We are the 99%

February 28, 2011

Time’s Run Out: It’s Sudden Death for adultBasic

If you're downtown today:
Time’s Run Out: It’s Sudden Death for adultBasic

42,000 of our neighbors in PA are set to lose their health insurance on Monday, February 28th. PHAN is hosting a vigil outside the Governor's Mansion in Harrisburg at 5:30pm and is organizing a NOON RALLY in Market Square in Downtown Pittsburgh to fight back.

Please join us to send the message to Gov. Corbett that we won’t stand by while he sides with big insurance companies over hardworking PA families.
Help us show the Governor that the people of PA are not ok with cutting lifesaving health insurance programs—especially when the funding exists to save them!

Just like in Wisconsin, this is not about the budget—it’s about politicians putting the agendas of wealthy special interests over the needs and priorities of their constituents. The new radical political majorities in Harrisburg and across the country must be put on notice: we will NOT give up the fight for fairness and dignity for working people and for health care justice for all.

Stand with us on Monday—we want to get at least 100 folks there, so please send this to everyone you know!

WHAT: Solidarity Action to Stand Up for the 42,000 Working People at Risk of Losing Their Health Coverage Today
WHERE: Market Square, Downtown Pittsburgh
WHEN: Monday, Feb. 28th, 12:00pm

PS. If you or anyone you know is on adultBasic, please ask them to get in touch with me. We’ll be continuing to fight for a program like adultBasic (if it does end Monday as expected) and will definitely want to help folks get connected to any other resources and options available in the meantime. egill@pahealthaccess.org

and this:

"If you haven’t seen it yet, a lot of them have been posting messages to the Governor on his Facebook page, and on our Save adultBasic Facebook group page."



Congressman Altmire In The News

From yesterday's Trib:
GOP'S ANTI-ALTMIRE EFFORT UNDER WAY. Jason Altmire received a reminder on Wednesday that Republicans already have their sights set on his congressional seat in next year's election.

The National Republican Congressional Committee launched a "robocall" campaign targeting Altmire and other Democrat U.S. representatives considered vulnerable in 2012 by the GOP.

The robocalls criticize the Dems for voting against a GOP-backed bill to fund the federal government for the rest of the year.

The calls reference the Democrats' support of the stimulus package two years ago, saying the congressional members who voted for big spending then are opposing big cuts now.

Altmire, of McCandless, isn't Pennsylvania's only U.S. House member in the GOP's cross hairs. Mark Critz of Johnstown was criticized for voting against the funding bill in radio ads airing in his district that were funded by the conservative organization Crossroads GPS.
Please note the subtle rifle imagery. Republicans have their "sights set" on Altmire and he's not the only one in the "GOP's cross hairs."

Ah, the new civility! It's at the P-G, too!

Of course the P-G has a little bit more to the story:
If you live in the Fourth Congressional District, that might be the National Republican Campaign Committee on the line. The group is targeting 10 Democratic incumbents, including Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, who voted for the stimulus bill two years ago with robocalls to remind their constituents of the vote and spit some venom about the bill itself -- which, depending on which economist you ask, either saved us from a second Great Depression or was a giant, sauce-laden slab of wasteful pork. The call also points out that Altmire voted against House Republicans' slash-and-burn government funding bill that passed early Saturday.
The P-G has the text of the robocall, by the way:
Hi, I'm calling from the National Republican Congressional Committee, 320 First Street SE, Washington, DC 20003, 202.479.7000 with an important political message. This call is a recording. Two years ago this month, your Congressman Jason Altmire helped pass Obama's stimulus. He promised it would create jobs and improve the economy, but instead Pennsylvania's unemployment rate has gone up almost 20 percent. You thought Altmire would've learned his lesson after his big-spending stimulus failed, but last week he voted against a budget bill that actually cut spending, choosing to spend more money we don't have. Call Jason Altmire at 202.225.2565 and tell him he doesn't get it... You want jobs, not more debt to pay. Paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. 202.479.7000
Meanwhile, Altmire is bragging on his non-liberal credentials at his website:
An independent study of Congressional voting records released today by National Journal – a non-partisan publication – found that U.S. Congressman Jason Altmire’s (PA-04) voting record in 2010 places him 15 slots to the right of center in the U.S. House of Representatives for the second year in a row. Congressman Altmire’s voting record in 2010 was more conservative than 54.2 percent of House Members’ voting records. Congressman Altmire is also currently the only member of the House who has never missed a vote in Congress over the past four years.

National Journal evaluated 93 different key votes in the areas of economic, social and foreign policy to formulate its ratings. A chart showing National Journal’s 2010 vote ratings for centrists in Congress is available here. For more information on Congressman Altmire’s voting record, click here.
I dunno. I am thinking that if he's being targeted from the right, he might not want to alienate too too much whatever friends he might have on the left by touting his non-liberal street cred.

But what do I know?

February 27, 2011

And Now A Message From Richard Mellon Scaife

This is so important I am keeping my commentary to a minimum.

In a piece from Today's Tribune-Review titled Don't Defund Planned Parenthood, Richard Mellon Scaife writes:
My grandmother was a friend and a supporter of Margaret Sanger, one of America's earliest, most effective advocates of birth control.

I met Sanger several times before her death in 1966 and was impressed by her intellect and her commitment to many issues, not the least of which was enabling every woman to be "the absolute mistress of her own body," as she put it.

I didn't agree with everything the formidable Mrs. Sanger espoused. Yet I respected her dedication to making health-care and birth-control services available to all Americans, especially to those with low incomes, no insurance and no other recourse to medical services.

And I admired her fearless, relentless readiness to stand up for what she believed, despite decades of angry, mean-spirited, often hypocritical attacks on her ideas and her character.

So I am aggravated by the continuing attacks on Sanger and her primary legacy, the Planned Parenthood network that still serves so many Americans today.

Now the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives -- urged on by conservatives opposed to abortion -- has voted to defund Planned Parenthood.

On this issue, Republicans and conservatives are dead wrong.
Remember, this is Richard Mellon Scaife writing, owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, financial backer of the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy and so on. His conservative bona fides are secure. He continues:
Abortions are a minor aspect of Planned Parenthood's mission to provide reproductive health care, education and other services to Americans, regardless of income.

More than 90 percent of its work focuses on preventing unintended pregnancies that almost inevitably lead to unwanted, neglected and abused children.

In Pittsburgh and across America, Planned Parenthood offices help people to make better decisions about whether to have children. They help to arrange adoptions for women or couples unable to raise a child but unwilling to end a pregnancy.

Most of their clients are poor Americans who cannot afford birth-control measures that cost as much as $1,500 a month.

Of the 10,000 to 12,000 people who use local Planned Parenthood services, about 20 percent are teenagers, half are ages 20 to 30 and the rest over 30.

Of course, no one wants teenagers to get pregnant. Yet far too many do -- and they need reliable, honest advice about what to do next. For many of them, Planned Parenthood is the only reliable source of that advice. For many others, Planned Parenthood is the only safe, reliable source of counseling to avoid getting pregnant in the first place.

If not for Margaret Sanger's vision and bravery, many poor Americans would have no place to turn for birth-control measures and counseling or for other health care services.

To take that away makes no sense.
I criticize Scaife's paper and his editorial board quote often and I plan to go on criticizing it for as long as it needs to be corrected. But in this case when the man's right, he's right.

Defunding Planned Parenthood makes no sense.

February 25, 2011

For The Climategate Files

Way back in late November 2009, Republican Senator James Inhofe announced on (of course) Fox "News" that he was calling for an investigation into the so-called Climategate emails.

