Democracy Has Prevailed.

July 31, 2013

Deb Gross Certified as the Democratic Nominee for City Council District 7 Special Election

Via press release from the Gross campaign:
Deb Gross is the Democratic Nominee for City Council District 7
Deadline for parties and independent candidates is today
Pittsburgh, PA--With the deadline for candidates nominated by political parties and independent candidates to file to have their name included on the ballot to run for Pittsburgh City Council, District 7, Deb Gross has been certified as the Democratic nominee for this special election.  
The deadline comes one day after Judge Colville indicated that he would reject the request for an emergency special injunction by Tony Ceoffe to prevent the Democratic Party from nominating Deb Gross. A full hearing is scheduled for next week, but a preliminary injunction can be denied if—among other reasons—the judge believes that there is not substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the case.  
Deb Gross was nominated by the Allegheny Democratic Committee by a vote of 47-43.  
“Today’s certification is a small victory for progressive politics in the race for City Council,” Deb Gross said. “Our neighbors are looking for someone to fill Patrick Dowd’s shoes who will focus on all of our neighborhoods—making sure that everyone shares in the benefits of our economic growth. The political games of the past do not help make sure that streets get paved, that police are on our streets, or that we are maintaining the character of our neighborhoods. I am looking forward to continuing a campaign that looks forward, not back, as the Democratic nominee.”
Her Facebook page is here.

"Who Am I To Judge?"

I wanted to depart, today, from my usual tracking teh rightwing crazie/fact-checking Scaife's braintrust blog posts to take a deeper look at what The Pope said:
For generations, homosexuality has largely been a taboo topic for the Vatican, ignored altogether or treated as “an intrinsic moral evil,” in the words of the previous pope.

In that context, brief remarks by Pope Francis suggesting that he would not judge priests for their sexual orientation, made aboard the papal airplane on the way back from his first foreign trip, to Brazil, resonated through the church. Never veering from church doctrine opposing homosexuality, Francis did strike a more compassionate tone than that of his predecessors, some of whom had largely avoided even saying the more colloquial “gay.”

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis told reporters, speaking in Italian but using the English word “gay.”
I don't want to belittle how big a change this is for The Vatican, especially considering the Times' next paragraph:
Francis’s words could not have been more different from those of Benedict XVI, who in 2005 wrote that homosexuality was “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil,” and an “objective disorder.” The church document said men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not become priests.
From "a strong tendency ordered toward intrinsic moral evil" to "who am I to judge" is a big step, no doubt about it but I wanted to look deeper into that rhetorical question as well as it's closely related "It's not my place to judge."

While it's entirely possible, I suppose, that when someone uses either phrase to some member in the LGBTQ community that person might mean it to say "there is nothing wrong with being gay (or "L" or "B" or "T" or "Q" and so on..." but if you take a look at the actual words, something else is being said entirely.

"Who am I to judge?" at the very least implies that there is a judgement to be made, doesn't it?  We rarely if ever hook that question onto something we approve of, only stuff we disapprove of.  For example, would anyone be caught saying "Just like me, Steve thinks the Beatles are better, much better, than the Stones.  But who am I to judge?"

See how that works?

Additionally, when someone says "It's not my place to judge" they're also implying that they know what the outcome of whatever that judgement is, whenever it'll be made by whomever would be making it, even if it's not them.  They're just not gonna say what they already know in their heart it already is.

In effect, however tolerant sounding the phrase might be (and again however Cardinal Dolan wishes to redefine it, it's still a huge leap forward for The Vatican), it still means:
I know that God will judge it negatively.
And so on.

July 30, 2013

Roll Back Those Lazy-Crazy-Hazy-Days Of Summer

It's the summer of 1963, err, 2013 in the Good Ol' U.S. of A and everything is A-okay!

Any 'War on Poverty' Is Thankfully Still Just A Dream
Poverty? What poverty? This is the greatest nation on the face of the Earth!

(80 Percent Of U.S. Adults Face Near-Poverty, Unemployment: Survey)

We Will Arrest Those Who Practice The Love
That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Really, what do they expect?

(Gays in Baton Rouge arrested under invalid sodomy law)

The Little Lady Knows Her Place (As She Should)
We're working hard to ensure that the only abortions will be back alley ones!
(As abortion limits sweep US, even 'purple' states join the crackdown)

Negroes Know Their Place Too
Because they know death lies only a whistle at a white woman (or a hoodie) away!
(George Zimmerman Found Not Guilty And Goes Free)

And For the Ones Who Are Still Too Uppity...
We'll make it as hard as legally possible to vote!

(North Carolina Passes the Country's Worst Voter Suppression Law)

Yes siree, Bob! We wish that summer would always be here!

July 28, 2013

The Trib And The AEI

From today's Sunday Pops:
University of Michigan economics professor Mark J. Perry, writing for the American Enterprise Institute, says the share of middle-class families dropped from 61.8 percent in 1969 to 43.2 percent in 2009, a drop of 18.6 percentage points. And the share of lower-income families fell from 22 percent of all families in 1967 to 17.8 percent in 2009. So, where did they go? Mr. Perry says they joined the upper-income club, which increased from 16.2 percent of all families in 1967 to 39.1 percent in 2009. Thus, the contention that the middle class “has been in decline since the 1970s ... is incredibly and verifiably wrong,” he says. It's another stat for the “economic fairness” crowd.[Bolding in original.]
Pretty compelling stuff, doncha think?  Until you look at some of the details.

You'll note that nowhere in the Braintrust's paragraph is there a definition of the terms "middle-class" or "lower-income" or "upper-income."  Wonder why?

For that we need to take a look at where the braintrust gets it's info.  Notably Mark J Perry of the Scaife supported AEI.  Take a look at the chart he's constructed.

