Prosecute the torture.

December 31, 2009

Lil Lord Luke Does Last Minute Veto of Prevailing Wage


Longtime readers know that I normally refer to Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl as "Lil Mayor Luke," but tonight he's Lil Lord Luke. From the Post-Gazette:
In a New Year's Eve surprise, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl this afternoon vetoed prevailing wage legislation passed unanimously by city council 10 days ago. Council President Doug Shields called a special 6:30 p.m. council meeting in an effort to override the veto, but fell one vote short of the needed six.

Coming at the end of council's two-year session, the timing of the veto was apparently meant to leave council no chance to vote to override. The complex legislation to guarantee hotel, cafeteria and building maintenance workers at future city-subsidized development sites wages equal to the average of their peers citywide would have to be reintroduced next year, under a new council.
Bob Mayo tweeted:


Councilor Bill Peduto tweeted the following:


(For an explanation as to why some councilors betrayed their earlier vote, see Potter's blog on the race for Council presidency here.)

I'll just say here what I tweeted earlier:

This is the kind of move you'd expect from someone who deliberately waited until 3 weeks *after* an election to announce his separation.

and:

Long Live the King.

(Can't get rid of 2009 -- or this whole fakakta decade -- soon enough.)
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Message on December 31

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

December 30, 2009

They Have No Shame (Seconda pars)

More evidence the GOP has no shame.

First there's Karl Rove. And no, I am not talking about how this "traditional marriage defender" is getting divorced - for a second time. No surprise to learn that a prominent GOPer is trying to rewrite Bush Administration history. Via Thinkprogress:
Yesterday on Hannity, former Bush White House adviser Karl Rove sharply criticized President Obama’s response to the failed terrorist attack on Christmas Day. In particular, Rove went after the fact that Obama issued his first public statement on the matter 72 hours after the event.
And what do you think we find when we actually you know take a look at the Bush record? Thinkprogress links to this at the this Huffingtonpost article where the headline reads:
Bush Waited Six Days To Discuss Shoe Bomber With No GOP Complaints
Huh. Imagine that.

There's more. This from Talkingpointsmemo:
Last night, former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said that he disagreed with the decision to try the Flight 253 suspect criminally, and that "he's not a citizen of this country."
A few paragraphs later TPM reports:
Of course, Ridge was secretary of Homeland Security during the Bush administration, when British citizen and "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid was tried and convicted in 2003 on terrorism charges after attempting to blow up a plane with explosives hidden in his shoes.
History, truth, evidence. None of these terms means anything to these folks. Not while they're defending the records of war criminals.

A footnote: So Rove has now been married (and divorced) twice and Newt Gingrich is on his third marriage (he's twice divorced). Rush Limbaugh married and divorced three times. Even Ronald Reagan got divorced and remarried. Given that the GOP is the party most bent on "defending" marriage can someone please explain to me, in light of how casually prominent Republicans seem to take their marriage vows, why so many gay Americans still can't get married?

December 29, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents!

Today is the Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents blog's fourth anniversary. In honor of that, Sue invited Kevin Acklin, Thomas C. Waters, George Hazimanolis and yours truly to guest blog. You can read our thoughts at:

http://www.pghlesbian.com

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December 28, 2009

Ravenstahl Inaugural Details Revealed

(PITTSBURGH) Dec. 28, 2009 Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today announced that his inaugural ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 4. at the Pittsburgh Project, located at 2801 North Charles Street in the North Side neighborhood.

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt will serve as the master of ceremonies.

An inaugural reception with food and entertainment will follow from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Grand Hall at The Priory, located at 614 Pressley Street in the North Side.

The inauguration and reception is free of charge and open to the public.

After Party is from 10 p.m. to ? at S Bar, located at 1713 E Carson Street on the South Side. Special Mayoral Speed-Dating Session. LADIES DRINK FREE!

After After Party: Details TBA (via twitter) if you're HAWT.


(h/t to Early Returns)
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December 27, 2009

More GOP Historical Revisionism

From Thinkprogress:
On CNN today, GOP strategist and former Dick Cheney adviser Mary Matalin argued that President Obama is speaking too much about the severe debt, deficits, and economic recession he inherited from the previous administration. Defending her former boss, Matalin charged that President Bush had in fact “inherited a recession” and the September 11th attacks from President Clinton:
And now this is what Matalin said:
I was there, we inherited a recession from President Clinton and we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation’s history.
These folks have no shame.

More On Scaife Tribbing The Heritage Foundation

From today's editorial page at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
If the Obama administration is at all serious about reforming the United Nations, it can begin by pressing to change the formulation of U.N. dues, which are up for revision.

This is an opportunity -- it only comes every three years -- for the U.S. to gain a meaningful say in efficiency, transparency and accountability at Turtle Bay. Without change to a system that's grossly tilted against the U.S., America will remain but one ineffectual voice while other nations that pay a pittance drive the U.N.'s agenda.

Never mind that the U.S. pays an outlandish share: 22 percent of the U.N. regular budget and almost 26 percent of its peacekeeping fund. The fact that more than 80 percent of both budgets is paid by only the top 15 U.N. contributors is outrageous.

So while the U.S. is expected to pay $598 million for the U.N.'s 2010 regular budget, 54 countries assessed at a far lower rate (0.001 percent of the U.N. budget) would each pony up just over $25,000, notes Brett D. Schaefer of The Heritage Foundation.
This is the same Heritage Foundation that got more than $23 million between 1985 and 2007. The same Heritage Foundation that touts Richard Mellon Scaife as Vice Chairman of its Board of Trustees and so on.

The Trib Brain Trust Flubs A Story. Again.

Richard Mellon Scaife's editorial board got something wrong in one of today's editorials.

Yea, yea I know. What a surprise!

First the Trib:
Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla. -- who claims Republicans' idea of health care is to ask the sick to "die quickly" -- has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate, fine and perhaps jail a Florida activist who reacted to the congressman's behavior by establishing the mycongressmanisnuts.com Web site. If the pecan fits ... .
Interesting thing is, if you look real close, you won't see why Grayson asked for the investigation. Go ahead, look again. I can wait.

You're back? Great. Perhaps the brain trust is thinking that the readers of the Trib will "connect the dots" and assume that Grayson was asking for the investigation because the Florida activist established the website.

That's not what Grayson wrote to the AG, of course. Not that you'd know it by the Trib's editorial, of course.

Here's the letter to the AG Holder from Representative Grayson. Grayson's complaint can be found in the letter's first paragraph:
I am writing to request investigation and prosecution of Angie G. Langley, 969 W. Lakeshore Drive, Clennont, FL 34711, personally, and also against the campaign committee "MyCongressmanIsNuts.com," P.O. Box 1063, Orlando, FL 32802 (the "Committee"), for criminal violation of 18 US.C. 1001. Ms. Langley is the Treasurer of the Committee.
So the next question is, what's "18 US. C. 1001"? Here it is:
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years...
And now back to Grayson's letter. He wrote that:
Ms. Langley and the Committee falsely represented to the Federal Election Commission that the Committee "supports or opposes more than one candidate," In fact, however, the committee name corresponds to a website that attacks me. and only me, while soliciting contributions to be used against only me. Moreover, Ms. Langley has falsely depicted herself as a constituent, in order to further this scheme.
Then there's this:
In the committee's Statement of Organization, Ms. Langley falsely claimed that the committee supports or opposes more than one candidate, and that it is not connected with any other organization. The website, however, clearly shows that the committee opposes only me. This also was true in the committee's news release, and Langley's statements in media coverage regarding the website. Moreover, in the Fox 35 interview, when the interviewer said "so your goal is to unseat him [meaning me]," Ms. Langley's response was "absolutely, that is our entire goal."
You can find the Committee's Statement of Organization here.

