Democracy Has Prevailed.

May 30, 2014

Doesn't Anyone At The P-G Fact-Check Jack Kelly?

How surprising is this?

In a column titled "The facts don’t add up for human-caused global warming" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette comedy writer conservative columnist Jack Kelly gets, well, his facts wrong.

Which facts?

Well, let's start with HIS FIRST PARAGRAPH:
The first five months of 2014 have been the coldest since the National Weather Service began keeping records in 1888. If “climate change” alarmists got out more, they might have noticed.
I am not really sure where he got his data, but it simply doesn't conform to the "year-to-date" data at NOAA. Here's the YTD for Jan-Apr, 2014:

See that last red column wa-ay over on the right?  That's this past January-April.  As far as I can tell, it says that globally (and that's the only data that counts) it was about 1 degree Fahrenheit above average. See all those blue columns on the left?  Those are all the years colder than the average.

Show me where, Jack, it says that it was colder globally than 1888?

So I'm not sure where Jack got his data.  Given the extraordinary claim, shouldn't this be backed up by some sort of reference?  Where did he get this?  How does he explain how it's at odds with the expert's data?

Shouldn't this have been checked at the P-G?

Then there's Jack's SECOND PARAGRAPH:
Between 1979 — when weather satellites started measuring temperatures in the lower troposphere — and 1997, they rose about 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.98 degrees Fahrenheit).
This was explained in 2006:
In November 2005, Carl Mears and Frank Wentz at Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) performed an independent analysis of the satellite data. In the process, they found an algebraic error in the UAH [University of Alabama in Huntsville]analysis. With the correction made, the UAH trend was now 0.12°C per decade - larger but still less than the surface trend. However, RSS released their own results based on their data analysis - a trend of 0.19°C per decade.
Part of the discrepancy between UAH and RSS was the methods used to splice the data from different satellites together. However, the major source of discrepancy was the way they corrected for diurnal drift (Mears et al 2005). The satellites orbit the earth from pole to pole. The satellites possess no propulsion so slowly over time, the local equator crossing time (LECT) changes. This is exacerbated by decay of the satellites orbital height, dragged down by the thin atmosphere. As a satellite's LECT changes, it takes readings at changing local times, allowing local diurnal cycle variations to appear as spurious trends (Christy et al 2000).
So once they corrected for diurnal drift and orbital drag, in 2006, this discrepancy dissolved.

And that's just Jack's first two paragraphs.

Didn't anyone at the P-G bother to check his science?

Someone once said that you're entitled to your own opinion but you're not entitled to your own facts.

But if you're named Jack Kelly and you're a conservative columnist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, apparently you are.

May 29, 2014

Look How BIG The Conspiracy Is!

From today's Tribune-Review editorial board:
And milking the cash cow that's climate change, a report issued by a Pentagon think tank rings a global-warming alarm and urges the Defense Department to step up spending to combat a “man-made” problem, The Washington Times reports. The report, based on “absolute objectivity,” was funded by a climate change group that's one of the think tank's customers. Such stunning “objectivity” is the foundation on which the Church of Global Warming is built.
Let's try to unweave some of the rather confusing prose in the above.

The Washington Times piece is here and it says:
Retired military officers deeply involved in the climate change movement — and some in companies positioned to profit from it — spearheaded an alarmist global warming report this month that calls on the Defense Department to ramp up spending on what it calls a man-made problem.

The report, which the Obama administration immediately hailed as a call to action, was issued not by a private advocacy group but by a Pentagon-financed think tank that trumpets "absolute objectivity." The research was funded by a climate change group that is also one of the think tank's main customers.

The May 13 report came from the military advisory board within CNA Corp., a nonprofit based in Alexandria, Virginia, that includes the Center for Naval Analyses, a Navy-financed group that also gets contracts from other Pentagon units. CNA also operates the Institute for Public Research.
Ok, so now we're getting somewhere.  The port came from a board within the CNA Corp and the CNA Corp operates the Center for Naval Analyses and the Institute for Public Research.

But Scaife's braintrust charges that the people who wrote the report are doing so to line their own pockets.  So what sort of people are these that wrote this report?  Here's the press release page announcing the report:
As a follow-up to its landmark 2007 study on climate and national security, the CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board's National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change (PDF) re-examines the impact of climate change on U.S. national security in the context of a more informed, but more complex and integrated world.

The Board’s 2007 report described projected climate change as a “threat multiplier.” In this report the 16 retired Generals and Admirals who make up the board look at new vulnerabilities and tensions posed by climate change, which, when set against the backdrop of increasingly decentralized power structures around the world, they now identify as a “catalyst for conflict.”
Ok, so it was the Military Advisory Board who wrote the report.  So who are THEY?

Here they are.  Here's the bio of the Chairman of the Board (sorry, Frank):
General Paul Kern, USA (Ret.), Chairman, Military Advisory Board Former Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command General Kern was Commanding General, Army Materiel Command from 2001-2004, and senior advisor for Army Research, Development, and Acquisition from 1997-2001. He was commissioned as an Armor Lieutenant following graduation from West Point in 1967 and served three combat tours – two in Vietnam as a platoon leader and troop commander and the third in Desert Shield/Desert Storm. In the 1990s, Kern served as senior military assistant to Secretary of Defense William Perry. In June 2004, at the request of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Kern led the military's internal investigation into the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
So the guy Donald Rumsfeld asked to investigate Abu Ghraib is in on the climate change conspiracy.