Take a look (the announcement is about 3 minutes in):


And in late May of 2010, he sent a letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Commerce requesting an investigation. He also requested an investigation into Dr. Jane Lubchenco. You remember Lubchenco, right? She was quoted recently by the editorial board of the Tribune-Review. Inhofe was apparently unhappy about her testimony to Congress when she said:
The [CRU] emails really do nothing to undermine the very strong scientific consensus and the independent scientific analyses ofthousands of scientists around the world that tell us that the earth is warming and that the warming is largely a result of human activities. "
Which is the truth, apparently, but apparently annoyed Inhofe nonetheless.

So what happened with the investigation? You guessed it. From The Hill:
A Commerce Department inspector general investigation into the “Climategate” controversy finds that government scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration did not manipulate climate change data.

It’s the latest investigation to clear scientists of manipulating climate data after thousands of e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit were leaked in 2009.

“Climategate” has become something of a rallying call for climate skeptics, who have pointed to the e-mails to suggest there is a conspiracy among the world’s scientists. But a slew of investigations into the e-mails have cleared scientists of any wrongdoing.
Something we probably won't be seeing anytime soon on the Trib's Op-Ed page. The same Op-Ed page that only last November published:
If the work of blame-mankind climate "scientists" were unimpeachable, they wouldn't be gearing up for a charm offensive.

Seven hundred global-warming doomsayers have agreed to defend their dubious "science" publicly under the auspices of the American Geophysical Union. And 39 Chicken Littles have signed up for a separate "climate rapid response team" organized by a professor at Minnesota's St. Thomas University for deployment to radio and TV talk shows.

Both efforts smack of increasing desperation fueled by the blame-mankind crowd's credibility crumbling beneath the weight of the scandalous Climategate e-mails, which show data manipulation, and greater public recognition of their leftist big-government agenda. That's why skeptics of global-warming orthodoxy make up half of the new GOP members just elected to Congress.
But I digress.

Here's the report Inhofe requested. And the jackpot:
In our review of the CRU emails, we did not find any evidence that NOAA inappropriately manipulated data comprising the GHCN-M dataset or failed to adhere to appropriate peer review procedures. In addition, we found no evidence to suggest that NOAA was non-compliant with the IQA or the Shelby Amendment.
And let me write that again: No evidence NOAA inappropriately manipulated the data.

Will Senator Inhofe be making an announcement to that effect on Fox "News"? Will Scaife's braintrust?

We won't be holding our breath.

Happy Birthday, George!

February 24, 2011

Huge Turnout for “Fighting For the American Dream” Rally

Looks like a huge turnout for the “Fighting For the American Dream” Rally. Here are some photos and texts from David who was on his lunch break:


"Delano interviewing"


"huge crowd"


"So many people they have speakers outside"

"Shields, Kraus, Dowd are here"

"Tons of people there. Delano said they were expecting 700"

.

Rallies and Protests and Press Conferences, Oh My!

Looks like folks are awakening to the assault on, well, everyone (who isn't super rich)! Women, children, union members, the middle class, the working class and the working poor, public transit riders -- unless you're Donald Trump -- the Republicans have some plan to screw you.

We're not "special interests" when we are the majority!

Please attend any of these that you can:

THURSDAY, 2/24/11
Impacts of Proposed U.S. Budget Cuts on Pittsburgh Jobs & Families Press Conference
(This is for the media)
TIME: 10:00 a.m.
WHERE: WGF Office, Landmarks Building, 100 W. Station Square Drive, Suite 315
WHAT: Via press release [edited]: "Women and Girls Foundation hosts. Southwest PA organizations, their local workers and service recipients, would be directly impacted by the drastic cuts included in H.R. 1 which slashes billions of dollars of funding resulting in the elimination of millions of jobs and services for working families in our region. Federal programs impacted range from early childhood education and college financial aid to nutritional assistance for infants, veterans housing, public broadcasting, and reproductive healthcare. It eliminates federal funding for Planned Parenthood and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and it defunds the implementation of health care reform and EPA pollution enforcement. It now moves to the Senate for vote later this month. Representatives from the following organizations will speak: Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children, Fair Housing Partnership, Just Harvest, WQED Multimedia, Women’s Center & Shelter, PennFuture, Planned Parenthood, Adagio Health, The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Community Services, Action United, ACLU Pittsburgh, SEIU, Women’s Law Project, New Voices Pittsburgh, National Council of Jewish Women, National Organization for Women, Pennsylvania Health Access Network, and Health Care for America Now. (Members of the media are asked to RSVP if you plan to attend.)"

MoveOn / Democracy for Pittsburgh: Invest in America!
TIME:
11:30 AM;11:45 AM
WHERE: Gather @ Aldo Coffee Shop, 675 Washington Road, Pittsburgh (Mt. Lebanon), PA 15228; Proceed to Office of Rep. Murphy, which is at 504 Washington Road, Pittsburgh (Mt. Lebanon), Pa 15228
WHAT: "We are going to go to Rep. Murphy and let him know that cutting billions from funding health care, education, and science will do nothing to turn our economy around, but it will hurt the other 98% of us that are barely getting through the worst recession since the Great Depression. We will go to the office of Rep. Murphy with our Invest in America message, and share our personal stories of why we need support for our broken economy and communities." Please RSVP for the event by clicking on the link below: http://pol.moveon.org/event/invest2011/112639

“Fighting For the American Dream” Rally
Stand in Solidarity with the Wisconsin Workers

TIME: Noon (lunch provided)
WHERE: USW International HQ, Downtown Pittsburgh, 5 Gateway Center, 60 Boulevard of the Allies, Pittsburgh PA
WHAT: "Our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin and other states are in a fight for the very survival of their jobs and their union. This is our moment to stand and show solidarity with them and let their Governor and the extremist organizations financing these attacks know: WE STAND TOGETHER! "


FRIDAY, 2/25/11
People's Rally For Public Transportation
TIME:
8:30 - 11:30 AM
WHERE: Mellon Square Park, 6th & Smithfiled, Downtown Pittsburgh PA
WHAT: Protest the drastic cutbacks in public transit.


SATURDAY, 2/26/11
Rally to Save the American Dream, Harrisburg, PA
TIME:
12:00pm - 3:00pm
WHERE: Capitol Steps, 3rd St., Harrisburg, PA 17101
WHAT: "Americans who believe in the right to organize are standing up on Saturday. It's time to stop the dismantling of organizations opposed to the right wing agenda."
RSVP: http://www.moveon.org/event/events/event.html?event_id=112822&is_manage=1

DOMA = Unconstitutional

From AP/The Huffington Post:
In a major policy reversal, the Obama administration said Wednesday it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage.

Attorney General Eric Holder said President Barack Obama has concluded that the administration cannot defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. He noted that the congressional debate during passage of the Defense of Marriage Act "contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships - precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the (Constitution's)Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against."
But we all know this by now.

What's been the reaction to all this Administration fairness?

House Speaker John Boehner (from Politico):
Since the anemic economy will probably dominate the national agenda for the foreseeable future, advocates contend there was little political risk for the president in meeting a long-standing demand of the gay community and declaring the 15-year-old law — which bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages — unconstitutional. It was telling that House Speaker John Boehner, one of the most powerful Republicans in Washington, criticized the decision as a distraction, but didn’t attack its substance.