Notice anything?  He's defining "Upper-income" as anything above $75,000.  That's "the upper-income club" to the braintrust is talking about.

Second thing you'll notice is that this is Family income.  Not personal income.

Isn't it possible that between 1967 and 2009 there's been a change in family demographics?  I mean, wouldn't the move from single income to dual income shift the data just a tad?

Yea, I think that's possible.

Anything to cloud the issue of income inequality, I guess.  Especially from Scaife's braintrust and the Scaife supported AEI.

July 26, 2013

A Message To My Good Friends At The FFRF.

Remember this blogpost?

I wrote about a guy named Joe Sohmer who, despite being entrusted by the good people of Altoona to teach their teenagers science, nevertheless undermines the validity of radiocarbon dating and, of course, evolution in his science classes whole "hold(ing) the Bible as the source of truth."

He's quoted:
"I'm entitled to my beliefs as much as the evolutionist is."
On the one hand, this is completely true.  He is entitled to his beliefs as much as anyone else is.  On the other, that does not, however, make them to be anywhere near true.

Well, the article that triggered my blog post also seems to have piqued the interest of our good friends at the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Unfortunately, while their overall point (that the teaching of creationism as science is unconstitutional) is completely correct, what they're using to frame their argument is simply a mess - so much that it could undermine their overall (and, let me reiterate, correct) point.

Take a look at the start of the FFRF's press release:
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is responding to an alarming trend in Pennsylvania's science education, by sending a memo to every Pennsylvania public school district superintendent (nearly 500 of them) on July 25.

The memo follows the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's investigative journalism, recently uncovering that 20% of the state's public high school teachers teach creationism in their science classrooms.
And from the memo:
A recent story in the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette (sic) surveyed 106 science teachers regarding the teaching of evolution in Pennsylvania public schools. This article revealed shocking statistics about the state of science education in public schools. A third of the science teachers surveyed identified themselves as believers in creationism or intelligent design. Of that number, teachers who identify themselves as creationists -- nearly 20% of those surveyed-- "spend at least an hour of classroom time on creationism in a way suggesting it to be a valid scientific alternative" to evolution.
I gotta point out the BIG errors in that paragraph.  I hate to, but I just gotta.  In order to do that, I have to start at the P-G (and please note, FFRF, where the dash goes) article.  Looks like the FFRF's memo writers mixed two separate bits of information.  The first is from the P-G questionaire:
The Post-Gazette questionnaire this spring drew 106 responses from science teachers. It asked them to choose one or more answers to a question of what they believe in: evolution, creationism, intelligent design or not sure/other.

Ninety percent chose evolution; 19 percent said they believe in creationism, not defined in the questionnaire; 13 percent said they believe in intelligent design; and another 5 percent answered "not sure/other." Teachers were allowed to list more than one option, so the numbers don't total 100 percent.
But the quotation is from another survey altogether:
The Penn State survey said the teachers identifying themselves as creationists spend at least an hour of classroom time on creationism in a way suggesting it to be a valid scientific alternative. "Between 17 and 21 percent [of teachers in the survey] introduce creationism into the classroom," he said.
And the Penn State survey wasn't a Pennsylvania survey at all:
Mr. Berkman and Eric Plutzer, a Penn State professor of political science and sociology, based their book on a national survey of more than 900 science teachers, which found 13 percent advocating that Earth was 10,000 years old or younger, as opposed to Earth's scientifically determined age of 4.54 billion years. [Emphasis added.]
The "20%" comes from the P-G survey while the quotation comes from the Penn State survey.  And the two data points refer to two separate ideas.  The P-G was asking about the teachers' beliefs while the Penn State survey is about what the teachers do.  Two separate issues.  Two separate surveys.  Apples, oranges.

Now it's quite possible that the reality of the situation is in complete agreement with what the FFRF says it is - but it's just not possible to establish that from what they present as facts.  And that's the mess.

And then there's this part from the FFRF's memo:
A third of the science teachers surveyed identified themselves as believers in creationism or intelligent design.
This isn't clearly true either (it might be BUT it might not be, and that's the point). Take a look at how the P-G describes their survey:
The Post-Gazette questionnaire this spring drew 106 responses from science teachers. It asked them to choose one or more answers to a question of what they believe in: evolution, creationism, intelligent design or not sure/other.

Ninety percent chose evolution; 19 percent said they believe in creationism, not defined in the questionnaire; 13 percent said they believe in intelligent design; and another 5 percent answered "not sure/other." Teachers were allowed to list more than one option, so the numbers don't total 100 percent. [Emphasis added.]
But note that since teachers could choose more than one option, you only get "a third" (or something very close to it) if none of the 13% who believe in intelligent design also designated themselves as creationists.  If they completely overlap, then the number's just 19% and the real number could be anywhere in between.

And need I point out that these look like they were surveys and not scientific polls?  How many surveys were sent out?  Relying on self-selected questionnaire returns to establish solid data is, well, questionable.  At best.

FFRF: I am one of your biggest fans.  I confidently and optimistically expect success in your lawsuits calling for the removal of the unconstitutional Ten Commandment monuments from two Pittsburgh area public schools.  But if you're going to issue press releases and memos to School Superintendents you have to do better than this.  You have to write something clearer than this.

You want respect from a School Superintendent?  Get all your facts straight, present your entire position clearly and don't don't DON'T misspell the name of one of your sources (as I alluded to above, it's the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, not the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette).

Other than that, you're completely correct - teaching creationism (or Intelligent Design) as science in a public school is unconstitutional.  Just do your homework better next time.