This is the level of their argument, the braintrust.  It's all a conspiracy to get more money out of the Pentagon.  The facts are false, the reasoning is false it's all a big conspiracy - git aht yer tin hats!

But if the source of the funding can, in fact, skew the research, then why are they silent about the money Big Oil has poured into the "research" denying climate science?

May 28, 2014

Meanwhile, Just Outside...

From Time Magazine:
April was the first time the monthly average of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passed 400 parts per million, a threshold that the U.N. says has "symbolic and scientific significance"
It's from this press release from the World Meteorological Organization:
CO2 remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Its lifespan in the oceans is even longer. It is the single most important greenhouse gas emitted by human activities. It was responsible for 85% of the increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate - over the decade 2002-2012.

Between 1990 and 2013 there was a 34% increase in radiative forcing because of greenhouse gases, according to the latest figures from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

According to WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 393.1 parts per million in 2012, or 141% of the pre-industrial level of 278 parts per million. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased on average by 2 parts per million per year for the past 10 years.
I am wondering if Pennsylvania's Republican senator, Pat Toomey, has changed his mind from a few short years ago when he was quoted as saying:
My view is: I think the data is pretty clear. There has been an increase in the surface temperature of the planet over the course of the last 100 years or so. I think it’s clear that that has happened. The extent to which that has been caused by human activity I think is not as clear. I think that is still very much disputed and has been debated.
Actually Senator, it's not in dispute.  Hasn't been for a long long time.

But the quote is still from a few years ago, has there been a change of mind from the Club For Growth Senator?  I tried searching for the word "climate" at his Senatorial webpage and found nothing.  Samething for the phrase "global warming" - nothing.

I haven't been able to find any change - but that could be my lack of google skills.  Does anyone know if we can still assume Pat Toomey to be among the science deniers in the Senate?

Unless there's evidence to the contrary...

May 25, 2014

Pennsylvania Science Deniers In The US House Of Representatives

I can hear you all asking, "Science denier?  That's pretty strong language, isn't it?  How are you defining that term in this context?" I can hear you following up with another question.

So many good questions, my faithful inquisitors, I'll answer them simply:
In this instance, a "Congressional Science denier" is one who voted for this amendment.  
Here's Huffingtonpost for some context on the amendment:
The House passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill on Thursday that would bar the Department of Defense from using funds to assess climate change and its implications for national security.

The amendment, from Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), passed in what was nearly a party-line vote. Four Democrats voted for the amendment, and three Republicans voted against it. The bill aims to block the DOD from taking any significant action related to climate change or its potential consequences.
Or as Representative Henry Waxman said on the House Floor:
Well, I think that is science denial at its worst to say that the Defense Department cannot recognize damage caused by climate change. It looks like it is trying to overturn the laws of nature.

So we would tie the hands of the Defense Department and tell them that even though we might have exacerbated heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods, water- and vector-borne diseases, diseases which will pose greater risk to human health and lives around the world, and wheat and corn yields are already experiencing the negative impact and we have a larger risk of food security globally and regionally, if scientists tell us that, we are not allowed to have our Defense Department pay any heed to it.
Huffingtonpost said it was a near party line vote so who broke with their party?

The four Democrats who voted for the amendment were:
Barrow (of Georgia)
Cuellar (of Texas)
Mcintyre (of North Carolina)
Rahall (of West Virginia)
And the three Republicans who voted against where:
Garrett (of New Jersey)
Gibson (of New York)
LoBiondo (of New Jersey)
Other than that, all House Demorats voted NO and all House Republicans voted YES.  Here's the Pennsylvania delegation and how they voted (the list is arranged by Congressional District) and here's the roll call if'n y'inz wanna check my work, en'at:
1. Bob Brady (D) - Voted NO
2. Chaka Fattah (D) - Voted NO
3. Mike Kelly (R) - Science Denier, Voted YES
4. Scott Perry (R) - Science Denier, Voted YES
5. Glenn Thompson (R) - Science Denier, Voted YES
6. Jim Gerlach (R) - Science Denier, Voted YES
7. Pat Meehan (R) - Science Denier, Voted YES
8. Mike Fitzpatrick (R) - Science Denier, Voted YES
9. Bill Shuster (R) - Science Denier, Voted YES
10. Tom Marino (R) - Science Denier, Voted YES
11. Lou Barletta (R)- Science Denier, Voted YES
12. Keith Rothfus (R)- Science Denier, Voted YES
13. Allyson Schwartz (D) - Voted NO
14. Michael F. Doyle (D) - Voted NO
15. Charles Dent (R)- Science Denier, Voted YES
16. Joseph R. Pitts (R)- Science Denier, Voted YES
17. Matt Cartwright (D) - Voted NO
18. Timothy F. Murphy (R)- Science Denier, Voted YES
And finally, since you're all shivering with anticipation, here's what they were voting on - it's an amendment to HR 4435:
None of the funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to implement the U.S. Global Change Research Program National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report, the United Nation's Agenda 21 sustainable development plan, or the May 2013 Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order 12866.
That's what the science deniers don't want.  As Representative Waxman pointed out in his comments:
This is incredible, because the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review called climate change ``an accelerant of instability or conflict'' that ``could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments.'' But the McKinley amendment tells the DOD to ignore these impacts.
But that was waay back in 2010. What does the 2014 Quadrennial Review have to say about Climate Change?

Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating. These changes, coupled with other global dynamics, including growing, urbanizing, more affluent populations, and substantial economic growth in India, China, Brazil, and other nations, will devastate homes, land, and infrastructure. Climate change may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs. The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.
Yea, Representative McKinley (this from his comments on the House Floor):
[T]his amendment would prohibit the Department of Defense from spending money on climate change policies forced upon them by the Obama administration.