“While Americans want Washington to focus on creating jobs and cutting spending, the President will have to explain why he thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a controversial issue that sharply divides the nation,” Boehner said.
TPM calls this the Tell of the Day:
Buried in a packed news day, I think one of the telling responses to the president's DOMA decision was that from Speaker John Boehner. Asked for comment, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel released a statement that could only barely manage to criticize the president's decision.
On the other hand, the crazies are out in full force.

Representative Michele Bachmann:
Michele Bachmann is fundraising off President Obama's decision to no longer defend the constitutionality of a law banning federal recognition of same-sex unions.

Just hours after the president's reversal on a Defense of Marriage Act provision, Bachmann, who is considering a White House run next year, blasted an e-mail to supporters. "I'm sending you this urgent message because if we don't join together and take action today, it could be a crushing blow to the traditional marriage movement," she writes.

Bachmann urges them to sign her "Support Traditional Marriage" petition, setting a goal of collecting 50,000 names in 48 hours. And then she asks supporters to "consider making a generous donation of $25, $50, $100, $250 or more" so she can circulate the petition to other activists around the country.

"This is just the beginning in our fight to repeal Barack Obama in 2012," she writes. "Had Barack Obama been on the ballot in 2010, he would have gone down in a fiery defeat. Yet he continues to push his far-left, socialist agenda on the American people. And today, he has declared war on marriage. As conservatives, we must push for a new type of 'change' in our country and fight for our shared values."
And former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum:
In a statement released tonight, Santorum said President Obama's decision on DOMA is "is yet another example of our president's effort to erode the very traditions that have made our country the greatest nation on earth."

Obama's "refusal to defend a law that was overwhelmingly supported on both sides of the aisle and signed into law by a president of his own party is an affront to the will of the people," Santorum said.
Of course "will of the people" is not a factor in the constitutionality of a law. But I am not a lawyer, you know.

I'm also not an anti-gay bigot.

February 23, 2011

Scenes from today's Pro Planned Parenthood Rally/March in Pittsburgh

Scenes from today's Pro Planned Parenthood Rally (courtesy of David):








(Umm, lady, your taxes don't fund abortions.)
.

Stand With Planned Parenthood -- Rally Today



“Save Women’s Lives: Save Federal Funding for Women’s Health Care”

TODAY Wednesday, February 23

12:00 Noon

Meet at 933 Liberty Ave

If you can, please wear pink and bring your signs in support of Planned Parenthood’s family planning and basic health care services.

RSVP to Stephanie: Stephanie.L.Shaw@gmail.com OR 412-434-8957 ext. 116 OR RSVP on Facebook here.


Via Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania:
There has never been a more urgent time to support Planned Parenthood of Western PA and the thousands of patients we serve every year.

As you may know, last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed a historic measure to end Title X funding for preventative reproductive health care and entirely bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding for any purpose whatsoever and we need your help in Western PA!

Next week, the U.S. Senate will be voting on these very issues. There could not be a more critical time to let Senator Casey know that these attacks against Planned Parenthood and reproductive health care make it harder – if not impossible – for our patients, and his constituents, to receive the care they need and deserve: annual exams, breast exams, birth control, STI treatment, and life-saving cancer screenings.

JOIN US as hundreds of PPWP advocates, volunteers, patients, and staff walk from our downtown health center to Sen. Casey’s office to let him know that we stand behind him and that we are counting on him to support Planned Parenthood.

The Trib's Editorial Board FINALLY Quotes NOAA

But now in the way that you think.

First here's what Scaife's Braintrust posted today:
A Valentine's Day solar flare -- the largest since Dec. 5, 2006, and part of an expected upswing in the 11-year cycle of solar activity -- is cause for legitimate concern. But don't shoot Bruce Willis into space or bet the farm on solar-flare shields just yet.

Solar flares' charged particles crash into Earth's atmosphere 20 to 30 hours later. Resulting electromagnetic disruption affects radio, satellites, power grids and high-tech marvels such as GPS -- on which humanity depends far more today than during the last solar upswing about a decade ago.

Some scientists now warn of a potential $2 trillion "solar 'Katrina.'" The head of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told the Financial Times: "Predict and prepare should be the watchwords."

The strongest flare ever recorded wiped out much of Earth's then-new telegraph network in 1859, yet occurred during a "weak" cycle. So the threat can't be dismissed, despite NASA dubbing the Feb. 14 flare "rather weak." Whatever steps can be taken to minimize that threat should be taken.

Still, whatever countermeasures mankind can employ surely are puny compared to the forces that solar flares unleash. Yes, the sun does bear watching. But we must be prepared to understand that the limits of our defenses can be sobering.
Now, let's unweave. The quotation in the third paragraph leads to this article in the Financial Times. And this quotation:
“Predict and prepare should be the watchwords,” agreed Jane Lubchenco, head of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
And now we have a name. So who's Jane Lubchenco? From her NOAA webpage:
Dr. Lubchenco has studied marine ecosystems around the world and championed the importance of science and its relevance to policy making and human well-being. A former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the International Council for Science and the Ecological Society of America, she served 10 years on the National Science Board (Board of Directors for the National Science Foundation). From 1999-2009 she led PISCO, a large 4-university, interdisciplinary team of scientists investigating the large marine ecosystem along the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California. She has a special interest in Arctic ecosystems, with recent work in Svalbard, Greenland and the Alaskan arctic.

Dr. Lubchenco has provided scientific input to multiple U.S. Administrations and Congress on climate, fisheries, marine ecosystems, and biodiversity. Dr. Lubchenco served on the first National Academy of Sciences study on ‘Policy Implications of Global Warming’, providing advice to the George H.W. Bush administration and Congress. In 1997 she briefed President Clinton and Vice President Gore and Members of Congress on climate change.

Her scientific contributions are widely recognized. Eight of her publications are “Science Citation Classics”; she is one of the ‘most highly cited’ ecologists in the world. Dr. Lubchenco is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and four international academies of science: the Royal Society, the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, Europe, and Chile. She has received numerous awards including a MacArthur (‘genius’) Fellowship, twelve honorary degrees, the 2002 Heinz Award in the Environment, the 2005 AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology and the 2008 Zayed International Prize for the Environment.
So I guess she's an expert. Genius Award, too. Frickin impressive.

Now that Lubchenco is deemed worthy to quote but, oddly not worthy enough to be named on the Trib's editorial page (I won't go so far as to wonder whether it's because she's a she), will we be seeing any reference to any other quotation from her?

Like these?

Being a proud UConn grad it pains me to reference anything with the name Yale in it, but considering where I am going with this, this is a good place to start:
Yale Environment 360: My first question is about the climate impacts report that you all came out with very recently. What is the message that you were hoping people would take from that?

Jane Lubchenco: I think the take-away message is that the evidence is in: Climate change is real, it’s causing changes in our own backyard, many of those changes are increasingly challenging to society, and therefore there is urgency in moving ahead with reducing heat-trapping pollution as soon as possible.
Or this quotation:
Jane Lubchenco: Climate change is happening now. It’s not a theory. It’s a set of observed facts. It’s affecting many of the things that people care about

Marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco is head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. Dr. Lubchenco told EarthSky that global climate change from fossil fuel burning is impacting Earth’s oceans today.

Jane Lubchenco: Climate change is already affecting oceans. It’s making them warmer. It’s making sea levels rise. And it’s making them more acidic. All of those change both the beauty and the bounty of oceans.
Or this one:
“For the first time, and in a single compelling comparison, the analysis brings together multiple observational records from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the ocean,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The records come from many institutions worldwide. They use data collected from diverse sources, including satellites, weather balloons, weather stations, ships, buoys and field surveys. These independently produced lines of evidence all point to the same conclusion: our planet is warming,”
And the report she mentions? It's this one.

