We are the 99%

December 30, 2011

Thanks for working for the 99%, Councilman Doug Shields!


(Click to enlarge)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Straight-talking, passionate Shields leaves council

Essential Public Radio: Shields Leaves City Council

Frankly...

As far as I can tell, it started here, with Mark Tapscott at the Washington Examiner:
Looks like the PC police have threatened members of the House of Representatives against wishing constituents a "Merry Christmas," if they want to do so in a mailing paid for with tax dollars.

Members who submit official mailings for review by the congressional franking commission that reviews all congressional mail to determine if it can be "franked," or paid for with tax dollars, are being told that no holiday greetings, including "Merry Christmas," can be sent in official mail.
Another example on the PC "War on Christmas" I guess.

Except, it's not.  Not after you take a deeper look.

December 29, 2011

Every dog has its day: Rick Santorum polling third in Iowa


We give this one a "shazam!", "g-o-l-l-y", and "sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-prise!":

Lil Ricky placed third in a CNN poll for next week's Iowa's caucuses.

The Trib Misleads. On CFLs. AGAIN

From today's New Year's wrap:
More bad news for the crowd that believes government should determine what light bulbs you can buy. London's Daily Mail reports that when compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) can no longer produce light, "the electronics in the base will still try to function, sometimes leading to overheating, smoke and fire." How comforting. [Bolding in original.]
And yet again, when you start to dig into the story you find the piles of facts that Scaife's braintrust casually omits.

December 28, 2011

oh fudge

I got my letter from the City and my home has been reassessed at nearly triple its previous value.

oh fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck

Tracking Teh Crazie - Victoria Jackson

Via Huffingtonpost:
Former "Saturday Night Live" actress Victoria Jackson, working on confidential information she as a web talk show host has special clearance to obtain, has claimed that the United States is being overtaken by radical Muslims bent on bringing the nation under Sharia law.

"I just went to a briefing in Washington DC, across the street from the Capitol, at the Longworth building at 8:30 am two days ago and it changed my life," Jackson said last week on her web show, "Politichicks." "For six hours, I saw pictures and names and dates and facts and Islamic law books and Korans, Surahs for six hours and they proved to me... that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated our highest positions in government and this is serious."
You can watch it here, if you like.  It's episode 10.

Huffpost points out that Jackson blogged on the meeting earlier in December:
I went to a six hour briefing in Washington D.C. last week. Thirty eight government representatives were invited. Fifteen showed up. Slides, photos, names, dates and documents were shown overhead proving that the Muslim Brotherhood, not only planned the “Arab Spring” and Libyan take over, but has infiltrated our highest government positions, schools, courts and military and is even making policy.
And then:
During this briefing, I saw many documents that had been confiscated from F.B.I. raids on Muslim cells. One document from 30 years ago outlined their “phased plan” to overtake America/the West; 1) Phase of discreet and secret establishment of leadership 2) Phase of gradual appearance on the public scene. Gaining public support and sympathy. Establishing a shadow government (secret) within the Government 3) Escalation phase, prior to conflict and confrontation with the rulers, through utilizing mass media. 4) Open public confrontation with the Government through exercising the political pressure approach. Training on use of weapons domestically and overseas. 5) Seizing power to establish the Islamic Nation under which all parties and Islamic groups are united.

John Guandolo and Steve Coughlin spoke, “…The Elbarasse archives and close observation revealed these techniques employed by the Ikhwan to achieve civilization jihad in America; expand Muslim presence by birth rate, immigration and refusal to assimilate; occupy and expand domination of physical spaces; ensure the Muslim community knows and follows MB doctrine; control the language we use in describing the enemy; ensure we do not study their doctrine; force compliance with shariah at local levels; fight all counter-terrorism efforts; employ ‘lawfare’ – the offensive use of lawsuits and threats of lawsuits; claim victimization/demand accommodations; condemn “slander” against Islam; subvert the U.S. education system – infiltrate and dominate U.S. Middle East and religious studies programs; demand the right to practice shariah in segregated Muslim enclaves; demand recognition of sharia in non-Muslim spheres; confront and denounce Western society, laws, traditions; demand that shariah replace Western law.
John Guandolo and Steve Coughlin are both VPs at the Stategic Engagement Group and evidently they were reading from this report by the Center for Security Policy (page 74):
The Elbarasse archives and close observation of the Brotherhood’s operations reveal the following as the most important of the techniques employed by the Ikhwan in America to achieve the seditious goals of its civilization jihad:

• Expanding the Muslim presence by birth rate, immigration, and refusal to assimilate;
• Occupying and expanding domination of physical spaces;
• Ensuring the “Muslim Community” knows and follows MB doctrine;
• Controlling the language we use in describing the enemy;
• Ensuring we do not study their doctrine (shariah);
• Co-opting key leadership;
• Forcing compliance with shariah at local levels;
• Fighting all counterterrorism efforts;
• Subverting religious organizations;
• Employing lawfare - the offensive use of lawsuits and threats of lawsuits;
• Claiming victimization / demanding accommodations;
• Condemning “slander” against Islam;
By the way, The CSP is Frank Gaffney's group.

Hmm...warnings from the Center for Security Policy.  Yea, we can trust that intel.  Sure we can.

December 26, 2011

Jack Kelly Sunday

It's Christmas week and in his column, the P-G's Jack Kelly disappointingly plays the Christian Martyr card.  Mydisappointment here is two fold.  Not only does he not play it well, but it's a disappointment that he tries to play it at all.

Oh, well.  He's forgiven, I guess.

He also confuses a couple of things; a people's embrace of faith and it's government's assumed support (or lack of assumed support) for it.

But before we discuss faith's place in the public sphere, let's start where we should always start - The Bill of Rights, specifically, the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Remember that one?  It guarantees that everyone's conscience is free and that the guv'ment has no authority to impose any sort of religious orthodoxy.  Jack says it only prohibits the establishment of a state church.  But the Supreme Court, however, sees it differently.  As they stated in 1943:
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.
The case was West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette and it protected school students from being forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in public school.

The question is (and this is an important one): Which students was it initially protecting?

Glad you asked that.  The students protected were Jehovah's Witnesses.  And why, you may further ask, did those students need to be protected from being forced to recite the pledge?

It is because, according to their faith, they can't recite such a pledge.  From Watchtower.org:
There is no need to guess at the matter, for the Bible clearly shows that an intelligent, unseen person has been controlling both men and nations. It says: "The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one." And the Bible identifies him, saying: "The one called Devil and Satan . . . is misleading the entire inhabited earth."
And so forcing school children to pledge allegiance to one of these nations is, in a very real sense to these believers, forcing them to pledge allegiance to the Devil.

Whether the nations of the Earth are controlled by the Devil (or indeed whether the Devil even exists) is a separate question - one that the First Amendment prohibits the government from deciding for its citizens.

And that's the point.  In a free society, each of us gets to make our own decisions on matters of faith (which one? Or none at all?  In your own personal sphere, you decide.  In the public sphere, the government cannot decide for any of us.  On this, majority definitely does not rule.

The lesson is, as it always shall be, that the Bill or Rights "hands off" policy regarding religion is not evidence of hostility to religion but a protection of the religions liberty of all US citizens.

