Democracy Has Prevailed.

July 31, 2010

In Case You Missed It...

From the National Climatic Data Center at the Department of Commerce report State of the Climate in 2009, the opening paragraph of the Report at a Glance:
A comprehensive review of key climate indicators confirms the world is warming and the past decade was the warmest on record. More than 300 scientists from 48 countries analyzed data on 37 climate indicators, including sea ice, glaciers and air temperatures. A more detailed review of 10 of these indicators, selected because they are clearly and directly related to surface temperatures, all tell the same story: global warming is undeniable. [emphasis added]
Let's be honest, though. This is just the conclusion. Any (and I mean this sincerely) curious person has to ask some questions about that paragraph, if only to fill in the blanks. The report mentions 10 "key indicators." What sorts of "indicators" are we talking about? And what's the evidence for each?

The ten indicators are:
If you click on the links you'll find a multi-colored graph that describes the data as well as a reference to the source of the data itself. The report goes on to say that the first seven of these are increasing and the last three are decreasing.

But isn't it possible for the data sets for each indicator to, you know, overlap? Because if six sets all copy the seventh and the seventh is flawed, then you really only have one flawed set masquerading as seven that all conveniently corroborate each other.

That's correct, my young Jedi, it is possible. Only in this case, the text on the page summarizing all the graphs reads:
The panels on this page show changes in climate indicators over several decades. Each of the different colored lines in each panel represents an independently analyzed set of data. The data come from many different technologies including weather stations, satellites, weather balloons, ships and buoys. [emphasis added]
Now before someone from the Trib screams Climategate!, let me quote something Chapter 2 of the full report, titled How Do We Know The World Has Warmed?
Although the IPCC AR4 concluded that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” public debate over the evidence for global warming continues. However, it is often confined to a small set of reiterated disputes about Land Surface Air Temperature (LSAT)records, diverting attention from the broader evidence basis.

The methods used to derive the principal estimates of global sur face temperature trends — HadCRUT3 (Brohan et al. 2006), NOA A (Smith et al. 2008), and NASA/GISS (Hansen et al. 2001)—are largely independent. So, the spread of the three estimates indicates the likely degree of uncertainty in the evolution of the global mean surface temperature.
And then a little bit later:
The IPCC conclusion (Alley et al. 2007) that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” does not rest solely upon LSAT records. These constitute only one line of evidence among many, for example: uptake of heat by the oceans, melting of land ice such as glaciers, the associated rise in sea level, and increased atmospheric surface humidity. If the land surface records were systematically flawed and the globe had not really warmed, then it would be almost impossible to explain the concurrent changes in this wide range of indicators produced by many independent groups. The observed changes in a broad range of indicators provide a self-consistent story of a warming world. [emphasis added.]

July 29, 2010

Corbett: Campaigning on the Public's Dime?

As the Onorato Campaign asks: "What's wrong with this picture?"

Via Brian Herman, Onorato's Campaign Communications Director:
This photo was taken within the last few days at the Bradford County Fair in Troy, PA. We see what looks like a taxpayer-funded table with a banner displaying the official seal and government website of the Office of the Attorney General. On top of that table is a stack of forms from the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection - a service paid for by our tax dollars.

No problem so far.

But there's more... On top of that same table is promotional literature and buttons for Tom Corbett's campaign for Governor.

So, it's inappropriate for an elected official to use resources from their taxpayer-funded government office to promote their campaign.

And, yet, that seems to be what Tom Corbett is doing in this photo.

Sometimes reality interferes with a politician's rhetoric. And sometimes the evidence is just too plain to ignore.

And, Corbett's response via PA2010:
Any mingling of politics and official business, however remote, is a delicate subject for Corbett, who has made his name prosecuting legislative corruption in Harrisburg through the so-called Bonusgate investigation. In that scandal, government employees were convicted, and others still stand accused, of doing campaign work on the taxpayer’s dime.

Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said the materials were placed on the table before staff from the office arrived. They were immediately removed when noticed, he said. He was unsure who placed the campaign literature on the table.


How The Trib Spins

In today's "Thursday Wrap" we find this:
As the Obama administration continues to insist only "the rich" will face tax increases, Americans for Tax Reform says a majority of the small-business sector will see higher taxes. Fifty-five percent of S corporations and partnerships will see a tax hike, it says. More "progress" from the "progressives."
But when you take a look at what they're actually quoting at the (Richard Mellon Scaife controlled foundations supported) Americans for Tax Reform, you'll see the whole holes in their argument.

Some definitions from ATR:
  • Unlike corporations, small businesses usually don’t pay their own taxes. Rather, business profits flow through to the business owner. The business owner pays taxes on her small business by adding the profits to her income tax form. Therefore, personal income taxes are the same thing as small business taxes.
  • According to the IRS, most small business profits pay taxes in households making more than $200,000 per year. The IRS keeps track of two types of small business income: sole proprietors, and “pass-through” entities like partnerships and S-corporations.
The so called S-Corporations. I was wondering about what those were. They're businesses where the profits are not paid by the corporation but paid to the owners who then treat those profits as income and that's where the taxes are paid. Got it.

Finally we have:
  • S-corporations and partnerships. There were 8 million partners and S-corporation shareholders in 2008. On net (profits reduced by losses), these owners reported business profits of $367 billion. Virtually all of this profit faced taxation in households making more than $200,000 per year. Aggregate pass-through entity profits will almost entirely fall in households making more than $200,000 per year. [Emphasis in original]
Looks to me like there's a bit of a sleight of hand going on at the Trib.

Looks to me like its profits from these S-Corporation small businesses that are income above $200,000 are taxed.

This according to Americans for Tax Reform.

Now go back and look at what the Trib wrote and ask yourselves these questions.
  • What exactly did they write?
  • What message did they send?
  • What message were they trying to send?
  • How does it jibe with ATR's details?
Once you do, you'll see the spin.

July 28, 2010

John Callahan (1951-2010)

From the NYTimes:
John Callahan, a quadriplegic, alcoholic cartoonist whose work in newspapers and magazines made irreverent, impolitic sport of people with disabilities and diseases and those who would pity and condescend to them, died Saturday in Portland, Ore. He was 59 and lived in Portland.

The causes were complications of quadriplegia and respiratory problems, his brother Tom said.

Like his friend Gary Larson, the creator of “The Far Side,” Mr. Callahan made drawings with a gleeful appreciation of the macabre he found in everyday life. He was, however, a man who lived his life with disadvantages, some of them self-wrought, and he viewed the world through a dark and wicked lens.

“This is John, I’m a little too depressed to take your call today,” the message on his answering machine said. “Please leave your message at the gunshot.”
In his honor:

From The Religious Fringe

One sign at a National Organization for Marriage rally in Indianapolis.

The thing is, the sign is right in one sense: Leviticus 20:13 does say that a man who "lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman" shall be put to death.

Says so right here. So let it be written so let it be done.

But did you know what Leviticus 20:10 says? It's only three verses sooner so it shouldn't be that hard to find. Here it is:
And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
So if we've established Leviticus as the law of the land, we should then be killing all adulterers, too.

All of them.

Consistency is everything and there are no exceptions with The Lord.

We could do that OR we can be civilized.

