Democracy Has Prevailed.

December 31, 2012

New Kensington Ten Commandments Monument Update

Just as there's a Facebook page supporting the (still unconstitutional) Ten Commandments monument in Connellsville, there's now a Facebook page calling for the removal of the (equally unconstitutional) Ten Commandments monument in New Kensington.

From the description:
This purpose of this group is to show support and solidarity for plaintiffs in Freedom From Religion Foundation v. New Kensington-Arnold School District, a federal lawsuit currently before the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Plaintiffs object to a stone monument depicting the 10 Commandments prominently displayed in front of Valley High School, a public school in New Kensington, Pennsylvania.

Such displays show overt favoritism for Christianity on behalf of the government and violate the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment as applied to the states via the 14th Amendment, as found by the United States Supreme Court in Stone v. Graham.
Anyone know if there's a similar facebook page for the monument in Connellsville?

December 30, 2012

A Warm Tribune-Review Sendoff

Where Eric Heyl offers a nice moist towel (metaphorical, of course) to Ed Feulner, Trib columnist and current President of the Heritage Foundation.

For those not familiar with this story, here's some background.  Earlier this month the Tribune-Review reported that South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint would be resigning from the Senate to replace Feulner as President of the Heritage Foundation.  According to this piece from Newsmax, this makes for one big happy:
Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner is enthusiastically welcoming the appointment of South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint as his replacement.

In announcing that DeMint will step down from the Senate on Dec. 31 to take over the running of the foundation, Feulner issued the following statement.

“Three years ago, I told the Heritage Foundation's Board of Trustees that I would step down as president in April of 2013. I urged them to set up a formal succession process and begin a national search.

“During their nationwide search, the Board looked for a successor who would keep Heritage on its course of growth and innovation, and preserve our widely acknowledged status as an institutional center of the conservative movement. And the Board has found a splendid successor.

“I'm delighted to announce that the Board has elected Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina to take over next April as President of The Heritage Foundation.
Do I need to add that Tribune-Review owner Richard Mellon Scaife is the Vice-President of the Board of Trustees for Heritage and also owns 40% of Newsmax?

Nice tight little web of journalismness there, huh?  All those connections to Scaife.  No mention of them in Scaife's paper...

Anyway, I wanted to point out a few things.  I think we can gather where Heyl did his research for his first question:
Q: You shepherded The Heritage Foundation from a nine-member outfit to an organization that employees 275-plus and occupies three Washington, D.C., buildings. Were you confident setting out that you could grow the foundation into what The New York Times once called “the Parthenon of the conservative metropolis”?
If you go to Ed Feulner's bio at Heritage, you'll see these two paragraphs at the top:
Edwin J. Feulner’s leadership as President of The Heritage Foundation has transformed the think tank from a small policy shop into America’s powerhouse of conservative ideas and what the New York Times calls “the Parthenon of the conservative metropolis.”

Under Feulner, Heritage’s presence in Washington grew from a nine-member staff working out of a rented office on Capitol Hill in 1977 to a 275-person organization occupying three office buildings near the U.S. Capitol today.
Eric, that's some great in-depth research, my friend!  Must've taken you all of 6 seconds to find.  In touting Heritage, Feulner points out how it became such a powerhouse; credibility, marketing and timeliness.

On its credibility, he responds with this on pointing out some of Heritage's significant achievements:
It‘s been 35 years so I could go through a long, long list. But in the ’80s, it has to be when Ronald Reagan (backed) the anti-missile defense system, or Star Wars, as it was then called, and (the ideas) that tax reform and tax cuts lead to a growing economy. the great achievements are SDI and Trickle-down Economics - but was any of it true?

Well we have the American Physical Society way back in 1987 already doubting the feasibility of the Strategic Defense Initiative and we all know how well Trickle-down works:
The tax cuts came in 1981, Reagan's first year in office. The administration's plan slashed corporate and individual income tax rates, with the biggest cut in the top rate. The Reagan team promised that their tax cuts would jolt the economy back to life because, as the Wall Street Journal's editors put it, "high taxes interfere with natural human creativity and drive." And the true believers went so far as to suggest that the economy would grow fast enough that tax revenues would actually rise, making the tax cuts painless.

The results never came close to measuring up to the supply-side rhetoric. For starters, the tax cuts busted the federal budget. The federal deficit ballooned from 2.7% of GDP in 1980 to 6% of GDP in 1983, the largest peacetime deficit in history, and was still 5% of GDP in 1986. Tax revenues did pick up, especially after the 1983 payroll tax increase kicked in, reducing the deficit somewhat. Still, tax revenues grew far more slowly over than the 1980s business cycle (2.5% from 1979 to 1989) than they did in the 1990s business cycle (4.1% from 1989 to 2000).
Yea, great achievements, there Ed.

One bit of early Heritage history not brought up much these days (and a h/t to an astute reader for bringing this to my attention): Roger Pearson.  From the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism at Ferris State University:
Fascist ideologist Roger Pearson, a Pioneer Fund beneficiary ($568,000 from 1981-1991) and author of Eugenics and Race, published by Willis Carto's notoriously anti-Semitic Noontide Press, argues that the white race is endangered by inferior genetic stock, but with proper use of modern biological technology "a new super-generation" descended from "only the fittest" of the previous generation can be produced. The first nation to adopt such a scientific breeding program, Pearson contends, "would dominate the rest of the world."

In 1965 Pearson became editor of Western Destiny, a magazine established by Carto and dedicated to spreading fascist ideology. Using the pseudonym [link to deposition] of Stephan Langton, Pearson then became the editor of The New Patriot, a short-lived magazine published in 1966-67 to conduct "a responsible but penetrating inquiry into every aspect of the Jewish Question," which included articles such as "Zionists and the Plot Against South Africa," "Early Jews and the Rise of Jewish Money Power," and "Swindlers of the Crematoria."

Despite Pearson's long history of association with neo-Nazi groups, he was appointed in 1977 to the original board of editors of Policy Review, a journal published by the respected Heritage Foundation, a conservative political research organization in Washington, D.C. [Emphasis added.]
After an expose in the Washington Post in May, 1977, Pearson was asked to leave Heritage.  Feulner became President of Heritage in 1977 - would've been nice to see a comment on how/why Heritage fired the   fascist (maybe even why they hired him in the first place), huh?