Now, let's get back to Jack:
Christianity may be declining in the United States. The percentage of Americans who say they're Christians dropped from 86 percent in 1990 to 75 percent in 2008, according to researchers at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

Or maybe not. In July, pollster George Barna found that 84 percent of Americans call themselves Christians. That number's held pretty steady for the last 20 years, he said.
Here's the research from Trinity College, by the way.  And here's the report from Barna.  One's a poll of 50,000+ people and the other's a poll of about 1,000 people.  One polling source is academic, the other for profit.  You can decide which numbers you like better.  Note that Jack gives some references in the above paragraphs.  Note, as well, that he gives no references to the following:
It's certainly declined in Europe. There are now more Christians in China than there are in the entire continent which less than a century ago was Christianity's heartland.
The CIA Factbook says that estimates that as of July 2010 there are 1,336,718,015 people in China and says that 3% - 4% are Christian.  4% of 1,336,718,015 is  about 53,468,721.  Is Jack really saying that Europe, a continent that has a population of somewhere around 730,000,000 people has a Christian population of less than 53 million?  Again, according to the CIA France has an estimated population of 65,312,249 of which at least 83% are Roman Catholic and 2% are Protestant. If we assume about 85% are Christian, then that means there are about 55,515,412 Christians in France alone.

The only way Jack is right is if the CIA is wrong.  Could no one at the P-G have checked this before publication?

The big error of Jack's however, occurs at the end when he "quotes" Thomas Jefferson:
"No nation has ever existed or been governed without religion, nor can be," Jefferson wrote to a friend. "The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man, and I, as Chief Magistrate of this nation, am bound to give it the sanction of my example."
Jefferson wrote that??

Um, no.  Sorry Jack, but you got this one wronger than your usual pile of sweaty wronginess.

According to Monticello.org, the home of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, that quote they found to be "questionable."  They consulted:
  • Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition 
  • Thomas Jefferson retirement papers 
  • Thomas Jefferson: Papers and Biographies collections in Hathi Trust Digital Library 
  • America's Historical Newspapers 
  • America's Historical Imprints 
  • 19th Century U.S. Newspapers 
  • American Periodicals Series
And could find no reference to it.  What they did find was this:
This quotation appeared in a handwritten manuscript by the Reverend Ethan Allen (1796-1879). The story was related to Allen by a Mr. Ingle, who claimed to have been told a story that Jefferson was walking to church services one Sunday.
"...with his large red prayer book under his arm when a friend querying him after their mutual good morning said which way are you walking Mr. Jefferson. To which he replied to Church Sir. You going to church Mr. J. You do not believe a word in it. Sir said Mr. J. No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I as chief Magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example. Good morning Sir."
And they concluded:
The story comes to us third-hand, and has not been confirmed by any references in Jefferson's papers or any other known sources. Its authenticity is questionable.
How much more wrong could it get for Jack's religious martyrdom? If he can't even get this stuff right...

I used to ask this question alot a few years ago.  Now, it seems, I have to resurrect  it:
Doesn't ANYONE Fact-Check Jack Kelly at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette?

December 23, 2011

Daryl Metcalfe's Zombie Lie

Today, we start with this from the Tribune-Review's op-ed page:
Naughty: The contention of the Pittsburgh chapter of the NAACP that requiring voter identification at the polls will disenfranchise black voters is a red herring. Protecting the integrity of the franchise should be everyone's goal.
And that led us back to this Trib article:
The NAACP's Pittsburgh branch is mobilizing to oppose a bill that would require Pennsylvanians to show identification before voting.

The organization on Wednesday likened the importance of the effort to ones that resulted in the abolishment of poll taxes. Members called on city residents to sign and help circulate petitions. They called on ministers to shout it down from their pulpits.

"The African-American community across the country fought long and hard to be able to vote," said NAACP President M. Gayle Moss. "This is a tactic to reduce the number of senior citizen voters, African-American voters, who do not have cars or drive, and young voters."
And this one in the P-G:
Decades after the African-American community fought for the right to vote, a voter identification bill proposed for Pennsylvania could again disenfranchise black voters, members of the NAACP said Wednesday.

"We cannot let that happen," said M. Gayle Moss, president of the Pittsburgh branch of the NAACP.

Ms. Moss, joined by NAACP members and religious leaders, held a news conference in the Freedom Unlimited building in the Hill District Wednesday morning. Speakers urged the state Senate to halt progress of a voter identification bill and called the legislation a tactic to disenfranchise African-American, Latino, young and elderly voters.
Each points out that the legislation is from our good friend Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry) and each offers up his defense. First the merely condescending response from the P-G:
In a phone interview Wednesday, Mr. Metcalfe called it a "laughable position" that people should not have to show identification before they vote. Showing a photo ID is already required for everything from getting a library card to flying on a plane, he said.

And he said it should be required to vote to prevent fraud, which he said does happen.

"It's really outrageous that anyone would claim that it is about anything but ensuring that we have integrity in our election process," he said.
To his far more insulting response in the Trib:
The legislation, he said, will protect those voters and ensure honest balloting. The Cranberry Republican said he was surprised at the NAACP's response.

"You have to question whether they want fair elections or want to have fraud continued to be perpetrated," he said.
There it is!  According to him, the NAACP does NOT want fair elections and they DO want continued voter fraud. Tucked in at the end of the Trib piece are the usual right wing suspects:
Metcalfe cited voter fraud arrests of ACORN workers in Pittsburgh and the submission by ACORN workers of 8,000 fraudulent voter registration forms in Philadelphia several years ago as evidence that the law is needed.
Too bad those arrests were not voter fraud - here's the Trib's own reporting of the Pittsburgh arrests:
A worker for a grassroots organization was so eager to fulfill a voter registration quota during the presidential campaign that she filed a fraudulent application in the name of a county elections employee, but got the Social Security number wrong, prosecutors said Thursday.

In all, seven canvassers for ACORN in Allegheny County are accused of forging 51 signatures and violating election laws in connection with last year's registration efforts, said District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.

Zappala said a six-month investigation by county police and the Pittsburgh FBI office found clear evidence of an illegal quota system in use by ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The investigation continues, and the arrests mark the end of only one phase, he said.
See that?  Nothing about voting.  And all about voter registration.  How would a photo ID at a polling place have stopped those ACORN canvassers?

It wouldn't.  And it's frankly dishonest of Metcalfe to use that evidence to support his legislation.

Hardly surprising, but only the P-G even gets close to calling Metcalfe out for his lie:
Although tales of voter fraud -- such as people voting more than once by impersonating others -- are common, verified instances of fraud are rare, Allegheny County Elections Division Manager Mark Wolosik said Wednesday.
But just how bad is this problem?  Well, there's this from State Representative Margo Davidson (D-Delaware):
In the 2008 presidential election, 5,995,137 Pennsylvanians cast ballots. Just four people have been prosecuted for voter fraud since the 2008 and subsequent Pennsylvania elections.
We saw this zombie lie bubble up last June.  Still a zombie, still no voter fraud.

December 22, 2011

This is Ron Paul -- Deal with it!

For all those who over the years have told me how stupid and moronic I am for not understanding that Libertarian Ron Paul is more pro state rights than anti choice or that he isn't explicitly pro Christian, please view the following ad. Please note that the ad is called "Staying on the Right Path" which is identified in the ad as being Christian and anti choice. Also note that this ad was created by his campaign and approved by Ron Paul and not just some surrogate or PAC.



