Prosecute the torture.

September 30, 2009

Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh releases statement on G-20 arrests

From the Pittsburgh City Paper:
The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents reporters, photographers, copy editors and artists at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is deeply disturbed by the indiscriminate and inappropriate arrests of more than 100 protesters, bystanders and journalists on the night of Friday, Sept. 25 in Oakland.

Most disturbing is that many of those arrested were attempting to lawfully exercise their First Amendment rights of peaceful assembly and of press freedom, rights that are essential to the survival of democracy. Others were bystanders who found themselves caught between lines of police ordering them to disperse and then blocking their dispersal until they were arrested.

We recognize that the police, especially in situations such as this, have an extremely difficult job. But that fact does not give anyone the right to disregard the First Amendment.

The Newspaper Guild calls on the City of Pittsburgh to drop all charges against those who were lawfully exercising their rights as citizens and journalists, and those who were nonviolently attempting to comply with police orders but were taken to jail anyway.

Further, we call on the city to launch a full and independent investigation into the events that led to these arrests to ensure that such a debacle does not happen again in the name of law enforcement.

Amen, brothers and sisters
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September 29, 2009

More Wingnut Crazie

No, not JOSEPH FARAH's wingnut crazie. This time the wingnut crazie's coming from Newsmax.com.

Rest assured, we'll still post JOSEPH FARAH's wingnut crazie as often as we chose to, but that doesn't preclude posting crazie from other wingnut sources.

Newsmax, or at least John L. Perry, has posted a column there titled:
Obama Risks a Domestic Military ‘Intervention’
Though Perry is verry careful:

There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America’s military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the “Obama problem.” Don’t dismiss it as unrealistic.

America isn’t the Third World. If a military coup does occur here it will be civilized. That it has never happened doesn’t mean it wont. Describing what may be afoot is not to advocate it. [emphasis added]
BUT they go on (of course they do):
Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.

Military intervention is what Obama’s exponentially accelerating agenda for “fundamental change” toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama’s radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.

As John Aravosis at Americablog writes:
This is beyond the pale. If the Democrats don't step up and shut this kind of talk down right now, I fear we are going to see violence in this country. And yes, it will be the Republicans' fault. But it will also be the fault of the Democratic party for watching the crazy talk grow, and not doing a thing to stand up to it. At some point, silence abets.
Wingnut Crazie. It's everywhere.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall posts this:
The author, John L. Perry, claims not to be 'advocating', only describing what he says is already being considered and is the best option available. But give it a read and you be the judge.

And just so we're totally clear, no, I'm not expecting any military coups. This is just one more nugget to add to the backdrop list of incitement now coming from the right.
Can we add treason?

UPDATE, ANOTHER: The Perry column has been taken down.

UPDATE, AND ANOTHER From Talking Points Memo:

As noted earlier, Newsmax appears to have taken down its article endorsing a potential military coup as the only way to solve the "Obama problem". But here's the full text of the article as it originally appeared.

As noted previously, the article not only endorsed the idea but seemed to suggest that top military brass were also planning or actively considering such an option.
Late Update: Newsmax is now distancing itself from Perry's column and they've sent us a statement to that effect.

Later Update: Let me just add a little more on this. As you can see, the angle Newsmax is taking on this is to suggest that Perry doesn't really have anything to do with them, that he's just an "unpaid blogger." Now I think we all understand that there are many sites -- Kos, Redstate, even TPM -- where readers are allowed to set up their own blogs or diaries and write their own stuff. These are essentially discussion areas. And it's a cheap shot when someone finds some nutty diary on Kos and says DailyKos published such and such. Newsmax is claiming that that's what's happening here. But we've taken a close look. And I think it's clear that that is not true. Perry has written a weekly column for the site going back to at least 1999. And he's prominently listed on the bio page of all Newsmax columnists, along with Dick Morris, Dr. Laura, Grover Norquist, Lanny Davis, Michael Reagan, Rep. Ernest Istook, etc. (You can see the page we're referring to here; scroll down and look for the red arrow on the left.) We'll have more for you on this shortly.

Stay tuned.

Mad as Hell Doctors Roadshow comes to Pittsburgh TODAY

From http://www.madashelldoctors.com:


10 DOCTORS - 28 CITIES - 18 STATES - 30 DAYS

1 MESSAGE: “SINGLE PAYER NOW!”

FROM OREGON TO PITTSBURGH AND THEN ON TO THE WHITE HOUSE!

THIS “CARE-A-VAN” OF DOCTORS IS TRAVELING ACROSS THE COUNTRY DEMANDING SINGLE-PAYER FROM THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS.

“We’re mad as hell because our health care system is run by people who profit from illness”, says Dr. Paul Hochfeld, “The rest of the civilized world has test driven single payer and it works. But elected officials in America won’t even allow a discussion.”

THE “MAD AS HELL DOCTORS” WILL BE IN PITTSBURGH FOR A TOWN HALL MEETING

WHAT: TOWN HALL MEETING
WHEN: TUESDAY, SEPT. 29TH, 7 PM
WHERE: At the Letter Carriers Union Hall, (Branch 84), 841 California Avenue, on the North Side.(On California Ave. between Brighton Rd. and the large Post Office Facility, parking lot plus off-street parking available.)

REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED

http://www.madashelldoctors.com/

Sponsored in Pittsburgh by the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Single Payer Healthcare

For more information: 412-371-6650
http://www.wpasinglepayer.org/

Get Mad. Stay Mad. Make History

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Tony Norman on the G20 Police Response.

Tony Norman writes:
"As a group, the police responded admirably," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said resisting the urge to identify with people close to his age, but more diminished in power and stature. Mr. Ravenstahl couldn't afford to acknowledge what anyone with access to YouTube can see with their own eyes -- that there was a full-scale breakdown in public order on the part of the cops. The images of the brutal assault on Pitt students and passers-by caught up in an indiscriminate and chaotic police sweep at the University of Pittsburgh on Friday night will surely be a cautionary tale to the next American mayor silly enough to consider hosting a G-20 summit
I'll say it again. Luke Ravenstahl owns this.

September 28, 2009

Questions and comments on the use of force by Pittsburgh Police around the G-20 Summit

1. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano named the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh a "National Special Security Event" (NSSE). What were the parameters of this event? When did it officially end? Did the event only extend to the secured areas around the convention center or did it include the Oakland neighborhood and the rest of Pittsburgh?

2. The City of Pittsburgh availed itself of thousands of non Pittsburgh Police, state police, National Guard and the Coast Guard. Exactly when did their employment by the City end?

3. The City of Pittsburgh used a Long Range Acoustic Device (know as a sound cannon) at last week's G20 protests ("the first time the sound cannon had been used publicly" or should that be against the public --US citizens on US soil). Did we purchase this device or was it rented? Who covers the cost of this new weaponry and will it be available to Pittsburgh Police in the future?

4. Does the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Police have a policy in place regarding when such weaponry as rubber bullets and sound cannons can be used? For example, if an officer tells me that I'm loitering and I don't move fast enough, can the officer shoot me with rubber bullets before arresting me?

5. The Pittsburgh Police issued a release regarding their activities on Friday evening in Oakland stating:

Further information was received throughout the day that individuals were purchasing numerous BIC lighters and asking if lighter fluid could be purchased. There is nothing to link the purchase of lighters to any activity, however the concerns of the PBP was heightened by the request for lighter fluid.
Has there been independent corroboration of this? How many individuals were
involved and how many lighters? (You can buy them in packs of ten at numerous stores -- it's cheaper that way).