We shouldn't be diverting our financial resources away from the primary missions of our military and our national security in pursuit of an ideology. [Emphasis added.]
So face it, if you live in Pennsylvania and if you live in a "red" Congressional District, you're represented by a science denier.  Get used to it.

May 23, 2014

A Doubly Rare Event

It's a rare event when the editorial boards at the Tribune-Review and the Post-Gazette write about the same thing on the same day.

It's even rarer when they actually agree.

Well, they did yesterday.

Since I give them (and rightly so) a hard time on their stubborn science-denial, I'll let the Trib's editorial board go first. They point out that like slavery, enshrined discrimination, the denial of due process, the ban on marriage equality is "egregious" and that:
...its blatant unconstitutionality becomes so apparent that it trumps the bigotry and prejudice that we rationalize as acceptable mores and folkways.
On Tuesday in Harrisburg, U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III, a Republican, ruled the commonwealth's laws banning same-sex marriage violate both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment and permanently enjoined their enforcement. “(T)hat same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional,” wrote Judge Jones. “Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection.”

Astutely, the Corbett administration will not appeal.

Yes, there comes a time. And that time has come in Pennsylvania and the nation.
And here's what the editorial board of the Post-Gazette had to say:
Americans who were told that gay marriage would subvert traditional marriage have seen for themselves that this isn’t true. They have seen the unfairness of fellow citizens living ordinary lives refused the fundamental right to marry because they happen to be gay. In language both eloquent and practical, Judge Jones concisely sums up why Pennsylvania’s law violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.
Some will resent that it was a judge, not the Legislature, who caused this momentous change. But fundamental rights are not for a majority to veto.
I am guessing they'd both agree with how the P-G tied up it's editorial, namely that "history is now on the side of those whose definition of freedom is inclusive of all Americans."

May 22, 2014

The Party Of Stupid (Texas Edition)

It's the campaign season, you know.  And in a number of states a number of different races are being one - one of them for Lt Governor for the great state of Texas.

In a recent debate among the republican candidates for that seat, the question of how much money could or should be spent to "cool the environment" was raised to the front runner in that race, state Senator Dan Patrick (who's a republican, of course) and he delivered the stupid - three times over.

Time one:
Patrick said he would spend "zero dollars" to combat climate change.

"I understand why Obama thinks he can change the weather — because he thinks he’s God," he said, as recorded by Raw Story. "He thinks he is the smartest person in the country. He thinks he knows better in Washington what we do in Texas. He thinks he’s the one, through all of his executive orders, that Congress isn’t even up to his level, so I’m not surprised that he also thinks he can change the weather."
Time two:
"First of all, when it comes to climate change, there’s been scientific arguments on both sides of the issues," he said. "But you know, if you want a tiebreaker, if Al Gore thinks it’s right, you know it’s wrong."
And finally, time three:
"I’ll leave it in the hands of God. He’s handled out climate pretty well for a long time," he said.
This is what passes for intelligent discourse among Texas republican candidates regarding the warming climate.

Meanwhile, in reality, NOAA declared that globally, the month of April tied for the warmest April on record.  Some details out of NOAA:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for April 2014 tied with 2010 as the highest on record for the month, at 0.77°C (1.39°F) above the 20th century average of 13.7°C (56.7°F).
Meanwhile, in Patrick's own state of Texas, they've been experiencing a massive drought:

See all that brown and reddish brown in the northwest of Texas?  That's what NOAA's calling "extreme" and "exceptional" drought.

So I guess God hasn't been handling the climate very well in Texas.

May 21, 2014

Wherever He Is, Rick Santorum's Probably Having A Bad Day

Of course, it's about the ban being declared unconstitutional:
Same-sex couples across Pennsylvania could begin tying the knot on Friday or Saturday under a landmark federal court decision in Harrisburg that had some people celebrating and others crying foul.

An order on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III overturned the state's 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, positioning Pennsylvania to become the 19th state in which same-sex couples can marry legally. Jones declared the 1996 act a discriminatory violation of the Constitution that belongs in “the ash heap of history.”

“We now join the 12 federal district courts across the country which, when confronted with these inequities in their own states, have concluded that all couples deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil marriage,” Jones wrote in a 39-page opinion.
Daryl Metcalfe defined the problem a few paragraphs later:
“We're not going to stand by silently while an activist judge tries to strike down an institution that has been preserved throughout history,” said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry. He introduced an earlier impeachment resolution against [Attorney General Kathleen] Kane, who refused to defend the marriage law.
Here's the decision if y'inz wanna read it.

And here's why Lil Ricky's probably having a bad day today: He endorsed Jones for the seat on the District court (h/t to slate).  Here's Santorum's statement by way of the way back machine where he said that Jones was:
...highly qualified to assume the important role of Judge and the duty of protecting the Constitution and ensuring the effective operation of our judicial system.
But Rick had more to say about Judge Jones (h/t to the Washington Blade).  Take a look:
Santorum said he was excited about Jones' federal judgeship because Jones "understands our values and traditions."
But did you see the date on the endorsement?  March 1, 2002.  That means that it was during George W. Bush's first administration.  He was also confirmed unanimously by the Senate.  That means that every Republican member of the United States Senate in 2002 voted for the guy.

Oh, and he was also the guy who struck down the teaching of Intelligent Design in public schools.

