Prosecute the torture.

March 1, 2015

There's More To The Wage Gap

I saw this at the P-G this morning:
Patricia Arquette’s Academy Award acceptance speech last Sunday, calling for ecological sanitation in the third world and equal pay for women, came off sounding a bit like a woman who has a few too many bumper stickers on her Prius.

But her closing comments on pay inequality achieved her apparent goal of starting a conversation — setting off criticism from commentators on the the right who said equal pay for equal work has been the law since 1963 and from those on the left who said equal pay is mainly an issue for wealthy white women.
There's another important discussion that warrants a mention. When Arquette said this backstage:
And it's time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we've all fought for to fight for us now.
A completely separate discussion on the intersectionality between connected "feminisms" was started.

For example this one at RHRealitycheck.  Or this one at Slate where Amanda Marcotte points out:
Arquette's comments...erased the major contributions made by women of color and lesbians to the feminist movement, as if they haven't been fighting all this time.
For those unfamiliar with the term, "intersectionality" by the way was coined by legal scholar Kimberely Crenshaw.  In an interview in 2004, she gave a summary of the concept:
It grew out of trying to conceptualize the way the law responded to issues where both race and gender discrimination were involved. What happened was like an accident, a collision. Intersectionality simply came from the idea that if you’re standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you are likely to get hit by both. These women are injured, but when the race ambulance and the gender ambulance arrive at the scene, they see these women of color lying in the intersection and they say, “Well, we can’t figure out if this was just race or just sex discrimination. And unless they can show us which one it was, we can’t help them.”
 But that's not what we're here for.

While Ann Belser doesn't say anything factually incorrect, she has left out a few very important things in her article on the Wage Gap.  She begins with this:
While the Equal Pay Act was indeed passed a half-century ago, studies show that women are still paid less than men in the U.S. in nearly every occupation.

“During 2013, median wage earnings for female full-time workers were $706, compared with $860 per week for men — a gender wage ratio of 82.1 percent,” according to a report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a Washington, D.C.-based policy group.
And while the Institute for Women's Policy Research does say that, they've also issued this report looking to explain (at least in part) the gap.  The report begins with this:
The 1963 report of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women states: “The difference in occupational distribution of men and women is largely responsible for the fact that in 1961, the earnings of women working full time averaged only about 60 percent of those of men working full time.”
And then tracks the changes in what it calls "Occupational Segregation" since 1961.  The report continues with some of the changes:
Colleges and universities are no longer permitted to artificially restrict women’s entry to educational programs, Black women are as entitled to access to education and jobs as White women, and the days when employers were able to openly advertise a job just for women, or just for men, are a distant memory. Women are astronauts, Supreme Court justices, wind turbine engineers, four-star generals, university presidents, and a female economist is Chairperson of the Board of Governors of the US Federal Reserve System, the first central bank in an OECD country to be headed by a woman. Almost every second worker is a woman. Yet even though women have undoubtedly advanced toward economic equality during the last fifty years, women’s median annual earnings for full-time work are still only 76.5 percent of men’s, and marked differences in the occupational distribution of men and women continue to characterize the labor market. [Emphasis added.]
Indeed a few pages later we read:
Research suggests that occupational segregation is a major contributor to the gender wage gap (see for example Blau and Kahn 2007; England, Hermsen, and Cotter 2000; Jacobs and Steinberg 1990; Treimann and Hartmann 1981). Concomitantly, the decline in occupational segregation was a major contributing factor to women’s increased real earnings during the last decades. [Emphasis added.]
So between occupations, gender segregation is a major contributor to the gap.  But to the extent we're talking occupational segregation, the issue of "equal pay for equal work" is proportionally diminished.

How much?  The Institute doesn't say.

