Democracy Has Prevailed.

November 30, 2011

How Can There Be A "Climategate II" When There Was No Climagegate I?

It took some time, but Scaife's braintrust over at the Tribune-Review finally caught up to the rest of the anti-science crowd and commented on the latest batch of hacked emails from East Anglia.

For some reality-based background, we turn to the Guardian:
A fresh tranche of private emails exchanged between leading climate scientists throughout the last decade was released online on Tuesday. The unauthorised publication is an apparent attempt to repeat the impact of a similar release of emails on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit in late 2009.

The initial email dump was apparently timed to disrupt the Copenhagen climate talks. It prompted three official inquiries in the UK and two in the US into the working practices of climate scientists. Although these were critical of the scientists' handling of Freedom of Information Act requests and lack of openness they did not find fault with the climate change science they had produced.
Keep that last sentence in mind.

But let's get back to what Scaife's braintrust really wants to discuss:
Among the correspondence, as reported by author James Delingpole in The Wall Street Journal, is an e-mail from Penn State global-warming guru Michael Mann: "I've been talking w/ folks in the states about finding an investigative journalist to investigate and expose (Steve) McIntyre and his thus far unexplored connections with fossil fuel interests."

That would be the Canadian ex-mining engineer who exposed Mr. Mann's flawed "hockey stick" graph of global temperatures. Rather than "prove" Mr. McIntyre wrong, Mann preferred to go dirt-digging.
Here's the WSJ article the braintrust references.  And this is what he wrote about Professor Mann:
Consider an email written by Mr. Mann in August 2007. "I have been talking w/ folks in the states about finding an investigative journalist to investigate and expose McIntyre, and his thus far unexplored connections with fossil fuel interests. Perhaps the same needs to be done w/ this Keenan guy." Doug Keenan is a skeptic and gadfly of the climate-change establishment. Steve McIntyre is the tenacious Canadian ex-mining engineer whose dogged research helped expose flaws in Mr. Mann's "hockey stick" graph of global temperatures.

One can understand Mr. Mann's irritation. His hockey stick, which purported to demonstrate the link between man-made carbon emissions and catastrophic global warming, was the central pillar of the IPCC's 2001 Third Assessment Report, and it brought him near-legendary status in his community. Naturally he wanted to put Mr. McIntyre in his place.

The sensible way to do so is to prove Mr. McIntyre wrong using facts and evidence and improved data. Instead the email reveals Mr. Mann casting about for a way to smear him. If the case for man-made global warming is really as strong as the so-called consensus claims it is, why do the climategate emails show scientists attempting to stamp out dissenting points of view? Why must they manipulate data, such as Mr. Jones's infamous effort (revealed in the first batch of climategate emails) to "hide the decline," deliberately concealing an inconvenient divergence, post-1960, between real-world, observed temperature data and scientists' preferred proxies derived from analyzing tree rings?
The part left out by Delinpole (and subsequently by the braintrust) is that Mcintyre had, by 2007 was already being challenged. Like this from 2005:
Ammann and Eugene Wahl of Alfred University have analyzed the Mann-Bradley-Hughes (MBH) climate field reconstruction and reproduced the MBH results using their own computer code. They found the MBH method is robust even when numerous modifications are employed. Their results appear in two new research papers submitted for review to the journals Geophysical Research Letters and Climatic Change. The authors invite researchers and others to use the code for their own evaluation of the method.

Ammann and Wahl’s findings contradict an assertion by McIntyre and McKitrick that 15th century global temperatures rival those of the late 20th century and therefore make the hockey stick-shaped graph inaccurate. They also dispute McIntyre and McKitrick’s alleged identification of a fundamental flaw that would significantly bias the MBH climate reconstruction toward a hockey stick shape. Ammann and Wahl conclude that the highly publicized criticisms of the MBH graph are unfounded. They first presented their detailed analyses at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting in San Francisco last December and at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting in Denver this year.
The main thrust of the brainstrust's argument is that the "hockey stick" is wrong and therefore climate science is wrong.

But it isn't and the science is still undeniable.

Funny how the braintrust never seems to get around to that NOAA report.

Siri pulls a HAL

Remember in 2001: A Space Odyssey when HAL refused to provide assistance? Looks like Siri has a similar problem when it comes to helping women who need emergency health services.

Via Think Progress:
“What may I help you with?” So begins Siri — the unique voice-activated assistant of the iPhone 4s that promises to deliver accurate and tailored answers for your every need. Unless you’re a woman in search of health services like birth control, emergency contraception, abortion, or even mammogram tests. Then the interactive search wizard draws a blank.


More disturbingly, Siri would not respond to pleas for help for sexual assault or rape clinics, and services for emergency contraception.
Apparently, however, it's quite adept at locating escort services...


CHS: Cookies and Cards for a Cause!

Community Human Services (CHS) is a non-profit which provides homeless assistance programs, mental health residential programs, health programs and family assistance programs in South Oakland and the greater Pittsburgh area. They're conducting their holiday gift card drive again this year with the goal of providing one $25 gift card for every person who lives in a CHS supported housing program. You can help make the holidays brighter for 550 very low income people facing poverty and homelessness this season by participating in their drive.

CHS Holiday Gift Project Cookies and Cards Reception
WHEN: December 5 - between 5 PM and 8 PM
WHERE: Shiloh Inn in Mt. Washington (123 Shiloh Ave., Pittsburgh)
WHAT: Bring a gift card or make a donation

November 25, 2011

A Thanksgiving Gift From The Trib

As long as they keep doing this, I'll keep pointing it out.

Take a look at this blurb from today's Laurels & Lances:
Laurel: To Jake Haulk. The president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy continues to do what he does best -- slay shibboleths. His latest effort calls into serious question the conclusion of an American Public Transportation Association "study" that says Pittsburgh motorists could save $9,201 a year by taking Port Authority Transit. As per usual, the facts show the APTA hyped the numbers. Thanks for the reality check, Dr. Haulk.
We've run the numbers before, but let's get a more recent picture, alright?

According to mediamatters, the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy has received $3,421,000 from the Richard Mellon Scaife controlled Allegheny, Carthage, and Sarah Scaife Foundations and $4,039,200 in total foundation support.  After a few seconds with my trusty calculator I now know that that of all the foundation support received by the Allegheny Institute, about 84.7 % came directly from the foundations controlled by the owner of the paper that lavished such praise Jake Haulk, president of the Allegheny Institute.

Heck, the Washington Post reported in 1999 that:
Scaife has been donating to big think thanks for four decades, but he recently launched a new kind of policy group in Pittsburgh, the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, which describes itself as "devoted exclusively to the study of local issues" in western Pennsylvania.
So not only is Scaife the main source of foundation money for the institute, he founded the darn thing in the first place!

And yet no mention of any of that information is to be found on the pages of the Tribune-Review.

I find that interesting, don't you?

November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! (from U.C. Davis police officer John Pike)

(Click to enlarge. Based on this Photoshop.)


When I was a boy in New England (where you can find the best pizza on the planet) every year on Thanksgiving day it was a tradition for at least one New York radio station to play one particular 18 minute piece of music - some time around noon.

This piece of music.

Lyrics are here.