July 25, 2013

SHOWTIME! (A non-political announcement)

If you're not doing anything this weekend, why not take in a show?
Tickets are on sale for the Center Theatre Players’ production of the Tony Award-winning musical comedy “The Drowsy Chaperone,” which will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 25, 26 and 27, in the auditorium of the Penn State Beaver Student Union Building. Tickets are $15 for all ages.

This year’s show, directed by Sandy Reigel, is part of the Brodhead Cultural Center’s 37th annual summer series and is partially underwritten by a gift from Harper & Hodge. A winner of five Tony Awards in 2006, “The Drowsy Chaperone” opens when a diehard musical-theater fan plays his favorite cast album on his turntable. The musical literally bursts to life in his living room, telling the rambunctious tale of a brazen Broadway starlet trying to find, and keep, her true love. Music and lyrics are by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison; the book is by Bob Martin and Don McKellar.
I'll be there all three nights - I'm in the pit (Can I use the word "pit" writing about a Penn State thing?  I guess I can.), playing second trumpet.

If you're a friend of the blog and if you go to the show, stop by and say hi.

#PghBlog4Justice - Trayvon Martin's Murder & George Zimmerman's Acquittal: It's About Race & Politics

I'm not a racist, but... 
The President is making this about race...  
The media is stirring up trouble and making this about race...  
It can't be about race because Zimmerman isn't white...  
What about black-on-black crime...  
You dress like a thug, people are going to treat you like a thug...  
They always get away...
Yes, it's about race. It was about race when this country was built on the backs of slaves. It was about race when there was a one-drop rule. It was about race when there were Jim Crow laws. It was about race when the first African American president had to show his birth certificate to prove he is a real American. It was about race when Acorn was attacked and destroyed. It's about race when states pass laws to try to suppress voting. It's about race when the NRA doesn't say that Trayvon Martin would be alive today if only he had a gun (like they do in every other newsworthy case where an unarmed victim is killed). And, it's about race when, "Only in America can a dead black boy go on trial for his own murder" (SyreetaMcFadden).

Trayvon Martin is dead because George Zimmerman saw black skin and assumed the worse. It all springs from that same ugly well of racism.

And George Zimmerman is not in jail today largely because of politics. First, because the NRA's answer to gun violence is "more guns." And, second, because Florida has a "Stand Your Ground" law which can make prosecution absurdly difficult when someone claims self-defense -- especially when their victim is not alive to give their side.

And, Stand Your Ground was most certainly used in this case. It's one of the reasons that the police didn't initially charge Zimmerman (even though he did not evoke it by name). It was written into the jury instructions. And, it was a reason given by one of the jurors for Zimmerman's acquittal. Not surprisingly, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) adopted Stand Your Ground as a model for other states in early just months after the NRA pushed it through Florida's legislature.

Race and Politics is why the man with the gun is alive and free and the teen with the Skittles is dead and buried.

Thankfully, many Pittsburghers -- of all races -- recognize this intersection of race and politics. There were two protests the day after the verdict (Thank you Commander Rashall Brackney for your cool head). The group, Pittsburgh for Trayvon, had a rally turned into a sit-in, turned into a sleep-in, turned into a visit to the missing mayor's home. They have issued a list of demands to city officials. You can see it here. And, on Saturday there was a rally Downtown.

I'll leave you with an amazing poem by Paradise Gray which was performed at some of the above events. It somehow manages to hit every damn mark:

July 24, 2013


Really, Darlene Harris? Really!?! You dropped out of the Pittsburgh mayoral primary race polling in the single digits and now you're contemplating an independent run in the general election? Really? Even the embattled current mayor thinks it's a bad idea and he spent $161,000 against Democratic nominee Bill Peduto who he now supports. Where do you think your support will come from? That's the sound of one hand clapping you hear. Really!

Really, Ken Cuccinelli? Really!?! You want to restore anti-sodomy laws -- the same ones that were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court a decade ago. Really? In a state whose advertising declares "it's for lovers." Really! Are your trying to out-Santorum fellow Virginian Rick Santorum? Is there something in the water there? This begs the question have you ever had a blow job, and if not, can someone legislate you one so you can get over it? Really!!

Really, Anthony Weiner? Really!?! Your name is weiner and your sexted photos of your wiener made you have to resign as a congressman. Yet you're saying you won't drop out of the NYC mayoral race even though there's more sexts coming out now -- ones you did after your resignation. Really? Does NYC need a Mayor Carlos Danger? Can you maybe take just a little sip of whatever Cuccinelli is drinking? Really!!!

Really, American Media? Really!?! We fought the British so that we never had to give a royal f*ck about all things royal and here you are orgasiming over the birth of the latest royal. Really? Sam Adams isn't just a beer you drink to toast the latest in the line of inbreds whose worth is determined by between whose legs they popped out of. He was one of many who risked life and limb to publish articles against the idea of royalty. History. Journalism. You might want to look into that. REALLY!

July 22, 2013

Oh, NOW It's The Sunspots!!

From today's Tribune-Review Op-Ed Page:
Global warming's “pause” over the past decade-plus is an inconvenient truth that blame-mankind, “settled science” climate cluckers struggle to explain. Here's another: Sunspot formation is weakening in ways reminiscent of conditions associated with a “little ice age” about 300 years ago.

The U.K.-based Global Warming Policy Foundation ( cites an Irish Times report on solar scientists' latest findings. Sunspot activity should be peaking in its regular 11-year cycle, averaging between 90 and 140 sunspots a month, but the actual figure is just 67.
Here's the "report" at the GWPF which is just a repost of this article at the Irish Times.

By the way at the bottom of the GWPF page there's this link which basically debunks story that the braintrust's trying to tell you:
Those hoping that the sun could save us from climate change look set for disappointment. The recent lapse in solar activity is not the beginning of a decades-long absence of sunspots – a dip that might have cooled the climate. Instead, it represents a shorter, less pronounced downturn that happens every century or so.
How interesting that they chose not to tell you that.

