We are the 99%

February 28, 2010

Jack Kelly Sunday

This week, unsurprisingly, Jack Kelly toes the republican line on health care. Surprise, surprise, Jack's solution in this column?

Deregulate.

But first let's start with some Shakespeare:
I hope this isn't just political theater, where we're just playing to the cameras," President Barack Obama said as he opened his health care summit Thursday.

But of course that's all it was. When he said it was "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," Shakespeare's Macbeth might have been anticipating this event.
And let me commend Jack on the literary reference.

As Jack points out, it's from Macbeth (Act V scene v, to be precise). Macbeth has just learned that Lady Macbeth is dead and says:
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.
And kudos to Jack for peppering his text with Shakespeare/theatre references:
Mr. Obama performed well, as he is wont to do at staged events...
And:
The fury came mostly from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi...
And:
...the Republicans, who were to be cast as the villains.
And so on. But let's move beyond the literary analysis. Here's Jack's next paragraph:
The purpose of the exercise was to portray the president as a reasonable man open to compromise and the Republicans as abominable "no" men. But that purpose was undermined by the leaks beforehand that the Democrats plan to try to ram through Obamacare 2.0 (which combines the worst features of the House and Senate bills) through the budget reconciliation process.
Of course that's that pesky "majority rule" that sometimes doesn't seem to apply in the US Senate.

In the end Jack proposes three solutions (all echoes of the same concept - deregulation):
  • Remove legal restrictions on the importation of foreign drugs.
  • Allow the purchase of non-controlled medications without prescriptions.
  • Repeal the Kefauver Amendment of 1962.
Luckily, Jon Stewart has already dealt with this argument:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Bipartisan Health Care Reform Summit 2010
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorVancouverage 2010

Check out what happens at about seven minutes in (keeping in mind Jack's deregulation suggestions). Here it is. The president says:
We could set up a system where food was probably cheaper than it is right now, if we just eliminated meat inspectors.
Deregulate.

February 27, 2010

Um...Not So Fast There, Bub.

Saw this at CNN this morning:
Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs. This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women. The findings will be published in the March 2010 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.
Now as I am a liberal AND an atheist, I'd like very much to believe this is true. But as I am a member of the reality based community, I have to be shown something that at least looks like data before supporting it.

And that's where this comes up short. CNN gives us some "numbers" (and you get a donut if you can spot the red flags):
Participants who said they were atheists had an average IQ of 103 in adolescence, while adults who said they were religious averaged 97, the study found. Atheism "allows someone to move forward and speculate on life without any concern for the dogmatic structure of a religion," Bailey said.
So adults who said they were religious scored a 97 while adolescents who were atheists scored a 103.

Setting aside the murky word usage here (how are "religious" and "atheist" defined? Dunno I do know a few Buddhists who'd say it's possible to be religious AND atheist, but I digress.) isn't it messy to compare adult IQ with adolescent IQ?

Then there's this:
The study found that young adults who said they were "very conservative" had an average adolescent IQ of 95, whereas those who said they were "very liberal" averaged 106.
I am curious about the inclusion of the adverb "very." What do the numbers look like when one just looks at self-described liberals vs self-described conservatives (i.e. without the "very")? How do those populations compare to each other in size? And how large is each "very" segment compared to those larger populations?

It's necessary to know this stuff before believing any of this CNN article.

I'll let this post have the penultimate word:
Seriously? Show me the error bars on those measurements. Show me the reliability of IQ as a measure of actual, you know, intelligence. Show me that a 6 point IQ difference matters at all in your interactions with other people, even if it were real. And then to claim that these differences are not only heritable, but evolutionarily significant…jebus, people, you can just glance at it and see that it is complete crap.
I can't say complete crap but there's enough to doubt in the piece on Kanazawa to safely toss all this in the "ignore this" pile.

February 26, 2010

Democracy for Pittsburgh Endorsements

Democracy for Pittsburgh (DfP) is holding their endorsement votes this week. You qualify to vote if you have been to two DfP meetups and/or DfP sponsored events since Feb. 2009.

The vote will be held at Tazza d’Oro on March 3rd. However, if you can't make that, you can mail in your vote (better make it fast!). Instructions and ballot are here.

Also -- of interest to non DfP members -- you can find candidate responses to DfP's questionnaire at that same link.
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Melissa Hart's parking for life


The Longworth House Office building parking garage is for current members of Congress. Former members can park there if they are not lobbyists.

So who does the above car -- which has sat abandoned for the last three years -- belong to?

According to The Daily Caller:
Bumper stickers on the car point to Hart, as does the fact that the license plate is from Pennsylvania. There’s a Washington and Jefferson College sticker (of which Hart is a 1984 graduate) on the back window. And there’s a George W. Bush for President sticker on the bumper.

[snip]

A sign in the dashboard reads “109th Congress” (which lasted from 2005 to 2007 and was the last Congress Hart served in). The Pennsylvania license tag expired last year.
When a Daily Caller reporter called the Hart's office she hung up.

Oh yeah, Hart is a registered lobbyist.
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February 25, 2010

Rep. Louise Slaughter's Comments at WH HCR Summit

Definitely worth a watch:


By the way, there were only a handful of women at the table.
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Rep. Anthony Weiner's PSA

"The Republican Party is the wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry."


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Camille Paglia's a Birther??

Every now and then I wander through World Net Daily (aka "crazie central") to see what the fringe of the fringe has to say. There's the usual blather about predatory Muslims and ACORN and every now and then there's something birther this way comes.

Stumbled across WND's list of prominent birthers this morning. Here's the list:
Leaders on a growing list also are asking question, including Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Ron Ramsey, Hawaii state Sen. Will Espero, U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Ga., former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former House majority leader Tom DeLay, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., feminist icon Camille Paglia, New Hampshire State Rep. Laurence Rappaport, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., and prominent commentators Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Mark Levin, Lou Dobbs, Peter Boyles and WND's Chuck Norris and Pat Boone.
Usual suspects at first glance then I went:

Huh? Camille Paglia's a birther?

This I had to see. Here's Camille from November of '08:
In the closing weeks of the election, however, I became increasingly disturbed by the mainstream media's avoidance of forthright dealing with several controversies that had been dogging Obama -- even as every flimsy rumor about Sarah Palin was being trumpeted as if it were engraved in stone on Mount Sinai. For example, I had thought for many months that the flap over Obama's birth certificate was a tempest in a teapot. But simple questions about the certificate were never resolved to my satisfaction. Thanks to their own blathering, fanatical overkill, of course, the right-wing challenges to the birth certificate never gained traction.

But Obama could have ended the entire matter months ago by publicly requesting Hawaii to issue a fresh, long-form, stamped certificate and inviting a few high-profile reporters in to examine the document and photograph it. (The campaign did make the "short-form" certificate available to Factcheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.)
Curious part is that had she actually read the Factcheck posting she linked to, she would have read:
In June, the Obama campaign released a digitally scanned image of his birth certificate to quell speculative charges that he might not be a natural-born citizen. But the image prompted more blog-based skepticism about the document's authenticity. And recently, author Jerome Corsi, whose book attacks Obama, said in a TV interview that the birth certificate the campaign has is "fake."