Where NOAA says Climate change is UNDENIABLE.

Will the Trib ever get to that?

February 22, 2011

Pittsburgh City Council to proclaim respect for public workers today

Via the AFLCIO:
IN THE FACE OF ANTI-PUBLIC WORKER LEGISLATIVE FIGHTS IN WISCONSIN AND OHIO, PITTSBURGH CITY COUNCIL TAKES A STAND

Council members and Pittsburgh public workers to hold preview of proclamation honoring public workers before Council vote

Pittsburgh, Penn. – On Tuesday, February 22, 2011, at 9:30 AM, Councilmember Natalia Rudiak will preview a proclamation co-sponsored by all nine City Councilmembers expressing support and respect for public workers prior to the Pittsburgh City Council’s regular weekly meeting where it will be on the agenda. Council Member Rudiak and other Councilmembers will be joined by a variety of public workers including firefighters, bus drivers, snow plow drivers, school crossing guards and others for the preview.

The proclamation comes at a time when public workers are under attack in state legislatures across the county, targeted by right-wing and corporate political committees funded by nearly unlimited and undisclosed corporate cash, seeking to roll back collective bargaining rights and half-a-century of labor reforms.

“The right-wing assault on public workers grossly misrepresents facts and tries to lay blame for budget deficits and pension problems at the feet of dedicated public servants who come to work everyday and do their jobs delivering the services that keep us safer, healthier and contribute to the vital functions of government that serve the public good”, said Jack Shea, President of the Allegheny County Labor Council.

“On Tuesday, we will stand in solidarity, not just with the public workers in Pittsburgh, but with all public workers in America, especially our brothers and sisters under attack this week in Wisconsin and Ohio,” Shea added.

What: Preview of Respect our Public Workers Proclamation

Who: Councilmember Natalia Rudiak and colleagues, public workers from a variety of departments and trades, Jack Shea, President of the Allegheny County Labor Council.

Where: 5th Floor, City-County Building, outside of City Council Chambers

When: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Horses: Yes; Women: No


Via Blog for Choice:
Politico and RH Reality Check are reporting that anti-choice Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana has introduced an amendment to a spending bill that would promote contraception--for wild horses.
But, they strip all federal funding for Planned Parenthood (mind you, this would be funding for contraceptives, cancer screenings, basic health care, etc. and not abortions) and want to stop all funds for all family planning for low-income Americans (Title X).

That would be:

Horses 1, Women 0

At least you know where you stand, ladies (barefoot and pregnant).

Via Digby, during the course of the debate on defunding Planned Parenthood:
Rep. Jackie Speier listened to debate on the House floor on Thursday evening as a Republican Rep. Chris Smith read a long, detailed description of an abortion and a "mangled image of a dead, tiny baby." Finally, Speier stood up and told her colleagues she had undergone an abortion in the early 1990s following a complication nearly four months into her pregnancy.

"As the night wore on, the vitriol and grotesque commentary got worse and worse," Speier, a second-term Democrat from California, told HuffPost. "I sat there thinking, none of these men on the other side have even come close to experiencing this, and yet they can pontificate about what it's like. It just overwhelmed me."

[snip]

"This was a wanted pregnancy, it was the second miscarriage I had had," she told HuffPost. "What they express doesn't come close to the experience that a woman goes through when she is losing a baby or when a pregnancy is terminated. It's a painful, gut-wrenching loss."

[snip]

Representative Speier shouldn't have to bare her personal life to the whole country. But she did because cynical, paternalistic Congressmen like Smith and Mike Pence thinks she is a child, a cruel child, who like all women cannot be trusted to make her own decisions. They have no clue about these experiences and no respect for the agency and autonomy of those who have to deal with them. (The women who support these patriarchal nincompoops are just as disrespectful.) It is a rare woman who has an abortion without understanding the seriousness of it and no one but she can rightly make the decision.
If you haven't already, watch Rep. Speier speak here:


Of course, here in PA, women are used to being treated as children (stupid and cruel children at that) as there is a mandatory lecture and waiting period for all women who seek an abortion in this state.
.

February 21, 2011

Heh


But don't forget, we have the best health care in the world! (If you can afford to pay for it/you'll still be able to afford to work in that field.)

(h/t to Kate Thomas)
.

February 20, 2011

Jack Kelly Sunday

This week in his Post-Gazette column, Jack Kelly goes after high speed rail. More specifically, this paragraph in President Obama's State of the Union Address:
Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail. (Applause.) This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying –- without the pat-down. (Laughter and applause.) As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway. [Note: The descriptions of audience reaction are found in the original.]
Jack, as usual, spins the numbers just enough to make his argument almost completely detached from reality.

As context, the president's high speed rail plan is intended for more than just quicker, cheaper travel times. Here's Obama a few paragraphs prior:
We have to do better. America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, constructed the Interstate Highway System. The jobs created by these projects didn’t just come from laying down track or pavement. They came from businesses that opened near a town’s new train station or the new off-ramp.

So over the last two years, we’ve begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. And tonight, I’m proposing that we redouble those efforts. (Applause.)

We’ll put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We’ll make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based [on] what’s best for the economy, not politicians. [Again, audience reaction is from the original]
But Jack avoids any discussion of the jobs created (either directly or indirectly) from the plan. Why should he when he can compare apples and (pictures of) oranges? For example:
Fares on Amtrak's Acela train average 75 cents per passenger mile, compared to about 15 cents for intercity driving and 13 cents for flying, Randal O'Toole of the Cato Institute wrote at National Review Online.

"New York to Washington tickets on the Acela start at $139," Mr. O'Toole noted. "JetBlue starts at $39 and Megabus averages less than $15."
Note the examples used. Acela is the high speed business and first class express route from Boston to DC. Jet Blue, on the other hand, is a low cost airline and Megabus is a low cost express bus service. Hmm...first class/business class train travel vs low cost jet/bus travel. That'll skew the numbers, doncha think?

On a tangent, I loved reading this part:
High-speed rail, said Mr. Obama, "could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car."

We should take with a grain of salt such claims from the guy who told us Obamacare would cut health care costs.
This from the guy who thought that Weather Underground guy Bill Ayers ghost-wrote "Dreams of My Father" and that Van Jones was a communist who was arrested in LA during the Rodney King riots. The misinformation in the Van Jones column was so egregious that the P-G pulled it from their website within a few days.

You're welcome.

So I am not sure Jack Kelly should be throwing around the "grain of salt" metaphor. There ain't enough salt in the ocean for that when you actually look at his columns.

And what should we make of this sentence?
I read somewhere that Denver International Airport covers more land than would be required to build a rail line from Alaska to Miami.
Curious that Jack couldn't track down the source of that line, given his research skills in the rest of the column.

Luckily I could track it down. And one minute of reading will tell you why Jack didn't reference it. It's a column from 2002 in favor of maglev rail service. And here's the paragraph Jack remembered:
If we don't build a high-speed ground alternative, we'll have to spend more money on highways and airports. Such renovations and additions are costing a bundle in some of the nation's largest cities. Renovations to JFK airport in New York cost close to $10 billion. A planned renovation of Los Angeles International Airport is expected to double that. And we're simply running out of space in which to put airports and highways. The Denver airport alone occupies more land than it would take to build a rail line from central Alaska to Miami. [emphasis added]
So I am not really seeing the relevance. Do you?

Or of the entire column. Do you?

February 18, 2011

It's POSTED!

For those who missed tonight's 4802 show (and Tony, I am talking to YOU), here it is.

