David Keeling made a key discovery. What he discovered was that when he sampled the air remote from forests, cities, and other obvious sources or sinks for CO2, he always got almost the same value of 310 ppm.
Please note the number.  Also note that he got (roughly) the same number wherever he sampled.

He soon discovered a seasonal fluctuation in the level of carbon in the atmosphere.

And then, over the years, he discovered this:


The jagged line shows the seasonal fluctuations.  The upward sweep is the overall tendency of those fluctuations - upward.

And what's the importance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

From NASA:
In the 1860s, physicist John Tyndall recognized the Earth's natural greenhouse effect and suggested that slight changes in the atmospheric composition could bring about climatic variations. In 1896, a seminal paper by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius first speculated that changes in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could substantially alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect.
And so why am I writing this now?

Charles David Keeling passed away a few years ago.  His son Ralph has continued the research and a few days ago he wrote:
We are now approaching the annual low point in the Mauna Loa CO2 curve, which typically happens around the last week of September but varies slightly from year to year. Recent daily and weekly values have remained above 400 parts per million. From this it’s already clear that the monthly value for September will be above 400 ppm, probably around 401 ppm. September is typically but not always the lowest month of the year.

The low point reflects the transition between summer and fall, when the uptake of CO2 by vegetation weakens and is overtaken by the release of CO2 from soils.

Is it possible that October 2016 will yield a lower monthly value than September and dip below 400 ppm? Almost impossible.
And:
Concentrations will probably hover around 401 ppm over the next month as we sit near the annual low point. Brief excursions towards lower values are still possible but it already seems safe to conclude that we won’t be seeing a monthly value below 400 ppm this year – or ever again for the indefinite future.
When he started, Charles David Keeling found 310ppm everywhere.  Now it's 400ppm and rising.

Yah-noe, we could take our cues from the current Presidential campaign and the Republican candidate who says that it's an invention created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive or from the Pennsylvania Senatorial race and the Republican candidate who says that while climate science is not a hoax, human activity is still not a significant factor in the rise of global temperatures. 

We could take our cues from them but if we did, we'd be either a mostly (yet still embarrassingly) wrong with the Republican Toomey or yugely (and quite laughingly wrong) with the Republican Trump.

Or we could just go with the science - and the Democratic candidates, Katie McGinty and Hillary Clinton.

Yea, we should probably just go with the science.



Braggadocious!

And, one more video:

Heavy Rotation

Yes, this is most certainly NSFW!

If you believe that #BlackLivesMatter, you might want to shop elsewhere



UGH!

September 28, 2016

The Tribune-Review Ends Its Print Edition November 30.

Politics aside, this is in the end a story about people, pay checks and paying the bills.

Lotsa people far far removed from la follia Scaife will now have to find some other way of putting food on their respective tables - and that's nothing to cheer about.

From the P-G:
Trib Total Media today said it will stop publishing a print edition of its Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper Dec. 1 and will lay off 106 workers as it continues to downsize its print operations and beef up its digital products.

The North Shore-based company also said it will consolidate its printing operations at a facility in Tarentum.
Bad news all around.  Which is interesting because if you look at the Trib coverage of its own downsizing, a slightly, shall we say, different picture is being presented:
Trib Total Media announced Wednesday a broad-based restructuring plan that will re-emphasize local news in its key markets while moving toward the future with its Allegheny County news coverage.

In an announcement to employees, President and CEO Jennifer Bertetto said that to ensure a sustainable future the company will significantly increase staff and other resources devoted to the Westmoreland and Valley News Dispatch editions of the Tribune-Review. She said the goal is to bolster the local news and sports coverage that have made those newspapers so successful.
By the way, the headline reads:
Trib announces expansion in some markets, going all-digital in Pittsburgh
Oh, so it's an expansion! I get it - that's why 106 workers will be laid off.

Huh.

Over at the City Paper, Dennis Roddy has some insight into the workings of the Trib:
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was conceived in a fit of pique, when Richard Mellon Scaife was blocked from purchasing The Pittsburgh Press at the end of the strike that killed the latter paper. An angry billionaire can be an entertaining spectacle, but a disruptive one. The plain fact is that Dick Scaife hated the Block family. That is why there was a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The problem with The Tribune-Review was that it wished its stories to be true. Often they were. In the case of reporters such as Carl Prine, Andrew Conte and its renowned state-capital correspondent, Brad Bumsted, the stories were not only true but excellent. In the 24 years of its existence, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review broke important stories and in the past decade it frequently embarrassed its more established crosstown rival, the Post-Gazette.