We beg to differ. FactCheck.org staffers have now seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate. We conclude that it meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false. We have posted high-resolution photographs of the document as "supporting documents" to this article. Our conclusion: Obama was born in the U.S.A. just as he has always said.
Not only that, but they have an update, dated November 1 - 11 days before Camille's Salon posting. It reads:
Update, Nov. 1: The director of Hawaii’s Department of Health confirmed Oct. 31 that Obama was born in Honolulu.
Here's Camille a few months later in April '09:
Yes, there were ambiguities about Obama's birth certificate that have never been satisfactorily resolved.
So the official position of the State of Hawaii isn't good enough?

And then last September where she's quoted as saying this on NPR:
First of all, I reject the idea that the “birther” campaign is motivated by racism. There may be racism among it, but there are legitimate questions about the documentation of Obama’s birth certificate.
I used to be a fan of Camille's. Didn't always agree with her but I always thought there was a huge brain behind that mile-a-minute voice.

Now I know she's just nuts.

February 24, 2010

"Scooping: Sexual Assault or Schoolboy Prank?"

It's sexual assault. And, KTLA reporters: Stop repeatedly calling it scooping. That would help.

This bit kills me too:
School administrators would not issue a statement due to confidentiality rules, but they told KTLA that the school takes situations like this very seriously. They also said they didn't realize a parent was upset.
You know, it doesn't really count if only the girls are upset...


Here's an idea: REPORT IT TO THE POLICE so it doesn't go even further.
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Delusional, II

Andrew Breitbart (of breitbart.com and James O'Keefe false ACORN 'pimp' story fame) has declared that he will take "down the institutional left" in the "next three weeks."

(He's also supremely fun to bait on Twitter and will retweet any an all criticism of himself posted there.)
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Delusional


Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tries to rewrite history by not only claiming that then President Bush asked him to suspend his presidential campaign during the 2008 financial crisis, but that then candidate Obama also suspended his campaign.
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February 23, 2010

Anti Choice Group Opposes Attempts to Block Premium Increases

Via the NYT:
The National Right to Life Committee, which opposes abortion rights, on Monday criticized President Obama’s proposal to give the federal government new authority to review and potentially block premium increases by private health insurers.

Mr. Obama included the proposal in his version of a comprehensive health care overhaul unveiled by the White House on Monday. Officials said it would protect consumers from unjustified rate hikes, particularly in cases where state regulators fail or refuse to act.

In its statement, the National Right to Life Committee said that the president’s proposal “limits rights of Americans of all ages to use their own money to save their own lives.”

Burke Balch, the director of the National Right to Life Committee’s Powell Center of Ethics, likened the president’s plan to imposing a limit on the cost of restaurant meals.

“It is as though a government, concerned about the high cost of restaurant food, imposed a price limit of $5 per meal, and then asserted that for those who like their restaurant food, nothing will force them to change their eating habits,” the statement said. “The reality, of course, is that restaurants would be unable to afford to offer meals at prices below the cost of their ingredients. Consequently, about all restaurant-goers would be able to get would be fast food.”
Via Digby:
Yes, indeed. We must do everything possible to protect individual liberty and freedom of choice. No systems should ever be put in place by the government which could possibly result in people's options being restricted. Welll ... unless you happen to be a woman, in which case government bureaucrats are morally required to pass laws which force you to undergo pregnancy and childbirth regardless of your wishes in the matter.

But, that one teensy, unimportant impediment to our libertarian paradise excepted, we should thank the Good Lord that these defenders of freedom are here ensure that the government never interferes with the price structure of a Big Mac or forces an insurance company to settle for something less than a 50% profit margin. Don't tread on me, bitchuz.
Via me: Not to mention that the restaurant analogy is just plain stupid. For it to make sense, the Obama Administration would have to be attempting to control what doctors/hospitals could charge, not what insurers could charge. Besides, if these idiots don't want their insurance to be cheaper, they can simply pay out-of-pocket for everything and pay the very highest rate which apparently would make them all happy little clams. See? Choice it's a beautiful thing...
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Hoeffel Web Ad Displays His Progressive Bona Fides

Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Joe Hoeffel embraces his progressive side:


Click here to donate/volunteer/share this ad.
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From The Wingnut Fringe

Don't look now, but I think World Net Daily just turned on Glenn Beck.

Take a look:
While polls show more people drifting away from acceptance of "global warming," the newest superstar among conservatives – Glenn Beck – is embracing it.

"You'd be an idiot not to notice the temperature change," he says. He also thinks it could be caused by man's activity.

At home, he's going green by using energy-saving products.

"I'm willing to do anything but use the CFLs," he says of compact fluorescent light bulbs. "I put them in once and couldn't stand the way they lit up the room."

The kinder, gentler, greener and warmer side of Beck, known as a firebrand conservative, came to light in an interview in USA Weekend.
Here's the interview.

He does the unthinkable. He disses Ronald Reagan:
Beck also reveals he's no fan of Ronald Reagan whom he blames for driving up the deficits.

"Republicans sold the American people out," Beck says. "I've always said I was a Reagan-style conservative. But I don't think Reagan was a real Republican. He just maintained some shared values."
And I'm curious about this part:
Beck also explains how he chose Mormonism as his religion.

He was raised Catholic and wasn't practicing any faith when he met his current wife, Tania, says the report. When she insisted that a church needed to be a part of their family's life, they began church shopping.

"We tried 'em all," Beck says. "Unitarian, Episcopalian, Baptist, even a synagogue. We ended up with the Church of Latter-day Saints because I took my daughters from my first marriage there, and they said, 'Dad, this place makes us feel warm and welcome inside. Can we come back?'"
Why is it brought up at all? Could this be the reason? The video is of a "street clash" and is framed by Kirk Cameron - pointing out the difference between "Mormonism and biblical Christianity." The tag at the end of the video says it's "Presented by World Net Daily."

So what do we have here? A mildly critical piece on Glenn Beck reminding WND's readers that Beck:
  • Believes in global warming
  • Is no fan of Ronald Reagan
  • Is a Mormon (and therefore not a "biblical Christian")
This looks to be beginning of an ongoing argument.

Turns out Glenn Beck is not a birther and that didn't sit well over there at WND.

This is gonna be fun.

Cheney Hospitalized for Chest Pains; Doctors Find His Heart to be "Two Sizes Too Small"


From The New York Times:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney was admitted Monday to George Washington Hospital after experiencing chest pains. Mr. Cheney’s assistant, Peter Long, said in a statement that Mr. Cheney, 69, was resting comfortably and that his doctors were evaluating the situation and found his heart to be "two sizes too small."
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"A little hair of the dog" from Rick "Man-on-Dog" Santorum


Really? Seriously? I mean if you google "rick man on dog santorum" there's only some 99,000 results.

He's just teasing us, right?
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February 22, 2010

Nice! Sestak video hits home

Dear Mr. President:


Click here to volunteer/contribute/ask the President to support Joe.
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Supreme Court Fantasy League

You want geek? We got geek:

www.fantasyscotus.net

A Supreme Court fantasy league which Law.com's Legal Blog Watch called the "new gold standard in Supreme Court geekery."