How about within occupations?  Is there any explanation for, say, this statistic from Belser's article:
A survey by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that 94.7 percent of secretaries and administrative assistants are women, yet women in those jobs make just 87.1 percent of the wages paid to men.
The numbers can be found in this document, by the way.  The clear implication is that it's sexism.  Of course, if it is, it's already illegal and it's a moral imperative to stop those employers from committing this crime.

But the Institute doesn't offer any thing else.

When I wrote about this in 2011, I pointed out how another organization, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) did offer up some explanations as to why, perhaps, there'd be a pay gap within occupations.  Among the explanations were these (and these were the AAUW's own headings in that report):
  • Men report working more hours than women report working. 
  • Women are more likely than men to take time off to care for children. 
  • Men report working more hours than women report working. 
  • Women are more likely to use family leave, work part time, or leave the labor force for some period.
How much this explains the remainder of the gap (that part left over from the Institute's "Occupational Segregation") is left open for discussion.

On the other hand, we've moved far far away from any discussion of "equal pay for equal work."

February 27, 2015

You Can Believe The Science Or You Can Believe The Senator With The Snowball

This happened on February 26 on the floor of the United States Senate.  The speaker is Senator James Inhofe (R-OK):


He's looking to disprove global warming by saying it's very cold outside in Washington DC.

Meanwhile in Anchorage Alaska, Monday saw record high temperatures (the average temp for that day is 30 °F and on Monday it was 43 °F.

Does this mean that global warming is occurring in Sarah Palin's abandoned state but not in our nation's capitol?

Luckily, another Senator produced some actual facts:


(Crooks and Liars has the transcript)

In his statement, Senator Whitehouse lists a number of groups/individuals who accept the science.  Here are his sources:
  • NASA Earth Now website.
  • Navy Admiral Samuel Locklear
    America’s top military officer in charge of monitoring hostile actions by North Korea, escalating tensions between China and Japan, and a spike in computer attacks traced to China provides an unexpected answer when asked what is the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region: climate change.

    Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, in an interview at a Cambridge hotel Friday after he met with scholars at Harvard and Tufts universities, said significant upheaval related to the warming planet “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’
  • US Conference of Catholic Bishops:
    The best evidence indicates that power plants are the largest stationary source of carbon emissions in the United States, and a major contributor to climate change.
  • Coke and Pepsi:
    The Coca-Cola Company, for instance, has created a comprehensive “field-to-market” environmental program using climate-related data to quantify water use, fertilizer use, energy use, and greenhouse emissions. By the end of 2015, half of the company’s global corn supply will be part of this environmental program built around the reality of climate data.

    PepsiCo just announced the installation of a solar photovoltaic system that will supply massive amounts of renewable energy for the company’s Gatorade manufacturing operations in Tolleson, Arizona. Pepsi officials publicly describe the effort as a way of preventing the release of 50,000 tons of carbon and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Pepsi has said it will use data from this solar project to help inform future solar installations and projects so that it can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions globally.
  • Ford Motor Company:
    Ford is committed to doing our share to prevent or reduce the potential for environmental, economic and social harm due to climate change.
  • General Motors:
    GM asserts addressing climate change is not only good for the environment, it delivers tangible business value.
  • Caterpillar:
    Caterpillar Inc. Chairman and CEO Jim Owens joined a diverse group of businesses and environmental organizations to call on U.S. policymakers to establish a mandatory emissions reduction program to address climate change.
  • Wal-Mart:
    Wal-Mart, the planet’s largest retailer, has announced a plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and substantially procure large amounts of renewable energy globally.
  • Target:
    The Corporate Sustainability team and the Energy and Sustainability team coordinate Target's climate change strategy, identify key initiative areas, assess risks and opportunities, and coordinate the company’s response to climate change.(pg 5)
  • VF:
    VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC) is a global leader in branded lifestyle apparel, with more than 30 brands that reach consumers in nearly all channels of distribution and markets. At VF, we seek to conduct our business with the highest levels of honesty, integrity and respect. These values are embedded in our approach to sustainability, which reflects our commitment to operating our business so future generations can live with cleaner water and air, healthier forests and oceans, and a stable climate.
  • Nike:
    Nike, which has more than 700 factories in 49 countries, many in Southeast Asia, is also speaking out because of extreme weather that is disrupting its supply chain. In 2008, floods temporarily shut down four Nike factories in Thailand, and the company remains concerned about rising droughts in regions that produce cotton, which the company uses in its athletic clothes.