December 28, 2012

More Climate Blah-Blah

Yesterday, Mediamatters named Marc Morano the Climate Change Misinformer Of The Year saying among other things that:
These days Morano is paid by an industry-funded group to run the climate denial website At Climate Depot, Morano serves as the de facto research department for the right-wing media's attacks on climate science, and mobilizes his readers to target individual scientists and reporters for telling the public about climate change threats. The site was instrumental in manufacturing the 2009 "Climategate" controversy, which Morano incorrectly claimed exposed "deliberate manipulation of facts and data" by climate scientists. Morano is a darling of the organization most committed to climate denial, the Heartland Institute.
The "industry-funded" group mentioned above is called the "Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow" (CFACT) and Sourcewatch has this oh-so surprising bit of info on CFACT:
Media Transparency calculates that between 1991 and 2006 CFACT gained $1,280,000 from 18 grants from only two foundations -- the Carthage Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation.
Actually, according to the, those two foundations controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife have given an even $2,000,000 to CFACT between 1996 and 2009 ($2.433 million if you adjust for inflation).

Which made me curious to see if Mr Morano actually made it onto Mr Scaife's pages and whether any mention is made of CFACT's financial connections to the Trib's owner.

Of course he made it into the Trib and of course there's no mention of the money (there never is)

Take a look at this from this past August where Eric Heyl (Hey Eric, how's it going?) tosses out the first softball:
Marc Morano operates, an Internet clearinghouse for information on climate, environmental and energy news. Morano, a former aide to U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., spoke to the Trib on the latest developments in the climate-change debate.

Q: It‘s the hottest year on record so far in the Northeast. Must be global warming, right?

A: Globally, it‘s not the hottest. In fact, here is the problem: The heat they are touting as proof of man-made global warming is occurring in the continental United States, which is less than 2 percent of the Earth‘s surface. So far in 2012, (global) temperatures have been slightly below the average for the last 15 years. So if the Earth isn‘t actually in record warmth globally, why are we looking at 2 percent (of its surface) and then trying to draw extrapolations?
Let's stop right there. They're speaking in early August, 2012 so we can safely assume that the data Morano's commenting on is from the previous month.  So let's have a look at the data.  Heyl was probably responding to this (or something like it):
Aug. 6, 2012 — If you live in the Northeast, welcome to the hottest year on record. New data released by the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University shows the Northeast's seven-month average (January through July) of 49.9 degrees was the warmest such period since 1895, the year such record keeping began. It was the second warmest such period in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and the warmest first seven months of the year in the rest of the Northeast.
But look at what Morano did.  He sidesteps the data by saying that the Continental US is only 2% of the planet's surface and so it's an extrapolation to make any generalizations about the whole from such a small sliver.  Fair enough  but then he says that 2012 is slightly cooler than the average of the past 15 years.

He's what you call "cherry picking" the data.  By limiting his scope to the last decade and a half, he's able to make a more or less useless extrapolation himself.  In fact, according to NOAA:
The average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2012 was 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 15.8°C (60.4°F). This is the fourth warmest July since records began in 1880.
Who's cherry picking the data?  Amazing how much anti-science you can buy for $2.4 million, huh?

December 27, 2012

Meanwhile, Outside...

From the most recent NOAA "State of the Climate" report:
The average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for November 2012 was 0.67°C (1.21°F) above the 20th century average of 12.9°C (60.4°F). This is the fifth warmest November since records began in 1880. Including this November, the 10 warmest Novembers have occurred in the past 12 years.
The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for January–November 2012 was the eighth warmest such period on record, at 0.59°C (1.06°F) above the 20th century average.
Something to think about the next time a climate denier tells you that global warming "stopped in 1998."

December 24, 2012

Since It's Christmas Eve...

And so, for my Christian friends (even though this music was composed for Eastertime):

Merry Christmas, my friends.

December 23, 2012

Jack Kelly Sunday

In a column about a particular stream of liberal racism, Jack Kelly (conservative columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) ended things with these three paragraphs:
What does it say about liberals that so many think only losers and whiners can be authentically black?

To demand people think or act a certain way because of the color of their skin is the essence of racism. That's why Martin Luther King dreamed of a day when his children would be judged "not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

But then, according to his niece, MLK was a Republican.
It's Sunday and I am in a particular antsy fact-checking mood.  So let me start with that last sentence and ask, is that true?

While it's certainly true that Dr. King's niece said that, a responsible columnist (or at the very least a responsible newspaper employing that columnist) would verify whether what Dr. King's niece said was actually true.  If it isn't, then passing along her falsehood conflicts with the mission of any newspaper: to inform the public.

Turns out what she said isn't true.

Politifact checked this story out 11 months ago and found it to be "false."  Part of their evidence goes back even further:
However, in a 2008 Associated Press story, King’s son and namesake Martin Luther King III said:"It is disingenuous to imply that my father was a Republican. He never endorsed any presidential candidate, and there is certainly no evidence that he ever even voted for a Republican. It is even more outrageous to suggest he would support the Republican Party of today, which has spent so much time and effort trying to suppress African American votes in Florida and many other states."
Then there's the letter of 1 October 1956 to Viva Sloan who asked him about the Eisenhower-Stevensen presidential race of that year. In the letter he wrote:
In the past I have always voted the Democratic ticket.
But that was 1956. What about the next election, in 1960?  In the book, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, there's this passage:
I was grateful to Senator Kennedy for the genuine concern he expressed in my arrest. After the call I made a statement to the press thanking him but not endorsing him. Very frankly, I did not feel at that time that there was much difference between Kennedy and Nixon. I could find some things in the background of both men that I didn't particularly agree with. Remembering what Nixon had done out in California to Helen Gahegen Douglas, I felt that he was an opportunist at many times who had no real grounding in basic convictions, and his voting record was not good. He improved when he became vice president, but, when he was a congressman and a senator, he didn't have a good voting record.

With Mr. Kennedy, after I looked over his voting record, I felt at points that he was so concerned about being president of the United States that he would compromise basic principles to become president. But I had to look at something else beyond the man-the people who surrounded him-and I felt that Kennedy was surrounded by better people. It was on that basis that I felt that Kennedy would make the best president.

I never came out with an endorsement. My father did, but I never made one. I took this position in order to maintain a nonpartisan posture, which I have followed all along in order to be able to look objectively at both parties at all times. As I said to him all along, I couldn't, and I never changed that even after he made the call during my arrest. I made a statement of thanks, and I expressed my gratitude for the call, but in the statement I made it clear that I did not endorse any candidate and that this was not to be interpreted as an endorsement.

I had to conclude that the then known facts about Kennedy were not adequate to make an unqualified judgment in his favor. I do feel that, as any man, he grew a great deal. After he became president I thought we really saw two Kennedys-a Kennedy the first two years and another Kennedy emerging in 1963. He was getting ready to throw off political considerations and see the real moral issues. Had President Kennedy lived, I would probably have endorsed him in 1964. But, back at that time, I concluded that there was something to be desired in both candidates. [Emphases added.]
Yea, Dr. King was a Republican.  Sure he was.  Perhaps in the alternate reality of right wing politics, but not in, you know, actual reality.