So I'd say, yea, Rick Santorum's have a bad day today.

Poor Rick.

Congratulations, Pennsylvania!

Congratulations, Pennsylvania! You are the 19th state to be on the right side of history.

Joy in the streets of Pittsburgh (Photo courtesy of Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh)

May 20, 2014

And Now They're Back To Confusing Weather and Climate

They just can't help themselves, I guess.

Any, again, by "they" I mean Scaife's editorial board - his braintrust.

Take a look at what they published this morning:
More chicken squawking: Theologians of the Church of Global Warming gathered in Pittsburgh on Monday. Before a conference sponsored by Allegheny County and Pitt, Penn State oceanography professor Raymond Najjar told the Trib that the Keystone State summers will feel more like Virginia, even if carbon emissions are not reduced. Be very afraid. And pay no attention to frost advisories on May 19 or forecasts of a cooler summer in the region. [Bolding in original] 
See that?  The long term predictions of raising temperatures by legitimate climate science is to be doubted because there were local frost advisories on one day in May - or that this summer might be cooler.

Meanwhile in reality across the globe, the first quarter of this year (January - March, 2014) has been the seventh warmest since 1880.

(But that can't possibly be true because yesterday there was frost on my car.)

May 18, 2014

Sad News This Morning.

I learned something that made me sad this morning.  It was when I read this from Richard Mellon Scaife:
Nothing gives perspective to life so much as death.

Recently, doctors told me I have an untreatable form of cancer.

Some who dislike me may rejoice at this news. Naturally, I can't share their enthusiasm.
For the record, while I have spent a great deal of time over the past few years criticizing both the tone and the content of his paper in general and his editorial page in particular (and I reserve the right to continue to do so), I do NOT rejoice at the news of Mr. Scaife's failing health.

Having lost my father to cancer 7 years ago and my mother to a particularly unforgiving combination of diabetes and congestive heart failure just 3 months ago, death's sting can be particularly piercing to me these days.  Yes, it's a part of life and all that but it's almost always sad when we hear the news that the unavoidable punctuation to the sentence we'd almost always like to have extended by a few more phrases is closer than we'd like.

Very sad, this end that awaits us all.

Whoever he was and whatever he did, Richard Mellon Scaife is someone's partner, someone's friend and someone's father.  They'll all be mourning their loss in one way or another - and it's a loss, I imagine, they'll feel for a long time.  Rejoicing in that loss, rejoicing in the knowledge that people are hurting on that deep a level, is simply inhuman. Selig sind, die da Leid tragen; denn sie sollen getröstet werden.

To Mr. Scaife personally, I'll use this venue to say that I am sorry to hear the news of your untreatable cancer - everything else aside, no one deserves that.

May 17, 2014

More Non-Science At The Tribune-Review

Something must be in the water over there at Scaife's Tribune-Review.  They seem to be pushing the anti-science a bit more these days.  Three days in a row, I think.  Well if they want to keep going, I can keep debunking.

Eric Heyl's doing his best to spread the word with this week's "Q and A" column.  Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first.  Here's Heyl's opening:
James M. Taylor is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based think tank, and managing editor of Environment & Climate News, a national publication focused on free-market environmentalism. He spoke to the Trib regarding a White House report released on Tuesday on the supposedly dire effects of climate change.
Here's Taylor's bio at the Heartland Institute website.  And here's what it says about his academic background:
Taylor received his bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College where he studied atmospheric science and majored in government. He received his Juris Doctorate from Syracuse University.
You'll note, of course, that he's not actually a climate scientist. He's a lawyer with, according to desmogblog, no research published in any peer-reviewed science journals. So, no. He's not a climate scientist.

But he works for the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank funded by (among others) Exxon Mobil, and two foundations controlled by the owner of the Tribune-Review (The Sarah Scaife and Carthage foundations).

Summing up - James M. Taylor's a non-scientist funded (at least in part) by the petroleum industry and a buncha conservative foundations - I am sure he's completely non-biased.

But let's take a look at what he said (now that we've undermined whatever scientific credibility he would claim to have).  When asked about the "obvious flaws" in the recently released National Climate Assessment, he said:
Most prominent among the flaws are the assertions that global warming is causing an increase in extreme weather events and similar climate catastrophes. The assertion is that global warming is not only increasing extreme weather events, it's also increasing drought, it's increasing wintertime temperatures that have negative consequences for pine beetles, etc.

But all of these assertions are clearly contradicted by the objective data. For example, we know that winter temperatures in the United States have been declining for the past 20 years. Yet here we have in this document the assertion that winters are becoming warmer and this causes pine beetle outbreaks. There is nothing more obviously and blatantly false than that assertion.

(The study) goes on to make other assertions about heat waves and extreme weather events, and it's the same thing. The objective data are clear that as our planet has been modestly warming, we are seeing less frequent and extreme severe weather events. And this is just not reflected in the document. That just speaks to the overt political agenda in this document rather than objective science.
Well then, let's take a look at the scientific data, if only to see if the non-scientist is right.  First we'll take a look at his contradictory data.  Taylor asserts that "winter temperatures in the United States have been declining for the past 20 years" as a counter to the whole of the global data.  This should raise more than a few cherry-picking red flags.  Three by my count:
  • winter temperatures - why not yearly temperatures?
  • temperatures in the United States - why not global temperatures?
  • the past 20 years - why not a larger time frame?
Each of those filters, presumably, would allow Mr Taylor to show you only what he wants you to see.  But let's open up a few of those filters.  If, as he asserts, "winter temperatures in the United States have been declining for the past 20 years," then how is it possible for Canadian winters to be getting warmer over a longer period?  Our friends up north even have a graph to illustrate:

How about Europe over an even longer period, say 100 years?  NOAA has a map for that:

See all the browns and yellow?  Those are the places where it's been colder on average in the United States over a century.  You see, by concentrating on a limited time frame (only winters and only in the last 20 years) and a limited geographic space (the United States), Taylor's able to skew the numbers as he sees fit.

