We are the 99%

August 31, 2013

Ten Commandments Update

I am not sure who's more confused, me or The Rev. Ewing Marietta.

Well, that's a bit facetious on my part I must admit. Perhaps neither of us are confused.  Perhaps each of us is only a teensy bit confused but confused about different things.  Who know?  Whatever the case, it sure looks to me like the good pastor is missing the point about why the Ten Commandment monument at the Connellsville Jr High is so offensive.

Or maybe he gets the point and is just looking to save face, as it were.

Let's go to the news coverage at the Trib:
The Thou Shall Not Move group plans to erect four new Ten Commandments monuments at upcoming dedication ceremonies while the Connellsville School District and the Freedom From Religion Foundation continue to wage a legal battle over a monument that has been located on school property for more than a half century.

The Rev. Ewing Marietta, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church and an organizer of Thou Shall Not Move, said the dedication events will take place at 12:45 p.m. Sept. 8 at 301 S. Pittsburgh St., Connellsville; 5 p.m. Sept. 15 at the corner of North Arch and Water streets near the Amtrak train station; 1 p.m. Sept. 29 near a bus stop in Dunbar; and 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at 105 Hoke St., Bullskin Township.
Looks like they're erecting some new monuments in the area but it also looks like these erections are on private property.
“We have requests from 52 different places that want Ten Commandments monuments placed on their property,” he said. “We're going down the list and starting with the places that requested the monuments first.”

Marietta said the monuments have already been placed outside the Connellsville Eagles Club on Arch Street, on the grounds of St. Paul's AME Church on Morgantown Street in Uniontown and at the Juniata United Methodist Church in Dunbar.
This, of course, is completely constitutional as each of these spaces is private property.

And I am not sure whether Marietta gets the irony of the Trib's last paragraph:
“Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn, a Quaker who was in prison in England three times because of his religion, and came to this country for religious freedom,” Marietta said. “People should be able to hold onto their religious morals and values without the threat of being thrown into jail. We don't want to force the Ten Commandments monuments on anyone, but we don't want them taken away from the public eye.”
Still don't see the irony here?  I'll give you a hint from pa.gov:
Many Englishmen accused the Friends of disloyalty to the Crown as well as to the Church of England. As a result, the British Parliament enacted a series of repressive religious measures known as the Clarendon Code. The strictures elevated Anglicanism to "established church" status and declared all other religious observances to be "non-conformist" and, hence, illegal.
So he was arrested for not conforming to an established church.  Isn't the establishment of a state church something barred by the 1st Amendment?  And isn't posting religious instructions on school property something that is just too close to establishing a state church to be constitutionally acceptable?

Why yes, yes it is.

And so is The Rev. Ewing Marietta as wrong about this historical metaphor as he is about the nature of the separation of church and state?

Hot patootie and bless my soul, he certainly is.

August 30, 2013

Amazing

Listening to someone named Wes Minter on KDKA right now.  He's sitting in for my good friend Mike Pintek.

After listening for a few minutes, this is the message I sent in via the Dollar Bank instant access line:
It's amazing to hear conservatives say "unless we were attacked, where to we get off being the attacker?" regarding Syria. It's amazing to hear conservatives SUDDENLY want to be 100% sure about the use of WMD.

Where were these exact same conservatives in 2003? We weren't attacked by Iraq yet they said we had to attack. Iraq didn't have WND yet they said we had to attack.

And yet those same lies led to the deaths of 4500 American servicemen and women and yet for conservatives any criticism of the Bush administration's decision of war was tantamount to treason.

For the record I am not in favor of attacking Syria - but then I wasn't in favor of the illegal war in Iraq, either.
So far, no response from Mr Minter.

The Trib Covers A Source.

Yes, they're still at it.

From today's Tribune-Review editorial page:
The left and “progressives” love to blame wage stagnation on greedy businesses wanting to gobble a larger share of the pie. But it's actually a product of businesses' uncertainty about taxes, regulations and employee-benefit costs — which the Obama administration has exacerbated.

