Prosecute the torture.

August 29, 2015

Judge: Connellsville 10 Commandments Monument is UNCONSTITIONAL (And Yet It Can Stay??)

Yea, it IS weird.

From Ralph Iannotti at KDKA:
A federal judge on Friday ruled that a monument of the Ten Commandments outside the Connellsville Area Junior High School in Fayette County violates the U.S. Constitution.

However, at the same time, the judge did not order the monolith removed.

Now, both opponents and supporters of the monument are claiming at least partial victories.
And some unnamed writer at the P-G:
A judge today ruled that a monument to the Ten Commandments in place at a Fayette County school since the 1950s improperly violates the Constitution because it endorses religion. But U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry said it can remain in place because the student whose family objected three years ago no longer goes to school there.
Judge McVerry?  Wasn't he the same guy who dismissed the very similar New Kensington case a short time ago?  That case was dismissed because McVerry decided the plaintiffs "lacked standing".

Here's the opinion of y'inz wanted to read it.

As far as I can tell (and let's all remember I am NOT an attorney, though I really enjoyed Housman's performance on "The Paper Chase" - even more than Pacino's in "...And Justice For All") McVerry established that the plaintiffs HAD standing to sue (whew!) and then discussed which recent Supreme Court case more closely described the Connellsville slab.

I discussed the issue here.

Since it was a stand-alone monument, it was less like the monument described in Van Orden and more like the situation described in McCreary.  Oh, I so informed you thusly.

For McVerry, the Connellsville slab fails on these grounds:
In sum, then, “the question is, would a passerby” with all of these attributes reasonably believe that by declining to remove the monument, the School District “was endorsing religion?” Although this is a close question, the Court concludes that the reasonable observer would arrive at such a conclusion. The content of the monument, its location on school grounds, the lack of secular displays in reasonable proximity to the monument, and the events leading up to the Board’s decision to retain the monument compels such a result.
Oh, I so informed you thusly.

Further:
The Ten Commandments have what our Court of Appeals has described as a “primar[ily] religious significance.” That conclusion is hard to avoid when viewing the monument here, inasmuch as it prominently proclaims, in letters slightly larger than those elsewhere on the monument , “I AM the LORD thy God .” It was thus incumbent on the School District to demonstrate that the religious nature of the monument was meant to be overshadowed by some secular or historical message. It has not done so, for the context of the monument does nothing to detract from the Commandments’ overwhelmingly religious message. Just the opposite: Displaying the Commandments alone in a prominent location outside the school only serves to highlight the religious aspects of the Commandments, sending “an unmistakable message that [the School District] supports and promotes” the religious message that is at the heart of the Commandments.
Oh, I so informed you thusly.

This leads me to the truly confusing part at the end:
When, however, our government , at whatever level, departs from mere acknowledgement of our religious history to endorsement of a particular religious message, as set forth in the Ten Commandments, it has gone too far. Be that as it may, the Court is constrained by the mootness doctrine from granting Plaintiffs’ requested injunctive relief and ordering the removal of the monument at this time.
I get the first part.  The guv'ment "has gone too far" and endorsed "a particular religious message" (which makes it UNCONSTITUTIONAL) with this slab but since the plaintiff no longer goes to school there it can nevertheless stay?

The Ten Commandments monument is UNCONSTITIONAL.  It needs to be removed.  Now.

August 28, 2015

Watch PA State Reps doing the Whip and Nae Nae



 All Democrats--as if you had to ask. After all, they are advocating for funds for public school kids!

(And, if enough of you had voted right in my district, we could have had Erin Molchany up there with them.)

The Tribune-Review Published NEWS About Climate Science?? Inconcievable!

The Trib published this?? Take a look:
By mid-century, Pittsburgh might feel a lot more like the heat and humidity of summer in the nation's capital.

Average temperatures in Pennsylvania likely will rise 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 35 years, causing “profound” changes in the composition of the state's forests and more frequent and severe flooding and heat waves, according to Penn State University scientists studying potential impacts of climate change.