And on page two it does say the committee supports/opposes more than one federal candidate.

So that's a lie on an FEC document. Not a big lie, of course. Not an "Iraq has WMD and so we have to invade to disarm them before those WMD are used by the terrorists in another 9/11 attack" sort of lie, but a lie none the less.

Not that you'd know it from the Trib's editorial, of course.

December 24, 2009

Sgt. Eugene Hlavac Fired From Pittsburgh Police Dept.

UPDATE: via Sue:

________________________________________________________


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Baby Jesus hates health care reform


Via TPM:
C-SPAN Caller: "I have taken my Christmas wreath off my house. I have taken all the lights down," she said. "This is supposed to be a nation under God, and it isn't. They absolutely have ruined Christmas."

[snip]

She also explains that members of Congress are sullying "God's holiday for the birth of his son" and that she opposes the bill so fiercely because its death panel provisions will unleash a "genocide"on seniors.

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I hear reindeer



Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer, and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Rachel and Bobby!

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The President and First Lady Extend Christmas Greetings

WEEKLY ADDRESS: The President and First Lady Extend Christmas Greeting and Express their Gratitude to America’s Servicemen and Women

WASHINGTON – In this week’s address, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama offered their best Christmas wishes to families across the country, and expressed their gratitude to the men and women of the American military and their families for their service to the country. The First Couple encouraged Americans to visit www.whitehouse.gov to learn how they can show their support to our soldiers and their loved ones.

The full audio of the address is HERE. The video can be viewed online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/

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The Orie Sisters: Looks like Jane may have helped Joan a little too much


'[Jane Orie's attorney] added that he plans to "unleash hell in December" over the raid at the senator's office.'


"Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister."
(What Jane is thinking right now about Allegheny County DA Stephen Zappala Jr.)

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
An Allegheny County grand jury has opened a criminal investigation into state Sen. Jane Clare Orie, R-McCandless, the state senate's third-ranking Republican, and detectives last week seized computers, a move her lawyer has promised to "fight like hell."

The investigation, confirmed last night by Jerry McDevitt, who is representing Ms. Orie, apparently began a day before the November election when an intern at the senator's district office in the North Hills complained to the district attorney's office that political calls were being made there on behalf of state Supreme Court nominee Joan Orie Melvin, the senator's sister.
Looks like Santa came early this year. (We do so like to open one present on Christmas Eve!)
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Update on Pgh Police Domestic Violence (Hlavac) Story

The Good News:

An order of protection has been approved against Sgt. Eugene Hlavac. Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kathryn Hens-Greco signed the order which includes instructions for Hlavac to "give up all his firearms, including his duty weapon." (P-G)


The Bad News:

Lil Mayor Luke punks out on the calls for him to reassure Pittsburgh women that the Pittsburgh Police take domestic violence seriously. (Trib)
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OffQ

For the many who missed my most recent OffQ performance, it's been posted.


Enjoy!

We talk about Fred Honsberger a bit. The fun stuff is towards the end where Heather Heidelbaugh calls global warming "socialism" and McIntire and I both try to correct her by saying (in near unison) "It's science."

Fun times!

December 23, 2009

HCR debate totally explained via one cartoon panel!


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ACTION ALERT: Pgh Police & Domestic Violence

Like me, I'm know that many of you are very busy right now with the holidays, but please, please, please take a moment to make a call or send an email:

As you may have read in the papers recently [or on this blog], a member of the Police Department, who had a past record of violence against women, has recently had charges brought against him once again, this time for dislocating his ex-girlfriend’s jaw. Because the officer in question was wearing his uniform at the time of the incident, and because we as a community worked together to secure pledges from the Mayor’s office two years ago to develop a zero tolerance policy and culture regarding domestic violence on the force for the city of Pittsburgh, we need your help!

The holidays can be a very wonderful, but also very stressful time. With this recent incident in the papers we feel it is crucial that women hear from the Mayor and Director of Public Safety of the City of Pittsburgh Michael Huss that Domestic Violence is a crime that the Mayor and Pittsburgh Police take very seriously so that no woman will hesitate to call the Police if she needs help.

Please take a minute today and email or call Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s office (email: luke.ravenstahl@city.pittsburgh.pa.us , phone: 412-255-2626) with the suggested following message [or of course, write your own!]:
Subject line: Mayor Ravenstahl Your Leadership is Needed

Dear Mayor Ravenstahl,

As a member of the Pittsburgh, community, and coalition to end domestic violence, I ask that you take immediate action to hold a televised press conference, with Director Huss, to make a public statement that Domestic Violence is a crime that the Mayor and Pittsburgh Police take very seriously. This statement should reassure everyone – especially women - that victims of domestic violence can and should always feel comfortable reaching out to the city of Pittsburgh Police for help, and that every Domestic Violence call will be responded to promptly, and with the respect and seriousness it deserves. Your comments should reaffirm that victims will be connected with immediate help and services and that violent perpetrators who commit Domestic Violence will be removed from the scene of the crime and brought to justice.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME HERE


Please email or call Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s office and let him know that you, as a member of the Pittsburgh, community, ask that he and Director Huss hold a televised press conference to make a public statement to this effect to ensure that women of Pittsburgh can feel safe.

Email: luke.ravenstahl@city.pittsburgh.pa.us Phone: 412-255-2626

Thank you,
The Coalition to End Domestic Violence in SWPA
(Member organizations of this coalition include, but are not limited to: National Organization for Women, National Council of Jewish Women, Women and Girls Foundation, FISA Foundation, Regional Equity Monitoring Project, Agh County Commission for Women, Women’s Center and Shelter, Center for Victims of Violent Crime and Executive Women’s Council of Greater Pittsburgh.)


***********************************************************************

NOTE: And, if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence -- in addition to reporting this to the police -- you can receive assistance from The Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. They provide a 24-hour crisis hotline, temporary shelter, counseling and support groups, advocacy and support services for women victims of domestic violence and their children. You can call their 24-hour Hotline at 412-687-8005 or toll free at 877-338-TALK (8255) for help or more information.
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The Story of Festivus



Happy Festivus!

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The Trib Pulls A Trifecta

It's Christmas time and Richard Mellon Scaife's brain-trust is loaded with gifts today.

In each of their three editorials today, they manage reference a think tank funded by their boss.

Reference one. In discussing how Mayor Luke blinked on his tuition tax plan they write:
But as the ever astute Jake Haulk of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy again reminds, Pittsburgh's problems "stem from too much spending and irresponsible financial management. More money will not fix the city's ills."
That same Allegheny Institute has received, since 1995, about 87% of its "grant money" (the money grant to it) directly from foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife.

Reference two. In discussing the national debt, they write:
Rather than pass the mounting bill to future generations, Congress must address the triple tsunamis: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spending. Notes Nicola Moore of The Heritage Foundation, as Social Security IOUs are redeemed and health care costs drive up expenditures for Medicare and Medicaid, publicly held debt by 2050 will exceed 320 percent of gross domestic product, based on Congressional Budget Office figures.
That same Heritage Foundation that received close to $24 million from foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife.

