What Fresh Hell Is This?

September 29, 2016

WTF IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE IN FOX CHAPEL, PA??

An astute reader sent me a very interesting email this evening.

It links to this webpage.

And it reads:
A tall thin light skinned African American male was seen walking on Tree Farm Road. This man was possibly distributing political materials

A resident from Tree Farm Road reported observing a tall, light skinned, African American male, wearing a green tee shirt and driving a gold Toyota, walking up to homes on the street. The male may have been distributing political materials as police investigation revealed that most homes had them attached to the front doors.

Residents are requested to use the 911 center to report suspicious persons.
There are a few things of interest here.  First, that the Fox Chapel Police Department thought this important enough to warrant an advisory about a tall, thin, light-skinned, African-American male that was seen walking on Tree Farm Road.

Second, that they investigated said TTL-SA-AM and found that he "may have been distributing political materials."

Third, that someone phoned this in to the police in the first place.

Can you imagine that 911 call?
Dispatch: Hello, Fox Chapel Police.  What is the nature of your emergency?
Concerned Fox Chapellian: So sorry to bother you officer, but my wife Madison and I were on our way home from the club when we spotted a suspicious looking Negro walking along Tree Farm Road.
Dispatch: Can you describe what he looked like?
Chapellian: Well, he was tall and fair-skinned.  Madison pointed out to me that he was quite lean and muscular, like a tall Jesse Owens.  I thought he looked more like that colored fellow who used to tap dance on Lawrence Welk.  Only younger, obviously.
Dispatch: Ok...and you said he was just walking on Tree Farm Road.  Was he doing anything suspicious?
Chapellian: He was a Negro in Fox Chapel walking along Tree Farm Road.
Dispatch: Understood.  We'll get right on it.
Or something like that. In any event someone called it in and the police sent someone to investigate anyway.

I guess they really want to make America Great Again one Fox Chapel at a time!

Um, You May Have Missed This (What With All The Trump Dishonesty And All) But The Atmosphere Is STILL Getting Carbon-ier

Anyone out there heard about the Keeling Curve?

It's a chart of the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and its data has been collected, continuously, from an observatory on Mouna Loa, Hawaii.

From the Keeling Curve website:
The idea of making measurements at Mauna Loa arose while Charles David Keeling was a post-doc at Cal Tech. In the course of working on a project involving carbon in river water - a project that incidentally required making measurements of CO2 in air - Charles David Keeling made a key discovery. What he discovered was that when he sampled the air remote from forests, cities, and other obvious sources or sinks for CO2, he always got almost the same value of 310 ppm.
Please note the number.  Also note that he got (roughly) the same number wherever he sampled.

He soon discovered a seasonal fluctuation in the level of carbon in the atmosphere.

And then, over the years, he discovered this:


The jagged line shows the seasonal fluctuations.  The upward sweep is the overall tendency of those fluctuations - upward.

And what's the importance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

From NASA:
In the 1860s, physicist John Tyndall recognized the Earth's natural greenhouse effect and suggested that slight changes in the atmospheric composition could bring about climatic variations. In 1896, a seminal paper by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius first speculated that changes in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could substantially alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect.
And so why am I writing this now?

Charles David Keeling passed away a few years ago.  His son Ralph has continued the research and a few days ago he wrote:
We are now approaching the annual low point in the Mauna Loa CO2 curve, which typically happens around the last week of September but varies slightly from year to year. Recent daily and weekly values have remained above 400 parts per million. From this it’s already clear that the monthly value for September will be above 400 ppm, probably around 401 ppm. September is typically but not always the lowest month of the year.

The low point reflects the transition between summer and fall, when the uptake of CO2 by vegetation weakens and is overtaken by the release of CO2 from soils.

Is it possible that October 2016 will yield a lower monthly value than September and dip below 400 ppm? Almost impossible.
And:
Concentrations will probably hover around 401 ppm over the next month as we sit near the annual low point. Brief excursions towards lower values are still possible but it already seems safe to conclude that we won’t be seeing a monthly value below 400 ppm this year – or ever again for the indefinite future.
When he started, Charles David Keeling found 310ppm everywhere.  Now it's 400ppm and rising.

Yah-noe, we could take our cues from the current Presidential campaign and the Republican candidate who says that it's an invention created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive or from the Pennsylvania Senatorial race and the Republican candidate who says that while climate science is not a hoax, human activity is still not a significant factor in the rise of global temperatures. 

We could take our cues from them but if we did, we'd be either a mostly (yet still embarrassingly) wrong with the Republican Toomey or yugely (and quite laughingly wrong) with the Republican Trump.

Or we could just go with the science - and the Democratic candidates, Katie McGinty and Hillary Clinton.

Yea, we should probably just go with the science.



Braggadocious!

And, one more video:

Heavy Rotation

Yes, this is most certainly NSFW!

If you believe that #BlackLivesMatter, you might want to shop elsewhere



UGH!

September 28, 2016

The Tribune-Review Ends Its Print Edition November 30.

Politics aside, this is in the end a story about people, pay checks and paying the bills.

Lotsa people far far removed from la follia Scaife will now have to find some other way of putting food on their respective tables - and that's nothing to cheer about.

From the P-G:
Trib Total Media today said it will stop publishing a print edition of its Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper Dec. 1 and will lay off 106 workers as it continues to downsize its print operations and beef up its digital products.

The North Shore-based company also said it will consolidate its printing operations at a facility in Tarentum.
Bad news all around.  Which is interesting because if you look at the Trib coverage of its own downsizing, a slightly, shall we say, different picture is being presented:
Trib Total Media announced Wednesday a broad-based restructuring plan that will re-emphasize local news in its key markets while moving toward the future with its Allegheny County news coverage.

In an announcement to employees, President and CEO Jennifer Bertetto said that to ensure a sustainable future the company will significantly increase staff and other resources devoted to the Westmoreland and Valley News Dispatch editions of the Tribune-Review. She said the goal is to bolster the local news and sports coverage that have made those newspapers so successful.
By the way, the headline reads:
Trib announces expansion in some markets, going all-digital in Pittsburgh
Oh, so it's an expansion! I get it - that's why 106 workers will be laid off.

Huh.

Over at the City Paper, Dennis Roddy has some insight into the workings of the Trib:
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was conceived in a fit of pique, when Richard Mellon Scaife was blocked from purchasing The Pittsburgh Press at the end of the strike that killed the latter paper. An angry billionaire can be an entertaining spectacle, but a disruptive one. The plain fact is that Dick Scaife hated the Block family. That is why there was a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The problem with The Tribune-Review was that it wished its stories to be true. Often they were. In the case of reporters such as Carl Prine, Andrew Conte and its renowned state-capital correspondent, Brad Bumsted, the stories were not only true but excellent. In the 24 years of its existence, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review broke important stories and in the past decade it frequently embarrassed its more established crosstown rival, the Post-Gazette.

