Prosecute the torture.

June 29, 2014

Jack Kelly Sunday

Ah, Jack.  Selective evidence only discredits those who make the selections - once they are found out.

So let's take a closer look at your "evidence" in this week's column at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Jack's first point, dear readers, is to try to erase the connection drawn between Jerald and Amanda Miller, the Las Vegas shooters, and The Tea Party. And here's his evidence:
Alas for liberals, reality — as it has so often before — soon harshed their mellow. Jerad and Amanda took part in a lot of anti-government activities, including Occupy Wall Street.
Setting aside the oh so subtle yet smugly patronizing counterculture drug reference, we have to ask what is the connection between The Millers and Occupy.

This is probably the source of this information:
While living in Lafayette, Jerad and his wife Amanda took part in last November’s “Million Mask March” – a gathering of protesters from the Occupy movement, anarchists, and hacktivists.

Nick Wertz, one of the organizers of the Lafayette march, said it attracted many people upset over a lot of issues.
Um.  So if that's the case, it wasn't exactly an Occupy Wall Street occupation, right?  But it's there and it's documented.  Does that mean that the murdering Millers were actually leftists?  As Jack wants you to believe?

Well let's take a look at the counter evidence.  What did Jerad Miller leave on his facebook page?

This, for one.  He shared it on June 7 (shared, meaning someone else posted it on Facebook and he agreed with it enough to pass it along):


But that's just a 2nd Amendment thing.  Miller was a gun guy so that part fits. Did he share any other non-firearm artwork?

Why, yes he did.  On June 3 he posted this image:


And this one:

Let's see on top of the 2nd Amendment stuff we have a Benghazi truther and a Climate science denier.  The only thing missing is a demand to see the "real" Birth Certificate and it would be an Fox "News" Trifecta.

So, Jack? I hate to be a buzz kill and everything, but Jared Miller was a right wing nut job.  An armed right wing nut job who killed a pair of police officers for the sake of "freedom."

Misconstruing his presence at a Million Mask March in order to characterize him as an Occupy supporter ain't gonna change that.  Selecting the evidence (badly) to support your argument is nothing new for you.  Still doesn't work at proving what you're looking to prove, of course.  But you keep trying (and failing), don't you?

But let's move on.  Here's more of Jack:
Rick Santelli’s epic rant on CNBC Feb. 19, 2009, triggered the largest grassroots political reform movement since the People’s Party of the 1890s. Between 440,000 and 810,000 people attended Tea Party rallies on Tax Day 2009, according to a Harvard study.

The rallies were peaceful. Those who attended picked up after themselves.

Liberals, terrified by their numbers, rushed to demonize and suppress. The IRS went after them.

Tea Partiers are “racists” and “domestic terrorists,” some liberals charged, without a shred of evidence.
Let's start with the obvious.  The IRS also "went after" progressive groups:
In an apparent contradiction with earlier comments made by House Oversight Committee chair Darrell Issa, new documents obtained through a FOIA request by ThinkProgress show that yes, the IRS targeted both conservative and liberal groups for extra scrutiny. According to ThinkProgress's analysis of the heavily redacted "be on the lookout" lists, the IRS may have targeted a higher number of progressive groups than conservative groups overall.
There's that.  Then there's the issue of how there's not "a shred of evidence" of Tea Party racism.  Take a look at this:


This is a real thing, by the way. It's creator doesn't see it as "racist" however. From Talkingpointsmemo:
The creator of the now-infamous "Tea Party Comix" has spoken. The response, sent to Comics With Problems' Ethan Persoff last week, ends speculation by some that the black-and-white comics featuring a racist caricature of President Obama might be a liberal parody gone wrong (or just misunderstood). In the rambling email sent early Thursday morning, the unnamed creator of the comics (the name was withheld by Persoff) suggests that they were created out of anger at Obama, but -- according to the creator -- not out of any intention to make a racial statement.
Of course not.

Do I need to continue, Jack?  Do I really need to keep going to show how you're picking and choosing your evidence to support your feeble argument no matter how different reality might be?

UPDATE: Thanks Ed for the grammar correction, ya bastid.

June 26, 2014

Steve Doocy Is An Idiot

And he got a "Pants on Fire" grade at Politifact.

Here's what he did, according to Politifact:
Fox News host Steve Doocy gave the doubters some ammunition on June 24, 2014. In a segment on Fox and Friends called "News by the Numbers," Doocy drew viewers’ attention to the year 1934.