    “That puts less cotton on the market, the price goes up, and you have market volatility,” said Hannah Jones, the company’s vice president for sustainability and innovation. Nike has already reported the impact of climate change on water supplies on its financial risk disclosure forms to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Mars:
    The consequences of climate change, such as changing temperatures and rainfall patterns, floods, droughts, and the spread of pests and diseases, are putting whole habitats and communities at risk.
  • NestlĂ©:
    Increasing levels of anthropogenic green house gases (GHG) in the atmosphere are causing changes to the climate and thereby the ecosystems and processes upon which human prosperity is based. Of particular concern are changes to the weather patterns, water availability, and agricultural productivity, as well as the loss of biodiversity upon which much of the resilience of natural systems is built.
The Senator from Rhode Island added:
Every major American scientific society has put itself on record -- many of them a decade ago -- that climate change is deadly real. They measure it, they see it, they know why it happens, the predictions correlate with what we see as they increasingly come true.
And you can see a list of them here.

To paraphrase Senator Whitehouse:
So, you can believe NASA, The US Navy, The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Coke, Pepsi, Ford, GM, Caterpillar, Wal-Mart, Target, VF, Nike, Mars, Nestlé and every major American scientific society, or you can believe the Senator With The Snowball.
Well?  Do you believe the science or the senator and his snowball?

February 26, 2015

The Party of Stupid, Revisited

A few years ago Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal told the RNC at their winter meeting that the GOP:
  • Must stop being the stupid party.
  • Must stop insulting the intelligence of voters.
And yet, it doesn't seem that the GOP took his advice.  According to this nationwide survey of Republicans by Public Policy Polling:
  • 66% said they did not believe in global warming
  • 49% said they did not believe in evolution
  • 57% supported establishing Christianity as the national religion
The last one is surprising given the Constitution Fetishism of the GOP.  Take a look at this from the party's platform of 2012:
We are the party of the Constitution, the solemn compact which confirms our God-given individual rights and assures that all Americans stand equal before the law. Perhaps the greatest political document ever written, it defines the purposes and limits of government and is the blueprint for ordered liberty that makes the U.S. the world's freest, most stable, and most prosperous nation. Its Constitutional ideals have been emulated around the world, and with them has come unprecedented prosperity for billions of people.

In the spirit of the Constitution, we consider discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin unacceptable and immoral.
And yet they don't seem to realize that this is found in that very same Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [Emphasis added.]
Or that Madison's (he's one of those "founding fathers" they're always talking about) original text read:
The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretence, infringed.
But I guess that's meaningless to 57% of the GOP.

But that's not necessarily stupid, just hypocritical.

Given the huge amount of scientific data supporting each, the majority and near majority opinion of the GOP regarding global warming and evolution, respectively, now that's stupid.

Stupid like this is stupid:
Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R), believes that cancer is a fungus, which can be flushed out from the body by means of an “inexpensive, cost-effective” and non-FDA approved treatment.
GOP - the party of teh stoopid.

February 24, 2015

RIP Mayor Marty B. O'Malley, Warrior for Social Justice and Peace


Chances are, if you ever attended a peace rally in Pittsburgh protesting the war in Iraq, you met Marty O'Malley as he participated in over 100 of them. But, you also could have met him at a protest against BP's oil spill, or at a rally for single payer health insurance, or at a protest against the billionaire bailout, or, well you get the idea. Marty was a true warrior for social justice and peace and he was hard to miss with his ubiquitous "Vietnam Veteran" cap and political/issue buttons.