This is how the work of legitimate reporters ran in the same paper that carried the overwrought conspiracy theories of Christopher Ruddy, who made the Trib famous for outlandish suggestions that Clinton aides Vince Foster and Ron Brown were murdered. The editorial page became a fetid sinkhole of hate and stupidity.
My own work here at this blog can attest to the stupidity of the editorial page (just search for Trib and climate and you'll know what I mean).  Though this is NO criticism of this column, what Dennis leaves out are the many times the editorial page quoted/sourced/referenced the very conservative think tanks their boss funded with Scaife money - all without a peep about the common financial entanglements enveloping each.

While I'm not at all cheering those hundred+ people now out of work (and who could?) I am gratified, I suppose, to know that with the Trib downsizing teh crazie they promote will downsize as well.

Another Conservative Newspaper Endorses Hillary Clinton

I've already written about the Cincinnati Enquirer but did you know that there are a number of traditionally conservative newspaper editorial boards that have endorsed Hillary Clinton.

From The Fix at the Washington Post:
The Cincinnati Enquirer endorsed Hillary Clinton on Friday afternoon, joining the Dallas Morning News and Houston Chronicle among the ranks of newspapers with conservative editorial boards that have spurned Donald Trump and backed his Democratic rival instead.
And now, there's been another - the Arizona Republic.

So let's go see what they all have to say, mkay?
  • Cincinnati Enquirer - The Enquirer has supported Republicans for president for almost a century – a tradition this editorial board doesn’t take lightly. But this is not a traditional race, and these are not traditional times. Our country needs calm, thoughtful leadership to deal with the challenges we face at home and abroad. We need a leader who will bring out the best in all Americans, not the worst.

    That’s why there is only one choice when we elect a president in November: Hillary Clinton.
  • Dallas Morning News - There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November. We recommend Hillary Clinton.

    We don't come to this decision easily. This newspaper has not recommended a Democrat for the nation's highest office since before World War II — if you're counting, that's more than 75 years and nearly 20 elections.

    [...]

    Trump's values are hostile to conservatism. He plays on fear — exploiting base instincts of xenophobia, racism and misogyny — to bring out the worst in all of us, rather than the best. His serial shifts on fundamental issues reveal an astounding absence of preparedness. And his improvisational insults and midnight tweets exhibit a dangerous lack of judgment and impulse control.

    After nearly four decades in the public spotlight, 25 of them on the national stage, Clinton is a known quantity. For all her warts, she is the candidate more likely to keep our nation safe, to protect American ideals and to work across the aisle to uphold the vital domestic institutions that rely on a competent, experienced president.
  • Houston Chronicle - Any one of Trump's less-than-sterling qualities - his erratic temperament, his dodgy business practices, his racism, his Putin-like strongman inclinations and faux-populist demagoguery, his contempt for the rule of law, his ignorance - is enough to be disqualifying. His convention-speech comment, "I alone can fix it," should make every American shudder. He is, we believe, a danger to the Republic. 
  • Arizona Republic - Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.
    This year is different.

    The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.

    That’s why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president.

    [...]

    As secretary of state, Clinton made gender equality a priority for U.S. foreign policy. This is an extension of Clinton’s bold “women’s rights are human rights” speech in 1995.

    It reflects an understanding that America’s commitment to human rights is a critically needed beacon in today’s troubled world.

    Trump’s long history of objectifying women and his demeaning comments about women during the campaign are not just good-old-boy gaffes.

    They are evidence of deep character flaws. They are part of a pattern.

    Trump mocked a reporter’s physical handicap. Picked a fight with a Gold Star family. Insulted POWs. Suggested a Latino judge can’t be fair because of his heritage. Proposed banning Muslim immigration.

    Each of those comments show a stunning lack of human decency, empathy and respect. Taken together they reveal a candidate who doesn’t grasp our national ideals.
Donald Trump - unqualified, sexist, bigoted, and ignorant - is no conservative and should never ever be supported for President.

And, again, these are conservative editorial boards.

September 26, 2016

Still No False Equivalency On Honesty: Trump vs Clinton

Politico has a brilliant pair of pieces out yesterday, comparing the honesty levels of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Here's what they did (this is the opening of the above Trump piece):
As August ended, a new Donald Trump emerged. Coached by his third campaign management team, he stayed on message, read from a teleprompter and focused on policy. It lasted about a month.

After he lied on Sept. 16 that he was not the person responsible for the birtherism campaign to delegitimize Barack Obama’s presidency, POLITICO chose to spend a week fact-checking Trump. We fact-checked Hillary Clinton over the same time.