July 27, 2010

Jim Quinn - Teh Crazie

Yep. Jim Quinn's still crazy. Have a listen:

The text:
There has long been a rumor in Washington, circulating ever since the advent of the ascension to the throne of the Messiah, that He's paying off the President of Kenya to keep his mouth shut about and to keep the birth certificate under wraps. Uh, because you know frankly in Hawaii, uh the reason we can't see the birth certificate is probably because there isn't one.
Teh Crazie - Jim Quinn style.

Pat Toomey Fact-Checked

Republican Senatorial Candidate Pat Toomey in a piece in Monday's Post-Gazette wrote that were he in the Senate right now, he'd (no surprise here) oppose her confirmation to the Supreme Court.

As with most political writing, when you look at the details you'll see how much spin there is.

And there's a sizable amount in Toomey's piece. It's embarrassing how easily he uses the by now debunked conservative talking points. Pennsylvania deserves a better candidate.

I fear I am getting ahead of myself. Let's look at the piece.

Toomey gives three reasons why he'd oppose and that's where the spin sits.

Point one:
The Commerce Clause of the Constitution's Article I permits Congress to regulate economic activity between the states. This is of course necessary for a well-functioning national economy. Regrettably, the clause has become the vehicle of choice for judges and politicians to expand federal power into every manner of human activity, despite extremely attenuated connections to interstate commerce.

In recent years the Supreme Court has shown an encouraging willingness to reign in Commerce Clause abuses. However, in her Judiciary Committee testimony, Ms. Kagan expressed a view that envisions practically no limit to federal power. She would not even rule out the farcical example of a federal power to force citizens to eat three helpings of fruits and vegetables each day, all in the name of "regulating commerce." That view turns the notion of a government of enumerated powers on its head, substituting the anti-constitutional notion that that which is not expressly forbidden to Congress is thereby permitted.
Really? She would not "rule out" the government forcing citizens to eat their veggies??

Um, no. Here's the story from
Republicans are pouncing on the less-than-crystal-clear answer Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan gave late in Tuesday's confirmation hearing to a question from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) about whether the government has the right to micromanage Americans' diets.

"If I wanted to sponsor a bill and it said Americans, you have to eat three vegetables and three fruits every day and I got it through Congress and that’s now the law of the land, got to do it, does that violate the commerce clause?" Coburn asked.

"Sounds like a dumb law," Kagan replied. "But I think that the question of whether it’s a dumb law is different from the question of whether it’s constitutional, and I think that courts would be wrong to strike down laws that they think are senseless just because they’re senseless."
So she thinks it would be "a dumb law." Huh. Toomey didn't say that, did he? Nor did he point out what politico writes a few paragraphs later:
While it's true that Kagan never definitively answered Coburn's question, the pair spent nearly 10 minutes discussing the issue. In comments she made after the brief clip the GOP posted, Kagan indicated that laws that regulated noneconomic activity, which presumably would include eating, were beyond Congress's commerce clause power. [emphasis added]
Ah. Later on she responds to Senator Coburn some more:
Well, Sen. Coburn, I guess a few points. The first: I think there are limits on the Commerce Clause, which are the ones that are articulated by the Court that were articulated by the Court in Morrison and in Lopez. Which are primarily about non-economic activity and Congress not being able to regulate non-economic activity. I guess the second point I would make is I do think that very early in our history and especially I would look to Gibbons v. Ogden, where Chief Justice Marshall did, in the first case about these issues, essentially read that clause broadly and provide real deference to legislatures and provide real deference to Congress about the scope of that clause, not that that clause doesn’t have any limits, but that deference should be provided to Congress with respect to matters that affect interstate commerce. And I guess the third point is just to say that I think that $1.6 trillion deficit may be an enormous problem—it may be an enormous problem. But I don’t think it’s a problem for courts to solve. I think it’s a problem for the political process to solve.
Look at that. She's talking about the Supreme Court acting in deference to the Congress. That if the Congress passed a senseless law, that doesn't mean it's necessarily unconstitutional. What would be said about her if she said otherwise?

That's right: Judicial Activist!!

Point two:
Ms. Kagan's record is equally troubling in an area in which Congress is in fact expressly forbidden to meddle, namely, the First Amendment's guarantee of political free speech.

In arguing a case before the Supreme Court last year on behalf of the Obama administration, Ms. Kagan expressed the view that it was within Congress' power to pass a law that banned a pamphlet or book because of its advocacy of a political viewpoint. Ms. Kagan's position was rejected by the court. However, the very argument in favor of federal power to ban disfavored books is chilling. In her committee testimony, Ms. Kagan defended her action as simply advocating the government's view at the time, but she did not expressly disavow that view when she easily could have and should have.
Oh. My. God. She wants to ban books??

Um no. And if Toomey's spin on the veggies is only slightly dishonest, this one's a humdinger. From
To understand how Kagan could be tarred as a proponent of censorship and a protector of incumbents, one needs more context than Bossie offers. For decades, federal law has said that if a for-profit corporation or labor union wanted to produce anything expressly calling for the election or defeat of a federal candidate, it had to use funds from a political action committee, or PAC. The corporation could pay all the expenses to set up and run the PAC, and the PAC could ask corporate officers, directors, shareholders, and others to donate funds to it for political purposes. The corporation itself could endorse a candidate for office at a press conference, and, of course, real live individuals associated with the corporation could both donate money to federal candidates and spend unlimited sums supporting or opposing such candidates. What the corporation could not do is spend its general treasury funds—that is, the money it received from selling sneakers or software—for candidate elections.
And then:
At issue in Citizens United was whether an ideological corporation that did take corporate money could be required to use its PAC to pay for cable television "video-on-demand" distribution of a documentary excoriating Hillary Clinton while she was running for the Democratic presidential nomination. The position of the government, eventually defended at the high court by the government's lawyer, Kagan, was that the PAC requirement was constitutional as applied to television content paid for from Citizens United's general treasury funds. Justice Breyer explained the basis for the McCain-Feingold rule in the Citizens United oral argument: "Look, [Congress] said the compelling interest is that people think that representatives are being bought, okay? That's to put it in a caricature, but you understand what I'm driving at, okay? …. So Congress now says precisely that interest leads us to want to limit the expenditures that corporations can make on electioneering communication in the last 30 days of a primary, over-the-air television, but not on radio, not on books, not on pamphlets, not on anything else. All right?"

So the question for the court was whether this corporation had to pay for its television content out of a separate fund. It did not involve books at all, much less the ability of the government to ban books or any other form of political speech.
And then finally:
But what has so exercised Sen. McConnell, David Bossie, and others is Kagan's statement at argument—in response to more pressing by the conservative justices—that if a corporation produced "a pamphlet" directly calling for the election or defeat of a federal candidate ("Vote against Smith"), it would have to pay for it with its PAC funds. This is hardly the stuff of book-banning and government censorship. As Justice Stevens explained in his dissent in Citizens United, to call the PAC requirement a "ban" is "highly misleading, and needs to be corrected."
Ah...So Pat says Kagan said Congress could pass a law banning books because of its advocacy of a political viewpoint, he was just plain wrong (or he was being deceptive - we report you decide).

But the big braciola is this:
Third, Ms. Kagan's decision as dean of Harvard Law School to deny military recruiters equal access to students is quite problematic. I share the view that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gay servicemen and women has outlived its usefulness and, subject to the military's conclusion of the feasibility of removing it, I support its repeal. However, one's disagreement with a federal law does not give one license to circumvent it. It took the Supreme Court itself unanimously deciding against Ms. Kagan's position to get her to reverse course.
Really? Kagan circumvented federal law?