Reference three. In discussing hunger in America, they write:
We're all hearing about hunger this Christmas. And, indeed, there is hunger in America. Thus, we must do all we can to help alleviate the problem. That said, however, The Heritage Foundation's Ed Feulner reminds that the statistics regularly are twisted. To wit, it's widely being reported, and quite incorrectly, that an Agriculture Department study finds that 1 in 6 Americans went hungry in America in 2008. Worrying that one might run out of food and actually having no food are not the same. Thus, the first way to begin addressing hunger in America is to be honest about the statistics
Again, The Heritage Foundation. Did I mention that Scaife is the Vice-Chairman of its Board of Trustees and Ed Feulner is on the board of the Sarah Scaife Foundation (one of the Foundations giving millions to Heritage)?

By the way, here's Fuelner's column on hunger. Where he says:
But for a few Americans the problem isn’t overeating -- it’s getting enough to eat in the first place. A recent study by the Agriculture Department claimed that more than 16 million U.S. households, a total of some 49.1 million people, experienced “food insecurity” in 2008.

Fortunately, “food insecurity” isn’t as dire as it sounds. USA Today made the mistake of reporting that the study found “1 in 6 went hungry in America in 2008.” That’s wrong. Most “food insecure” households merely reported they had “worried” they might run out of food, or had eaten cheaper, unbalanced meals at some point in the last year. With 15 million Americans unemployed, that response isn’t too surprising. When asked specifically about “hunger,” about 3 percent of the population, or 10 million persons, reported they’d been hungry because they didn’t have enough money for food at least one day during the prior year.
Now here's the data from the Department of Agriculture. They define "food insecure" as:
At times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. Food-insecure households include those with low food security and very low food security.
"Low Food Security" is defined as:
These food-insecure households obtained enough food to avoid substantially disrupting their eating patterns or reducing food intake by using a variety of coping strategies, such as eating less varied diets, participating in Federal food assistance programs, or getting emergency food from community food pantries.
By the way, this group has increased since 2007, from 7% to 8.9% of the population.

"Very Low Food Security" is defined as:
In these food-insecure households, normal eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake was reduced at times during the year because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. In reports prior to 2006, these households were described as “food insecure with hunger.”
And this group has increased since 2007 as well - from 4.1% to 5.7% of the population.

Feulner's point is correct it was wrong to say that based on the above data that "1 in 6 went hungry in America in 2008" but that's not the complete story about the data. The part he omitted (and certainly the part Scaife's brain trust omitted) is that however bad things are, they're getting worse.

So in the first instance more people since 2007 have had to change their diets or get food stamps or get help from a local food pantry. In the second, more people since 2007 have actually gone without food because they couldn't afford it.

Now take a look again at how the brain trust described things:
To wit, it's widely being reported, and quite incorrectly, that an Agriculture Department study finds that 1 in 6 Americans went hungry in America in 2008. Worrying that one might run out of food and actually having no food are not the same. Thus, the first way to begin addressing hunger in America is to be honest about the statistics.
Very true. But did they realize they spun it wrong, too?

December 22, 2009

Here We Go Again -- Pittsburgh Police and Domestic Violence


Pittsburgh Police Sgt. Eugene Hlavac

"He will enjoy a wonderful Christmas dinner. She's going to drink hers through a straw..."
...... - Jeanne Clarke, National Organization for Women, after Sgt. Eugene Hlavac's preliminary hearing in downtown Municipal Court.

If Hlavac's name sounds familiar it's because many of you may recall the controversy which erupted back in June 2007 when three Pittsburgh City Police Officers (Cmdr. George T. Trosky, Lt. Charles Rodriguez, and Sgt. Eugene F. Hlavac) who had a history of domestic abuse run-ins were promoted by Police Chief Nate Harper with the approval of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. The uproar from the promotions (mostly by advocates for women) led to Pittsburgh City Council passing legislation on domestic violence by police officers.

When Hlavac was originally promoted in 2007 he had had police called to his home for reports of loud arguments with the mother of his child, Lauren Noel Maughan. On Saturday he was charged with aggravated assault against Maughan:
According to the complaint, Ms. Maughan was late to pick up their son at Sgt. Hlavac's house in Greenfield Friday after her car broke down. When she arrived, she said she and Sgt. Hlavac, who was in uniform and preparing to leave for work, began arguing in front of his house, the complaint states. She said they scuffled briefly after he slapped her and she grabbed him, the complaint states.

Ms. Maughan said she was in pain and threatened to call the police, the complaint said. She said he took her cell phone and told her, "You're not doing this. You're not ruining my life," according to the complaint.

She said she left to go to the hospital after telling Sgt. Hlavac she would say she hurt her face in a fall.

According to the complaint, Sgt. Hlavac met her at Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville and told a doctor, "She's always getting hurt, she fell down her steps and tripped and may have hit her wall." The doctor determined that Ms. Maughan had partially dislocated her jaw, according to the complaint.
According to WTAE:
An emergency room doctor didn't believe the story, and eventually, the woman told police her injury was caused by Hlavac.
As of yesterday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported:
Pittsburgh police officials have not determined whether to change a sergeant's work status following his weekend arrest for hitting his ex-girlfriend.
Apparently Hlavac is on vacation until January and "If there is discipline, he would be disciplined when he returned to work..."

Nice!

This does not seem to jib with Pennsylvania's Confidence in Law Enforcement Act which states:

23 Except in the case of a member of the Pennsylvania State
24 Police, a law enforcement officer charged with an offense that
25 would prohibit employment under section 3 shall be immediately
26 suspended from employment in law enforcement AS A LAW
27 ENFORCEMENT OFFICER until final disposition of the charge or
28 upon acceptance into a program of Accelerated Rehabilitative
29 Disposition, whichever occurs first.

What would constitute prohibition from employment? According to the City of Pittsburgh:
CRIMINAL HISTORY:
Conviction of a felony or serious misdemeanor is disqualifying unless applicant has been pardoned. Other behavior, which is incompatible with the duties and responsibilities of the position of Police Officer, may also be disqualifying.
Notice again, that suspension only requires being CHARGED and that the Confidence in Law Enforcement Act defines "serious misdemeanor" as being "A criminal offense for which more than one year in prison can be imposed as a punishment."

While Hlavac's charges were reduced today from aggravated assault (a felony) to simple assault (a misdemeanor), in PA a misdemeanor assault can still result in up to 2 years in prison.

So, I have to ask:

Why has Hlavac not been suspended?

Moreover, the legislation passed by Pittsburgh City Council states the following under "Supervisor Responsibilities":
(a) Supervisors shall be cognizant of and document any pattern of abusive behavior potentially indicative of domestic violence including, but not limited to the following:

i. Aggressiveness
a. Excessive and/or increased use of force on the job.
b. Stalking and inappropriate surveillance activities.
c. Unusually high incidences of physical altercations and verbal disputes.
d. Citizen and fellow officer complaints of unwarranted aggression and verbal abuse.
e. Inappropriate treatment of animals.
f. On-or off-duty officer injuries.
So between his promotion and his recent charges, has Hlavac had any, say, PROBLEMS like those listed above?