You can buy a copy here.
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22, 2011

The problem with this country is that there aren't enough nine year-old janitors

That's according to current Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich who thinks that child labor laws are "truly stupid." Via MEDIAite:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told a crowd on Friday that the solution to income inequality is to fire school janitors, and replace them with children. I am not making this up, and it gets worse. He’s not talking about junior high or high school kids, he’s talking about “9 to 14 year-olds.”

He suggests that these nine year-olds replace “union janitors” in poor neighborhoods, and that the kids work under a single “master janitor.”
You just can't make this stuff up...

Ron Paul's Libertarian Patriarchy

Back in 2007 when I wrote in a post titled "Ron Paul Sucks" that "[T]oo often I find that the same Libertarian males who kick and scream and cry and rend their garments over the thought of the government taking one thin dime of their money have no problem whatsoever with the thought of that very same government crawling up into a woman's womb," I got (and am still getting) clobbered in the comments section. I admit now that I was wrong. But, only in the scope of my comment. It isn't just that Ron Paul is against abortion -- he's full on pro patriarchy. If he's the standard bearer, then libertarianism is truly only a philosophy for white, straight, Christian males who don't like paying taxes (and their delusional allies).

Via Digby:
Ron Paul (at 15:22): “Matter of fact, when the people came to Samuel and said, “Look, we need more rules and more laws. We want more government to tell us what to do and we — we need more of this.” And Samuel was old and ready to retire and he says, “No, that’s a bad mistake. You don’t need more rules and more government. You don’t need this — the government will overreact.”

And today this is what I think has happened to us. We have deferred to.. to the federal government. We have weighed too much government. We should go in other directions. Before you know it the next step — what if the next step is, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the United Nations defined marriage?”

I don’t want to go that way, I want to go back down… all the way to the family and the Church — believe me it would be a happier and more peaceful world if we went in that direction, rather than asking the government and asking the King to solve all these problems… we need the family to deal with it.

And we can take our message and learn something from the Old Testament, how there was such a strong emphasis on the Patriarchal society and the disputes settled by judges rather than looking for Big Government.”

What Tony Wrote.

From Tony Norman's column today:
When the late Gil Scott-Heron said that "the revolution would not be televised," he spoke too soon. There was no way that the performance poet could conceive of the era of the viral video or know that it was just around the corner.
In the event you haven't heard it, here's what Tony was writing about:

And when he wrote:
Last Friday, a cop at the University of California, Davis forgot the cardinal rule every officer should have internalized since the Rodney King debacle -- if there's a camera around, then police brutality will be televised. There are too many witnesses and too many cameras in the environment to ever give another officer the benefit of the doubt when it comes to violence on civilians. We know from painful experience that there are too many liars wearing badges to pretend otherwise.
This is what he was writing about:

(If it looks familiar to you, it's because the OPJ posted the video yesterday)

But UCDavis ain't the only place the pepper's been sprayed.  84 year old Dorli Rainey was sprayed in Seattle:

5 foot tall, 20 year old Elisabeth Nichols was sprayed in Oregon:

And that's just two.

And so when Tony wrote:
Much has been said about the militarization of the police in this country and how the "war on drugs" mentality has trickled down into society and college policing.

It also doesn't help that the Bush administration considered torture and sadism legitimate tools of coercion and social control. The cops at the bottom always take their cues from the cops at the top. When administration and military officials are amoral, then it is too much to expect men and women many levels below their pay grade to respect the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.

The police claim that they're not choosing sides in the dispute but are simply enforcing the law. Former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu had a great response to such moral evasiveness: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
I'd always wondered whether the phrase "The revolution will not be televised" had any deeper meaning.  With the lyrics that open with:
You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.
It points to a revolution that will not be a media event.  But Scott-Heron points to something deeper:

The first change takes place in your mind, he said. He said that it'll be something that can't be captured on film you'll just realize one day you're on the wrong page - that the change has already taken place everywhere around you.

The revolution will be live.

November 21, 2011

Tracing The Cash

This Saturday, the Trib published another one of Craig Smith's interviews with famous conservatives who have unnamed ties to Scaife Foundation money.

This time it's Richard Perle.

This is how Smith describes Perle:
Richard Perle is a political adviser and lobbyist who served as an assistant secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration. He worked on the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee from 1987 to 2004, serving as its chairman from 2001 to 2003.
Which is accurate, but incomplete. Some of his other affiliations:
Interesting, isn't it, how he's attached to some major conservative think tanks that have received some major Scaife money and when Scaife's paper interviews him, there's no mention of any of it.

Happy Monday, Pittsburgh!

There are more of us

While you may have seen the first few seconds or so of this video on the news, I implore you to watch the entire thing (8:34):

This to me sums up the Occupy Movement in a nutshell. The forces in control (with the might) -- whether that be Wall Street or the police who do their bidding, and whether that be a rigged economic game or pepper spray, swat down the rest of us -- but, there are more of us than them. That's the whole idea of the Occupy Movement. We are the 99% and we've woken to the injustice and we're not shutting up or going away.

Every time the powers that be tried to overreact and squash the protestors in NYC, the movement -- and outrage -- only got bigger and eventually spread all over the country. And, while no one seems to have figured out yet what the next step should be, the vast overreach by those in power have woken a sleeping giant and the Masters of the Universe are frightened (as they should be). They're frightened because there are more of us than them.

(Also, read this to be reminded, if you need to, the larger implications of the police actions in this video.)

November 18, 2011

Atheism Update

Duquesne University's Student Government Association's decision barring the official creation of a "secular society" there is getting some local press.

From Kaitlynn Riely and Ann Rodgers, of the P-G:
Holding signs that said "We don't bite" and "Support reason," about 20 students from three universities gathered Thursday in Uptown to protest Duquesne University's refusal to recognize a proposed secular student group.

Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh have secular, or atheist, student organizations. Last month, Duquesne senior Nick Shadowen petitioned his student government to create a similar society.

"I think it's important to have a secular group at any university, religious or not," he said. "Anyone who has been paying attention to current events or the news recognizes that religion is a serious topic, and I think it's the job of any university to allow open debate about serious issues, and to have a real debate you need two sides."
Rick Wills of the Trib goes a bit broader:
An atheist student at Catholic-run Duquesne University is upset the school won't recognize the Duquesne Secular Society, a group for nonbelievers he helped form.

"I know Duquesne is a Catholic school," said Nick Shadowen, 21, a senior philosophy major who grew up in Harrisburg. "I did not think that meant my opinions, my lack of belief in God, would be censored. They advertise the fact that they are a diverse and international university with all kinds of people studying and working there."

Duquesne's student government oversight committee this month rejected Shadowen's request for the school to give formal recognition to the atheist group, and university officials backed that decision. Shadowen and other nonreligious students from area universities protested outside Duquesne on Thursday.
Looks like the good folks at Duquense see the DSS differently from how the DSS sees itself.  From the Trib:
Shadowen insists the secular society's mission is not contrary to the school's.

"Our group is not meant to spread atheist propaganda or undermine the mission of the school," he said.

One purpose of the group would be to dispel stereotypes about atheists, said society member Colin Stragar-Rice, 20, of New Castle, a junior at Duquesne.