Um, no. As I posted back in June, Elena was following federal law. Lookee here. This is from the New York Times article I quoted:
Because of the military’s policy against openly gay soldiers, the law school in 1979 barred military recruiters from using its Office of Career Services, the central clearinghouse through which employers from all over the world seek to recruit top-notch law students.

But in the mid-1990s, Congress approved several versions of the Solomon Amendment — named for Representative Gerald B. H. Solomon, a conservative Republican from upstate New York — denying federal funds to schools that barred military recruiters.

The amendment forced many law schools to carve out a military exception to their recruitment policies, which said they would not help employers that discriminated in their hiring practices.

Harvard reached its own accommodation in 1996. While the school did not allow military recruiters to use its main placement office, it did allow them on campus through the Harvard Law School Veterans Association, a student group. The recruiters met with students in the same classrooms, just under different sponsorship.
Ms. Kagan did join more than half the faculty in January 2004 in signing an amicus brief when a coalition of law schools challenged Solomon in an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia.

In November 2004, the appeals court ruled, 2 to 1, that Solomon was unconstitutional, saying it required law schools “to express a message that is incompatible with their educational objectives.”

The day after the ruling, Ms. Kagan — and several other law school deans — barred military recruiters from their campuses. In Harvard’s case, the recruiters were barred only from the main career office, while Ms. Kagan continued to allow them access to students through the student veterans’ group.

But the ban lasted only for the spring semester in 2005. The Pentagon told the university over the summer that it would withhold “all possible funds” if the law school continued to bar recruiters from the main placement office. So, after consulting with other university officials, Ms. Kagan said, she lifted the ban.
Now go back and look at what Pat wrote. Since the Solomon amendment was ruled unconstitutional, it wasn't "federal law." So saying she "circumvented" it is just a lie.

In an age when the conservative press is driven (or at least tainted) by Breitbart-like journalism, it's important now for every conservative politician to be as squeaky clean honest as possible.

It's sad to see that Pat Toomey isn't being as honest as he needs to be to be Senator.

Oh What The Trib DOESN'T Tell You.

From today's Op-Ed page at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:
Once upon a time, President Barack Obama said all Americans were "surprised, disappointed and angry" to learn of the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison. But new evidence suggests the president might have been feigning at least surprise.

Last August, the sole Libyan convicted in the catastrophic bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 was released from a Scottish prison. "Humanitarian" reasons were cited. This killer supposedly had only three months to live. He was released and returned to Libya with a hero's welcome. Now he's expected to live another decade.

But there's a brand-new outrage. (That would be on top of the last outrage -- talk of a dirty little quid pro quo oil drilling deal between BP and Libya.)

The Sunday Times of London reports that a week before Mr. al-Megrahi's release, "the U.S. government secretly advised Scottish ministers it would be 'far preferable' to free the Lockerbie bomber than jail him in Libya."

The bottom line: The United States, while opposed to sending al-Megrahi home, would accept a Scottish decision to release him on compassionate grounds if he were to remain in Scotland.

What a slap to the survivors of the 270 people who perished, including the families of four from Western Pennsylvania. Will the indignities ever end?
And now the reality. From the Sunday Times (by way of mediamatters):
In the letter, sent on August 12 last year to Alex Salmond, the first minister, and justice officials, [deputy head of the London US embassy Richard] LeBaron wrote that the United States wanted Megrahi to remain imprisoned in view of the nature of the crime.

The note added: "Nevertheless, if Scottish authorities come to the conclusion that Megrahi must be released from Scottish custody, the US position is that conditional release on compassionate grounds would be a far preferable alternative to prisoner transfer, which we strongly oppose." LeBaron added that freeing the bomber and making him live in Scotland "would mitigate a number of the strong concerns we have expressed with regard to Megrahi's release".

The US administration lobbied the Scottish government more strongly against sending Megrahi home under a prisoner transfer agreement signed by the British and Libyan governments -- in a deal now known to have been linked to a £550m oil contract for BP.

It claimed this would flout a decade-old agreement reached by the UK and US governments that anyone convicted of the bombing would serve their sentence in a Scottish prison. [emphasis added]
Now go back and look at what the Trib braintrust said.

Not exactly the same, is it?

July 26, 2010

Now This Is Odd

Seems like some dirty laundry (of the ultra-wealthy family variety) is being aired out on the pages of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. From the Whispers Column:
For someone most often described as reclusive, Rachel "Bunny" Mellon appears to have warmed recently to the media.

As her 100th birthday approaches, the widow of the late Paul Mellon granted rare access to Vanity Fair magazine. An eight-page spread in the August issue features a pictorial tour of the lush garden she maintains at Oak Spring Farms, the 4,000-acre Mellon estate in Upperville, Va.

While interesting from a horticultural perspective, the article does not detail Mellon's thoughts on her involvement in two recent headline-garnering scandals.

Celebrity financier Kenneth Starr was accused in May of using $5.75 million of Mellon's money to help buy him a luxurious condominium on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Mellon's name also has surfaced in an investigation involving John Edwards, the former U.S. senator from North Carolina and failed Democrat presidential candidate.

A federal grand jury has been probing whether Mellon contributions totaling more than $3 million were used improperly to silence Edwards' paramour Rielle Hunter, who gave birth to his daughter during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Mellon marks her 100th birthday on Aug. 9.
Mellon, Mellon, Mellon. Now where have I heard that name before? That's right. Richard Mellon Scaife owns the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the paper that published the above piece.

So are Rachel "Bunny" Mellon and Richard Mellon Scaife related? It's possible that they're not.

But indeed they are.

Bunny Mellon was married to Paul Mellon. Paul Mellon's father, Andrew W. Mellon and Paul Mellon's uncle Richard B. Mellon were heirs to the Mellon banking fortune.

I know this sounds like the begats, but bear with me. We're almost to the end.

Richard B. Mellon was Richard Mellon Scaife's grandfather. More specifically, Richard Mellon Scaife's mother, Sarah Mellon, was Richard B. Mellon's daughter.

So Dickiecougarmellonscaife's mom was Paul Mellon's cousin. And Bunny Mellon was Paul's second wife.

No mention of this nearly close family connection, of course, in the piece. I wonder why.

And I also have to wonder why the piece is taking up any space in the Trib at all. It's only purpose seems to be to embarrass a 100 year old woman.

Now that's classy.

July 25, 2010

Jack Kelly Sunday

This past Wednesday, I sent an email to a couple of friends (I'll refer to the first as "Friend A" and the second as "Friend B") this question:
How much you wanna bet on who mentions the Shirley Sherrod/Andrew Breitbart thing first - Jack Kelly or the Trib?
Friend A wrote back first:
Kelly has to wait until Sunday, so...
Good thing Friend A did not take the bet because it was Jack Kelly who was the first to mention l'Affaire Sherrod. He did it today.

When I pointed that out this morning, Friend B responded with a hearty yet succinct:
I have no idea whether Friend B would have taken the bet either but I should have gotten a few beers out of it. Or maybe a donut. A wafer thin mint, perhaps.

But I digress.