"That's the hottest year on record in the United States," Doocy said. "At least until NASA scientists fudged the numbers to make 1998 the hottest year to overstate the extent of global warming. The 1930s were by far the hottest decade in the United States."
Interestingly, I had roughly this same debate on Facebook some months ago with a prominent local Pittsburgh conservative and his son (and so you can guess who they are). These two gentlemen are definitely not idiots but they used the same idiotic "the scientists fudged the raw data numbers!" argument.

It's incorrect then and it's incorrect now.

Politifact sets up it's debunkment:
We asked Fox News for their source and while they didn’t respond, a number of conservative news outlets have made much in recent days of a blog post from a man who writes under the pseudonym Steven Goddard. Goddard charged that until 2000, NASA reported that in the United States, 1934 was hotter than 1998 and that the country has been cooling since then.
And then the debunking:
As far as what the blog actually claimed, while it accurately copied the changes in the government charts, experts in U.S. temperature measurement say it ignores why the charts shifted. There were major changes in how the country gathered temperature information over the decades.

Zeke Hausfather is a data scientist with Berkeley Earth, a research group that has expressed doubts about some of the reports on climate change coming from Washington and international bodies. Hausfather took Goddard to task when Goddard made a similar claim about numbers fudging earlier this month. The missing piece in Goddard’s analysis, Hausfather said, was he ignored that the network of weather stations that feed data to the government today is not the one that existed 80 years ago.

"He is simply averaging absolute temperatures," Hausfather wrote. "Absolute temperatures work fine if and only if the composition of the station network remains unchanged over time."
Which it didn't.

What the actual scientists are doing is this: they are compensating for the messy data in the first place.  Even the climate skeptics agree that Goddard is incorrect:
John Nielsen-Gammon is a researcher at Texas A&M University and is the Texas state climatologist. Nielsen-Gammon finds nothing nefarious in the government analysis of temperature trends.

"It is reasonable to expect the adjusted data record to change over time as the technology for identifying and removing artificial changes improves," Nielsen-Gammon said. "If there are any biases, they are caused by the quality of the underlying data, not by any biases intentionally introduced into the adjustment process."

All of the experts we reached or whose work we read rejected Goddard’s conclusions.

Mark C. Serreze, professor of geography at the University of Colorado-Boulder, said no fabrication has taken place.

"Goddard's results stem from an erroneous analysis of the data," Serreze said.

Anthony Watts, a popular skeptic of most climate change data, posted his objection to Goddard’s claim.

"I took Goddard to task over this as well in a private email, saying he was very wrong and needed to do better," Watts wrote. [Emphasis added.]
The biggest problem that Doocy had with this data is that even if it was true (which it isn't) and it adequately reflected reality (which it doesn't), it was only data about the continental United States.  Even if it was true it would be a huge mistake to generalize it to a global frame of reference.

Meanwhile it's still getting warmer across the globe, no matter what Steve Doocy says.

June 25, 2014

Judicial Watch/Larry Klayman In The News

Two stories.

In the first, Judicial Watch looses a lawsuit brought against it by (now wait for it) Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman (he's no longer with Judicial Watch).  From the Washington Post:
Last month we reported that legal crusader Larry Klayman’s “record in public interest cases is incalculably terrible,” so we feel bound to pass on that Tuesday Klayman scored a win against the group he founded, Judicial Watch. A federal jury in Florida awarded him $156,000 in compensatory damages and $25,000 in punative damages in a defamation case, according to Klayman.

There’s been bad blood and more than one lawsuit between the two ever since Klayman left Judicial Watch in 2003. A separate set of claims and counterclaims is pending in federal court in Washington.

“I’ve had trials and tribulations with them for 10 years. I feel good,” Klayman said. “It wasn’t the dollars, it’s the principle.”
So what happened?  There's a birther thread in it, doncha know:
The case centered on a false claim by a Judicial Watch employee in 2012 that Klayman had been convicted of not paying child support. Since Klayman is a public figure, he had to prove malice was behind the comment.
And the thread:
The facts are complicated. In 2012, the Judicial Watch employee attended an event in California featuring then U.S. Senate candidate and birther activist Orly Taitz. The employee allegedly told Taitz of Klayman’s supposed conviction for not paying child support. Taitz posted the information on the Internet.

Turns out Klayman was indicted — not convicted — and he maintained that his temporary non-payment was a tactical legal maneuver to give him standing to appeal the child support. He later brought his payments up to date. (He has two teenage children and is divorced from their mother.)

