Prosecute the torture.

June 22, 2016

Thank You Rep. Mike Doyle and the #NoBillNoBreak Sit-in House!

(Photo courtesy of Rep. Mike Doyle's Facebook page, pictured center.)

Who knew the Democrats in the US House of Representatives had this much cojones/huevos? 

When the Democrats in the Senate's filibuster ended in gun control votes that went down in flames, it seemed like the issue was over, maybe at least until the next horrific mass shooting occurs...say, next Tuesday or so. I mean, the House can't filibuster, right? Right! So the beautiful bastards are holding a sit-in instead!



And thank you Rep. John Lewis for starting it and my own Rep. Mike Doyle for being down there (literally) on the floor.


June 21, 2016

Wendy Bell To Fox News CEO: "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Ailes!"

With reverse discrimination lawsuit and new blonde 'do in tow,
Wendy Bell readies for an audition with FOX News (we assume).

Wendy Bell Sues.

From The AP (so now it's a national story):
A newscaster fired after her comments in a Facebook post about a shooting were deemed racially insensitive sued her former employer on Monday, saying the television station let her go because she is white.

Wendy Bell said her federal lawsuit that Pittsburgh-based WTAE fired her on March 30 "because of her race," violating her civil rights.

"Had Ms. Bell written the same comments about white criminal suspects or had her race not have been white, Defendant would not have fired her, much less disciplined her," the lawsuit reads. "Ms. Bell's posting of concern for the African-American community stung by mass shooting was clearly and obviously not intended to be racially offensive." that settles it.

You can find the lawsuit here.

In the section section of the lawsuit, one that lays out all Bell's side of the argument.  She's praised by TAE for being such a good egg, having a great connection with her audience and so forth.

Then there's this:
8. Bell’s work and reputation in Defendant’s target audience area was so good that Defendant encouraged Ms. Bell to use social media to communicate with that target audience. Indeed, in Defendant’s last formal performance appraisal of Ms. Bell, Defendant noted she has “launched a Facebook page for her work at the station and “this has proven to be a great platform for her.” According to Defendant, Ms. Bell “is very good about engaging her audience [on that Facebook page]”
11. As part of her duties as a reporter and anchor, Defendant encouraged Ms. Bell to communicate over social media about the stories she covered.
And the rest, as they say, is history.

The basis of the lawsuit, as far as I (a notorious non-lawyer) can tell is found in these three paragraphs:
21. Defendant consistently downplays misconduct by similarly situated reporters and anchors because of their race or gender.

22. For example, Defendant’s African American Sports Director, and 5 p.m. news anchor, Andrew Stockey was not disciplined at all for making lewd comments to interns, conduct that resulted in the termination of Defendant’s internship program in its news department.

23. Another reporter, Guy Junker, was arrested for propositioning an undercover police officer, an arrest that caused significant undue publicity, and was “inconsistent with [Defendant’s] ethics.” Defendant did not even discipline Junker, much less fire him.
Basically, it's a "they did bad stuff and they weren't fired!" argument

For the record Junker was arrested in 1998.  Ands there's no supporting evidence other than Bell's assertion in her lawsuit against TAE about Stockey's "lewd comments" I'll leave it up to you to decide whether they can be trusted.

BTW, here's Bell working with Andrew Stockey.  This was about 6 years ago, by the way:

She offered up an apology then:
“The other night, I made an off-the-cuff comment to my co-anchor, Andrew Stockey, after one of our news stories,” she said in a statement. “The words I said didn’t come out the right way, and as such, offended some of you, which leaves me deeply troubled. I would never want to offend ANYONE, as my words clearly did. I hope you will accept my sincere apology.”
Yea this is going to be interesting.

June 20, 2016

Meanwhile, Outside...It's Still Getting Warmer

These posts have become a regular occurrence, haven't they?

Sadly, yes.

From NOAA - State of the Climate:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for May 2016 was the highest for May in the 137-year period of record, at 0.87°C (1.57°F) above the 20th century average of 14.8°C (58.6°F), besting the previous record set in 2015 by 0.02°C (0.04°F). May 2016 marks the 13th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken—the longest such streak since global temperature records began in 1880.
Not only that, but this:
The March–May seasonal global temperature was 1.06°C (1.91°F) above the 20th century average of 13.7°C (56.7°F)—the first time the period March–May surpassed the 1°C and the highest temperature departure from average for March–May in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.22°C (0.40°F). March–May 2016 also marks the fourth highest three-month departure for any three-month period on record, behind February–April 2016 (+1.16°C / +2.09°F), January–March 2016 (+1.15°C / +2.07°F) and December 2015–February 2016 (+1.12°C / +2.02°F).
But this is all a hoax, right?

Donald Trump, the billionaire bigot and presumptive GOP candidate for President said so on twitter.