At best, Jack Kelly's guilty of a lie of omission (he knew that what Dr. King's niece said was inaccurate but went with it anyway, hiding behind some "according to..." weasel words) or simple bad reporting (he didn't bother to check the "fact" because it fit his story).  It's always the same question: Which is it, Jack?  Are you dishonest or incompetent?

On the other hand, the P-G should never have let this one off Jack's desk.  While I feel bad for whomever is entrusted with the impossible task of fact-checking Jack, sometimes the misinformation is just too much to allow.

December 22, 2012

CIA Confirms...

Hey remember this?

It was (partially) about how the new movie "Zero Dark Thirty" purported to show how the torture led to the killing of Osama bin Laden and how it was all BS.

And now the CIA's confirmed it.

From the CIA's website:
Second, the film creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques that were part of our former detention and interrogation program were the key to finding Bin Ladin. That impression is false. As we have said before, the truth is that multiple streams of intelligence led CIA analysts to conclude that Bin Ladin was hiding in Abbottabad. Some came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well. And, importantly, whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved. [Emphasis added.]
And, of course, torture's illegal - whether it works or not (which it doesn't).

All Too Familiar

It is, by now, a familiar story. The Tribune-Review editorial board cites one or more think-tanks to support its position while simultaneously neglecting to point out the financial support given that think tank by their boss, Richard Mellon Scaife.

Today is no different:
The challenges that America‘s aging presents for Social Security‘s solvency must be resolved by confronting them head-on, not by relying on immigration-driven population growth.

A new Center for Immigration Studies ( report analyzes U.S. Census Bureau projections to explain why.
And then a few paragraphs later:
Plus, as Federation for American Immigration Reform ( spokesman Ira Mehlman points out, immigrants tend to hold low-paying jobs and eventually will collect Social Security benefits — but their Social Security contributions won‘t offset those benefits‘ cost.
That's two think tanks.

We've written about the CIS as recently as last April.  Then we caught them in a pretty blatant misrepresentation of the truth.  Earlier we ran some of the numbers showing financial support Scaife's foundations have given to the CIS.  Let's update them now.

According to the Bridgeproject (formerly the Media Matters Transparency Project), the CIS has received $18,980,086 in foundation financial support (note: none of the amounts are adjusted for inflation) over the years.  During that time, Scaife's foundations have given $3,889,500 (or just a shade over 20%).  Bridgeproject also reports that the Federation for American Immigration Reform received a total of $9,658,000 in foundation support and during that time Scaife's foundations gave $1,822,500 (or a shade under 19%).

Now here's an interesting bit about CIS and FAIR from the Southern Poverty Law Center:
Although it goes unmentioned on its website and its other materials, CIS was born in 1985 as a program of FAIR, which had been run by Tanton since he started it in 1979. Even then, Tanton understood that CIS would soon need to stand on its own in order to be seen as the "independent, non-partisan" organization that its mission statement claims today. In a letter to Cordelia Scaife May, a far-right philanthropist who supported many of Tanton's nativist endeavors, Tanton was candid.

"For credibility," he told the woman whose foundation would go on to support CIS for decades, "this will need to be independent of FAIR, though the Center for Immigration Studies, as we're calling it, is starting off as a project of FAIR."

Tanton had a clear vision of the complementary, if unheralded, relationship between FAIR and CIS. As he wrote in another 1985 letter, CIS' role would be to produce reports "for later passage to FAIR, the activist organization, to remedy." And indeed, to this day, FAIR frequently cites CIS to back up its lobbying.
And now the Braintrust is citing both.

December 20, 2012

How did they get here? (Updated)

Looking at our stat counter, it appears that quite a few people have arrived at this blog in the past few days by way of a two-year old post -- this one:
Pat Toomey: "My idea of gun control is a steady aim"
Hmm, I wonder if he wants to revise that statement?

UPDATE: Here's video of Toomey making his "joke" (Thanks, OPJ):

December 19, 2012

Yea, Not So Much...

You'd think Scaife's Braintrust would give it a rest some time.  But still, it seems that whenever the opportunity presents itself to leave out just enough of the facts to shade a story their way for political gain, they'll do it.

Take a look at this from today:
What would a disaster-relief bill submitted just days before Christmas be without a good ol‘-fashioned Washington tree trimming? Indeed, President Obama‘s $60.4 billion bauble-laden Tannenbaum for Hurricane Sandy relief truly decks taxpayers‘ halls.

Fiscal watchdogs are calling it “Sandy Scam” for valid reasons. Billions of dollars are slated for areas and special interests that have nothing to do with damages from Sandy, according to The New York Post and The Washington Times.
And they go on to list some of the "pork":
  • $13 billion for “mitigation projects” to prepare for future storms. 
  • $150 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for fisheries in Alaska. 
  • $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Justice and Homeland Security departments.
First thing to do is to take a look at those sources. The first, from Rupert Murdoch's New York Post has all the info the braintrust uses
President Obama’s $60.4 billion request for Hurricane Sandy relief has morphed into a huge Christmas stocking of goodies for federal agencies and even the state of Alaska, The Post has learned.

The pork-barrel feast includes more than $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Homeland Security and Justice departments. It also includes a whopping $150 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to dole out to fisheries in Alaska and $2 million for the Smithsonian Institution to repair museum roofs in DC.
Interesting that they'd favor the Post piece, being that it quotes a fellow who's from a by now familiar think tank:
Matt Mayer of the conservative Heritage Foundation slammed the request as an “enormous Christmas gift worth of stuff.”

“The funding here should be focused on helping the community and the people, not replacing federal assets or federal items,” he said.
We all know the drill: Scaife - Heritage money, blah blah blah.

Take a close look at what the braintrust wrote. Doesn't it look as if all that stuff is unrelated to Hurricane Sandy?  They even call them "baubles."

Now let's take a look at the proposed Senate bill.  Here's what it says about the money to go to the Federal Bureau of Investigation:
For an additional amount for ‘‘Federal Bureau of Investigation, Salaries and Expenses’’ for necessary expenses related to the consequences of Hurricane Sandy, $4,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2013: Provided, That such amount is designated by the Congress as being for an emergency requirement pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. [Emphasis added.]
It's money to replace the stuff destroyed by the Hurricane.  Not an extra.

And I am not sure it's at all a bad idea to pour some money into preventing damage in the future.

But let's look at what's really boiling the blood of the true blue conservatives in Amurika: the $150 million going to Alaska (that "fiercely independent" red state where Sarah Palin is from!), shall we?

This press release from the Senate Appropriations Committee states:
$150 million for fishery disasters declared by the Secretary of Commerce in 2012.
A little searching leads us to this determination by the Secretary of the Commerce. W-a-a-a-a-y down the bottom of the page, we see a link titled "Department of Commerce Determination for Alaska."  Click it and you'll find the Secretary's letter to the Republican Governor of Alaska, Sean Parnell.  The first two paragraphs of the letter read:
Thank you for your letters from July 14 and August 16 requesting a determination of a commercial fishery failure due to a fisheries resource disaster under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (MSA) for certain Alaska Chinook salmon fisheries.