I don't know how to embed the video here at the blog. If anyone knows and wants to tell me, feel free.

FOR THE RECORD

Maria is absolutely correct when she wrote:
The teenager and the parental bypass: Nope! Sorry! That's not what I said. Her lawyers were aware that the judge had support from the anti choice groups. I believe we may have been the first to publish that the judge was endorsed by anti choice groups. I don't and never have claimed to be the first/only person to discover this -- only that when I did find it with a simple Google search, that I put it out there.
During tonight's program, I was paraphrasing what I remembered from the spare notes I took when discussing this with Maria and I got it wrong. I apologize.

I hate when I do get it wrong.

I do not like the cone of shame.

Apologies all around.

Live blogging 4802

RE: Wisconsin: Rachel Maddow had an excellent piece on this last night which you can view here.

USDA & Genetically Engineered Food: Right on! We should know what we're eating.

Philly Abortion Clinic: Acting like that place in Philly was an actual "clinic" is like comparing a crack house to a Rite Aid.

The teenager and the parental bypass: Nope! Sorry! That's not what I said. Her lawyers were aware that the judge had support from the anti choice groups. I believe we may have been the first to publish that the judge was endorsed by anti choice groups. I don't and never have claimed to be the first/only person to discover this -- only that when I did find it with a simple Google search, that I put it out there.

Also: Hmm, four guys sitting around discussing two abortion stories and a story on a female reporter who was sexually assaulted -- I would have liked to have heard at least one woman's opinions on these issues...

Important Announcement

I'll be one of the panelists on tonight's 4802.

4802 is QED's revamping of their old OffQ Friday evening panel discussion. Basically the same format except the panel always changes.

I don't yet know what the topics are but I am hoping we get to discuss at least one of the following:
  • Mozart or Beethoven, who would've fared better against Watson on Jeopardy?
  • When Kapsarov used Nf3 so effectively in the Nimzo against Karpov in '85 (3 wins to 3 ties) was he calling for more openness in Soviet Society (a proto-Glasnost, if you will) or was he just trying to impress the ladies?
  • Who better personified the alienation of contemporary masculinity in light of the emerging women's movement in the mid-60s, the first or second Darren on Bewitched?
But with my luck, we'll probably be discussing current events.

Go figure.

February 17, 2011

It's Been A While...

The Tribbing is still going on at Richard Mellon Scaife's op-ed page - even if I haven't commented on it in a while.

This morning (hey, did you know the Trib had some publishing trouble yesterday?) on the braintrust's op-ed page we find this:
Revolt of the Light Brigade: Freedom Action has begun a petition drive to have Congress rescind what effectively is a ban on incandescent light bulbs. The group is an offshoot of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. It cites not only the congressional overreach but the mercury danger of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Sans that, can a black market in incandescents be far behind?
And even that, they get wrong. But first, Freedom Action/Competitive Enterprise Institute.

We've discussed them before. Suffice it to say the CEI is a free market think tank aggressively funded by the Trib's owner, Richard Mellon Scaife. According to the numbers at mediamatters.org, he's supported it to the tune of a little more than $2.8 million over the last 25 years or so. According to those numbers, in fact, he is the single largest funder for the CEI.

No mention of that in the editorial - that he funds the think tank his editorial board references.

Also not mentioned in the blurb - the bill that "effectively" banned the old fashioned light bulb was signed into law in 2007 by that champion of Congressional Overreach and Environmentalistic fascism, George W Bush.

One interesting thing - if you actually were to go to the Freedom Action press release describing the petition to end the "ban" (which really wasn't a ban, of course) you'd find that it doesn't actually mention any "mercury danger" even though the Trib said it did. Nor is the word mercury found (at this point, at least) at the Freedom Action website at all.

So even though Scaife's given all this money to the CEI (of which Freedom Action is a part) and even though I am sure he pays his braintrust a very nice salary, they can't even get that simple part right.

The circle jerking continues at the Tribune-Review - even though they need a better fact checker.

February 16, 2011

Tell them you can't kill us or our doctors: Rally on Thursday!


(Click to embiggen)

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2011, 4:30pm-5:30pm
The Old Allegheny County Morgue
542 4th Avenue, Downtown
(Corner of 4th Avenue and Ross Street)

We may be mere "physical locations" and less than full citizens -- or even persons -- in their eyes, but it's time to tell them that you can't kill us or our doctors. You can't continue to attack our health care and our Reproductive Justice. You can't turn back the clock because we won't back down.

It's time to go Egyptian on their asses because they're trying to go medieval on ours.

We won't go back.



We won't go back.


More info and RSVP here
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Pittsburgh Police Transparency Public Hearing

Head on over to The Pittsburgh Comet for lots of video.
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CHS: Walk To End Poverty For All


(Click to embiggen)

"All funds raised will benefit more than 5,000 very low income and homeless individuals and families that Community Human Services assists year round through our food pantry, emergency shelter, supported housing programs, in-home assistance program, and within our health station, all of which help those struggling with poverty on a daily basis."

More at http://www.walktoendpovertyforall.org
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Feed the Trees



Preserving Pittsburgh’s Trees:
Action and Recovery
Thursday, February 17, 2011, 6:30 – 8:00pm
Frick Fine Arts Building
University of Pittsburgh Campus
(Across from Schenley Plaza)

More here.

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More Birther Crazie

Check this portrait of teh crazie from Public Policy Polling.

After looking at the results I have to ask, What the heck happened to the GOP? It used to be a party of ideas. Granted, few of those ideas I agreed with but at least William F. Buckley knew BS when he saw it. He wrote about the Birchers' "paranoid and unpatriotic drivel" way back in 1965.

There were level headed adults in the GOP back then, it seems.

Not so much these days. PPP interviewed 400 Republican Primary voters and found that when asked this question:
Do you think Barack Obama was born in the United States?
Only 28% said yes. 51% said no and 21% were not sure.

Think of that for a minute. A well documented historical event, (meaning there's official paper work to support the report) and 72% of Republican primary voters don't accept its validity.

Bertrand Russell wrote about how to rate the appropriate level skepticism for historical events his solution was to imagine what would unknown stuff would have to be right in order for a well documented event to be false. He didn't use this example, but try to imagine what would have to be true in order for this statement "Abraham Lincoln was shot in Ford's Theatre in April of 1865." to be false. Once you do that, reality is easy to accept.

Think of what conspiracy has to be in place in order for the statement "Barack Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961." in order to be false. That's what that majority of GOPers must believe.

What happened to the GOP?

One last thing. If you're sitting at a table where there are 4 Republicans who say they'll be voting in their state's upcoming primary, there's a good chance that 2 of them are out-right birthers and another is too clueless to know better.

What happened to the GOP?

February 15, 2011

No Aspersions, No Allegations

There are times when I have to tip my hat to the editorial board at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. There are days when they get it right.

Like today:
Grand jury accusations that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia failed to stop the sexual abuse of children more than five years after another grand jury documented the abuse by more than 50 priests begs another question:

Did the same thing happen in Pittsburgh?

We are forced to ask this most difficult question given that the Philly grand jury directly implicates Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who stepped down as the prelate of the Philadelphia archdiocese in 2003 and is the former bishop of Pittsburgh.

The grand jury said it "reluctantly" decided to not file charges against Cardinal Bevilacqua because it did not have enough evidence. But he is accused of transferring problem priests to new parishes without divulging prior sexual-abuse allegations.

Did the same thing happen under Bevilacqua's watch in the Diocese of Pittsburgh between 1983 and 1987? It is an eminently fair question given the alleged audacity of the inaction in the Philadelphia cases.