"The group would allow a lot of students to come into contact with a different point of view. We also want to remove the stigma nontheistic people face," he said.
This seems to be somewhat in conflict from what Duquesne spokeswoman, Bridget Fare:
"All students are certainly welcome here. But formally recognizing a student group whose main purpose is opposition to belief in God is not aligned with our mission. The purpose of those other groups is not in direct opposition to belief in God," Fare said.
I guess that all depends on how you define the word "welcome."

As I wrote a few days ago, you'd would think that a religious university would want to encourage dialog between the believers and non-believers in its community - if only to give the believers ample opportunity to convince the sad, naive apostates of the error of their atheistic ways.  You'd think that a University founded by the Spiritans, a religious organization that was itself founded according to the Catholic Enclopedia:
...for the purpose of preparing missionaries for the most abandoned souls, whether in Christian or pagan countries.
...would jump at the opportunity for that sort of dialog.

November 17, 2011

Night Talk

I'll be on NightTalk: Get To The Point tomorrow night on PCNC.

The invited panelists are (now see if you can guess which one is ME):
  • J. Bracken Burns, Sr. (D) Commissioner, Washington County 
  • Melissa Haluszczak (R) 2011 Congressional Candidate 
  • David DeAngelo “2 Political Junkies” Blogger
The program is telecast LIVE on Friday, 11/18 from 8:00-9:00 PM; in addition there are encores that Friday late night 2:00AM and on Monday, 11/21 from 5:00 - 6:00PM.

 Additionally, Friday’s show may be telecast as the “Best of NightTalk” on Sunday, 11/20 at 10:00PM.

But If It's A HOAX...

Our good friends on the other side of the political aisle (aka the anti-science wing of the GOP) are usually more than happy to proclaim the science of climate change to be a hoax.  For instance, Senator Inhofe some time ago called it the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" and more recently P-G columnist Jack Kelly wrote that it was "the most harmful hoax" in history.

 But if it is indeed a hoax then why is the Defense Science Board looking into it?

The United States' Department of Defense needs to know more about how climate change affects global security, recommends a report by the the department's science advisers, the Defense Science Board (DSB).
Why waste all that time (and money) looking into something that Climategate proved to be a fraud?

Here's the report, if you wanted to read it yourself.

If this general argument of mine looks familiar, it's because it is.  I made it way back in August, 2009.  Then it was the National Intelligence Council - from the last months of the Bush Administration.

Still not a hoax.

November 16, 2011

I Guess There Are Some Limits To "Diversity"

Yesterday, an astute reader emailed in this story from the Duquesne Duke:
A Nov. 6 Student Government Association committee decision barred the official creation of a student secular society, an organization that wants to open discussion between religious and nontheistic students about the existence of God.

The proposed Duquesne Secular Society is the brainchild of Nick Shadowen, a senior philosophy major, and Colin Stragar-Rice, a junior philosophy and political science major. The DSS was proposed as a group for students who don't believe in God, such as atheists and agnostics, as well as for religious students.
The reason for the barring? Take a look:
The six to eight senators who made up the group unanimously voted Sunday night not to bring the DSS's approval to a vote in front of the general SGA Senate, according to SGA President Zach Ziegler.

Zeigler said the DSS was denied mainly because it does not comply with Duquesne's Mission Statement.

"This organization has a non-faith-based agenda," Ziegler said. "We never got a real idea what was behind this organization."
Ah now we're getting somewhere. What is Duquesne's Mission Statement? Here it is:
Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit is a Catholic University, founded by members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, the Spiritans, and sustained through a partnership of laity and religious. Duquesne serves God by serving students – through commitment to excellence in liberal and professional education, through profound concern for moral and spiritual values, through the maintenance of an ecumenical atmosphere open to diversity, and through service to the Church, the community, the nation, and the world.
I guess there are limits to how "open to diversity" the Student Government is and I surmise SGA President Zach gives one one criteria for the limits when he says that the DSS "has a non-faith-based agenda."  And then we have:
The Rev. James McCloskey, vice president for Mission and Identity, agreed with Ziegler that the DSS is not a viable student organization for Duquesne.

"They [the DSS] assume positions that are antithetical to belief in God, and belief in God is at the core of our enterprise at Duquesnse," McCloskey said.
Funny thing, though. When you take a look at the other organizations the SGA has approved, you might think that those same rules might not apply.  Again, The Duke:
Duquesne allowed the creation of other student organizations that do not adhere to Christian doctrine. The Muslim Student Association and Jewish Student Organization are viable funded student groups under Spiritan Campus Ministry. Duquesne also allowed the organization of Lambda Gay-Straight Alliance in 2005, even though at the time some Catholic students protested that the organization contradicted the University mission statement because the Catholic Church does not support homosexual relationships.
I am not (NOT) saying that those organizations (or any of the others on Duquesne's list of approved multicultural organizations) aren't fine organizations or that they should not get the full support of the SGA.

I am sure they are and I am sure they should.

What I am saying is that an organization, such as the DSS, whose Constitution says that its intent is to:
...provide a platform for honest and open debate on the merits of secularism and its role in different areas on human society. The DSS encourages respectful relations between non-theistic … and theistic students and through these relationships hopes to alleviate the various stigmas attached to nonbelievers. [emphasis added]
Is probably something that should be encouraged on a college campus - yes even on a religious college campus.  Clamping down on an idea rather than discussing it is no way for an enlightened community to act.

If it's an "open and honest debate" then what's the problem?  Isn't that what a university education is all about?

November 15, 2011

At Least He Said It - Again

The President's half way there.  From ABC News:
President Obama said today that Republican presidential candidates are “wrong” to defend the practice of waterboarding, which he said is torture.

“Waterboarding is torture. It’s contrary to America’s traditions, it’s contrary to our ideals, it’s not who we are, it’s not how we operate,” Obama told reporters at a press conference of the interrogation technique.
The President also pointed out that Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann were "wrong" in supporting it.  “We did the right thing by ending that practice,” he said.

There's another reason for ending the torture.

It's illegal.  From ABC News:
“We don’t need it in order to prosecute the war on terrorism,” Obama explained. “If we want to lead around the world part of our leadership is setting a good example. And anybody who has actually read about and understands the practice of waterboarding would say that that is torture and that’s not something we do. Period.”
While I heartily applaud the sentiment, stopping the torture is not only about setting a good example.  It's about ending a war crime.

And war crimes, if they are to be discouraged, need to be investigated and prosecuted.

November 14, 2011

ANOTHER Reason Not To Like Rick Perry

Besides the anti-scientific evolution denial, and the anti-scientific climate change denial, (both of which are not-surprising coming, as they do, from the anti-science party that's the current GOP), but I've just discovered another reason to really really dislike (or at least distrust) Rick Perry.

Recently the Washington Times asked all the Republican candidates about their favorite movies (Newt Gingrich said Casablanca and Herman Cain said The Godfather, and so on), Rick Perry said Immortal Beloved.