Yep, just another anti choice, Christian, male Republican -- deal with it.

(h/t to Shakesville)

Tea-Party Democracy

From an editorial in today's P-G:
For lack of congressional compromise, payroll taxes are going to rise from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent and long-term unemployment benefits are going to run out -- this in the worst economic times since the Great Depression. As a result, some 160 million Americans are going to have to pay the price of freshmen Republicans who don't give a damn unless they get their own way.

The Senate did its part, with Democrats and Republicans agreeing on a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. The Republicans succeeded in including language requiring President Barack Obama to make up his mind within 60 days on the Keystone XL pipeline project, which environmentalists oppose. The bill passed 89-10, with 39 of 46 Republicans voting for it.
Including, we must add, Senator Toomey.

He even explained his vote on his website, saying that, while flawed, the legislation was "worthy of support."

The P-G goes on:
Then it came to the House of Representatives, with holdouts giving the excuse that they wanted a one-year tax cut extension or none at all. Would one year be better? Of course. Are the Democrats also playing politics, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refusing to negotiate further? Of course.

But can the blame be shared equally? Of course not. The House Democrats unanimously voted against rejecting the compromise bill. So in approving the rejection bill 229-193 and repudiating the efforts of adults in their own party, the House Republican majority owns this Christmas tax hike.

Even The Wall Street Journal editorial page, the daily bible of conservatives, was aghast at how badly Republican leaders such as House Speaker John Boehner had handled this "fiasco." It wrote, "At this stage, Republicans would do best to cut their losses and find a way to extend the payroll holiday quickly."

Yes, but how? Republican leaders now find themselves in the same position that Dr. Frankenstein was in -- unable to control the monster of his own creation. After all, the tea-party types who now inhabit Congress did what their electorates voted them in to do -- reject compromise and bipartisanship. All other Americans should note how this is working out.
That WSJ editorial is brutal in its assessment of the state of the House GOP.  Go read it.  But the P-G got it right.  How many years did the far right wing of the far right wing GOP complain about RINOs?  Those "Republicans In Name Only"?  They gain some control over the GOP, get some tea partiers elected to the House this is what happens.

This is what happens:



From Thinkprogress:
During a quick pro-forma session of the House this morning, Republicans rebuffed a Democratic attempt to force an up-or-down vote on the Senate-passed payroll tax holiday extension, which Republicans have thus far refused to allow. Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), who was serving as the speaker pro-temp, ignored shouts of “Mr. Speaker!” from Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), quickly adjourning the House.

Hoyer continued talking undeterred, saying, “You’re walking away, just as so many Republicans have walked away from middle-class taxpayers [and] the unemployed.” “We regret, Mr. Speaker, that you have walked off the platform without addressing this issue of critical importance to this country,” Hoyer added.

Moments later, the mic appeared to cut out. A few seconds after that, the video feed switched away from the House floor to a still image of the Capitol Dome. It appears someone in House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) office cut the feed, as C-SPAN tweeted afterwards: “C-SPAN has no control over the U.S. House TV cameras – the Speaker of the House does.”
Doncha Just LOVE Tea Party Democracy?

December 21, 2011

Today...

This, being the 25th day of Kislev, is the first day of Hanukkah.

So here's some Chanukah music for you!

Part 1:



And an update:



Happy Chanukkah everyone!

December 20, 2011

Vaclav Havel On Climate Change

As yinz probably already know, Vaclav Havel passed away on December 18.

Coincidentally, he and I were born on the same day - but that, is neither here nor there.

I wanted to point to something he wrote in 2007:
OVER the past few years the questions have been asked ever more forcefully whether global climate changes occur in natural cycles or not, to what degree we humans contribute to them, what threats stem from them and what can be done to prevent them. Scientific studies demonstrate that any changes in temperature and energy cycles on a planetary scale could mean danger for all people on all continents.

It is also obvious from published research that human activity is a cause of change; we just don’t know how big its contribution is. Is it necessary to know that to the last percentage point, though? By waiting for incontrovertible precision, aren’t we simply wasting time when we could be taking measures that are relatively painless compared to those we would have to adopt after further delays?
And:
We can’t endlessly fool ourselves that nothing is wrong and that we can go on cheerfully pursuing our wasteful lifestyles, ignoring the climate threats and postponing a solution.
And finally:
We must analyze everything open-mindedly, soberly, unideologically and unobsessively, and project our knowledge into practical policies.
I wonder if, in writing this editorial comparing and contrasting Vaclav Havel with Kim Jong Il, if they knew that he wrote all that. I mean they do end the editorial with this:
Mr. Havel rose to prominence after the Soviet-led invasion of 1968. The communists sought to silence Havel by jailing him numerous times. But it only drew more attention to his works and led to some of Havel's most insightful essays.

As Soviet dominance waned, Havel was the right man at the right time to help free Czechoslovakia.

We mourn the passing of Vaclav Havel. But we celebrate the beacon he powered.
Considering how little of the news (the actual news - not the right wing noise that passes for news in the right wing press) they seem to understand, I would doubt it.

Now THIS Is Embarrassing - Even For The Trib

From today's Christmas Takes:



Wow if a eco-wacko as devout as Prince Charles says all that about wind power, it must be true, right?  I mean the words are coming from Prince Charles, devout eco-wacko, right?

Um, no.

From the DailyMail:
Prince Philip has launched an outspoken attack on wind farms, branding them ‘absolutely useless’.

In comments that put him sharply at odds with the Government, the Prince reportedly said the farms were a ‘disgrace’ and they would never work.

He also described people who backed them as believing in a ‘fairy tale’.
And so on...

Hey, braintrust!  This is Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales:


And the guy on the left (that is to say, the old guy on the Queen's right) is Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, the prince's father:


If you can't even get such a simple fact like that right, how can we trust you on more complicated stuff like climate change?

Ha.  I made a funny.

December 19, 2011

It's Monday, So The Braintrust Is Misleading...

Take a look at this pile of braintrust droppings from today's Trib:
The White House says National Guard troops, assigned to beef up security along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border, will be cut by at least half next year and the remainder will be reassigned, Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter tells The Washington Times. The administration blames budget cuts.

That's a pathetically lame excuse when the 1,200 guard troops deployed in 2010 have demonstrated their effectiveness.

Homeland Security officials report that since the arrival of the National Guard, border arrests have dropped considerably, from 447,731 in fiscal year 2010 to 327,577 in 2011.
I'm glad they mentioned the Washington Times.

Know what else the Washington Times says about the National Guard troops?  Take a look:
Mr. Obama deployed 1,200 guard troops to the border in June 2010 in an effort to bolster the U.S. Border Patrol and try to prevent the growing drug violence in Mexico from spilling into the U.S.

He charged the guard with aiding in intelligence gathering and other backup duties, though troops have not been actually enforcing immigration laws.

The troops were scheduled to be drawn down this June, but Mr. Obama extended their deployment, saying there was still work to be done.

The troops were meant to be a bridge to beef up support staffing while the Border Patrol hired more agents under a bill Congress passed early in his term.

A Homeland Security Department official said they have made progress in hiring and training new agents.