But this "sunspot/climbing temps" argument isn't new.  Let me show you something from  It's a set of three pages (one basic, one intermediate, and one advanced) explaining this argument.  But let's go straight to the artwork:

See how the solar activity line (the blue one) has been headed downward for a few decades and the temperature line (the red one) has been trending upwards?

From their "intermediate page" there's lotsa actual science to show how little influence sunspot activity actually has on global temperatures.

The recent disconnect between sunspots and temperature rise isn't new news at all.  Just this data.

Still doesn't change the fact that climate change is undeniable.

Now go back and look at what the braintrust wants you to believe.  How silly does it look now?

July 20, 2013

The President On Trayvon Martin

Some highlights:
First of all, I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there’s going to be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case -- I'll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues. The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury has spoken, that's how our system works. But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling.
And then he laid out some context:
There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me -- at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws -- everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.
And then:
Now, the question for me at least, and I think for a lot of folks, is where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction? I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through, as long as it remains nonviolent. If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family. But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do.
And finally:
And let me just leave you with a final thought that, as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But when I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends and I seem them interact, they’re better than we are -- they’re better than we were -- on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

And so we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues. And those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature, as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions.
Humane. Reasonable. Thoughtful.

So how does the right wing respond?

Hold your nose and go see.  He's the race-baiter-in-chief who's stoking racial violence and who's trying to tear this country apart in order to distract from the IRS "scandal."

What humane, reasonable, and thoughtful folks they got over there on the  right, huh?

July 19, 2013

Rally Seeking Justice For Trayvon Martin And All Victims Of Profiling (in Pittsburgh tomorrow)

Via Facebook:
The Alliance for Police Accountability is calling all COMMUNITY MEMBERS (ESPECIALLY THE YOUTH), politicians, community organizations, faith based institutions, and community groups to stand together to protest the verdict in the case against George Zimmerman and demand that the DOJ file civil rights violation charges. The verdict has sent the wrong message. Stand with us as we send the right one!! We will not stand for any victims of profiling to be criminalized and go without getting justice.

This case has reminded us of the grave injustices and the many Trayvon Martin's that we have right here at home in Pittsburgh! Let's make a resounding noise and presence and make it clear that WE WANT AN END TO RACIAL PROFILING AND THE PROFILING OF ANY ONE IN OUR CITY!! No one should be subjected to such prejudice whether it be for the way that they dress, their race, religion and/or sexual orientation.  
The phenomenal and nationally known rapper/activist Jasiri X will perform his Trayvon Martin and Jordan Miles' songs. We will rally, be heard, discuss solutions, protest and then celebrate our commitment to fighting injustices and to one another!
WHAT: Rally Seeking Justice For Trayvon Martin And All Victims Of Profiling
WHEN: Saturday, July 20, 2013, Noon
WHERE: William S. Moorhead Federal Building, 1000 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (map)
***NOTE: This is the same rally that was originally scheduled to be held at Mt Ararat Church.
MORE INFO: Facebook event page here

See you there!

July 18, 2013

I pass this along as someone who lived in NY for 15 years and who wouldn't live in TX for 15 days

"Odd cult of unicorn mask-wearing porn stars" and the Pittsburgh Police Officer

Go ahead and click the links here and here.
(How could you not?)

The Trib, The Washington Times, And The IRS Zombie Story

Don't these guys keep up with the news?

We'll start here at the Tribune-Review:
The Washington Times reports that the Treasury Department has admitted that confidential records of several political candidates and campaign donors were “improperly scrutinized by government officials, but the Justice Department had declined to prosecute any of the cases.” We've lost count on how many scandals are plaguing the Obama administration. But its fundamental lawlessness grows more stunning by the week. [Bolding in original.]
Ah...those Obama "scandals."  Is there a reason why we haven't heard much about them recently?

Turns out, there is but let's get back to the article Scaife's braintrust references.  Here's the third paragraph:
In a written response to a request by [Senator Chuck] Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, [the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell] George said a review turned up four cases since 2006 in which unidentified government officials took part in “unauthorized access or disclosure of tax records of political donors or candidates,” including one case he described as “willful.” In four additional cases, Mr. George said, allegations of improper access of IRS records were not substantiated by the evidence. [Emphasis added.]
And a paragraph or so later:
The investigation did not name the government officials who obtained the IRS records improperly, nor did it reveal the identities or political parties of the people whose tax records were compromised.
Wait.  Only four cases since 2006 with only one described as "willful" and with no indication as to who or when these cases took place?  So from the report we have no idea whether this is a Bush Administration thing or an Obama Administration thing, right?

And yet to the Scaife's braintrust, it's automatically an Obama scandal.  The Times fills in the myth:
The disclosures deal another blow to the IRS and the Obama administration, which are still grappling with revelations that IRS agents inappropriately targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for extraordinarily burdensome scrutiny during President Obama’s first term.
And yet, that's not completely accurate, is it?  From a memo released by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee:
On Thursday, the Committee will hold its second—and Congress’ seventh—hearing on accusations that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeted Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status for partisan political purposes. This investigation was initiated when the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) issued a report on May 14, 2013, finding that the IRS used “inappropriate” criteria to identify Tea Party organizations for review.