Marty knew about war. He voluntarily served in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966, but by 1971 joined Vietnam Veterans for Peace. However, it wasn't until Bush's Iraq War that he became a real activist. I'd be hard pressed to imagine a member of the progressive community who hadn't met Marty who was always more than ready to come up and shake your hand. Later, that could be expanded to anyone who attended Democratic political events.

I'm not sure where I first met Marty, but I got to know him through the Howard Dean campaign. One of the great things Dean did was to make a call to arms of sorts for progressives to run for office--any and all. Marty took up the call and ran for Forest Hills Borough Council member in 2005 and won. In 2010 he became mayor of Forest Hills Borough and ran and won for mayor again in 2013. One of his goals was to encourage young people to become involved in local politics. (Of course, he also banned fracking in his borough.)

If you're on social media in the Pittsburgh area, you are going to hear a lot of people claim to have been friends with Marty. Believe them. Believe them all. Marty always had a smile on his face and room in his heart for one more. He was also a hell of a guy to have a beer, or two, or three with.

Damn, I'm going to miss him!

Marty O'Malley died at home of natural causes. He was 73.

Sincerest condolences to his family and all his many, many friends.

February 21, 2015

Neil deGrasse Tyson on Climate Change

NOTE: I'm blogging from an undisclosed location.


Another NOTE: Professor Tyson was born on my birthday.  That automatically makes me smarter by association (or osmosis - I always get those two confused.)

February 18, 2015

Happy Anniversary to Chuck McCullough! (When Does The Trial Start?)

Tomorrow, it will be 6 years to the day since this happened:
Allegheny County Councilman Charles McCullough was arrested and arraigned today on nearly two dozen counts following an investigation last year of his handling of an elderly widow's trust funds.
That's 6 complete years or:
  • 2,191 days or
  • 52,584 hours or
  • 3,155,040 minutes or
  • 189,302,400 seconds.
And still, there's been no trial. 

We've already had a little fun with stuff that's happened quicker than "Chucktime" (the time between his arrest and the present).  For example we already know that at 2,191 days, Chucktime is already longer than:
  • WWII in the Pacific (1,347 days)
  • The entire time Richard Nixon was President (2,027 days)
But did you also know that 2,191 more than:
  • the number of days between the date Michelangelo signed the contract to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (May 10, 1508) and the date the ceiling was first shown to the public (November 1, 1512) - 1,636 days?
  • the number of days between the adoption of the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776) and the British surrender at Yorktown (October 19, 1781) - 1,933 days?
  • the number of days between the  date Attorney General Janet Reno named Robert Fiske as Special Counsel to investigate Whitewater (January 20, 1994) and Clinton's acquittal at the end of his Impeachment trial (February 12, 1999) - 1,849 days?
Look again at that last one.  The entire Whitewater investigation has taken a shorter amount of time than it's taking Allegheny County (or whomever is supposed to be handling this case) to take Chuck McCullough to trial.

Why can't they put the guy on trial?  It's been longer than WWII, Nixon's presidency, Beatlemania, and the Whitewater investigation!

    February 17, 2015

    Warm, Warmer Warmest - More Climate Misinformation From The Tribune-Review

    With this Op-Ed, the editorial board over at the Tribune-Review continues it's never ending (yet also never succeeding) project to deny climate science.

    It's their usual practice of folding together an incomplete set facts in such a way to that it looks thorough and coherent.

    But it isn't.

    Let's take a look why:
    Contrary to some contorted conclusions twisted further by Big Media, 2014 was not the hottest year on record, based on satellite temperature data. It wasn't even close.

    But the dubious declaration by the Japan Meteorological Agency was enough to launch a fusillade of folderol. The Japanese climatologists measured surface temperatures, with readings from weather stations, ships and even buoys around the world. Supposedly 2014 was 0.05 degrees Celsius warmer than 1998, the next hottest year on record.