After reviewing the information provided by the State of Alaska, I have determined that a commercial fishery failure due to a fishery resource disaster exists for three regions of the Alaska Chinook salmon fishery under Section 308(b) of the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act of 1986 (lFA) and Section 312(a) of the MSA.
Huh.  You'd never have guessed from the Trib's editorial that the pork from the Obama Administrationwas actually requested by The State of Alaska, would you?

If they're such a fiercely independent state that's devoted to the idea of rugged individualism and free market purity, why did it ask the guv'ment for help with its fishing economy?  From the Determination:
Commercial fishery failures can have cascading economic impacts on subsistence and sport fisheries. Rural communities on the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers depend on both the commercial and subsistence Chinook salmon fisheries for income and survival. In addition, the Cook Inlet Chinook salmon fishery supports an important sport fishery, which is one of the principal economic drivers for the local and regional economy.

This determination provides a basis for Congress to appropriate disaster relief funding under the MSA and the IF A, and for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide assistance to affected communities.
Yea, the Trib should have done its homework on this.

Video of the Day

December 17, 2012

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Herr Beethoven

December 16th is generally assumed to be Ludwig van Beethoven's birthday.  Today is the anniversary of his baptism.

In light of the current tragedy in my home state of Connecticut I thought it doubly apt to post the Egmont, yet again, for Ludwig van's birthday.  It was also performed at the memorial service after the Munich Massacre of 1972 at the Olympics.

There is no music more uplifting than this:

The Trib Leaving Stuff Out. Again.

Yep - our friends on the Tribune-Review editorial board are leaving stuff out again.  Just enough to fill you, their loyal readers, with an incomplete understanding of the issue.  And as always, I suspect that's the point.

The issue at hand is in California:
Error-riddled “science” used as the bogus basis for ruining a Northern California organic oyster-farm business is beyond outrageous.

National Review Online details the struggles of Marin County‘s Lunny family, their Drakes Bay Oyster Co. and 30-plus employees against the National Park Service and Interior Department, which want the farm for a wilderness area.
Here is the NRO story.

The braintrust ends with this:
Contending they‘re being deprived of their property without due process, the Lunnys are taking their fight to court, where they deserve to prevail. If they don‘t, Goodman warns, a precedent favoring perversion of science for extreme environmentalism‘s sake — an Obama administration hallmark — could be set.
And this leads us to their biggest omission.  It all depends on the definition of "their property" because, you see, the land that the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. was on wasn't actually owned by the Lunnys.  And how do I know this?

From the third paragraph of the NRO piece:
On November 29, Ken Salazar, secretary of the interior, announced his decision not to renew Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s lease on National Park Service land about 30 miles north of San Francisco.
Before reading about this, how easy was it to assume that the Obama guv'ment was looking to seize the Lunny's land on the basis of some faulty science?  Next question to be settled would be about the lease - how old is it, how long did the Lunnys know about it and so on.  Here's something that might help from the San Francisco Gate:
Kevin Lunny, a local rancher who bought the shellfish operation from Johnson Oyster Co. in 2004, said he was shocked when he got a call directly from Salazar on Thursday morning telling him that the 40-year occupancy agreement would not be renewed.
The lease (which you can read here) is 40 years old and they have to have known about it for 8 years.

If you read it, you'll find that the owner of the Johnson Oyster company sold the land, buildings, etc to the guv'ment in 1972 for $79,200 (about $436,000 today, adjusted for inflation) and retained "a reservation of use and occupancy for forty (40) years."  So the land, the buildings and so on weren't the Lunnys to begin with.

The Trib does mention the rider that Senator Diane Feinstein inserted into a 2009 appropriations bill.  Here's the text of that rider:
SEC. 124. Prior to the expiration on November 30, 2012 of the Drake’s Bay Oyster Company’s Reservation of Use and Occupancy and associated special use permit (‘‘existing authorization’’) within Drake’s Estero at Point Reyes National Seashore, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to issue a special use permit with the same terms and conditions as the existing authorization, except as provided herein, for a period of 10 years from November 30, 2012: Provided, That such extended authorization is subject to annual payments to the United States based on the fair market value of the use of the Federal property for the duration of such renewal. The Secretary shall take into consideration recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences Report pertaining to shellfish mariculture in Point Reyes National Seashore before modifying any terms and conditions of the extended authorization. Nothing in this section shall be construed to have any application to any location other than Point Reyes National Seashore; nor shall anything in this section be cited as precedent for management of any potential wilderness outside the Seashore. [Italics in original.]
Now about that science.  Did you know that there was a peer-review of the science used by the Department of the Interior's decision not to extend the 40 year lease?

Not if you only read the Trib's editorial.

Here's what they found:
Overall, the reviewers found the analyses to be appropriate, and that there is no fundamental flaw with the larger scientific underpinning of the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement). The identified scientific misinterpretations, or lack of citation of appropriate literature are for the most part minor, and can be rectified if the NPS so wishes. This may also include making some additional adjustments to interpretation, and explicit acknowledgement of the lack of information on some key issues.
After reading all this, now go back and read the Trib's (heretofore incomplete) editorial.  How much was left out to make a point?

But all this is beside the point isn't it? Because this editorial was NOT ABOUT OYSTERS.

Now go back to the first and last sentences.  When the braintrust mentions "error riddled science" in the first and a "perversion of science for a for extreme environmentalism‘s sake — an Obama administration hallmark" in the last, what do you think they're talking about?

This was not about oysters.  It was about climate science.  To the braintrust, it's another example of science being misused to promote a political agenda.

And they're still wrong about that.

December 15, 2012

Tracking Teh Crazie

I took a look at crazie central this morning to see if there's any reaction to the Sandy Hook shooting.

And guess what?  Teh crazies are crazie.

The article itself isn't too too weird - teh crazie's in the comments.

First there's the by now expected Gun Owners of America response:
I only wish a few of the teachers had a few .40 caliber Berettas and knew how to use them...they could have saved the lives of 20 babies and six adults in that school today.
But it doesn't take long for it to go complete batshit:
Barrack won the election - Fast and Furious blew up in his face ! This stinks of a White House - Valerie Jarret planned gun control operation !
And then the proper source of the blame is identified:
You, have to ask yourself since he was elected, why so many gun crimes. Are people hopeless...or has this country under libs melted down to no morale base.
And of course:
What is the penalty for abandoning God..a debased immoral, and violent society. We have systematically removed God from our culture. ~Psalm 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and the nations that forgot God."~
Yea, that's it.  That's what caused the deaths of all those elementary school kids.