This also provides me the perfect excuse to post pictures from the 2009 SCOTUS holiday party which I never got around to blogging in December (fantasy league link and photos courtesy of my sister Betty):





My sis

Obligatory Peeps SCOTUS

Sorry, pics of Scalia leading the Christmas carols are only available for viewing upon request. ;-)
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The Trib, Heritage, And The ISI

We all know by now the incestuous relationship between Richard Mellon Scaife's Tribune-Review and The Heritage Foundation. In case this is your first time here, here are a few bullet points to remember:
  • Foundations that Scaife controls have given tens of millions of dollars to Heritage over the years
  • Scaife is on the board of Trustees for Heritage
  • Heritage President Ed Feulner is on the board of one of the Scaife foundations that gave money to Heritage
  • Feulner has a weekly column on Scaife's Tribune-Review editorial page
Which is where we begin - on Feulner's column today:
Even in the depths of the Great Depression, Americans showed they could still think big. In just over a year, construction crews built a landmark that still stands proud, one recognized worldwide as a symbol of our country: the Empire State Building.

I recently visited the building to speak to an enthusiastic group of King's College students about the need to return to the principles of our Founding Fathers. Unfortunately, as a new study shows, many students simply aren't learning what makes America unique. In fact, what they are learning all too often helps divide rather than unite Americans.

This study, titled "The Shaping of the American Mind," is the latest in an annual series from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI.org), where I'm proud to serve as a trustee.
Actually he was also the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Interestingly enough, the current president of the board of trustees, T. Kenneth Cribb was once also on the board of the Sarah Scaife Foundation, according to Mediamatters.

Which leads us inexorably to the next question: So how much money has Richard Mellon Scaife funneled to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute?

Lots:
  • Sarah Scaife Foundation gave $275,000 in 2008
  • Sarah Scaife Foundation gave $275,000 in 2007
  • Sarah Scaife Foundation gave $450,000 in 2006
That's a cool million in just three years.

Mediamatters has more. Over the last two decades, Scaife-controlled foundations have given about $9.8 million to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

So what do we have here in this column? Ed Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation ($23 million in Scaife money over the years) writes a column touting a study from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute ($9.8 million in Scaife money over the years) with no mention whatsoever of any of that $32 million.

What, didn't Ed think it was important enough to mention? How the owner of the paper he writes a column for has granted millions to both the foundation he works for and the institute he's using as a source of information?

The circle jerk continues.

Cookie Table & Cosmos for a Good Cause!


(Some of the actual cookies you can enjoy tonight.)

Just a reminder that the Inaugural On The Spot Happy Hour Fundraiser is this evening.

On the Spot is a new campaign to raise money to provide menstrual products to girls in local public schools. Many girls actually have to skip school because they don't have access to these products!

Event Details:

Inaugural On The Spot Happy Hour Fundraiser

Monday, February 22
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Over the Bar Cafe
2518 East Carson St.
Pittsburgh PA 15203

DJ Mary Mack, Kellee Maize, Silent Auction, Drink Specials ($2 Yeunglings, $3 drafts, and $4 On the Spot Cosmo), and Cookie Table

$10 or $5 and a box of supplies (pads preferred)

More info here.
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February 21, 2010

I Heard Jim Quinn Rant About This

It's just so surprising that the RightWingMedia gets the story wrong.

From Mediamatters:
Right-wing media seized on Fox News and Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) reports and claimed that in December "five Muslim soldiers" were "arrested for trying to poison the food supply at Fort Jackson," often while fearmongering about a "jihadist" plot against the base or speculating that the delay in reporting on the allegations was due to a "Fort Jackson cover-up." The right wing has made these claims despite the fact that military officials have said "there is currently no credible evidence to substantiate the allegations."
So even though there's no credible evidence, our friends in the wingnut press spread the story anyway. What value is the truth when there's fear to be mongered?

Jack Kelly Sunday

This one'll be short, I promise.

Jack Kelly's column today at the P-G starts with a non sequitur, a red herring, a distracting factoid:
Americans didn't like it when the Obama administration announced in November it would try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court in New York City. A CNN poll indicated only 34 percent of respondents agreed with the president. Nearly twice as many (64 percent) said KSM should be tried by a military commission.

"Even a majority of Democrats and liberals say he should be tried by military authorities," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
There's more to that CNN report:
According to a Quinnipiac University poll also released Wednesday morning, 59 percent want September 11 terror suspects tried in military courts, with 35 percent saying they should face trial in civilian courts. And nearly 7 out of 10 people questioned feel that terror suspects should not receive all of the constitutional protections afforded by a civilian trial.

The Quinnipiac survey suggests a partisan divide, with Democrats split, while nearly 3 out of 4 Republicans and 6 out of 10 Independents supporting military trials. The poll also indicates that 3 out of 4 voters think the suspect who allegedly tried to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day be tried as an enemy combatant rather than as an ordinary criminal, but by a 52 to 42 percent margin, they approve of the FBI's advice to the suspect of his right to remain silent.
Huh? They approve of the FBI saying terrorists have a right to remain silent? You'd never guess that from Jack's diversionary column.

Why is this a diversion? Coincidentally, it came up at this weekend's CPAC. Take a look at Congressman Bob Barr getting booed (Barr goes on at about 2:15 in):
The media covered the story that he was booed for saying that waterboarding is torture (which it is and the Obama administration still has an obligation to prosecute the tortures committed by the Bush Administration). But just before that, he was defending the idea of civilian courts rather then military tribunals being used for the trials. Why would he do that?

Because the law's already in place for it.

Rawstory has a summary:
Debating the issue of whether terrorist suspects should be read Miranda rights and should have access to civilian courts, Barr argued that politicians are being allowed "to have their cake and eat it too" by choosing whether to place defendants in civilian courts or military tribunals. Barr said the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 provided the framework for how to deal with terrorist suspects, and said government officials should stick to that law.

"Either we believe, as lawyers, as lawmakers and as citizens, that there is value in laws, that laws that are passed have meaning and have a purpose, or we dont," Barr said.

"But I don't think that we should go down the path of allowing our leaders to have their cake and eat it too. There's nothing magical about military tribunals, they don't have necessarily better lawyers than in the civilian sector. I think I have more faith in our US attorneys, who are non-political, than my colleagues on the other side of this debate do," Barr continued.

"We can try them, we should try them. That is precisely what out law provides for. And the first time we're faced with a situation we say, 'Oh, we want to have them to go to the military, let them torture them for a while.' It's not advanced interrogation techniques. Waterboarding is torture."
So whether a only third of Americans polled think that the evildoers should be tried in a civilian court, it's beside the point.

Barr (a former USAttorney, by the way) said it: There's nothing magical about military tribunals. We're a nation of laws. Using an "easier" court system to better guarantee a conviction is, frankly, beneath us. We're better than that. Or at least we should be.

February 20, 2010

Yoo claimed president had constitutional power to order a village to be "massacred"

Via Newsweek:
The chief author of the Bush administration's "torture memo" told Justice Department investigators that the president's war-making authority was so broad that he had the constitutional power to order a village to be "massacred," according to a report by released Friday night by the Office of Professional Responsibility.