Merrill Matthews, resident scholar at the nonpartisan, free-market Institute for Policy Innovation (ipi.org), notes...
Regardless of what Mr Matthews actually said regarding wages, take a look at how Scaife's braintrust characterizes the IPI -  "nonpartisan" and "free-market."

Really?  Nonpartisan? Let's go take a look.

Back in October, 2012, American Enterprise Institute scholar J. D. Kleinke published a piece in the New York Times called "The Conservative Case for Obamacare" and for that he was, according to Forbes.com "pilloried" by what they call "Conservative policy experts."

Among them:
Merrill Matthews, resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation: “The fundamental philosophical difference is that liberals do not think the free market can work in health care and so the government must make it work. Conservatives think the free market has never been tried. Kleinke is clearly in the former camp and is thus making the liberal, not the conservative, case for ObamaCare.” [Bolding in original.]
In 2002 the Capital Research Center, a conservative think-tank that is itself the beneficiary of almost $5.3 million of Scaife foundation money over the years rated the Institute for Policy Innovation as an "8" on a "1 to 8"/"Left to Right"scale.

And since we mentioned the Scaife money, how much has this "nonpartisan" think tank received from foundations controlled by my good friend Richard Mellon Scaife?

Of the $2 million or so it's received from various foundations, the IPI got about a quarter of that ($470,000) from The Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations.

Finally, if the place were so "nonpartisan" why would TeaParty Senator Ted Cruz be a part of its 25th Anniversary gala?

Nonpartisan?  Not even close.

August 26, 2013

Disassembling The Trib's Climate Science Denial

Let's start with what Scaife's braintrust published this morning at the Tribune-Review and then unweave point by point:
Al Gore, who profited handsomely paving the way for Al Jazeera's U.S. entree, likens climate change skeptics to racists, homophobes and those who enable an alcoholic's denial. Oh, this just in — the United States recorded 2,899 record cold temperatures versus 667 record warm temperatures between July 24 and Aug. 19.[Bolding in original.]
There are two points I want to look at here; what Al Gore said and the data being used to "debunk" the climate science.

First, what did Gore actually say?  Did he really "liken climate change skeptics to racists..." and so on?

No, not really.  In a piece in a Washington Post piece about how and why he's "optimistic" about the future regarding climate science, this is what Gore actually said:
Well, I think the most important part of it is winning the conversation. I remember as a boy when the conversation on civil rights was won in the South. I remember a time when one of my friends made a racist joke and another said, hey man, we don’t go for that anymore. The same thing happened on apartheid. The same thing happened on the nuclear arms race with the freeze movement. The same thing happened in an earlier era with abolition. A few months ago, I saw an article about two gay men standing in line for pizza and some homophobe made an ugly comment about them holding hands and everyone else in line told them to shut up. We’re winning that conversation.

The conversation on global warming has been stalled because a shrinking group of denialists fly into a rage when it’s mentioned. It’s like a family with an alcoholic father who flies into a rage every time a subject is mentioned and so everybody avoids the elephant in the room to keep the peace. But the political climate is changing. Something like Chris Hayes’s excellent documentary on climate change wouldn’t have made it on TV a few years ago. And as I said, many Republicans who’re still timid on the issue are now openly embarrassed about the extreme deniers. The deniers are being hit politically. They’re being subjected to ridicule, which stings. The polling is going back up in favor of doing something on this issue. The ability of the raging deniers to stop progress is waning every single day.
So it's not really about "likening" deniers to racists, homophobes and so on.  It's really about how the conversation is changing.  In the past (before "civil rights was won in the South") a racist joke was far more acceptable in day to day discourse.  Same thing regarding members of the various LGBTQ communities across the country.  Not that everything's fixed, mind you, but the conversation's changed enough that two gay men can hold hands in a fast food restaurant and the homophobes who try to ridicule them are themselves subject to public shaming.

Imagine that 20 years ago.  Or 10.

The conversation is changing, he said.  The deniers are the ones subject to ridicule (like this from just last week) because their position is simply embarrassing.

Now let's take a look at the data the braintrust is trying to use to undermine the science.  I haven't been able to track down it's exact source, but let's (for the minute) assume it's true - that United States recorded 2,899 record cold temperatures versus 667 record warm temperatures between July 24 and Aug. 19. 

