We are the 99%

November 22, 2014

Finally, The Truth! About Benghazi!

Yesterday was a Friday - keep that in mind for a bit.

In politics when you need to release something to the public that you don't necessarily want the public to see, what do you do?  When do you release it?  You release it late in the day, when all the reporters are past deadline and/or are headed home.  Better yet, you release it late in the day and late in the week (say on a Friday) so that anyone who's job it is to notice is already out the door and won't be back to work for 2 days.  Release it late in the week just before a holiday is even better.

Guess what was released yesterday, a Friday - the Friday before Thanksgiving week, by the Republican-controlled Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence?

The Investigative Report on the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012.

And what, oh what, did they find?

From the summary:
In summary, the Committee first concludes that the CIA ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi and, without a requirement to do so, ably and bravely assisted the State Department on the night of the attacks. Their actions saved lives. Appropriate U.S. personnel made reasonable tactical decisions that night, and the Committee found no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support. The Committee, however, received evidence that the State Department security personnel, resources, and equipment were unable to counter the terrorist threat that day and required CIA assistance. [Emphasis added.]
This information even made it onto the pages of the Tribune-Review (by way of the AP):
A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then-ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when in fact there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found. The report did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people. [Emphases added.]
Let's see if the Trib's editorial page actually reads the Trib's news pages.

November 21, 2014

Stephen Colbert Explains The Difference Between WEATHER And CLIMATE

I am sure you've seen this by now:
Global warming isn't real because I was cold today! Also great news: World hunger is over because I just ate.
Four feet of snow (as of yesterday) in Buffalo must mean that the so called "global warming" must be wrong, right?

I mean if the world is warming up then how can there be so much cold snow out there?

I wonder if they're saying the same thing in Sydney, Australia:
Sydney is in for another burst of summer-like heat, as a series of troughs draw in some of the hot air massing over central Australia.

The mercury in the city will climb to 38 degrees on Friday, according to updated forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology, after reaching about 27 degrees on Thursday.

Many western suburbs sweltered in temperatures well above 30 degrees on Thursday, with 35 degrees reached in Bankstown and 37 in Penrith.
Those numbers are in Celsius by the way.  Here's a Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion for all those numbers:
  • 38C = 100.4F
  • 27C = 80.6F
  • 30C = 86F
  • 35C = 95F
  • 37C = 98.6F
Due to the tilt of the Earth on its axis, they're moving into Summer in Australia while we move into Winter.  So just imagine if it's 6 months from now, say May 21, and Jeff Verszyla were to tell you that it's gonna be 100.4 out. That's what's happening in Sydney while Bills fans are getting 4+ feet of snow in Buffalo.

Meanwhile globally:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for October 2014 was the highest on record for October, at 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.1°F).
The difference between "weather" and "climate."

November 19, 2014

Another Non-Political Announcement

My brass quintet has a gig this FRIDAY NIGHT .

And when I write "my brass quintet" I don't mean that it's "mine" or that I run it or anything - it's just a figure of speech denoting the brass quintet that I play in.  To be more specific, it's more or less an autonomous collective, though sometimes I think we're an anarcho-syndicalist commune out to expose the violence inherent in the system.

Anyway, we'll be playing for tips at Biddle Escape in Regent Square at 7pm.

Now you may ask yourself, what sort of music will the quintet be playing?  And that's a very good question.  I could say that we'll be playing BOTH types of music: country AND western!  But that would be a mistake.  We will be playing lotsa good stuff.  A great deal of it, if my memory serves me correctly, arranged in one way or another by someone in the group.

Come to Biddle's Escape on Friday night.  Have a coffee, have a tea, have a listen to the group and me.

November 18, 2014

PodCamp Pittsburgh 9!

This is a non-political announcement.

PodCamp Pittsburgh has returned!

It describes itself as a "social, new media un-conference." Though I am not sure exactly what that means.  But then again I am neither "social" or "new" so what do I know?