6. According to most accounts, on Friday evening there were more police at Schenley Plaza than protesters. If that's the case, why weren't all those arrested for failure to disperse arrested at Schenley Plaza? How far does one need to disperse to to officially disperse?

7. Schenley Plaza is situated on a main Pittsburgh City street directly by restaurants, bars, stores, museums and a major college campus -- an area used by students and non students alike. The police gave the Order to Disperse at 10:42PM on a Friday evening. Arrests were made along at least a few blocks on Forbes Ave. How would it be possible that people not attending the rally at Schenley Plaza would not have been swept up in the melee?

8. Police enter Pitt Quad at Pitt Dorms. There is no protest activity occurring there. They order people to "go home" when this is their home. Bizarrely, while ordering them to go home, they do not allow them to enter the dorms. Video here.

9. Police enter the Pitt dorms. They tell students that they will be kicked out of college if they leave the dorm. Video here. I believe that these are the freshman dorms. So that would be dorms occupied largely by 18-year olds, away from home for the first time, and only at college for about a month.

Or to think of it another way, you are a resident of an apartment building and are in the foyer. The police come into the foyer and tell you if you leave the building, you will be arrested.

10. While the police order everyone on at least three blocks of Forbes to disperse and "go home," not only are police blocking entrances to the publics' homes, the doors to their homes are locked. Were there orders issued to lock the dorms? If so, who gave those orders? Who actually locked the doors?

11. The University of Pittsburgh issued warnings to students (via phone messages) on the 25th:

Pitt students were advised to stay inside last night, and many have received alerts from the university via voicemail or text messages.

Junior Sean Malloy said he received a phone message saying, "conditions may be deteriorating in Oakland. Students are advised to remain near their residences."

Notice that the warning said "near" and not "in." Near would have included the Quad, the great lawn -- and yes -- Schenley Plaza.

12. Any Pitt student who was outside in the heart of Oakland (very near their dorms) on an otherwise pleasant Friday evening would have been faced with tear gas, rubber bullets, arresting officers and locked entrance to their homes.

13. If Pitt students were arrested, they will face a Judiciary Board that holds the power to suspend, expel or recommend community service.

14. Pitt students weren't the only ones arrested. Notably members of the local mainstream print media and independent media were also arrested. Interestingly enough, while some media members did get caught up in tear gas at earlier protests, none seem to have been arrested until after the G-20 pulled out and members of the big national and international media had left. More importantly, not only were they arrested, but they had their video confiscated/destroyed by the police according to this claim:



Is that legal?
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World Net Daily Tidbit

Take a look at this screen capture:

I snagged it about 7:10 this morning.

Notice anything, well, ODD about it?

For those who don't know, WND is one of the main sources for the "Obama isn't an American Citizen" myth. So look at the ad in the bottom left corner.

Click the ad and it leads back to this page. Where it says:
Smears claiming Barack Obama doesn’t have a birth certificate aren’t actually about that piece of paper — they’re about manipulating people into thinking Barack is not an American citizen.

The truth is, Barack Obama was born in the state of Hawaii in 1961, a native citizen of the United States of America.

Next time someone talks about Barack’s birth certificate, make sure they see this page.
I wonder if Joseph Farah knows about this. I wonder how much money they're making off that google ad.

September 27, 2009

Jack Kelly Sunday

Jack Kelly, in this week's column, writes about Manuel Zelaya, Honduras and the coup:
It was no coup, our Congressional Research Service said in a recent analysis. The army was acting on a warrant issued by the Supreme Court at the request of the attorney general, which was supported by an overwhelming majority of the Honduran Congress. The army immediately turned power over to a civilian selected in a constitutionally approved manner. It was Mr. Zelaya who had attempted the coup.
First off (a teensy bit of fact checking here), it was the Law Library of Congress (and not the Congressional Research Service) that did the analysis. Who says? The Wall Street Journal On-line:
A study on Honduras law and the recent removal of President Manuel Zelaya was done by the Law Library of Congress. This column attributed the study to the Congressional Research Service, based on information provided by the office of Congressman Aaron Schock (R., Ill.). A spokesman for Mr. Schock says the Congressman commissioned the study from CRS, which passed the request on to the Law Library, which also does research for Congress.
Very very very minor point, I admit. Jack gets a bigger point wrong however. The Miami Herald reports:
The military officers who rushed deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya out of the country Sunday committed a crime but will be exonerated for saving the country from mob violence, the army's top lawyer said.

In an interview with The Miami Herald and El Salvador's elfaro.net, army attorney Col. Herberth Bayardo Inestroza acknowledged that top military brass made the call to forcibly remove Zelaya -- and they circumvented laws when they did it.

It was the first time any participant in Sunday's overthrow admitted committing an offense and the first time a Honduran authority revealed who made the decision that has been denounced worldwide.

A larger point that Jack got wrong. At the very least he should have noted that "the top legal advisor for the Honduran armed forces" (as Herald calls him) admits the military broke the law AND made the call for Zelaya's ouster.

But I don't want to talk about Honduras. I want to talk about the last few paragraphs Jack tucks into the end of his column. Here they are:
The reputation among his supporters that Barack Obama has for being a really, really smart guy is based chiefly on the first of his two autobiographies, "Dreams From My Father," published in 1995, which admirers and critics of Mr. Obama agree is beautifully written.

I received a lot of hate mail last fall when I wrote a column about Jack Cashill's suspicions that Mr. Obama received substantial help in writing the book from former Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers, a neighbor in Chicago's Hyde Park.

In his new book "Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage," celebrity journalist Christopher Andersen writes that at Michelle's urging, Barack did solicit help from Mr. Ayers.

"In the end, Ayers' contributions to Barack's Dreams From My Father would be significant," Mr. Anderson said, "so much so that the book's language, oddly specific references, literary devices and themes would bear a jarring similarity to Ayers' own writing."

This is the column Jack's referring to. Andersen's book, writes Jack, is independent corroboration for Cashill's story and thus a solid refutation to the hate mail Jack received.

Not so fast, bucco.

Let's take a look at what Andersen says about the Ayer-Obama connection. Luckily, there's an excerpt to be found at mediamatters.org:
In the end, Ayers's contribution of Barack's Dreams from My Father would be significant -- so much so that the book's language, oddly specific references, literary devices, and themes would bear a jarring similiarity to Ayers's own writings. Even the caveat at the beginning of Dreams, in which Barack points out that he uses invented dialogue, embellished facts, composite characters, inaccurate chronology, and pseudonyms to create an "approximation" of reality, resembles Ayers's defense of the inaccuracies in his memoir Fugitive Days. In the foreword to his book, Ayers states that the book is merely a collection of his personal memories and "impressions."

"There was a good deal of literary back-scratching going on in Hyde Park," said writer Jack Cashill, who noted that a mutual friend of Barack and Ayers, Rashid Khalidi, thanked Ayers for helping him with his book Resurrecting Empire. Ayers, explained Cashill, "provided an informal editing service for like-minded friends in the neighborhood." [emphasis added.]