Even if that's true, so what?

The United States only makes up about 6.6% of the total land mass of the planet (or only about 2% of its total surface area).  Assuming a world wide pattern from such a small selection of the data is misleading (at best).   But even if it does point out a large scale trend (that there were fewer "record-setting hot days in that month") again, so what?

What's the larger global trend?  The selected data the braintrust uses doesn't go anywhere near the global trend.

Which is still getting warmer.

The braintrust is running out of ways to mislead on climate science.

August 22, 2013

The Trib's Climate Strawman Argument

Before proceeding, we gotta answer the question, "What's a strawman argument?"

Here's an answer:
A straw man argument is one that misrepresents a position in order to make it appear weaker than it actually is, refutes this misrepresentation of the position, and then concludes that the real position has been refuted.
So. How has Scaife's braintrust on the editorial board of the Tribune-Review committed that local fallacy today?

Take a look:
A funny thing happened on the way to Obama & Co.'s “grassroots” effort claiming “climate change” is wreaking all manner of weather havoc. The website wattsupwiththat.com notes that we typically have about 1,200 tornadoes by this time each year. But this year, there have been only about 720 reported twisters. What's a climate clucker to do? [Bolding in original]
Their point only makes sense if ""wreaking all manner of weather havoc" includes an increase in the number of tornadoes.  Meaning that if the "climate cluckers" are saying that climate change will increase the number of tornadoes while the number of tornadoes has actually decreased, then there'd be a problem, right?

Too bad that's not the "climate cluckers" argument.  How do I know?

From the IPCC report:
Although some evidence is available regarding increases in the intensity and frequency of some extreme weather events, it is not yet clear how tornadoes will be affected.
And according to wunderground, this has been the position of the IPCC since 2007.
Um, guys?  Do you even bother to do any independent research before writing your editorials?  Merely echoing stuff you find on science denial websites does not constitute adequate research and you're deceiving your readership by doing so.

August 21, 2013

Tracking Teh Crazie - Cruz And The Birthers!

Over at Talkingpointsmemo, Josh Marshall has been spending some time on Senator Ted Cruz' presidential eligibility (given that the Senator was born in Canada to an American mother).

For the record Marshall writes:
I can tell you Ted Cruz’s politics are awful. And having had significant life overlap with him I can tell you that at virtually every point in his life - at least from his late teens through mid-thirties (after that I have less evidence) - he’s quickly developed a reputation as a raging a-hole. His new workplace - the Senate of the United States - just continues the pattern. But he’s definitely a ‘natural born’ citizen and thus constitutionally qualified to serve as President of the United States.
And for the record I am total agreement with Marshall on this.

That's not to say that that it's not great fun to watch Cruz squirm on his own eligibility question.  If there's no issue about his eligibility then why did he feel it necessary to release his birth certificate?  Or renounce his Canadian citizenship?

This is why.  From World Net Daily (aka birther central):
Conservative icon, radio host and author of the No. 1 book in the country right now, Mark Levin said he’s sick of “birthers” after encountering a particularly “obnoxious” one at a hot, crowded book-signing event.

The man, whom Levin described as “disrespectful” toward him and the other fans, reportedly pointed at Levin and told him he was wrong in concluding that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is eligible to be president.

The issue of constitutional eligibility, which reached the U.S. Supreme Court multiple times during Barack Obama’s runup to the White House, now is surging again, only the target this time is Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father.
But you'll note the attack is not coming from the left (see Josh Marshall, above) but from the birthers now confronting other conservatives (like Levin) using the same "logic" that they used to prop up their previous Obama-birther frenzy.

For example, let's look at the "dual citizenship" part of the story - from the flawed camera obscura that is Jerome Corsi:
The State Department is maintaining a “counter-misinformation” page on an America.gov blog that attempts to “debunk a conspiracy theory” that President Obama was not born in the United States, as if the topic were equivalent to believing space aliens visit Earth in flying saucers.