Jack's column is the usual, I guess. Immediately deflect the discussion to someplace else and then go from there. Here's Jack's opening:
Tainting the tea party with the charge of racism is proving to be an effective tactic for Democrats," Mary Frances Berry, a former chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, told the Webzine Politico Tuesday.

"There is no evidence tea party adherents are any more racist than other Republicans, and indeed many other Americans," said Ms. Berry, who is now a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. "But getting them to spend their time purging their ranks and having candidates distance themselves should help Democrats win in November. Having one's opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness."

In 2008, a group of liberal journalists discussed how to handle news coverage of Barack Obama's long association with his hate-spewing pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

"If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose," Spencer Ackerman, now of Wired magazine, said in an e-mail to colleagues on Journolist. "Instead, take one of them -- [Weekly Standard editor] Fred Barnes, [former Bush aide] Karl Rove, who cares -- and call them racists."

Journolist was a list-serve created by The Washington Post's Ezra Klein. He shut it down after conservative commentators Tucker Carlson and Andrew Breitbart obtained e-mails members had sent to each other.
Journolist and Jeremiah Wright? And this involves Shirley Sherrod and Andrew Breitbart how? The issue is ostensibly about her, her speech, how Andrew Breitbart lied to the public with a selective editing of it, and her cowardly firing. To jump right in the matter and, within three paragraphs, to mention Jeremiah Wright is nothing more than a desperate diversion.

And I suppose it's is intended to plant in the reader's mind the phrase:
See? The Left does it too!
Except they don't. To quote Crooksandliars:
[W]here exactly are these misleading video clips posted from the left that destroy people?
Show me.

Let's turn, with this in mind to the end of Jack's column. Remember, he's commenting on Andrew Breitbart's use of a clip so edited that it appears to say something that it doesn't.

Now here's Jackie:
If Mr. Breitbart had the whole tape and released only a misleading portion, he's committed an offense as vile as Think Progress did when it chopped up the remarks of a tea partier, who was standing next to his black wife, to give the false impression he was racially prejudiced.
Whether Breitbart had the whole tape and edited it himself or merely received the edited version, his offense is the same. He failed to show the context of Sherrod's story and in doing so allowed his audience to think something of her that just isn't true. It's a lie and Breitbart is a liar regardless. (Keep telling yourself that and remember that the next time he posts something that gurgles up into the mainstream media.)

In any event Jack, did you think I couldn't find the Think Progress video? Here it is:

The gentleman Jack mentions shows up right at the beginning (about 7 seconds in). At that point the man says of President Obama:
He's too black to be President.
Sounds pretty racist to me.

But then, about 30 seconds later in the tape we hear him saying:
It's nothing racial. If you look at my wife, it's not the color of his skin that troubles me.
So where's the deception? Where's the deception as vile (Jack's phrase) as the one shown by Andrew Breitbart?

T'Ain't there. Indeed, if anything, the reality of that short short clip is precisely the opposite of what Breitbart did. As clumsy as it may have been, at least Think Progress included the video of the man reassuring us he wasn't a racist because the woman he identifies as his wife is black. How it invalidates the man's previous racist statement, I am not sure. And Jack, of course, leaves that part out.

This is Jack's evidence showing Think Progress doing something as vile as Andrew Breitbart.

I will include something I agree with from Jack's column (sit down, Ed. I know that's a shocker!):
Mr. Breitbart said his source sent him only the portion of the tape he aired. Even if he had no intent to deceive, it was reckless of him to release the excerpt without learning more about its context. He owes Ms. Sherrod an apology.

But it wasn't Mr. Breitbart who fired Ms. Sherrod without giving her a chance to tell her side of the story. To liberals as well as conservatives, the administration appears rash, cynical, weak and disingenuous.
Can't say I can disagree with that last part.

And if you're looking for any more evidence for racist elements in the tea party movement, go back to the video above and listen carefully at about second 28. A man with dark sunglasses is asked "Why do you hate Mexicans?" and he answers:
Because they're filthy stinking animals.
Yea - no racism there.

July 23, 2010

Hey, I got an idea! (Updated 1x)

Let's put gas wells in the city of Pittsburgh! We need some of these:

Two people died Friday morning when a shallow gas well caught fire in a wooded area with no nearby fire hydrants in Indiana Township, Allegheny County.

Firefighters sprayed chemical foam to douse the fire at the well site off Rich Hill Road. A red pool and buckets were set up in a nearby field so tanker trucks could refill with water.

On a 90-degree day, firefighters said the heat at the fire scene was so intense that their chemical spray is foaming and misting, causing a safety concern.


A person was welding when something happened to spark the fire, Humphreys said.


Huntley & Huntley is in the business of drilling and maintaining shallow gas wells, especially in eastern municipalities such as Penn Hills, Plum, Oakmont and Indiana Township.

The company recently got into Marcellus Shale drilling and has partnered with Texas-based Range Resources to drill a Marcellus well on Yutes Run Road in Frazer Township, not far from the site of Friday's explosion.

UPDATE: They just said on the 5:00 PM news on WTAE that they have to fly in experts from Texas to fix it. HUH?!


Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

They're coming for you. They're coming for your stuff.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

July 22, 2010

Power of 32

Hey, remember this?

Well, we got another press release:
Power of 32—the regional visioning initiative that includes 32 counties in the Maryland panhandle, eastern Ohio, southwestern Pennsylvania, and West Virginia’s mid-central and panhandle—begins its public input phase with simultaneous Community Conversations across the region on Tuesday, July 27, creating a forum for all residents to voice their vision for the region’s future.
For those who've forgotten:
“The Power of 32 is about full inclusion for the people of our region,” explains Selena Schmidt, Power of 32 executive director. “This initiative is unique because we are striving to build a better future by leveraging the collaborative strengths we share as a larger region based on ideas, concerns, and input of the residents of this region. It is an unprecedented opportunity to empower the people of the region to bring their voices and insights to creating a better future for us all.”
Selena's wicked smaht.

And those conversations?
Community Conversations are scheduled at the following locations in Allegheny County on July 27th:

· Mt. Lebanon Library at 6:30 p.m.

· Monroeville Municipal Building – Council Chambers at 6:30 p.m.

· Carnegie Library in Homestead at 6 p.m.

· Pump House in Homestead at 6 p.m.

· Carnegie Borough Municipal Center at 6 p.m.
Here's the website if you're curious.

The Orie Sisters: The gift that keeps on giving!

Via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
State Sen. Jane Clare Orie and her sister state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin turned to a clairvoyant to foretell the outcome of their effort to head off a grand jury investigation that ultimately snared the senator.


The other-worldly interlude involving spirits occurred in November of last year. An account of the incident is tucked deep inside a collection of affidavits entered as evidence in the case against Ms. Orie.

The "angel lady," as she was referred to in several spots, was consulted for advice about the outcome of a meeting between Robert Kramm, described by prosecutors as a political consultant with the Laborers' District Council of Western Pennsylvania, and Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., whose office continues to investigate the Orie sisters.

According to sources close to the case, the sisters sought advice from Carolann Sano of Philadelphia, a self-described "clairaudient," who says she can channel messages from spirit guides -- she refers to them as angels. Ms. Sano says that when she receives a question from a client, she speaks it aloud and hears the answer whispered into her right ear.
More here.

NOTE: A reminder that Sen. Orie is not running unopposed.