We subjected every statement made by both the Republican and Democratic candidates — in speeches, in interviews and on Twitter — to our magazine’s rigorous fact-checking process.
And this is (basically) what they found:
The conclusion is inescapable: Trump’s mishandling of facts and propensity for exaggeration so greatly exceed Clinton’s as to make the comparison almost ludicrous.
From the Trump analysis:
According to POLITICO’s five-day analysis, Trump averaged about one falsehood every three minutes and 15 seconds over nearly five hours of remarks.
And from the Clinton analysis:
POLITICO’s five-day analysis suggests that in just over 1.5 hours of remarks last week, the former secretary of state averaged one falsehood every 12 minutes.
It's simply ludicrous to even try to equate them.



September 25, 2016

Some More On Donald Trump

First, we'll start with some bad news for Trump.  The Cincinnati Inquirer, a paper that hasn't endorsed a Democrat for the White House since Woodrow Wilson, has made a surprising endorsement for President:
The Enquirer has supported Republicans for president for almost a century – a tradition this editorial board doesn’t take lightly. But this is not a traditional race, and these are not traditional times. Our country needs calm, thoughtful leadership to deal with the challenges we face at home and abroad. We need a leader who will bring out the best in all Americans, not the worst.

That’s why there is only one choice when we elect a president in November: Hillary Clinton.
The issues they have with Clinton are those to be expected from a conservative editorial board - transparency, poor judgement on the e-mail server, etc. But they lay into Trump on a much different level:
Trump is a clear and present danger to our country.
It just goes downhill from there:
This editorial board has been consistent in its criticism of his policies and temperament beginning with the Republican primary. We've condemned his childish insults; offensive remarks to women, Hispanics and African-Americans; and the way he has played on many Americans' fears and prejudices to further himself politically. Trump brands himself as an outsider untainted by special interests, but we see a man utterly corrupted by self-interest. His narcissistic bid for the presidency is more about making himself great than America. Trump tears our country and many of its people down with his words so that he can build himself up. What else are we left to believe about a man who tells the American public that he alone can fix what ails us?

While Clinton has been relentlessly challenged about her honesty, Trump was the primary propagator of arguably the biggest lie of the past eight years: that Obama wasn't born in the United States.
And do on.

Then there's Trump's (possible) perjury.  Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek is reporting that:
Donald Trump committed perjury. Or he looked into the faces of the Republican faithful and knowingly lied. There is no third option.
Some details:
There are two records—one, a previously undisclosed deposition of the Republican nominee testifying under oath, and the second a transcript/video of a Republican presidential debate. In them, Trump tells contradictory versions of the same story with the clashing accounts tailored to provide what he wanted people to believe when he was speaking.

This fib matters far more than whether Trump was honest about why he abandoned his birther movement or the corollary fib that Hillary Clinton started the racist story that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya. In the lie we are examining here, Trump either committed a felony or proved himself willing to deceive his followers whenever it suits him.
On the one hand, there was Trump in a debate with Jeb Bush saying that if he wanted to get into casino gambling in Florida he would have and then on the other, he testified under oath that he could have had the gambling, but was cheated out of the opportunity (by the guy he was suing).

From Eichenwald:
Trump must be called upon to answer the troubling questions raised by the episode regarding Bush and gambling in Florida: Is the Republican nominee a perjurer or just a liar? If he refuses to answer—just as he has refused to address almost every other question about his character and background—Trump supporters must carefully consider whether they want to vote for a man who at best has treated them like fools over the past year and at worst committed a crime.
Remember, the GOP impeached a president because he lied about the blowjobs.  If this was perjury, it was about money - a much much bigger deal.



September 22, 2016

Feeling a great disturbance in the Force today?


Feeling something especially foul in the air (or water)? That would be giant, orange, talking yam Donald Trump in town to give the keynote address to Shale Insight 2016 -- a conference by the same fine folks who gave us this headline: "Cancer-causing chemical made famous by Erin Brockovich found in local water systems."

Anyhoo, if you're already downtown today, you might want to join the welcome wagon outside of the David Lawrence Convention Center -- happening now until 1:00 p.m.

Vote For Clinton. Vote Against Trump. Save The Day. You Might Get Just See Mark Ruffalo's Junk (Assuming You're Interested In Such).

Watch this video from Joss Whedon:


Save The Day.

Just a shit ton of famous people on this video repeating how important it is.

Register.

Vote.

You only get this many famous people together if the issue's one that truly matters to all of us:
  • a disease or
  • ecological crisis or  
  • a racist abusive coward who can permanently damage the fabric of our society.
(And by that they mean the Donald Trump - the bigoted, dishonest, cheeto-faced Donald Trump who has effectively hijacked what was once a great American political party and who is too dangerous, even for Republicans.)