In case you missed it, Andersen cites Cashill. Something Jack didn't tell you. As David Weigel of the Washington Independent writes:
According to Cashill, Andersen’s contribution to the Ayers storyline is the recollection of “a Hyde Park neighbor” who claims that Obama, struggling with the book, gave “oral histories, along with a partial manuscript and a truckload of notes” to Ayers and asked for advice. Any author or anyone who knows an author is probably chuckling at this point — passing unfinished portions to colleagues with some time and experience is pretty standard.

If you take Andersen on his word, it’s true that this anecdote portrays Ayers and Obama as closer friends than they let on during the campaign. But it’s a big leap from there to Cashill’s characterization of “the Obama-as-Milli Vanilli story.” Indeed, Andersen doesn’t even report that story out. He writes that “Ayers’ contribution to Barack’s ‘Dreams From My Father’ would be significant – so much so that the book’s language, oddly specific references, literary devices and themes would bear a jarring similarity to Ayers’s own writing.” For that analysis he cites Cashill...
Weigel also asks David Freddoso, the author of "The Case Against Barack Obama" for a quote. Here it is:
Cashill’s stuff on this was a lot of crap, all conjecture and no concrete evidence.
I know I'm just a balding blogger who makes no money blogging and not a real-life honest-to-goodness paid-with-real-money newspaper columnist, but can someone please explain to me how a book that cites the now-debunked research can be used as corroboration for that debunked research?

Sorry Jack. Not good enough. Cashill's still wrong and so are you.

Scenes From Luke Ravenstahl's Pittsburgh

From the AP:
Police used all the nonlethal tools at their disposal to thwart protesters at the Group of 20 summit this week, firing bean bags, hurling canisters of smoke and pepper spray, using flash-bang grenades and batons and deploying a high-tech sound-blasting device meant to push back crowds.

It was all a bit much for civil liberties groups and protesters.

They decried what they called a heavy-handed and unwarranted police response, saying riot officers focused on largely peaceful, if unsanctioned, demonstrations when they should have been paying more attention to small groups of vandals that smashed windows of city businesses.

"It's not just intimidation, it's disruption and in some cases outright prevention of peaceful protesters being able to get their message out," said Witold "Vic" Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "In a week when we need freedom of speech more than ever, free speech died in Pittsburgh this week."

This is what happened Friday night:

Post-Gazette reporter Sadie Gurman, 24, was among those arrested on the Pitt Cathedral of Learning lawn.

"I was arrested on the cathedral lawn while truly trying to get out of the fray," she said.

Ms. Gurman said she had gone to Schenley Plaza because of news alerts she received on her cell phone. At Schenley Plaza, she was talking with colleagues and others she had met while covering G-20 events. In the plaza, she said there was one person on a loudspeaker. Others were standing around talking, running or playing games, such as duck-duck-goose. She estimated the number of civilians in the plaza at about 200.

Much of the plaza was flanked by police officers.

"There was definitely an energy that was very ominous at that point," she said. Even as police ordered the crowd to disperse, Ms. Gurman said some people in the plaza stayed and chanted, "You're sexy, you're cute, take off your riot suit."

Ms. Gurman said she left the plaza and went onto Forbes Avenue.

"I was trying to move in a way that would not be in their perimeter. I was walking on Forbes toward Craig Street to get out of it. Another police van pulled up. Additional officers in riot gear jumped out and said to 'move back, move back' and were pushing us the opposite direction back toward Bigelow."

She went that direction and ended up having to jump over bushes on the Cathedral lawn to get out of the way of police.

"I thought I was OK there. The cops jumped over the bushes, too," she said.

She said a helicopter was overhead. With the cathedral behind a group of people, the police made a half circle and ordered people to lie down on the ground.

"Some of the girls were hugging each other and crying, saying to the police, 'Tell us how we can get out of here peacefully. We don't want to be here, but you've trapped us.' "

She estimated about 30 people were put into a police vehicle. She was released about 10 hours after her arrest.

The story seems to be the same that night:
Tracy Hickey, an 18-year-old freshman, said she had been arrested while watching the protest as an off-duty ACLU legal observer.

When she realized that many of those being ordered to disperse had "nowhere to disperse to," she saidheld open the door to a dormitory, ushering a crowd of screaming students into the residence. She said police then arrested her.

And:
Peter Shell, co-chair of the Thomas Merton Center's antiwar committee, said he had gone to Oakland Friday night to celebrate the day's successful and peaceful People's March to the G-20, which his organization had sponsored.

When police made Mr. Shell leave Schenley Plaza, he was forced onto the Cathedral of Learning lawn. When he tried to leave via Fifth Avenue, he was surrounded, trapped and arrested, he said.

"We tried going left, we tried going forward, we tried going right," he said. "We wanted to disperse and they did not let us disperse."

Trapped. Tear-gassed. Then arrested.

Mayor Ravenstahl owns this. All of it. Every rubber bullet that hit someone's back or someone's face. Every protester humiliated for a group photo:

This is all Luke's now.

September 25, 2009

This Is What I Mean - WTF


Things to note:
  • 0:17 Baton strike to the groin.
  • 0:28 The Hug - did he think the armed and armored police wouldn't pounce?
  • 1:08 Stupid use of a dumpster - tell me how that's not going to piss off the guys with the night sticks.
  • 1:53 The police in military fatigues.
  • 2:39 The police corner some Pitt students in a stairwell AND THEN TEAR GAS THEM.
  • 5:29 The stupids attacking a Quiznos.
  • 6:43 The P-G's Dennis Roddy gets gassed.
  • 7:02 Number on the canister: 6240a OC.
  • 8:42 The young woman (can't be more than 100 pounds) being smacked down by the police in full riot gear - tell me what sort of threat did she pose?

Teh Crazie Continues

In Texas (of course).

According to Talkingpointsmemo:

A new birther infomercial running on a CBS affiliate in Texas and elsewhere around the country tells viewers a "got a birth certificate?" bumper sticker can be theirs for the low price of $30.

The 28-minute program -- quite possibly the first ever birthermercial -- features community access production values, heavy use of foreboding strings soundtrack, and standard-issue Birther ideology.

For a $30 contribution, viewers also get a fax sent in their name to the 50 state attorneys general and Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that President Obama produce his real birth certificate.

And you thought things were messed up in Pittsburgh.

UPDATE: TPM has an update. The "birther infomercial" is running in 7 States:
  • Chattanoga, TN
  • Memphis, TN
  • Shreveport, LA
  • Springfield, MO
  • Abilene, TX
  • Lubbock, TX
  • Macon, GA
  • Savannah, GA
  • Huntsville, AL
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Tallahasseee, FL
Is it any wonder that that "infomercial" is playing in the South? Where less than half of the population actually believes that the President is a natural born citizen?

Blackwashing!


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Peoples' March to the G-20 (Today! Nonviolent and permitted!)



Peoples' March to the G-20
Friday, Sept. 25 - Pittsburgh, PA
5th & Craft Avenues, Oakland
Nonviolent and permitted

•12:00 pm – 5th & Craft Avenues in Oakland: Opening Rally, then a march down Fifth Avenue to the City-County Building downtown.

•2:30pm – Rally at the City-County Building, then a march down 5th Ave, across the 7th St. bridge, to East Park on the North Side.

•4:00pm – Closing rally at East Park.

More info here.
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We're all Ray Liotta tonight

...At least on Pittsburgh's South Side.