The views of former Justice lawyer John Yoo were deemed to be so extreme and out of step with legal precedents that they prompted the Justice Department's internal watchdog office to conclude last year that he committed "intentional professional misconduct" when he advised the CIA it could proceed with waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques against Al Qaeda suspects.

[snip]

Pressed on his views in an interview with OPR investigators, Yoo was asked:

"What about ordering a village of resistants to be massacred? ... Is that a power that the president could legally—"

"Yeah," Yoo replied, according to a partial transcript included in the report. "Although, let me say this: So, certainly, that would fall within the commander-in-chief's power over tactical decisions."

"To order a village of civilians to be [exterminated]?" the OPR investigator asked again.

"Sure," said Yoo.
The Office of Professional Responsibility cleared Yoo of professional-misconduct allegations last month.

Jack Balkin at Balkinization explains why:
That is to say, rules of professional misconduct are aimed at weeding out sociopaths and people driven to theft and egregious incompetence by serious drug and alcohol abuse problems; they do not guarantee that lawyers will do right by their clients, or, in this case, by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America. In effect, by setting the standard of conduct so low, rules of professional conduct effectively work to protect all those lawyers out there whose moral standing is just a hair's breadth above your average mass murderer. This is how the American legal profession simultaneously polices and takes care of its own.
[sigh]
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Human Incubators

Further proof that they are not so much anti abortion or pro life as they are pro forced birth:
  • RH Reality Check: A bill passed by the Utah House and Senate this week and waiting for the governor's signature, will make it a crime for a woman to have a miscarriage, and make induced abortion a crime in some instances.

  • RH Reality Check: Pregnant Nicaraguan Woman Denied Treatment for Metastatic Cancer
  • You do realize that the 2008 Republican Party Platform also does not allow an abortion exception to save a woman's life.
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    News From Bush-Land

    Who'da guessed that this was the case?
    Nearly a third of Texans believe humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time, and more than half disagree with the theory that humans developed from earlier species of animals, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
    Good thing they didn't send us any Presidents or anything...

    Tribbing The Freedomworks

    Oh the things you discover once you dig just a little.

    In today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Craig Smith interviews former member of Congress, Dick Armey. Here's the setup:
    Dick Armey championed lower taxes, less government and more freedom while serving 18 years in the House of Representatives. In 2003, he joined FreedomWorks to lead the same political charge on a grassroots level. Since joining the Washington, D.C.-based group, he's traveled to more than 20 states, energizing people, testifying before state and federal governments and meeting with pro-reform legislators.
    Um, Craig? You know hat's not exactly true, right? But then again this is the editorial page at the Tribune-Review where "facts" aren't necessarily, you know, factual.

    Here's the actual facts:
    Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) and Empower America today announced that they have merged to form a new grassroots advocacy organization, FreedomWorks, that will expand and broaden the national fight for lower taxes, less government, and more economic freedom. Three of the most respected and accomplished leaders of the conservative, free-market movement-- Dick Armey, C. Boyden Gray, and Jack Kemp-- will serve as the Co-Chairmen of FreedomWorks. Bill Bennett will focus on school choice as a Senior Fellow. Matt Kibbe is FreedomWorks’ new President and CEO.
    This is from the press release announcing the creation of Freedomworks.

    Armey had been on the board of Directors for CSE since January of 2003 right after he left the Congress.

    CSE dates back to 1984 and Freedomworks was not formed until more than a year later in July of 2004. Small point, obviously, but to say that Armey "joined" Freedomworks in 2003 (when it was not yet in existence) is, let's be honest here, factually incorrect.

    But let's move on to the real point of this post.

    Armey joins CSE in 2003. According to Mediamatters, foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife, owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, granted CSE
    Though something must've happened after 2007 as the Scaife Foundations own records show only a grant of $70,000 in 2008.

    But still that's a tad more than $1.25 million in 6 years.

    Doncha think Craig Smith should have mentioned that? Mentioned that his employer funneled more than a million dollars to the organization headed by the guy he's interviewing about that organization?

    The circle jerk continues.

    Here's something for all the Sarah Palin fans reading this blog:
    Q: Where do you see Sarah Palin in this?

    A: I think Sarah Palin is an extremely popular personality and she's a unique person, and she's very attractive to people who love freedom. She's very able at expressing her own values on the subject. She is detested by the liberals because she is everything that Hillary Clinton pretends to be. And understand, Sarah Palin did not become governor of Alaska because she was somebody's daughter or wife. She made it on her own terms. She is very clear in her own understanding of who she is and what she values and she's very direct in expressing it, and that, of course, is why people on the conservative side admire her and people on the liberal side detest her. But ... I frankly don't expect to ever see Sarah Palin seek public office.

    Q: Why not?

    A: My own view is, first of all, she's enjoying being sort of a national spokesman or figurehead of freedom and independence, and I think she's seen that politics at the national level is a pretty grubby business for very little reward in it.
    Coincidentally, (if I am reading the forms correctly) according to their 2008 IRS taxes, Freedomworks pays Dick Armey about half a million dollars a year for about 18 hours of work per week. I guess the reward is heading a national "grassroots" organization like Freedomworks.

    February 19, 2010

    The Braintrust

    This one's a hoot.

    On today's editorial page at the Tribune Review, we find this:
    A new shocking report on social studies "professionals" using classrooms as leftist indoctrination centers should prompt parents and taxpayers to reassert local control over public education.

    Mary Grabar, writing for America's Survival Inc., recounts what she witnessed at the National Council for the Social Studies' 2009 annual meeting. Ms. Grabar -- whose parents escaped communist Yugoslavia when she was 2, holds a doctorate in English and teaches part-time -- found only negative views of the U.S. and the West.
    We all know where this is headed, right?

    It's now getting too easy. But here's the rundown:
    • America's Survival received $150,000 in grants from the Sarah Scaife Foundation in 2008.
    • America's Survival received $60,000 in grants from the Sarah Scaife Foundation in 2007.
    • America's Survival received $110,000 in grants from the Carthage Foundation in 2007.
    • America's Survival received $100,000 in grants from the Carthage Foundation in 2006.
    So that's $420,000 since 2006 from foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife.

    Additionally, if you take a look at the data at Mediamatters, America's Survival and America's Survival Inc (no idea on the name change, by the way) have only 4 Funders:
    • Carthage Foundation
    • Sarah Scaife Foundation
    • Devos Foundation
    • Armstrong Foundation
    And those last two foundations only granted $11,000 compared to $556,000 granted in total by the Scaife controlled foundations.

    That's a very tightly wound circle-jerk.

    And a word on Professor Grabar. The Braintrust says her report is "shocking." But, considering some of her other writing, it's hardly shocking at all. She's your typical wingnut ranter.

    An example of her writing found from June of 2009 at Townhall.com:
    I was a bit surprised to hear former Homeland Secretary Tom Ridge echo President Obama’s criticism of Rush Limbaugh by calling him “shrill” and “divisive” recently. Then Senator John Cronyn joined in the Rush-bashing over Limbaugh’s use of the word “racist” for self-described “wise Latina woman” judge Sonia Sotomayor. I do not recall ever being enlightened or inspired by these politicians.