More On Breitbart's Smear

An update.

So far both the White House and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have apologized to Shirley Sherrod:
The Obama administration issued an extraordinary public apology Wednesday and offered to reinstate a federal official who was fired after she appeared to make racial comments on a misleading snippet of video.

When it became clear that Shirley Sherrod's comments had been taken out of context, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke to her by phone to apologize and to ask if she would return to the department.
And in what must be a new definition of chutzpah, Andrew Breitbart has even chimed in:
Andrew Breitbart, who posted the clip of USDA official Shirley Sherrod that got her fired, said today that he feels sorry for Sherrod.

"I feel bad that they made this about her, and I feel sorry that they made this about her," he told MSNBC. "Watching how they've misconstrued, how the media has misconstrued the intention behind this, I do feel a sympathy for her plight."

Breitbart says his intention was never to prove that Sherrod, until this week the Georgia state director for rural development, was racist. He says the video he posted proves instead that the NAACP is racist, because of the audience's reaction to her speech.
That last part? That's just bullshit.

From Mediamatters:
Since his smear of Sherrod was repudiated, Breitbart has claimed that his story is "not about Shirley Sherrod" but rather about "the NAACP." In fact, in his initial post on July 19, Breitbart claimed that the video is "evidence of racism coming from a federal appointee" and that Sherrod discriminated against a white farmer in her "federal duties" as the USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development. The video itself also included text that said, "Ms. Sherrod admits that in her federally appointed position, overseeing over a billion dollars she discriminates against people due to their race." Breitbart also posted a tweet on July 19 asking, "Will Eric Holder's DOJ hold accountable fed appointee Shirley Sherrod for admitting practicing racial discrimination?" After the USDA forced Sherrod out of her position in response to the deceptive video, Big Government celebrated with a post titled: "Racist Govt Official/NAACP Award Recipient Resigns after Big Government Expose."
And Breitbart bullshit part II:
In a July 20 Fox News appearance, Breitbart claimed that the video proves there are racists among the NAACP because "the audience was laughing and applauding as she described how she maltreated the white farmer," and he argued that the audience did not "know that there was going to be a point of redemption" in her story. On a July 21 appearance on ABC's Good Morning America, Breitbart again claimed that his video shows that "at an NAACP event, people are applauding racism." But in his initial post, Breitbart described the audience reaction as only "nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement," not applause. Indeed, a review of the full video indicates that the NAACP audience does not applaud at any point in her story about her interaction with the farmer.
Apart from Shirley Sherrod, no one looks good in this. The wingnut press (Andrew Breitbart, Fox "News" and so on) for lying, the mainstream press for not (not ever) calling them on it and finally and unforgivingly the Obama Administration for caving so quickly.

A pox on all their houses.

July 21, 2010

Coming and Going

Whether you drive a car or take public transit in the city of Pittsburgh, there are changes afoot and they ain't pretty.

Via the Office of Council President Darlene M. Harris:

City Council will hold four public meetings to discuss Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s plan for leasing Pittsburgh’s parking assets and how these proposed changes will impact in the most traveled and dense neighborhoods in the City -- Downtown, South Side, Oakland and North Side. Leasing the City of Pittsburgh’s parking assets will result in increases to the cost of parking in the City-owned parking garages and meters.

Each meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m., dates and locations:

Monday, July 26 – Downtown – in City Council Chambers, 5th Floor, City-County Building, enter on Grant street side

Tuesday, July 27 – South Side – Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers Headquarters -- 10 S. 19th Street at the River

Thursday, July 29 – Oakland – Pittsburgh Board of Education headquarters – 341 S. Bellefield Avenue, second floor

Monday, August 2 – North Side – Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School Cafeteria – 50 Montgomery Street – enter by the loading dock

The City Council web site is the only place you will be able to read a copy of Mayor Ravenstahl’s draft agreements for the 50 year lease of parking assets and the study commissioned by the Parking Authority to evaluate its parking garages and meters. It is , just below the photographs of all the Council members. These four meetings will be the public’s best opportunity to comment on the concession agreements before an official meeting of Council.

Via Slag Heap:
In May, Port Authority CEO Steve Bland said potential budget woes could lead to "draconian" cuts in service. That time may be here. The Port Authority of Allegheny County plans to roll out today a proposal for system-wide cuts. If approved, the cuts would go into effect in January, and would make up for a $47.1 million shortfall.

"It's going to be drastic," says spokesman Jim Ritchie. He says the proposal will affect every route in the system and leave 55 neighborhoods with eliminated or severely reduced service.
Read it and weep here.

Breitbart admits lying; being insufferable asshole

In yet another twist in the Breitbart/Sherrod story, Andrew Breitbart admitted on his BigGovernment blog yesterday to lying and being an "insufferable asshole."

He further confessed to believing that "the ends justify the means" and to engaging in "open political warfare."

NOTE: No Breitbart-style journalistic ethics and standards were harmed in the making of this post.

Anatomy of (Yet Another) Right Wing Smear

Mediamatters has the story:
Based on what appears to be selectively edited footage, Andrew Breitbart falsely suggested that Shirley Sherrod said that, in her former position with the USDA, she had discriminated against a white farmer. In fact, Sherrod's statements in the video corroborate her statement that the story she was discussing is 24 years old.
Turns out that the video was edited. Edited to the point where it said almost exactly the opposite of what Breitbart said it said. Here's Breitbart (by way of mediamatters):
We are in possession of a video from in which Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development, speaks at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia. In her meandering speech to what appears to be an all-black audience, this federally appointed executive bureaucrat lays out in stark detail, that her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions.

In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn't do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from "one of his own kind". She refers him to a white lawyer.

Sherrod's racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups' racial tolerance.
The full video vindicates her story that she was taken out of context. She was discussing incident that occurred 24 years ago and how that incident made her realize that:
You know, and they could be black, and they could be white, they could be Hispanic. And it made me realize then that I needed to work to help poor people -- those who don't have access the way others have.
That last part was in the full video, but not in the edited video posted by Breitbart.

Of course, the Obama Administration demanded her resignation (and got it).
Given that this is a complete smear, will she get her job back?

And why should anyone trust Andrew Breitbart from now on? Remember, he's the guy who brought us the ACORN/pimp tape (so he's no stranger to edited smears).

July 20, 2010

As we await the Senate vote on extension of unemployment benefits...

...Remember two things:

1) While Republicans say that unemployment benefits must be fully paid for, they only care about deficits when Democrats are in power:

2) Despite what your average GOPer will tell you, massive tax cuts for the rich have never and will never pay for themselves:

That is all.

Marcellus Shale Allegheny County Council Hearing Tomorrow

Allegheny County Council will hold a public hearing tomorrow "to allow the opportunity for public comment regarding Marcellus Shale-related natural gas drilling within Allegheny County" (more here).

WHEN: Wednesday, July 21, 2010, beginning at 5:00 p.m.
WHERE: In the Gold Room, 4th Floor of the Allegheny County Courthouse, 436 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Please note that in order to speak at the hearing, you must register with the clerk 24 hours prior to the meeting:
Individuals wishing to speak must register with the County Council Clerk online at, via e-mail (, in person at Room 119 Courthouse, or by phone (412-350-6490), no later than 24 hours prior to the scheduled beginning of the hearing. Each registered speaker will be allotted a maximum of three (3) minutes.