It was such a strange answer (though not as strange as Perry's speech in New Hampshire), the Washington Times wrote:
The most unusual choice belongs to Rick Perry, who immediately singled out “Immortal Beloved” as his favorite, adding, “Bet you’ll have to look that one up.” (He was right.) “Immortal Beloved” is a 1994 drama starring Gary Oldman as Ludwig van Beethoven.
There's a bit more to this bio-pic than that.  The "Immortal Beloved" of the title is a woman to who Beethoven wrote (but did not send) a love letter.  It was found among his effects after he died in 1827.  For more than a century and a half, real musicologists have struggled to figure out who she was.

The producer of the movie (not a musicologist) believes he settled the issue.  He thinks it was Beethoven's sister-in-law.  It's a claim no actual scholar has actually proposed.

As Beethoven scholar Lewis Lockwood pointed out:
That this 1994 film by Bernard Rose failed notably as cinematic product is obvious from reviews by film critics, surely none of them musicologists. That it also fails, on other levels, as history and biography is clear enough to music lovers, musicians, musicologists and certainly Beethoven scholar by all of whom it's been pretty much condemned to oblivion.
Don't get me wrong, Gary Oldman did a great job and the music, well, was Beethoven.

But it's hardly surprising that such an anti-science guy such as Rick Perry would also be an anti-history guy as well.

Ok, this blog post was a just teensy bit nit picky.  But it's MONDAY, for gosh sakes!  And it's RAINING, for gosh sakes!

Do I need to go all Carpenters on you?

November 13, 2011

Jack Kelly Sunday

I have no idea if Ed's doing a Jack Kelly column this week but if/when he posts, I am sure it'll be as good as always.

But sometimes, Jack's so whack that I gotta add my voice to Ed's and ask, "What is Jack doing?"

Take a look at Jack this week.  The column is more or less the cliched "lib'rul media double standard" argument.

Here's his setup:
Herman Cain's nightmare began two weeks ago when the webzine Politico reported two women had accused him of sexual misconduct when he was president of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.

The story was thin. James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal summarized it this way: "Anonymous sources told Politico that unnamed women alleged that Cain said unspecified things."
Notice how Jack immediately quotes an opposing summary. But did you see a quotation from the Politico story that began it all?  You didn't?  Gee, I wonder if Jack just forgot.

Let me try to fix that.  Here's how that Politico story begins:
During Herman Cain’s tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, at least two female employees complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain, ultimately leaving their jobs at the trade group, multiple sources confirm to POLITICO.

The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures.
But there's far more than Taranto's limited summary.  If you read the piece (and I am assuming Jack does NOT want you to read it for yourself), you'll see a whole mess of confirmations on a whole mess of aspects of the case:
  • POLITICO has confirmed the identities of the two female restaurant association employees who complained about Cain but, for privacy concerns, is not publishing their names.
  • On the details of Cain’s allegedly inappropriate behavior with the two women, POLITICO has a half-dozen sources shedding light on different aspects of the complaints.

    The sources — including the recollections of close associates and other documentation — describe episodes that left the women upset and offended. These incidents include conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned restaurant association events and at the association’s offices. There were also descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship.
And so on.  But let's move beyond that.  Let's get to Jack's "media bias" argument.  Here's how he frames it:
It triggered a media feeding frenzy anyway. ABC, NBC and CBS reported on the Cain "scandal" 84 times in the first week, according to Scott Whitlock of the Media Research Center.

This contrasts with zero, the number of times in 2008 ABC, NBC and CBS mentioned allegations of sexual misconduct by former Sen. John Edwards when he was running for president that year.
We'll just assume the research of the MRC is accurate (yea, I know - giggle).  But take a look at his data regarding Ex-Senator Edwards' creepy (", the number of times in 2008 ABC, NBC and CBS mentioned allegations...when he was running for president that year.").

Zero, huh?  That's a low number.  And a damning assessment of the media coverage.  But look carefully.

Edwards ended his presidential campaign January 30, 2008.  By framing the point as he does, Jack is able to dismiss any ABC/NBC/CBS news report of the creepy done after Edwards left the campaign.  Like this ABC NEWS REPORT from August 8, 2008.

Interesting to note, isn't it?

Then there's this:
And it contrasts with four, the number of stories the broadcast networks ran in the week after Juanita Broaddrick said she'd been raped by President Bill Clinton.
We've been through this before, haven't we?
  • Broaddrick signed an affidavit saying Clinton didn't rape her.
  • She recanted that affidavit a few months later.
So if one asserts that Broadderick was raped by Clinton, one also has to assert she's a perjurer.

Oh, and perhaps this was the reason why it had no MSM coverage. It's from the Washington Post the day after Broaddrick's interview with Lisa Myers of NBC, February, 1999:
Broaddrick was dubbed Jane Doe No. 5 in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton early last year, when Jones's attorneys cited her in court papers and she filed an affidavit calling the allegation of sexual assault "untrue." In the interview, Broaddrick, 56, said: "I didn't want to be forced to testify about the most horrific event of my life."

Broaddrick later recanted that affidavit when questioned by FBI agents working for independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr, who found her account inconclusive. Two of the House impeachment "managers" spoke to Broaddrick but did not pursue her allegation.
Interesting details that Jack fails to include, aren't they?

Have we done enough damage to Jack's column?  I don't think so.  Let's take one more look:
Ms. Krausharr is currently a press aide in the Obama administration, used to work for Clinton attorney general Janet Reno and has contributed to Democrats.
Let's be more specific, shall we? The Daily reports:
Karen Kraushaar currently serves as a communications director at the Inspector General’s Office of the Treasury Department, a position she has held since last year.
Not exactly "in the Obama administration" is it? Especially since the person she answers to in the Treasury Department, according to Mediamatters, is a Bush Appointee.

That'll do it - oh, the stuff Jack has to leave out to commit a good smear!

November 12, 2011

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum The War On Christmas Returns!

But the facts are, of course, obscured (this is the Trib, remember).  Take a look at The Trib op-ed page today:
The Obama administration surely should have second thoughts about imposing -- by executive fiat, under a 1996 federal law -- a tax on fresh-cut Christmas trees that defies logic.

Quick criticism led the Obama Agriculture Department to delay a new 15-cent tax on each Christmas tree sold by producers who sell more than 500 annually. The revenue would fund a new, image- and sales-enhancing Christmas Tree Promotion Board.

Yet, as David S. Addington writes for The Heritage Foundation blog, The Foundry, "the American Christmas tree has a great image that doesn't need any help from the government." That said, why is the government involved at all?