    NASA as well reported last month that 2014 was the warmest on record. What it neglected to mention, however, was that its own, more accurate satellite temperature data showed that last year was only the sixth warmest since NASA Remote Sensing Systems satellites went up about 40 years ago, according to The New American.
    Let's look at their first statement - by the satellite data, 2014 "wasn't even close" to being the warmest on record.  It comes, as per the braintrust's own telling, from this piece at The New American.

    But does the satellite data actually measure the same stuff as the surface stations?  What the braintrust neglected to mention is that the satellite data does not measure the same section of the climate as the surface or the oceans - it's only one part of the data.  How do I know?

    NOAA's Summary of the data:
    • The 2014 temperature for the lower troposphere (roughly the lowest five miles of the atmosphere) was third highest in the 1979-2014 record, at 0.50°F (0.28°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH), and sixth highest on record, at 0.29°F (0.16°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by Remote Sensing Systems (RSS).  
    • The 2014 temperature for the mid-troposphere (roughly two miles to six miles above the surface) was third highest in the 1979–2014 record, at 0.32°F (0.18°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by UAH, and sixth highest on record, at 0.25°F (0.14°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by RSS. 
    • The temperature for the lower stratosphere (roughly 10 miles to 13 miles above the surface) was 13th lowest in the 1979–2014 record, at 0.56°F (0.31°C) below the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by UAH, and also 13th lowest on record, at 0.41°F (0.23°C) below the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by RSS. The stratospheric temperature is decreasing on average while the lower and middle troposphere temperatures are increasing on average, consistent with expectations in a greenhouse-warmed world. 
    The satellite data is for the troposphere and the stratosphere not the surface - so setting them in opposition (as the climate deniers are looking to do) is simply unfounded.

    I'm just surprised the braintrust didn't pounce on this sentence from the New American:
    In fairness, after being pressed by increasingly skeptical journalists on its data, NASA scientists claimed to be only 38 percent sure that last year was actually the warmest on record.
    Lucky for me, the Washington Post has already debunked this debunking:
    The figure comes from slide 5 of the PowerPoint presentation mentioned above, where NASA scientists noted that there was a 38 percent chance that 2014 was the hottest year, but only a 23 percent chance that the honor goes to the next contender, 2010, and a 17 percent chance that it goes to 2005.

    The same slide shows that NOAA’s scientists were even more confident in the 2014 record, ranking it as having a 48 percent probability, compared with only an 18 percent chance for 2010 and a 13 percent chance for 2005.
    And in reality, that bit of data was not released "after being pressed by" the science deniers.
    According to a NASA spokesman, the PowerPoint containing this slide went online at the same time that the 2014 temperature record itself was announced. So it may not have been as prominent as the press releases from the agencies, but it was available.

    The slide was also discussed in the press briefing when the news of the new record was released.
    Something else the deniers neglected to either mention or find out for themselves.

    Anyway, here's the chart:


    Note that the number does not show that NASA is "only 38 percent sure" (or 48 percent in the case of NOAA) that the statement "2014 was the warmest year on record" is true.  What it does show is that that's how confident 2014 was warmer than all the other years before it.  It's a mistake, for example, to assume that there's a 62 percent chance that some other year was warmer.  From the NOAA press briefing:
    Certainly there are uncertainties in putting all this together, all these datasets. But after considering the uncertainties, we have calculated the probability that 2014, versus other years that were relatively warm, were actually the warmest year on record. And the way you can interpret these data tables is, for the NOAA data, 2014 is two and a half times more likely than the second warmest year on record, 2010, to actually be the warmest on record, after consideration of all the data uncertainties that we take into account. And for the NASA data, that number is on the order of about one and a half times more likely than the second warmest year on their records, which again, is 2010. So clearly, 2014 in both our records were the warmest, and there’s a fair bit of confidence that that is indeed the case, even considering data uncertainties.
    That's how the science goes.

    And it's still getting warmer:


    No matter what the science deniers say.