Peeking in on Teh Crazie.

From The Onion

Reprinted in its entirety:
Following today’s mass shooting that left 20 young children dead at a Connecticut elementary school, numerous sources across the country reported that their government-protected right to own a portable device that propels small masses of metal through the air at lethal rates of speed is completely worth any such consequences. “It’s my God-given right and a founding principle of this country that I be able to own a [piece of metal that launches other smaller pieces of metal great distances, one after the other], and if a few deaths here and there is the price we have to pay for that freedom, then so be it,” said Lawrence Crane of nearby Danbury, CT, who is such a staunch advocate of the portable deadly-pellet-flinging apparatuses that he keeps multiple versions of such mechanisms in his home, often carries one with him, and is a member of a club whose sole purpose is to celebrate these assembled steel things and the small bits of metal they send flying. “Sure, it’s sad that a few kids died, but it’s far better than the tyranny that would result if the government came and took away all our [mechanical contraptions that make a lot of little pointy chunks of metal go through the air fast]. Can you even imagine what kind of horrible world that would be?” The man added that if the events that unfolded today led lawmakers to question his ability to possess any such items of steel and lead, authorities would have to “pry the [wholly inanimate mechanical object, nothing more, nothing less] from [his] dead hands.”
Yea.  While The Onion is a satire news site, this still rings truer than anything else I've read.

December 14, 2012

By the way, the Scripture he quotes from is Psalm 147.

No comments today.  Not on this one.

Bill Peduto Makes His Run for Mayor Official

Lasts night's Bill Peduto Holiday Party included 150 volunteers, 1,300 attendees, $250,000 raised so far, and an announcement by Bill Peduto that he is officially running for mayor and an endorsement from County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. This morning, there is a revamped website and a new Peduto for Mayor logo:

The Pittsburgh City Paper noted:
For now, suffice it to say that based on the cross-section of supporters in attendance, this is no longer just the Knowledge Workers' candidate.
You can read my blog post on the event at here.

You can volunteer for Bill here and donate to the campaign here.

Stand up for Pittsburgh and stand with Bill Peduto!

*** Obligatory Disclaimer: As everyone should know by now, I've been working part-time for People For Peduto since 2010.

Massacre at CT Grade School

As reports come in that 18 children and 8 adults were killed today in a tragic mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, we know these things to be facts:

Gunmakers are seeing record sales and mass shootings are good business for the NRA in terms of fundraising.


December 13, 2012


Councilman Bill Peduto is having a party tonight.

Something about a special announcement.  Very hush-hush, you know.  No one has an inkling what he's gonna say.

If that's not your cup of tea, then you can go hear ME give an informal talk before the Pittsburgh Branch of the Center For Inquiry.

I'll be talking mostly about the unconstitutional 10 Commandments monument in Connellsville.

You Won't Believe...

Who wrote this:
Government impermissibly interferes in private lives by telling Americans whom they can marry. The high court must weigh in on the side of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — not to mention the right to be let alone — by making marriage an institution in which all can participate fully. [Emphasis added.]
You just won't believe it.

It's Richard Mellon Scaife's editorial board at the Über-Conservative Tribune-Review.

Here's the editorial in full:
Americans who value individual liberty, limited government and the right to contract freely must hope that the U.S. Supreme Court, which has agreed to take up two gay-marriage cases, will rule that they can marry whomever they please.

Presenting the better opportunity for — but no guarantee of — such a sweeping ruling is an appeal of lower courts‘ rulings that California‘s voter-approved Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban is unconstitutional. The other case, involving a widow whose $363,000 federal estate-tax bill would have been $0 had she married a man, not a woman, concerns the federal Defense of Marriage Act denying legally married gay couples benefits that straight spouses get.

Banning gay marriage — which polls suggest most Americans support and which is legal or soon will be in nine states — violates the Constitution‘s equal-protection and due-process clauses as egregiously as did slavery or interracial-marriage bans. So does penalizing gay spouses.

And with UCLA‘s Williams Institute saying just 4 percent of Americans, not Alfred Kinsey‘s 10 percent, are gay, claims about gay marriage — a minor societal factor overall — harming heterosexual marriage ring hollow.

Government impermissibly interferes in private lives by telling Americans whom they can marry. The high court must weigh in on the side of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — not to mention the right to be let alone — by making marriage an institution in which all can participate fully.
Hear Hear!  To my friends on the braintrust, I offer my sincerest congratulations.  You got this one absolutely right.

Now, when can we talk about that pesky climate change?

December 11, 2012

What's Black and Yellow and Pittsburgh all over?

That would be Pittsburgh City Council Chambers this morning where Councilman Bill Peduto presented a proclamation to Cameron Jibril Thomaz -- better known as Wiz Khalifa.

From the press release:
Wiz Khalifa is a graduate of Taylor Alderdice and an avid Pittsburgh promoter. His song "Black and Yellow" has become an anthem of Pittsburgh pride. He has been nominated for numerous awards, including at the American Music Awards and Grammy Awards.

"Wiz Khalifa is proud of his Pittsburgh background and takes every opportunity to sing the praises of Pittsburgh around the world," said Councilman William Peduto.
Here are some tweeted pics:

And of course, the song:

Happy Wiz Khalifa Day, Pittsburgh!

Zero Dark Thirty and Torture

From Glenn Greenwald (who admits early on that he's not reviewing the movie just commenting on the reaction to it - specifically about its portrayal of torture in the hunt for Osama bin Laden):
Earlier this year, the film "Zero Dark Thirty", which purports to dramatize the hunt for and killing of Osama bin Laden, generated substantial political controversy. It was discovered that CIA and White House officials had met with its filmmakers and passed non-public information to them - at exactly the same time that DOJ officials were in federal court resisting transparency requests from media outlets and activist groups on the ground that it was all classified.

With its release imminent, the film is now garnering a pile of top awards and virtually uniform rave reviews. What makes this so remarkable is that, by most accounts, the film glorifies torture by claiming - falsely - that waterboarding and other forms of coercive interrogation tactics were crucial, even indispensable in finding bin Laden.
The "waterboarding led to the raid on bin Laden" story showed up recently on Morning Joe.

Too bad it's completely wrong - back to Greenwald:
The claim that waterboarding and other torture techniques were necessary in finding bin Laden was first made earlier this year by Jose Rodriguez, the CIA agent who illegally destroyed the agency's torture tapes, got protected from prosecution by the DOJ, and then profited off this behavior by writing a book. He made the same claim as "Zero Dark Thirty" regarding the role played by torture in finding bin Laden.