The answer is a big fat YES. From the Pittsburgh City Paper:
Hlavac has previously been faulted for his performance on the job as well: specifically, a series of arrests stemming from a 2006 bicyclist demonstration. When the city's police review board tried to question him about the matter, Hlavac tuned out the proceeding by playing an iPod loudly enough that others could hear it. The review board upheld complaints against Hlavac, but these were dismissed by police brass, who said they'd already disciplined him.
So there you have it -- a Pittsburgh police sergeant who has had the police called to his own home for loud arguments on multiple occasions; who has had the Citizen Police Review Board "recommended that [he] be suspended for seven days, undergo retraining and anger management, and possibly face prosecution by the district attorney" in 2006 (which never was followed through on); and who now stands accused of dislocating a women's jaw and charged with assault.

And, he's STILL not suspended.

What the hell?

Back in 2007 when Hlavac was promoted, the Pittsburgh Police asked us to trust their judgment:
Pittsburgh police on Thursday asked that city residents give three recently promoted officers a chance.

"I'm particularly asking women to look at what we've done in the past," Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson said at a late afternoon news conference. "We've worked for years with women and women's groups to protect women. You've trusted us before. We're asking you to trust us again."

[snip]

James Malloy, president of Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, asked that people treat the officers fairly.

"It isn't like they're mashers, beating somebody's brains in," he said. "They're conscientious. They have good records. We have no issue whatsoever with this. They're not going to be brain surgeons.
No brains beaten in -- just a dislocated jaw.

[sigh]

The brass needs to listen to the Citizen Police Review Board this time:
"We want them to suspend him -- all of his police powers -- until such time as this is resolved," said Elizabeth Pittinger, executive director of the Citizen Police Review Board. "That is required under state law so they better do that. We expect that they will."

Damn Straight!


******************************************************************************

Related:

  • Jeanne Clark's tweets on todays' hearing here

  • "Women's group urges mayor to 'take action' against city officer" (P-G)

  • "[PA] Is the domestic abuse of Pittsburgh Police Sgt. Hvalac violent enough yet to be taken seriously?" (Behind the Blue Wall)

    .

  • Sketchy Santa: The Musical!

    Ah yes, the ritual torture of the innocents. :-D


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    Those Patriotic Senate Republicans

    From Talkingpointsmemo:
    Everybody knows the health care debate has become more and more contentious, and dominated by a Republican parliamentary effort to delay the debate. But an under-appreciated aspect of this whole controversy -- exceedingly rare, if not unprecedented -- is the fact that it's even affected defense spending, with Senate Republicans having worked to hold that up, too!

    Late on Thursday night, the Senate voted 63-33 to break a Republican filibuster of the defense appropriations bill. Only three Republicans voted against this delay of military spending: Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), Olympia Snowe (ME) and Susan Collins (ME). The filibuster was part of a Republican effort to further delay the health care bill.

    So think for a second about what happened here. The Senate GOP sought to hold up military spending -- and not because of an argument with the defense appropriations bill itself or something in it that might have been offensive to them, but in an attempt to block a domestic political debate. It was an especially interesting position for a party that repeatedly accused then-Senator Barack Obama, during the 2008 campaign, of trying to "defund the troops" when he voted against a military funding bill because it didn't include a timeline to withdraw from Iraq.
    They're all such great Americans, aren't they?

    As I Said...

    Remember this?

    It's only from Sunday. But on the editorial page of today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review we find:
    The City of Pittsburgh will be forced to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy if it stays on its unsustainable fiscal path, say the Allegheny Institute's Jake Haulk and Frank Gamrat.
    When we read this we should all remember that a full 87% of the Institute's grant money came from foundations controlled by the owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Richard Mellon Scaife.

    And now his editorial board is pushing the views that his foundations paid for.

    The journalistic circle-jerk continues.

    December 21, 2009

    Pittsburgher Releases Book On Media And Obama

    ..Need a last minute gift (or just a good read for yourself)?

    Steve Karas, professor and Forest Hills Borough Councilman, has written a complete account of the media's coverage of the 2008 campaign of President Barack Obama. The book is chock full of references (over 1,200).

    I asked the author what prompted him to write this book and he answered as follows:

    I had been disappointed in the media and their gossip type coverage of politics. They seem to cover political strategy and sensational stories rather than what directly affects us. Reading about the political process should be about an objective exchange of ideas with supporting proof, its deteriorating to resemble E TV.
    I decided to write it after Obama announced his candidacy. I knew that it was a DEMS year and the primary between Clinton and Obama was covered more than any other. It was covered even after Obama was the clear winner. It was a ratings sensation for the media. Since Obama was always ahead in the general the media covered his negatives more and tried to make it closer than it ever was. It probably would have been the same way if the other party had a solid lead.
    You can still get it in time for Christmas at Amazon (click here).

    A preview is available here.
    .

    December 20, 2009

    Stumbled Over This...

    I stumbled over this while writing my previous blogpost.

    Mediamatters says this of our own Allegheny Institute for Public Policy:
    Founded in 1995, the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy is closely connected to conservative billionaire Richard Melon Scaife. The Institute is guided by the principles of free enterprise, property rights, civil society and individual freedom that are the bedrock upon which this nation was founded.
    I read that and I thought, "How closely?" So I looked at Mediamatters' funding page for the Institute.

    The page shows $ 4,596,700 in just 7 donors from 1995. Three of those donors are foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife (Sarah Scaife, Carthage and Allegheny Foundations). Those three foundations have given $3,996,000 to the Allegheny Institute since 1995.

    If all these numbers are correct, then that means that about 87% of the money granted to the Allegheny Institute came directly from foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife.

    So yea, I think that constitutes "closely connected."

    So when we read in the pages of the Tribune-Review something like:
    [Jake] Haulk is president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, the Mt. Lebanon think tank whose defense of taxpayer interests over the years has often put it at odds with labor unions.
    We should all remember that over the last 14 years, the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy got a full 87% of it's grant money from none other than Richard Mellon Scaife, owner and publisher of the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review.

    More On Richard Mellon Scaife and the Heritage Foundation

    An astute reader wrote in today, commenting on this blog post. The post, in the event you missed it, outlined some of the recent monies granted to the Heritage Foundation by the philanthropic foundations controlled by Tribune-Review owner/publisher Richard Mellon Scaife.

    My astute reader wrote:
    Hell, David, that $2 million barely scratches it. He and Joseph Coors gave so much money that there's a plaque -- a bas relief of the Scaifer hisself -- in the lobby of the Heritage Foundation. Ever heard of Ed Fuelner? He's the CEO and all-encompassing head of the Heritage Foundation and herewith I give you one of the great finds of the You Tubes: Fuelner fawning over the man and crediting him (and himself) with ending the Cold War. Enjoy. And tremble.
    And then my reader included a youtube link which you can watch (and tremble) for yourself on your own time

    I did a little digging and found Mediamatters' fuller set of numbers: between 1985 and 2007 the Heritage Foundation received $21.235 million in grants from the Sarah Scaife Foundation, $2.559 million from the Carthage Foundation and a comparatively paltry $100,000 from the Allegheny Foundation - all foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife. That's close to $24 million between 1985 and 2007.

    And there's never a mention of Scaife's multi-million dollar support of the Heritage Foundation whenever his editorial board sees fit to write about it.

    Or when the Foundation is mentioned in a news article:
    The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., has felt the heat of an IRS investigation. The agency raised issues about a money-raising letter the foundation distributed in 1996 that was signed by then-Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole. In return for his signature, the foundation gave him the names of people who answered the letter.

    The IRS didn't strip Heritage of its tax-exempt status.
    Or even when Heritage President Ed Feulner gets weekly column space in Scaife's paper.