By the way, he attempts to undermine the credibility of the authors of the report with this:
This report is the predictable result of setting up the environmental activists to write a report for the Obama administration. Among the lead authors you have staffers for the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Nature Conservancy and then other environmental activist groups.
Let's just look at the section of the report dealing with "Recent Temperature Trends."  Who wrote it?  Here's the list of Lead Authors:
Katharine Hayhoe, Texas Tech University
James Kossin, NOAA, National Climatic Data Center
Kenneth Kunkel, CICS-NC, North Carolina State Univ., NOAA National Climatic Data Center
Graeme Stephens, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Peter Thorne, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center
Russell Vose, NOAA National Climatic Data Center
Michael Wehner, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Josh Willis, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 
I checked.  Each earned a Ph.D. in an actual climate science.  Each is an actual climate scientist.  And yet the non-scientist with a JD from Syracuse University seems to think he has a better handle on the science than they do.

What nonsense.

May 16, 2014

And Now They're Confusing Science and Non-Science

And, again, by "they" I mean, of course, Scaife's braintrust on the editorial board at his Tribune-Review.

Take a look at this morning's nonsense (Get it?  Nonsense and Non-science  Get it?):
Surveying genuine science excluded from the one-sided reports with which the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) supports its radical alarmism, the latest report from the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) shows global warming is no crisis — and even has benefits.

The previous NIPCC report showed that alarmists' climate models are inaccurate, warming (before the current plateau) is within natural variability and humanity's climate impact is negligible. Its new report, “Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts,” concludes that warming and rising carbon dioxide levels cause “no net harm” and often result in “net benefits to plants, including important food crops, and to animals and human health.”

The NIPCC says that with CO2 — which isn't a pollutant — rising, there's “a great greening of the Earth” that brings “rising agricultural productivity” with “little or no risk of increasing food insecurity.” Plants and animals on land and in the sea either feel no impact or see “habitats, ranges and populations” expanding. And because warming more than offsets deaths related to cold, it actually saves human lives.

Independently evaluating scientific evidence without taking government or corporate money, the NIPCC confronts climate alarmists with inconvenient truths that expose the IPCC's real mission: slanting genuine science, blaming mankind and forecasting doomsday to justify governments' drastic anti-growth diktats.
The braintrust is looking (again) to counter the scientific IPCC report with the non-scientific NIPCC report, obviously.  What do you think we'll find if dig a little into the NIPCC report?

Actually, we've already done this - this past September.

Let's review, then.  Back then I linked to this piece in The Guardian:
The report is the latest in the Heartland Institute's "Climate Change Reconsidered" series and the cornerstone of its campaign against the IPCC's fifth assessment. Heartland is aggressively pushing the report in op-eds, blogs and in articles in conservative newspapers and news stations. Among others, it has received coverage in the Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph, The Washington Times and the UK's Daily Mail, in an article that had to be "significantly" changed due to errors.

Other groups participating in the report include the Science & Environmental Policy Project, a research and advocacy group founded by climate skeptic Fred Singer—who is also the director of Heartland's Science and Environmental Policy Project—and the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, an Arizona-based climate skeptic group partly funded by ExxonMobil.
And then from there I found the money trail from (among other places) The Sarah Scaife Foundation to the Heartland Institute - the organization that puts out the NIPCC report.

Funny that the braintrust never ever seems to mention that.  But I'm not the only one to find the connection.  Here's Rollingstone Magazine (sub req'd) from a coupla years ago:
The Hack Scientist
Fred Singer
Retired physicist, University of Virginia

A former mouthpiece for the tobacco industry, the 85-year-old Singer is the granddaddy of fake "science" designed to debunk global warming. The retired physicist — who also tried to downplay the danger of the hole in the ozone layer — is still wheeled out as an authority by big polluters determined to kill climate legislation. For years, Singer steadfastly denied that the world is heating up: Citing satellite data that has since been discredited, he even made the unhinged claim that "the climate has been cooling just slightly." Last year, Singer served as a lead author of "Climate Change Reconsidered" — an 880-page report by the right-wing Heartland Institute that was laughably presented as a counterweight to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world's scientific authority on global warming. Singer concludes that the unchecked growth of climate-cooking pollution is "unequivocally good news." Why? Because "rising CO2 levels increase plant growth and make plants more resistant to drought and pests." Small wonder that Heartland's climate work has long been funded by the likes of Exxon and reactionary energy barons like Charles Koch and Richard Mellon Scaife.

And the part (in the Trib) about how the rising levels of CO2 have no net negative harm?  Take a look at this from the National Geographic:
Crops grown in the high-CO2 atmosphere of the future could be significantly less nutritious, a new study published today in Nature suggests. Based on hundreds of experiments in the field, the work reveals a new challenge as society reckons with both rising carbon emissions and malnutrition in the future.

Scientists generally predict that crop yields could fall in a warmer world—though higher atmospheric CO2 by itself should raise yields, as plants find it easier to extract CO2 from the air to make carbohydrates.
Here's that paper in Nature.  Do you need to know that Nature is a peer-reviewed journal?  That means it's science and not "non-science."