    On the other hand, as I’ve driven to teach afternoon classes I’ve enjoyed the insights and wit from Limbaugh. I am always impressed by his ability to apply historical figures, ideas, events, and Constitutional principles.
    And America's Survival is your typical wingnut platform. Here's an example of the typical fare found there:
    In a case of strange political bedfellows, conservative Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has joined leftist comedian Al Franken, a Democratic Senator from Minnesota, in sponsoring a bill denouncing Uganda's Christians for considering passage of legislation to outlaw certain unhealthy and immoral homosexual practices.
    That's Uganda's Anti-homosexuality bill, by the way. To the writer, Cliff Kincaid, has also had columns published in Scaife's Tribune-Review. Like this one.

    The circle jerk continues.

    February 18, 2010

    Mary Beth Buchanan Takes On Marty Griffin

    And, uh, it doesn't go well.

    Talkingpointsmemo has a rundown:
    Mary Beth Buchanan, a former Bush-era U.S. Attorney who is now running for Congress in Pennsylvania against Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire, may need to work on how she handles criticism of her tenure in office. Buchanan called into the radio show of local talker Marty Griffin, and apparently threatened him with a defamation suit.
    Uh-oh.

    You can listen to the entire thing here.

    MBB took issue with what she saw was some less than factual assertions by Griffin and his previous guest, Dr. Cyril Wecht:
    During his interview, Wecht alleged that the case had cost $20 million to prosecute. Buchanan called in to take serious exception to this, saying that it could have only been $500,000 at most -- and told Griffin that he better get his facts right. "And you know, we still have defamation laws in this country. And to the extent that you keep repeating things are flat-out wrong, you're running afoul. That case could not have cost the government more than $500,000, and that's on the outside."

    "So you're saying you're going to sue me?" Griffin replied. "Is that what you're saying, Mary Beth, because Dr. Wecht and others are suggesting? So you're gonna run for Congress, and you're threatening to sue me because we're suggesting that the case cost $20 million?"

    "I'm saying that you have to know what you're talking about before you start repeating things," Buchanan replied.
    I thought she knew what she was doing.

    Uh-oh. Is she gonna sue me for that?

    Anyway, if we want to talk facts and stuff like that, there's always what Potter wrote this morning:
    Over at the P-G's Early Returns blog yesterday, our pal Tim McNulty has broken news of Mary Beth Buchanan's not-so-surprising entry into the 4th Congressional District race.

    Also somewhat less than entirely surprising: The press release announcing her campaign is already getting sloppy with the facts.
    Potter focuses on this paragraph from Buchanan's press release:
    Just last month, he voted with fellow liberals to spend up to $50 million to buy beachfront property in the Caribbean Islands that most people in Western Pennsylvania will never be able to visit.
    Turns out to be untrue:
    Actually, Buchanan is referring to House Resolution 3726. That legislation, currently pending in the Senate, would establish the Castle Nugent National Historical Site -- a new national park on St. Croix. (St. Croix is one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, which are U.S. territories.)

    Altmire did indeed vote for the bill -- as did all but a handful of House Democrats. But he did not actually vote to spend $50 million, the estimated cost of purchasing all the land needed for the park. As one of his colleagues, West Virginia Democrat Nick Rahal, pointed out in a floor speech, "H.R. 3726 does not spend one dime, and every Member on this floor knows it. The legislation designates this area as a new [parks] unit, but the bill contains no direct spending."

    Instead, the billl allows the National Park Service to accept donations of land -- park backers say some of it is likely to be offered for free -- or request for money to purchase property in the future. (Land acquisition could take a decade.) But those appropriations would be handled in later legislation. A summary by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office confirms this, noting that merely "[e]nacting H.R. 3726 would have no effect on direct spending or revenues."
    Is Chris Potter gonna get sued too?

    On the Spot


    From the folks @ On the Spot:
    A fundraiser on February 22 will kick off On the Spot, a new campaign to raise money to provide menstrual products to girls in local public schools. Many local students do not have access to proper menstrual products for various reasons, including economic hardship and disrupted family situations. Teachers, nurses and administrators at the schools do their best to provide the products, but pay for them out of their own pockets. Even more heartbreaking, young girls stay home from school while menstruating. How can these girls receive a proper education if they are missing multiple days every month or are distracted and stressed while in school?

    On the Spot is an independent project of Jennifer England and Desiree VanTassel in conjunction with Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania Education Department. All funds raised will be donated to Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania and used to purchase supplies.
    Event Details:
    Join Us for the Inaugural On The Spot Happy Hour Fundraiser!

    Monday, February 22
    7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
    Over the Bar Cafe
    2518 East Carson St.

    DJ Mary Mack, Kellee Maize, Silent Auction, Drink Specials ($2 Yeunglings, $3 drafts, and $4 On the Spot Cosmo), and Cookie Table

    $10 or $5 and a box of supplies (pads preferred)
    And here I thought that this was only a problem in places like Africa. Help out anyway you can. You can still make a donation if you can't make the event.
    .

    Workers Slam Aramark for Making Mellon Arena Workers Reapply for Own Jobs

    Well this sucks!

    Who: Workers United, SEIU, Affected Workers, Representatives from One Hill/Hill District Consensus Group, and the Hill District Community

    Workers United, SEIU will hold a press conference tomorrow calling on Aramark to change its position on the transfer of Mellon Arena workers to the new Arena.

    On February 12th Aramark notified its Mellon Arena employees that they would have to reapply for their jobs when they moved to their new location at the Consol Energy Center. They added that current employees were not guaranteed to get their jobs back. The letter also informed employees that they would not have a union when they started working at Consol Energy Center, meaning that the contract currently in place at Mellon will not be honored, and that the company would not have to honor workers’ seniority or existing wage and benefit standards. .

    [snip]

    Workers United, SEIU, the union representing the employees, sees this as a ploy by Aramark designed to allow them to disregard seniority, lower wages and reduce benefits, and weaken or remove the union.

    “The new arena is a publicly owned building. We can’t stand by and let this vendor use the move as an excuse to strip long term employees of seniority, cut wages or benefits, or strip workers of their union,” said Sam Williamson, Associate Manager of the Pennsylvania Joint Board of Workers United.

    [snip]

    “The opening of this new arena should be a good thing for the neighborhood, the city and the region. But this move would give it a black eye. We’re calling on Aramark not to be a spoiler on what would otherwise be an all around celebration,” added Sam Williamson.
    .

    Mary Beth Buchanan Makes It Official

    From the P-G:
    The worst kept secret in local politics is out: Former U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan is officially running for Congress, and two-term U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, may face a tough re-election bid this year.
    And of course the spinning is just beginning. Here's a statement from the NRCC:
    Jason Altmire's record has drastically missed the mark on job creation. But his real trouble is his failure to do all that he can to stop President Obama's plans to host terror trials in the U.S. and possibly in Western Pennsylvania. His flip-flopping on the 9/11 trials has shown voters the real Jason Altmire - a politician who doesn't stand on principle but instead stands on whatever path he thinks can save his political career. It's too late. Pennsylvanians don't want to take chances when it comes to their safety and national security. - Tory Mazzola, NRCC Spokesman
    No fan of Altmire, I. but this is a bit much, doncha think? Here's Altmire's statement on the possibility of having the trial in Pittsburgh:
    This is exactly why I repeatedly voted against bringing these war criminals to the U.S. for trial in the first place. I will strongly and actively oppose any effort to move this trial to western Pennsylvania, which could result in an increased security risk for our region. I am working with our Senators and western Pennsylvania Congressional delegation to prevent these terrorists from being brought to our region.
    Of course there's not a reason in the world to trust a politicians own word parsing, so here's KDKA instead:
    Congressman Altmire says he voted several times to block detainees from being held in civilian trials anywhere in the United States as well as to place restrictions on detainee transfers or releases anywhere in the U.S.