For the past eight weeks, Republican politicians, pundits, and commentators have engaged in a sustained and coordinated campaign to accuse the White House and the Obama Administration of using the IRS to target Tea Party groups applying for tax exempt status despite the absence of any evidence to support these accusations.
This memorandum provides the results of the Committee’s investigation to date. It finds that since the Chairman and other Republicans first began accusing the Administration of targeting “the president’s political enemies,” the Committee has identified no evidence whatsoever—documentary, testimonial, or otherwise—to substantiate these claims. Despite an extremely aggressive investigation involving thousands of documents and more than a dozen interviews of IRS employees, the overwhelming evidence before the Committee reveals no political motivation or White House involvement in this process.[Emphases added.]
The evidence that the memo does show goes something like this:
When asked if there was any evidence of targeting the President’s political enemies, a Republican Tax Law Specialist in Washington, D.C. answered: “No, not at all. That’s kind of laughable that people think that. No, not at all. This is purely cases that, unfortunately, Cincinnati didn’t have enough guidance on. That (c)(4) area is a very, very difficult area, and there’s not much guidance. And so the lingering length of time, unfortunately, was just trying to apply the law to the specific facts of each case.”
So tell me again how this is a scandal?

And what of the rest of those "scandals"?  Go read this.

July 14, 2013

Jack Kelly Sunday

Oh, the hypocrisy!

In his column at the Post-Gazette this Sunday, Jack Kelly swerves a full 180.  He starts with:
Is obeying the law optional?

President Barack Obama seems to think it is -- at least insofar as it applies to him.

The administration announced this month that it plans to delay enforcement of the provision in Obamacare which requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees to provide them with health insurance (which contains certain government-mandated provisions), or pay a fine of $2,000 per worker.

Section 1513(d) of the Obamacare law states clearly that "The amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013."

This is important because the Constitution says the president "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed" (Article II, Section 3).
Jack's fellow travelers over on the Scaife editorial board have already tried this one and in general I am surprised that our friends on the right would even think of writing this.

Where the hell were they when this happened?

In October, 2005 Senator John McCain (a well-known Republican) offered up an amendment to the Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pandemic Influenza Act, 2006 (H.R. 2863) which became Title X of the bill.  It states:
No person in the custody or under the effective control of the Department of Defense or under detention in a Department of Defense facility shall be subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by and listed in the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation.
And specifically:
(a) In General.--No individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

(b) Construction.--Nothing in this section shall be construed to impose any geographical limitation on the applicability of the prohibition against cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment under this section.

(c) Limitation on Supersedure.--The provisions of this section shall not be superseded, except by a provision of law enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act which specifically repeals, modifies, or supersedes the provisions of this section.

(d) Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Defined.--In this section, the term ``cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment'' means the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984.
The Amendment was agreed to overwhelmingly by the Senate (The vote was 90-9. Even Rick Santorum voted for it).

The whole bill passed both the House and the Senate and was signed by President George W. Bush, who included this section in the now infamous "signing statement" attached to the bill:
The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks. Further, in light of the principles enunciated by the Supreme Court of the United States in 2001 in Alexander v. Sandoval, and noting that the text and structure of Title X do not create a private right of action to enforce Title X, the executive branch shall construe Title X not to create a private right of action. Finally, given the decision of the Congress reflected in subsections 1005(e) and 1005(h) that the amendments made to section 2241 of title 28, United States Code, shall apply to past, present, and future actions, including applications for writs of habeas corpus, described in that section, and noting that section 1005 does not confer any constitutional right upon an alien detained abroad as an enemy combatant, the executive branch shall construe section 1005 to preclude the Federal courts from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over any existing or future action, including applications for writs of habeas corpus, described in section 1005.
You may need to read that twice to get a better idea of what's in there.

But here's how Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe described what Bush did:
When President Bush last week signed the bill outlawing the torture of detainees, he quietly reserved the right to bypass the law under his powers as commander in chief.

After approving the bill last Friday, Bush issued a ''signing statement" -- an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law -- declaring that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. This means Bush believes he can waive the restrictions, the White House and legal specialists said.
Though they try to reassure the skittish terrorist-enablers:
''We are not going to ignore this law," the official said, noting that Bush, when signing laws, routinely issues signing statements saying he will construe them consistent with his own constitutional authority. ''We consider it a valid statute. We consider ourselves bound by the prohibition on cruel, unusual, and degrading treatment."

But, the official said, a situation could arise in which Bush may have to waive the law's restrictions to carry out his responsibilities to protect national security. He cited as an example a ''ticking time bomb" scenario, in which a detainee is believed to have information that could prevent a planned terrorist attack.
Not that means much:
David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive power issues, said that the signing statement means that Bush believes he can still authorize harsh interrogation tactics when he sees fit.

''The signing statement is saying 'I will only comply with this law when I want to, and if something arises in the war on terrorism where I think it's important to torture or engage in cruel, inhuman, and degrading conduct, I have the authority to do so and nothing in this law is going to stop me,' " he said. ''They don't want to come out and say it directly because it doesn't sound very nice, but it's unmistakable to anyone who has been following what's going on."
Interestingly, something Savage writes in the very next paragraph also resonates this story:
Golove and other legal specialists compared the signing statement to Bush's decision, revealed last month, to bypass a 1978 law forbidding domestic wiretapping without a warrant. Bush authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans' international phone calls and e-mails without a court order starting after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Authorizing previously unauthorized NSA eavesdropping?  Ignoring laws banning the torture of human beings?  Anyone remember those offenses?  Jack?  Don't you?

And yet when the Obama Administration delays by a year the implementation of a section of the Affordable Healthcare Act, that's when the conservatives from Maine to Malibu judge as the time to point out the President's legal obligations under Article II.

Oh, the hypocrisy!

July 13, 2013

"Only in America can a dead black boy go on trial for his own murder." -Syreeta McFadden

No, HERE'S The Reality

My friends, the braintrust is misleading you.  Again.