“There will be increased heat-related stresses, especially in cities,” said Dr. James Shortle, lead author of the report. He cautioned that “older people and lower-income populations will be especially susceptible.”

The 2015 Climate Impacts Assessment is the second update to a report published by the Department of Environmental Protection in 2009 at the direction of the state Legislature. The 200-page assessment contains chapters by different scientists examining aspects of climate science and the likely effects on Pennsylvania. Shortle said it should be viewed as an addition to, rather than a replacement of, earlier reports.
Does Donald Gililand, the reporter of this piece, even read his own newspaper's editorial page?

Apparently not.  As he does absolutely nothing to question, mock or discredit the accepted science of climate change.  It's just weird to read this at the Trib website.   Weird.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto even makes an (unmocked) appearance:
“Climate change is upon us,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, “with real impacts on not only weather but public safety, housing, business and other facets of city life.”

That's why Pittsburgh joined the 100 Resilient Cities network and named a “chief resilience officer” this summer, Peduto said. He joined the Local Climate Leaders Circle, which will “push for climate plans on the local level during the United Nations climate talks in Paris” in December, he said.
 Of course the loyal readers of the Trib (who DO read the op-ed page) make their voices known in the pieces comments:
This "news story" is littered with so many typical liberal talking points I thought I was on the PG's website for a second
Funny thing, for a few seconds, I had the same thought.

Anyway, here's what the DEP had to say (can't wait to see how the Trib braintrust) tries to deal with it:
Pennsylvanians should prepare for dangerously high summer temperatures and more severe storms, increased threat of certain diseases carried by insects, and drastic changes to agriculture and water quality, according to a new report on the impact of climate change from Penn State University. The report was authored by Dr. James Shortle with assistance from a multidisciplinary team of colleagues at Penn State.

The Pennsylvania Climate Change Act (PCCA) (Act 70), enacted by the General Assembly in 2008, directed Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to conduct a study of the potential impacts of global climate change on Pennsylvania over the next century. This report is the second update to the original report published in 2009.

“The scientific data is clear: climate change is happening, and there will be impacts to Pennsylvania,” said Dr. James Shortle, lead author of the report. “The effects of climate change will be felt across all parts of Pennsylvania – agriculture, human health, water quality, energy, even outdoor recreation will be affected.”
My guess is that they'll quote some non climate scientist from the Heartland Institute or some economist from the Heritage Foundation to smear Michael Mann with the stolen East Anglia emails to say the whole thing's a scam.

Meanwhile, it's getting warmer out there.

August 27, 2015

New Kensington Unconstitional Monument Follow-up

Hey remember this bit of stupidity?
A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument in front of Valley Junior-Senior High School in New Kensington.

The ruling could bring an end to a three-year legal battle.

However, it does not address the underlying question of whether the monument is a prohibited government endorsement of religion or a permissible historical landmark.
The judged dismissed the case on a technicality - not on the merits of the case.

Well, the FFRF has reacted:
The Freedom From Religion Foundation and a parent of a student who challenged a Ten Commandments monument in front of a public school filed notice in court on August 25 that they will be appealing a judge's decision that they do not have standing. The religious display sits in front of Valley High School in the New Kensington-Arnold School District, which is northeast of Pittsburgh.

"This is the first step in correcting this wrong and ensuring that the public school will comply with the Constitution," said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.
Comply with the Constitution.  Take the monument down.  The case now leads to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Someday, they'll get this right.

August 26, 2015

Go team?

Feeling slightly smug that since I don't give a rat's ass about football, I don't have to support rapists, wife beaters, virulent homophobes, child abuse concealers (on the college level), or dog torturers/killers

Of course I have no choice in supporting their damn stadiums.

August 24, 2015

Colin McNickle Needs A Better Source On Birthright Citizenship

Yes, he does - if he wants to redefine the 14th Amendment.

In a recent column, McNickle discusses the amendment and comes to this question:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof (emphasis added), are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

The high court, citing not only common law but the 14th Amendment, ruled 6-2 that citizenship was guaranteed to all persons born in the United States, regardless of their heritage.