Ok, so maybe not a hoax, per se, but also not something human beings have contributed to significantly, right?  Our Junior Senator (who's now running for reelection) Pat Toomey voted for that.

But maybe it's still not a fact, right?  At least the science is still out on this, right?  I mean there hasn't been any change in the last 15 or so years, right?  Keith Rothfus, representative from the 12th Congressional district, said so.

You'll note that none of the above positions by any of these Republican candidates for office is, in fact, scientifically accurate. 

Each of them is wrong and to each, I'd like ask: Can you explain to me how 97% of the experts in the field can be wrong and each of you is right?

By the way, it's still getting warmer out there.  Science says so.

June 19, 2016

It's Nice To Revisit A Tribune-Review Smear, Sad To See The Editorial Board Is Still Smearing

From today's Tribune-Review's Sunday Pops column:
The Boston Herald reports that Secretary of State John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz, have put up for sale the $7 million sailboat they purchased in 2010 for $4 million. Depreciation is cited. It's the same 76-foot yacht over which the couple was criticized for docking in Rhode Island to avoid a six-figure Massachusetts sales tax bill. They say the tax eventually was paid. The Herald says the Heinz Kerrys are looking for “a new and bigger motorized yacht.” Aweigh, we say, aweigh! [Bolding in Original]
This non-story goes all the way back to this smear in 2010.

The interesting thing is that in the smear's original reporting, this sentence could be found:
And state Department of Revenue spokesguy Bob Bliss confirmed the senator “is under no obligation to pay the commonwealth sales tax.”
Now go look at what the Tribune-Review's editorial board wrote.

Bliss also stated that Kerry would be obligated to pay the tax if he docked the yacht someplace in Massachusetts within 6 months of purchase.

Oh, wait.  Didn't you know that, according to the Seattle Times, Kerry had yet to take possession of the yacht at the time of the Herald's initial story?

So that 6-month window hadn't even opened yet.

By the following November the Scaife braintrust had dutifully continued the smear with this:
Kerry, D-Mass., originally ported the tony craft in Rhode Island in an apparent attempt to get out of paying taxes on it in his home state. But when the Boston Herald disclosed the boat's location in July, Kerry agreed to promptly pay the equivalent of all taxes owed had the boat been ported in Massachusetts.

Didn't happen.
This is simply a lie. According to the reporting that the braintrust actually sited, a tax return had been filed for the taxes "that would have been owed, had he kept the Isabel in his home state’s waters."

What hadn't been paid was a $500 tax to the town of Nantucket - a tax bill the Kerry's hadn't received yet.

Now go back and look at what the braintrust wrote - this part, specifically:
...the couple was criticized for docking in Rhode Island to avoid a six-figure Massachusetts sales tax bill. They say the tax eventually was paid.
Usually as part of a smear, the verb "to say" means that what has been "said" as taking place maybe hasn't really happened - it's a way to imply dishonesty without really coming right out and saying it.  This unspoken phrase is implied to end the sentence: "...but we all know that's simply not true."

But of course, the braintrust had to know at that point that the tax bill had been paid.  They're just lying to you by phrasing the sentence in such a way as to let you think it (possibly) hadn't.

Look at all the facts here and then look at how the Tribune-Review has presented them to you.  How much more dishonest can they be?

They'd say they're just commenting on the news, the facts - but we all know that's simply not true.

June 18, 2016

The Tribune-Review's Editorial Board Is Misleading You About The IRS. Again.

Take a look:
Three years after the IRS was caught questionably scrutinizing tea party and other conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status, Congress has responded. Legislation passed by the House will bar the nation's tax collector from requiring nonprofits to list donors on their tax returns.
Right from the opening, they're misleading you. Here's why.

In a letter to the Chair and Ranking members of the House Judiciary Committee (Representatives Bob Goodlatte and John Conyers, respectively), Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik explained why the Department of Justice closed down its investigation.  In it there's this set of sentences:
Our investigation uncovered substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgement, and institutional inertia, leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints.  But poor management is not a crime.  We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution.  We also found no evidence that any official involved in the handling of tax-exempt applications or IRS leadership attempted to obstruct justice. [Emphasis added.]
I'll simplify for the Fox "News" conservatives who maybe can't (or won't) understand: There's no evidence the IRS scrutinized tax-exempt groups based on their political viewpoints - the career investigators at the DOJ said so.  Last October.

Now take a look at the very first sentence from the Trib editorial board's very last paragraph:
The IRS clubbed itself over the head when it targeted conservative groups.
After reading the letter from the DOJ, you gotta ask yourself, how much of that is simply incorrect?

How embarrassing this must be for the braintrust.  But yet again facts have no real meaning for them, do they?  And it's sad, frankly, to see them use this bit of conservative propaganda as a cudgel to get a law passed that would further insulate the big donors who've done so much damage to our current political system.