Bevilacqua now is 87 and said to be suffering from cancer and dementia. But that should not preclude an independent and outside review of all allegations of sexual abuse against priests during his Pittsburgh tenure.

We cast no aspersions. We make no allegations. But given the facts as the Philadelphia grand jury has presented them, those in the Pittsburgh diocese deserve no less.K
Minor quibble: I would spend less time with the "Pittsburgh Connection" and more time on the bigger picture (the allegation that The Church in the State of Pennsylvania covered up the rape and torture of children). Unfortunately the local news media just generally spends too much time looking for the "Pittsburgh Connection" in too many stories, not just this one. Minor quibble. Moving on.

The AP has some details:
Nearly a decade after the scandal over sexual abuse by priests erupted, Philadelphia's district attorney has taken a step no prosecutor in the United States had taken before: filing criminal charges against a high-ranking Roman Catholic official for allegedly failing to protect children.
And:
[District Attorney Seth] Williams announced charges Thursday against three priests, a parochial school teacher and Monsignor William J. Lynn, who, as secretary of the clergy, was one of the top officials in the Philadelphia Archdiocese from 1992 to 2004.

The three priests and the teacher were charged with raping boys. Monsignor Lynn, 60, was accused not of molesting children, but instead of endangering them. A damning grand jury report said at least two boys were sexually assaulted because he installed two known pedophiles in posts where they had contact with youngsters.
And Reuters has news of a lawsuit:
The Archbishop of Philadelphia and his predecessor were accused on Monday in a civil lawsuit of endangering children by concealing the identity and sexual abuse of predatory priests from law enforcement to save the church from a costly scandal.

Among the seven people and three institutions named in the lawsuit filed in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia were the current Archbishop Cardinal Justin Rigali, his predecessor Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Monsignor William Lynn, the Rev. Richard Cochrane and Martin Satchell, who has left the priesthood.

"John Doe 10," an anonymous 28-year-old man who allegedly suffered two periods of abuse by clergymen, filed the lawsuit and is seeking more than $50,000, which would trigger a jury trial. The victim alleges that as a young Catholic school student he was abused during second or third grade and again during his high school freshman year, when he sought counseling about the earlier abuse. The lawsuit names Satchell and Cochrane as his abusers.

The lawsuit accuses the Archdiocese, the sixth largest in the United States with 1.5 million Catholics, of implementing "programs and procedures that were misrepresented to the public as providing help to victims of childhood sexual abuse by clergy, but were instead maliciously used to develop information to protect the Archdiocese."
These are still only allegations, of course. But it's not like the Church hasn't already committed similar atrocities elsewhere across the planet.

So I'll say it again. Given the Church's atrocious behavior protecting it's priesthood, why should we spend pay any attention to any statement of sexual morality from the Roman Catholic Church?

February 14, 2011

Have A Heart, Governor Corbett Rally! (adultBasic)


Via http://www.consumerhealthcoalition.org/:

HAVE A HEART, TOM CORBETT! RALLY TO SAVE adultBasic

MONDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 2011 @ Noon at the Governor’s Regional Office located at 301 Fifth Avenue (On the Corner of Wood and Fifth).

We will meet next two the lion statues (have some courage, too, governor!) and have a short rally where we will hear perspective from persons who have received their adultBasic termination letter as well as persons who are on the waiting list (along with a half million other Pennsylvanians!).

Following the rally, a group of us will deliver the Valentines to the Governor’s Regional office.

More on adultBasic here.
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From Sunday's Tribune-Review

Sorry for the lateness of this - I have been fighting a killer of a cold.

We all know how the Trib's editorial board routinely refrains from logic, from reality but some days (and yesterday was a good example) they just pop the cork on a new layer of inexact-itude.

Take a look:
The Congressional Budget Office confirms what Democrats were trying to fob off on Republicans as "reckless partisan rhetoric": ObamaCare is a jobs killer. How many? Try 800,000. Higher costs, fewer jobs, more government control. Yet again, class, it's a tutorial in what "progressivism" is all about.
Except that when you look at what CBO director Douglas Elmendorf actually said, you find that the Trib has it completely totally ass-backwards wrong.

And had they read the Wall Street Journal, they'd know that:
Speaking Thursday before the House Budget Committee, the Congressional Budget Office director estimated that ObamaCare will cause the labor force to shrink by about half a percentage point by the end of the next decade. That isn't the same as claiming that there will be 800,000 fewer jobs available, but rather, as Mr. Elmendorf said, that the law will reduce "the propensity to work." As with any other government subsidy, people receiving "free" health care won't have as much incentive to search for a job or work full time. [emphasis added]
Let's explain further. Better yet, here's the CBO itself, doing something the braintrust doesn't seem to want to do - give you clear information:
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act(Public Law 111-148) and the Health Care Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-152) will affect some individuals’ decisions about whether and how much to work and employers’ decisions about hiring workers.1 The Congressional Budget Office(CBO) estimates that the legislation, on net, will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by a small amount—roughly half a percent—primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply.
And then:
The expansion of Medicaid and the availability of subsidies through the exchanges will effectively increase beneficiaries’ financial resources. Those additional resources will encourage some people to work fewer hours or to withdraw from the labor market.
So it's not about the jobs, but about workers. With Health Care Reform implemented fewer people would have to work that second job or do overtime just to pay for their health care. Or if they know their health insurance is solid, they might be able to retire sooner and not have to wait for Medicare to kick in. The supply of labor would be reduced - but not the number of jobs.

A huge difference the Trib blurred into a lie.

Now go back and look at what the Trib fobbed off as true. What they wrote is completely wrong and it only shows (yet again) that the braintrust must think its readership is a bunch of idiots who'll believe whatever partisan drivel plops on their doorstep every morning.

February 12, 2011

Lil Ricky - The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Watch:


Lil Ricky sez: America belongs to God.

Tell me where in the Constitution it says that.

He also waxes philosophical on choice. Did you know that Roe v Wade was a restriction of freedom? According to Ricky it is. He says:
You talk about the tyranny of what's going on in the last couple of years with ObamaCare and the Dodd Frank bill and TARP and all of this government control of our lives. And government telling us what to do. Taking freedom away from us.

Well, if you lived in the trenches of the social conservative movement you've seen this in America. You saw it in the issue of life. When a group of judges decided, 'Well, we're just smart enough and we're going to take that decision away from you. We're going to take that power away from you to make that decision.
I guess he means that by allowing women to make their own decisions regarding their own bodies, the Supreme Court restricted the rights of that subset of Americans who feel they are entitled to make those decisions for everybody else.

I am so happy Ricky's thinking of running for President. This is going to be so much fun!

More On Bush's War Crimes (An Update)

As today was to be the day when former President George W Bush was to speak in Switzerland, I thought it might be a good idea to follow up on the story.

From the Center for Constitutional Rights:
On February 7, 2011, two torture victims were to have filed criminal complaints for torture against former president George W. Bush in Geneva, who was due to speak at an event there on February 12th. On the eve of the filing of the complaints, George Bush cancelled his trip. Swiss law requires the presence of the alleged torturer on Swiss soil before a preliminary investigation can be open. The complaints could not be filed after Bush cancelled, as the basis for jurisdiction no longer existed.