    But wait wait, there's more. The connections are tighter. From the Feulner's bio at the Heritage Foundation website, we can read that:
    He is a longtime officer and director of three grant-making foundations: the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Aequus Institute and the Thomas A. Roe Foundation.
    And that Richard Mellon Scaife is Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Heritage Foundation. His bio brags about:
    Scaife’s extensive involvement in the publishing industry - he is the owner and Chairman of the Board of the Tribune-Review as well as a number of radio stations - has brought a refreshing alternative voice to the media markets of Western Pennsylvania, including his hometown of Pittsburgh.
    So Ed Feulner is on the board of the Sarah Scaife Foundation and Richard Mellon Scaife is on the board of Heritage Foundation; The Trib's editorial board routinely references studies out of the Heritage Foundation and the President of the Heritage Foundation gets a weekly column at The Trib; and tens of millions of dollars have flowed from one foundation to the other over the past 25 years or so.

    How surprising is it that all this just as routinely goes unmentioned on the pages of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review? That it's all just plainly hidden from that paper's readers?

    A Circle-Jerk of massive proportions continues.

    December 19, 2009

    Trib Editorial Board (Yawn) And The Heritage Foundation

    It's Saturday Morning and so you know what Richard Mellon Scaife's brain trust is doing.

    From this morning's editorial page:
    The Obama administration insists that the government can still spend its way to better times with a new jobs package for which the House this week approved $154 billion.

    But the more government spends, the more it crowds out private investment, business growth and job creation, as documented in a new Heritage Foundation analysis.
    No mention of the:
    • $600,000 granted to the Heritage Foundation by the Sarah Scaife Foundation in 2008.
    • $400,000 granted to the Heritage Foundation by the Sarah Scaife Foundation in 2007.
    • $800,000 granted to the Heritage Foundation by the Sarah Scaife Foundation in 2006.
    • $100,000 granted to the Heritage Foundation by the Allegheny Foundation in 2007.
    As stated at this blog more than a few times, the Sarah Scaife and Allegheny Foundations are both controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife, owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

    Doncha think they should have mentioned the close to $2 million granted over the past three years to the Heritage Foundation by their boss, Richard Mellon Scaife?

    The journalistic circle-jerk continues.

    December 18, 2009

    The President's Lost Another Columnist

    The P-G's Tony Norman:
    The Rock Obama knows something that Barack Obama seems to have forgotten -- that the Republican strategy for regaining power is predicated upon the defeat of the White House's entire domestic agenda -- period.

    To say I'm disappointed with Mr. Obama's passivity in the face of this threat to his presidency and the Democratic majority is putting it mildly. I'm appalled by it.
    And:
    I'm beginning to believe that Barack Obama would have been better off serving at least one full-term in the U.S. Senate before becoming president.

    Had he been Sen. Obama during a Hillary Clinton presidency when comprehensive health care legislation was making the rounds, he would have had a front row seat for Sen. Joe Lieberman's shameful monkey business.

    His unwillingness to punish disloyal Democrats or go to war with Republicans has created a leadership vacuum Sen. Lieberman and other opportunists are happy to occupy.
    Yea, what Tony said.

    Limbaugh pissed that insurers will have to cover "women’s issues"

    What a fucking douchebag!

    Text:
    LIMBAUGH: About the premiums going up, and my brilliant dissertation on why prices will go up in the private sector, even if the public option is not there, and even if the Medicare buy-in is not there. It’s not just preconditions that are mandated to be covered in the health care bills in either the House or the Senate.

    There was a recent amendment that was mandating private insurers to provide mammogram and other women’s issues coverage, including spousal abuse! Insurance for spousal abuse! And mammograms! Even though the mammogram age has been raised to the age of 50. You think of all the mandates that will be added onto private insurance, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
    The "Insurance for spousal abuse!" refers to the fact that some health insurance companies say that victims of domestic violence have a "pre-existing condition" and deny them coverage because of that.

    As Think Progress noted, poor widdle Rushy can't figure out why only 37% of women view him favorably.

    Again, what a fucking douchebag!
    .

    December 17, 2009

    Special Announcement

    There's a pretty good chance one of your blog hosts will be sitting in for Valerie McDonald Roberts on this week's OffQ tomorrow night.

    I won't exactly say which one of us it is, but I'll give you a hint: it's not the other one.

    The Trib Brain Trust Tells Half The Story. Again.

    From today's Pittsburgh Tribune Review (the Thursday Wrap):
    Climate-change cleric Al Gore once again finds himself on the wrong end of an inconvenient truth. At the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen he told attendees that "fresh" estimates show a 75 percent likelihood that the north polar ice cap will disappear in five to seven years, The Times of London reported. Except the scientist whose research Mr. Gore referenced said he had no clue where Ozone Al came up with that finding. The former veep later said it was a "ballpark" figure. Brrrrrrrr!
    I'll say it right off. Gore did get the figure wrong. But when you won't be surprised by what Richard Mellon Scaife's brain-trust left out. Turns out that the (of course unnamed) scientist the brain-trust references agrees (in a "ballpark" sort of way) with what Gore said.

    This is from the original Times Online article:
    In his speech, Mr Gore told the conference: “These figures are fresh. Some of the models suggest to Dr [Wieslav] Maslowski that there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years.”

    However, the climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast.

    “It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,” Dr Maslowski said. “I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.”

    Mr Gore’s office later admitted that the 75 per cent figure was one used by Dr Maslowksi as a “ballpark figure” several years ago in a conversation with Mr Gore.
    Further down the same article we find:
    Dr Maslowki, who works at the US Naval Postgraduate School in California, said that his latest results give a six-year projection for the melting of 80 per cent of the ice, but he said he expects some ice to remain beyond 2020.

    He added: “I was very explicit that we were talking about near-ice-free conditions and not completely ice-free conditions in the northern ocean. I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this,” he said. “It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at, based on the information I provided to Al Gore’s office.” [emphasis added.]
    But Gore's point is that the Arctic ice is melting very very quickly and Maslowski's point is that the Arctic ice is melting very very quickly. Any idea why Scaife's gang would omit that part?

    And for those chewing the fat on thinning arctic ice, take a look at this BBC report from almost exactly 2 years ago:
    Scientists in the US have presented one of the most dramatic forecasts yet for the disappearance of Arctic sea ice.

    Their latest modelling studies indicate northern polar waters could be ice-free in summers within just 5-6 years.

    Professor Wieslaw Maslowski told an American Geophysical Union meeting that previous projections had underestimated the processes now driving ice loss. [emphasis added]
    And a few paragraphs later:
    "Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007," the researcher from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, explained to the BBC.
    "So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative."
    One wouldn't expect Scaife's brain-trust to waste their time with such in depth research (which took me all of 30 minutes) when there's spin to be spun - especially Al Gore spin!

    Teh Crazie - Al Gore style.

    December 16, 2009

    In real need of some good cheer right now

    Here it is:


    .

    Fred Honsberger

    It is with great sadness that I write these words: My friend Fred has passed away.

    As with Maria, Fred and I had some serious political differences. In fact, I think I agreed with about 2% of most anything he said on any given day (and this would include weather and traffic). In spite of all that, one-on-one I found him to be quite a warm and approachable guy. He had me on his radio show a few times and on Sunday mornings, as I happily skewer the P-G's Jack Kelly, I just as happily drink my Sunday morning coffee from a bright and shiny Honzman Mug.