So how much more do I need to tell you about the NIPCC, Peter Singer, and the scientific illiteracy on Scaife's braintrust for you to accept that they've written complete non-science nonsense today?

May 15, 2014

And Now They Confuse "Weather" and "Climate"

And by "they" I mean the editorial board at Scaife's Tribune-Review.

Take a look at what they're pushing today:
The New York Times reports that the stubborn cool spring in the Midwest has produced the most dismal start to the nursery season in decades. Darn that “climate change.”
Here's the Times piece upon which they're basing their contra-evidence.  Amazing how far flung they now have to go.  It's a piece on gardening.

But it illustrates one of the faux "debunkings" of climate change: namely that it's cold outside my window now, so therefore the climate can't be warming up.  Here's now the Times piece begins:
The freakishly cold Midwestern winter of 2014 has given way to the frustrated Midwestern gardener.

The stubbornly cool spring, on the heels of a bone-chilling winter, has produced the most dismal start to the season in decades, nursery owners say. In previous years, some garden centers may have sold half their stock at this point in the spring. Now they are barely getting started.
So this is about, at least in part, about the Polar Vortex that it the midwest and east coast this past Winter.  But did you know that while we were freezing the otherside of the world was burning?

Take a look.  From the AP:
Bats are dropping from trees, kangaroos are collapsing in the Outback and gardens are turning brown. While North America freezes under record polar temperatures, the southern hemisphere is experiencing the opposite extreme as heat records are being set in Australia after the hottest year ever.
Weather is localized.  Climate is global.  And what's the story on the global picture?

Let's go to NOAA:
The average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces for the first quarter (January–March) of 2014 was the seventh warmest such period on record. This is particularly notable since February ranked only as the 21st warmest on record. However, January and March were both among the five warmest for their respective months. The warmth was relatively evenly distributed between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, with each also observing their seventh warmest January–March on record.
In fact according to some new data:
While April was an uneventful month temperature-wise in the U.S., with most areas experiencing near-average temperatures, the month was the second-warmest April on record globally, according to new NASA data.

That makes April the 350th month in a row — more than 29 years — with above-average temperatures, largely caused by the buildup of manmade greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere.
And yet because the braintrust reads that gardeners in the midwest are having a hard time this year because of the localized cold, all that science is wrong.

May 14, 2014

The Braintrust Confuses Antarctic "Sea Ice" and "Ice Sheet"

In today's Tribune-Review (the op-ed page), the braintrust writes:
The West Antarctic ice sheet has begun falling apart, two papers published in the journals Science and Geophysical Research Letters conclude. And many of the usual players in the “climate change” game are sounding the alarms of gloom, doom and holy moley pumpkin pie, we're all going to die.

But curiously not mentioned in The Times' report — and woefully too few other reports — is this salient fact:

East Antarctic sea ice coverage reached a record 3.5 million square miles in April, reports the National Snow and Ice Data Center. And the center says ice formation thus far in May continues at a record pace. The development has caught more than a few climate scientists by surprise — which is what happens when data that contradict the theology of global warming are ignored.
Thus "confirming" the "two sides to every story" meme and further "confirming" that only one side is being told by the climate scientists.

Too bad they get their science wrong.

You see, my friends, there's a difference between the Antarctic ice sheet (which, when melted would contribute to a rise in sea levels) and the Antarctic sea ice (which, when it freezes and melts, doesn't).

The braintrust tries to show how this debunks the climate science evidence of global warming.  Too bad the very same page that pointed out the data of the Antarctic sea ice, we can read:
However, across much of the far Southern Hemisphere, temperatures have been above average: for example, in the southern Antarctic Peninsula, temperatures have been 1 to 2 degrees Celsius (2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit) above average; in the southern South Pacific, temperatures have been 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius (3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit) above average, and up to 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) above average in the area near the South Pole.
So how can it be that a warmer climate can cause more Antarctic sea ice?

Skeptical Science has the answer:
Antarctic sea ice has shown long term growth since satellites began measurements in 1979. This is an observation that has been often cited as proof against global warming. However, rarely is the question raised: why is Antarctic sea ice increasing? The implicit assumption is it must be cooling around Antarctica. This is decidedly not the case. In fact, the Southern Ocean has been warming faster than the rest of the world's oceans. Globally from 1955 to 1995, oceans have been warming at 0.1°C per decade. In contrast, the Southern Ocean has been warming at 0.17°C per decade. Not only is the Southern Ocean warming, it is warming faster than the global trend.
And then:
If the Southern Ocean is warming, why is Antarctic sea ice increasing? There are several contributing factors. One is the drop in ozone levels over Antarctica. The hole in the ozone layer above the South Pole has caused cooling in the stratosphere (Gillet 2003). This strengthens the cyclonic winds that circle the Antarctic continent (Thompson 2002). The wind pushes sea ice around, creating areas of open water known as polynyas. More polynyas lead to increased sea ice production (Turner 2009).

Another contributor is changes in ocean circulation. The Southern Ocean consists of a layer of cold water near the surface and a layer of warmer water below. Water from the warmer layer rises up to the surface, melting sea ice. However, as air temperatures warm, the amount of rain and snowfall also increases. This freshens the surface waters, leading to a surface layer less dense than the saltier, warmer water below. The layers become more stratified and mix less. Less heat is transported upwards from the deeper, warmer layer. Hence less sea ice is melted (Zhang 2007). An increase in melting of Antarctic land ice will also contribute to the increased sea ice production (Bintanga et al. 2013).