Klayman said the comment hurt his reputation and caused him to be unable to raise money for his own lawsuit challenging the eligibility of President Obama to be on the ballot in Florida. Klayman is convinced that the birth certificate that Obama released is false.
So he's a birther.  Lovely.

Then there's the other story.  This from Rightwingwatch:
Larry Klayman, the right-wing lawyer whose bizarre diatribes, relentless lawsuits and frequent threats to overthrow President Obama are routinely featured here on Right Wing Watch, today “agreed to accept a public censure for violating attorney ethics rules” dealing with a long-running dispute with the group he founded, Judicial Watch.

Ever so modest, he said he acquiesced to the censure agreement so he can back to his fulltime job of trying to “protect the American people.”
Why should this be an issue on this blog?

Because according to the BridgeProject, Judicial Watch has recieved about 94% of its foundational support from foundations controlled by Tribune-Review owner, Richard Mellon Scaife.  In fact, Carthage, Sarah Scaife and Allegheny Foundations are three of the top five donors to Judicial Watch.

So I am curious how they're gonna play this, if at all.

The curious thing.  Klayman left JD in 2003.  The Trib's search engine allows you filter the search hits by year.  If you search for "Larry Klayman" at the Trib there are no hits between 2003 (the year he left the heavily Scaife funded Judicial Watch) and 2013, when The Trib reported on Klayman's lawsuit against the NSA.

10 years of no Trib coverage for Larry Klayman, as far as I can see.  A gap that just happened to begin about the same time he left Judicial Watch, as far as I can see.

Huh.  How're they gonna play the lawsuit?  The censuring?  Or are they gonna ignore it all together?

Only time will tell.

June 24, 2014

Meanwhile, Outside...

From the NOAA:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for May 2014 was record highest for this month, at 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average of 14.8°C (58.6°F). [Emphasis added.]
Oh, and this is their analysis for the globe, not just the good old U. S. of A.

It was a very warm month of May - not that that's taken anyone by surprise.  If you're having trouble wrapping your head around the May warm, here's some art work:


And hey, if you're reading this from the eastern half of the above mentioned Good Ole US of A, do you remember that bitter polar vortex we had?  With temperatures hitting somewhere below zero (fahrenheit)?

Yea, didn't do much for the global temps:
The first five months of 2014 was Earth's fifth warmest such period, with a combined average land and ocean surface temperature that was 0.66°C (1.19°F) above the 20th century average. With the exception of February (21st warmest), each monthly temperature in 2014 to date has ranked among the four highest for its respective month.
So tell me again how global warming stopped 12 or 15 or 17 years ago?

June 19, 2014

Hey, Look! We're In Print!

A couple of years ago Washington Post political reporter Chris Cillizza wrote a book titled "The Gospel According to the Fix: An Insider's Guide to a Less than Holy World of Politics" (it's available at amazon here).

Cillizza, if you don't already know, writes the Post's political blog, The Fix.  And every now and then he publishes a list of the best statewide political blogs (we've been included twice, by the way).

Well if you look on page 18 in Cillizza's Gospel, in a chapter titled "The Best State Political Blogroll - Anywhere" you'll find this:


We're in A BOOK!

[End of the blatant self promotion.]

June 18, 2014

Scaife Must Be So Proud

From Dana Milbank at the Washington Post:
Representatives of prominent conservative groups converged on the Heritage Foundation on Monday afternoon for the umpteenth in a series of gatherings to draw attention to the Benghazi controversy.

But this one took an unexpected turn.

What began as a session purportedly about “unanswered questions” surrounding the September 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Libya deteriorated into the ugly taunting of a woman in the room who wore an Islamic head covering.
Yea, no one would have expected that!  I mean look at who was on the panel:
Unanswered Questions, Unaccountable Officials, Broken Trust

Chris Plante, WMAL Talk Radio Host (Moderator)
Clare Lopez, Member, Citizens' Commission on Benghazi, and Vice President for Research &; Analysis, Center for Security Policy
Brigitte Gabriel, Founder, President and CEO, ACT! for America
Frank Gaffney, President, Center for Security Policy
So we have of the 4 people on the panel half are from the Center for Security Policy.

That would be the same Center for Security Policy that got about 52% of its foundation support from foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife ($5.126 million from Sarah Scaife and an even $1 million from Carthage out of a total $11,612,809, according to the Bridge Project)

And, of course, it was a Heritage Foundation event so which got about 20% of it's foundation support from foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife ($24.235 million from Sarah Scaife, $2.544 million from Carthage and $1.35 million from Allegheny out of a total of about $146 million, according to the Bridge Project)

Go read Milbank for the ugly Scaife funded details.