These two complaints are part of a larger effort to ensure accountability for torturers, including former U.S. officials. So on February 7, 2011, CCR publically released the "Preliminary Bush Torture Indictment." This document presents fundamental aspects of the case against George Bush for torture, and a preliminary legal analysis of his liability for torture and a response to some anticipated defenses. This document will be updated as developments warrant. The exhibit list contains references to more than 2,500 pages of supporting material.
Here's the indictment.The CCR says:
The Preliminary Bush Torture Indictment was prepared so that it could be used for individual victims to file cases against George Bush in any country where the Convention Against Torture provides jurisdiction.
From elsewhere on the CCR website:
“Waterboarding is torture, and Bush has admitted, without any sign of remorse, that he approved its use,” said Katherine Gallagher, Senior Staff Attorney at CCR and Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). “The reach of the Convention Against Torture is wide – this case is prepared and will be waiting for him wherever he travels next. Torturers – even if they are former presidents of the United States – must be held to account and prosecuted. Impunity for Bush must end.”

While the U.S. has thus far failed to comply with its obligations under the Convention Against Torture to prosecute and punish those who commit torture, all other signatories, too, are obligated to prosecute or extradite for prosecution anyone present in their territory they have a reasonable basis for believing has committed torture. If the evidence warrants, as the Bush Torture Indictment contends it does, and the U.S. fails to request the extradition of Bush and others to face charges of torture there, CAT signatories must, under law, prosecute them for torture.
So I guess ole Dubya won't be travelling overseas or otherwise out of the country anytime soon.

Now if only the Obama Administration followed the law regarding torture.

February 11, 2011

What In The World Is Going On??

Get a gander from this paragraph from the Trib's Op-Ed page:
To Major League Baseball's arbitration process. Pirates right-handed pitcher Ross Ohlendorf was paid $439,000 last year. He was plagued by injuries and posted a record of 1-11. Even with that, the Bucs offered him $1.4 million for this season. Mr. Ohlendorf took the matter to arbitration. On Tuesday, arbiters awarded Ohlendorf $2.025 million. Good work if you can get it, we suppose, but it shows what's wrong with baseball economics.
And then there's this from Tony Norman's column today:
I'm not a baseball fan, but I am an American. This alone gives me some insight into what it means to fail and to be rewarded for it.

This week, arbitrators in Major League Baseball ruled that the annual salary of Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Ross Ohlendorf deserved a bump from $439,000.

Despite one win and 11 losses in 2010, not to mention two stints on the disabled list during what turned out to be yet another miserable Pirates season, Mr. Ohlendorf just knew he was entitled to a large salary hike.

Mr. Ohlendorf, a Princeton University grad who majored in something called Operations Research and Financial Engineering, knows that there is an inverse relationship between reward and failure in this country.

The Pirates made a more-than-generous offer to him of $1.4 million. After researching the salaries of MLB starting pitchers he considered "comparable," Mr. Ohlendorf argued that $1.4 million didn't account for his true value to the Pirates.

After pressing on with the kind of dogged determination the Pirates would love to see on the field for once, Mr. Ohlendorf was awarded a substantial raise to $2,025,000 by the arbitration panel. The panel obviously felt Mr. Ohlendorf's pain and gave him financial parity with his rivals, regardless of whether it represented a fair value to the team.

"I looked at the marketplace the past two years, but more specifically last year, and felt that was a fair number," Mr. Ohlendorf said afterward.

I didn't see PG sportswriter Colin Dunlap's reaction after getting that quote, but knowing him, I'm sure his face registered something akin to bemused resignation.
When Tony and Scaife's braintrust find common ground on something (ANYTHING), something is very very wrong in the universe.

A Creationism Update

I've said it before. If we are a society in decline, this is one of the reasons - a willful, stubborn, arrogant, religiously-supported scientific ignorance.

From the NYTimes:
Teaching creationism in public schools has consistently been ruled unconstitutional in federal courts, but according to a national survey of more than 900 public high school biology teachers, it continues to flourish in the nation’s classrooms.

Researchers found that only 28 percent of biology teachers consistently follow the recommendations of the National Research Council to describe straightforwardly the evidence for evolution and explain the ways in which it is a unifying theme in all of biology. At the other extreme, 13 percent explicitly advocate creationism, and spend at least an hour of class time presenting it in a positive light.

That leaves what the authors call “the cautious 60 percent,” who avoid controversy by endorsing neither evolution nor its unscientific alternatives. In various ways, they compromise.
So less than three in ten do it right. One in eight get it completely wrong and the remaining "cautious middle" do their students a grave disservice by compromising.And:
The survey, published in the Jan. 28 issue of Science, found that some avoid intellectual commitment by explaining that they teach evolution only because state examinations require it, and that students do not need to “believe” in it. Others treat evolution as if it applied only on a molecular level, avoiding any discussion of the evolution of species. And a large number claim that students are free to choose evolution or creationism based on their own beliefs.
As Neil Degrasse Tyson said on Real Time recently, the beauty of science is that it's still true, even if you don't believe it.

There should be no compromise with science.

Announcement for Friday February 18

I'll be on 4802.

What's 4802, you ask? From the QED website:
Live, local talk is BACK on WQED-TV! Pittsburgh's smartest journalists, columnists, bloggers, analysts and chatters join a different host each Friday night (Michael Bartley, Chris Moore or Tonia Caruso) with a look at news -- newsmakers -- and current events. There's only one place to be on Friday nights at 7:30 for smart talk -- issues -- insight -- and perspective. That place -- is 4802.
It's basically OffQ but with a different host and a different panel each week.

And NO I have no idea what we'll be discussing. News of the week, I guess.

February 10, 2011

SOMEONE Has The Right Idea At CPAC!


Listen at about 1:27.

Some brave soul screams out "War Criminal!" at the former Vice-President.

Even in the alternative universe that is the American conservative movement, someone sees clearly enough to speak the truth.

TPM has more:
Rumsfeld is being given CPAC's "Defender Of The Constitution" award, a concept that apparently rankled Paul supporters in the crowd. Many of them got up and walked out en masse at the mention of Rumsfeld, though some stayed behind in the conference hall to heckle the architects of the invasion of Iraq.
And:
"Uh, Defender of the Constitution?" Justin Bradfield of Maryland scoffed when I caught up with him after he walked out of Rumsfeld's speech. "Let's see: he expanded the Defense Department more than pretty much any other defense secretary and he enforced the Patriot Act."

"[Speaking] as a libertarian, that's not really the type of person who should be getting Defender of the Constitution," he added.
Gotta love those libertarians!

Mubarak to step down tonight...Update: Or not...

That's what I'm hearing on my teevee right now.

UPDATE: Via ABC News: "Hosni Mubarak Doesn't Resign, Cairo's Tahrir Square Erupts with Anger"
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he has delegated many powers to his newly minted vice president Omar Suleiman, but enraged crowds gathered in Tahrir Square hoping to hear the embattled president say he was stepping down.

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Palin Vs. Santorum!


Lil Ricky Santorum: [Speculating why Palin was not attending CPAC] “I have a feeling that she has some demands on her time, and a lot of them have financial benefit attached to them." “I’m not the mother to all these kids and I don’t have other responsibilities that she has.”

Mama Grizzly Sarah Palin: “I will not call him the knuckle-dragging Neanderthal that perhaps others would want to call him. I’ll let his wife call him that instead.” “I’m the proud mother of five children and my kids don’t hold me back from attending a conference.”

Oh, Ricky! It takes an awfully small man to make Palin be in the right on anything. You're the father to seven children, but apparently you don't let that cramp your style.

(More at The Note.)
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O'Reilly Vs. Obama

February 9, 2011

Tired Of All The Nuts

That's one of the reasons the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party is walking away from the chairmanship. From The Denver Post:
Dick Wadhams today unexpectedly dropped his bid for a third term as chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, and said he has no idea what he will do next.