However, in the attempt to debunk the Obama birth-certificate controversy, the State Department author confirmed Obama was a dual citizen of the U.K. and the U.S. from 1961 to 1963 and a dual citizen of Kenya and the U.S. from 1963 to 1982, because his father was a Kenyan citizen when Obama was born in 1961.

In a number of court cases challenging Obama’s eligibility, dual citizenship has been raised as a factor that could compromise his “natural born” status under Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution. The cases argue dual citizenship would make Obama ineligible even if documentary evidence were shown the public, such as the hospital-issued long-form birth certificate that indicates the place of his birth and the name of the attending physician. [Emphasis added.]
It's the same for the "American mother gives birth abroad" side.  If it didn't work for Obama then how can a true American (like the one who confronted Levin) think it's OK for anyone else?

This has been the birther discourse for years.  We shouldn't be surprised that they're going after one of their own.

Funny how that works out, eh?

August 20, 2013

Yea, What Mr. Ruffalo Said

From Salon.com:
Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo wrote a really moving defense of safe abortion care and women’s reproductive rights over the weekend, and shared how his mother’s own experience obtaining an illegal abortion shaped his views about a woman’s legal right to decide if, when, and under what circumstances she will have a child.
Some highlights:
What happened to my mother was a relic of an America that was not free nor equal nor very kind. My mother’s illegal abortion marked a time in America that we have worked long and hard to leave behind. It was a time when women were seen as second rate citizens who were not smart enough, nor responsible enough, nor capable enough to make decisions about their lives. It was a time that deserved to be left behind, and leave it behind we did, or so it seemed. We made abortion and a woman’s ability to be her own master a right. That right was codified into law. That law was the law of the land for decades.
And:
So that is why I am lending my voice to you and your movement today. Because I actually trust the women I know. I trust them with their choices, I trust them with their bodies and I trust them with their children. I trust that they are decent enough and wise enough and worthy enough to carry the right of Abortion and not be forced to criminally exercise that Right at the risk of death or jail time.
Damn straight.

August 17, 2013

They're Cherry Picking Again

And by that I mean the Tribune-Review editorial boards recurring (and yet always failing) science denial.  From this past Thursday:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says 2012 “was among the 10 warmest years on record.” But as climate blogger Pierre Gosselin notes, the report fails to mention that last year was one of the coolest of the decade. “(T)he report gives the ... impression that warming is galloping ahead out of control. But (NOAA's) data show just the opposite.” There's “science” and then there's science.
[Bolding in original.]
Before I get to deconstructing the braintrust's "conflict" I'd like to point out a bit of "gee, maybe I dunno, Wally" plagiarism.  Take a look at this from CNSNews:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released its “State of the Climate in 2012” report, which states that “worldwide, 2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record.”

But the report “fails to mention [2012] was one of the coolest of the decade, and thus confirms the cooling trend,” according to an analysis by climate blogger Pierre Gosselin.

“To no one’s surprise, the report gives the reader the impression that warming is galloping ahead out of control,” writes Gosselin. “But their data shows just the opposite.”
How much closer could these two passages get?  But is this really plagiarism?  Considering the fact that it's from the "Cybercast News Service" and that the "Cybercast News Service" used to be the "Conservative News Service" and that the "Conservative News Service" is owned by the Media Research Center and Tribune-Review owner Richard Mellon Scaife is a huge financial supporter of the CNS, I suppose that even if it is plagiarism, Barbara Hollingsworth (writer of the CNS piece the braintrust filched) probably can't protest about it that much.

Back to the  braintrust debunking.  Let's look at Gosselin's blogpost first.  It's a typical case of cherry picking the data as you can see from his first chart:


See how it just goes back to 1998?  That's the first clue there's selective data choosing going on.  Gosselin goes on to say that the NOAA report actually "confirm(s) precisely what the skeptics have been claiming all along" ie that "The Earth has stopped warming."

Except that it doesn't.

We've dealt with this "no global warming since 1998" myth before.  If you focus on the last decade and a half it certainly looks like a stoppage in the warming.  But if you expand the view and take a rolling average, this is what it looks like:

See the upper right hand corner? That's just about all the data from the last decade or so (more or less exactly what Gosselin's basing his "the warming stopped" story on).  Looking at more than a century's worth of data, how anyone can say the warming's "stopped" is beyond me.