Yea, he must be so so proud of himself.

June 16, 2014

Congratulations, Newlyweds!


"Mayor Bill Peduto presides over Pittsburgh's 1st same-sex wedding"

(Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/06/16/Mayor-presides-over-1st-wedding/stories/201406160066#ixzz34oBoYiWb)

(Photo via Twitter)

The President On Climate Change

From his Commencement Address at the University of California at Irvine:
Now, part of what’s unique about climate change, though, is the nature of some of the opposition to action. It’s pretty rare that you’ll encounter somebody who says the problem you’re trying to solve simply doesn’t exist. When President Kennedy set us on a course for the moon, there were a number of people who made a serious case that it wouldn’t be worth it; it was going to be too expensive, it was going to be too hard, it would take too long. But nobody ignored the science. I don’t remember anybody saying that the moon wasn’t there or that it was made of cheese.

And today’s Congress, though, is full of folks who stubbornly and automatically reject the scientific evidence about climate change. They will tell you it is a hoax, or a fad. One member of Congress actually says the world is cooling. There was one member of Congress who mentioned a theory involving “dinosaur flatulence” -- which I won’t get into.
Wait. Dinosaur flatulence?  Who the heck said that?  It was Representative Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA):


Yea, T-Rex farts. That's the reason.

Rohrbacher seems to be saying that since we don't know that it wasn't dinosaur farts that raised the temperatures millions upon millions of years ago, then we can't say for certain what NOAA says is undeniable.

You know what else hasn't been disproven regarding the current rising climate cycle?

  • The Illuminati
  • Bertrand Russell's orbiting teapot
  • The Harvest Goddess, Demeter, is now approaching middle age and is having hot flashes
  • God is punishing the world for being just so nice to teh gays
Look each of them up.  You'll find nothing to disprove any of those theories (and remember, climate change like evolution is only a theory) anywhere.  So therefore, climate science can't be trusted.

Or...or you can go with science and rational thinking.

June 14, 2014

How NOT To Do It

Ok, so my weekly issue of The Nation arrived yesterday   The cover in blaring red and white reads "1 in 5 Women Is Sexually Assaulted in College" and so I immediately turned to the cover story.

The writer, Michelle Goldberg, wrote a very important piece about a very important issue, without a doubt.

But she made a mistake.  Perhaps not a big mistake, but perhaps a mistake big enough so that someone inclined to disagree with her outright might use it to discredit her general argument.  The mistake's in this paragraph:
As months of harrowing headlines have made clear, the dimensions of that crisis are staggering. According to an April report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, “One in five women is sexually assaulted in college.” This figure, which comes from the National Institute of Justice’s 2007 “Campus Sexual Assault Study,” has been much disputed by conservatives, but according to a detailed analysis by PolitiFact, “the overall findings in the study were on par with similar surveys conducted over the years that have measured sexual assaults on campus.”
Here's the 2007 report and here's Politifact's analysis of it.  And that's where Goldberg errs.

Whereas it's absolutely true that Politifact says (twice, in fact) that the "overall findings...were on par with similar surveys..." and so on, the analysis also says (and this is the sentence immediately preceding one of the times it's quoted):
Experts we spoke with said that while that statistic is commonly used, the source, a survey of just two colleges, may not be representative of the entire population.
Leaving that part out is the mistake as it misrepresents the entire analysis.

But why might not the study be representative?  Here's why:
[T]he Web-based survey yielded a relatively small response rate of about 42 percent, which the researchers note is lower than other methods, like face-to-face interviews. They hoped, however, that anonymity provided more candid answers and better data.

Additionally, as we noted, only students at two large universities were included in the survey. Experts we spoke with said this is a glaring caveat that makes it difficult to create a national estimate from the results.

"This ‘one in five’ statistic shouldn’t just be taken with a grain of salt but the entire shaker," said James Fox, professor of criminology, law and public policy at Northeastern University.

Large universities may not be representative of experiences at mid-size or small colleges. Further, the two colleges selected may not even be representative of large campuses, Fox said.
Which poses another smaller problem for Goldberg as she opens with this incident as an example of the mistreatment of rape victims on campus:
During her freshman year at Occidental College in Los Angeles in 2010, Audrey Logan says, she was raped on two separate occasions by a young man she considered a friend. Because she knew him and had been very drunk both times, it took a while for her to identify what had happened as an assault. “I really believed rape happened in the dark, by people you barely or don’t know, and weapons or group force were always involved,” she says.
Occidental College describes itself as a "a small, highly selective and diverse liberal arts college in a big city" by the way.