Written testimony will be accepted through 5:00 p.m. on July 23, 2010.
Also note that while Pittsburgh City Council is thankfully skeptical of urban drilling, County Council seems to be decidedly more gung ho (I base that assessment on a recent appearance by County Council President Rich Fitzgerald and City Councilor Doug Shields on a local TV show).

July 19, 2010

The Great Wingnut Climate Conspiracy...

We are still at large.

Every month at about this time (or perhaps a bit earlier) the National Climate Data Center (NCDC), itself a part of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) posts a report called "State of the Climate" with the most recent data on temperature, precipitation and so on.

This month's report is unsettling. Some bullet points:
  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for June 2010 was the warmest on record at 16.2°C (61.1°F), which is 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20thcentury average of 15.5°C (59.9°F). The previous record for June was set in 2005.
  • The June worldwide averaged land surface temperature was 1.07°C (1.93°F) above the 20th century average of 13.3°C (55.9°F)—the warmest on record.
  • It was the warmest January–June on record for the global land and ocean temperature. The worldwide land on average had its second warmest January–June, behind 2007. The worldwide averaged ocean temperature was the second warmest January–June, behind 1998.
And this, as we have been told time and time again by the wingnuts, is the Hoax of The Century.

If it is, then where do these numbers come from?

Must be some conspiracy, indeed.

July 18, 2010

New Tom Corbett Video (Sashay Shante)

Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Corbett -- refusing to back down on his claim that the jobless in Pennsylvania are having too good a time living the high life on unemployment to get up off their lazy butts and get one of the jobs that "are there" -- upped the ante today releasing the following web-only video to PA residents:

You better work, PA bitchez !
(Now, turn to the Right.)

Capitol Ideas looks deeper into Corbett's remarks here.

Jack Kelly Sunday

Jack goes there.

In this week's column, Jack Kelly shows, yet again, how he's a master of misdirection and the strawman argument. This time it's about race, the NAACP and, of course, the Obama Administration.

He's also needs a remedial course in fact-checking.

Jack begins:
The race card. So useful to play when you're losing an argument. Democrats don't leave home without it.

The race card was played twice last week. At its convention in Kansas City, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People adopted a resolution condemning the tea party as "a threat to the pursuit of human rights, justice and equality for all" because of "the racist elements" within it (according to an early draft; the final text won't be released until October).

"NAACP President Ben Jealous looks at the modern tea party movement and sees the shadow of the White Citizens Council, that gentile breed of Southerners, rife with respectability, that served as the white glove wing of the Ku Klux Klan," wrote Newsweek columnist Ellis Close after interviewing Mr. Jealous.
Let me get the remedial stuff out of the way.

The man who wrote the article Jack quotes is named Ellis COSE, not Ellis CLOSE.


Jack, if you're going to use the man's words you really should get the man's name right. It's simple respect.

And if he writes something disagreeing with the public figure you're criticizing you should probably include that as well, doncha think? You betcha.

Cose quotes Deneen Borelli, who he describes as "a Tea Party activist from Project 21, a Washington-based black-conservative public-policy group" who asserts the Tea Party Movement is too diffuse to repudiate the nasty elements within it. Cose then writes:
Her answer is not particularly satisfying, even if you don’t believe—and I don’t—that the Tea Party belongs in the same category as the White Citizens’ Council. The council, after all, waged war on blacks, turning a blind eye to (and sometimes actively supporting) the most brutal acts imaginable. That is not what the Tea Party does. [emphasis added.]
My guess is that Jack didn't want to show any element of the lib'rul media (in this case an African-American columnist for Newsweek) disagreeing with his argument that the left is playing the "race card." But that's just a guess.

Now here's Jack's strawman:
The tea party rallies have been an outpouring of public concern about runaway government spending and mammoth budget deficits. While Democrats reasonably could argue that such concern is overwrought, to claim that a racial motive underlies it is as preposterous as it is vile.
Who said anything about underlies Jack? Let's go back to Cose's column. He writes that the:
NAACP unanimously passed a resolution blasting the Tea Party for tolerating racism in its ranks. [emphasis added.]
No "underlies" there. Jack set up a strawman (that the NAACP resolution asserts that the Tea Party Movement is racist) and then argues against that point. All of it misdirection.

But perhaps Cose isn't close with his characterization of the resolution. What does the NAACP itself say about the resolution? Does it, you know, quote Ben Jealous in anyway?

Goshers, I am so glad you asked. Take a look:
Over 2,000 NAACP delegates today unanimously passed a resolution—as amended—called “The Tea Party Movement,” asking for the repudiation of racist Tea Party leaders.

The resolution condemns the bigoted elements within the Tea Party and asks for them to be repudiated. The NAACP delegates presented this resolution for debate and passage after a year of vitriolic Tea Party demonstrations during which participants used racial slurs and images. In March, members of the Congressional Black Caucus were accosted by Tea Party demonstrators and called racial epithets. Civil rights icon John Lewis was spit on, while Congressman Emanuel Cleaver was called the “N” word and openly gay Congressman Barney Frank was called an ugly anti-gay slur.

We take no issue with the Tea Party movement. We believe in freedom of assembly and people raising their voices in a democracy. What we take issue with is the Tea Party’s continued tolerance for bigotry and bigoted statements. The time has come for them to accept the responsibility that comes with influence and make clear there is no place for racism & anti-Semitism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry in their movement,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. [emphasis added.]
Now go reread Jack. How silly he's made himself look.


And in the event he's forgotten the racist elements found at Tea Party rallies, here's some reminders:



Yeppers - the Tea Party Movement is completely free of racists and racism.

Can't believe you went there, Jack.

July 17, 2010

In A Lighter Mood

History is filled with interesting coincidences - birthdays even more so.

Born today:

Dawn Upshaw:

David Hasselhoff:

Peter Schickele:

Happy Saturday!

July 15, 2010

Non, je ne regrette rien

Via Yahoo! News:
OMAHA, Neb. – A federal judge on Wednesday blocked a new Nebraska law requiring mental health screenings for women seeking abortions because the measure could have made it impossible to get an abortion in the state.

U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp granted Planned Parenthood of the Heartland's request for a preliminary injunction against the law, which was supposed to take effect Thursday. The order will prevent the state from enforcing the law until the lawsuit challenging it is decided.

State officials have said the law is designed to make sure women understand the risks and complications that may accompany an abortion.


The risks could be "physical, psychological, emotional, demographic, or situational," according to the law.
Hmm, I called in sick yesterday -- feeling better now -- I already regret it today and I'll regret it even more this weekend when I'll need to go into work. Guess I should have consulted a psychiatrist first.

I'm tempted to say that this is just one more law which treats women as fucking idiots who can't possibly think through a decision without the help of The State, but this actually was just another attempt to outlaw abortion by means other than a Supremem Court ruling. The fact that it treats women as weak, feeble-minded creatures is just a bonus.


(h/t to Atrios)

The Trib Chimes In On Missy's Car

It's been said I have a hate-hate relationship with the Tribune-Review.

Not so. The reporters I have met from Richard Mellon Scaife's newspaper have all been decent and rational.

It's with the editorial board that I have my issues.

But hate? Naw. Scaife's braintrust, because it's fully infected with teh crazie, is a more than reliable source of blog posts, the braintrust is the gift that keeps on giving.