This is how the work of legitimate reporters ran in the same paper that carried the overwrought conspiracy theories of Christopher Ruddy, who made the Trib famous for outlandish suggestions that Clinton aides Vince Foster and Ron Brown were murdered. The editorial page became a fetid sinkhole of hate and stupidity.
My own work here at this blog can attest to the stupidity of the editorial page (just search for Trib and climate and you'll know what I mean).  Though this is NO criticism of this column, what Dennis leaves out are the many times the editorial page quoted/sourced/referenced the very conservative think tanks their boss funded with Scaife money - all without a peep about the common financial entanglements enveloping each.

While I'm not at all cheering those hundred+ people now out of work (and who could?) I am gratified, I suppose, to know that with the Trib downsizing teh crazie they promote will downsize as well.

Another Conservative Newspaper Endorses Hillary Clinton

I've already written about the Cincinnati Enquirer but did you know that there are a number of traditionally conservative newspaper editorial boards that have endorsed Hillary Clinton.

From The Fix at the Washington Post:
The Cincinnati Enquirer endorsed Hillary Clinton on Friday afternoon, joining the Dallas Morning News and Houston Chronicle among the ranks of newspapers with conservative editorial boards that have spurned Donald Trump and backed his Democratic rival instead.
And now, there's been another - the Arizona Republic.

So let's go see what they all have to say, mkay?
  • Cincinnati Enquirer - The Enquirer has supported Republicans for president for almost a century – a tradition this editorial board doesn’t take lightly. But this is not a traditional race, and these are not traditional times. Our country needs calm, thoughtful leadership to deal with the challenges we face at home and abroad. We need a leader who will bring out the best in all Americans, not the worst.

    That’s why there is only one choice when we elect a president in November: Hillary Clinton.
  • Dallas Morning News - There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November. We recommend Hillary Clinton.

    We don't come to this decision easily. This newspaper has not recommended a Democrat for the nation's highest office since before World War II — if you're counting, that's more than 75 years and nearly 20 elections.

    [...]

    Trump's values are hostile to conservatism. He plays on fear — exploiting base instincts of xenophobia, racism and misogyny — to bring out the worst in all of us, rather than the best. His serial shifts on fundamental issues reveal an astounding absence of preparedness. And his improvisational insults and midnight tweets exhibit a dangerous lack of judgment and impulse control.

    After nearly four decades in the public spotlight, 25 of them on the national stage, Clinton is a known quantity. For all her warts, she is the candidate more likely to keep our nation safe, to protect American ideals and to work across the aisle to uphold the vital domestic institutions that rely on a competent, experienced president.
  • Houston Chronicle - Any one of Trump's less-than-sterling qualities - his erratic temperament, his dodgy business practices, his racism, his Putin-like strongman inclinations and faux-populist demagoguery, his contempt for the rule of law, his ignorance - is enough to be disqualifying. His convention-speech comment, "I alone can fix it," should make every American shudder. He is, we believe, a danger to the Republic. 
  • Arizona Republic - Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.
    This year is different.

    The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.

    That’s why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president.

    [...]

    As secretary of state, Clinton made gender equality a priority for U.S. foreign policy. This is an extension of Clinton’s bold “women’s rights are human rights” speech in 1995.

    It reflects an understanding that America’s commitment to human rights is a critically needed beacon in today’s troubled world.

    Trump’s long history of objectifying women and his demeaning comments about women during the campaign are not just good-old-boy gaffes.

    They are evidence of deep character flaws. They are part of a pattern.

    Trump mocked a reporter’s physical handicap. Picked a fight with a Gold Star family. Insulted POWs. Suggested a Latino judge can’t be fair because of his heritage. Proposed banning Muslim immigration.

    Each of those comments show a stunning lack of human decency, empathy and respect. Taken together they reveal a candidate who doesn’t grasp our national ideals.
Donald Trump - unqualified, sexist, bigoted, and ignorant - is no conservative and should never ever be supported for President.

And, again, these are conservative editorial boards.

September 26, 2016

Still No False Equivalency On Honesty: Trump vs Clinton

Politico has a brilliant pair of pieces out yesterday, comparing the honesty levels of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Here's what they did (this is the opening of the above Trump piece):
As August ended, a new Donald Trump emerged. Coached by his third campaign management team, he stayed on message, read from a teleprompter and focused on policy. It lasted about a month.

After he lied on Sept. 16 that he was not the person responsible for the birtherism campaign to delegitimize Barack Obama’s presidency, POLITICO chose to spend a week fact-checking Trump. We fact-checked Hillary Clinton over the same time.

We subjected every statement made by both the Republican and Democratic candidates — in speeches, in interviews and on Twitter — to our magazine’s rigorous fact-checking process.
And this is (basically) what they found:
The conclusion is inescapable: Trump’s mishandling of facts and propensity for exaggeration so greatly exceed Clinton’s as to make the comparison almost ludicrous.
From the Trump analysis:
According to POLITICO’s five-day analysis, Trump averaged about one falsehood every three minutes and 15 seconds over nearly five hours of remarks.
And from the Clinton analysis:
POLITICO’s five-day analysis suggests that in just over 1.5 hours of remarks last week, the former secretary of state averaged one falsehood every 12 minutes.
It's simply ludicrous to even try to equate them.



September 25, 2016

Some More On Donald Trump

First, we'll start with some bad news for Trump.  The Cincinnati Inquirer, a paper that hasn't endorsed a Democrat for the White House since Woodrow Wilson, has made a surprising endorsement for President:
The Enquirer has supported Republicans for president for almost a century – a tradition this editorial board doesn’t take lightly. But this is not a traditional race, and these are not traditional times. Our country needs calm, thoughtful leadership to deal with the challenges we face at home and abroad. We need a leader who will bring out the best in all Americans, not the worst.

That’s why there is only one choice when we elect a president in November: Hillary Clinton.
The issues they have with Clinton are those to be expected from a conservative editorial board - transparency, poor judgement on the e-mail server, etc. But they lay into Trump on a much different level:
Trump is a clear and present danger to our country.
It just goes downhill from there:
This editorial board has been consistent in its criticism of his policies and temperament beginning with the Republican primary. We've condemned his childish insults; offensive remarks to women, Hispanics and African-Americans; and the way he has played on many Americans' fears and prejudices to further himself politically. Trump brands himself as an outsider untainted by special interests, but we see a man utterly corrupted by self-interest. His narcissistic bid for the presidency is more about making himself great than America. Trump tears our country and many of its people down with his words so that he can build himself up. What else are we left to believe about a man who tells the American public that he alone can fix what ails us?

While Clinton has been relentlessly challenged about her honesty, Trump was the primary propagator of arguably the biggest lie of the past eight years: that Obama wasn't born in the United States.
And do on.

Then there's Trump's (possible) perjury.  Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek is reporting that:
Donald Trump committed perjury. Or he looked into the faces of the Republican faithful and knowingly lied. There is no third option.
Some details:
There are two records—one, a previously undisclosed deposition of the Republican nominee testifying under oath, and the second a transcript/video of a Republican presidential debate. In them, Trump tells contradictory versions of the same story with the clashing accounts tailored to provide what he wanted people to believe when he was speaking.