If it's the case that the CSA study, as it's based on web surveys at two large universities, might not be representative of mid-sized or small-sized institutions, then including an illustration from an admittedly small liberal arts college only blurs the lines.  And if the study might not even be representative of large campuses then using it at all only blurs those lines further.

And certainly supporting an argument (even if only in part), by citing a Politifact analysis that doesn't completely support the statistic at the center of that argument is, simply a mistake.

In fact, Mary Koss (author of the 1988 study "Hidden Rape: Sexual Aggression and Victimization in a National Sample of Students in Higher Education") is quoted by Politifact saying:
[T]he Campus Sexual Assault Study "is not the soundest data (the White House) could use."
Needless to say:
"Without a doubt, sexual assault and date rape are of great concern on college campuses," Fox said. "It should not be dismissed. At the same time, we should be careful not to cite national estimates that are shaky, at best."
And I'll leave it at that.

June 12, 2014

Yea, This Is One Reason We Separate Church And State

Look at what's surfaced in Oklahoma:
Voters in Oklahoma could be literally stuck in a rock and a hard place with Tea Party candidate Scott Esk.

Esk, who is running for a seat in the state’s House, reportedly discussed the stoning and killing of homosexuals in July 2013 Facebook conversations, which were discovered and posted by Oklahoma-based website The Moore Daily Tuesday.
The link gets us to this facebook conversation.  In it candidate Esk cites Romans 1:26-27, Romans 1:32, Leviticus 20:13 to justify the stoning and the killing, even though (and these are his words):
I think we would be totally in the right to do it. That goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realize, and I'm largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.
He also says:
Men were commanded to put guilty parties to death who were guilty of certain acts, like homosexuality. Laws to put people to death who were guilty of such practices have been in existence in various countries in Jesus' time and afterwards, too. If men wink at such perversions, God may have no choice than to judge such nations with calamities. [Emphasis added.]
And that would be "commanded by God" of course.  A direct command from the Creator hisself.  And then Esk explains his federalism:
If it helps any, I consider it a violation of federalism to deal with such things on a national level, and different states will have different laws on the matter. I would hope that libertarians who don't think perversion should be punished in any way between consenting adults would be open-minded and look at the different results between a state that ignores it, and 1 that punishes it severely. And within a state, cities and communities may well have different policies, and I cheer that. That way, people can decide for themselves whether they want to live in a particular community based in part on how things like this are dealt with.
So if a large enough section of our population (one that believes that The Bible is inerrant truth and that God's law should be THE law) votes for stoning teh gays, that's fine with Esk.

And if you don't like it you're free to simply move to someplace that tolerates the perversions that God detests.

Yea separating church and state suddenly sounds a bit more rational, don't it?

June 11, 2014

Ten Commandments Follow-Up

Well, the meeting mentioned in this blog post went (I suppose) as planned.

From The Trib:
A Monday night rally by the Thou Shall Not Move group in front of the covered Ten Commandments monument at Connellsville Junior High School was followed by the group encouraging the school board not to give up the fight to keep the monument.

“We want to see this all the way through legally,” said the Rev. Ewing Marietta before a group of Thou Shall Not Move members around the boarded-up Ten Commandments monument.

The group held the rally prior to Monday's agenda session of the Connellsville Area School Board.
And again there was the usual practice of changing the subject (subtly) in order to confuse the issue:
Gary Colatch of Connellsville told the board that the argument of separation of church and state is a falsehood. The nation's capital has many religious symbols that remain to this day, he said, recently shown to him by evangelist and historian David Barton.

“In the Capitol Rotunda, there's a painting on the wall, not hanging on the wall, but painted on the wall, of the baptism of Pocahontas,” Colatch said.
Yea, but again we're changing the subject aren't we?  The issue is not the placement of romanticized 19th Century presentations of historical events on public places that just happen to have a religious story to tell but whether the state has the authority to post this in a public school:
The Ten Commandments
I AM the LORD thy God.

I Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

II Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.

III Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Where the Supreme Court has clearly found posting the Ten Commandments at a Public School clearly "impermissible."

I suppose this is why they keep changing the subject.  They have to know they're fighting a losing battle.  The only question is: just how expensive will it end up being?