Wadhams said he had the votes but in the last few days got to thinking, “What happens after I win?”

“I have loved being chairman, but I’m tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party’s role is,” he said.
From the memo he distributed:
I entered this race a few weeks ago looking forward to discussing what we accomplished in 2010 and to the opportunities we have in 2012 to elect a new Republican president; to increase our state House majority and win a state Senate majority; and to reelect our two new members of Congress.

However, I have tired of those who are obsessed with seeing conspiracies around every corner and who have terribly misguided notions of what the role of the state party is while saying “uniting conservatives” is all that is needed to win competitive races across the state.
And who would these nuts who see conspiracy theories around every corner?

TPM offers a clue:
Wadhams oversaw Republican losses in both the Senate and gubernatorial races in Colorado last fall, races that the party could have conceivably won if the Tea Party-backed nominees in both races hadn't committed some serious errors.
And from Vincent Carroll at the DenverPost:
Ted Harvey is seeking the post of state Republican Party chair because he wants to "return authentic conservative leadership to the party structure," he said in his announcement.

You've got to appreciate the audacity of the word "authentic." The current party chair, Dick Wadhams, who announced Monday that he will not seek re-election, has only spent his entire career working for the likes of Bill Armstrong, Conrad Burns, Bill Owens, Wayne Allard and George Allen — and no, I don't mean the coach — with nary a political moderate in the mix.
So Dick Waldhams, called by Slate as an heir apparent to Karl Rove himself, isn't "authentic" enough a conservative for the Tea Partiers who scuttled those GOP races in Colorado.

Teh Tea Party Crazie has infected the GOP. Should be fun to watch!

The New Civility

  • GOP Rep. Rehberg: Federal Judges Should Be ‘On The Endangered Species List’

  • Alabama State Senator Advises Politicians To ‘Empty The Clip’ To Stop Undocumented Immigrants
  • Of course none of this matters because words don't matter and even if they did matter, there are no right wing domestic terrorists -- only "crazies" -- and those crazies don't listen to violent right wing rhetoric and even if they do, it just doesn't matter because words don't matter.

    Glad that I cleared that up for everyone!

    .

    February 8, 2011

    More on Toomey's "Pay China First" Bill

    Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey has a great idea for if (IF) the Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling.

    TPM has a closer analysis of who would get paid (hint: it ain't only China):
    Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) recently proposed a stop-gap measure to prioritize paying off interest on U.S. debt in the event that the country reaches its debt ceiling. Democrats have attacked this plan as a "pay China first" proposal, which will disadvantage American retirees and veterans who are also owed money by the Treasury.

    But who would really get the money? Well, yes, China. But so too would many other countries, institutions, and individuals in the United States. The Christian Science Monitor has a handy breakdown here.

    About 53 percent of U.S. debt held by the public was held domestically. Says CSM, "Within this slice, the largest category is individuals - Treasury notes are good solid additions to any portfolio. US individuals hold 12 percent of the country's debt. Next under the domestic category comes the Federal Reserve, which holds 9 percent of US debt, then pension and retirement funds, mutual funds, and state and local governments."

    According to economist Dean Baker, who heads the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the debt is fairly spread out, but a disproportionate chunk is held by large financial institutions -- the same institutions that triggered the financial crisis. That crisis, and the economic downturn it created, cost the Treasury a tremendous amount of revenue, and accelerated the country's march toward its debt limit. Now, many of those same financial institutions want to be at the front of the line if the country nears default.
    As I wrote back then, money protects money - and the rest of us will just have to sacrifice.

    Even the House Republicans are "quietly dismissive" of the Toomey plan:
    The conservative Republican Study Committee, which boasts a membership that comprises two-thirds of the Republican Conference, is pushing a bill that would forestall a “must pass” vote in Congress by giving the Treasury Department added authority to prioritize debt payments and prevent a full default if the ceiling were reached.

    The legislation “assures lenders that their investments in the United States government are entirely safe,” said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), the lead House sponsor. “Congress will still have to deal with the issue of the debt limit. It simply takes a default off the table.”

    [Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner has called the legislation, originally authored by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), “unworkable” and potentially “quite harmful.”

    Boehner has ignored the proposal, and GOP leadership aides are privately dismissive of it. One staffer said the bill would give “unprecedented power to the White House and the Treasury Department to pick who’s going to get paid.”
    Yea, that's the reason it's such a bad idea. The House Republicans fear the wrong people might get paid first!

    Money protects money.

    February 7, 2011

    Crap.

    From the P-G:
    This one, alas, did not end with that familiar ring.

    These remarkably resilient Steelers, on the cusp of one of the most spectacular comebacks in sporting history, failed to secure their record seventh championship by falling short of the Green Bay Packers, 31-25, in Super Bowl XLV Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium.
    It came oh, so close to being oh, so different.

    "We just wanted a taste of the lead. Just a taste. And were right there," safety Troy Polamalu said. "But they made the plays on defense, and we didn't. That was the difference."

    Green Bay forced three turnovers, beginning with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's two interceptions that led to the Packers storming to a 21-3 lead in the first half.
    Three turnovers. Three. Each leading to a Green Bay touchdown. You can't win anything in the NFL if you just give the other team the ball (and 21 points) so easily. Especially a team as good as this year's Packers.

    Crap. Just crap.

    February 6, 2011

    Is there some sort of sporting event happening today?


    .

    Happy Reagan Day (Part II)

    As pointed out previously, this is President Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday.

    Now while the wingnuts and the rest of the media regurgitate the usual myths of the Reagan years (Reagan ended the Cold War, Reagan was a tax-cutter, etc), I want to point out some truth.

    First, from Think Progress. Did you know that Ronald Reagan raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office?

    He did. From the transcript:
    Former Senator ALAN SIMPSON (Republican, Wyoming): Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times in his administration. I was here. I was here. I knew him. Better than anybody in this room. He was a dear friend and a total realist as to politics.

    SCOTT HORSLEY: Simpson's recollection is spot on, says historian Douglas Brinkley, the editor of Reagan's diaries.

    Professor DOUGLAS BRINKLEY (Rice University): Ronald Reagan was never afraid to raise taxes. He knew that it was necessary at times. And so there's a false mythology out there about Reagan as this conservative president who came in and just cut taxes and trimmed federal spending in a dramatic way. It didn't happen that way. It's false.
    They go on to describe how Reagan never really cut much domestic spending but when his early tax cuts kicked in, he was faced with a decision; cuts in entitlements or raising taxes. Guess what?
    ...Reagan faced a choice between raising taxes and an even bigger federal debt. He chose the tax hikes.
    This is RONALD REAGAN we're talking here.

    Did you know that federal spending ballooned during the Reagan Administration. And "ballooned" is not, in fact, my term. It's how Reagan's favorite DC newspaper, the Washington Times described it:
    During Reagan’s eight years in office, inflation fell from its staggering late-1970s peak, relations with the Soviet Union thawed, the unemployment rate fell and incomes rose. But measured by other standards, income inequality grew and federal spending ballooned. [emphasis added]
    And as Will Bunch, author of Tear Down This Myth points out at the Huffington Post, Ronald Reagan would not have approved of torture. In his letter accompanying his signature on the UN Convention Against Torture, Ronald Reagan wrote:
    The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention . It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

    The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called "universal jurisdiction." Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.
    Happy Birthday, Ronnie! Ya soft-on-terror, tax-and-spend, big-guv'ment pragmatist!