In summary, Antarctic sea ice is a complex and unique phenomenon. The simplistic interpretation that it must be cooling around Antarctica is decidedly not the case. Warming is happening - how it affects specific regions is complicated.
Amazing what happens when you actually look at the science.

And it's amazing how stupid you look when you don't.

May 13, 2014

The Next Truther Demand For The "Truth"

And now, ladies and gentlemen, Karl Rove has given us a peek at the next truther meme.

From Rupert Murdoch's NYPost:
Karl Rove stunned a conference when he suggested Hillary Clinton might have brain damage.

Onstage with Robert Gibbs and CBS correspondent and “Spies Against Armageddon” co-author Dan Raviv, Rove said Republicans should keep the Benghazi issue alive.

He said if Clinton runs for president, voters must be told what happened when she suffered a fall in December 2012.
And then the lying starts.
The official diagnosis was a blood clot. Rove told the conference near LA Thursday, “Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury? We need to know what’s up with that.”
The pagesix writer notes one of Rove's mistakes:
Despite Rove’s claims, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was discharged from New York Presbyterian Hospital after spending three days undergoing treatment for a potentially life-threatening blood clot.
3 days, 30 days, what's the difference when you're lying to the American public?

But what were the glasses for?

Let's turn to ABC for that one:
The thick glasses Hillary Clinton has been wearing in public since returning from a concussion and blood clot last month are the result of lingering effects of her health problems, a Clinton aide confirms.

"She'll be wearing these glasses instead of her contacts for a period of time because of lingering issues stemming from her concussion," said spokesman Philippe Reines. "With them on she sees just fine."
But here's the kicker.

Didn't Rove's friends on the right say that she was faking it all along?  Why yes they did - including, oddly enough, Murdoch's NYPost:
Clinton’s story beggars belief: While traveling in Europe, she contracted a stomach virus . . . which made her dehydrated . . . which made her faint at home . . . which caused her to fall and hit her head . . . which gave her a nasty concussion.
But back to page six. A Clinton spokesperson is quoted as saying:
Karl Rove has deceived the country for years, but there are no words for this level of lying.
But it's probably the new normal.

May 12, 2014

They're Doing It Again

And by "it" I mean, they're omitting their conflict of interest.

And by "they" I mean, of course, the editorial board at Scaife's Tribune-Review.

Take a look:
North Korea appears to have the ability to launch nuclear warheads atop ballistic missiles that can reach the United States. Yet the Obama administration, bent on eliminating nuclear weapons, downplays that growing threat.

Sounding the alarm in the journal Comparative Strategy is National Institute for Public Policy scholar Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon strategic analyst and policy official. He writes that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) last year publicly expressed “moderate confidence” that North Korea has nuclear warheads for its ballistic missiles. But Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and other administration officials maintain its nuclear-strike capabilities are untested or limited.
The omission is about the National Institute for Public Policy.

According to the Bridgeproject, the NIPP has received a total of $6,554,065 in foundation support.  Guess how much of that came from foundations controlled by the Trib owner, Richard Mellon Scaife?  $3,450,000 or just under 53% of the total.

And the journal Comparative Strategy?

That's "sponsored by" the NIPP.

And the story?  The DIA's report "Dynamic Threat Assessment 8099: North Korea Nuclear Weapons Program (March 2013)" is about a year old. This is from Time Magazine, April 11, 2013:
The news flashed around the world late Thursday afternoon, East Coast time, after Representative Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado, read a mistakenly declassified Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) excerpt aloud at a congressional hearing
And this is what he said:
DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles. However, the reliability will be low.
At the time, though, the Pentagon issued a statement that contained this sentence:
It would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in the passage.
And Time goes on:
The U.S. government is taking the North Korean threat seriously. Kim Jong Un no doubt watched Lamborn’s clip, over and over again, chortling at the impact his efforts, viewed through the always distorting prism of U.S. intelligence, are having on the U.S. Over the past month, the Pentagon has boosted missile defense throughout the western Pacific and announced plans to boost a West Coast missile shield designed to protect the U.S. mainland from North Korea attack.
Time also said:
The DIA was saying similar things about Iraq slightly more than a decade ago. That turned out to be flat-out wrong — just like how U.S. intelligence failed to foresee the collapse of the Soviet Union and the 9/11 attacks.
So where does this leave us and the Scaife funded research by the NIPP?

I'll let you answer that yourselves.

May 11, 2014

Jack Kelly Sunday

This week in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, conservative columnist Jack Kelly's asking all sorts of deep questions about (now wait for it) BENGHAZI!

Jack starts with the by hopeful conservative frame:
“It is, to me, equivalent to what was discovered with the Nixon tapes,” said columnist Charles Krauthammer.

He was referring to an email Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes wrote two days after Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack on our consulate in Benghazi on 9/​11/​2012.

Senior officials should stress “these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy,” Mr. Rhodes said. His email was among 41 obtained by a conservative watchdog group and made public April 29.
Here's the set of Judicial Watch emails that Jack references - just in case you want to check his work.