This time it's about the sequester:
For all the hand-wringing over the big, bad sequestration, most of the worst fallout predicted by pols never occurred. The Washington Post reminds that prison guards and FBI agents weren't furloughed. Americans didn't get stuck at border crossings. And hundreds of thousands of low-income women and children didn't go hungry.
That last line's an obvious distract because as the Washington Post pointed out last February:
Most mandatory programs, like Medicaid and Social Security, and in particular low-income programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, or welfare) and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) were exempt from the sequester.
Back then, the Post did point out (in the next sentence, by the way) that:
...some low-income programs, most notably aid for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), are subject to cuts.
However when we look at the Post article (or even the Heritage Foundation blog post) the braintrust references we don't find ANY mention of WIC.

Um, so since, say, food stamps were exempt from the sequester, isn't it kinda misleading to imply that the sequester ain't so bad because women and children didn't go hungry because of it?

On the other hand the Washington Post article they reference does point out one of the reasons why the predictions of the Obama administration didn't occur:
So many predictions fell short because, in recent months, the administration and Congress did what was supposed to be impossible: They undid many of sequestration’s scariest reductions. In the process, this supposedly ironclad budget cut — ostensibly immune to political maneuvering — became a symbol of the reality that nothing in Washington is beyond politics.
So some of the details of the sequester have been changed by the Congress and the Administration in reaction to the reality of the budget cuts in order to lessen their impact.  Huh.  So let me ask you: Did you get any indication of that in reading the Braintrust's editorial?

No?  Me neither.

Don't you think it should have been in there, if only to present a clearer picture of reality?

Yea.  Me, too.

Distorting reality for the sake of pushing a political agenda - not much of a surprise, really, coming from the editorial board of the Richard Mellon Scaife's Tribune-Review.

July 12, 2013

You have just 24 hours left (Madame President√°: Why Not U.S.? Vamos Meninas!)

Last week the U.S. celebrated the birth of our country. It took 144 years after that birth for women to gain the right to vote. And 237 years after that first July 4th, we have yet to have a woman president. Meanwhile, right now there are four women presidents in the rest of the Americas (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Costa Rica).

Pittsburgh's Women and Girls Foundation (WGF) and ELAS Women’s Social Investment Fund in Rio de Janeiro are currently in the production stage of creating a documentary about women presidents. WGF CEO Heather Arnet is the writer and producer. But, they need your help NOW to bring it to completion:
This is getting exciting - we are really close to meeting our Madame Presidenta Kickstarter goal. For three years, WGF has been working with partners across the globe to create a film about female presidents that will debut on Pittsburgh's own WQED this fall, tour college campuses, and inspire girls for generations to come! 
Now, we need your help to take this project over the finish line. If we can raise $25K by 5:00pm this Saturday, July 13th - we will receive all the funds and be able to complete the film! But, if we are short by even $1 - we won't recieve ANY of the money! Not even the funds pledged by the 90 people to date. Kickstarter is all or nothing. 
P.S. If you need an extra dose of inspiration, click here to watch what two ten year old girls are doing this week to help the campaign too!
If you'd rather make your pledge offline or via check, call (412) 320-6334 today.
Let's make this happen!

July 11, 2013

Video Of The Day (What Passes For Freedom/Democracy/Free Speech In Texas)

From ThinkProgress:
Thousands of Texans have rallied against the restrictive bill that would criminalize abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and shut down most abortion clinics in the state. One activist, a 28-year-old Texas woman named Sarah Slamen, delivered a powerful speech against the legislation during a hearing on Monday. However, she was soon interrupted mid-sentence by the senators, and hauled out of the room by several state troopers.
And here's what she said before her speech was cut off:
I will thank you, though, first. It was destiny that you would discriminate against us and try to force your way inside the bodies of Texas women. Thank you! For finally working against women so publicly, and not in the shadows like you’re used to. Thank you for every single bad press conference with your bad information. Thank you for every hateful statement degrading women and girls to sex objects, and brood mares, and bald eagles, and leather wallets, like your eloquent pro-life supporters have done today.

Thank you for being you, Texas legislature. You have radicalized hundreds of thousands of us. And no matter what you do for the next 22 days, women and their allies are coming for you. Let’s start down the line. Senator Campbell, you’re an ophthalmologist. So I won’t be making you the expert on reproductive health. We can give you all the children with chlamydia and herpes in their eyes, since we don’t have Sex Ed in this state.
And the video:

When she was first challenged by a member of the committee, she's heard to say, "This is my government, I will judge you!"

Imagine the outcry if a Tea Partier had been so forcibly ejected from a similar hearing.  Or a pro-life advocate.

By the way Slamen was on Lawrence O'Donnell explaining her testimony:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
See what passes for freedom in Texas these days.

July 9, 2013

Video of the Day (How The New Ohio Budget Affects Your Vagina)

Reality Catches Up To The Braintrust. Again

Remember this blog post?

The blog post linked to this Op-Ed in the Tribune-Review that said, in part, this:
Among the Obama administration's re-election cheerleaders, none is more duplicitous than Attorney General Eric Holder, whose sis-boom-ba on "voter rights" is sorely out of sync with factual accounts of fraud.

Last month the Justice Department blocked a South Carolina photo-identification law, insisting it makes voting more difficult for minorities. At a rally in Columbia, S.C., last week, Mr. Holder said defending that cause is "a moral imperative," The Washington Post reported.

But Holder's presumptuous intervention in South Carolina backfired. In response, that state's attorney general, Alan Wilson, did some digging and found that at least 900 dead people voted in South Carolina's 2010 election, writes Peter Hannaford for The American Spectator. Mr. Wilson is going to court to restore the law.
Turns out this (the story of the dead people voting in South Carolina) is completely untrue.