Can someone PLEASE shut up the damn G-20 helicopters?

Not work safe:

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYSQousgIzc)


US Out Of Pgh!
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September 24, 2009

WTF

I mean, WTF.

Only in Pittsburgh: A Penguins Rally Breaks Out in the Middle of a G20 Riot (Updated 1X)

Only in Pittsburgh


In the middle of this:


You have this:

On my teevee I could also see a guy waving a replica Stanley Cup.

(h/t to Spork for finding Pens banner photo)


UPDATE: More


(h/t EmptyNetters blog)


(h/t The Big Story blog. Yeah, that's The Daily Show)

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MSNBC showing Pittsburgh G-20 protesters being gassed (Updated 1X)

Turn on your TV.

UPDATE:

Now on local channels.

P-G article here.

The Return of Fort Pitt


Practically every other piece at the Post-Gazette's The Big Story" blog paints Fort Pitt most of downtown Pittsburgh as a ghost town -- with the exception of a massive police presence. I know if I were visiting downtown Pittsburgh for the G-20 today from out of town (or out of country), I wouldn't exactly be getting the warm & fuzzies from scenes like these:






Apparently, I'm not alone as a Russian native has remarked the following about our police state fair city:
Hours after his arrival here, he also remains amused -- or bemused -- by the security precautions he witnessed Downtown and the check-in route he experienced while walking and shuttling by bus between the Omni William Penn Hotel Downtown to the Mellon Arena for security screening and back Downtown to the convention center. The only thing he's ever experienced that was more efficient, he said in jest, was a failed coup d'etat in his native country.
The Infinonymous blog has a funny take on how other nations may be viewing da Burgh today:

If Emulation Is The Highest Form Of Flattery, Singapore's Secret Police Must Be Blushing

Some might find Pittsburghers' outside-looking-in status to their own city mirrored in a secluded group of twenty deciding the financial fate of the world.

Just saying...

(Crossposted @ Post-Gazette G20)

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Meanwhile, Over at The Trib...

With all the attention being focussed on the G20 stuff going on dahntahn, I still wanted to make sure to keep an eye on the Trib's editorial board. Make sure they didn't slip something in under the radar.

But if you're looking for G20 coverage, go check out Potter's Slag Heap or Pittsburgh Indymedia or even the P-G. Looks like things are, thankfully, peaceful. In fact Schmitz, Roddy, Templeton, et al. posted on the calm at 12:27 this afternoon:
Downtown Pittsburgh was quiet, almost eerily so, today, with street closures and a massive police presence, but no private vehicles and not many pedestrians.
Bram (of the Pittsburgh Comet) spent sometime dahntahn today and in an e-mail to be wrote that:
Downtown is boring ass hell. Bicyclists kind of have it made, but for the most part its troops and troops of bored looking security officers.

There were a pair of small protests together, Save Ethiopia and Save Burma, but nothing radical. It's just quiet and boring and IMPOSSIBLE to get from point A to point B. Even the security officials are confused and run into dead ends all the time.
(UPDATE: Obviously things on the ground have changed.)

In the meantime, Richard Mellon Scaife's brain-trust/editorial board was up to its old tricks. Take a look:
The first casualty of "climate change" rhetoric continues to be the truth.

Take, for instance, President Obama's speech to the United Nations on Tuesday. Myron Ebell, the noted director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, documents at least four misrepresentations:

Interesting how Scaife's crew continues to project it's own bias onto that which it criticizes. But let's start with Ebell. While the board takes care to note that Ebell is "noted" they don't actually say what he's noted for - other than being a policy director for the CEI.

Did you know that Ebell isn't a scientist? How do I know that? It says so in a Vanity Fair artcle about him published in 2007:
Though he likes to bash scientists for working outside their degreed fields, Ebell, it turns out, isn't a scientist at all. He majored in philosophy at the University of California in San Diego, then studied political theory at the London School of Economics and history at Cambridge
And how do we know that Vanity Fair got it right? A few paragraphs later the article quotes Ebell:
"I'm not claiming to be a climate authority the way Jim Hansen is, or Robert Corell," says Ebell. "Every interview I do, when I'm asked about scientific issues, I say I'm not a climate scientist."
And this is the guy Scaife's brain-trust is using to counter climate science - setting aside, of course, the fact that the CEI is yet another conservative funded think tanks.

But let's look at Ebell's specific charges. The Trib writes:
The president said the threat is "serious," "urgent" and "growing." But Mr. Ebell notes that global mean temperatures increased only slightly from 1977 to 2000 and have been "flat" since then.
Now take a look at what actual real honest to goodness scientists at NASA have to say:
Calendar year 2008 was the coolest year since 2000, according to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies analysis of surface air temperature measurements. In our analysis, 2008 is the ninth warmest year in the period of instrumental measurements, which extends back to 1880. The ten warmest years all occur within the 12-year period 1997-2008. The two-standard-deviation (95% confidence) uncertainty in comparing recent years is estimated as 0.05°C, so we can only conclude with confidence that 2008 was somewhere within the range from 7th to 10th warmest year in the record.
But things haven't been warming. Let's look at some data. Here's a chart from NASA:

I guess "slightly" to Ebell and The Trib translates to about .5 of a degree Celsius. But look at that last decade. It DOES look like it's "leveled off" doesn't it?? Left out of The Trib's spin is what NASA said, that the 10 warmest years on record all occurred after 1997.

Leveled off? Perhaps, hotter than ever? Definitely.

The scientists at NASA said so. The philosophy major at the oil company funded think-tank disagrees. Who would you trust?

Franco Dok Harris Joins Kevin Acklin In Airing TV Ads

I was surprised while watching MSNBC this morning to see a campaign ad for Franco Dok Harris. For a couple of seconds, I thought that I was watching a local news report until I realized that I had switched from local news to cable.

Here it is:


I did receive a press release from the Acklin campaign (specifically from Chad Hermann, Communications Director) two days ago stating that Acklin purchased the first TV ad buy of the fall campaign, but I haven't actually seen his ad on the air yet (you can view it here).

Luke, your turn.


Campaign Web Sites:
http://www.harrisforpittsburgh.com
http://www.acklinforpittsburgh.com
http://lukeformayor.com
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September 23, 2009

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco

. . . this ain't no fooling around


From the P-G:
Witold Walczak, the legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said, "It's hard to imagine a situation where a peaceful group that makes food . . . could attract this much firepower and police attention and not be harassment," he said.

What Walczak is referring to is a pattern of harassment by law enforcement against not only G-20 demonstrators, but those who would support them. And, the summit hasn't even started.

The Pennsylvania branch of the ACLU is documenting "problems G-20 protestors have encountered with law enforcement in Pittsburgh" here and Chris Potter's Slag Heap blog has also been doing yeoman's work on this issue as well.

Unfortunately, a judge has ruled in favor of City (over the people) albeit noting during his ruling:

But, he continued, "To be clear, we are not here to determine if constitutional violations have occurred," Judge Lancaster said.

Further, he said, that that while the complaint does not warrant injunctive relief, the plaintiffs can still seek monetary damages.

This, I'm afraid, will also be another pattern we'll see much of this week. A trampling of rights with the advice to seek redress later -- after the world is no longer watching.

[sigh]

Crossposted at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette G20 site.
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Protect Our Insurance Companies!


Do the right thing.