The bill in question is HR 5053 and the CRS sumarizes it this way:
Sec. 2) This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from requiring a tax-exempt organization to include in annual returns the name, address, or other identifying information of any contributor.

The bill includes exceptions for: (1) required disclosures regarding prohibited tax shelter transactions; and (2) contributions by the organization's officers, directors, or five highest compensated employees (including compensation paid by related organizations).
But when you take a look at what it's "fixing", an interesting bit of information emerges.  The Research Policy Council from the Congressional Research Services summarizes this way:
Under current law, some organizations that are tax-exempt under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code must report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) the names and addresses or other identifying information of contributors of $5,000 or more on Schedule B of the organization’s Form 990. The bill would limit the Secretary of the Treasury from requiring the name, address, or other identifying information of any contributor regardless of the nature or size of the contribution... [Emphasis added.]
So if I am reading this correctly, under current law if you contributed less than five large to Tea Party Pittsburgh your information wasn't required to be on your group's Schedule B in the first place.

By barring access to that information this bill will only give more cover to the folks who are wealthy enough to have thousands of dollars to throw at political organizations.  More cover for big money corruption of politics.

Thanks, Scaife Braintrust.  We know you're out to protect the little guy here - except that you're not.

June 17, 2016

Put that coffee down, Bernie

Watched your big special live streaming event last night and here's all I have to say: Put that coffee down, Bernie! Coffee's for closers only.

How Much Is Does Pat Toomey "Support" Donald Trump? (A Question For Pat Toomey)

This is an important question.  No room for waddling in any grey-zone of acceptable deniability.

Take a look at Trump's latest:
Donald Trump suggested Monday that President Obama is oblivious to issues of terrorism—and he seemed to suggest in the process that Obama might sympathize with the suspected gunman in the deadly Orlando nightclub shooting.

The unsubstantiated insinuations, in a series of interviews Monday morning, came from the Republican presidential candidate who once led calls for the release of the President’s birth certificate and has more than once indulged conspiracy theories about Obama’s faith and heritage. On Monday, just one day after a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in Orlando—the worst mass shooting in American history—Trump said on Fox News that he believes there’s “something else going on.”
Trevor Noah puts it a little more succinctly:
It was Donald Trump’s 70th birthday on Tuesday, and as Trevor Noah reported on The Daily Show, he celebrated by framing President Barack Obama as a terrorist sympathizer.

During an appearance on Fox & Friends this week, Trump described Obama as “not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” reviving old conspiracy theories about the president’s faith.

“Are you shitting me?” Noah asked. “Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, is saying the president of the United States is a secret agent for ISIS. He’s accusing Obama of treason!

By the way, if we go back to that Time article, we see this:
But top military and Middle East experts, including vocal critics of the Obama Administration, condemned Trump’s suggestion as “ignorant,” “willfully ill-informed” and “ridiculous” in a half-dozen interviews with TIME. Several described it as a conspiracy theory.
Senator Toomey, I am a constituent of yours and I have a question for you:

PoliticsPA, while stating that you're "hesitant" to support Trump, nevertheless quoted you as saying, “I will be supporting the Republican nominee, whoever that is.”  Is that still the case?  Will you be supporting the bigoted, birther, conspiracy theorist who now heads your party?

I am a constituent and I want to know exactly your level of support for Donald Trump.

June 16, 2016

The Tribune-Review Editorial Board's Attempt At Snark Fails

Take a look at this:
Oh, by the way, the gun used in the Orlando massacre turns out not to have been an AR-15. It was a Sig Sauer MCX carbine. And more than a few gun experts believe the media's mistake is indicative of an agenda — to push for a ban of one of the most popular weapons in the United States.
A few points here, but let's get to the main one.  Their criticism of "the media's mistake" of confusion of an AR-15 and a Sig Sauer MCX.

But was it really the media's mistake?

Let's be clear in the early reporting period of any crisis, it's not unusual to get some facts wrong - this case included.  Take a look:
In the hours after Sunday’s mass shooting at an Orlando night club, Chief John Mina of the Orlando Police Department said the gunman’s weapons included a pistol and an “AR-15-type assault rifle.”
How can it be a media spin if they're quoting the official source at the scene?

And anyway, what difference does it make (other than being a factual error that needs to be fixed)?

The error was corrected quickly (BTW, this is the next paragraph in the Washington Post's coverage):
On Monday night, officials clarified that the rifle Omar Mateen used in the shooting was not an AR-15, but a Sig Sauer MCX rifle.
Then there's Rachel Maddow's explanation of the Sig Sauer.

Tell me again how this is the media's spin to confuse an AR-15 with a Sig Sauer MCX?

If you're gonna snark, you gotta make sure your facts are right.

But then again this is the Tribune-Review editorial board.