This fib matters far more than whether Trump was honest about why he abandoned his birther movement or the corollary fib that Hillary Clinton started the racist story that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya. In the lie we are examining here, Trump either committed a felony or proved himself willing to deceive his followers whenever it suits him.
On the one hand, there was Trump in a debate with Jeb Bush saying that if he wanted to get into casino gambling in Florida he would have and then on the other, he testified under oath that he could have had the gambling, but was cheated out of the opportunity (by the guy he was suing).

From Eichenwald:
Trump must be called upon to answer the troubling questions raised by the episode regarding Bush and gambling in Florida: Is the Republican nominee a perjurer or just a liar? If he refuses to answer—just as he has refused to address almost every other question about his character and background—Trump supporters must carefully consider whether they want to vote for a man who at best has treated them like fools over the past year and at worst committed a crime.
Remember, the GOP impeached a president because he lied about the blowjobs.  If this was perjury, it was about money - a much much bigger deal.



September 22, 2016

Feeling a great disturbance in the Force today?


Feeling something especially foul in the air (or water)? That would be giant, orange, talking yam Donald Trump in town to give the keynote address to Shale Insight 2016 -- a conference by the same fine folks who gave us this headline: "Cancer-causing chemical made famous by Erin Brockovich found in local water systems."

Anyhoo, if you're already downtown today, you might want to join the welcome wagon outside of the David Lawrence Convention Center -- happening now until 1:00 p.m.

Vote For Clinton. Vote Against Trump. Save The Day. You Might Get Just See Mark Ruffalo's Junk (Assuming You're Interested In Such).

Watch this video from Joss Whedon:


Save The Day.

Just a shit ton of famous people on this video repeating how important it is.

Register.

Vote.

You only get this many famous people together if the issue's one that truly matters to all of us:
  • a disease or
  • ecological crisis or  
  • a racist abusive coward who can permanently damage the fabric of our society.
(And by that they mean the Donald Trump - the bigoted, dishonest, cheeto-faced Donald Trump who has effectively hijacked what was once a great American political party and who is too dangerous, even for Republicans.)

We can not pretend both sides are equally unfavorable.

Your vote matters.

September 21, 2016

Newsflash: DONALD TRUMP IS STILL A BIRTHER!

Tonight in Toledo, Donald Trump was asked this question:
This announcement earlier this week with you saying that you believe President Obama was in fact born in the United States, after all the years where you've expressed some doubt, what changed?
And his answer?

Did it reference a careful assessment of the evidence supporting the truth (that Obama was born in Hawaii)?  Was there any assessment of the evidence?

No.

This is what Donald Trump said:
Well I just wanted to get on with, I wanted to get on with the campaign. A lot of people were asking me questions. We want to talk about jobs. We want to talk about the military.
And so on...

So look at the answer.  It had nothing to do with whether the statement "Barack Obama was born in Hawaii" was true.  So it turns out that he made his statements last week (which all turned out to be untrue) just to get the issue out of the way, not that he changed his mind.

That means he's still a birther.

And he's still lying about it.

Meanwhile Outside, It's Still Getting Warmer

From NOAA:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for August 2016 was the highest for August in the 137-year period of record, marking the 16th consecutive month of record warmth for the globe. The August 2016 temperature departure of 0.92°C (1.66°F) above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F) surpassed the previous record set in 2015 by 0.05°C (0.09°F). August 2016 was also the highest monthly land and ocean temperature departure since April 2016 and tied with September 2015 as the eighth highest monthly temperature departure among all months (1,640) on record. Fourteen of the 15 highest monthly land and ocean temperature departures in the record have occurred since February 2015, with January 2007 among the 15 highest monthly temperature departures.
Some takeaways:
  •  Warmest August in 137 years.
  • 16th consecutive month of record warmth for the globe.
  • 14 of the 15 highest monthly departures have occurred since 2015.
But since we're in the middle of a campaign season, let's review.
  • Donald Trump calls climate science a hoax.
  • Pat Toomey does not believe that human activity contributes significantly to climate change. 
They are both completely wrong.

From Responsiblescientists.org, we find this:
Human-caused climate change is not a belief, a hoax, or a conspiracy. It is a physical reality. Fossil fuels powered the Industrial Revolution. But the burning of oil, coal, and gas also caused most of the historical increase in atmospheric levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. This increase in greenhouse gases is changing Earth’s climate.

Our fingerprints on the climate system are visible everywhere. They are seen in warming of the oceans, the land surface, and the lower atmosphere. They are identifiable in sea level rise, altered rainfall patterns, retreat of Arctic sea ice, ocean acidification, and many other aspects of the climate system. Human-caused climate change is not something far removed from our day-to-day experience, affecting only the remote Arctic. It is present here and now, in our own country, in our own states, and in our own communities.

During the Presidential primary campaign, claims were made that the Earth is not warming, or that warming is due to purely natural causes outside of human control. Such claims are inconsistent with reality.
So beyond everything else (the Supreme Court, Obamacare, choice) being decided with this election, we have a clear choice between one candidate (and party) that accepts science and one that simply doesn't.


September 20, 2016

Justice In Trump's America

From Time.com:
Donald Trump does not think that Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect apprehended in connection with the New York and New Jersey explosions, should receive top-notch medical care or legal representation.

Speaking at a rally in Florida Monday, the same day Rahami was caught, Trump referred to him as an “evil thug.” He then bemoaned the quality medical care that awaits Rahami for the gunshot wounds he sustained in a shootout with police. “The bad part: now we will give him amazing hospitalization, he will be taken care of by some of the best doctors in the world, he will be given a fully modern and updated hospital room, and he’ll probably even have room service, knowing the way our country is,” Trump said. “And on top of all of that, he will be represented by an outstanding lawyer. His case will go through the various court systems for years, and in the end people will forget and his punishment will not be what it once would have been.”
The Daily Telegraph adds:
Some members of his packed crowd shouted, "Hang him!"
Whatever the seriousness of the charge, there's a this pesky little part of the Constitution that's causing Trump's current trauma.  This part:
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.
Then there's this part, which guarantees medical care to those arrested or incarcerated:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Slate does point out that Trump added:
What a sad situation. We must have speedy but fair trials and we must deliver a just and very harsh punishment to these people.
But think on that for a second, in light of what was quoted in Time.  A speedy trial is NOT for the sake of a just trial.  No, a speedy trial is necessary so that the inevitable punishment will be harsher than it would have been.

This is Trump's America.

September 19, 2016

RNC Continues Its Post-Birther Lie Birther Lie

From HuffingtonPost:
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus accused Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign of pushing the so-called birtherism conspiracy theory, which Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has championed since 2011, when he demanded to see the president’s birth certificate.

“People get convicted every single day with circumstantial evidence that is enough to tip the scale,” Priebus told CBS host John Dickerson in an interview that aired Sunday. “And by the preponderance of evidence before us, Hillary Clinton or her campaign were definitely involved in this issue. We can’t keep saying it’s not true. That’s ridiculous.”

“It’s not fiction, it’s the truth,” he added.