From the AP:
No one intentionally cast a ballot in South Carolina using the names of dead people in recent elections, despite allegations to the contrary, according to a State Law Enforcement Division report obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

Attorney General Alan Wilson asked the agency to investigate last year after the Department of Motor Vehicles determined in early 2012 that more than 900 people listed as deceased also had voted in recent years.
The initial story was broken by the Columbia Free Times:
A year and a half after a zombie voter fever fell over Republicans in campaign mode, a state police investigation found no indication that anyone purposefully cast a ballot using the name of a dead person in South Carolina.

Responding to an open records request, the S.C. Law Enforcement Division today released its final report to Free Times, one day before a federal holiday. SLED found no indication of voter fraud. [Emphasis added.]
So, now that we've found yet another Voter "Fraud" mistake on the pages of Richard Mellon Scaife's editorial page, will the braintrust be making any sort of correction?

Props To Jerry Bowyer!

His rhetoric's landed him on MediaMatters again!

Take a look:
Forbes contributor Jerry Bowyer relied on shoddy logic and baseless assertions to attempt to debunk the well-supported claim that marriage equality has a variety of economic benefits.

In his July 4 blog post - touted by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) - Bowyer claimed that the Supreme Court's recent marriage equality decisions would hurt businesses by adding to "paperwork" for same-sex couples.
It's a silly argument Jerry's making but I'll let this commenter sum things up:
Yeah, because excess paperwork is always an awesome reason to deny people their civil rights.

July 8, 2013

Ruth Ann Dailey On DOMA

Ruth Ann Dailey's wrote her own dissent of US v Windsor a few days ago in the Post-Gazette.

I gotta say that I've met Ruth Ann a few times (we shared the table on "Night Talk: Get To The Point" a few months ago) and she's a very nice person.  She's not stupid or hateful at all - and as a person I'd like to say that I like her very much.

But she's completely wrong about her dissent in the P-G where she seems to be saying that it's just so darned unfair to "religious traditionalists" for the big bad guv'ment to treat everyone fairly.  But don't take my word on it.  Here's what she says:
The only matter settled by the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions on gay marriage last week is that our nation faces many more years of litigation and legislation. And that was already a certainty before the decision was handed down.

Had the court established a sweeping constitutional right to same-sex marriage -- a decree that, like Roe v. Wade, would have overturned the varying laws of many states -- the political climate ahead would be far more bitter and divided.

For those of us still hoping for a win-win, this bit of judicial restraint constitutes some good news.

The bad news is that while the majority decisions were restrained, their rhetoric was not. The prevailing justices' lack of historical knowledge and philosophical depth underscores the significant drawback to our society's health in appointing to the bench mere specialists in the law. These are very smart people with alarmingly narrow vision.

And in their narrow vision, they have set the stage for a new persecuted minority: religious traditionalists.
See?  By making things more fair, The Supremes are persecuting the faithful - well some faithful, as Dailey dutifully points out that:
...several Christian denominations recognize same-sex relationships and ordain openly gay clergy.
But let's get back to her rhetorical rumba.  A line or two after the intro above, she gets a simple fact embarrassingly wrong.  Here's what she wrote:
Justice Anthony Kennedy's language in the decision overturning part of the Defense of Marriage Act is, as others have already pointed out, contemptuous of tradition and those who value it. Being able to see into other people's hearts and minds, he asserts that DOMA was motivated by a "bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group."
Note that the paragraph is about Justice Kennedy's language in which he asserts something about the motivations (the "bare...desire to harm") of Congress - something she's sarcastically implying he has no reason or evidence to hold true.  It's almost as if she can see into Justice Kennedy's heart and mind and that she can simply "know" that he's making it up.

Too bad the facts get in the way of that.

Let's go and see how Justice Kennedy actually used that phrase.  He uses it twice in the Windsor decision and each time (though one summarizes the other) he's quoting a previous Supreme Court decision from 1973.  His first usage:
By seeking to injure the very class New York seeks to protect, DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government. The Constitution's guarantee of equality "must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot" justify disparate treatment of that group. Department of Agriculture v. Moreno...[Italics in Original]
The fact that he was quoting from a 4 decade old decision is lost on her - what she's quoting from Kennedy was not actually his language, his assertion, is it?  He was using it to make a larger point.  A writer usually as careful as Ruth Ann Dailey should not be making such a simple mistake.  But lets get back to the larger point Kennedy was making.  Here's the passage he quotes from in the Moreno decision:
For if the constitutional conception of "equal protection of the laws" means anything, it must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate governmental interest.
But of course, the question remains, does DOMA reach that standard?  Dailey's asserting that Kennedy just made it up by imposing some sort of vague imagery into the hearts and minds of Congress.  However when you look at what he actually wrote, you can see that Kennedy actually does make the case (something else lost on Dailey):
In determining whether a law is motived by an improper animus or purpose, "[d]iscriminations of an unusual character'" especially require careful consideration. DOMA cannot survive under these principles. The responsibility of the States for the regulation of domestic relations is an important indicator of the substantial societal impact the State's classifications have in the daily lives and customs of its people. DOMA's unusual deviation from the usual tradition of recognizing and accepting state definitions of marriage here operates to deprive same-sex couples of the benefits and responsibilities that come with the federal recognition of their marriages. This is strong evidence of a law having the purpose and effect of disapproval of that class. The avowed purpose and practical effect of the law here in question are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States.
It's all there, Ruth Ann.  Your sarcasm is misplaced.  You either knew it was there or you didn't.  If you knew, then you were omitting it from your column dishonestly OR if you didn't then you didn't do your homework well enough.

Which one is it?