    He even announced my engagement on KDKA's 50,000 watt airwaves - how cool was that?

    Maria is exactly right when she wrote:
    It might not even be a stretch to say that there may have never been a 2pj without Fred Honsberger as I had developed a fondness for blogging at the old blog but wanted to stretch beyond the limitations about writing on Honsberger's chosen topics of the day.
    I can say that the day-to-day rhetorical jousting I did with Fred paved the way for the blogging I do here.

    My heartfelt condolences to his wife and his family and those folks who knew him better than I did.

    Ravenstahl, Trosky, Brackney, Crawford, Harper battle it out on JibJab


    Can't seem to embed this but you can view it at:
    http://sendables.jibjab.com/view/woauJpbwqAGHMsDz

    (h/t to Early Returns)
    ,

    RIP Fred Honsberger


    Via the Post-Gazette:
    Longtime KDKA-AM radio talk host Fred Honsberger died this morning. He was 58.

    The station reported that Mr. Honsberger died at home following a lengthy battle with medical issues.
    It probably goes without saying that Fred and I had real philosophical differences. Back when he had his TV show Honsberger Live I was a frequent caller and we argued pretty much all the major issues of the day. And, that goes to one thing that I highly respected about Fred: he wasn't afraid to hold up his opinions to criticism. I know that I was bumped up in the caller queue so that we could go at it. He wasn't an O'Reilly who cut people off when they were making real points (though he didn't suffer fools gladly). Fred relished the challenge. He was also extremely gracious when I met him in person.

    Many may know that David and I had a blog before 2pj which was all about refuting Fred's TV show. Fred read it daily. He had me on his radio show even after he knew that I was "Liz Adobe" on the old blog.

    It might not even be a stretch to say that there may have never been a 2pj without Fred Honsberger as I had developed a fondness for blogging at the old blog but wanted to stretch beyond the limitations about writing on Honsberger's chosen topics of the day.

    So, RIP Fred. I will miss not having the chance for one more go-round. You gave as good as you got.
    .

    December 15, 2009

    Howard Dean: Kill the bill

    From The Plum Line:
    In a blow to the bill grinding through the Senate, Howard Dean bluntly called for the bill to be killed in a pre-recorded interview set to air later this afternoon, denouncing it as “the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate,” the reporter who conducted the interview tells me.
    More here.
    .

    You're soaking in it!


    Oh hell! Let's just wallow in all the recent bad news from this gloomy day:
  • Rahm To Reid: Give Lieberman What He Wants (Talking Points Memo)

  • "The fundamental failing of the newest Senate proposal is that it requires individuals to purchase health insurance, but does nothing to rein in what insurance companies charge. There is nothing to stop spiraling health costs from eating up an ever-increasing percentage of our national productivity." (OpenLeft)

  • Rep. Capuano Tells Fellow Dems: 'You're Screwed' (HuffPo)

  • Calls to lower the minimum wage (WAPO) and reduce unemployment benefits (ThinkProgress)

  • Krugman: "[I]f politicians refuse to learn from the history of the recent financial crisis, they will condemn all of us to repeat it" (NYT)

  • Death penalty to remain in Ugandan anti-gay bill (DallasVoice)

  • A blogger finds success after pulling a Bronte and publishing under a male pseudonym (Salon)

  • .

    More Proof That The Trib Editorial Board Misleads

    From today's Op-Ed page at The Trib:
    Never mind all those damaging e-mails from scientists from England's Climatic Research Unit, which earlier this year destroyed its original climate data set used by the U.N. as a primary reference.
    From the AP (that's "Associated Press" by the way) on Saturday:
    E-mails stolen from climate scientists show they stonewalled skeptics and discussed hiding data — but the messages don't support claims that the science of global warming was faked, according to an exhaustive review by The Associated Press.
    The 1,073 e-mails examined by the AP show that scientists harbored private doubts, however slight and fleeting, even as they told the world they were certain about climate change. However, the exchanges don't undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. [emphasis added]
    It's not like Richard Mellon Scaife's "news" paper doesn't site cite the AP. Today there's this report on Tiger Woods. And this report on Senator Joe Lieberman's opposition to a push to expand Medicare. There's even this report about the Copenhagen Conference (but it's about how things are not going well there).

    But somehow they just never got around to publishing the AP "exhaustive review" showing how the stolen e-mails "don't undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions." And since they never published it, I guess (and this is just a guess) they feel they can get away with misleading (ie "lying to") their readers who probably never read it.

    How surprising for them.

    December 14, 2009

    Meanwhile, Across The Pond...

    Things are getting rather heated for Gordon Brown's predecessor. From the Guardian:
    Tony Blair used "deceit" to persuade parliament and the British people to support war in Iraq, Sir Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, said today.

    In an article in the Times, Macdonald attacked Blair for engaging in "alarming subterfuge", for displaying "sycophancy" towards George Bush and for refusing to accept that his decisions were wrong.
    I don't think The Guardian even got close to describing the fire in Macdonald's article. Here's how it begins:
    The degree of deceit involved in our decision to go to war on Iraq becomes steadily clearer. This was a foreign policy disgrace of epic proportions and playing footsie on Sunday morning television does nothing to repair the damage. It is now very difficult to avoid the conclusion that Tony Blair engaged in an alarming subterfuge with his partner George Bush and went on to mislead and cajole the British people into a deadly war they had made perfectly clear they didn’t want, and on a basis that it’s increasingly hard to believe even he found truly credible. Who is any longer naive enough to accept that the then Prime Minister’s mind remained innocently open after his visit to Crawford, Texas?
    Macdonald's article comes in light of this interview from the sycophant:
    Tony Blair has said he would have invaded Iraq even without evidence of weapons of mass destruction and would have found a way to justify the war to parliament and the public.
    And that's stirred up a whole mess o' trouble over there. From The Herald:
    Tony Blair’s confession that he would have taken Britain to war in Iraq even if he had known Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction leaves him more vulnerable to legal action, a leading international lawyer warned yesterday.

    Professor Philippe Sands QC, director of the Centre of International Courts and Tribunals at University College London, and a member of Cherie Blair’s Matrix law chambers, said the former prime minister’s admission that he would have deployed “different arguments” besides the weapons to justify the war and the removal of Saddam, means “he fixed on the policy first and then found the justification”.

    Prof Sands, who claims Mr Blair and the former US president George Bush violated international law in the 2003 invasion, said: “The fact that the policy was fixed by Tony Blair irrespective of the facts on the ground, and irrespective of the legality, will now expose him more rather than less to legal difficulties.”
    And the reason we can't even ask similar questions here is...?

    If Tony Blair is guilty of war crimes George W Bush certainly is.

    Joe Lieberman threatens filibuster on HCR


    From TPM:
    In a move that senior leadership aides say has left them stunned, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that he will filibuster a tentative public option compromise unless it's stripped of its key component: a measure that would allow people aged 55-64 to buy insurance through Medicare
    ...because he is a complete piece of shit who has received close to a half million dollars from the insurance industry throughout his career and he'd rather that people literally die than risk upsetting his corporate masters. (My apologies to shit.)


    .

    December 13, 2009

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    Jack Kelly does his usual song and dance with this week's column.

    Ok, let's jump right into it. He begins:
    I'm sure a 6-year-old with a crayon could do something not unlike that," snarked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs Tuesday.