So, case closed, right? The Supreme Court ruled birthright citizenship is the law of the land for all, right? The Donald Trump argument is populist pap and for naught, right? [Italics in Original.]
To which he answers:
Well, not exactly.

The Wong case involved the child of legal resident aliens. “The Supreme Court has never ruled directly on the question of birthright citizenship for the children of illegal aliens,” wrote Lino A. Graglia, a University of Texas law professor, in a seminal 2010 white paper.
So this Lino A Graglia said that?  So who is he?

He's the guy who said (or rather wrote) this:
Finally, blacks are not in fact "underrepresented," but rather "overrepresented"--that is, their numbers are disproportionately high-in institutions of higher education once IQ scores are taken into account." In general, more than half of the students in the bottom ten percent of a school's IQ range will be black.
But let's get to back the 14th Amendment.  The House has already heard from Prof Graglia on this new fangled rewrite of that constitutional principle.  And this is what the Washington Post's Dana Millbank wrote about it - back in April:
Judiciary Committee Republicans brought in three experts to testify in support of this extraordinary maneuver (a lone Democratic witness was opposed), and they evidently had to search far and wide for people who would take this view, because they ended up with a bizarre witness: an octogenarian professor from the University of Texas named Lino Graglia.

This would be the Lino Graglia who caused a furor in 1997 when he said that Latinos and African Americans are “not academically competitive with whites” and come from a “culture that seems not to encourage achievement.” He also said at the time that “I don’t know that it’s good for whites to be with the lower classes.”

This is also the same Lino Graglia who said in a 2012 interview that black and Hispanic children are less “academically competent” than white children, and he attributed the academic gap to the “deleterious experience” of being reared by single mothers. When the interviewer, a black man, said he had a single mother, Graglia said that “my guess would be that you’re above usual smartness for whites, to say nothing of blacks.”
So does Colin McNickle really think Lino Graglia is somehow a mainstream legal thinker?

Goshers, I hope not.  If it were the case, that says a lot of uncomfortable things about Colin McNickle's thinking.

August 21, 2015

Meanwhile, Outside It's Still Getting Warmer

From NOAA's State of the Climate site:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for July 2015 was the highest for July in the 136-year period of record, at 0.81°C (1.46°F) above the 20th century average of 15.8°C (60.4°F), surpassing the previous record set in 1998 by 0.08°C (0.14°F). As July is climatologically the warmest month of the year globally, this monthly global temperature of 16.61°C (61.86°F) was also the highest among all 1627 months in the record that began in January 1880. The July temperature is currently increasing at an average rate of 0.65°C (1.17°F) per century.
And:
The first seven months of 2015 comprised the warmest such period on record across the world's land and ocean surfaces, at 0.85°C (1.53°F) above the 20th century average, surpassing the previous record set in 2010 by 0.09°C (0.16°F). Five months this year, including the past three, have been record warm for their respective months. January was the second warmest January on record and April third warmest.
It's simply getting warmer out there.  So let's keep talking birthright citizenship, ok?

August 19, 2015

Planned Parenthood Follow-up!

Hey, remember how Planned Parenthood was doing all those nasty things?  It was just a few weeks ago when a set of videos was released showing some awful stuff.  You remember, right??

From the Huffingtonpost:
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America stressed Friday that multiple investigations into its state affiliates have fallen flat, as the reproductive health organization battles allegations that it has illegally profited from fetal tissue donations for research.
Conservatives were outraged, Congress is promising to investigate. However:
A number of states followed Congress' lead, declaring investigations of their own. But many of those probes -- in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts and South Dakota -- have found area Planned Parenthood affiliates to be in full compliance with state laws and regulations.

“In every state where these investigations have concluded, officials have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing," said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement Friday. "We've said all along that Planned Parenthood follows all laws and has very high medical standards, and that's what every one of these investigations has found. This campaign by anti-abortion extremists is nothing less than a fraud, intended to deceive the public with patently false claims in order to pursue an extreme political agenda."
Was there ever any doubt about that?