September 22, 2009

Pod Camp Announcement

Just wanted to let everyone know that I'll be giving a non-political talk on "political blogging" at this year's PodCamp.

We may touch on some on-line activism but we'll mainly be talking about how to analyze political spin.

See you there.

PA Rep. Daryl Metcalfe and domestic violence as a family value


First, PA Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) killed a simple resolution proclaiming October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month because he said, "it has a homosexual agenda.” You can read the full resolution here. Can anyone else find anything remotely like a "homosexual agenda" within it?

Later that same day he opposed a measure to increase marriage license fees from $3 to $28 with the extra $25 to be allotted to a fund for victims of domestic abuse because he claimed that it was "a slap in the face to family values":
Rep. Darryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, expressed opposition by noting that the extra money would not flow to the state court system, but instead help the Department of Public Welfare assist victims of domestic violence.

"Asking people to pay a 700 percent increase on their marriage license fee so that domestic violence organizations across the state can access more money from the state ... is a slap in the face to family values and to individuals who actually want to enter into the institution of marriage," said Metcalfe said, according to Capitolwire.com.
Again, the mind boggles.

This is not Metcalfe's first controversy. Last year, he raised the ire of many when before a vote on a resolution to recognize the 60th annual convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community he said on the House floor, "The Muslims do not recognize Jesus Christ as God, and I will be voting negative."

This is also not the first time that Metcalfe has appeared in a post at 2pj. Back in 2005, Metcalfe was demanding that all voters present a photo ID at the polls.

But my favorite moment for this "God, Guns & Gays" Republican occurred on PCNC's Night Talk program. Metcalfe said on the show that he "chose heterosexuality." (If only the host had asked him what he was before he chose to be heterosexual...)

If you believe that there should be a vote on the resolution recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month and that Metcalfe should apologize for his insensitive remarks, you can take action at Keystone Progress.
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Torture.

The AP is reporting:
A new scientific paper asserts that the CIA's harsh interrogation program likely damaged the brain and memory functions of terrorist suspects, diminishing their ability to provide the detailed information the spy agency sought.

The paper, published Monday in the scientific journal "Trends in Cognitive Science: Science and Society," says the harsh techniques used by the CIA under the Bush administration were biologically counterproductive to eliciting quality information.

The report says extreme stress, the kind caused by the extended use of waterboarding — a form of simulated drowning used on three CIA prisoners — can also cause suspects to make up and believe false memories, a phenomena known as confabulation.
Newsweek has more:
Scientists do not pretend to know, in any individual case, whether torture might extract useful information. But as neurobiologist Shane O'Mara of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience in Dublin explains in a paper in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciencecalled "Torturing the Brain," "the use of such techniques appears motivated by a folk psychology that is demonstrably incorrect. Solid scientific evidence on how repeated and extreme stress and pain affect memory and executive functions (such as planning or forming intentions) suggests these techniques are unlikely to do anything other than the opposite of that intended by coercive or 'enhanced' interrogation."
They may actually cause the torturer to believe a false memory:
These neurochemical effects set the stage for two serious pitfalls of interrogation under torture, argues O'Mara. The first is that "information presented by the captor to elicit responses during interrogation may inadvertently become part of the suspect's memory, especially since suspects are under extreme stress and are required to tell and retell the same events which may have happened over a period of years." As a result, information produced by the suspect may parrot or embellish suggestions from the interrogators rather than revealing something both truthful and unknown to the interrogators. Second, cortisol-induced damage to the prefrontal cortex can cause confabulation, or false memories. Because a person being tortured loses the ability to distinguish between true and false memories, as a 2008 study showed, further pain and stress does not cause him to tell the truth, but to retreat further into a fog where he cannot tell true from false.
More reason why torture is stupid.

September 20, 2009

Jack Kelly Sunday

Coming, as we are, one week after a column that got pulled from the P-G website for being, well let's be honest, misleading, Jack Kelly is probably the last person on Earth who should be criticizing anyone for being, well...um...y'know, misleading.

But he does. In this week's column. In it he defends Joe Wilson.

I kid you not. In all fairness, I should point out that Jack was not defending the act of yelling "You lie!" in a crowded (Congressional) House. He begins:

Democrats in the House of Representatives and a handful of Republicans last week voted to formally rebuke Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., for shouting "You lie!" during President Barack Obama's address to a joint session of Congress Sept. 9. Mr. Wilson's outburst came after the president said illegal immigrants were not included in his health-care plan.

This was a mistake.

It was also against the House rules of decorum, but that's another discussion completely.

Here's the crux of Jack's assertion that the president was being deceptive:
There is a sentence in the House version of the Obamacare bill that would deny government-provided health insurance to illegal aliens. But the bill also would forbid health-care providers from checking immigration status, rendering the prohibition unenforceable.
And here's factcheck.org:
Obama was correct when he said his plan wouldn’t insure illegal immigrants; the House bill expressly forbids giving subsidies to those who are in the country illegally. Conservative critics complain that the bill lacks an enforcement mechanism, but that hardly makes the president a liar.
Hmmm...factcheck.org vs a columnist who's lack of veracity has already resulted in his main paper pulling a column off its website.

It all revolves around something called an "affordability credit." What are affordability credits? Here's an answer from politifact.org:
These are tax credits for people of modest means need to buy health insurance. The credits would help them buy insurance on a national health insurance exchange. The bill specifically says that people in the United States illegally are not eligible for tax credits, on page 132, section 242.
So they're tax credits. As in: people who pay taxes (presumably income and/or wage taxes) could then apply for a credit and get some of that money back to help paying for the insurance. Tell me how many illegal aliens could apply for a credit from the IRS? As factcheck explains further:
The House bill contains a section (Sec. 246) titled "NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS," which states: "Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States."

However, conservative critics object to a lack of specific enforcement measures in the bill. They argue that the lack of a specific verification mechanism constitutes a loophole that would allow illegal immigrants to get benefits despite the legal prohibition. Republican Rep. Dean Heller of Nevada proposed an amendment to the bill that would have required the use of the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program to check the citizenship of anyone applying for federal coverage or affordability credits. SAVE is the program used by Medicaid and similar entitlement programs. That amendment was voted down along party lines by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Republicans have a point here: More could be done to enforce the ban. But it’s worth remembering that, as a spokesperson for the American Immigration Lawyers Association told us, attempting to get a health care credit would have legal repercussions. "Making a fraudulent claim to an entitlement program when you’re not actually entitled to it would have serious consequences for any person," the spokesperson told us, "but especially if it’s considered a false claim to citizenship, that would have serious immigration consequences that could ultimately lead to deportation."
Now look again at what Jack wrote. Silly, isn't it? Misleading, isn't it? Despite the spanking Jack obviously took last week, nothing's changed, has it?

Elsewhere in the piece, Jack relies on Calvin Woodward and Erica Werner of the AP as "Fact Checkers," I should point out what Woodward and Werner have to say about Joe Wilson's claim that the president lied:
OBAMA: "The reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally." One congressman, South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson, shouted "You lie!" from his seat in the House chamber when Obama made this assertion. Wilson later apologized.

THE FACTS: The facts back up Obama. The House version of the health care bill explicitly prohibits spending any federal money to help illegal immigrants get health care coverage. Illegal immigrants could buy private health insurance, as many do now, but wouldn't get tax subsidies to help them. Still, Republicans say there are not sufficient citizenship verification requirements to ensure illegal immigrants are excluded from benefits they are not due.[emphasis added.]