Trump this week accused Clinton of starting the movement, but there is no evidence that anyone associated with her campaign ever pushed the theory.
But to our friends on the right who continually ignore the vast mountain of climate science evidence in order to remain faithful to a narrow political agenda, how's a little birther non-evidence gonna bother them?

They're basing their entire argument on these wisps:
  • Patti Solis Doyle - who was Clinton's campaign manager until the Iowa Caucuses on January 3rd, 2008.  She said that a staffer in Iowa was let go after passing on an email with the conspiracy - in December 2007.  The campaign itself apologized to the Obama campaign and never went birther
  • Mark Penn - There's a memo (also from 2007) from pollster Mark Penn talking about Obama's supposed electoral weaknesses.  However, there's no mention of a birth certificate at all.  Needless to say the Clinton Campaign never went birther from the Mark Penn memo
  • Sidney Blumenthal - McClatchy is reporting that Blumenthal (who was not a member of the campaign) told them Obama was born in Kenya and urged them to investigate.  They did, found out Obama wasn't.  Needless to say the Clinton Campaign still didn't go birther. 
  • The PUMAs - After Clinton withdrew from the race in June of 2008, some Clinton supporters, unhappy with the primary results began to birther-out.  But this is after Clinton withdrew from the race and urged her supporters to support him.
Compare that to the 8 years of Birtherism from the right.  And the 5 years after the "unecessary" release of the 2011 long form certificate that Trump continued to birther.

The Birther lie is a continuous 8 year long right wing lie - there is no question about that.

September 18, 2016

Jack Kelly Sunday

In Clinton v Trump, the Post-Gazette's Jack Kelly in his column this week comes up with an answer: they're both unacceptable, and it's the media's fault.

The interesting thing is that he goes back to Matt Lauer's awful interview set from September 7.

One wonders how (or whether) Jack would rewrite this column in light of Trump's continued birther dishonesty?

We can't really fault Jack for not including such a yuge assault on logic as Trump asserting (absent all evidence) that the Clinton Campaign started the birther BS in 2008 or that he ended it in 2011 (despite all the supporting evidence that he continued the attacks for 5 years after).  That news hit Friday afternoon, probably too late for Jack to submit a rewrite for Sunday's paper - so for that, for this week, he gets a pass.

But let's look at the unacceptability equivalence Jack poxes on both campaign houses.  Jack writes:
Hillary and The Donald each said the other is unfit to be commander in chief, which was the only true thing either of them said.
Then he quotes two critics, one on the right and the other - presumably since he's on CNN - on the left:
“Listening to Clinton prevaricate about her emails and Trump prevaricate about positions he holds and doesn’t entirely seem to understand once again raises the unholy horror of the fact that out of 330 million people in the United States, these are the two who have ended up in the race for the White House in 2016,” wrote New York Post columnist John Podhoretz.

The biggest loser was moderator Matt Lauer, according to Ms. Clinton’s friends in the news media.

“Matt Lauer’s pathetic interview of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is the scariest thing I’ve seen in this campaign,” wrote Jonathan Chait in New York magazine. His performa
So let's look at what each wrote to see if each believes that both Clinton and Trump were equally unacceptable, as Jack asserts.

First, the neocon Iraq war supporter Podhoretz:
The FBI may not have indicted her, but her conduct has been so unbecoming a leader that the American people have — polls show nearly 70 percent of the American people consider her untrustworthy. She did nothing to improve on that last night, and indeed may have harmed herself further.

But at least she didn’t spend three minutes of her time sucking up to Vladimir Putin, the way Donald Trump did. Trump not only praised the Russian thug’s leadership and cited the KGB goon’s poll numbers, but appeared to draw a comparison between Putin and Barack Obama that favored Putin. I’m the opposite of an Obama fan, but that’s just disgusting. Obama hasn’t had reporters killed, hasn’t choked off press freedoms, hasn’t swallowed up Crimea, and isn’t seeking imperial dominion of America’s geographical neighbors. [Emphasis added.]
And now the self proclaimed "liberal hawk" Chait - where he faults Lauer for doing something Kelly himself is doing, presenting a Trump/Clinton equivalence:
Most voters, and all the more so undecided voters, subsist on a news diet supplied by the likes of Matt Lauer. And the reality transmitted to them from Lauer matches the reality of the polls, which is a world in which Clinton and Trump are equivalently flawed.
And then:
The average undecided voter is getting snippets of news from television personalities like Lauer, who are failing to convey the fact that the election pits a normal politician with normal political failings against an ignorant, bigoted, pathologically dishonest authoritarian.
Huh.   I wonder if Jack even got to that part of Chait's critique.

But let's look at Jack's anti-Clinton stuff, if only to see if it conforms to reality.  There's this:
The email scandal is old news, Mr. Lauer’s critics said. Ms. Clinton’s emails “have endured much more scrutiny than an ordinary person’s would have,” said a Washington Post editorial.

That’s true. But an ordinary person doesn’t have access to the nation’s most important secrets. And an ordinary person who handled those secrets as carelessly as Hillary did would go to prison.

Lt. John Lester, a former naval flight officer, told Ms. Clinton that he’d had access to “materials and information highly sensitive to our war-fighting capabilities. Had I communicated this information not following prescribed protocols, I would have been prosecuted and imprisoned.

“How can you expect those who are entrusted with America’s most sensitive information to have any confidence in your leadership as president when you clearly corrupted our national security?” he asked.
Jack then moves immediately onto the Labor Day email dump of the FBI.  He completely omits Clinton's answer to Lt Lester's question.  How interesting!  Here it is:
Well, I appreciate your concern and also your experience. But let me try to make the distinctions that I think are important for me to answer your question.

First, as I said to Matt, you know and I know classified material is designated. It is marked. There is a header so that there is no dispute at all that what is being communicated to or from someone who has that access is marked classified.

And what we have here is the use of an unclassified system by hundreds of people in our government to send information that was not marked, there were no headers, there was no statement, top secret, secret, or confidential.

I communicated about classified material on a wholly separate system. I took it very seriously. When I traveled, I went into one of those little tents that I’m sure you’ve seen around the world because we didn’t want there to be any potential for someone to have embedded a camera to try to see whatever it is that I was seeing that was designated, marked, and headed as classified.
Elsewhere in Lauer's interview she said:
But the real question is the handling of classified material, which is I think what the implication of your question was. And for all the viewers watching you tonight, I have a lot of experience dealing with classified material, starting when I was on the Senate Armed Services Committee going into the four years as secretary of state. Classified material has a header which says “top secret,” “secret,” “confidential.” Nothing — and I will repeat this, and this is verified in the report by the Department of Justice — none of the e-mails sent or received by me had such a header.
Something Polifact has declared "Mostly True."  Take a look:
Information isn’t classified until a designated authority within the government declares it classified. The way that person shows their determination is by adding a header and footer to the relevant document, often tacking on a cover sheet, too — all to make it clear that the document contains classified information.

Clinton is correct that the FBI did not find any such labels in her emails.
And:
Clinton regularly dealt with classified information as secretary of state. She has said she viewed classified information in hard copy in her office, and she used other secure channels when traveling. Some emails now made public actually show Clinton’s team discussing how they couldn’t email each other classified information over the private server and instead had to move the conversation to a more appropriate venue.