They go on to say:
In 2014, we’ll have a variety of sessions designed to give you a local source of creative inspiration. You’ll learn how to get started (or how to grow) sharing what you do with the world through blogs, social media, videos, and all other types of online media. You’ll find out what (and how to use) the latest tools others are using to accomplish awesome things. We hope you’ll take the opportunity to engage with other attendees and speakers who share your passion and drive, and may even inspire something in you that you didn’t know was there.
The sessions are here.

My friend Sue has a session and my friend Cynthia has one as well.

Looks to be very enlightening!

November 16, 2014

Jack Kelly Sunday

(Looks like that sonovabich Ed Heath got here before me.  Fine.  I'll just acknowledge that and then go all passive-aggressive and continue like he didn't write what he wrote before I wrote this blog post.  See?  It's a win-win for everybody!!)

In today's Post-Gazette, columnist Jack Kelly writes about "Vote Fraud" and of course, fails to do enough homework to make the column align with reality.  The P-G, again of course, fails to adequately fact-check him.  The result is a another embarrassing Jack Kelly column on the pages of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

We've seen this happen too many times.  Too too many times.

But let's begin at the beginning:
If you Google “vote fraud,” you’ll find that most of the stories are about Democrats committing it, or denying it exists.

Fourteen percent of non-citizens in the United States in 2008 were registered to vote and about 6 percent voted indicates data collected by Harvard’s Cooperative Congressional Election Study, according to a study by Jesse Richman and David Earnest, professors at Old Dominion University.
This is where Ed started.

Did you know there are issues with the Richman/Earnest study?  Our story begins with this piece at the Washington Post.  It's from before the election (October 24) and it begins with this:
Could control of the Senate in 2014 be decided by illegal votes cast by non-citizens? Some argue that incidents of voting by non-citizens are so rare as to be inconsequential, with efforts to block fraud a screen for an agenda to prevent poor and minority voters from exercising the franchise, while others define such incidents as a threat to democracy itself. Both sides depend more heavily on anecdotes than data.

In a forthcoming article in the journal Electoral Studies, we bring real data from big social science survey datasets to bear on the question of whether, to what extent, and for whom non-citizens vote in U.S. elections. Most non-citizens do not register, let alone vote. But enough do that their participation can change the outcome of close races.
Yea, we saw how all those illegals tipped the balance of power in the Senate to the party that just doesn't like them very much.  But what about that study?

Well on those same Washington Post webpages just three days later, there was this:
A recent Monkey Cage piece by political scientists Jesse Richman and David Earnest, which suggested that non-citizen voting could decide the 2014 Election, received considerable media attention over the weekend. In particular, columns such as Breitbart.com’s “Study: Voting by Non-Citizens Tips Balance for Democrats” and the National Review’s “Jaw-Dropping Study Claims Large Numbers of Non-Citizens Vote in U.S” cited results from the authors’ forthcoming Electoral Studies article to confirm conservatives’ worst fears about voter fraud in the United States.

A number of academics and commentators have already expressed skepticism about the paper’s assumptions and conclusions, though. In a series of tweets, New York Times columnist Nate Cohn focused his criticism on Richman et al’s use of Cooperative Congressional Election Study data to make inferences about the non-citizen voting population. That critique has some merit, too. The 2008 and 2010 CCES surveyed large opt-in Internet samples constructed by the polling firm YouGov to be nationally representative of the adult citizen population. Consequently, the assumption that non-citizens, who volunteered to take online surveys administered in English about American politics, would somehow be representative of the entire non-citizen population seems tenuous at best.
That was October 27.  Didn't Jack know about any of this stuff?  For example this info (from the "skepticism" link in the second paragraph) from the Early Voting Information Center:
I discussed the Electoral Studies article that the Monkey Cage posting is based on at Early Voting.net, and expressed concerns then that the article made a number of very heroic assumptions to be able to claim that non-citizens were voting in significant numbers, and even more heroic assumptions to assume that these votes “created the filibuster proof majority in 2008,” as the authors claim.
Then there's this fact-checking piece at the Reno Gazette-Journal which rates it a 4 out of 10:
This is a great example of how science works. Someone does a study and it sparks conversation and likely more research. Even if the Richman-Earnest study fails to withstand academic scrutiny, that doesn't mean they're bad people or this study was bad. In fact, it very well could be an extremely valuable step in leading to future research that better informs policies on voter ID laws, voter fraud and the inclusion of noncitizens in the voting process (some countries allow legal nonresidents to vote).