Ouch. That one's gotta sting.

And yet Jack's column is titled "Joe Wilson was right." How?

Post-Gazette G-20 Mini Site

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has set up a web site devoted solely to the upcoming G-20. You can find it at:

http://www.pgpremium.com/g20/


You'll notice that there's a tab on the site for G-20 blogs and I've just put up my first post there.

I'll be blogging both there and here for this week.
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Carrie Prejean: "A bigger crown in heaven for me"


From TPM:
A touching Value Voters Summit moment, as Carrie Prejean, the former Miss California, recalled her controversial night at the Miss USA pageant: "Even though I didn't win the crown that night, I know that the Lord has so much of a bigger crown in heaven for me."
Well, isn't that special?
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September 18, 2009

Your body is a battleground


Barbara Kruger, 1989


  • Health insurance companies say that victims of domestic violence have a "pre-existing condition" and deny coverage.

  • Republicans ensured that health insurance companies could continue the above practice.

  • Pregnancy is also considered a pre-existing condition.

  • Ever had a Caesarean-section pregnancy? This is also considered a pre-existing condition by many insurers who refuse to cover women who have ever had the procedure.

  • Anti-choicers boycott the Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure (the largest breast cancer charity in the world) and call it a "menace to women," because SGK does not warn women about the (nonexistent) "abortion/breast cancer connection" and because SKG grants local Planned Parenthood clinics support for breast cancer screening for poor women.

  • The "Personhood" movement promoting constitutional rights for fertilized eggs gets a fresh shot in the arm with ballot initiatives gearing up in Florida and renewing efforts in Colorado and Montana.

  • Personhood amendments aim not to just ban all abortions, but also attempt to make many forms of contraception (including oral contraceptives and the morning after pill) illegal.

    So ladies, DO NOT: survive abuse, get pregnant, try not to get pregnant, have a C-section, try to prevent breast cancer -- oh hell -- just don't be a woman.

  • _________________________________________________________________
    UPDATE: Welcome, Crooks And Liars readers.
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    September 17, 2009

    We'll stop calling them racists when they stop being racists

    .
    Rush calls for segregated busing.
    .

    RIP Mary Travers



    RIP Mary Travers
    1936 - 2009

    .

    I Guess They Pulled Jack Kelly's Column

    Yesterday, I wasn't sure what had happened to Jack Kelly's most recent column. Now I have a better idea. It's my understanding the column was pulled off-line. It was on-line Sunday at the Post-Gazette and by Wednesday, it was gone.

    Matt Hogue (of the Pittsburgh Hoagie) posted this comment on my blog post:
    I was told by someone on the PG Editorial board that it was pulled.

    Jack Kelly also sent me the following E-mail:

    "I phrased the sentence poorly. I wanted to convey that it was the Rodney King riots that radicalized him. We've issued a correction."
    The sentence Jack admits to phrasing poorly is this one:
    Mr. Jones was arrested during the rioting in Los Angeles in 1992 that followed the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King.
    If he was aiming to show what radicalized Jones, he was way way off. But this is not the place to rehash Jack's column. I did that already. On Sunday. And then they pulled the column off the website.

    Not sure how rare pulling a column is in newspaper columnist-ville, but I suspect it doesn't happen often. Usually they post a correction and move on. This time they yanked the whole thing.

    Should I be gloating now? Not sure.

    So why did they pull the column off the P-G's site? Who knows? Could it be they pulled it because it had more errors than usual? Could it be that they're suddenly more sensitive to charges that they don't fact-check Jack? I don't know for sure but let's hope so.

    And if my blog posting played some small part in this, then I am gratified beyond belief. Having a column at a major metropolitan newspaper does not give anyone the authority to make stuff up or to otherwise spread unfounded rumors as truth. As the man said, you're entitled to your own opinion but you're not entitled to your own facts. Holding a columnist's feet to the fire and demanding his (or her) "facts" more or less conform to reality is a good thing. A necessary thing. A thing to be done more often regardless of political the columnist's ideology.

    Perhaps NOW Jack will check his sources a little better. Perhaps NOW Jack's editors will watch over his shoulder a little more diligently.

    Today, I'll be smiling a little more today thinking about how they yanked Jack's column off-line.

    And yea, I'll be gloating a little.

    September 16, 2009

    Oh, Maria!

    Maria Bartiromo was just on MSNBC's Morning Joe. She made the claim that she wasn't talking about Medicare when she infamously asked a 44-year Congressman why, if he liked it so much, he wasn't on it. She claimed that she was talking about the insurance he did have.

    Huh?

    Oh, Maria! You have your own TV show. Surely you know that tape (and YouTube) exists.

    So, let's roll the tape:


    Sorry, you're still an idiot.
    .

    September 15, 2009

    What Happened to Jack's Column?

    Ok so this evening (Tuesday, September 15 at 10:40pm) I decide to take a look at the Jack Kelly column I blogged on this Sunday.

    That was the column (and you can still see it here at the Toledo Blade) where Jack makes some rather stunningly simple mistakes about the recently resigned Van Jones.

    Jack said Jones was arrested during the LA riots when he wasn't. He was arrested a week later in San Francisco (he was released a few hours later with all charges dropped). Jack said Jones was arrested in Seattle in 1999 during a WTO protest. No record of that happening anywhere outside of Glenn Beck's fevered imagination.

    Well Kelly fans, as if this moment, the column's GONE.

    The page I linked to pulls up this:

    And the column is gone from Jack's archive.

    I wonder what happened to it. It's completely possible that there's a glitch at the P-G's server and the column will be returned to it's former glory on the Boulevard of the Allies. In fact that's what I am guessing.

    They would not have pulled it, would they?

    Probably not - it's probably just a glitch.

    I'd bet a dollar to donuts (mmm...donuts) that the column will be back tomorrow.

    But as of right now (11:08pm Tuesday night), the column's G-O-N-E gone.

    Another Armed Protestor Outside of a Presidential Event

    This one brought two guns: 'a Glock in a holster, and a Kel Tec 380 -- known for its light weight and "manageable recoil" -- in his back pocket.'

    He had recently been released from jail on an assault charge.

    We're probably just supposed to yawn at this stuff now...

    (More at TPM.)
    .

    Video of President Obama at AFL-CIO National Convention

    From Pittsburgh today:

    Part I


    Part II


    Part III


    Part IV

    * The end of Part II, all of Part III and the first minute of Part IV is about health care reform.

    ** The rest of Part IV speaks to this area's rich tradition of union organizing.

    *** A copy of text as prepared for delivery here.
    .

    Facts: They Should Matter

    First, I received a Facebook message from Fred Honsberger yesterday claiming:
    "A million people march in the DC tea party….see much about that in the MSM?"
    Then later that same morning, I heard Chris Moore repeating ridiculously overblown attendance figures of 1.7 to 2 million for this event on PCNC's "Pittsburgh Now."

    Moore seemed to be unaware of any controversy with the numbers, but I'm betting Fred knows the real story. Of course this is exactly how the right operates -- they repeat a lie over and over until it becomes "the truth" in the MSM.