There were supposed to be nearly 21,500 agents in the Border Patrol as of Oct. 1, which represents an increase of 1,300 since Mr. Obama took control of the budgeting process in 2009. [Emphasis added.]
So he extended their deployment?  Wow, the braintrust didn't say that!

And it was temporary support while the Border Patrol hired more agents???  The Braintrust didn't say that, either!

But what's really what's going on here?  There's this from the White House itself, announcing the plan:
And as part of his comprehensive plan to secure the Southwest border, President Obama will request $500 million in supplemental funds for enhanced border protection and law enforcement activities. The President will also deploy up to an additional, requirements-based 1,200 National Guard troops to the border to provide intelligence; surveillance and reconnaissance support; intelligence analysis; immediate support to counternarcotics enforcement; and training capacity until Customs and Border Patrol can recruit and train additional officers and agents to serve on the border. Funds will be utilized to enhance technology at the border, share information and support with State, Local, and Tribal law enforcement, and increase DoJ and DHS presence and law enforcement activities at the border, to include increased agents, investigators, and prosecutors, as part of a multi-layered effort to target illicit networks trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons, and money. [Emphasis added.]
Now we go back to the Washington Post:
Mr. Hunter said the pending cuts are another reason Congress and President Obama should revisit the automatic defense spending reductions that kicked in with the failure last month of the deficit supercommittee.
That's what this is about. The automatic cuts that are triggered by the failure of that supercommittee to reach a budget agreement are now getting too close for the Defense hawks' comfort.

So Scaife's braintrust spins the reduction of the Guard's presence on the border into something it's not.

It's Monday so the Braintrust is misleading you.  Get used to it.

December 18, 2011

The 1% Already Responded (in 1992)

In our ongoing meta-debate about OWS, I posted a pro-occupation clip from Garfunkel and Oates a few days ago.

Proving yet again that our corporate overlords (i.e. the 1%) are so far ahead of the 99% that they responded to the occupation in 1992.

Take a look:



Lyrics from the first song, "I'm a Bleeding Heart" go something like this:
I'm a bleeding heart
Let's give money away
To lazy people in the slums

I'm a bleeding heart
Let's eliminate our nuclear bombs
Arabs can be our friends (Right!)
Don't vote if you believe in that
We'll be fine without you

It's plain to see what you believe
Will lead to anarchy
And the second "Complain" go something like this:
Some people must have.
Some people have not.
But they’ll complain and complain and complain and complain and complain.

Some people will work.
Some simply will not.
But they’ll complain and complain and complain and complain and complain.

Like this: It’s society’s fault I don’t have a job.
It’s society’s fault I am a slob.
I have potential no one can see.
Give me welfare. Let me be me!

Hey, Bud, you’re livin’ in the Land of the Free.
No one’s gonna hand you opportunity!

Some people must have.
Some never will.
But they’ll complain and complain and complain and complain and complain.

I don’t have a house. I don’t have a car.
I spend all my money getting’ drunk in a bar.
I wanna be rich. I don’t have a brain.
Just give me a handout while I complain.

Or this: I wanna stay in bed and watch TV.
Go out weekends in a limousine
And dance all night takin’ lots of drugs
And wake up when I wanna.

Hey, Bud, you’re livin’ in the Land of the Free.
No one’s gonna hand you opportunity!

Some people will learn.
Some never do.
But they’ll complain and complain and complain and complain and complain.
Yeah, they’ll complain and complain and complain and complain and complain.
Amazing how the 1% knew (THEY KNEW) how bereft of ideas the OWS is now that they planted the seeds of it's dialectical demise almost two frickin decades ago.

December 16, 2011

1 in 2 in US are poor or low-income


The next time some moron asks what the Occupy movement is about, give them these stats:
  • Census Data Shows 1 In 2 People Are Poor Or Low-Income

  • U.S. CEO Pay Jumps Minimum Of 27 Percent Last Year, Survey Finds
  • Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

    From Vanity Fair:
    Christopher Hitchens—the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant—died today at the age of 62. Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010, just after the publication of his memoir, Hitch-22, and began chemotherapy soon after. His matchless prose has appeared in Vanity Fair since 1992, when he was named contributing editor.
    From the New York Times:
    Christopher Hitchens, a slashing polemicist in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George Orwell who trained his sights on targets as various as Henry Kissinger, the British monarchy and Mother Teresa, wrote a best-seller attacking religious belief, and dismayed his former comrades on the left by enthusiastically supporting the American-led war in Iraq, died Thursday at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He was 62.
    I had lunch with him once kinda.

    His takedowns of his intellectual (or maybe even not so intellectual) opponents were so sharp they spawned a new word - the "hitchslap."

    Like this one:



    Or this one:




    Or these:



    The world is a little darker today.

    December 15, 2011

    Again With The East Anglia "Scandal" - SHEESH!

    They have to know that this is a tired old resolved argument.  But they continue to use it anyway.

    From today's Trib, there's yet another skewed editorial about climate change.  Tucked in at the end, there's this:
    But this latest push to save the planet -- and thoroughly fleece the U.S. -- is premised on climate "conclusions" that are challenged by dissenting scientists and hamstrung by allegations of improprieties. To wit, leaked e-mails from the University of East Anglia's climate researchers reveal "conspiracy, exaggerated warming data (and) possibly illegal destruction and manipulation of data," writes Heritage Foundation analyst Nick Loris.
    I'm not sure the braintrust is completely correct in using the present tense in quoting Loris as it comes from an article published more than a year ago on October 26, 2010.

    This is what Loris wrote then:
    Despite vigorous dissention among the scientific community concerning the effects of anthropogenic warming, the climatologists who believe the warming to be a serious problem controlled the message for years. Simply put, they convinced the general public that global warming posed an imminent threat and drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions were necessary to prevent a catastrophe. Recent flaws discovered in the scientific assessment of climate change have shown that the scientific consensus is not as settled as the public had been led to believe. Leaked e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit in the U.K. revealed conspiracy, exaggerated warming data, possibly illegal destruction and manipulation of data, and attempts to freeze out dissenting scientists from publishing their work in reputable journals. Furthermore, gaffes exposed in the IPCC report have only increased skepticism among businesses and the public, and raised serious questions about sacrificing economic activity to reduce CO2 emissions.
    Have not yet I mentioned how despite the millions of dollars of Scaife money that's supported the Heritage Foundation over the years, there's no mention of that support by Scaife's braintrust when it so loyally uses a year old quote from one of its analysts?  What an oversight on my part!  Apologies all around.

    Bygones.

    Unfortunately for Loris' credibility, there've been many exonerations the science.  Some before like this one from the EPA written before Loris wrote his blog post:
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today denied 10 petitions challenging its 2009 determination that climate change is real, is occurring due to emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities, and threatens human health and the environment.
    And here's the first petition:
    Claim: Petitioners say that emails disclosed from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit provide evidence of a conspiracy to manipulate global temperature data.

    Response: EPA reviewed every e-mail and found this was simply a candid discussion of scientists working through issues that arise in compiling and presenting large complex data sets. Four other independent reviews came to similar conclusions.
    And some after, like this one 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.

    “In our review of the CRU emails, we did not find any evidence that NOAA inappropriately manipulated data comprising the [Global Historical Climatology Network] dataset or failed to adhere to appropriate peer review procedures,” said the report, which was authored by Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser at the request of Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.).
    And so on...