June 10, 2014

Climate Science - One View From The Party of Stupid

From Talkingpointsmemo:
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) said Monday that it is "foolish" to believe humans can cause climate change.

MSNBC host Richard Lui had asked Miller if he thought messaging against man-made climate change would be detrimental to Republicans' 2014 and 2016 election prospects. Lui cited a poll of Florida voters who said that on the issue of climate change they trusted scientists over Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who does not believe human activity contributes to global warming, by a margin of 56 to 33 percent.

"Well, I think anybody would answer a poll and say that they believe the scientists, but you have to understand that it is not settled science," Miller said. "The issue of climate change has been happening for a long time, and for us to be able to think that we, as matter of fact, can change what's going on right now to any substantive measure is really kind of foolish in my opinion."
Except we know the science is settled.

But that's not just where Miller's silly happens.  That happens next.  He said that it's always going from hot to cold and so on and when asked whether this warming is manmade, he answered:
Then why did the dinosaurs go extinct? Were there men that were causing -- were there cars running around at that point that were causing global warming?
I guess he's not a young Earth creationist.

But with that pair of questions, Miller jettison's whatever science credibility he has.  Mankind didn't produce that asteroid 66 million years ago either.  So that of course means that mankind can't influence the climate.

The Party of Stupid, sorry.

June 8, 2014

Colin McNickle Of The Tribune-Review: Science Denier

In yesterday's Tribune-Review, columnist Colin McNickle uses a rather old-fashioned logical fallacy in his paper's ongoing crusade to discredit the undeniable - that Climate Science is valid and the Earth is warming up due to us..

Here's what he does:
“The Arctic seems to be warming up,” wrote George Nicolas Ifft, the American consul to Norway, in a report submitted to the State Department. “Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers who sail the seas ... all point to a radical change in climatic conditions and hitherto unheard of high temperatures on that part of Earth's surface.”

But this was no contemporary dispatch from a modern-day climate-clucker flapping his wings and his beak, squawking that the world as we know it will end unless the world reorders the world economy by essentially destroying the world economy to “save the world.” (Such fanatic rhetoricians typically repeat the word “world” far more times.)

No, Mr. Ifft's report was filed nearly 92 years ago, on Oct. 10, 1922. A month later, it was published in the Monthly Weather Review. And “change” hardly was framed as a pejorative. In fact, and if anything, Ifft's dispatch contains the hint of potential new business opportunities and, sorry, cluckers, intimations of the recognition of the vagaries of climate.
See that?  The arctic warmed up way back in 1922!  So all the science that says it's going on now is obviously false, right?

The only problem with this whole argument?

It was debunked 4 years ago.

Professor Goreau's explanation of this "Wagga Wagga" logical fallacy:
Those who seek to deny global warming constantly use transparently obvious tricks, selecting data from a single time, a single place, or both, to deny the larger long-term global patterns. This is easily done as climate is constantly fluctuating, so picking out the mean patterns and trends requires that one integrates the data over the largest time and space scales possible. So if one dishonestly wants to misrepresent the larger patterns, one can always find a particular place at a particular time that does not agree with the all the rest averaged together. This is sometimes referred to as the “It’s a cold day in Wagga Wagga” approach, and is repeatedly used by the climate change deniers to fool people who haven’t looked at the data themselves. The changes in Arctic Ice are no exception!
And he specifically cites Ifft's publication:
This set of observations from a limited area (Spitzbergen) in one year has been used by deniers to suggest that there are huge natural fluctuations, and to imply that there is no global warming.
Globally however the sea temperature trend is obvious:


Regionally, though, there does seem to be a rise in Arctic temperatures in the 20s:


But notice what McNickle decided not to tell you.  According to the data, there was a big increase in Arctic temperature followed by a big decrease that ended sometime in the early 60s.  Then another rise (one that corresponds with a rise in the "various sources of energy used during the century" (gas, coal, oil among them).  Imagine that.

So so interesting that Colin McNickle decided not to tell you the full truth.  It's either that or he failed to fully research his topic before writing his now debunked column.  Which is it?  Incompetence or dishonesty?

Colin, my friend, you really really need to do your homework better than this.  If you had, you wouldn't look as foolish as you do right now.

June 7, 2014

Ten Commandments Update - Connellsville Edition

It's been a while but what with the warmer weather and a court date approaching I am guessing there'll be more updates like this in the near future.

Though I could be wrong.