Indeed, there's no conflict between the two statements the braintrust wants you to think are in conflict.  It is possible for 2012 to be "among the warmest on record" and for it to be "one of coolest of the decade."

How?  Well, as NOAA says on the page describing the report:
Including the 2012 temperature, Earth is warming at a rate of 0.06°C (0.11°F) per decade since 1880 and a more rapid 0.16°C (0.28°F) per decade since 1970.
Ah...

So only by a careful selection of the data can you show that "the Earth stopped warming" in 1998.

So the braintrust is right, there's "science" and there's science.  Too bad they're wrong in thinking they're quoting science - when they're quoting non-climatologists (oops, did I fail to mention that he's not actually a climate scientist?  My bad.) like Pierre Gosselin, they're only dabbling in "science."

On the other hand, the data used by the NOAA report is actually "peer-reviewed."

So you can decide which is more scientifically reliable.

August 16, 2013

KDKA's Mike Pintek Supports Marriage Equality!

Yea, you read that right.

I got a chance to hear KDKA's afternoon drive guy, Mike Pintek (an unapologetic conservative) talk about marriage equality for an hour or so this afternoon.  The frame was (basically) found in this KDKA story:
Now that one county in Pennsylvania will issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, the question is who will marry those folks?

It turns out that there’s one mayor right here in this region who would be happy to do the honors.

“The government has no place in deciding who you can love as a person, and I would just welcome the chance of performing a same-sex ceremony,” Braddock Mayor John Fetterman told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Friday.

Fetterman says some rights trump the law.

“Whether that’s civil disobedience, or breaking the law, it’s doing the right thing,” adds Fetterman.

A member of FreedomToMarry.Org, Mayor Adam Forgie of Turtle Creek supports same-sex marriage, but he won’t marry gay couples yet.
In discussing Mayors Fetterman and Forgie, Mike Pintek presented his own views (which are shockingly close to mine).  Basically, he said that:
  • it wasn't the government's business to dictate who could or couldn't get married
  • two consenting adults (of whatever gender) should be free to get married
  • he never heard ANY good explanation about how two "gay guys" (his term, not mine) getting married affected anyone else's life or marriage
And so on.

He even deflected the silly "but marriage is for procreation" argument from at least one caller.

Let's give credit where credit is due.  As disagreeable as Mike Pintek could be on any number of other issues, on this one he's absolutely right (and good for him on this!).

Mike Pintek is in favor of marriage equality.

August 11, 2013

My Coffee With Congressman Doyle

One bright, sunshine day this past weekend, I had a very nice chat with the district's representatives in Congress, Mike Doyle.  It's been a while since we chatted face to face and he's looking fitter and trimmer than I remember.  He said he's lost a couple dozen pounds and given up ice cream and taken to going on 100 mile bike rides.  If you're keeping score, I've been doing none of those things and I'm looking pretty much the same as I have been for a while (that is to say, greying, plumping and balding).

I started off our chat by asking him how well he thought Congress was doing its job.  And that's all I needed to get a full hour of thoughtful analysis.  After chuckling sadly, he started to describe the House's current legislative gridlock.  The current edition.

Early on, he pushed Paul Krugman's article from the NYTimes and one of its main points:
The sad truth is that the modern G.O.P. is lost in fantasy, unable to participate in actual governing.
It's a complicated bind that we're all in generally and that Speaker Boehner is in particularly, but it can all be simplified into this: Because of the "us versus them/if you're not with us you're against us" mentality of the powerful Tea Party caucus of the House, political compromise in that body is impossible.

And because political compromise is impossible, work on any sort of a necessary post-sequestration budget is impossible.

And because any sort work on a post-sequestration budget is impossible, we're going to continue, after October 1, into another phase of the sequester that was not supposed to happen.

According to Doyle, while the Tea Party caucus likes the effects of the sequester (as it limits any growth of the guv'ment without them having do anything for which they can be blamed), those effects will eventually hurt us all.  And that's the bind we're all in because of them.