In the end, Comey said the Justice Department shouldn’t prosecute Clinton because there isn’t enough evidence that she intentionally mishandled classified information, nor did investigators find vast quantities of exposed classified material.
Now go back and look at how Jack characterized Clinton's email sins.

Jack ends his piece with this:
For many journalists, whatever reflects poorly on Mr. Trump is news, whatever reflects poorly on Ms. Clinton isn’t.
Which is interesting because Jack gets the Clinton part exactly backwards - whatever reflects poorly on Clinton (even if it's mostly not true) is news. 

None of it serves as an equivalence to the billionaire bigot - who lied about his support for the Iraq war, who lied about the whole birther thing, who lied about the thousands of Muslims celebrating 9/11 in Patterson, NJ, who lied when he said that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the "founders" of ISIS, who trashed POW war hero John McCain, who trashed a Gold Star Family.

No equivalence at all, Jack.  Even from your rightwing skew-view, even you have to see that.

September 16, 2016

From A VERY Well Placed Source - News About The Tribune-Review Newsroom

An astute reader emailed this in with some gossip regarding our friends at the Tribune-Review.

My astute source wrote:
McNickle was among those taking the latest round of buyouts. The Trib has basically emptied it's newsroom and management plans to fold the Pittsburgh operation back into the mother ship in Greensburg.

Frank Craig and Jim Cuddy got a push out the door and the sports editor was flat-out removed.

They had meetings with the few veterans they planned to keep. Colin was not invited. It got so testy that he declined to attend an editorial board interview with Trump Junior last week. Last Sunday's Trib contained no editorials.

Among the departures is Carl Prine, Mike Wereschagin, Salena Zito, Brad Bumsted and all but three of their photographers. I'm waiting to see if Colin has a farewell column.

Received word today that Eric Heyl, the spectacularly mediocre columnist, also took the buyout. Everyone has concluded that the company will file a WARN notice in October.

Consensus inside the D.L. Clark Building: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is not long for this world.
Wow.  I can't begin to comprehend this new journalistic reality.
  • Colin McNickle, gone.
  • Eric Heyl, gone.
  • Salena Zito, gone.
But if the Trib's not long for this world, what am I gonna do about their continual climate denial?

Trump's Birtherism Dishonesty

Two things happened overnight.

First, from the Washington Post:
In the interview, conducted late Wednesday aboard his private plane as it idled on the tarmac here, Trump suggested he is not eager to change his pitch or his positions even as he works to reach out to minority voters, many of whom are deeply offended by his long-refuted suggestion that Obama is not a U.S. citizen. Trump refused to say whether he believes Obama was born in Hawaii.

“I’ll answer that question at the right time,” Trump said. “I just don’t want to answer it yet.”

When asked whether his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was accurate when she said recently that he now believes Obama was born in this country, Trump responded: “It’s okay. She’s allowed to speak what she thinks. I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on other things.” [Emphasis added.]
Then a little later, the campaign released this.  It begins with a lie:
Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama in her very nasty, failed 2008 campaign for President.
Politifact looked at this some time ago and declared it false:
There is no record that Clinton herself or anyone within her campaign ever advanced the charge that Obama was not born in the United States. A review by our fellow fact-checkers at Factcheck.org reported that no journalist who investigated this ever found a connection to anyone in the Clinton organization.
So Trump's lying.  Again.

Then in the second paragraph there's this:
In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate. Mr. Trump did a great service to the President and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised. Inarguably, Donald J. Trump is a closer. Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States.
You'll note that he's not talking about this birth certificate, released in June of 2008:


It's signed, it's crimped, it's dated.  It's an official document from the State of Hawaii.

No, Trump was talking about this birth certificate released almost three years later in April 2011.


By the way, Trump characterized this second official document from the State of Hawaii this way:
More than a year later, he still thought it was a fraud.

It raises a few questions that Donald Trump needs to answer.
  • Had the White House not released the second document, would Trump still be an out-and-proud birther?
  • What made him change his opinion of the second document?  How did it go from being a "fraud" to ample evidence that Obama was, in fact, born in Hawaii?
  • How does he explain that he was so wrong for all those years?
Along with Secretary Clinton's 20 questions for Trump regarding the recent Newsweek piece, Trump still has to answer for his past (and possibly still present) birtherism.

September 15, 2016

Fact-Checking Donald Trump Jr (In THE TRIB!) - UPDATED!

From TalkingPointsMemo:
Donald Trump Jr. said that one reason his father has yet to receive his tax returns, in a break from four decades of precedent for presidential candidates, was that the complicated documents would provoke too many questions.

“He's got a 12,000-page tax return that would create … financial auditors out of every person in the country asking questions that would detract from [his father’s] main message,” Trump Jr. said in a Wednesday interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
But isn't that precisely the point?

I mean especially in the light of this Newsweek cover story.  Up front Kurt Eichenwald writes:
A close examination by Newsweek of the Trump Organization, including confidential interviews with business executives and some of its international partners, reveals an enterprise with deep ties to global financiers, foreign politicians and even criminals, although there is no evidence the Trump Organization has engaged in any illegal activities. It also reveals a web of contractual entanglements that could not be just canceled. If Trump moves into the White House and his family continues to receive any benefit from the company, during or even after his presidency, almost every foreign policy decision he makes will raise serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires.
The story came up as a topic of conversation between the Junior Trump and The Trib:
Trump Jr., who helped open a Pennsylvania campaign office in Washington County in the morning, said creating a blind trust would prevent the elder Trump from knowing how the company's assets are managed.

Trump Jr., the Trump Organization's executive vice president, said he and other family members involved in the company would not be part of their father's would-be administration and would not do business directly with foreign governments that might be inclined to give the company preferential treatment to curry favor with a Trump White House.

A Newsweek analysis published Wednesday said a blind trust would not work because “the Trump family is already aware of who their overseas partners are and could easily learn about any new ones” — an assertion Trump Jr. dismissed, saying it would work “just like it has for everyone else who's had a business and run for office.”
But the Trump Organization isn't like anyone else's that's the point too.  But of course he'd say that - there's millions at stake.

Then there's the lies about Clinton's "lies":
“This isn't a one-time thing. It's time and time again. … There's the lies, and the lies about the lies, and then there's the lies about the lies that were lied about,” Trump Jr. said before arguing that some of the former secretary of State's lies “have cost people their lives.”

When asked for an example, Trump Jr. said, “I'd say talking about Benghazi, inaction in Benghazi (where four Americans died in attacks by Islamic militants in 2012). … I think (lying) after the fact is a big enough deal in a situation like that when you have Americans abroad.”

Trump Jr.'s father has not had a great track record in telling the truth on the campaign trail, according to the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-check website PolitiFact. The website has investigated about 250 claims Trump and Clinton each made. The website found that his claims, 70 percent of the time, were found to be at least mostly false or worse, while hers were false or mostly false 28 percent of the time.