Here's the latest from the Tribune-Review:
The Thou Shall Not Move group plans to hold a Ten Commandments rally at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the covered monument located at the Connellsville Junior High School. After the rally, the group plans to attend the Connellsville Area School Board agenda session at 8 p.m. where members will present a special gift to board members for standing up to support the monument.

A court battle to remove the Ten Commandments monument from Connellsville Junior High School began more than a year ago when the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of an atheist who wanted the monument removed and the case remains in the courts.
More specifically, it's the placement of the monument at a public school that's at issue (this becomes important in a minute).

I'd like to point out some of the errors presented by the Trib.  First there's this:
[The Rev. Ewing Marietta, pastor of Liberty Church in Oliver] said the group plans to donate a Ten Commandments monument to a local city or municipality in the future.

“The courts have been on the side of municipalities in this fight,” Marietta said, adding that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Pleasant Grove, Utah in a recent Ten Commandments court case. The American Civil Liberties Union asked the courts to force the municipality to remove a Ten Commandments monument from city property.

“There have been cases where the courts ruled that municipalities could keep Ten Commandments monuments,” Marietta said. “We're hoping that happens in the Connellsville case.”
I'm sorry but the good Reverend has to do his homework better.  The case to which he's referring is Pleasant Grove v Summum which doesn't have much to do (as far as this non-attorney can see) with Ten Commandment monuments erected at public schools but with whether a municipality has to erect any permanent religious monument offered to it if it has erected others.  From the decision:
This case presents the question whether the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment entitles a private group to insist that a municipality permit it to place a permanent monument in a city park in which other donated monuments were previously erected. The Court of Appeals held that the municipality was required to accept the monument because a public park is a traditional public forum. We conclude, however, that although a park is a traditional public forum for speeches and other transitory expressive acts, the display of a permanent monument in a public park is not a form of expression to which forum analysis applies. Instead, the placement of a permanent monument in a public park is best viewed as a form of government speech and is therefore not subject to scrutiny under the Free Speech Clause. [Emphasis added.]
See that?  Nothing about removing a religious monument from a public school.  Even in the Jay Seculow of the conservative ACLJ describes it thusly:
The Court ruled in favor of Pleasant Grove unanimously. In an opinion by Justice Alito, the Court held that when it comes to displaying monuments on public lands -- a historical practice of governments since time immemorial -- the government is the speaker and has the right to “speak for itself,” “say what it wishes,” and “select the views it wants to express.” In other words, the Free Speech Clause doesn’t require the city to display Summum’s Seven Aphorisms because the city displays a Ten Commandments monument.
So the placement of the next sentence in the Trib:
The American Civil Liberties Union asked the courts to force the municipality to remove a Ten Commandments monument from city property.
Is simply incorrect - as the case was never about removing the Decalogue but forcing Pleasant Grove, Utah to accept Summum's "Seven Aphorisms" because it was already there.  Summum is the name of the church that wanted its monument in the same public park as the Ten Commandments, by the way.

That's error #1.

Here's error #2:
“If they take the Ten Commandments away from the kids in the Connellsville School District, I believe they will have no basis to give them any rules to follow,” said Tammy Marietta. “This would take away the foundation of the laws that we have.”
The Pastor's wife, unfortunately, has invalidated their entire argument right there.  If the purpose of the Ten Commandments monument at that Junior High School in Connellsville is to impose some religious instruction, then it's clearly impermissible.

June 6, 2014

ATTENTION PITTSBURGHERS!

If all goes according to George Soros' nefarious plans, I'll be on KDKA Radio tonight at 9pm.

Discussing all things political (or at least as much as we can get in an hour!) with John McIntire.

Announcement

Absolutely No Apologies


Transcript:
We have a basic principle: We do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind.

We had a prisoner of war whose health had deteriorated and we were deeply concerned about, and we saw an opportunity and we seized it. And I make no apologies for that.

We had discussed with Congress the possibility that something like this might occur. But because of the nature of the folks that we were dealing with and the fragile nature of these negotiations, we felt it was important to go ahead and do what we did. And we're now explaining to Congress the details of how we moved forward. But this basic principle that we don’t leave anybody behind and this basic recognition that that often means prisoner exchanges with enemies is not unique to my administration -- it dates back to the beginning of our Republic.

And with respect to how we announced it, I think it was important for people to understand that this is not some abstraction, this is not a political football. You have a couple of parents whose kid volunteered to fight in a distant land, who they hadn’t seen in five years and weren’t sure whether they’d ever see again. And as Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces, I am responsible for those kids. And I get letters from parents who say, if you are in fact sending my child into war, make sure that that child is being taken care of. And I write too many letters to folks who unfortunately don’t see their children again after fighting the war.