We can not pretend both sides are equally unfavorable.

Your vote matters.

September 21, 2016

Newsflash: DONALD TRUMP IS STILL A BIRTHER!

Tonight in Toledo, Donald Trump was asked this question:
This announcement earlier this week with you saying that you believe President Obama was in fact born in the United States, after all the years where you've expressed some doubt, what changed?
And his answer?

Did it reference a careful assessment of the evidence supporting the truth (that Obama was born in Hawaii)?  Was there any assessment of the evidence?

No.

This is what Donald Trump said:
Well I just wanted to get on with, I wanted to get on with the campaign. A lot of people were asking me questions. We want to talk about jobs. We want to talk about the military.
And so on...

So look at the answer.  It had nothing to do with whether the statement "Barack Obama was born in Hawaii" was true.  So it turns out that he made his statements last week (which all turned out to be untrue) just to get the issue out of the way, not that he changed his mind.

That means he's still a birther.

And he's still lying about it.

Meanwhile Outside, It's Still Getting Warmer

From NOAA:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for August 2016 was the highest for August in the 137-year period of record, marking the 16th consecutive month of record warmth for the globe. The August 2016 temperature departure of 0.92°C (1.66°F) above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F) surpassed the previous record set in 2015 by 0.05°C (0.09°F). August 2016 was also the highest monthly land and ocean temperature departure since April 2016 and tied with September 2015 as the eighth highest monthly temperature departure among all months (1,640) on record. Fourteen of the 15 highest monthly land and ocean temperature departures in the record have occurred since February 2015, with January 2007 among the 15 highest monthly temperature departures.
Some takeaways:
  •  Warmest August in 137 years.
  • 16th consecutive month of record warmth for the globe.
  • 14 of the 15 highest monthly departures have occurred since 2015.
But since we're in the middle of a campaign season, let's review.
  • Donald Trump calls climate science a hoax.
  • Pat Toomey does not believe that human activity contributes significantly to climate change. 
They are both completely wrong.

From Responsiblescientists.org, we find this:
Human-caused climate change is not a belief, a hoax, or a conspiracy. It is a physical reality. Fossil fuels powered the Industrial Revolution. But the burning of oil, coal, and gas also caused most of the historical increase in atmospheric levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. This increase in greenhouse gases is changing Earth’s climate.

Our fingerprints on the climate system are visible everywhere. They are seen in warming of the oceans, the land surface, and the lower atmosphere. They are identifiable in sea level rise, altered rainfall patterns, retreat of Arctic sea ice, ocean acidification, and many other aspects of the climate system. Human-caused climate change is not something far removed from our day-to-day experience, affecting only the remote Arctic. It is present here and now, in our own country, in our own states, and in our own communities.

During the Presidential primary campaign, claims were made that the Earth is not warming, or that warming is due to purely natural causes outside of human control. Such claims are inconsistent with reality.
So beyond everything else (the Supreme Court, Obamacare, choice) being decided with this election, we have a clear choice between one candidate (and party) that accepts science and one that simply doesn't.


September 20, 2016

Justice In Trump's America

From Time.com:
Donald Trump does not think that Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect apprehended in connection with the New York and New Jersey explosions, should receive top-notch medical care or legal representation.

Speaking at a rally in Florida Monday, the same day Rahami was caught, Trump referred to him as an “evil thug.” He then bemoaned the quality medical care that awaits Rahami for the gunshot wounds he sustained in a shootout with police. “The bad part: now we will give him amazing hospitalization, he will be taken care of by some of the best doctors in the world, he will be given a fully modern and updated hospital room, and he’ll probably even have room service, knowing the way our country is,” Trump said. “And on top of all of that, he will be represented by an outstanding lawyer. His case will go through the various court systems for years, and in the end people will forget and his punishment will not be what it once would have been.”
The Daily Telegraph adds:
Some members of his packed crowd shouted, "Hang him!"
Whatever the seriousness of the charge, there's a this pesky little part of the Constitution that's causing Trump's current trauma.  This part:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Then there's this part, which guarantees medical care to those arrested or incarcerated:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Slate does point out that Trump added:
What a sad situation. We must have speedy but fair trials and we must deliver a just and very harsh punishment to these people.
But think on that for a second, in light of what was quoted in Time.  A speedy trial is NOT for the sake of a just trial.  No, a speedy trial is necessary so that the inevitable punishment will be harsher than it would have been.

This is Trump's America.