The inability "to participate in actual governing" extends to some of the most basic functions of congressional work.  For example, Doyle says, when a bill is passed in both houses a conference committee might need to be formed to settle whatever differences there may be between each version.  At present, that's not happening either.  Not without preconditions that the Democrats in Congress would never accept.  All this for a discussion between the two houses.

All because the GOP as a whole has to placate it's Tea Party base.

Which leads to a deeper issue at hand than the "us vs them" mentality mentioned above.  From Krugman:
The sad truth is that the modern G.O.P. is lost in fantasy...
As an illustration of that point, Doyle said that the Republicans were convinced Romney was going to win in 2012. Now that it's obvious that he didn't, they're convinced Karl Rove lied to them about their chances.

[Unconnected to my chat with Doyle, but I gotta think that that last point has something to do with Groundswell.]

Part of the fantasy Krugman describes is also found in Doyle's rhetorical question regarding the House Republicans' reluctance to compromise with their colleagues from the Democratic Party:
  • How do you compromise with a party run by a Kenyan-born secret-Muslim who's intent on imposing socialism on America?
The base that's placated by the Tea Party wing of the GOP (and thus the GOP itself) fervently believes teh crazie.  We've seen this before (this is from 2011):
Last August in a CNN/Opinion Research poll, when asked, "Do you think Barack Obama was definitely born in the United States, probably born in the United States, probably born in another country, or definitely born in another country? 44% of the Republicans got it wrong. 27% said he was "probably born in another country" while 14% said he was "definitely born in another country" and 3% had no opinion.
For example.

This is the base that's being placated by the GOP.  Until that ends things will get worse before they get better.  Until the base rejects the conspiracy theory it's been fed and says, "Enough!" things will get worse before they get better.  The House leadership's in a bind because if they don't appease teh crazies, they'll be replaced with a tea partier who will.  The non-crazies among the House GOP (and Doyle told me of many who don't like the TP members - they just can't admit it publicly) feel the same way.  If they disagree they risk a primary challenge from their right.

And until this changes...well, you get the picture.

As for a grade, Doyle gave the folks running the show in the House a solid F.

Is that a surprise?

August 6, 2013

When Editorials Collide

Every now and then the editorial board over at the Tribune-Review takes issue with something the editorial board over at the Post-Gazette publishes.  More often than not, they don't like what they read.  Surprising, I know.

Which in itself is fine.  Conflicting between editorial boards is a good thing.  But only if both are honest with, you know, the facts.

And we all know by now that the relationship between Scaife's braintrust and the facts is iffy, at best.

Take a look at this from this morning:
Huh?: Those economic “scholars” at The Toledo, Ohio, Block Bugler once again are shilling for a higher minimum wage — this time for fast-food workers and to $10.50 an hour. And, hey, it argues (a word we use loosely), it would raise the price of a Big Mac by only a nickel. “That's a small amount to pay for meaningful change,” it says. Actually, it's a steep price to pay, given that the real result would be fewer of these entry-level jobs.
What they're talking about is this P-G editorial.  Look closely at how the braintrust characterizes the idea of raising the minimum wage to $10.50.  Now let's go see what the P-G editorial board actually says about it:
The low wages don't do great things for the restaurants, either. According to Time magazine, the National Restaurant Association estimates that a fast-food outlet sees 75 percent turnover in employees every year. The story also reported that a letter signed by more than 100 economists said that raising the minimum wage to $10.50 would add only a nickel to the price of a Big Mac.

That's a small amount to pay for meaningful change. We think most Americans would be willing to fork over a few more cents for a Happy Meal if it meant happier times for the workers who make them.
Wait, you mean that wasn't just an argument from the editorial board, but it was from something from Time Magazine?  And it's a group of 100 economists who are making the argument NOT the P-G editorial board? 

Huh, I guess that still would be some real "economic 'scholars'" but just not at the P-G.  Funny how that part got left out.  The argument looks a lot different if it comes from 100 economists, doesn't it?

Here's the Time article, by the way - the real source of that idea.

But why would those actual "economic scholars" say that about raising the minimun wage to $10.50?