I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents and that the American people understand that this is somebody’s child and that we don’t condition whether or not we make the effort to try to get them back.
Obviously, there are enough questions to warrant an investigation into why and how Bergdahl left camp that day.  If the investigation shows that a court martial is warranted, then court martial the guy.  If he's found guilty, then let him face the consequences.

June 4, 2014

Tracking Teh Crazie

From infowars (so you know it's got teh crazie):
Libertarian pundit and and former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Andrew Napolitano has called for the impeachment of the President over the Taliban prisoner release, stating that he has aided the release of the worst terrorists in the world.
Nevermind that according to this interview at Foxnews, John Berger, former advisor to President George Bush  (who, let's remember, used signing statements to get away with an actual impeachable offense - torture), says:
I’m not saying this is clearly an easy choice but frankly I think a Republican, a president of either party, Republican or Democratic confronted with this opportunity to get back Sgt. Bergdahl, who is apparently in failing health, would have taken this opportunity to do this. I think we would have made the same decision in the Bush administration.
But let's take a look at the guys released.  Were they terrorists or were they POWs?

Here's an interesting thing to consider that a former Guantanamo Bay prosecutor said on Democracy Now!:
There is information available to the public about the five individuals and how they were captured. Two I believe surrendered to the Afghan government. There is one captured I believe in Pakistan. There’s no indication that any of these people — I think the picture that is trying — that’s being painted is that in the midst of battle that the U.S. forces captured these guys and lives were lost in the process, and that simply is not the case.

I think the president is right when he said, you can’t guarantee there will be no recidivism. I mean, if we’re waiting for the risk to be reduced to zero before you release people from Guantánamo, then they’re going to be doing a life sentence because we can never reduce the risk to zero then they’re going to be doing a life sentence, because we can never reduce the risk to zero. But, you have to take some reasonable risk. As for talking to and negotiating with terrorists? I’m just not aware of any war ever that has ended where the parties to the war don’t have negotiations and discussion. I just don’t know how you end a war without talking to the other side. And as for these five men, when I was chief prosecutor, we had screened all of the detainees and we had focused on about 75 that had the potential to be charged with a crime. When I saw the names the other day, wasn’t familiar with any of these names. So we had more than 12 years if we could have proven that they had done something wrong that we could prosecute them for I’m confident we would have done it, and we didn’t.
Or this from ThinkProgress:
When wars end, prisoners taken custody must be released. These five Guantanamo detainees were almost all members of the Taliban, according to the biographies of the five detainees that the Afghan Analysts Network compiled in 2012. None were facing charges in either military or civilian courts for their actions. It remains an open question whether the end of U.S. involvement in the armed conflict in Afghanistan requires that all Guantanamo detainees must be released. But there is no doubt that Taliban detainees captured in Afghanistan must be released because the armed conflict against the Taliban will be over.
Then there's this from Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey:
In response to those of you interested in my personal judgments about the recovery of SGT Bowe Bergdahl, the questions about this particular soldier’s conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity. This was likely the last, best opportunity to free him. As for the circumstances of his capture, when he is able to provide them, we’ll learn the facts. Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty. Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred. In the meantime, we will continue to care for him and his family. Finally, I want to thank those who for almost five years worked to find him, prepared to rescue him, and ultimately put themselves at risk to recover him.
You don't leave troops behind.  You negotiate for POW releases at the end of conflicts.  As distasteful as it may be here, that's what you do.

But the lesson here is this:  the last guy (Bush) gets a pass from the right on the torture and doesn't get impeached. The current guy gets the release of a POW and now they're screaming about signing statements and impeachment.

Yea, go figure.

June 3, 2014

A Local Story To Watch

From The Trib:
A Downtown attorney filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the president, the heads of the FBI and NSA, and others alleging the government is illegally monitoring his Internet communications, including email.

Elliott Schuchardt filed the nine-page complaint in U.S. District Court, Downtown, claiming such a collection of data is unconstitutional without a warrant. Schuchardt said the government is collecting data through Yahoo, Gmail, Facebook and other means and storing information that includes bank account numbers, credit card numbers, health records, financial data and trade secrets.
I haven't been able to track down the complaint yet (so Attorney Schuchardt, if you're reading this please email it over).

Until can snag a copy of the complaint I don't have anything to say about it.

In the meantime, please peruse Glenn Greenwald's NSA documents.