Regardless, at this point in time, it's a lone study on a controversial subject with data that even the authors admit is not ideal. It's fodder for discussion but not for fears of election fraud.
So the authors of the study Jack's relying on admit the data's "not ideal"??

Yeppers.  In fact they agree with the 4 out of 10 score:
Science is a process of finding, validation, replication and rebuttal. We are at the very beginning of the process. Colleagues have raised reasonable questions about the data we used--problems that we acknowledge in both the study and the Monkey Cage. It will take some time and additional research to increase confidence in our findings."
This was October 30 - two and a half weeks ago.

And yet Jack Kelly's using it as "settled science" in order to prove that there's voter fraud.

Didn't he know that there were questions about the study he was using?  If he did, then how does he explain using it anyway?  And if he didn't then why the heck not??

And as always: Doesn't anyone fact-check Jack Kelly at the P-G?

If they are, they're doing a lousy job.  If they're not, then WHY THE HECK NOT?

November 15, 2014

2,095 Days (And Counting): A Chuck McCullough Follow-Up (UPDATED)

I was fascinated by the fact that yesterday marked the 2,094th day since Chuck McCullough was arrested and yet still not faced trial.

I was wondering how that span of time (now it's up to 2,095) compares to some other famous time spans.  For example:
  • WWII in the Pacific - December 7, 1941 (Attack on Pearl Harbor) to August 15, 1945 (VJ Day): 1,347 days
  • WWII in Europe - September 1, 1939 (Germany invades Poland) to May 7, 1945 (Germany Surrenders) 2,075 days
  • The Beatles - February 9, 1964 (Beatles first performance on the Ed Sullivan Show) to January 30, 1969 (their last public performance on the rooftop of Apple Studios): 1,817 days
  • Nixon Presidency - January 20, 1969 (Nixon's First Inauguration) to August 9, 1974 (Nixon's resignation): 2,027 days
  • Breaking Bad - January 20, 2008 (First episode) to September 29, 2013 (Last episode): 2,074 days
  • Brady Bunch - September 26, 1969 (First episode) to March 8, 1974 (Last episode): 1,624 days
It's taking longer to get Chuck McCullough to trial than it took to defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in WWII.  The time between Chuck McCullough's arrest and his (still to be begun) trial is longer than Beatlemania (the actual cultural event, the Broadway Show only lasted 869 days).  It's also been longer than each of the original runs of both Breaking Bad and The Brady Bunch.

I make no pronouncements as to the man's guilt or innocence.  That's why there's supposed to be a trial.  But 2,095 days?  Heck Lt Col Oliver North was indicted (on March 16 1988), convicted (on May 4, 1989) and had his conviction vacated (on July 20, 1990) all within 856 days!

Think about that for a second.

UPDATE:  Here's a few more.
  • JFK - November 22, 1963 (Assassination of JFK) to September 24, 1964 (Publication of the Warren Commission Report): 307 days
  • Civil War - April 12, 1861 (Confederate forces fire on Fort Sumpter) to April 9, 1865 (Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox): 1,458 days
  • WWI - July 28, 1914 (Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand) to November 11, 1918 (Armistice signed): 1,597 days
It's taking longer to get Chuck McCullough to trial than it took the Warren Commission to issue its report, for the North to defeat the South in the misnamed (by many) "War of Northern Aggression" and for the Allied Powers to defeat the Central Powers in the equally misnamed "War to End All Wars."