“I would argue that PolitiFact is a very liberal organization,” Trump Jr. said.
Ah...Benghazi.  Surely Donald Trump Jr knows how to read, right?  Surely he knew how to read this past June when the New York Times published this:
Ending one of the longest, costliest and most bitterly partisan congressional investigations in history, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report on Tuesday, finding no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton in the 2012 attacks in Libya that left four Americans dead.

The 800-page report delivered a broad rebuke of the Defense Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department — and the officials who led them — for failing to grasp the acute security risks in Benghazi, and especially for maintaining outposts there that they could not protect.

The committee, led by Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, also harshly criticized an internal State Department investigation that it said had allowed officials like Mrs. Clinton, then the secretary of state, to effectively choose who would examine their actions. In addition, it included some new details and context about the night of the attacks on the American diplomatic compound and reiterated Republicans’ complaints that the Obama administration had sought to thwart the investigation by withholding witnesses and evidence.

The report, which included perhaps the most exhaustive chronology of the attacks to date, did not dispute that United States military forces stationed in Europe could not have reached Benghazi in time to rescue the personnel who died — a central finding of previous inquiries.
And yet he gets to say, unchallenged I might add, about "inaction in Benghazi" or some such.

And I'm wondering if, after whatever part of the conversation produced this paragraph:
He criticized Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over continuing questions surrounding the Clinton Foundation, including allegations that her donors received undue political influence.
If Jr Trump was asked about this from that other liberal organization,  Fortune Magazine:
Until a few weeks ago, the Clinton Foundation was a magnet for controversy, while the tiny Donald J. Trump Foundation remained in the shadows. Suddenly, a damaging expose in the Washington Post and the disclosure of an illegal campaign contribution paid by the Trump Foundation to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who subsequently decided not to pursue an investigation of scandal-plagued Trump University, has unleashed a storm of criticism and rendered the once obscure charity a major drag on the Trump campaign.
Or this story from the Washington Post:
In 2007, Donald Trump spent $20,000 that belonged to his charity — the Donald J. Trump Foundation — to buy a six-foot-tall portrait of himself during a fundraiser auction at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.
But this is the Trib, so...

UPDATE

Hey, you know who DID ask that question?

Super Bob Mayo of WTAE:


And so when faced with an actual question about some actual shady happenings at a foundation where he was a director, he did what every boy does: He lied and said he had nothing to do with it.

Bob, next time I see you I'm going to want to shake your hand.

September 13, 2016

NASA, Trump, And How It's Still Getting Warmer Outside

From the climate scientists at NASA:
August 2016 was the warmest August in 136 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

Although the seasonal temperature cycle typically peaks in July, August 2016 wound up tied with July 2016 for the warmest month ever recorded. August 2016's temperature was 0.16 degrees Celsius warmer than the previous warmest August in 2014. Last month also was 0.98 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean August temperature from 1951-1980
They even have some art:

See that red line waaay up on top?  That's this year.

We already know who, in the current campaign for President is with the science (Clinton, by the way) and whose deplorable ideas have been debunked numerous times (Trump says it's a hoax).

Meanwhile, did you know that Trump's got some IRS issues?

From The Washington Post:
Donald Trump's charity is not like other charities.

For one thing — as The Washington Post explained Sunday — the money in the Donald J. Trump Foundation does not come from Trump himself. Tax records show that Trump hasn't donated any money to his foundation since 2008. Instead, he has retooled his personal charity so that it gives away other people's money — although Trump has kept his name on the foundation, and atop its checks.

For another, the Trump Foundation seems to have repeatedly defied the Internal Revenue Service rules that govern nonprofits. It gave a prohibited political gift to help Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi (R). It appears to have bought items for Trump — including a $12,000 football helmet and a $20,000 portrait of Trump — despite IRS rules against "self-dealing" by charity leaders.

And, in at least five cases, the Trump Foundation may have reported making a donation that didn't seem to exist.
And so on.

Meanwhile, Mike Pence refuses to do two simple things:
  • Refuses to say that Donald Trump should apologize for his years of Birther bullshit
  • Refuses to say that David Duke (former KKK guy) is "deplorable."
This is what we're looking at right now.

September 12, 2016

Trump's "Basket Of Deplorables"

While everyone else is on the pneumonia, I'd like to focus instead on Trump's deplorables.

From Talkingpointsmemo:
Hillary Clinton on Saturday issued a statement saying that she regrets saying that half of Donald Trump's supporters are in what she called a "basket of deplorables."

"Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that's never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ -- that was wrong," Clinton said in a Saturday afternoon statement.

But Clinton would not fully back down from the comments she made at a Friday night fundraiser.
Yea, "half" is too specific of a word. Had she used "large portions of" instead, she'd be more solidly correct.

Because large portions of Trump's supporters do hold deplorable positions.

From Thinkprogress, we find this PPP poll that shows some stunningly deplorable data:
  • 65% of Trump supporters incorrectly believe that President Obama is a Muslim 
  • 59% are truthers (Correction: this should read "Birthers")
And since both those positions are, in fact, racist and xenophobic, it's safe to say that Clinton was right in saying that "half" of Trump's supporters are in that basket.

Happy Monday.

It's only pneumonia - it's not brain damage.

September 10, 2016

A Taco Truck On EVERY CORNER!!

A few days ago, this happened:
A founder of the Latinos for Trump group on Thursday warned that without Donald Trump in the White House, there would be “taco trucks on every corner” in America.

“My culture is a very dominant culture,” the Mexican-born Marco Gutierrez said on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes.” “It is imposing and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.”
I find this all very frightening.  I mean, imagine a Trump Amur-ica where there's simply no room for Hot Dogs or Gyros even Chicken-on-a-Stick on the any corner whatsoever - all because we're too politically correct to build that beautiful billion dollar Trump wall.  Sad!

I say we have to build that wall to keep America safe for street corner falafel.

I kid.  I kid because I care.  Mostly I mock because I find the idea that a sizeable chunk of the American electorate still takes this combed-over bigoted liar and cheat seriously to be equally disgusting, disheartening, and depressing.

Needless to say, there's been more than a little mockery coming out of this whole scary street corner taco story.

Locally, on Thursday our friends at NextGen joined in.

200 Oaklanders enjoyed free tacos from Jackie Kennedy Catering and the Vagabond Food Truck.



Oh, and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman was there to talk about the election. 

September 9, 2016

Donald Trump's (Proposed) War Crimes

We all know about the waterboarding torture.

But let's take a look at his "take the oil" plan of his.  From the Wall Street Journal:
Donald Trump’s stance that the U.S. should have taken oil out of Iraq following the 2003 invasion would have been a violation of the fourth Geneva Convention and likely other international agreements, two legal experts said Thursday.

On Wednesday during a forum televised on NBC, Mr. Trump said the U.S. could have prevented the growth of the Islamic State terror network had it used a number of U.S. troops to pump oil out of Iraq. This would have blocked Islamic State’s access to oil, which the group used in part to finance its insurgency and operations.

“It used to be, to the victor belong the spoils,” Mr.Trump said.
Yea, and that's a war crime.