    Repeat after me.  Climate change is real.  Even The Pentagon says so:
    The changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics, military and intelligence analysts say.

    Such climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change.
    Did I mention where Loris worked before working for the Scaife-funded Heritage Foundation?  I didn't?  Well here's his bio from Heritage:
    Before joining Heritage in June 2007, Loris was an associate at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, immersing himself for a year in a market-based management program. His first media experience was as an editorial intern for Townhall.com.
    So I don't think we can expect any sort of fair and balanced look at climate science.  Or from the anti-science braintrust on Richard Mellon Scaife's payroll.

    December 14, 2011

    Adopt an Atheist!


    The Catholic League has launched an “Adopt An Atheist” campaign just in time for Christmas. They're encouraging people to target American Atheists state directors, so one can assume this is all a bit tongue-in-cheek.

    However, what isn't tongue-in-cheek is this statement on their site:
    If we hurry, these closeted Christians can celebrate Christmas like the rest of us. As an added bonus, they will no longer be looked upon as people who “believe in nothing, stand for nothing and are good for nothing.”
    Charming!

    Well, here's one thing that the American Atheists' leadership doesn't believe in or stand for: The systematic cover-up of the sexual abuse and rape of children by their representatives.

    Nor does the president of American Atheists -- to my knowledge -- make excuses for child rape or take out a full page ad in The New York Times claiming that it doesn't exist (unlike Catholic League President, Bill Donohue).

    Maybe, just maybe, there are some things one shouldn't believe in -- you know -- as a matter of MORALITY.

    Tomorrow Is December 15

    While December 15th is special for me personally (it's my mom's birthday) it's also special for everyone else too. Here's why:
    On December 15, 1791, the new United States of America ratified the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, confirming the fundamental rights of its citizens. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, speech, and the press, and the rights of peaceful assembly and petition. Other amendments guarantee the rights of the people to form a "well-regulated militia," to keep and bear arms, the rights to private property, fair treatment for accused criminals, protection from unreasonable search and seizure, freedom from self-incrimination, a speedy and impartial jury trial, and representation by counsel.

    The Bill of Rights draws influence and inspiration from the Magna Carta (1215), the English Bill of Rights (1689), and various later efforts in England and America to expand fundamental rights. George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights formed the basis of the amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights.
    Yay, us!

    And here they are:
    Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Amendment II

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    Amendment III

    No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

    Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Amendment V

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    Amendment VI

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

    Amendment VII

    In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

    Amendment VIII

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

    Amendment IX

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    Amendment X

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
    Again, yay us!

    December 13, 2011

    For My Friends On Mellon Green

    Ladies and Gentlemen, Garfunkel and Oates and Al:



    The lyrics, (in the event you're keeping score at home):
    Everyone knows these times are really tough
    And we need to band together say we've had enough.
    All the jobless people need to learn to be content
    Cause what we need to do is protect our one percent.

    Save the rich.
    Let them know you care.
    Don't them leave to languish
    In their penthouse of despair.

    Save the rich.
    Let their bonuses be swollen
    And let them keep it all tax free
    Even if it's stolen.

    Save the rich.
    Let's give our job creators
    More than their fare share
    So they can go to Asia
    And create jobs over there.

    There's loopholes and exemptions
    And children to exploit.
    So give them special tax breaks
    Who cares about Detroit?

    And those who don't create jobs
    Really need help, too.
    Cause without their 7th home
    How will they make it through?

    It's not time for complaining
    Not the time for class war.
    It's time sacrifice yourself
    To give them more and more and more
    And more and more and more.

    Save the rich.
    America's built on corporate greed.
    It's not Wall Street's fault
    If you can't get what you need.

    Save the rich.
    Don't go crying to mommy
    Cause if you don't agree
    Then you're socialist commie.

    Save the rich.
    Blame yourself for your problems
    Not the bad economy.
    So what if those who have the most
    Are the ones who put it in jeopardy?

    Forget your student loans.
    Screw your kids and their health care.
    It'll only take 10,000 of your jobs
    To put another private jet in the air.

    Save the rich.
    It's so easy to do.
    Just let yourself be ignorant
    To what's been done to you.

    Save the rich.
    By doing nothing at all.
    Deny all sense and logic
    And just think really small.
    You should think really small
    Or just don't think at all.

    Save the rich.
    Occupy.

    State of the Nation

    "Tulsa Woman, Accused Of Trying To Cook Meth -- In Walmart"

    American Idiot

    It doesn't take much to make fun of Perry, but this parody is hilarious:


    (Original "Strong" ad here.)

    Depressing

    Paul Krugman on the economy and the 'sharp drop in public support for democracy in the “new E.U.” countries.'

    December 12, 2011

    Wow, Grover Gets It Wrong

    I found this Americans for Tax Reform piece via Scaife's own Newsmax.

    For those of you who don't yet know Grover Norquist is quite important in Republican circles where his anti-tax pledge, is quite popular.  According to the Washington Times:
    All but four of the 242 House Republicans, and 41 out of the 47 Senate Republicans, have signed Mr. Norquist's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge."
    That somewhere around 96% of all Congressional Republicans.  That's alot of Elephant!

    So it's pretty amazing when he gets something really, really terribly wrong. Take a look at his first two paragraphs of his ATR piece, published Friday, December 9:
    The holidays are a season for giving and spending time with loved ones. However, this year taxpayers will be adding Uncle Sam to their Christmas list. Of an identified $10.72 billion of holiday spending, 43.36 percent of the price Americans pay to celebrate Christmas is due to government taxes, fees and other costs.

    This season, not even Christmas trees are safe from the government grinch. The Obama Administration has applied a 15 cent tax on each Christmas tree sold, meaning government now composes 31.19 percent of the price of an average 40 dollar Christmas tree. While implementation of the tax has been delayed, this is a particularly naughty idea to fuel increased government spending. For the $1.15 billion in sales generated by the Christmas tree industry employing over 100,000 workers, the Christmas tax is another measure threatening Americans jobs—so much for yuletide cheer. [emphasis added]
    And when did this delay occur?  At least a month ago.  Take a look at what we wrote on November 12.  In that post we linked to this piece by Jake Tapper from November 9::
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to delay implementation and revisit a proposed new 15 cent fee on fresh-cut Christmas trees, sources tell ABC News. The fee, requested by the National Christmas Tree Association in 2009, was first announced in the Federal Registry yesterday and has generated criticism of President Obama from conservative media outlets.
    So Norquist knew it was delayed but he seems to have missed all the other details revolving around the fee - like how it was requested by the NCTA or how the fee is generated by the growers and won't impact the cost of the trees or how the money won't go into any guv'ment coffers as it'll be used by the association to promote fresh cut Christmas trees.

    For someone supposed to be real smart on tax policy (or at least well informed) he simply failed on this one.

    All this was in the news a month ago.  Why doesn't Grover Norquist know about it?  Or perhaps he does and he doesn't want you to know about it.  Nothing like letting the facts get in the way of a good "Obama Hates Christmas" smear.

    You decide.

    December 11, 2011

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    In his column in this week's Post-Gazette, Jack Kelly tries yet again to undermine the undeniable (as per NOAA) science of Climate Change.