That caused two Senators who are steadfast loyalists of the CIA - Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein and Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin - to issue statements definitively debunking this assertion. Even the CIA's then-Director, Leon Panetta, made clear that those techniques played no role in finding bin Laden. An FBI agent central to the bin Laden hunt said the same.
From Senator Levin's and Senator Feinstein's statement:
CIA did not first learn about the existence of the UBL courier from detainees subjected to coercive interrogation techniques. Nor did the agency discover the courier's identity from detainees subjected to coercive techniques. No detainee reported on the courier's full name or specific whereabouts, and no detainee identified the compound in which UBL was hidden. Instead, the CIA learned of the existence of the courier, his true name and location through means unrelated to the CIA detention and interrogation program.
And if that's not good enough fer ya, here's what Panetta wrote in a letter to Senator John McCain:
Nearly 10 years of intensive intelligence work led the CIA to conclude that Bin Ladin was likely hiding at the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. there was no one “essential and indispensible” key piece of information that led us to this conclusion. Rather, the intelligence picture was developed via painstaking collection and analysis. Multiple streams of intelligence — including from detainees, but also from multiple other sources — led CIA analysts to conclude that Bin Ladin was at this compound. Some of the detainees who provided useful information about the facilitator/courier’s role had been subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. Whether those techniques were the “only timely and effective way” to obtain such information is a matter of debate and cannot be established definitively. What is definitive is that that information was only a part of multiple streams of intelligence that led us to Bin Ladin.

Let me further point out that we first learned about the facilitator/courier’s nom de guerre from a detainee not in CIA custody in 2002. It is also important to note that some detainees who were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques attempted to provide false or misleading information about the facilitator/courier. These attempts to falsify the facilitator/courier’s role were alerting.

In the end, no detainee in CIA custody revealed the facilitator/courier’s full true name or specific whereabouts. This information was discovered through other intelligence means. [Emphasis from Washington Post reporting.]
So it's not the case that torture was the necessary component in gathering the intelligence necessary to find bin Laden - so this "ends justify the means" story is false.

Oh, and by the way, torture is still illegal.  The Bush Administration still ordered the torture and they still haven't been held accountable for it.  Until it is corrected, this one story will forever disgrace the Obama legacy - they let Bush get away with war crimes.

(h/t to Bob Mayo for posting Geenwald's piece on his facebook page)

Bill Peduto's 5th Annual Holiday Party...with a Very Special Announcement

Bill Peduto's 5th Annual Holiday Party is happening this Thursday, December 13th. No idea what that "Very Special Announcement" could possibly be. ;-)

Facebook event page is here. You can buy tickets here. Want to attend for free? Contact Matt to volunteer at

Bill Peduto's 5th Annual Holiday Party
When: Thursday, December 13th, 2012, VIP Reception (7-8pm), Holiday Party (8-10PM)
Where: The Crucible Building (3011 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201)
- Special Musical Performance by Noel Quintana's Latin Crew
- A Taste of Pittsburgh by some of the City's Best Restaurants (1947 Tavern, Avenue B, Bagel Factory and Bread Market, Big Burrito, Cafe Zinho, Crazy Mocha, Harris Grill, Legume, Local Bar + Kitchen, Penn Avenue Fish Company, Salt of the Earth, Spoon, Up Modern Kitchen)
- Specialty Imported Wine & Pairings from Allora
- Full Cocktail Bar Sponsored by 5801 Video Lounge and Cafe, and SPIN Bartini & Ultra Lounge

- Special Musical Performance by The Old E All Stars
- Wine selections from Pittsburgh Winery
- Crafted Brews by East End Brewery
- Our Famous "Peduto Punch"
- Dancing with DJ Doug Marshall

Follow-up to "We Won't Be Sold Out" Rally

We blogged about the "We Won't Be Sold Out" rally yesterday. Here's a snippet of video (courtesy of Joy Sabl) from the event which occurred in the pouring rain:

You can see the text of a follow-up email which was sent to Sen. Bob Casey's Pittsburgh staffer by Democracy for Pittsburgh after the jump.

December 10, 2012


I'll be on Lynn Cullen Live tomorrow morning at 10:30.

I don't want to give anything away but don't be surprised if Lynn and I talk about the (still unconstitutional) 10 Commandments monument in Connellsville.

"We Won't Be Sold Out" Rally and more today

Fuck the Fiscal Cliff

Via One Pittsburgh press release:
Frustrated community leaders, activists and organizations like One Pittsburgh are joining thousands across the country in a collective “What gives?!?!?!” to elected officials like Senator Bob Casey who didn’t seem to get the memo back in November. On December 10, hundreds will gather to say it bigger and louder: We want jobs, not cuts, from our elected leaders.
There will be several actions happening today including:
On December 10 we’ll make hundreds of phone calls while hundreds more participate in a Facebook flash mob, demanding that Casey stick to his word and fight for the middle class, One Pittsburgh will be flying a very large message over the city, a message that neither Sen Casey nor Sen. Toomey can miss, or misunderstand.
Rally info via Facebook:

"We Won't Be Sold Out" Rally
When: Monday, December 10, 2012, 2:30 PM
Where: 11 Stanwix Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

December 9, 2012

The Trib's War On Christmas Just Got Silly

This is just silly.  Take a look at what Scaife's briantrust published today:
Speaking of Corbett, a few hours after visiting the Trib last Tuesday in Pittsburgh, he and first lady Susan Corbett lighted the Christmas tree on the front steps to the state Capitol in Harrisburg, resurrecting a tradition that was scrapped in the 1980s. It’s nice to see. And do note, the tree is not called a “Holiday tree” or a “Unity tree” or a “Winter Solstice tree” or “Just a Tree So We Don’t Offend Anyone.” It’s called a “Christmas tree.” Hear! Hear! [Bolding in original.]
Now a little quasi-word association.  Given the right wing media's goofy obsession with the so-called "War on Christmas" what do you think is the point here?  What do they want you to think and not check the details on?

That Governor Corbett resurrected a Christmas tradition, right?  Right and it's an easy jump from there to assume that there was no Christmas Tree at the Capitol since the 80s, right?  Right and so it's them godless PC Democrat Party wimps that took away the Capitol Christmas Tree (or renamed it a "Winter Solstice" tree or something), right?

Wrong.  Take a look this from 2010:
The state Capitol's Christmas tree, a 21-foot Concolor, was delivered to the Capitol Rotunda this morning in Harrisburg and set up by Department of General Services staff.

The tree, from the Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Carbon County, was donated by the Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association. It will be decorated with 600 energy efficient LED lights and decorated with more than 300 hand-crafted ornaments from senior centers across the state.

The tree will be lighted during a noontime ceremony on Dec. 8 and remain lit from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Jan. 7. [Emphasis added.]
Or this from 2008:
The Capitol Rotunda glowed much brighter today as children of Pennsylvania National Guard members helped Governor Edward G. Rendell light a more energy-efficient Christmas tree.
[Emphasis added.]
And so on.  In fact, looks like there's been a "Christmas Tree" in the Capital Rotunda going all the way back to at least 1981.