Here's what they say from the petition:
We, the undersigned professional economists, support the “Catching Up to 1968 Act of 2013, ” sponsored by Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida. This measure would raise the federal minimum wage from its current level of $7.25, established in 2009, to $10.50 per hour , and with automatic increases indexed to inflation thereafter.

As is conveyed by the title of the bill itself, the real , inflation-adjusted, value of the federal minimum wage has fallen dramatically over time. In 1968, the real value of the minimum wage was $10.65, so that, in fact, an increase today to a $10.50 federal minimum would not even bring the minimum wage fully back to the 1968 standard.
And:
Businesses can readily absorb these small cost increases through minor increases in prices and productivity as well as enabling low-wage workers to receive a slightly larger share of businesses’ total revenues. On average, even fast-food restaurants, which employ a disproportionate share of minimum wage workers, are likely to see their overall business costs increase by only about 2. 7 percent from a rise today to a $10.50 federal minimum wage. That means, for example, that McDonalds could cover fully half of the cost increase by raising the price of a Big Mac, on average, from $4.00 to $4.05.
And as to whether that will decrease  minimum wage employment, they say:
Opponents of minimum wage increases frequently argue that such measures will mean fewer employment opportunities for low-wage workers because businesses will be less willing to hire workers at the increased wage level. But the weight of evidence from the extensive professional literature has , for decades, consistently found that no significant effects on employment opportunities result when the minimum wage rises in reasonable increments. This is because the increases in overall business costs resulting from a minimum wage increase are modest .
And there's more:
Moreover, the overwhelming factor determining employment opportunities for low - wage workers is macroeconomic conditions — whether the economy is growing or in a recession. Thus, in 1968, when the U.S. minimum wage reached $10.65 in real dollars, the overall unemployment rate was 3.6 percent. By contrast, during the depths of the 1982 recession, the real value of the minimum wage had fallen to $8.05 while unemployment peaked at 10.8 percent
You can even check out the economic scholarship supporting the petition here.  Where's the work supporting the braintrust's position?  Someplace NOT bought and paid for by Scaife foundation money, that is.

There's a lot behind the P-G editorial, isn't there?  Not so much for the editorial from the braintrust.

When editorials collide, said George Pal to his bride, I'm gonna give you some terrible thrills.

August 3, 2013

Some More Trib Climate Mendacity

From a few days ago at the Trib:
Mr. Obama warns that the climate today is warming at an accelerated rate — “faster than anybody anticipated five or 10 years ago” — and that the future “is going to depend on our willingness to deal with something we may not be able to see or smell.”

On the contrary, the smell of what's he's spreading around is quite distinctive.

At a recent Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, a panel of five scientists were asked twice whether they stood by the president's assessment, The Heritage Foundation reports. Their initial response?

Silence.
I fear I risk alienating my audience out of sheer repetition by pointing out that here's yet another example of Richard Mellon Scaife's editorial board citing The Heritage Foundation with no mention of the millions upon millions of Scaife foundation dollars he's simply drenched it with.

So let's move on to the argument itself.  Here's what the president said (it was at a DCCC fundraiser at the home of Paul and Bettylu Saltzman):
We still have a situation in which, on the one hand, our energy future is more promising than we’ve ever allowed ourselves to believe. We will probably be a net exporter of traditional fossil fuels over the next 20 years -- within the next 20 years, probably a net exporter of natural gas in the next three or four years -- something that could not be imagined even five, 10 years ago -- because of the dynamism and technology that America has produced.

But the flipside is we also know that the climate is warming faster than anybody anticipated five or 10 years ago, and that the future of Bettylu’s grandkids, in part, is going to depend on our willingness to deal with something that we may not be able to see or smell the way you could when the Chicago River was on fire, or at least could have caught on fire, but is in some ways more serious, more fundamental. [Emphasis added.]
So far, so good. At least Scaife's braintrust didn't take those words out of context.  They said he said the earth was warming faster than anticipated.  And he did say that.

But is that true?