The National Christmas Tree Association, which wants the tax and the promotion board, says real trees overwhelmingly outsold fake trees, their only real competition, in 2010 -- 27 million, worth $976 million at retail, vs. 8.2 million, worth $530 million -- and the economy has little effect on real trees' sales.
For some reality based faced framework, let's first go to Jake Tapper at ABC and see where it leads:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to delay implementation and revisit a proposed new 15 cent fee on fresh-cut Christmas trees, sources tell ABC News. The fee, requested by the National Christmas Tree Association in 2009, was first announced in the Federal Registry yesterday and has generated criticism of President Obama from conservative media outlets.
Let's go take a look at that link. That'll be what the NCTA has to say. Take a look:
The program is designed to benefit the industry and will be funded by the growers at a rate of 15 cents per tree sold. The program will be administered by an independent 12-member board of small business owners who grow and sell farm-grown Christmas trees and they will be responsible for developing and approving promotional and research efforts to benefit the entire industry. The program is not expected to have any impact on the final price consumers pay for their Christmas tree. The funds collected after this season will be used to develop promotion and research programs for the 2012 season. [Underline/bold in original.]
And it's not exactly a "tax" in that it's not intended to raise funds for the guv'ment - the growers of the trees come up with $.15/per tree.  And  the what was supposed to happen to that money?  Here's a clue from the NCTA:
This program was developed under the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. There are at least 18 other similar programs already in effect for various agricultural commodities. Although smaller in scope, the Christmas tree program will be similar to recognizable programs for milk, cotton and beef that have brought consumers commodity-oriented messages such as “Got Milk?” and “Beef, It’s what’s for dinner.”
But is any of that true?  Yes, it is - from the Federal Register:
This rule establishes an industry-funded promotion, research, and information program for fresh cut Christmas trees. The Christmas Tree Promotion, Research, and Information Order (Order), was submitted to the Department of Agriculture (Department) by the Christmas Tree Checkoff Task Force (Task Force), an industry wide group of producers and importers that support this program. Under the Order, producers and importers of fresh cut Christmas trees will pay an initial assessment of $0.15 cents per tree, which would be paid to the Christmas Tree Promotion Board (Board). This Board will be responsible for administration and operation of the Order. Producers and importers that produce or import less than 500 Christmas trees annually will be exempt from the assessment. The program is authorized under the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 (1996 Act).
An industry funded promotional board that isn't expected to raise the price of a Christmas Tree to fund a promotional campaign along the lines of those "Got Milk?" ads.  OF COURSE it's because Obama hates America and he wants his heartless bureaucrats to raise taxes on everyone - AT CHRISTMASTIME.

There are two points to this op-ed that I haven't raised yet.  Did you see where the initial report came from?

David S Addington at the Heritage Foundation.

The same Heritage Foundation that's taken tens of millions in Scaife money.  But that's not the big point.  You remember David Addington, don't you?
Yea, that David Addington.

Good to see they got him writing about Christmas Trees because when he's written about stuff that matters, he shreds democracy.

A Penn State VIGIL

Couple days ago there was a riot at Penn State, the rioters coming to the defense of a man who was fired from his job 9 years after failing to notify police of a credible report of child molestation.

Last night, something else entirely happened:
Penn State's Old Main lawn glowed with the light of trembling candles late Friday as several thousand students and alumni gathered to pray for the alleged victims of a child sex abuse scandal that has left an anguished campus searching for ways to heal.

The massive gathering outside of the university's administrative nerve center was the first step toward healing, said its organizers, who felt some on campus had lost sight of the scandal's greatest casualty, the eight boys former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky has been charged with molesting over a 15-year period.
Good for them.

November 11, 2011

Veterans Day Repost (This Was From 2006)

Today is a very important day.

It's Veteran's Day. It's the day we should all remember the sacrifices every veteran has made to protect the freedoms outlined in the Constitution. Were it not for the millions of men and women who've served in the Armed Forces, that piece of paper would just be, well, just a piece of paper long since consigned into the dustbin of history.

 But where did the day come from? Why is it so important? Something from Kurt Vonnegut - a writer far far more talented than I will ever be - keeps echoing in my head whenever I think of November eleventh. Here's what he wrote in Breakfast of Champions (by the way "Dwayne Hoover" is a character from the book - go read it):
I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
Armistice Day was the end of The Great War. It was called The War to End All Wars, and obviously they got the name wrong. But the day speaks to us as a symbol of hope in recognition of the folly of calling any war "The War to End All Wars."

The lesson learned is that there will always be conflict and we should be eternally grateful to those who've sacrificed some part of themselves to protect us and our freedom.

Thank you.

November 10, 2011

Garfunkel and Oates Sing To Occupy Wall Street

For those who don't know, Garfunkel and Oates is/are Kate Micucci and Ricki Lindhome.

They're also very very funny.

Paterno Got Fired And They RIOTED.

From the P-G:
More than 10,000 students rallied Wednesday night in anger after Penn State University trustees announced that longtime football coach Joe Paterno had been fired.

"We don't care what he trustees say," said a young man over a megaphone, perched atop the stairs at the campus' Old Main administrative building. "We don't care what anybody says. We want JoePa back."

The crowd vastly outnumbered those from similar rallies Tuesday, and were a bit more dangerous.
And in case you were curious as to what the phrase "a bit more dangerous" means, here's a photo:

That's a news van from WTAJ.

And of course, since we live in the age of youtube, there's video:

Do they know what who they're rioting to protect?

Take a look at this passage from the Grand Jury Report:
On March 1, 2002, a Penn State graduate assistant (“graduate assistant:) who was then 28 years old, entered the locker room at the Lasch Football Building on the University Park Campus on a Friday night near the beginning of Spring Break.

The graduate assistant, who was familiar with Sandusky, was going to put some newly purchased sneakers in his locker and get some recruiting tapes to watch. It was about 9:30 p.m. As the graduate assistant entered the locker room doors, he was surprised to find the lights and showers on. He then heard slapping sounds.He believed the sounds to be those of sexual activity. As the graduate assistant put the sneakers in his locker, he looked into the shower. He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be 10 years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky. The graduate assistant was shocked but noticed that both Victim 2 and Sandusky saw him. The graduate assistant left immediately, distraught.

The graduate assistant went to his office and called his father, reporting to him what he had seen. His father told the graduate assistant to leave the building and come to his home. The graduate assistant and his father decided that the graduate assistant had to report what he had seen to Coach Joe Paterno (“Paterno”), head football coach of Penn State. The next morning, a Saturday, the graduate assistant telephoned Paterno and went to Paterno’s home, where he reported what he had seen.

Joseph V. Paterno testified to receiving the graduate assistant’s report at his home on a Saturday morning. Paterno testified that the graduate assistant was very upset. Paterno called Tim Curley (“Curley”), Penn State Athletic Director and Paterno’s immediate superior, to his home the very next day, a Sunday, and reported to him that the graduate assistant had seen Jerry Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy.
Wait wait, wait. March 1, 2002 was a FRIDAY. Joe was told about the pedophiliac butt fucking the following SATURDAY and he calls his boss the following SUNDAY.  He waited until SUNDAY to call his boss.

And no one called the cops about the anal rape of a 10 year old boy.

I've taken a few swipes at Randy Bish over at the Trib these past few months but let me say now he's got this one completely right:

No excuse.

November 9, 2011

The Write-in Vote for DA

There were 3,496 write-in votes for Allegheny County District Attorney last night. We're going to assume that a lot of those votes looked like this precinct's did:

Voting Matters

  • Mississippi Votes Down Amendment To Define "Personhood" At Fertilization

  • Ohio Votes Down Union Busting

  • Maine Restores Same-day Voter Registration

  • Pittsburgh Supports Funding for Public Libraries
  • Connecting The Dots

    As I was perusing The Trib this morning (the online edition, of course) I found this column by Professor Donald Boudreaux.  I was intruiged by his examples of early blogging.  Looks like his blog is even older than this one!

    Imagine that.

    Here's how The Trib describes him:
    Donald J. Boudreaux is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. His column runs twice monthly.
    And that's it.