From the Fourth Geneva Convention - Article 53:
Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to protected persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.
Then there's Article 147 of the same Convention:
Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the present Convention: wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power, or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.
Oh, and notice the part about the torture - still illegal.  Still a war crime.

Donald Trump, bigot, liar, and GOP candidate for the President of the United States of America says we can "Make America Great Again" is by, among other things, committing war crimes.

USA! USA! USA!

September 8, 2016

September 7, 2016

Trump Corruption And The Right Wing Response.

Rhetorical question:  Just how much money is the Trump family screwing out of GOP donors?

Take a look:
On the night of this spring’s Florida primary, the pastor giving the invocation at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago victory party prayed: “Lord, give Mr. Trump the power to rise above the GOP establishment.”

Turns out the prayer worked. Not only did Trump win the Republican presidential nomination, but two months later, on May 18, Trump signed a deal with the Republican National Committee giving him access to a top-notch fundraising operation after not having had one at all through the primaries.

That same day, Trump’s campaign, now set to receive tens of millions of dollars of other people’s money, finally sent five- and six-figure checks to Trump’s properties for events that had happened months earlier. Meaning that the GOP establishment had not only been defeated, it was now actually paying for that March 15 victory party attended primarily by members of Trump’s Palm Beach country club.
And:
It’s unclear from Federal Election Commission filings what other expenses, if any, that payment covered ― it is listed as “facility rental/catering,” and the resort does not appear to have hosted any other campaign events. Trump’s campaign would not provide an explanation. Had Trump instead chosen to hold those events at the nearby West Palm Beach Marriott, he likely would have spent no more than $45,000 for all three, based on its estimates for catering the number of people who attended his parties.

What’s more, the two-month delay in reporting those expenses may have violated Federal Election Commission rules, which require an expense to be disclosed in the same reporting period ― in Trump’s case, in the same month ― as it was incurred, said a campaign finance law expert.

“It doesn’t look right, even if it is legal,” said Paul S. Ryan from the Campaign Legal Center watchdog group. He called Trump’s heavy spending on his own properties “unprecedented” and said the timing of the payments is curious. “Any way you slice it, this level of self-dealing looks bad,” he said. “It looks like a candidate who is pocketing donors’ money.”
And so on.

Then there's the Trump University bribe in Florida:
One day, Bondi's office told this newspaper it was reviewing complaints from Floridians who said they felt swindled by the Trump Institute affiliate of Trump University.

Four days later, Trump's foundation cut a $25,000 check to Bondi's campaign committee.

Then, after the check came in, her office decided not to take any action against Trump.

Bondi — whose own spokesman said Bondi personally asked Trump for the money — says the two things weren't related. But imagine if another prosecutor did such a thing.
Imagine if this were the Rose Law Firm two decades ago, or the Clinton Foundation this year.

Then there's the Trump University bribe in Texas:
Well, in Texas, public records obtained by the Associated Press show that there was a very robust investigation of Trump University and that lawyers in Abbott's own Consumer Affairs Division proposed suing Trump and his associates for about $5.4 million in fines and restitution back to their alleged victims. The case files show that they spent more than a year investigating Trump University, had what they considered very strong evidence that Trump University had violated numerous state laws and was operating in the state without a license.

Ultimately, people above the Consumer Affairs Division decided not to take action. Abbott denies that he knew of his agency's investigation or that he decided to drop the suit. What AP has reported is that three years later when he ran for governor of Texas, Mr. Trump put forward two checks to his campaign totaling $35,000.
With an added:
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton moved to muzzle a former state regulator who says he was ordered in 2010 to drop a fraud investigation into Trump University for political reasons.

Paxton's office issued a cease and desist letter to former Deputy Chief of Consumer Protection John Owens after he made public copies of a 14-page internal summary of the state's case against Donald Trump for scamming millions from students of his now-defunct real estate seminar.

Owens, now retired, said his team had built a solid case against the now-presumptive Republican presidential nominee, but was told to drop it after Trump's company agreed to cease operations in Texas.
And so on.

So please, let's keep talking about how Hillary Clinton is coughing in public.

September 5, 2016

Chris Wallace (Of Fox "News"): Not My Job To Fact-Check Debates

From a recent interview between Howard Kurtz (of Fox "News") and Chris Wallace (also of Fox "News):
KURTZ: I understand that and I think it's the right approach, not making it about you, on the other hand, there is a lot on your shoulders, both in terms of the question selection, but also as they go at it, let’s say Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, what do you do if they make assertions that you know to be untrue?

WALLACE: That's not my job. I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad. It's up to the other person to catch them on that. I certainly am going to try to maintain some reasonable semblance of equal time. If one of them is filibustering, I'm going to try to break in respectfully and give the other person a chance to talk. But I want it to be about them -- I want it to be as much of a debate, people often talk that it’s simultaneous news conferences.

KURTZ: Right.

WALLACE: I want it to be as much of a debate as possible. Frankly, with these two and the way -- as Keith Jackson used to say about football rivals, these two just plain don't like each other. I suspect I'm not going to have any problem getting them to engage with each other, but I don't view my role as truth squading and I think that is a step too far. If people want to do it after the debate, fine, it’s not my role.
While you should notice what Wallace says is not his job ("truth squading") you should also note what he thinks is his job - maintaining some semblance of equal time.

This is what's wrong with our political journalism - too many journalists (and people working at Fox "News") think that giving equal time to two opposing viewpoints is enough to establish an epistemologicallly accurate rendering of of reality - even if, it turns out, that one side is obviously wrong.

For example, given the above criteria, Chris Wallace would not challenge the truth value of these false (untrue, bogus, erroneous) Trump statements:
And Chris Wallace would let each of these false statements slide in the debate he's moderating. 

Of course he'll give Hillary Clinton equal time to say, "No that's not true." and think he's done a good job.

September 4, 2016

Jack Kelly Sunday

Today in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, conservative columnist Jack Kelly continues his attacks on Hillary Clinton - this time going after the Clinton Foundation.

He begins:
The Clinton Foundation is “the largest unprosecuted charity fraud ever,” says the renowned investigator who uncovered the financial discrepancies at General Electric before its stock crashed. Charles Ortel went on to say that it “wasn’t organized lawfully and it isn’t operating lawfully. There’s never been a legally compliant audit.”

“Any nonprofit professional in the U.S. can look at the [Clinton] Foundation’s own statements, tax filings and financial reports and see there is something wrong,” agreed longtime charity worker Amy Sterling Casil. “The organization does little to nothing with measurable outcomes or deliverables. Reported revenues are wildly at variance with what it says it does.”
I am sorry to disagree with Amy Sterling Casil (and, I suppose, Charles Ortel), but some nonprofit professionals have looked into the foundations statements/tax filings and so on and don't see anything wrong.  In fact they give glowing reviews:
Heck, even the Better Business Bureau - which failed (if that's even the right word) the Clinton Foundation overall - says the foundation met the BBB's financial standards for a charity.  These are the standards that the BBB says the foundation does not meet:
  • The organization states that the current chair is compensated as an employee of the organization.
  • It does not have a written board policy that commits the organization to complete, no less then every two years, an assessment of its performance and effectiveness and of determining future actions required to achieve its mission.
  • The organization reports that it has not completed an effectiveness assessment but indicates it plans to do so,
You'd think that if the Clinton Foundation was "the largest unprosecuted charity fraud ever" that's "not operating lawfully" with "[r]eported revenues wildly at variance with what it says it does" then that information would show up in at least one of these charity watch reviews - even the one that says the foundation failed to meet all of its standards, right?