Further more, it looks to me like like the only tradition that was resurrected was that the tree was simply moved outside.  Now look again at what the Braintrust wrote.  How silly is it once you know the facts.

And they do this everyday.


December 8, 2012

More On Connellsville's Ten Commandments Monument

The case is proceeding. From the Union Herald:
The display of a Ten Commandments monument donated 55 years ago outside one of its schools is not an endorsement of religion by the Connellsville Area School District, an attorney argued Monday in court filings.

“Considering the ‘history and ubiquity’ of this Eagles’ Ten Commandments monument, and assessing how a reasonable person would view it, it is clear that the monument does not convey a message of endorsement of religion. (T)he monument contains both religious and secular symbols, including an all-seeing eye, a bald eagle and the American flag. Even if the religions aspects of the monument’s appearance and history indicate that it has some religious meaning, the district is not bound to display only symbols that are wholly secular, or to convey solely secular messages,” attorney John W. Smart wrote in a court filing requesting a dismissal of the lawsuit filed against the district.
The attorney for the Connellsville School District, John W. Smart, filed a Motion to Dismiss the case and a Brief in Support of the Motion - I am reading them now.  I downloaded it from the PACER system available to anyone who registers for an account.  There's a small downloading fee involved so I am unsure as to whether I can post the brief.  If there are ANY ATTORNEYS out there who can offer up some guidance, please get in contact with me.

At this initial reading it looks like Smart is trying to establish that the Connellsville monument allowable under the Constitution because on page 28 it reads:
Considering the “history and ubiquity” of this Eagles’ Ten Commandments monument, and assessing how a reasonable person would view it, it is clear that the monument does not convey a message of endorsement of religion..
And on page 29 there's this:
The District has displayed the monument outside of the Connellsville Junior High School for at least fifty-five years. The location and presence for so many years, emphasizes the perception by most that the monument has an overall secular purpose. The monument conveys a historical and moral message, not a promotion of religious faith.
I am not sure, however, how a monument that begins with the text:
the Ten Commandments
I AM the LORD thy God.

I Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

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

III Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Is anything but an endorsement of religion and a promotion of religious faith.

As I am preparing to discuss this as part of the Center for Inquiry's monthly lecture series, I'll be returning to this very very soon.

Just so everyone is absolutely sure, I am not an attorney, never attended law school, never sat in on a law school lecture and so on.  Any opinions I have about this are those of an average (if balding and plumpish) guy who's reading the legal texts as a non-attorney would.

December 6, 2012

Matthew Vadum Responds!

A few days ago, I took Scaife's braintrust to task for filtering out some important information in its smear against Leo Gerard of the United Steelworkers Union.  (Note to Matthew Vadum: I am the only author of the blog post.  This is an easy enough fact to check.  It's written right at the top of the blog post.)

As part of the deconstruction, I stumbled across another similar filter piece from the keyboard of Matthew Vadum.

Well, Mr Vadum's responded in a comment:
This is a dishonest post. I didn't lie about anything. See:
It's only fair to go see what he has to say.  But before we do, let's review the definition of a "Lie of Omission."  Roughly speaking there are two types of lies; lies by commission and lies by omission.  A "lie of commission" easy: it's a statement that's untrue presented as true.  A lie of omission is a bit trickier: it's a partially true statement presented as the complete truth.

For example, when President George W. Bush said "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." in his State of the Union address in 2003, he told a lie of omission.  Why?   Because while it's true that while British Intelligence was asserting that Iraq was looking to buy that uranium, American Intelligence was casting serious doubts on it.

See how that works?  Had Bush included that bit of information, it would have changed the entire meaning of  the passage.  So even though none of the statements he made as untrue, he was still lying - by omission.

And now we turn to Matthew Vadum.  Vadum admits that I accurately from his Front Page article when I quoted this:
To Gerard, it is not radical leftist agitation that leads to violence but capitalism itself. Economic “inequality,” he says, “leads to instability and violence.”
He then goes on to agree with basically everything I wrote - that Gerard was quoting and agreeing with that Vatican Report and that he, Vadum, omitted it from his piece because he "didn't deem it necessary" when he wrote the article.  Later on he writes:
I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out what the "lie" was.
I can only point to the above discussion about lies of omission and then rhetorically ask how different Vadum's charge that Gerard was attacking capitalism would be if Vadum were to include the fact that Gerard was agreeing with a Vatican report when he did so?

See Matt?  That's the filer and that's the lie.  I can explain it to you again, but I can't understand it for you.

Oh, and by the way, you might need to check again on your definitions of "quoting" and "paraphrasing."  You wrote about Gerard's use of the phrase "inequality leads to stability and violence" and how I was wrong to say that he was quoting the Vatican report - you assert that he was only paraphrasing it.

But if you were to read, carefully this time, my blog post you'd see this sentence from the Vatican report:
If basic morality fails as a reason to reverse these trends, then the Pontifical Council suggested another. Such inequality leads to instability and violence.
I know I'm only an amateur blogger and not a real live writer like yourself but that looks to me like a quotation and not a paraphrase.  Perhaps you can explain how using an exact set of words in exactly the same context with exactly the same meaning constitutes something that isn't a quotation.

And anyway, I find it interesting that you filtered out that exact set of words part in your blog post to your readers.  I guess old habits die hard, huh?

Now let me respond to onto your attacks on me:

  • I was not high when I wrote the blog piece.
  • I was not having a bad day when I wrote the blog piece.
  • I have never received any sort of compensation from George Soros when I wrote the blog piece.

If you have any evidence that I am, in fact, lying about any of the above, I suggest you present it now.  If not, I think it's safe to assume that you didn't do much to help your defense of your journalistic honesty.

December 5, 2012

PodCamp 7 News!

This was just posted at youtube.  It's Sue Kerr's panel at the recent PodCamp Pittsburgh.


I was in the audience - it was a very interesting panel.

Follow Up On Marco Rubio And The Age Of The Earth

A few weeks ago I blogged on Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and his scientific illiteracy.

He was asked how old the earth was and he was quoted said:
I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I'm not a scientist. I don't think I'm qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries.
Looks like he's walked this back but the double special secret message to the creationists he wants to impress is still present. Here's the video and Thinkprogress has a transcript:
There is no scientific debate on the age of the earth. I mean, it’s established pretty definitively, it’s at least 4.5 billion years old. I was referring to a theological debate, which is a pretty health debate. And the theological debate is … how do you reconcile with what science has definitively established with what you may think your faith teaches. Now for me, actually, when it comes to the age of the earth, there is no conflict. I believe that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And I think that scientific advances have given us insight into when he did it and how he did it, but I still believe God did it…. I just think in America we should have the freedom to teach our children whatever it is we believe. And that means teaching them science, they have to know the science, but also parents have the right to teach them the theology and to reconcile the two things. [Emphasis from ThinkProgress]
It's good to know that Senator Rubio agrees with science and goes on record stating an age for the universe that corresponds to the evidence.