    So I googled him.  And it's interesting to see his Scaife connections (beyond his twice monthly columns at the Trib).  Take a look:

    Please note that the amounts listed in the parentheses are the amounts Scaife's foundations have given to those institutions NOT TO BOUDREAUX HIMSELF.

    I'm not saying that Scaife paid Boudreaux upwards of $3.4 million.  I am saying that along with being an econ prof at the conservative George Mason University (and Scaife donates generously - $250,000 in 2010 - to that University's foundation as well) Boudreaux's been attached to some serious right wing think thanks and those serious right wing think tanks have taken some serious Scaife money ($3.4 mil, in case you forgot) over the years.

    AY-und, he has a twice weekly column in Scaife's newspaper.

    That's all I'm saying.

    This is how the right wing noise machine works.

    November 8, 2011

    When BOTH Editorial Boards Agree On Something

    It is, as Joe Biden once said (in a vastly different context), a big fucking deal.

    In two paragraphs the P-G editorial board frames what's happened:
    It is sickeningly familiar, these allegations that a previously respected member of the community committed unspeakable acts against boys, and that other men in positions of power looked the other way.

    This time it is Jerry Sandusky, longtime defensive coordinator for the Penn State Nittany Lions' storied football program and the founder of an organization that is supposed to help vulnerable youths, who is charged with repeatedly using his position to abuse eight boys over a 12-year period.
    I take a lot of swipes at the Tribune-Review's editorial board but today they get it right:
    Worse, when head coach Joe Paterno reported one alleged incident (as relayed to him by a graduate assistant) to his boss, Tim Curley, the athletic director, Mr. Curley failed to report it to authorities, an indictment alleges. Curley and Gary Schultz, Penn State's senior vice president for finance and business, are accused of covering up the alleged crimes, then lying about it. Curley's on administrative leave; Schultz has "retired."

    Mr. Paterno, who testified before a grand jury, is not charged. But that's no absolution. He should have contacted authorities immediately.

    Penn State President Graham Spanier is not without culpability. Though not charged, prosecutors say he "reviewed and approved" a measure that banned Sandusky from bringing children onto campus "without any further inquiry on his part." Outrageous.

    The courts will decide the fate of Sandusky, Curley and Schultz. As for Paterno and Mr. Spanier, they must resign.
    Despicable shame.  On everyone involved.


    And if you're so inclined, something the OPJ posted a few days ago makes a lot of sense:
    Go to the polls and vote…but when you get to where the District Attorney candidates are listed on the ballot, instead of voting for Zappalla—who is always unopposed and who refuses to investigate the police beating of Jordan Miles—write in Jordan Miles!

    Send a message to the city that Officers Saldutte, Sisak and Ewing must be fired and prosecuted!
    Even if you're not so inclined, you should still should vote.

    November 7, 2011

    Before This Gets Out Of Hand

    Before saying anything else, let me first say that this is NOT a defense of Herman Cain.  This blog post won't take any position on his alleged sexual harassment, though I agree with Bill Green from this week's 4802 (abouth 4:30 in) when he said that his campaign's response to the charges show a level inexperience that's damaged his campaign.

    No, this is about something I came across at Thinkprogress:
    Herman Cain’s many apologists are deeply and tragically wrong. A recent University of Michigan study found that nine in 10 women workers will experience “offensive sexist remarks or being told that they could not do their job properly due to their sex,” and the women who only endure these conditions will be the lucky ones. A massive one in 10 women in the workplace will at some point be “promised promotion or better treatment if they [are] ‘sexually cooperative‘” with a co-worker or supervisor.
    Clicking the link will lead you back to this article from the Daily Mail in the UK.  It starts with this:
    Nine in ten women have suffered some form of sexual discrimination in the workplace, a study has found.

    A vast majority of women workers have experienced ‘gender harassment’, which includes offensive sexist remarks or being told that they could not do their job properly due to their sex.
    That's horrible!  Just horrible.  Too bad the study cited doesn't say what the Daily Mail says it says.  We can snag a few clues from the Mail's next two paragraphs:
    The researchers at the University of Michigan found that 10 per cent of the women surveyed had experienced the most severe form of harassment, in which they were promised promotion or better treatment if they were ‘sexually cooperative’.

    The study questioned women in two male-dominated environments – the US military and the legal profession. It found that although few were subjected to actual advances, such as being groped, 90 per cent had been subjected to gender harassment. [emphasis added.]
    And that's the first objection. The women surveyed worked in two "male dominated" workplaces.  Can we logically extrapolate conclusions of this study to the work place as a whole?  I don't think so.

    But let's assume we can - there's still the problem of  the study itself and how it doesn't say what the Daily Mail (and Thinkprogress) says it says.

    Let's take the military survey first.  Here's how the study describes it:
    Study 1 involved secondary analysis of survey data collected by the U.S. Military. This survey began with a non-proportional stratified, single stage random sample of active-duty members from all branches of the U.S. Military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard); women and people of color were oversampled. The initial sample contained 60,415 individuals, of whom 53,170 were deemed ‘‘eligible’’ (reasons for ineligibility were various, such as inability to locate the sample member). These individuals were invited to complete surveys either on paper or online, and 19,960 usable surveys were returned (38% response rate). The current study focused on the 9,725 women who responded to the survey. (p 5)
    9,725 surveys completed.  Remember that number.  But we're getting ahead of ourselves.  The study uses a four tier assessment of behavior; (1) gender harassment: sexist, (2) gender harassment: crude, (3) unwanted sexual attention, and (4) sexual coercion.

    And here's how they're defined:
    The gender harassment: sexist subscale measured treatment that conveys explicit antipathy toward members of one gender. The subscale consisted of four items, such as ‘‘made offensive sexist remarks (for example, suggesting that people of your gender are not suited for the kind of work you do)’’ and ‘‘referred to people of your gender in insulting or offensive terms.’’ Four items also assessed experiences of gender harassment: crude behavior; although sexual on the surface, this behavior expresses animosity rather than attraction. Examples included: ‘‘made offensive remarks about your appearance, body, or sexual activities’’ and ‘‘made gestures or used body language of a sexual nature that embarrassed or offended you.’’ The unwanted sexual attention subscale consisted of six items, including ‘‘made unwanted attempts to establish a romantic relationship with you despite your efforts to discourage it’’ and ‘‘touched you in a way that made you feel uncomfortable.’’ The sexual coercion subscale contained four items, e.g., ‘‘implied faster promotions or better treatment if you were sexually cooperative’’ (p 5)
    And here are the results:
    The largest group consisted of women who reported the lowest levels of harassment (Group 1; n = 3,933). As seen in Fig. 1, the experiences they described almost exclusively consisted of sexist behavior. The second-largest group (n = 1,161) contained women who had encountered both subtypes of gender harassment—sexist and crude— but very little unwanted sexual attention or sexual coercion (henceforth, this group will be referred to as Group 2, the ‘‘Gender Harassment’’ group). Group 3 (n = 429) disclosed episodes of unwanted sexual attention, in addition to moderate levels of sexist and crude behavior. Group 4 (n = 138) had encountered moderate levels of all types of harassment measured by the SEQ-DoD. Group 5 (n = 37), the smallest profile group, reported the most frequent harassment on all four subscales. In sum, 89.4% of harassment victims fell into Group 1 or 2, which described experiences of gender harassment but virtually no unwanted sexual attention or coercion. (p 7)
    This is where the 9 out of 10 stat comes from.  And the 1 out of 10 stat as well.  But did you see the (n = ...) numbers? Do you have a calculator? Add them up. You'll get 5,698.