    In case you missed it, there was a FreedomWorks/Glenn Beck 9-12 Project hootenanny/tea-bagger party on Saturday in DC. The president of FreedomWorks, Matt Kibbe, announced on stage at the rally that ABC News had reported that 1 - 1.5 million people were at the event. That got tweeted/blogged around the right side of the Internet. Problem was, it wasn't true. According to ABC News:
    At no time did ABC News, or its affiliates, report a number anywhere near as large. ABCNews.com reported an approximate figure of 60,000 to 70,000 protesters, attributed to the Washington, D.C., fire department. In its reports, ABC News Radio described the crowd as "tens of thousands."
    The figure kept getting bumped up on the right until they were claiming attendance of 1.7 - 2 million -- 30 times more than reliable crowd estimates -- and akin to me claiming that I'm 162 feet tall.

    Moreover, they tried to pass off an at least five-year old photo of the mall as being from this past Saturday's protest. How do we know it's an old photograph? Because the photo is missing the National Museum of the American Indian which opened in 2004.

    It also turns out that there was another group on the mall last Saturday. One might be tempted to forgive the tea-baggers for confusing that group with their own, except for the fact that the group was the National Council of Negro Women Black Family Reunion Celebration. And, if you look at pictures from the tea-bagger party on Saturday (or any other day) you'll notice that the attendees are not only overwhelmingly white, but also the kind of crowd where someone would fell comfortable carrying a Confederate flag or explaining how Obama will oppress "white America."


    I'm happy to report that I was able to call-in to the Pittsburgh Now show and let Chris know the real deal.
    .

    G-20 Protests: Not Just For Anarchists Anymore

    Of course there are many peaceful groups planning to protest the upcoming G-20 Summit next week right here in Pittsburgh. Mostly we've heard about groups on the left end of the spectrum. However, I received an email this morning inviting me to attend a conference on the 22nd from the other side.

    "Freedom Conference 2009" will be held next Tuesday at Soldiers and Sailors Hall.

    According to a Trib article which I missed the first time around, attendees of Freedom Conference will be "a diverse mix of Ron Paul revolutionaries, Blue Dog Democrats, Libertarians, Tea Party Republicans and other advocates of small government" and who "will don more wingtips than black anarchist masks. Instead of carrying placards, they typically prefer to converse about bringing back the gold standard."

    Good times.

    Their web site is: http://www.meetup.com/FreedomConference

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    World Net Daily In The News

    At the LA Times.

    If anything it proves that not all Republicans are infected with teh crazie. Good for those who still inhabit reality. Take a look:
    Amid a rebirth of conservative activism that could help Republicans win elections next year, some party insiders now fear that extreme rhetoric and conspiracy theories coming from the angry reaches of the conservative base are undermining the GOP's broader credibility and casting it as the party of the paranoid.

    Such insiders point to theories running rampant on the Internet, such as the idea that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and is thus ineligible to be president, or that he is a communist, or that his allies want to set up Nazi-like detention camps for political opponents. Those theories, the insiders say, have stoked the GOP base and have created a "purist" climate in which a figure such as Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) is lionized for his "You lie!" outburst last week when Obama addressed Congress.

    They are "wild accusations and the paranoid delusions coming from the fever swamps," said David Frum, a conservative author and speechwriter for President George W. Bush who is among the more vocal critics of the party base and of the conservative talk show hosts helping to fan the unrest.
    I have to add (as the LA Time should have) that NONE OF THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES ARE TRUE. They should not leave it up to Frum to call them "paranoid delusions." They should have come right out and say it.

    The right wing conspiracy theories are paranoid delusions. President Obama was not born in Kenya, he's not a communist (or socialist, for that matter) and no one is setting up "Nazi-like detention camps for the president's political opponents."

    But let's get to WND.
    Frum and other establishment Republicans have spoken out in recent days against the influence of what they view as their party's fringe elements.

    Some are pressuring the Republican National Committee and other mainstream GOP groups to cut ties with WorldNetDaily.com, which reports some of the allegations. Its articles are cited by websites and pundits on the right. More than any other group, critics say, WorldNetDaily sets the conservative fringe agenda.
    Home of teh crazie.

    If the RNC actually cuts ties to WND, that would do a great deal to restore some semblance of the GOP's credibility. Not much, but some.

    I like this part:
    In one symbolic development, organizers of next year's Conservative Political Action Conference -- the country's biggest annual meeting of activists on the right -- said last week that they had rejected a request to schedule a panel on whether Obama was a native-born U.S. citizen.

    "It would fill a room," said event director Lisa De Pasquale. "But so would a two-headed monkey. There really are so many more important issues, and it's only a three-day conference."

    CPAC officials said WorldNetDaily's Farah asked the group to hold the panel.
    Of course he did.

    Crazie.

    September 14, 2009

    More Bleating From Santorum About Running For Prez

    Lil Ricky is at it again.

    From LifeSiteNews.com:
    Speaking to a room full of prominent US Catholic leaders Friday night, Senator Rick Santorum was challenged to run for the Republican Presidential nominaion. Responding to a room already thick with applause, Santorum revealed that he was indeed "thinking about it" but asked for prayers and detailed his thinking on the matter.

    [snip]

    "...as a father, I've got to think about whether they are going to have a country to live in … Are they going to be able to practice their faith in a way that's consistent with what the Church teaches."

    [snip]

    In closing he said that while he was "thinking about it", it is the first time his ambition which is, as he said, "in his DNA" was checked by a resistance saying, "no, I'm not sure." [Emphasis added]
    So, that means that somehow Obama is going to prevent Lil Ricky's kids from being "able to practice their faith in a way that's consistent with what the Church"? I guess the wingnuts got it wrong. I guess that a health care reform bill doesn't want to just pay for abortions, it wants to mandate abortions (but I'm sure just for white ladies).

    (h/t to Think Progress)
    .

    America, What A Country!

    This from the Telegraph in the UK:
    A British film about Charles Darwin has failed to find a US distributor because his theory of evolution is too controversial for American audiences, according to its producer.
    Only in America.
    Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin's "struggle between faith and reason" as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.

    The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.

    However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.
    Here's the Gallup press release from February. Not surprising, the results:
    As Darwin is being lauded as one of the most important scientists in history on the 200th anniversary of his birth (on Feb. 12, 1809), it is perhaps dismaying to scientists who study and respect his work to see that well less than half of Americans today say they believe in the theory of evolution, and that just 55% can associate the man with his theory.

    Naturally, some of this is because of educational differences. Americans who have lower levels of formal education are significantly less likely than others to be able to identity Darwin with his theory, and to have an opinion on it either way. Still, the evidence is clear that even to this day, Americans' religious beliefs are a significant predictor of their attitudes toward Darwin's theory. Those who attend church most often are the least likely to believe in evolution, and most likely to say they do not believe in it.

    Back to the Telegraph:
    The film has sparked fierce debate on US Christian websites, with a typical comment dismissing evolution as "a silly theory with a serious lack of evidence to support it despite over a century of trying".

    Jeremy Thomas, the Oscar-winning producer of Creation, said he was astonished that such attitudes exist 150 years after On The Origin of Species was published.

    "That's what we're up against. In 2009. It's amazing," he said.

    Not so amazing on this side of the pond, Jeremy. When only 3 out of 4 believe the president was born in the US and 1 out of 9 believe he wasn't (despite overwhelming evidence showing he was born in Hawaii), it's hardly surprising that large chunks of the population will ignore science.

    America, what a country!