Well, according to this article at the Scientific American, it is:
Over the past decade scientists thought they had figured out how to protect humanity from the worst dangers of climate change. Keeping planetary warming below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) would, it was thought, avoid such perils as catastrophic sea-level rise and searing droughts. Staying below two degrees C would require limiting the level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million (ppm), up from today's 395 ppm and the preindustrial era's 280 ppm.

Now it appears that the assessment was too optimistic. The latest data from across the globe show that the planet is changing faster than expected.
Or this article from The Atlantic:
A new report from the International Energy Agency says global temperatures will rise twice as fast as projected if countries don't act to slash their admissions soon. Released this morning, the IEA report shows carbon diaoxide from energy emissions rose 1.4 percent globally last year, a new record, and puts the world on pace for a 5.3 degree Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in global temperatures by 2020 if new steps aren't taken. In 2010, a UN summit agreed the goal would be to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees by 2020.
But take a look at what's being said: the planet's warming is happening faster than anticipated.

Now look at how Scaife's braintrust tries to debunk what the president said:
“There is little or no observational evidence that severe weather of any type has worsened over the last 30, 50 or 100 years, irrespective of whether any changes could be blamed on human activities anyway,” said Dr. Roy Spencer, principal research scientist at the University of Alabama, according to a Heritage report.[Emphasis added.]
While the president (and the IEA and Scientific American) was talking about rising temperatures, Climate model skeptic and evolution denier Dr. Spencer is talking about severe weather.  Here's what he said in his Senate testimony:
There is little or no observational evidence that severe weather of any type has worsened over the last 30, 50, or 100 years, irrespective of whether any such changes could be blamed on human activities, anyway. Long-term measurements of droughts, floods, strong tornadoes, hurricanes, severe thunderstorms etc. all show no obvious trends, but do show large variability from one decade to the next, or even one year to the next. While the 2003 heat wave in France and the 2010 heat wave in Russia were exceptional, so were the heat waves of the 1930s in the U.S., which cannot b e blamed on our greenhouse gas emissions.[Emphases added.]
Now, what does he say about global warming in general? Does he deny it?

No, not really:
My overall view of the influence of humans on climate is that we probably are having some influence, but it is impossible to know with any level of certainty how much influence. The difficulty in determining the human influence on climate arises from several sources: (1) weather and climate vary naturally, and by amounts that are not currently being exceeded; (2) global warming theory is just that – based upon theory; and (3) there is no unique fingerprint of human caused global warming.

My belief that some portion of recent warming is due to humans is based upon my faith in at least some portion of the theory: that the human contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations has resulted in an es timated 1% reduction in the Earth’s ability to cool to outer space, and so some level of warming can be expected to occur from that change.
Funny how that part didn't make it into what the braintrust wrote.

But the larger point is the subject change.  As I wrote a few paragraphs above, Obama's talking temperature and the braintrust counters with hurricanes and tornadoes.  And the guy they cite to make that counter actually does believe that the planet is warming up.

And anyway, did you know that there were two 5-expert panels at that hearing?  Scaife's braintrust and Scaife's Heritage Foundation only mention one.  On the other panel, we can find another climate expert, a Dr. Heidi Cullen who is Chief Climatologist at Climate Central, saying this:
Ongoing research (Francis and Vavrus, 2012; Petoukhov et al., 2013) suggests a possible mechanism for the increasing extremes we are beginning to see . Specifically, by changing the temperature balance between the Arctic and mid latitudes, rapid Arctic warming is altering the course of the jet stream, which is responsible for steering weather systems from west to east around the globe . The Arctic has been warming about twice as fast as the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, due to a combination of human emissions of greenhouse gases and unique feedbacks built into the Arctic climate system. According to this new research, the jet stream is becoming “wavier,” with steeper troughs and ridges. Weather systems are moving more slowly, increasing the chances for long duration extreme events, like droughts, floods, and heat waves. The tendency for weather to get stuck in one pattern is going to favor extreme weather.
Funny how that never made it into what the braintrust wrote, either.

It was said at the hearing, right?  It was spoken to the Senate committe, right?  So why didn't the braintrust bother telling you about it?  My guess is that since it doesn't fit into the reality they want you to accept, they don't think you need to know about it.

Same story, different day.