In effect, Kennedy's saying that some states recognized that same-sex couples had the same rights as heterosexual couples but that under DOMA, the former were denied Federal rights because of who they were - if equal protection under the laws means anything it means that no law so singling out a group or class of people for harm can survive constitutional scrutiny.

But to Ruth Ann Dailey, the religious traditionalists should be free to be unfair, to treat some of their fellow citizens unequally, as second class citizens.  But then she writes this:
Quite a few of us who identify as heterosexual, Evangelical and traditionalist nonetheless wish to extend to our fellow citizens all the relationship rights we enjoy in our straight marriages. We simply wish to do so in a way that preserves our constitutional right to disagree about the theology of marriage without being persecuted by the state.
Huh?  But if same sex couples were extended all the same rights then there would not be a need for any of this would there?  And doesn't the First Amendment already protect the constitutional right to disagree on theology?  What's not protected is acting on such a disagreement so as to deny another citizen his or her basic constitutional rights.

Equal protection under the law - it's only fair.  If religion gets in the way it's the religion that's wrong not the law.

July 5, 2013

The Braintrust Gets It Wrong. Again.

I hope everyone had a good fourth.

But there's still work to be done, still misinformation to be corrected, still Tribune-Review op-eds to be debunked.

Like this one, today:
The Obama administration just jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire with its abrupt Tuesday decision to delay a signature provision of ObamaCare.

Not only is the move to delay, until 2015, implementation of a mandate that larger employers (of 50 or more workers) provide health care insurance for their employees or face a $2,000 fine for each nakedly political — it postpones an onerous diktat with backdraft political implications until after the 2014 midterm elections — the administration's arbitrary decision to flout the law is patently illegal. [Emphases added.]
Arbitrary?  Well, let's see about that.  Here's how the Treasury Department explains the "abrupt" and "arbitrary" decision:
Over the past several months, the Administration has been engaging in a dialogue with businesses - many of which already provide health coverage for their workers - about the new employer and insurer reporting requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively. We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so. We have listened to your feedback. And we are taking action.

The Administration is announcing that it will provide an additional year before the ACA mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin. This is designed to meet two goals. First, it will allow us to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law. Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees. Within the next week, we will publish formal guidance describing this transition. Just like the Administration’s effort to turn the initial 21-page application for health insurance into a three-page application, we are working hard to adapt and to be flexible about reporting requirements as we implement the law.
So not so abrupt or arbitrary, huh?  But take a look at the why of the delay: to give businesses more time to meet the requirements of the law.

And what does business have to say about this delay?  From the New York Times:
Employer groups were quick to applaud the delay. At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has strongly opposed the law, Randy Johnson, senior vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits, said in a statement, “The administration has finally recognized the obvious — employers need more time and clarification of the rules of the road before implementing the employer mandate.”

E. Neil Trautwein, a vice president of the National Retail Federation, said the delay “will provide employers and businesses more time to update their health care coverage without threat of arbitrary punishment.”
And why is there a need for a delay?  This from the Washington Post:
The decision comes as a result of years of bumps and setbacks for the overhaul, including legal challenges and political opposition that have hampered its implementation. Last summer, the Supreme Court upheld the law but struck down a mandatory expansion of Medicaid. State officials and businesses held off changing their policies through the 2012 presidential campaign because Obama’s GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, had promised to repeal the law.
Basically, business has been delaying implementing the policies hoping that either the Supreme Court overturns the law or Romney killed it.  In case you missed it, neither happened.

And so now they're running short of time and the Administration just gave them another year.

And yet to Scaife's braintrust, it's an "abrupt" and "arbitrary" decision designed to help out in the 2014 midterms.

But will it have much of an effect?  According to Brian Beutler at Talkingpointsmemo, not so much:
The provision in question — the so-called “employer mandate” — is intended to entice large employers to provide insurance to their full-time employees, and create a disincentive for large employers who might be tempted to unload their health care costs on to taxpayers by nudging their employees into Obamacare’s subsidized insurance exchanges.

Crucially, though, experts note that these incentives are fairly trivial in the grand scheme of employer sponsored insurance, and they don’t expect that the temporary delay of this particular penalty will have major consequences for the insurance market under Obamacare.

“[T]here is very little in the ACA that changes the incentives facing employers that already offer coverage to their workers, and fully 96 percent of employers with 50 or more workers already offer today,” write Linda J. Blumberg, John Holahan, and Judy Feder of the Urban Institute. “Competition for labor, the fact that most employees get greater value from the tax exclusion for employer sponsored insurance than they would from exchange-based subsidies, and the introduction of a requirement for individuals to obtain coverage or pay a penalty themselves, are the major factors that will keep the lion’s share of employers continuing to do just what they do today with no requirements in place to do so.”

In other words, even in absence of Obamacare’s $2000-a-head penalty, employers still have very real incentives to offer their employees health benefits. And if the delay will only have a modest impact on the insurance market, then it should also have a modest impact on the law’s fiscal consequences.
Funny how much real reality differs from the false reality projected by the Tribune-Review editorial board - you know, once someone bothers to introduce facts to the discussion.

July 3, 2013

Go Read What Sue And Maria Wrote

My friends Maria, the OPJ, and Sue Kerr, who blogs over at Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, have posted something in honor of Pam Spaulding, who's shuttering down her own (and very important) blog, Pam's House Blend.

This is Amazing (A Quick Non-Political Post)

Found this at Crooks And Liars:

What I find (and continue to find) amazing is how deeply embedded The Beatles are in our culture.  Think of it - Mumford and Sons is performing a Joe Cocker cover of a Beatles song from 1967.

Cocker sang this arrangement at Woodstock in 1969.  Take a look:

Amazing when you think that that music was already 2 decades old when Marcus Mumford was born in 1987.