    September 13, 2009

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    It's Sunday. Jack Kelly's got a column in the P-G. Said column that shows, yet again, that NO ONE AT THE P-G FACT-CHECKS JACK KELLY.

    Good lord, this is getting redundant.

    This week's column is about the resignation of Van Jones, scary black man.

    Jack's opening:

    Around midnight on the Saturday of the Labor Day weekend, the White House announced Van Jones had resigned as President Obama's "green jobs czar."

    "On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me," Mr. Jones said in his resignation letter. "They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide."

    The "lies and distortions" consisted of reporting Mr. Jones' arrest during a riot, and quoting, accurately, from statements Mr. Jones had made and from petitions he had signed.

    So what can we expect now? More of the same spin and, let's put it diplomatically, "factual interpretations" from Jack Kelly. The interpretations begin in the next sentence (hold onto your hats, Kelly fans, this one's a do-who-WHOzey):
    Mr. Jones was arrested during the rioting in Los Angeles in 1992 that followed the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King. Mr. Jones spoke of that experience in a 2005 interview with a newspaper in the San Francisco Bay area:

    "I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28, and then the verdicts came down on April 29," he told the East Bay Express. "By August, I was a communist."
    Let's go see that article in the East Bay Express. You'd think that Jack would have read it more carefully. AND you'd think that the folks whose job it should be to check his column would, you know, check his sources to see if they say what he says they say. Needless to say he didn't and/or they didn't.

    Here's the set up in the Express for Jones' arrest:
    Jones first moved to the Bay Area in the spring of 1992, when the San Francisco-based Lawyers Committee for Human Rights hired a batch of law students to act as legal observers during the trial of Rodney King's assailants.
    Then a few paragraphs later:
    When the verdicts came down -- not guilty for three of the officers involved, and deadlocked on the fourth -- (Lawyers Committee for Human Rights Executive Director Eva) Paterson's office, like the city, reacted with disbelief. Paterson said she felt like picking up her office chair and hurling it out the window. The staff hit the streets to monitor the demonstrations that erupted in San Francisco. One week later, while Jones was observing the first large rally since the lifting of the city's state of emergency, he got swept up in mass arrests.[emphasis added.]
    So Jones was NOT arrested at the Rodney King riots in LA but in San Francisco a week later.

    But let's look further into this arrest. Here's Van Jones at Huffingtonpost 2 years ago:
    In the wake of the (Rodney King) verdicts, Los Angeles exploded in blood and flames.

    Also that week, there were disturbances and rebellions in 100 other U.S. cities. One of them was San Francisco (where I was then working as a law student intern).

    Recently, I discovered an essay that I wrote at the time. It captures the pain, frustration and aspirations of a much younger person. But I think it speaks well to the thought process of many young activists at that time.

    Ironically, days after I wrote this essay, San Francisco police officers illegally arrested me and hundreds of other participants in a peaceful protest march.

    The District Attorney later dropped the charges against me, and those of us who were unlawfully arrested won a small legal settlement.

    And the there's Eva Patterson also at Huffingtonpost:

    This is what really happened. On May 8, 1992, the week AFTER the Rodney King disturbances, I sent a staff attorney and Van out to be legal monitors at a peaceful march in San Francisco. The local police, perhaps understandably nervous, stopped the march and arrested hundreds of people -- including all the legal monitors.

    The matter was quickly sorted out; Van and my staff attorney were released within a few hours. All charges against them were dropped. Van was part of a successful class action lawsuit later; the City of San Francisco ultimately compensated him financially for his unjust arrest (a rare outcome). [emphasis added.]

    So he was a legal monitor at the demonstrations? In San Francisco? And released a few hours later? And then was part of a successful lawsuit against San Francisco because of the arrests? That none of that readily available information is found in Jack's column points to something any undergraduate talking Ethics 101 would easily spot as a "lie of omission." Jack is knowingly leaving his readers with a false picture of reality. It's as much a lie as if he tried to assert that Bill Ayers ghost wrote one of Barack Obama's books (which Jack did, by the way).

    That the same East Bay Express article Jack quotes puts (in the very next paragraph, no less) Van Jones in San Francisco is a fact so simple that getting it so wrong is just embarrassing - embarrassing for Jack and more importantly embarrassing for his employer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a news outlet that should be catching and stopping these "interpretations of facts" of his.

    I just realized something: Jack didn't exactly say that Jones was arrested in LA during the LA riots, just during them (though I am not sure that a week later can be classified as "during" but that's another point.). If that's the case think of the rhetorical gymnastics being used here. At first blush he writes it in such a way that had you not known better you'd of course assume Jones was in LA during the riots and was arrested there. More or less classic lie of omission here.

    But let's move on. Yes, there's more:
    Mr. Jones was arrested again in 1999 during the anti-free trade riots in Seattle.
    Eva Patterson has something to say about this, too. After pointing out that Fox "News" talking head Glenn Beck implied that Jones went to jail for the 92 arrest, she writes:
    Beck also bizarrely claims that Van was arrested in the Seattle WTO protests. That is just a flat-out falsehood.

    You don't have to take my word for it. Arrests and convictions are all a matter of public record.
    That's true - if there's an arrest record it should be easily found. Where is Jack's evidence that Jones was arrested in Seattle? Apart from Glenn Beck's assertion, that is. Maybe Orly Taitz can buy one on ebay. Of course it'll be forged from an arrest for some Viennese bank fraud committed in 1989, but the wingnuts'll go crazy for it anyway.

    Here's Jack's next section:
    But what did Mr. Jones in was the revelation that in 2004 he had signed a petition calling on then-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer to investigate whether the Bush administration had been behind the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

    Mr. Jones acknowledged he'd signed the petition but claimed he hadn't read it carefully and that it did not represent his views. The veracity of this claim was called into question when it was reported that Mr. Jones had been one of the organizers of a "truther" rally in San Francisco in January 2002.

    Let me first say that I am not a supporter of the "truther" movement. To the extent that it differs from the more or less standard narrative of what happened on 9/11, it's just goofy. The further out ("No plane struck the Pentagon.") it gets the goofier it gets - no doubt. But look at the petition in question. Does it actually call for "then-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer to investigate whether the Bush administration had been behind the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon"?

    For the record Jack makes another error-of-fact. The petition is dated October of 2004. Spitzer didn't become Governor of New York until 2007. He was the "then-New York Attorney General." Small point I realize, but if Jack can't be trusted to get the simple facts right, why should we trust him on the big ones?

    And again, DOESN'T ANYONE AT THE P-G CHECK THESE THINGS??

    I have to admit the petition does get awfully close to dancing goofy truther dance but nothing as blatant as Jack's assertion. It asks a some leading questions that's about it. Did you know San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome signed the petition as well?

    But Jack's ending is profoundly laughable:
    Jeffrey Lord, who was a speechwriter in the Reagan administration, noted that in administrations past, the Secret Service would not have permitted someone with Mr. Jones' background to enter the White House with a visitor's pass. Yet Mr. Jones was made a high-level appointee with considerable influence.

    For Mr. Jones to get a White House job, even more senior aides to President Obama either had to be unaware of his background, or indifferent to it. The former suggests an appalling degree of incompetence.

    And a paragraph later:
    Did the Secret Service object to Van Jones? If so, who overrode them? What did the president know and when did he know it?
    Jeff Gannon anyone?