    Let's fact check a little.  Jack starts with:
    Unseasonable cold greeted delegates to the U.N. conference on climate change in Durban, South Africa, Nov. 28. They were chilled more by the impending collapse of one of the most brazen scams in the history of the world.
    Even though localized weather data (it was cold yesterday in Des Moines so where's that global warming, huh??) should not be used to validate/invalidate global climate data, I have to ask if this sentence is even true.

    Let's go see.  The conference was from November 28 to December 11 of this year.  According to Weather.com, the average high - low temperatures for Durban is 76F - 67F for November and 79F - 70F for December.  So for a day's temperature to be, as Jack put it, "unseasonably cold" it would have to be significantly below 67F in November and 70F in December, right?

    Take a look.

    Here weatherunderground.com's daily average temperatures for those days in La Mercy, South Africa (only 20 miles away):
    • November 28 - 72F
    • November 29 - 68F
    • November 30 - 80F
    • December 1 - 75F
    • December 2 - 72F
    • December 3 - 68F
    • December 4 - 66F
    • December 5 - 70F
    • December 6 - 72F
    • December 7 - 72F
    • December 8 - 66F
    • December 9 - 64F
    • December 10 - 68F
    • December 11- 73F
    So of the 14 days of the conference only 5 (December 3-4, 8-10) were below average in temperature and even then only between 2 and 6 degrees below.  Everything else is in the "average" range.  Can someone tell me how that's "unseasonably" cold??

    It's not a good thing for Jack when his beginning is so easily fact-checked.  But let's move on:
    The warnings of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the world faced doom from anthropogenic (man-made) global warming were based on peer-reviewed scientific literature, the IPCC chairman claimed. But when Canadian writer Donna LaFramboise checked the 18,531 references in the 2007 report, she found 5,587 were newspaper and magazine articles written by non-experts, unpublished theses and pamphlets produced by environmental groups.
    Actually, Framboise didn't herself check the references.  She asked for help online.  Let's start at the reliability of these auditors.  Since she solicited the help by way of her own science skeptic website, the pool of available reviewers is already skewed well into the anti-science crowd - hardly a group to be unbiased doncha think?  These are the folks who were instructed to give the IPCC the benefit of the doubt when grading the science they did.  A was a good grade, F was a bad one.  An F meant that there were too many non peer-reviewed references in the list of references.

    But besides that, take a look at her list of auditors.  How many are actually climate scientists?

    But besides that, take a look at their findings.  Of the three "working groups" of the IPCC that are being graded (or were being graded - this is done early 2010, by the way) one, Working Group I gets consistent "A" grades for the suitability of the references.  And what chapters of the IPCC 2007 report did Working Group I work on?
    Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis
    That's right. The Working Group that reviewed THE SCIENCE in the IPCC report received passing grades from even Laframboise's skewed group of auditors.

    Check Jack's column again.  Does he point that out?  I don't think so.

    And this is just the first two paragraphs.

    Here's Jack's third:
    IPCC reports supposedly were written by leading scientists. Ms. LaFromboise found many authors were graduate students selected more for political connections and "diversity" than for expertise. This explains, in part, why these reports contain so many factual errors.
    Has already been debunked by mediamatters:
    Citing what it calls "a scathing new expose on the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change," Fox News is trumpeting claims that IPCC reports "have often been written by graduate students with little or no experience in their field of study." Fox's article, titled "U.N. Hires Grad Students to Author Key Climate Report," comes as the IPCC prepares to issue a new report on weather extremes.

    Fox's "expose" is an e-book by Canadian writer Donna Laframboise, who recruited "a team of citizen auditors" to pore over IPCC reports from the past two decades. Drawing from the book, Fox identifies four IPCC authors since 1994 who were in, or had recently completed, grad school.

    Here are the facts Fox characteristically avoided: There were over 450 lead authors for the 2007 assessment report, plus 800 contributing authors and more than 2,500 reviewers. Fox identified only one graduate student who worked on the 2007 report. 1 out of over 1250 authors.

    The IPCC does not conduct climate research, it reviews and summarizes scientists' studies of climate change. The assessment reports have three volumes consisting of 10-20 chapters. Each chapter has around 7-10 lead authors and 2 coordinating lead authors and goes through two rounds of scientific review. Four of the lead authors could have been chimpanzees and it wouldn't have made a dent in the scientific heft of these massive reports.
    When there's this much non-factiness masquerading as skepticism, I think it safe to say that the rest of Jack's column deserves giant fail all on its own.

    Go read Ed.

    December 9, 2011

    Occupy Pittsburgh - The City Council Supports

    WHEREAS, the Occupy Wall Street movement is a non-violent, people powered movement for direct democracy that began in the United States on September 17, 2011 with an encampment in the financial district of New York City; and

    WHEREAS. the Occupy Wall Street movement and its offshoot movements around the world, including here in Pittsburgh, exemplify a new and exciting surge of popular resistance to the dominance of multi-national banks and corporations over the lives of millions of working families,

    WHEREAS, solidified by a march and rally on October 15, 2011, from Freedom Corner to Market Square, and continuing through the ongoing encampment at Grant Street and Sixth Avenue, Occupy Pittsburgh represents our local contribution, and has become one of the more sophisticated organizations in this worldwide movement; and

    WHEREAS, the Allegheny County Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and other organizations, in addition to many cities and other municipalities, have gone on record in support of the Occupy movement;

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Council of the City of Pittsburgh does support and declare solidarity with Occupy Pittsburgh and the Occupy Wall Street movement, exercising First Amendment rights in a free, open, peaceful, and productive manner, toward the better condition of our citizens and of these United States.

    SPONSORED BY COUNCIL PRESIDENT DARLENE M. HARRIS

    CO-SPONSORED BY COUNCIL MEMBERS:
    RICKY V. BURGESS, PATRICK DOWD, THERESA KAIL-SMITH, BRUCE A.
    KRAUS, R. DANIEL LAVELLE, WILLIAM PEDUTO, NATALIA RUDIAK, AND
    DOUGLAS SHIELDS
    Good for them.

    You can find it here.

    Occupy Pittsburgh Evicted


    Occupy Scenes

    DC:
    Several dozen Occupy DC protesters rolled out the human red carpet for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s holiday party at their Washington, DC headquarters this evening. The Chamber is the nation’s largest corporate lobby group. As guests entered, protesters shouted, “You walk on our rights, now walk on us!” encouraging attendees to trample on the activists laying underneath the red carpet painted with “99%.” No one did, sadly, at least while ThinkProgress was in attendance.
    By the way, Thinkprogress is also reporting that:
    [T]he Republican National Committee will hold its annual holiday party at the supposedly non-partisan U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Though the Chamber of Commerce has tried to assert its independence, events like this reinforce the notion that, as Politico’s Ken Vogel notes, the corporate trade association might “be thought of as a GOP arm.” In 2010, the Chamber was the top outside spending group, buying over $32 million worth of advertising, almost exclusively backing Republicans.
    As an aside, I have to point out what one of the commenters at thinkprogress noted before I did:
    Wait a minute, wait a minute! This is a "Holiday Party", not a "Christmas Party"? What will the "War on Christmas" crowd think of THAT?
    I wonder now if the good Christians at the American Family Association will include either the RNC or the Chamber of Commerce on their "Naughty or Nice" list.