    He also co-sponsored a bill that states Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's trial should not be held in the United States nor should any of the terror trials.
    Or Politico:
    “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure they don’t point at western Pennsylvania as a possible venue,” said Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.). “We are all united, going to voice our opinion, both at the state level and at the congressional level.”

    Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.) is also opposed to having the trials in Pennsylvania and “has made that sentiment known to the Justice Department,” spokesman Larry Smar said. Pennsylvania has been among the regions floated for such trials because Flight 93 on 9/11 went down in the western part of the state.

    Altmire, who occupies a swing district and has bucked his party on key votes like healthcare, is already facing Republican attacks on the issue. The National Republican Campaign Committee accused Altmire of backing the civilian trials, even though he voted for an amendment that would have stripped the Justice Department of the money it needs to hold the trials.
    So you get the idea of where Buchanan and the RNCC are going with this.

    February 17, 2010

    This sure sounds familiar...

    Maybe because I wrote about it almost exactly four years ago and nothing has changed.
    .

    Lukey GaGa




    .

    Run, Barbara, Run!

    It's great to hear that Barbara Hafer will be in the running for Rep. Jack Murtha's seat in the 12th Congressional District. Currently, only 2 out of 19 US Representatives from Pennsylvania are women.

    Let's change that!

    From Jeanne K. C. Clark:

    Barbara is a strong women's rights supporter, as I'm sure you know. She has served the Commonwealth well, for two terms as State Auditor General and two terms as State Treasurer. She has amazing crossover appeal, always attracting both Democratic and Republican support, and strong name recognition. She is an amazing campaigner and terrific fundraiser. And she would be a formidable opponent to any of the Republicans who are currently eyeing the race.

    Unexpected opportunities like this seat don't come around often, and they usually go to the most likely white male insider. This time, it can be different. But we need to act fast. You can be sure the that the usual guys are lining up their supporters. We need to make our voices heard -- right now.

    Please join me in writing to TJ Rooney, Chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and Governor Ed Rendell, urging them to support Barbara Hafer for the 12th Congressional District. Urge them to do everything they can to make Barbara Hafer the next member of Congress from Pennsylvania.

    You can reach TJ Rooney by email at
    tjrooney@padems.com You can write to Governor Rendell from his web site at http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Exec/Governor/govmail.html

    Together, we can put another great woman from Pennsylvania in Congress!
    .

    PUMP Presents: How to Run for Committee

    PUMP Presents: How to Run for Committee
    WHAT: PUMP is pleased to present a Civic Engagement Program aimed at getting young people connected with upcoming opportunities to Run for Public Office.
    WHEN: TODAY! 6:00 - 8:00 February 17, 2010
    WHERE: AVA Lounge (around the Corner from Shadow Lounge)
    5972 Baum Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

    Come network with other young people who share your interest in politics and learn about the role of the Committee member, important dates in the election cycle, how to circulate petitions and tips on how to win and what a campaign will entail! Blank petitions will also be available at the event.

    Featuring:

  • Gloria Forouzan, Founder - Run Baby Run

  • Tom Baker, Republican State Committee Member

  • Erin Molchany, PUMP’s Executive Director by Day, Allegheny County Democratic Committee Member by night

    More info and registration here.

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

    Petition Circulation
    Unlike IN, PA has just started its petition circulation period this week. So, even if you don't want to run, you may want to contact you favorite candidate to see if they can use some help.

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

    Fish Frys!
    From Gloria:

    If you're running for office/scheduling a candidate, you probably know how important it is to make time for the fried fish fests - by the time it's over, you'll be spelling it Fryday.

    Pgh Catholic's Fish Fry List
    .
  • Ravenstahl-Gate

    Potter (as usual, damn him) has some interesting things to point out at the Slag Heap:
    After considerable confusion as to his whereabouts today, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl emerged at a late-afternoon press conference. He'd gone incommunicado the rest of the day, he told reporters, "just to kind of prove a point: that you all need to be more responsible."
    Ravenstahl railed about rumors that he had traipsed off to Mardi Gras, and confirmed what his press spokesperson had said previously: He'd been in the city all day.

    I find this behavior so utterly baffling that I can't decide what's worse: the possibility that this is a weird excuse to cover for his absence, or the possibility that Ravenstahl is telling the truth.
    But then he peeks behind the curtain:
    But I will say this: If I were Luke Ravenstahl -- and thank God I'm not -- I too would suspect some members of the press of reckless behavior. One reason is Virginia Montanez's post about the mayor's disappearance.
    Here's Pittgirl's post. Potter again:
    I mean, there's a weird phenomenon going on here, especially where Montanez is considered. More than a year ago, I noted that local media outlets were willing to bend all kinds of rules for her. Back then, of course, Montanez was anonymous, blogging under the name "PittGirl." And reporters indulged that to a surprising extent:

    I can't think of too many cases in which the Post-Gazette has done a 600-word Q&A -- plus prominent mention in multiple follow-up pieces -- with someone whose identity it refused to disclose. And it's not because nobody over there knows who she is. I know of at least one reasonably high-ranking Post-Gazette editor who has met PittGirl for lunch.

    In fact, this may be PittGirl's most impressive accomplishment: Her popularity was such that she got some of the city's most prominent media outlets to play by the blogosphere's rules.


    And so it seems to be. Now it's reporters who are being accorded anonymity by the blogger.
    As always, Potter's insight is keen.

    February 16, 2010

    Where in the world is Luke Ravenstahl? Part II


    .

    Where in the world is Luke Ravenstahl?

    Apparently Lil Mayor Luke is needed today to extend a declaration of emergency but no one can find him.

    I don't know where he is, but this guy looks awfully familiar:


    #whereisluke

    .

    Climate Science Circle Jerk at The Trib.

    This time in a column by H. Sterling Burnett. He's the senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.
    The Climategate scandal is a textbook case of professional malfeasance that should give Congress reason to pause before agreeing to a binding international agreement that would hamstring the world economy in order to prevent the climate from changing.

    Climategate was a series of leaked e-mails last year from the Climatic Research Unit at Britain's University of East Anglia, arguably the world's most prominent research center promoting the idea that humans are causing catastrophic global warming.
    Already there's a problem. The e-mails were not "leaked" (which implies someone on the inside (a "whistleblower" of some sort) released them to the public. They were not. They were "hacked" (ie stolen) from the outside.

    There's also another problem with Burnett's column. The e-mail scandal has already been debunked. The AP even says so.

    And that's the entirety of Burnett's argument. Once that's gone, there's nothing left but the irony. Take a look:
    Global warming alarmism has become a gravy train for scientists, bureaucrats and corporations that profit from the billions of taxpayer dollars spent researching and fighting climate change.