    The object of Mr. Gibbs' scorn was Gallup's tracking poll for the day before, which showed only 47 percent of respondents approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing, with 46 percent disapproving.

    Perhaps Mr. Gibbs' skin was thin because this was the lowest ranking for a president at this point in his presidency since Gallup began conducting presidential approval polls in 1938.
    Right there, there's a spin. Here's Gallup's press release regarding the poll Jack mentions. And right in the middle of the release we can read this:
    Thus far in December, Obama has averaged 50% job approval. That is similar to the December averages for Ronald Reagan (49%) and Bill Clinton (53%), who also took office when the economy was struggling. All other recent presidents elected to their first terms had approval averages of 57% or above in their first December in office.
    But didn't Jack say that Obama's numbers were the lowest? Oh that's right, he's talking daily tracking poll and I am talking monthly average. But that shouldn't matter and you'll see in the next section why.

    Here we go. Here's what Jack writes:
    Meanwhile, a CNN/Opinion Research Poll also released Monday indicated 46 percent of respondents have a favorable impression of Sarah Palin, while 46 percent have an unfavorable one.

    The polls were not quite the same. Gallup asked people what they thought of the job Mr. Obama was doing, not whether or not they liked him.

    Even with that caveat, though, the convergence between Mr. Obama and Ms. Palin is remarkable. There is no statistical difference between the one and the other.
    And so while the polls are "not quite the same" (in fact they're two different polls taken by two different firms asking two different questions of two different groups of people) Jack says there's no statistical difference between one and the other.

    So I think I can call Jack out on his spin about Obama's poll numbers. Fact, is, Obama's numbers aren't all that different from (two-term) presidents Reagan and Clinton. By the way according to Gallup, (one-term) president Jimmy Carter was sitting at 57% at this point in 1977 and (one-term) president George H. W. Bush was sitting way up at 71%. And we all know how well their second terms went.

    So this data is important, why?

    Jack then compares Obama and Palin press coverage:
    The turnabout in fortunes is all the more remarkable because no political figure in recent history has been subject to such vilification from our news media as Sarah Palin. No malicious rumor was too preposterous to report. No accomplishment was important enough to mention.

    Meanwhile, no presidential candidate or president has received more favorable press coverage than Barack Obama.
    What Palin accomplishments? She quit her job to...I'm not really sure to do what. So let's just take a look at what happens next. Here's Jack:
    President Barack Obama has enjoyed substantially more positive media coverage than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush during their first months in the White House," concluded a Pew Research study last May. Forty-two percent of stories in major newspapers and television news programs about Mr. Obama were favorable, compared to 22 percent for Mr. Bush and 27 percent for Mr. Clinton.
    Note those two tiny words: last May. Here's Pew's reporting about the first 100 days of the Obama administration. Of course Jack leaves a few things out:
    Several factors may be at play in the favorable tone Obama has received during these first months. One element is the pace and sweep of Obama's activities. Bush and Clinton both started their presidencies pursuing policy agendas much more of their own making than Obama has. But the data suggest the current president has managed the media narrative anyway by responding to the economic crisis with so many new proposals and doing so many events that it has been hard for both his critics and the media to keep up.

    Another factor may be the media reflecting, and in turn, influencing public opinion. According to Pew Research surveys, President Obama is more popular at this point in his presidency than were either Bush or Clinton. Past studies have shown a recurring pattern of press coverage tending to follow favorability ratings
    So Pew states that favorable press coverage tends to follow higher favorability ratings. Anyone remember the election of '92? Clinton started out with only 43% of the popular vote (though he won the electoral college handily). And 2000? We don't really need to restate Bush's loss of the popular vote and the Supreme shenanigans that got him his job, do we?

    Gee, I wonder why they weren't as popular as Obama.

    But let's look at Jack's next rhetorical flourish. He's looking to present Palin as more popular than Obama with this:
    "The very fact she was willing to take the chance of appearing in a room full of her most disdainful critics is testimony to her courage," wrote Dan Thomasson of Scripps Howard. "She came away with at least a consensus of grudging admiration."

    "Her appearance produced the extraordinary scene of inside-the-Beltway cynics and their significant others asking for autographs," Mr. Thomasson noted.
    Wanna know how Thomasson's piece begins? Like this:
    Sarah Palin may not be your huckleberry when it comes to the presidency, but she came to Washington the other night and proved she has more political sex appeal than anyone on the scene with the exception of Barack Obama.
    Huh.

    This is what Jack does. He spins just enough on just enough "facts" to weave a tapestry of misleads and misinformation that almost outside of the bounds of reality.

    It's almost as if he writes for the Tribune Review editorial board.

    December 12, 2009

    Not That It'll Matter Much

    But check this out from the AP:
    E-mails stolen from climate scientists show they stonewalled skeptics and discussed hiding data — but the messages don't support claims that the science of global warming was faked, according to an exhaustive review by The Associated Press.

    The 1,073 e-mails examined by the AP show that scientists harbored private doubts, however slight and fleeting, even as they told the world they were certain about climate change. However, the exchanges don't undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
    And:
    In the past three weeks since the e-mails were posted, longtime opponents of mainstream climate science have repeatedly quoted excerpts of about a dozen e-mails. Republican congressmen and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin have called for either independent investigations, a delay in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation of greenhouse gases or outright boycotts of the Copenhagen international climate talks. They cited a "culture of corruption" that the e-mails appeared to show.

    That is not what the AP found. There were signs of trying to present the data as convincingly as possible.
    Again, nothing in this AP report will probably sway the climate skeptics. With a devotion to a empirically empty cause that borders on religious fanaticism, no amount of real world, reality-based evidence will change their belief that the Earth is not warming and even if it is man-made pollution is not contributing to it.

    December 11, 2009

    Have a Happy Happy Happy Happy Hanukkah!

    FactCheck.org on "Climategate"

    Surprise, surprise, surprise! "Climategate" is much less than meets the eye.

    So says Factcheck.org. They say the claims that the stolen e-mails show "man-made global warming" to be a fabrication are "unfounded."

    Some bullet points:
    • The messages, which span 13 years, show a few scientists in a bad light, being rude or dismissive. An investigation is underway, but there’s still plenty of evidence that the earth is getting warmer and that humans are largely responsible.
    • Some critics say the e-mails negate the conclusions of a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but the IPCC report relied on data from a large number of sources, of which CRU was only one.
    • E-mails being cited as "smoking guns" have been misrepresented. For instance, one e-mail that refers to "hiding the decline" isn’t talking about a decline in actual temperatures as measured at weather stations. These have continued to rise, and 2009 may turn out to be the fifth warmest year ever recorded. The "decline" actually refers to a problem with recent data from tree rings.
    And:
    The e-mails (which have been made available by an unidentified individual here) do show a few scientists talking frankly among themselves — sometimes being rude, dismissive, insular, or even behaving like jerks. Whether they show anything beyond that is still in doubt. There are two investigations underway, by the U.K.’s Met Office and East Anglia University, and the head of CRU, Phil Jones, has "stepped aside" until they are completed. However, many of the e-mails that are being held up as "smoking guns" have been misrepresented by global-warming skeptics eager to find evidence of a conspiracy. And even if they showed what the critics claim, there remains ample evidence that the earth in getting warmer.
    Even as the affair was unfolding, the World Meteorological Organization announced on Dec. 8 that the 2000-2009 decade would likely be the warmest on record, and that 2009 might be the fifth warmest year ever recorded. (The hottest year on record was 1998.) This conclusion is based not only on the CRU data that critics are now questioning, but also incorporates data from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). All three organizations synthesized data from many sources.
    And so on.