    Then there's this from LA:
    My name is Patrick Meighan, and I’m a husband, a father, a writer on the Fox animated sitcom “Family Guy”, and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica.

    I was arrested at about 1 a.m. Wednesday morning with 291 other people at Occupy LA. I was sitting in City Hall Park with a pillow, a blanket, and a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Being Peace” when 1,400 heavily-armed LAPD officers in paramilitary SWAT gear streamed in. I was in a group of about 50 peaceful protestors who sat Indian-style, arms interlocked, around a tent (the symbolic image of the Occupy movement). The LAPD officers encircled us, weapons drawn, while we chanted “We Are Peaceful” and “We Are Nonviolent” and “Join Us.”

    As we sat there, encircled, a separate team of LAPD officers used knives to slice open every personal tent in the park. They forcibly removed anyone sleeping inside, and then yanked out and destroyed any personal property inside those tents, scattering the contents across the park. They then did the same with the communal property of the Occupy LA movement. For example, I watched as the LAPD destroyed a pop-up canopy tent that, until that moment, had been serving as Occupy LA’s First Aid and Wellness tent, in which volunteer health professionals gave free medical care to absolutely anyone who requested it. As it happens, my family had personally contributed that exact canopy tent to Occupy LA, at a cost of several hundred of my family’s dollars. As I watched, the LAPD sliced that canopy tent to shreds, broke the telescoping poles into pieces and scattered the detritus across the park. Note that these were the objects described in subsequent mainstream press reports as “30 tons of garbage” that was “abandoned” by Occupy LA: personal property forcibly stolen from us, destroyed in front of our eyes and then left for maintenance workers to dispose of while we were sent to prison.
    By the way, Occupy LA is where the LAPD went undercover:
    Los Angeles police used nearly a dozen undercover detectives to infiltrate the Occupy LA encampment before this week's raid to gather information on the anti-Wall Street protesters' intentions, according to media reports Friday.

    None of the officers slept at the camp, but they tried to blend in during the weeks leading up to the raid to learn about plans to resist or use weapons against police, a police source told the Los Angeles Times. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing.

    The undercover work yielded information that some protesters were preparing bamboo spears and other potentially dangerous weapons in advance of an expected eviction, none of which were used, according to the City News Service, which first reported the story.
    So their HUMINT was wrong, I guess.

    Meighan goes on to describe, in detail, the treatment he received at the hands of LA's finest.  You really should read it.  And then, as a foil, he points out:
    Now let’s talk about a man who was not arrested last Wednesday. He is former Citigroup CEO Charles Prince. Under Charles Prince, Citigroup was guilty of massive, coordinated securities fraud.

    Citigroup spent years intentionally buying up every bad mortgage loan it could find, creating bad securities out of those bad loans and then selling shares in those bad securities to duped investors. And then they sometimes secretly bet *against* their *own* bad securities to make even more money. For one such bad Citigroup security, Citigroup executives were internally calling it, quote, “a collection of dogshit”. To investors, however, they called it, quote, “an attractive investment rigorously selected by an independent investment adviser”.

    This is fraud, and it’s a felony, and the Charles Princes of the world spent several years doing it again and again: knowingly writing bad mortgages, and then packaging them into fraudulent securities which they then sold to suckers and then repeating the process. This is a big part of why your property values went up so fast. But then the bubble burst, and that’s why our economy is now shattered for a generation, and it’s also why your home is now underwater. Or at least mine is.

    Anyway, if your retirement fund lost a decade’s-worth of gains overnight, this is why.
    And then:
    For his four years of in charge of massive, repeated fraud at Citigroup, he received fifty-three million dollars in salary and also received another ninety-four million dollars in stock holdings
    In case you're keeping score:
    • Patrick Meighan (and many many others) arrested for participating in various Occupy protests around the country.
    • Charles Prince (and many many others) NOT arrested for the fraud that led to the economic collapse in the first place - in fact they walked away with millions!
    Occupy.

    Song of the Day

    December 8, 2011

    With A Little Plagiarism Comes Some Dishonesty

    Look at this paragraph from today's Tribune-Review:
    By the EPA's own estimates, the benefit of mandated mercury reductions from power plants is $6.1 million, total. But the rule creates annual compliance costs of $11 billion. Quite the cost-benefit analysis, eh? Other than that, and creating a climate for serious disruptions to the nation's power grid, hey, it's a great idea, right?
    Now look at this paragraph this WSJ Editorial from December 6:
    Keep in mind that the EPA estimates that the benefits to society from the mercury reductions in the utility rule max out at $6.1 million, total, while imposing $11 billion in compliance costs annually. That is a crazy tradeoff even if it didn't endanger the electric grid.
    Any closer and they'd need quotation marks but close enough that Scaife's braintrust should have done the right thing and simply added "According to our friends at the Wall Street Journal..." instead of trying to pass it off as an original thought.

    Lazy, lazy, lazy.  Embarrassing, even for the Trib.

    It's also incorrect - this is what the EPA said (it's from the "Executive Summary" from the March 2001 report):
    This proposed rule will reduce emissions of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) including mercury from the electric power industry. As a co-benefit, the emissions of certain PM2.5 precursors such as SO2 will also decline. EPA estimates that this proposed rule will yield annual monetized benefits (in 2007$) of between $59 to $140 billion using a 3% discount rate and $53 and $130 billion using a 7% discount rate. The great majority of the estimates are attributable to co-benefits from reductions in PM2.5-related mortality. The annual social costs are $10.9 billion (2007$) and the annual quantified net benefits are $48 to $130 billion using 3% discount rate or $42 to $120 billion using a 7% discount rate. The benefits outweigh costs by between 5 to 1 or 13 to 1 depending on the benefit estimate and discount rate used.
    And so where, might you ask, did the $6.1 million number come from?

    Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council. Segal calls the ERCC:
    [A] group of power-generating companies that provide reliable and affordable power to millions of American households, small businesses, industrial facilities, schools and hospitals.
    It's an industry trade group.  He's the director of an industry trade group and this is what he said:
    It stands to reason that the vast majority of benefits claimed by EPA to justify the proposed rule must be the result of reductions in mercury emissions. But the Agency’s cost-benefit analysis tells a very different story. According to EPA, the benefits to society of the mercury-reduction requirements are in the range of $500,000 to a maximum of $6.1 million in total (i.e. not even annual) benefits. In other words, in a rule estimated by EPA to cost $11 billion annually, the maximum total benefit of reducing emissions of mercury—the emissions of which serve as the primary basis for the rule—is $6.1 million.
    That's where the number comes from.

    And what does the EPA have to say about all this?  From way back in July, 2011:
    In response, EPA officials reiterated their estimate that the total annual cost of the rule would be $10.9 billion in 2015 and would yield up to $140 billion in health benefits annually.

    The agency also rebuffed Segal's argument that EPA figures showed the maximum benefit to society of mercury-reduction requirements is valued at only $6.1 million. That figure applies only to recreational fishers, and represents on a small portion of overall health benefits, the unnamed officials said. [emphasis added]
    So when the WSJ editorialists (and their too close for comfort copyists on Scaife's payroll) say that the EPA says it's a total of $6.1 million in benefits that would be completely and utterly wrong.