Now if can only convince the majority of Republicans to agree with him.

December 4, 2012

Lil Ricky finds a new home!

Via Think Progress:
Rick Santorum has joined WorldNetDaily, a conspiracy theory blog best known for its indefatigable work advancing the birther movement, as an exclusive columnist.
Here's a sample of headlines from WorldNetDaily taken off the intertoobs:



Is it 2016 already?

Tribute video from the 2012 Saban Forum, hosted by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution:

More On Marty Griffin

I got into it today with KDKA's Marty Griffin.

He was ranting on about the so-called "War on Christmas" and how the "wimps from Wisconsin" (aka the Freedom From Religion Foundation) are wasting everyone's time and money suing to get the Ten Commandment monument in Connellsville removed.

We've already argued that the monument is unconstitutional.

In an email exchange, Griffin wrote back and changed the subject by talking about how The Commandments are on the wall at the City County Building downtown - therefore posting them at a school is OK.  I had to remind him that I was writing about posting them at a school and that the Supreme Court already decided this decades ago.

Changing the subject is a way to admit that you don't have a winning argument.

December 3, 2012

Message To Marty Griffin

I happened to hear Marty Griffin this morning on KDKA Radio and he ranted a bit on how much President Obama increased federal spending.

Can someone at KDKA (and I know we have readers at KDKA) please pass this along to Marty?

Here's how it begins:
Of all the falsehoods told about President Barack Obama, the biggest whopper is the one about his reckless spending spree.

As would-be president Mitt Romney tells it: “I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno.”

Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending, an “inferno” of spending that threatens our jobs, our businesses and our children’s future. Even Democrats seem to think it’s true.

But it didn’t happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s.
And then there's this:
Over Obama’s four budget years, federal spending is on track to rise from $3.52 trillion to $3.58 trillion, an annualized increase of just 0.4%.

There has been no huge increase in spending under the current president, despite what you hear.
And then finally:
After adjusting for inflation, spending under Obama is falling at a 1.4% annual pace — the first decline in real spending since the early 1970s, when Richard Nixon was retreating from the quagmire in Vietnam.

In per capita terms, real spending will drop by nearly 5% from $11,450 per person in 2009 to $10,900 in 2013 (measured in 2009 dollars).
Can someone at KDKA please let Marty know about this?

Thanks.  If he arms himself with the facts he'll look like less of an idiot next time.

December 2, 2012

The Right Wing Echo Chamber/Filter

Let's do a little wingnut deconstruction.  Think of it as an exercise to strengthen your blogger chops.

From today's "Sunday Pops":
United Steelworkers union boss Leo Gerard, on MSNBC, warned that those who compromise are not “real Democrats.” And a while back, FrontPage Magazine reported that Mr. Gerard considers capitalism to be economic “inequality ... that leads to instability and violence.” This, from the same fella who once advocated street violence to promote Barack Obama’s socialist vision. Ahem. [Bold text in original.]
Wow. Pretty damning, isn't it?  This Gerard guy must be a nasty piece of work, huh?

Not so much when you track down all the sources that the Braintrust cites then compare them to how filtered them for your consumption.  Let's take them one at a time.

When did Gerard warn Democrats about compromise?  It was on The Ed Show on MSNBC, November 20.  After pointing out that the way out of the current economic mess is to get people back to work and that letting the Bush tax cuts expire is not a tax increase (as they were "designed to expire"), Gerard reminds Ed's viewers how badly the Tea Party did in the last election and how much the voters support the President's agenda.  When Ed asks about Democrats who are "getting nervous" Gerard responds:
The best compromise is that the Republicans ought to start to understand that they are the ones that have caused this mess by trying to hold up the president`s agenda for four years. Democrats don`t need to compromise. The president won on an economic agenda that included rebuilding the manufacturing base, fixing the infrastructure, letting the Bush tax expire not for the bottom 98 percent, but for the top 2 percent. And any Democrat that gets weak knees on that isn't a real Democrat. [Emphasis added.]
See? It's not about compromise in general (which is what Scaife's braintrust wants you to think) it's about compromising on any the stuff the Dems won on in November.  It's on what to compromise on, not that there should be compromise.

By filtering out enough details to present a narrative that doesn't conform to reality, Scaife's braintrust is lying to you.

But that's just the beginning.  Let's take a look at Gerard's views on capitalism.  The reference to Front Page leads to this piece by Matthew Vadum.

We've met Mr Vadum before, haven't we?  He's the guy who's on record as saying:
Registering [the poor] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country -- which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.
Note that he's not talking about anyone other than poor citizens.  Knowing the source, we can expect a certain amount of, uh, skewing to reality.

And skewing Vadum does.  Here's how he quotes Gerard:
To Gerard, it is not radical leftist agitation that leads to violence but capitalism itself. Economic “inequality,” he says, “leads to instability and violence.”
Knowing that that sentence was written by Matthew "burglary tools" Vadum, I think we can reasonably ask whether Gerard actually said that? And if so what was the context?

With the glorious google we find that he did, in fact, type out those words.  But he was quoting someone else.

Who?  You might ask.

The Vatican.  In a piece for the Huffingtonpost about the dangers of the widening gulf between the few rich and the many poor, Gerard cites this report from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.  He writes:
The result is that the richest 20 percent of households got more money in those 30 years than the entire bottom 80 percent. That is redistribution of wealth -- moving it from the poor and middle class to the richest.

The CBO study cites several factors contributing to the rising inequality, including federal tax policy. The CBO says tax policy fed inequity as the incomes of the wealthiest rose astronomically and their federal tax burden shrank.

This pattern is consistent internationally. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development determined that from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s income inequality increased in three-quarters of the 30 developed countries studied.

If basic morality fails as a reason to reverse these trends, then the Pontifical Council suggested another. Such inequality leads to instability and violence. [Emphasis added.]
And then he quotes the Vatican report:
If no solutions are found to the various forms of injustice, the negative effects that will follow on the social, political and economic level will be destined to create a climate of growing hostility and even violence, and ultimately undermine the very foundations of democratic institutions, even the ones considered most solid.
Now take a step back to see what Vadum said.  He chose to lie to his audience and omit the faith-based conclusions that Gerard was quoting and agreeing with.  Scaife's braintrust at best failed and at worst lied to their audience by not checking the source of Vadum's assertion.

Now go take a look at the blurb at the Trib.  How much corresponds to reality?  How much of it looks ridiculous?  How credible is it?  How credible do its readers think it is?

This is how the right wing echo chamber filter works.