    For instance, former Vice President Al Gore has become a millionaire serving as an adviser to and board member of corporations that profit from government subsidies for "climate friendly" energy and technologies.

    In addition, the Climategate scientists have received tens of millions of dollars in research grants since global warming hit the big time. The research money over the last six years is more than all the climate research dollars their universities received the previous 20 years. If human-caused warming becomes a non-issue, all this money goes away.
    Interesting device here: gravytrain. It implies that the scientists involved are shaping their arguments to please the people paying them.

    NOW can we look at the National Center For Policy Analysis' funding? Specifically what's come from the foundations controlled by Tribune-Review owner Richard Mellon Scaife?

    Yes, let's.
    • The NCPA received $62,500 in grants from the Sarah Scaife Foundation in 2008.
    • The NCPA received $125,000 in grants from the Sarah Scaife Foundation in 2007.
    • The NCPA received $125,000 in grants from the Sarah Scaife Foundation in 2006.
    That's about $300,000 in just three years.

    Mediamatters reports that foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife have given a total of $2.285 million to the National Center For Policy Analysis. Incidentally, that's more than 4 times what Exxon Mobil gave them.

    For all that money Scaife sent their way, you'd think the NCPA would be able to produce a better product.

    Needless to say, The Circle Jerk continues.

    Donald Trump Calls For Al Gore To Be Stripped Of Nobel Prize

    ...Because it's snowing.


    idiot

    .

    Bob Mayo & WTAE look back at Lukey's 2-year old "War On Snow"

    Bob Mayo reminisces on Lil Mayor Luke's "War On Snow" at his blog and on WTAE.

    And speaking of Memory Lane, who can forget Lukey's wise pronouncement on Hardball a year ago that "snow falls from the air"?

    Too bad that Michael Nutter is in Philly instead of da Burgh as he seems to understand a thing or two about providing city services.
    .

    February 15, 2010

    Pittsburgh Hoagie closes up shop

    Another one bites the dust.

    [sigh]

    And, wipes the archive.

    [sigh]

    Chris Potter goes all meta here.

    Please, people, I don't want to be the last one to turn off the lights...
    .

    Evan Bayh Not Running for Senate Reelection


    In a move that's extraordinarily douchey even for him, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) announced today that he will not run for reelection just four days before candidate petitions must be completed and filed.
    .

    February 14, 2010

    I'm Getting There, Too!

    From Talkingpointsmemo. A reader is running out of patience:
    Let's put the blame for this lack of action and acomplishment squarely where it belongs: Obama. He has noble intentions of "changing the tone" in Washington, but sometimes high-mindedness is simply naiveté. Enough with the Gandhi-esque s--t - it's time to pass some bills that will make a positive impact in the lives of millions of Americans.
    Especially since the loyal oppositions idea of "compromise" is best described by another TPM reader:
    It's been apparent for months that Republicans are unwilling to compromise on legislative initiatives, unless by compromise you mean that they will allow Democrats to agree with their proposals.
    "Changing the tone" is all well and good, but the GOP never got that memo. They're still playing by their rules.

    The Dems have huge majorities in the House and in the Senate. They have the White House.

    WHY CAN'T THEY ACT LIKE IT?

    Playing nice is not an option with the birther/tenther/teabag/patriot party.

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    I'm cracking my knuckles in anticipation of this week's Jack Kelly. Our friend Jack, a columnist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has written a column titled:Get it? GloBULL Warming. "Bull" as in "bullshit."

    Needless to say, we all know from which direction the BS is oozing.

    Let's begin at the beginning, shall we?
    Eve Ensler, writer of the "Vagina Monologues," snickered with Joy Behar on Ms. Behar's talk show Monday about how stupid Sarah Palin is for not regarding earthquakes and tsunamis as proof of anthropogenic (man-made) global warming.

    "I just think the idea that she doesn't believe in global warming is bizarre,"said Ms. Ensler, who was on the show to promote her new book.

    "Every scientist at every note believes in it but Sarah Palin doesn't believe in it," Ms. Behar said.

    "We just have to walk around the world at this point and look at what is happening to nature and earthquakes and tsunamis," Ms. Ensler said.

    "Right," agreed Ms. Behar.
    Actually, if you watch the clip you'll see that while Ensler does misstep in mentioning earthquakes and tsunamis, she and Behar are not criticizing Palin because she doesn't think global warming causes earthquakes and tsunamis (which they obviously don't), they're criticizing her because she believes in creationism but not global warming. But of course such context is lost on those with different point to make.

    Oh, and Jack needs to actually listen to the clip before pasting the transcript from Newsbusters. Behar says "Every scientist of any note..." not "Every scientist at every note..."

    Sorry to say this yet again, but this is something his editors at the P-G should have caught. I would think that a newspaper columnist, if he or she is going to quote someone, should probably try to get the words right. Especially if it's on tape.

    Take a look and give a listen if you don't trust me.

    At this point, I should note that neither Behar or Ensler are climatologists.

    Jack then moves onto another climatologist non-climatologist, Robert F. Kennedy Jr:
    Recent events have tested the faith of true believers in AGW. In September 2008, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote an op-ed lamenting that, thanks to global warming, it would snow no more in Washington, D.C. The blizzard of 2010, which dumped record snow on the nation's capital, must have come as a shock.
    It should come as no shock to the readers of this blog that Jack Kelly misquoted Bobby's son.

    Take a look at the column. This is all Kennedy said about the weather in DC:
    In Virginia, the weather also has changed dramatically. Recently arrived residents in the northern suburbs, accustomed to today's anemic winters, might find it astonishing to learn that there were once ski runs on Ballantrae Hill in McLean, with a rope tow and local ski club. Snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don't own a sled. But neighbors came to our home at Hickory Hill nearly every winter weekend to ride saucers and Flexible Flyers.

    In those days, I recall my uncle, President Kennedy, standing erect as he rode a toboggan in his top coat, never faltering until he slid into the boxwood at the bottom of the hill. Once, my father, Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, brought a delegation of visiting Eskimos home from the Justice Department for lunch at our house. They spent the afternoon building a great igloo in the deep snow in our backyard. My brothers and sisters played in the structure for several weeks before it began to melt. On weekend afternoons, we commonly joined hundreds of Georgetown residents for ice skating on Washington's C&O Canal, which these days rarely freezes enough to safely skate.
    He talks of the current "anemic winters" comparing them to the winters he remembers. No where in the oped does he write anything resembling "no more snow for DC." Something else, I am sorry to say, that his editors should have caught.

    Next he does a flim (or is that a flam?):

    Europe is experiencing its coldest winter in decades. During its winter (our summer), Australia experienced record cold.

    Journalists have hastened to remind us that weather is not climate.

    Actually it's scientists who remind us that weather is not climate not journalists. By putting the experts' words into inexpert mouths, Jack is hoping to invalidate the reminder. They're only journalists, you know. If he were to have written that climatologists remind us that weather does not equal climate then his previous paragraph would have been rendered moot.