    Ample evidence. From multiple sources. The stolen e-mails do nothing to negate the science.

    From this letter to Congress:
    As U.S. scientists with substantial expertise on climate change and its impacts on natural ecosystems, our built environment and human well-being, we want to assure policy makers and the public of the integrity of the underlying scientific research and the need for urgent action to reduce heat-trapping emissions. In the last few weeks, opponents of taking action on climate change have misrepresented both the content and the significance of stolen emails to obscure public understanding of climate science and the scientific process.

    We would like to set the record straight.

    The body of evidence that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming is overwhelming. The content of the stolen emails has no impact whatsoever on our overall understanding that human activity is driving dangerous levels of global warming. The scientific process depends on open access to methodology, data, and a rigorous peer-review process. The robust exchange of ideas in the peer-reviewed literature regarding climate science is evidence of the high degree of integrity in this process.
    And then there's this from 18 leading US Science organizations (including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society):
    Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver. These conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence, and contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science. ... If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced.
    But one guy in an e-mail used the word "trick" in dealing with tree-ring data, so you know that proves beyond any doubt that global warming is a hoax.

    It's Teh Crazie - science style.

    December 10, 2009

    The Trib Editorial Board. AGAIN

    From today's editorial page:
    With voter registration fraud alone no guarantee of Democrat wins, far-left elements are working to elect sympathetic secretaries of state across the nation. So contends Matthew Vadum, senior editor at Washington's Capital Research Center.
    Cue the source check. Capital Research Center was granted:
    • $225,000 by the Richard Mellon Scaife controlled Sarah Scaife Foundation in 2008
    • $250,000 by the Richard Mellon Scaife controlled Sarah Scaife Foundation in 2007
    • $250,000 by the Richard Mellon Scaife controlled Sarah Scaife Foundation in 2006
    That's about three quarters of a million dollars in the last three years being funneled to the Capital Research Center by Richard Mellon Scaife so that Mattew Vadum can write an article that Scaife's editorial board can cite as source material.

    Regardless of whatever Vadum writes (and he writes that Al Franken stole the 2008 election from Norm Coleman - with the help of ACORN, of course), the Richard Mellon Scaife's journalistic circle-jerk continues.

    Don't these guys ever get tired?

    December 9, 2009

    sigh

    We don't really know what the Gang of Ten in the Senate has decided to bestow upon us in terms of health care reform a bill (some clues here and here), but we do pretty much know what won't be in it (cribbed from Daily Kos diary):
    Single-Payer
    Robust Public Option
    Public Option available to all
    Repeal insurance industry anti-trust exemption
    Negotiated drug prices and rebates
    Allow states to offer Single Payer
    Negotiated rates Public Option
    Expansion of Medicaid
    Negotiated rates Public Option opt-out
    We also know what the insurance industry thinks about it: "We WIN".

    [sigh]
    .

    Time For School

    Go check out this piece by Matt Osborne at the Huffingtonpost. From his opening:
    Nontroversy feeds on empty, twisted brains. In this case, a general unfamiliarity with the language of scientific banter allows the "climategate" nontroversy to overwhelm the consensus on global warming. That consensus is built on literally hundreds of thousands of studies at this point; and indeed, the stolen emails contain a wealth of proof that temperatures are rising. Yet the media stovepipe magnifies, even invents, discrepancies and minimizes evidence, even as the ice melts.
    He describes 5 stages (here are the first three):
    Viral Stage: The emails were posted on climate denial sites first. Note that nontroversy never begins in a neutral forum; the wingnutosphere is always the platform for launch. It is the vector of viral memes. This achieves two objectives: (1) it produces the maximum spread of this "news" before anyone can rebut or debunk it, and (2) reinforces Teh Librul Media™ meme with every passing hour that CNN, ABC, CBS, the NYT, et al fail to screech in chorus.
    Then there's:
    Larval Stage: Faux Noise -- the right-wing media world that includes both the Daily Mail and Fox News Channel -- runs the story. Scientific literacy is eschewed in favor of banner headlines, forming a feedback loop with the wingnutosphere.... Note that (1) right-wing media is still responsible for spreading the nontroversy, and (2) Teh Librul Media™ meme is ever-present. Indeed, the wingnutosphere demands it.

    There is still no actual science in the discussion. Nontroversy always focuses on the human factor and implies the worst.
    We can include Richard Mellon Scaife's circle-jerking Op-Ed page in this stage, of course. Next:
    Pandemic Stage: "Liberal" mainstream media organizations now run the "facts" and narrative pre-established by the right wing noise machine as one side of a controversy.

    In its effort to show "both sides" and report that controversy, the one thing CNN does not report is the actual science of climate change. The public is left with the impression, however unjustified, that scientists have probably done something wrong, and denialists are given exactly the "fair hearing" they don't get from scientific journals.
    This part should be familiar to anyone who followed the "controversy" regarding the conflict between Evolution (ie science) and Creationism/Intelligent Design (ie not-science).

    It's a good read.

    December 8, 2009

    Not What You'd Expect

    Oh, so here goes.

    Tony Norman, award-winning columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, winner of a Knight-Wallace Fellowship, and (most importantly) best man at my wedding, made a few boo-boos in today's column.

    Boo-boo numero uno:
    I was a sucker for environmental propaganda. When I was a kid, I fell for all of the "Keep America Beautiful" public service announcements. The most memorable of those PSA's featured a Native American paddling a canoe across a lake to a trash-strewn shoreline.

    As ads go, it was devastating. The Indian had nobility and empathy to spare. As he paddled past factories belching smoke, a narrator with the deep, biblical voice of Orson Welles intoned: "Some people have a deep abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this country. Some people don't."
    Here's the ad:


    Sorry, Tony. It was William Conrad NOT Orson Welles who did the voice over for the ad. This post at the Britannica.com says so. Take a look:
    This classic television commercial, from the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign of the early 1970s, debuted on the second Earth Day, in 1971, and was one of the most successful public service announcements ever produced, starring actor (actually, Italian-American actor) Iron Eyes Cody as the “crying Indian” with a voice-over by actor William Conrad. [emphasis added]
    And there's Tony's boo-boo numero due. Did you see it? Here's what Tony wrote again:
    I was a sucker for environmental propaganda. When I was a kid, I fell for all of the "Keep America Beautiful" public service announcements. The most memorable of those PSA's featured a Native American paddling a canoe across a lake to a trash-strewn shoreline.
    But the Britannica says Iron Eyes Cody was an Italian-American.

    So does Snopes.com:
    That "crying Indian," as he would later sometimes be referred to, was Iron Eyes Cody, an actor who throughout his life claimed to be of Cherokee/Cree extraction. Yet his asserted ancestry was just as artificial as the tear that rolled down his cheek in that television spot — the tear was glycerine, and the "Indian" a second-generation Italian-American.
    And:
    Iron Eyes Cody was born Espera DeCorti on 3 April 1904 in the small town of Kaplan, Louisiana. He was the son of Francesca Salpietra and Antonio DeCorti, she an immigrant from Sicily who had arrived in the USA in 1902, and he another immigrant who had arrived in America not long before her.
    AND the tear was glycerine? How else did they lie to us?

    See? That proves it: GLOBAL WARMING IS A HOAX!