Or maybe they're just in on the conspiracy to silence dissent on anything Clintonian, right?

So on Jack Kelly's side of the argument there are two writers critical of the Clinton Foundation (for example, how the foundation deals with money) and then on the other there are two non-profit charity review organizations that come to a completely different conclusion (the third has no problem with the foundation's finances).  So where do you think the truth lies?

To see how badly Jack's doing with this story, let's look at this paragraph:
After a devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Bill and Hillary Clinton controlled dispersal of more than $10 billion in aid funds. Very little of it ever got to the poor, noted Haitian journalist Dady Chery. She called Clinton disaster fund-raising “predatory humanitarianism.”
The phrase actually comes from Dady Chery's interview with our old friend Charles Ortel.  In it we get Jack's source of the above charge.  It's a questions posed to Ortel from Chery:
Within two months of the earthquake, Clinton got the Haitian parliament to vote an emergency law that allowed his Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) to run the country for 18 months. The IHRC raised at least $9.5 billion from the international community. There were fundraisers in New York and other cities. Haitians have searched through the rubble and demanded to know where this money went, because the IHRC did not reconstruct anything. Some Haitian lawyers think that Clinton, in his role as director of the IHRC should answer to Haiti and not benefit from UN immunity in this matter. What do you think, Charles?
So right from the start, Jack's misleading.  Nowhere in the Chery's description of the IHRC is there any mention of Hillary Clinton.  But what of this IHRC?  What was it?  How did it operate?  Regardless of Hillary's absence, did a Clinton really have that much control over that much money?

Let's see.  The State Department describes the IHRC this way:
The Government of Haiti created the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission to ensure the planning and implementation of the recovery efforts are Haitian-led; involve and coordinate the donor, civil society, and private sector communities, promote performance towards Haiti’s development goals; ensure accountability and transparency; and to communicate clear outputs desired by the Haitian people.

The IHRC is co-chaired by the Government of Haiti and the UN Special Envoy to Haiti. In addition to representatives of the Haitian and donor governments, the IHRC Board of Directors includes voting members from Haiti’s legislative branch, judicial branch, labor and business communities. All major projects, those worth 10 million U.S. dollars or more, must be approved by the IHRC Board of Directors. [Emphasis added.]
Note: The UN Special Envoy to Haiti is Bill Clinton.

Patrick Rouzier, who was actually a former member of the IHRC has more:
President Clinton and Jean Max Bellerive, the then Haitian Prime Minister, co-chaired the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), which approved projects for consideration that aligned with the Government of Haiti’s action plan for recovery. The projects then went to the Haiti Reconstruction Fund (HRF), which was responsible for disbursement of project funds. The HRF, which was chaired by Haiti’s Minister of Finance and administered by the World Bank, made the decisions on how to fund projects, along with partner entities. One of the three partners — the World Bank, United Nations, and Inter-American Development Bank — partnered with each approved project.

The IHRC did not enter into contracts with recovery projects, and it did not disburse money collected by the international community to these projects. Funding decisions were made by the HRF, and did so in a fully transparent manner that included a public audit of the decision-making process. [Emphasis added.]
Take a closer look at the emphasized parts.  Didn't Jack say that Bill and Hillary Clinton controlled the dispersal of those funds?

Jack then reuses some old material from August, and goes, yet again, with the already debunked Peter Schweizer.

In fact, the whole Skolkovo Innovation Center stuff at the end of Jack's column is from this "report" by the already debunked Peter Schweizer.  You'd think that anything from someone so discredited would more or less be deemed untrustworthy from the start, but this is Jack Kelly and the rest of the right wing media we're talking about so we already know that Breitbart editor Schweizer is going to be very well known for the next 4 (or possibly 8) years from now - If you know what I mean.

But let's get back to Jack's column.  I'll end with some questions.

Why are we not surprised when reality is much much different than what Jack says it is?  Why do I have to do point this out every week?  Why can't someone, anyone at the Post-Gazette check these things before publication? 

I mean, if only to spare the paper the inevitable shame and embarrassment of realizing just how much BS gets crammed into a Jack Kelly column.

September 2, 2016

More Fact Checking Trump's Immigration Speech

Again, have at it:
While you're at it, take a look at this from Josh Marshall over at Talkingpointsmemo:
Even now, after all that's happened, most political reporters find themselves either unwilling or unable to identify Donald Trump's tirades as hate speech. But they fit the textbook definition, inasmuch as it's even a useful concept. The New York Times is on the receiving end of a storm of criticism at the moment for their botched story on Trump's whirlwind Wednesday from Mexico City to Phoenix. And they deserve it. But the offense is mainly one of laziness and sloppiness - offenses which the Times' privileged position makes it again and again vulnerable to. You write the story about the arc of the day, file it to edit and production. But while the piece is on autopilot in those later stages of the journalistic process the reality of the day changes radically and you end up publishing a story that is night and day of the reality everybody has just seen. But this embarrassment is a pedestrian stumble. The far greater offense is the one almost every news organization committed with the Times. This isn't 'tough' or 'hard edged' speechifying. This is hate speech. [Emphasis added.]
And:
By any reasonable standard, Donald Trump's speech on Wednesday night should have ended the campaign, as should numerous other rallies where Trump has done more or less the same thing for months. There's a reason why the worst of the worst, the organized and avowed racists, were thrilled and almost giddy watching the spectacle. But it has become normalized. We do not even see it for what it is. It's like we've all been cast under a spell. That normalization will be with us long after this particular demagogue, Donald Trump, has left the stage. Call this what it is: it is hate speech, in its deepest and most dangerous form.
USA!  USA!  USA!

Make America Great Again!


September 1, 2016

Fact-Checking Trump's Immigration Speech

Have at it:
And from that last analysis, we read:
As the speech was unfolding, I said something on Twitter that I'm sure many will find extreme or beyond the pale. But watching this speech, compared to the press conference today in Mexico City, what kept coming to my mind was the contrast between Hitler's uniformed rally speeches from the hustings and the suited, statesman Hitler we see in the old news reels in Munich and at other iconic moments in the late 1930s. Hitler is sui generis, of course. His crimes are incomparable. But the demagogic style, the frenzied invocation familial blood sacrificed to barbaric outsiders - these are not unique to him. When we see this lurid, stab-in-the-back incitement, the wild hyperbole, the febrile railing against outsiders who will make us no longer a country - the similarities are real. More than anything, perhaps the most chilling part of this day is the contrast between the two men - a measured, calm statesman figure we saw this afternoon and this railing, angry demagogue figure who captured the emotional tenor of Klan rally. As I said, the ability to shift from one persona to the other is a sign of danger in itself.
Yes.  Yes, it is.

U-S-A!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!!