    And since passing off a falsehood as the truth is, by definition, lying...

    Well you get the picture.

    December 7, 2011

    Religion Poisons Everything (Again)

    Hitchens was right - here's another example.

    Yesterday, President Obama issued this memorandum regarding LGBT rights across the planet and of course religious conservatives gagged on it.

    Here's how the memo opens:
    The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights. I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation. That is why I declared before heads of state gathered at the United Nations, "no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere." Under my Administration, agencies engaged abroad have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere. Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal.

    By this memorandum I am directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.
    What follows is a seven point plan.

    The AP (by way of the Washington Post) notes:
    In his presidential memo, Obama directed the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other agencies to make sure U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance helps gays and lesbians who are facing human rights violations. He also ordered U.S. agencies to protect vulnerable gay and lesbian refugees and asylum seekers.

    But the directive does not make foreign aid contingent on a nation’s gay rights record or include specific sanctions for poor performers, making the policy more of a moral challenge to other governments than a threat.
    Of course the nation's conservative "faith community" is outraged.

    OUTRAGED!

    First our friends at the Family Research Council:
    Family Research Council criticized President Obama's memorandum today instructing federal agencies to promote the acceptance of homosexuality and gender identity disorder through its foreign policy.

    FRC Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg made the following comments:

    It is startling that President Obama is prepared to throw the full weight and reputation of the United States behind the promotion overseas of the radical ideology of the sexual revolution. If he did the same on other issues, his own liberal allies would undoubtedly accuse him of cultural imperialism. Threats to withhold foreign aid from poor countries unless they conform their laws to the views of Western radicals are unconscionable.
    Except we already know that there is no "treat to withhold foreign aid" in the memo.  In fact, the section of the memo dealing with "Foreign Assistance" reads:
    Agencies involved with foreign aid, assistance, and development shall enhance their ongoing efforts to ensure regular Federal Government engagement with governments, citizens, civil society, and the private sector in order to build respect for the human rights of LGBT persons.
    What's unconscionable is Sprigg's statement, a year or so ago on Hardball, that gay behavior should be criminalized.

    Then there's Governor Rick Perry:
    Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch with America’s values, AP reports his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights.

    This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop.
    And then:
    Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong.
    The president is talking about building respect for LGBT human beings, and the conservatively faithful find that deeply offensive.  It's a war on traditional values, they say.

    It's a faith based bigotry, to be sure.  Killing/maiming/jailing people across the planet merely for being gay should be allowed to continue because their "behavior" offends people claiming to speak for an omnipotent Supreme Being..

    Hitchens was right, you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and to truth in this country if you just say it's your faith speaking.

    December 6, 2011

    Teh Birther Returns

    In case you missed it, here's the official announcement:
    Newsmax Media and ION Television, one of the nation's largest broadcast networks, will collaborate to host a Republican presidential debate on Tuesday, Dec. 27, moderated by businessman Donald J. Trump.

    The Newsmax ION Television Debate will be held at the Hoyt Sherman Theater in Des Moines, Iowa, from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. ET – and will be the last forum of major Republican presidential candidates a week before the Jan. 3, 2012 Iowa caucus.
    Let's just review some of the players here, shall we?

    First there's Newsmax - 40% owned by local media mogul Richard Mellon Scaife.
    Second, there's Donald Trump - Birther.

    A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

    I just wonder how Scaife's paper will be covering it.

    December 5, 2011

    With A Little Digging...

    From today's Trib:
    Uncritical mainstream media, ill-informed about genuine research, too often amplify poorly done "science."

    A study published in July by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory suggested that consumption of canned food raised levels of supposedly harmful bisphenol A (BPA) in human urine.

    But active levels of BPA could not be detected in blood. A top endocrinologist said that effectively made rodent studies showing adverse BPA effects irrelevant for humans, Trevor Butterworth writes for Forbes.
    And then:
    Partially funding the Harvard study, Mr. Butterworth notes, was "the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which has a truly remarkable track record of funding almost all the scare studies on BPA ... ."
    Hey, Scaife's braintrust brought up the issue of funding, I didn't.  I'm just following their lead.

    So let's go find out who butters Trevor's bread.  There's this from the Forbes.com article the braintrust cites:
    I'm a Brooklyn-based writer, a weekly columnist at The Daily (The Information Society), a contributor to the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, and editor-at-large of STATS.org, a super-geeky non-partisan, non-profit project affiliated with George Mason University in Virginia that examines the way statistics and science are used in public policy and the media.
    Ah...STATS.org. And what's STATS.org? From their "about" page:
    Since its founding in 1994, the non-profit, non-partisan Statistical Assessment Service - STATS - has become a much-valued resource on the use and abuse of science and statistics in the media. Our goals are to correct scientific misinformation in the media and in public policy resulting from bad science, politics, or a simple lack of information or knowledge; and to act as a resource for journalists and policy makers on major scientific issues and controversies.

    As a mark of our success, STATS’ work has been featured on NBC’s “Nightly News,” “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” and ABC’s “20/20?- and in print by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, US News and World Report, New Scientist, New England Journal of Medicine, and many other publications.

    In 2004, we became an affiliate of George Mason University in Virginia.
    So it's the Statistical Assessment Service! We've seen that before, haven't we?

    Scaife's a big funder of STATS.org.  Big to the tune of $1.15 million over the years.

    Now as there was no for way Butterworth to know that his Forbes.com piece would be so dutifully referenced on Scaife's editorial page, he's not the issue here.  Though, unfortunately, his inclusion into this frothy mix discredits whatever worthy points he may have made.

    The issue, as always, is Scaife's money and how it quietly funds the right wing noise machine.  Scaife's funds have supported STATS.org (a hundred grand a year for the past few years, it looks like) and a writer for STATS.org writes something for Forbes that Scaife's paper lovingly recommends to you, his faithful reading audience - all without telling you about all his quiet support in the first place.

    Without knowing any of this, you'd think that Butterworth's research was sturdy enough to stand on its own - it made it onto the editorial page of a major metropolitan newspaper, right?  But now with his knowledge, you're not quite sure whether it's just being amplified by Scaife's noise machine.

    See how that works?  Somedays, these things just write themselves.

    December 4, 2011

    We Must Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

    Over the last few years, I'd leveled some (well-deserved) criticisms of P-G columnist Jack Kelly - though in recent years, Ed Heath over at Cognitive Dissonance has done such a good job of it, I've moved on to other newer Sunday morning blog pursuits.

    Every now and then, though, I feel the need to blog on his latest conservative spiel.  Most often, I don't.  There are times where I might disagree with Jack's opinions but can't find fault with his facts.  As everyone IS entitled to their own opinions, those are the days I find myself feeling less guilty about giving him a pass.  When his facts are, shall we say, in conflict with reality that's when find myself wanting to blog on that conflict.

    Today, however, is not one of those days.  I have no disagreement with either Jack's opinions or his facts this week at all.

    Neither does Ed.

    Jack's talking about moral courage in light of some recent rape scandals at some very important university sports programs:
    The foremost responsibility of the powerful is to protect the weak, But at Penn State and Syracuse, the powerful protected each other -- not the vulnerable, at-risk children.
    Can't say I can disagree much with this one, Jack.