    Which brings me to the biggest problem with Jack's column. He touches on polar bears, malaria and Minnesota's moose population. No where does he actually tackle the science of global warming itself, just its effects.

    The science, as I told the lovely and talented Heather Heidelbaugh on OffQ a few weeks ago, is solid. The stolen emails in East Anglia do nothing to undermine the science.

    The temps are up, that's a fact.

    It'll have an effect on the world for decades to come.

    Do I need to point out (yet again) that The Pentagon agrees?

    February 13, 2010

    The Trib Times TWO

    Two, two, two rants in one!

    That's what we have today, my friends. Two separate yet equal wingnut climate rants on the editorial pages of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Both equally wingnutty. Both equally wrong.

    Rant the first (from Bob Pellegrino):
    To further confound the public's perception of climate-change "science," President Obama wants to create a new ministry of information.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Service, expected to bow by year's end, would provide "one-stop shopping into the world of climate information," says NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco. "Climate change is real, it's happening now."

    Just don't pay any attention to the large body of peer-reviewed scientific evidence to the contrary.
    Note the nod to George Orwell's Ministry of Truth. Orwell used pre-war Britain's "Ministry of Information" (the organization that ran that country's censorship duties) as the model for Oceania's propaganda ministry. As Orwell's "Minitrue" rewrote history to conform to the current political agenda, it's not surprising that Scaife's braintrust would use that particular literary reference to smear the newly formed NOAA Climate Services.

    But it's that third paragraph that's an out and out lie. You'll notice that nowhere does Pellegrino reference any "peer-reviewed scientific evidence" that counters Lubchenco's statement that "Climate change is real, it's happening now."

    That's because there isn't any. At least none that can be relied upon.

    How do I know?

    Historian of Science Naomi Orestes published a study that looked into all the peer-reviewed papers published between 1993 and 2003 found in the ISI Database by using the keyword search "Climate change":
    The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.
    The consensus position being (roughly) that "Climate change is real, it's happening now." So where is this "large body" of scientific evidence? Is it found in the peer-reviewed journals from 2004?

    Well yes, and of course, no. There's a "counter" study from 2007 that purports to show 32 papers (just 6% of the total number of 528) reject "outright" the scientific consensus. Though Schulte's paper is not all that it seems - sloppy, plagarized and, in general, discredited (He reportedly sites non-peer reviewed material, reviews, and counts papers that accept climate science as among those rejecting it.)

    So where, again, is this "large body" of evidence? And why hasn't it swayed the:
    Have they all been duped, too? Or maybe (and these words must only be spoken in hushed tones) they're the dupers. Yea, yea, that's the ticket! It's a vast criminal conspiracy to impose socialism on our children by way of faked temperature data.

    Makes complete sense.

    Rant the second, from Alan Wallace, takes such a curious religious tone that requires it to be fully quoted:
    The Obama administration is about to erase whatever infinitesimal separation still exists between the anti-mankind, anti-growth Church of Climatology and the state.

    Already established is climate.gov, a new central Web portal for government climate data -- eco-wackos' holy writ. Next up: a new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Service office, which NOAA officials say won't adjudicate controversies over that data.

    They thereby certify the "inerrancy" of that "sacred" canon -- which of course excludes the Climategate e-mails and the blunders of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Required approvals from congressional appropriations committees amount to an "Amen." Pontificating on Democrat-controlled Capitol Hill's piety is Archbishop of Cap and Trade Edward Markey, the House Democrat of Massachusetts who chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming:

    "This service will be a vital part of our growing body of knowledge on climate change, and will be held to the highest standards of scientific integrity and transparency."

    Roll your eyes at that -- as you should -- and you're a heretic. This faith-based initiative, which disdains reason, might as well be an Inquisition.
    Um, tiny point here, but Wallace gets his chronology wrong. Climate.gov already is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Service.

    And who says?


    If Wallace either can't get such a simple factoid right (or, giving him benefit of the doubt) isn't clear in writing about it, then why should we trust anything else in the editorial? Do I need to point out that Climate.gov probably won't "adjudicate" the "controversies" because (let's all take a deep breath here) there is no controversy.

    Of course he presents "climategate" to us conveniently omitting Fact-check.org's debunking:
    In late November 2009, more than 1,000 e-mails between scientists at the Climate Research Unit of the U.K.’s University of East Anglia were stolen and made public by an as-yet-unnamed hacker. Climate skeptics are claiming that they show scientific misconduct that amounts to the complete fabrication of man-made global warming. We find that to be unfounded.
    And so on.

    Other than that, the editorial is profoundly fact-free.

    Surprise, surprise, surprise.

    I want my M(cIntire)TV!


    Check out "THE JOHN MCINTIRE SHOW" on Comcast On-Demand:

    Go to On Demand.
    Click Your Town Get Local.
    Click Entertainment.
    Click McIntire Show.

    Any time, day or night!
    .

    February 12, 2010

    Public Comment Period on Marcellus Waste Treatment Ends TODAY

    From Joy:

    Reminder: Public Comment Period on Marcellus Waste Treatment Ends February 12th (deadline extended from 2/5). Email your comments to: RegComments@state.pa.us Subject line should read "Chapter 95 Wastewater Treatment Requirements" Include your name and address. There's still time! It's YOUR water!

    I'm adding a repost with some background on the issue and some potential talking points. For the Sierra Club's take, http://alleghenysc.org/?p=1513

    The EPA is considering changing the code to more explicitly control "dissolved solids" (read: toxic salts from untreated Marcellus Shale gas extraction water) in our rivers and groundwater. We predict there will also be pressure on them to actually weaken the rules instead, so this is not something that should happen on autopilot. For the official text, go here.

    You can make public comment by e-mail, but you must follow the right format in the subject line. "Electronic Comments—Comments may be submitted electronically to the Board at RegComments@state.pa.us and must also be received by the Board by February 5, 2010. A subject heading of the proposal and a return name and address must be included in each transmission. If an acknowledgement of electronic comments is not received by the sender within 2 working days, the comments should be retransmitted to ensure receipt."

    Talking Points:

    Safe drinking water. (I feel mine's already starting to taste funny, and there is already untreated frac water entering the water supply upstream from us. If I can taste the sufates, that suggests the heavy metals are there too).

    Do It Now. (No more drilling permits until the protections are in place).

    Include the major components that frac water adds or leaches from the soil (heavy metals & arsenic, salts such as chlorides and sulfates and bromides and magnesium, organics such as benzene, and radium in any form).

    And above all, No weakening of Total Dissolved Solids discharge standards! (The allowed levels are already high in the Mon, Yough, Conemaugh, and the West Branch of the Susuquehanna, impacting the water quality.)

    Complain about shifting the costs to consumers and taxpayers by having to purify a much larger quantity of drinking water, instead of cleaning the frac water at its source.

    Finally, ask that the fracwater be recorded and tracked as it comes out of the ground and is sent off for treatment, to prevent illegal dumping or "watering" of the surroundings. I personally would also like to also see a comparison of what goes in vs. what goes out, to know how much is seeping into our groundwater.

    Before you hit "send," make sure you include your name and address, and check your subject line to make sure it says something like "Comment on proposal to amend 25 Pa. Code Chapter 95 (relating to Wastewater Treatment Requirements)."