But again, I have to give credit where credit is due. Today they got it right when they wrote about Missy Hart's car.

The text in full:
If you're longing for yet another example of how screwed up our federal government is, look no further than to the case of Melissa Hart's junker.

Ms. Hart, the former congresswoman who represented Pennsylvania's 4th Congressional District, was defeated for re-election nearly four years ago. But her car, a Volkswagen Jetta, has remained in office, so to speak.

As was first reported many months ago, the car was left in the Longworth House Office Building parking garage. Incredibly, such nonsense is allowed. Former members are allowed to park or store their cars in House parking garages free of charge and indefinitely.

With one major exception: You can't be a lobbyist. And since March 2009, Melissa Hart has been just that. Confronted, Hart says she'll remove the junker and donate it to charity.

But Hart feels no compunction to reimburse taxpayers for warehousing her car since she violated the terms of her perpetual perk. At $290 per month — the value the House Administration Committee puts on the space for tax purposes — Hart owes taxpayers about $4,600. She should pay up.

That said, the House should end the practice of free parking and storage for ex-members. It's a ridiculous perk that never should have been offered in the first place and one ripe for abuse, as the Hart incident shows.
The Trib is right. She should pay up. $4,600 can't be that much for a DC lobbyist. That's probably pocket change on K Street.

The fact that she feels no compunction to reimburse the taxpayers even such a piddling amount only reminds us how lucky we are that she's no longer a member of the House.

July 13, 2010

Dueling Editorials

Every now and then the Braintrust over at the Trib takes on the editorial board at the P-G. Usually with laughingly ridiculous results.

Today is no different.

From the Trib:
Those intellectual relativists at The Toledo, Ohio, Block Bugler label the case of two members of the New Black Panther Party who allegedly intimidated voters at a Philadelphia polling place last November as "a silly nonevent by two nobodies." Both were dressed in paramilitary outfits. One wielded a billy club. We can't wait to see how The Bugler characterizes, say, members of the tea party movement showing up at the polls this November with — GASP! — petitions. You can bet it'll be called a "civil rights travesty."
And this is the P-G editorial they found so upsetting. It begins with this:
To hear conservatives complain about the Obama Justice Department these days, you'd think Attorney General Eric Holder had declared war on the civil rights of white Americans.

Recently, J. Christian Adams, a former lawyer for the Bush Justice Department, accused the civil rights division under Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder of scaling down a voter intimidation case in Philadelphia because the accused were black and potential victims white.

Two members of the New Black Panther Party stood outside a North Philly polling place on Election Day 2008 in paramilitary garb. One of the two brandished a billy club looking vaguely menacing, but mostly silly.
And then they offer up some facts:
The men stood outside the predominantly black polling center for a short time before cops sent them on their way. One of the men is alleged to have said something insulting about white people. Neither was arrested.
Whah? The cops showed up? And didn't arrest either?

That proves it. The police department of the city of Philadelphia must be in on the conspiracy - a conspiracy to intimidate white voters at a predominantly black polling center.

Here are some actual facts (via
The Bush administration's Justice Department -- not the Obama administration -- made the decision not to pursue criminal charges against members of the New Black Panther Party for alleged voter intimidation at a polling center in Philadelphia in 2008
That's right, my friends. And think about it. Who was the president in November 2008? Whatever the outcome of the election, the inauguration wouldn't take place until about 3 months later.

The Bush DOJ decided there wasn't enough evidence. In his testimony Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said:
After reviewing the matter, the Civil Rights Division determined that the facts did not constitute a prosecutable violation of the criminal statutes. The Department did, however, file a civil action on January 7th, 2009, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief under 11(b) against four defendants.
So the Bush DOJ must also be a part of the criminal conspiracy to intimidate white voters at a predominantly black polling center.

See? The Trib gets silly sometimes.

Guess Who Said This?

C'mon guess!
They (Bush and Cheney) should have been indicted. They absolutely should have been indicted for torturing, for spying, for arresting without warrants. I'd like to say they should be indicted for lying but believe it or not, unless you're under oath, lying is not a crime. At least not an indictable crime. It's a moral crime.
It was probably some "blame-Amurika-first lib'rul", huh?

Guess again.

It was Judge Andrew Napolitano, he of Fox News.

He was interviewed by Ralph Nader on C-Span discussing his book, Lies The Government Told You, when the topic of habeas corpus came up, leading to the above quotation.

As for the evidence for such crimes, Napolitano says:
The evidence in this book and in others, our colleague the great Vincent Bugliosi has amassed an incredible amount of evidence. The purpose of this book was not to amass that evidence but I do discuss it, is overwhelming when you compare it to the level of evidence required for a normal indictment that George W. Bush as President and Dick Cheney as Vice President participated in criminal conspiracies to violate the federal law and the guaranteed civil liberties of hundreds, maybe thousands of human beings. [emphasis added]
Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox Legal Analyst.

July 12, 2010

Marcellus Shale City Council Post Agenda Today

Via Peter Wray, Co-Chair, Conservation Committee Allegheny Group, Sierra Club:

To all: Councilman Doug Shields is hosting a Marcellus Shale Post-Agenda on Monday, July 12, 2010 in City Council Chambers at 1 PM to educate the public and members about Marcellus Shale drilling. The post-agenda meeting will be televised on City Cable Channel 13. Sorry about the short notice!

Please feel free to forward this message to anyone who might be interested.

Public Encouraged to Attend to Learn About this Critical Issue

The Agenda is as follows:
  • An Explanation of the Technical Process of Marcellus Shale Drilling by Radisav D. Vidic, University of Pittsburgh Environmental Engineering Group

  • Health and Community Impacts by Chuck Christen, University of Pittsburgh Center for Healthy Environments and Communities

  • The Pennsylvania Context and Its Effect on Local Marcellus Shale Drilling by the Honorable David K. Levdansky, PA House of Representatives, Finance Committee Chairman, Game and Fisheries Committee

  • The Marcellus Shale Play: A DEP Perspective by Jack Crook, Compliance Chief – Oil and Gas, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

  • Potential Problems with the Existing Set of Laws by John Baillie, Senior Attorney at PennFuture’s Pittsburgh Office

  • Consumer Protection by Nadia Steinzor, Marcellus Regional Organizer for EARTHWORKS

  • Industry Side by Kathryn Klaber, President and Executive Director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition
  • Link

    I Guess I Called It...

    On July 8, regarding yet another exoneration of the scientists involved in the Climategate hoax, I wrote:
    Of course this ain't over. This only raises the level of conspiracy for the climate skeptics. Undoubtedly they'll charge that the report's a whitewash and that they know the truth about "so called climate science" ("It's socialism," my friend Heather says.)
    Well take a look at this editorial in today's Tribune-Review:
    A new report upholds climate alarmists' preordained blame-mankind conclusions and "exonerates" the university's Climatic Research Unit by whitewashing its scientific misconduct documented in the Climategate e-mails. It's a clumsy whitewashing, too -- one whose conclusions were just as preordained.