    But wait, there were 9,725 surveys used, right?  What happened to the remaining 4 thousand?

    The answer is found on Table 2 (p 8).  There were 4,014 non-victims.  Out of the 9,700 or so women surveyed, 4 thousand of them did not suffer any sort of harassment.

    The reporting, however, says it's 9 out of 10.

    It's just plain wrong.

    9 out of 10 of those who said they'd been harassed in some way were harassed with "virtually no unwanted sexual attention or coercion."

    And so that 1 out of 10 who'd suffered through some sort of unwanted sexual attention or coercion is really only 1 out of 10 of the 57% who'd been harassed.

    So the Daily Mail, by simply misreading the numbers, simply doubled the size of the problem.

    Let's take a look at the same numbers in the other survey.  In this second, smaller survey, 1,425 women's surveys were used (p 9).  Of those 851 are listed as "non-victims."  That's about 60%.  So it's the remaining 491 that reported harassment.  If we follow the same pattern as the military survey, that means that 92% of those surveyed, suffered harassment with no unwanted sexual attention, 8% were.  If my math is correct, that's about 2.5% of the total number of surveys.

    That's hardly 1 out of 10.

    The Daily Mail and Think Progress got this wrong.

    None of this should be construed by anyone to think that I think sexual harassment isn't a big deal.  It is a very big deal.

    But if you're going to write about it honestly, you have to get the numbers right.  You simply have to.

    Penn State Scandal

    My friend Ginny wrote:
    If you’re like me, you’ve spent a portion of this weekend reading the details of the Jerry Sandusky case. If you’re like me, you read the entire Grand Jury report. You read it and you wept. You read it and you got angry at everyone and everything and you wondered if this was real life.
    Ginny's disgusted.  Lotsa people are disgusted.  I was listening to The Fan this afternoon and everyone I heard talking about it was disgusted.

    I'm disgusted, too.

    If you haven't read the Grand Jury report, you can read it here.

    It's pretty harsh at times - just to let you know.

    No one looks good.  No one.

    Typical Monday, I guess - a Trib Twofer

    This'll have to be short - I was up late watching the unfortunate events play themselves out on my TV.  Pallid as a bust of Pallas right now (look it up if you don't get it) and it's not even bleak December yet.

    But onto this morning's less than transparent contribution from the Tribune-Review to our civic discourse.

    It references a study by the Heritage Foundation complaining about how public school teachers are overpaid.

    At this point, I'd usually just point out the millions (almost $24 million, according to mediamatters) of dollars Richard Mellon Scaife's funneled to the Heritage Foundation over the years.  I might even point out that the publisher of this editorial is actually the vice chairman of the board of trustees (there's a nice picture of him there, of you're still curious as to what he looks like).  I'd then usually point out that none of this information is ever communicated to the Trib's readership while it touts the scholarship its publisher has so consistently and generously supported.

    But I said this is a twofer.

    Take a look at the authors of the study.  From the bottom of the page:
    Jason Richwine, Ph.D. is Senior Policy Analyst in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation, and Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D. is a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
    Another thinktank! With some more Scaife connections!

    According to mediamatters, Scaife's foundations have given about $8.4 million to the AEI between 1988 and 2009.  So this doesn't include the:
    • $500,000 from Sarah Scaife in 2010
    That's the twofer.  I'm thinking there's nearly 33 million reasons why Scaife's braintrust should include Scaife's support of those two think tanks when Scaife's paper cites their research.

    Actually, come to think of it, that's probably have 33 million reasons not to.

    The circle jerk continues.

    November 6, 2011

    The Trib, The Towel, And The Bus

    5 days ago, Richard Mellon Scaife's editorial board threw in the towel on the Raja campaign.

    Today, they throw him under the bus.  It's hardly surprising that the Über Conservatives there would trash Rich Fitzgerald, the Democratic nominee, but look at how they treat the Republican nominee:
    Rich Fitzgerald, the Democrat nominee, is a caricature of the worst 19th-century pol -- swaggering, arrogant and ignorant. Think of his baseless smearing of a Rankin steel company as a "sweatshop." Think of his outrageous "pay-to-play" e-mail to the Marcellus shale industry. Think of his vow to preserve an unconstitutional property-tax system that, in typical "progressive" fashion, shafts the very people he claims he wants to help.

    D. Raja, the Republican nominee, is a caricature of the "polibuff" -- a political buffoon. Lots of plans, not a whole lot of specifics. Lofty if not admirable goals, largely beef-bereft. Worse is that Mr. Raja, too, advocates a moratorium on the long delayed but now underway property reassessment -- despite the unconstitutionality of the existing property-tax system and repeated court orders to fix it. As a businessman, Raja should know better. An illegal property-tax system is no harbinger of economic growth.
    To them, Raja's not just a political buffoon but a caricature of a one.  That's harsh.

    5 days ago, they found fault with his campaign staff as well:
    The mess that is the Raja candidacy should force all political candidates to question the campaign consultants running his show. Not only have they repeatedly eschewed the advice of more experienced GOP hands, they established policy proposals based on polling, not on what was right.
    Today, Colin McNickle completes the task:
    While Mr. Fitzgerald, the Democrats' nominee for Allegheny County chief executive, suggests a Fleecing of the Gullible is in progress, the more apropos critique is that, despite some success, Mr. Raja's consultants lack intellectual maturity.

    The young-buck duo of Mark Harris and Mike DeVanney cut off the GOP ACE nominee at the thighs when, during the primary, they used polling to determine that Raja's position on the oft-delayed property reassessment -- ordered by the courts because the old system was unconstitutional -- should parrot the Dems' vow to delay it even further.

    It ranks among the stupidest decisions in modern Allegheny County politics.
    Then there's this:
    [Harris and DeVanney] also dismiss some who helped bring them to the dance and others who can cancel their future dances. But they dismiss the growing legions of the latter at their even greater professional and financial peril. It will be a difficult, but necessary, lesson for them to learn. [emphasis added.]
    Uh-oh. Looks like The Trib's found who to blame.  And they're gonna pay for it for a while.

    November 5, 2011

    Note On The Comments...

    Looks like the commenter "Winding Down" has removed all of his/her/their comments.

    I have no idea why.

    It leads to a rather confusing comment trail.  Apologies all around for any confusion.

    November 4, 2011

    ALEC Gets Some British Press

    We haven't looked at ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, for a while.

    Googling this morning, I discovered that ALEC's triggered some interest across the Atlantic.  From Diane Roberts of The Guardian:
    Presidential candidate and angry white man Newt Gingrich seems nostalgic for the good old Jim Crow poll tax days: he has called for people to have to pass an American historical literacy test before they can vote. His colleagues on the anti-democratic right have not gone quite so far, but 38 states, most of them controlled by Republicans, are concocting all kinds of ingenious ways to suppress the vote. A new report from New York University's Brennan Center for Justice says that more than five million people – enough to swing the 2012 presidential election – could find themselves disenfranchised, especially if they're poor or old or students or black or Latino.
    Don't think for a minute that's not the plan.  

    Roberts continues:
    Hyper-conservative governors and legislators, working with templates produced by a shady cabal called the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), have pushed through laws to cut the number of voting days, impede groups registering new voters, demand proof of citizenship and otherwise make it more difficult to cast a ballot.
    To make it more difficult for traditionally democratic voters to vote.  Don't think for a minute that's not the plan.

    Too bad there's no "voter fraud" at all.  From the Brennan Law center website:
    The Brennan Center for Justice has monitored and investigated claims of voter fraud for years. We have consistently found that accusations of voter fraud are amplified out of all proportion to reality, and that they frequently reach a crescendo when their appearance would assist one side in a bitter political fight over elections.
    But what of our lovely home state of Pennsylvania? The Brennan Center cites one bill in legislation, HB 934 as a "Photo ID Required to Vote" bill.

    Remember HB 934?  We wrote about it in June.  Can you remember who's the sponsor of the bill?  That's right, the sponsor of the bill is our old friend Daryl Metcalfe.

    Metcalfe's a also member of ALEC.

    No voter fraud but the legislation's intended to block democratic voters because the GOP claims that there is.

    How they love Democracy!!

    Let's shout this whisper

    In case you haven't already heard, there's a "secret whisper" write-in campaign for next week's election:
    Start spreading the news to the people…

    Go to the polls and vote…but when you get to where the District Attorney candidates are listed on the ballot, instead of voting for Zappalla—who is always unopposed and who refuses to investigate the police beating of Jordan Miles—write in Jordan Miles!

    Send a message to the city that Officers Saldutte, Sisak and Ewing must be fired and prosecuted!
    And, it has its own Facebook page too.

    Sounds good to me.

    November 3, 2011

    Occupy Pittsburgh Update

    From the P-G, we get a:
    Occupy Pittsburgh drew its largest police presence to date as more than 100 supporters marched through Oakland Wednesday night, sometimes blocking lanes of traffic and chanting messages against police brutality.

    At one point, more than 10 police cars and motorcycles were used to move the crowd off Bellefield Avenue. No large-scale arrests were made during the nearly three-hour demonstration.

    The march began at Schenley Plaza about 6:30 p.m. and snaked throughout the college neighborhood. It was designed to show support for the California-based Occupy Oakland, where one veteran was left in critical condition following a confrontation with police.
    And so on.  There were about 15 more paragraphs.

    Our good friends at the Scaife-owned Trib were much more succinct (unless there's something published in the paper that's not accessible to the Google):
    Several hundred members of Occupy Pittsburgh and their supporters marched through the streets of Oakland tonight.

    There were no arrests and no reports of damage by protestors, who marched in the streets surrounding the University of Pittsburgh campus, according to Pittsburgh police Cmdr. George Trosky.

    Elizabeth C. Pittinger, executive director of the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board, monitored the protest and said police exhibited "extraordinary patience and restraint."

    Pittinger said marchers, who did not have a permit, spilled into the streets and obstructed traffic for a short time before heeding orders from police to keep to the sidewalks.
    There were no more paragraphs.

    Occupy Pittsburgh.

    November 2, 2011

    Of Course There's No Right Wing Terrorism. Of Course Not.

    There's rarely any truly domestic terrorism in this country - it's all those Muslims looking to impose Sharia on your aunt Sadie. And even if there is domestic terrorism, it's all those dirty hippies who smoke weed and read Saul Alinsky.  It's never ever right wing.

    Unless it is.

    From Reuters:
    Federal authorities on Tuesday arrested four Georgia men accused of plotting to buy explosives and produce a deadly biological toxin to attack fellow U.S. citizens and government officials.

    The Justice Department said the men were members of a fringe domestic militia group and had planned to manufacture ricin for use in their attacks.
    But it wasn't just ricin:
    At a meeting at Thomas' house in March, Thomas said he had enough weapons to arm everyone at the table and that he had compiled a "Bucket List" of government employees, politicians, corporate leaders and media members he felt needed to be "taken out" to "make the country right again," according to court documents.
    The FBI has more:
    Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Ga.; Dan Roberts, 67, of Toccoa, Ga.; Ray H. Adams, 65, of Toccoa; and Samuel J. Crump, 68, of Toccoa, were arrested today relating to plans to obtain an unregistered explosive device and silencer and to manufacture the biological toxin ricin for use in attacks against other U.S. citizens and government personnel and officials.

    U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Sally Quillian Yates said, “These defendants, who are alleged to be part of a fringe militia group, are charged with planning attacks against their own fellow citizens and government. To carry out their agenda, two of the defendants allegedly purchased purported explosives and a silencer, while the other two defendants took steps to attempt to produce a deadly biological toxin. While many are focused on the threat posed by international violent extremists, this case demonstrates that we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens within our own borders who threaten our safety and security.”
    TPM has more:
    Thomas allegedly said that there “is no way for us, as militiamen, to save this country, to save Georgia, without doing something that’s highly highly illegal. Murder. That’s fucking illegal, but it’s gotta be done,” Thomas allegedly said.

    “When it comes time to saving the Constitution, that means some people gotta die,” Thomas allegedly said.

    On a subsequent April 16 meeting, Thomas, Roberts, Adams and others talked about the need to take action against the federal government, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit.

    “I’d say the first ones that need to die is the ones in the government buildings,” Adams allegedly said. “When it comes down to it, I can kill somebody.”
    Nope.  Not right wing domestic terrorism at all.

    November 1, 2011

    The The Trib, Raja, and The Towel

    In this week's Tuesday Takes, there's not one, not two, but three (count 'em THREE) take downs of the Raja campaign.  The first take down:
    Desperate Raja: Gloom, despair and agony surely have set in among the campaign staff of D. Raja, the Republican nominee for Allegheny County chief executive. It selectively quoted from the Trib's Friday lance to Mr. Raja and his Democrat opponent, Rich Fitzgerald, in a campaign e-mail. Raja's staffers mention only Mr. Fitzgerald's part of the lance. "Politics"? No, bush-league dishonesty.
    Did you get the Hee Haw reference?

    Here's the reference:

    Here's the second take down:
    Exposing Raja: A Raja phone bank caller got more than he bargained for Sunday afternoon when the callee refused to accept the campaign's bosh at face value. So flustered was the former at the ferocity of the latter's pushback over Raja's proposed illegal, court-defying property reassessment moratorium that even he essentially was forced to stipulate that Raja could not legally take the oath of office if elected. Give that phone bank volunteer a cigar.
    And the third:
    Behind Raja: The mess that is the Raja candidacy should force all political candidates to question the campaign consultants running his show. Not only have they repeatedly eschewed the advice of more experienced GOP hands, they established policy proposals based on polling, not on what was right. That's not leadership; that's political opportunism. And it should make everyone wonder if the Raja campaign is promoting good government or political hacksterism.

    I think this means that one week before the election The Trib has thrown in the towel on the Raja campaign.