    This report is touted as "independent" but was commissioned by the university. It was headed by one Muir Russell, described in media accounts as a former civil servant -- which doesn't exactly connote scientific or statistical expertise.
    What's pre-ordained is The Tribune-Review's anti-science dogma. I wonder if they realize the unintended humor of this passage (the first sentence, by the way) from the editorial:
    The University of East Anglia got what it paid for -- a fig leaf intended to hide the truth about climate alarmism.
    This from the paper whose owner has shoveled millions of dollars to the Heritage Foundation and then uses the "research" from that foundation as some sort of "independent" confirmation.

    July 11, 2010

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    The good folks over at the P-G should, perhaps, vet Jack Kelly's sources a little better.

    In this week's column, Jack writes:
    My friend Jack Wheeler has a solution to the problem of Afghanistan. Get rid of it.

    Yes, he's serious. No, he's not a crackpot.

    An adventurer who's been in almost every country in the world, Jack Wheeler is one of three real life people on whom the fictional character Indiana Jones was based. He's climbed the Matterhorn, swum the Bosporus, parachuted onto the North Pole and lived with a tribe of headhunters in the Amazon.

    One of the countries where Jack has spent a lot of time is Afghanistan, mostly during the time Afghans were fighting Soviet occupation. Jack was the father of the Reagan doctrine of providing support to anti-Communist resistance movements.
    I will set aside the assertion that Wheeler was one "three real life people on whom the fictional character Indiana Jones was based" because I couldn't find any support for that - aside from Wheeler himself and a slew of references to the Washington Post calling him "The Indiana Jones of the Right."

    Unfortunately I couldn't find any reference to that last part at the Washington Post.

    I'd love to see a reliable citation regarding either.

    In any event, Jack is wrong about Wheeler. He is a crackpot. And unlike Jack, I'll offer up some evidence.

    Point one: He's a Birther. March 19, 2009 he wrote:
    There are two growing protest movements: the Tea Party taxpayer revolt movement and the “Birther” movement that demands Zero prove he is a natural-born US citizen. These two must merge.

    Far from a tin foil hat cause, Birthers are simply asking that Zero provide his actual birth certificate, which he won’t – at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

    Since all he has to do is provide the same thing all the rest of us do to get a driver’s license or passport, and he won’t, this is prima facie evidence that he can’t. Or there is some scandalous secret he is covering up – such as his real father is not a Kenyan but a radical left black poet his mother was having an affair with, Frank Marshall Davis.

    In any regard, until he provides solid proof of his natural born citizenship, we are justified in regarding his presidency as illegitimate.

    This argument must be made at every Tea Party protest. We do not recognize him as president until he proves he legitimately, Constitutionally is.
    Strange thing about that column, you can't actually find it at Wheeler's website, To The Point News. However, it looks as though Wheeler himself posted it at

    So Wheeler's a birther - enough for me to qualify as "crackpot" but there's more.

    Much more. Disgustly much more.

    Point two: Jack Wheeler's disgusting assertions about Senator John McCain's POW record. In February of 2008 Jack Wheeler wrote a column for World Net Daily so disgusting that it makes his "birther" bona fides look downright rational.

    In the piece Jack Wheeler (Jack Kelly's "good friend") asserts that
    • as a POW, John McCain made an "accommodation" with his North Vietnamese and Soviet GRU captors at the Hanoi Hilton and in exchange he was provided with an apartment in Hanoi and the services of two prostitutes.
    • the CIA has proof of this by way of a "document swap" with the GRU after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and that since Bill Clinton was a CIA asset since his time at Oxford, the Clintons had access to that proof as well.
    • the Clinton would use that proof to blackmail McCain into losing the 2008 election in favor of Hilary Clinton.
    Oh, and on top of all that Jack Wheeler asserts that the CIA has been "dominated by left wing hyper-radicals for years."

    And this guy's not a crackpot? Unfortunately for Jack, it effectively invalidates whatever Wheeler had to say about Afghanistan. Had he left his crackpot friend out of it, this blog post would have been much more difficult to write (though a lot less fun).

    The P-G can do better than this. They have to.

    July 10, 2010

    Another Saturday...

    ...another Craig Smith schmooze-fest.

    And he returns again to The Heritage Foundation with an interview with William W. Beach, described by the foundation as:
    As Director of The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis, William W. Beach is the think tank's chief "number cruncher." He oversees Heritage's original statistical research on taxes, Social Security, energy, crime, education, trade and a host of other issues, ensuring it is both rigorous in technical scholarship and produced in time to help inform public debate.
    No mention, as usual, of the entwined relationship between Richard Mellon Scaife's Tribune-Review and the Heritage Foundation (where Scaife is on the board of directors). No mention of the tens of millions of dollars Scaife's given to Heritage.

    Regardless of what Beach says, failing to disclose the financial relationship between the paper that Scaife owns and the foundation that Scaife supports is (as I am told) the text book definition of a conflict of interest.

    I Guess The Trib WON'T be Correcting Itself

    Oh geez. This is gonna take some time, my friends, as there are not one but two wingnut anti-climate science editorials in today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

    Let me look at the first editoral and I'll tackle the second editorial later.

    Let's start (yet again) with Michael Mann. About a week ago, Mann was exonerated by a panel of Penn State scientists of the fourth and the final charge against him: that he violated the university's research misconduct policy.

    How do I know this? Because it says so in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:
    A Penn State University panel of scientists on Thursday exonerated one of the school's researchers of accusations that his work on climate change violated the university's research misconduct policy.
    Wait there's more. The next two paragraphs from Mike Cronin's piece read:
    After a four-month investigation, five university professors unanimously cleared professor Michael Mann, a climate scientist and one of several hundred researchers sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their work with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    The Penn State investigators concluded in a report released yesterday that "Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research, or other scholarly activities."
    So what do we make of this editorial from today's Trib? In it - tucked at the tail end of a late paragraph - we find:
    Only now -- after those Climategate e-mails documented improper data manipulation, and after other setbacks for the Church of Climatology's credibility -- does Mann border on 'fessing up. Perhaps his highly questionable "exoneration" by Penn State is loosening his lips.
    Unpublished on the Trib's editorial page are any mention of the British Panel's exoneration of all the scientists involved in the so called "Climategate":
    A British panel on Wednesday exonerated the scientists caught up in the controversy known as Climategate of charges that they had manipulated their research to support preconceived ideas about global warming.
    Doesn't Scaife's braintrust read the news? Don't they read the news that's published in their own paper?

    I guess not.

    But back to the editorial. Here's how it starts:
    The faith of Penn State University's Michael Mann in Church of Climatology dogma seems to be wavering. Hallelujah!

    The London Daily Telegraph reports Mr. Mann recently told the BBC he'd always made clear there were "uncertainties" in his work. "Always?" Seems not. Still, that statement surely sounds like he's having second thoughts.

    Speaking about his infamous "hockey stick" global-temperature graph, Mann also told the BBC: "I always thought it was somewhat misplaced to make it a central icon of the climate change debate."
    The point is that even Mann is having doubts about the "Church of Climatology."

    Except he's not. Take a look at where the quotation is from:

    At 1:10 Mann is asked:
    Do you think you've ever exaggerated the certainty of man-made climate change?
    To which Mann answers:
    No. I think that the evidence for human-caused climate change is overwhelming.
    So yea, he's "wavering." Obviously.

    Like any true dogma , no amount of evidence can ever shake the faith of a true believer.

    Considering how deeply entrenched the Trib's editorial board is to its own anti-science dogma, I don't think we'll be seeing a correction/clarification any time soon.