Let's start with the quotation and Jack's context:
This was intended to mislead to protect the president’s re-election. At the time Mr. Rhodes wrote his email, the CIA, the military’s African Command and senior Pentagon and State Department officials knew the Benghazi attack was mounted by an affiliate of al-Qaida. [Emphasis added.]
Actually, that's just not the case.  From the Senate Report:
It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attacks or whether extremist group leaders directed their members to participate. Some intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day's violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video, suggesting that these and other terrorist groups could conduct similar attacks with little advance warning.
And in any event, at the time that Rhodes was writing his email (8:09PM on September 14, 2012) this was the first talking point coming out of the back and forth between all the intelligence/government agencies crafting them:
The currently available information suggests that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex. (Pg 46)
And immediately following:
The investigation is on-going as to who is responsible for the violence although, the crowd was almost certainly a mix of individuals. That being said, there are indications that violent extremists participated in the demonstrations.
Note the "currently available" phrase as well as the use of the term "on-going" in the discussion of the talking points to be released to the public.

As Dave Weigel points out at
Rice was saying that protests in Cairo broke out over the video, and that protests in Benghazi copied them. (A month later, the New York Times was reporting that the Benghazi militants were also inspired by the video.) The CIA's talking points referred to "protests" at several embassies, and the Rhodes email added that "these protests are rooted in an Internet video."

Are you lost yet? OK—the entire argument is about Rhodes mentioning, hours after the CIA had suggested the Benghazi attack grew out of demonstrations in several countries, that the immediate inspiration for the demonstrations was a video. That's the scandal—that by giving the video all this credit, the administration was distracting people from the real story that terrorism was surging again. Even though the subsequent 19 months have seen no more attacks on embassies. Even though reporting at the time said the excuse for the protests was said video.
Hardly Nixonian, doncha think?

We gotta continue this demolition of Jack's attack a bit more, though. He asks:
The military should have attempted a rescue, said the AFRICOM intelligence chief mentioned above. Why didn’t it?
What Jack's referring to, of course, is this quotation from Brigidier General Robert Lovell, who said:
The point is we should have tried.
However, Jack fails to inform his reading public (and AGAIN his fact-checkers at the P-G fail to check him on) that in testimony that same day said:
CONNELLY: I want to read to you the conclusion of the chairman of the [Armed Services] Committee, the Republican chairman Buck McKeon, who conducted formal briefings and oversaw that report he said quote "I'm pretty well satisfied that given where the troops were, how quickly the thing all happened, and how quickly it dissipated we probably couldn't have done much more than we did." Do you take issue with the chairman of the Armed Services Committee? In that conclusion?

LOVELL: His conclusion that he couldn't have done much more than they did with the capability and the way they executed it?

CONNELLY: Given the timeframe.

LOVELL: That's a fact.


LOVELL: The way it is right now. The way he stated it.

CONNELLY: Alright, because I'm sure you can appreciate, general, there might be some who, for various and sundry reasons would like to distort your testimony and suggest that you're testifying that we could have, should have done a lot more than we did because we had capabilities we simply didn't utilize. That is not your testimony?

LOVELL: That is not my testimony.

CONNELLY: I thank you very much, general. [Emphases added.]
And then there's this question from Jack:
President Barack Obama wasn’t in the White House situation room during the seven-hour siege, said former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor. Where was he?
Um, Jack? He was in the Oval Office.

And so, what sort of contact did the White House have at that point, monitoring the situation?

Here's General Martin Dempsey, testifying before Congress:
I would, if I could just, to correct one thing. I wouldn't say there was no follow-up from the White House. There was no follow-up, to my knowledge, with the president. But his staff was engaged with the national military command center pretty constantly through the period, which is the way it would normally work. [Emphasis added.]
I'll ask it again: Doesn't anyone at the P-G fact-check Jack Kelly?

May 9, 2014

Pro Choice/Anti Readshaw Rally Turns Ugly

On Wednesday, May 7, Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania Advocates held a "Rally Against Readshaw: 31 Minutes for 31 Votes Against Women's Health" in front of PA State Rep. Harry Readshaw's (D-Allegheny-Dist 36) Brownsville Road office. Here's how the event was described on Facebook by the hosts:
Representative Harry Readshaw has voted against women’s health an astonishing 31 times in the Pennsylvania legislature, and it’s time to show him that the women of South Pittsburgh deserve better. 
Join us for a 31-minute protest out side Rep. Readshaw's district office against the 31 times Harry Readshaw voted to restrict women's access to reproductive healthcare in PA. Let's make Readshaw tell us why he thinks women are not capable of making our own medical decisions.
Here are some photographs from the event:

And, here is a list of Readshaw's votes on women's health: It includes the infamous bill he introduced which would have forced women:
[T]o have a medically unnecessary ultrasound 24 hours prior to an abortion. It also forces doctors to turn the ultrasound screen towards the woman’s face. It then forces the woman take TWO prints with her (one for her scrapbook, and the other one SHE has to bring to the doctor performing the abortion.) And, furthermore, it forces civil and criminal penalties for doctors and patients who dare defy their legislating of medicine.
Here's the ad Planned Parenthood is running against him:


Readshaw has run unopposed in the Democratic primary for many years and has been a legislator since first winning in 1994. However, since House districts have been redrawn, he now has an opponent in the May 20 primary: Rep. Erin Molchany (D-Allegheny-Dist 22) who is progressive and pro choice and who has picked up endorsements from such local elected democrats as County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Mayor Bill Peduto, City Council President Bruce Kraus, City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, and others.

Maybe that's what's driving (no pun intended) some of Readshaw's supporters over the edge. From the Community Matters blog description of the rally:
I've been to hundreds of demonstrations in my lifetime. This began as a pretty standard event. We circled the sidewalk in front of Readshaw's office until a woman in a large SUV backed up along the curb, nearly hitting some protestors and reporters. Jeanne Clark, a longtime Pittsburgh activist, walked to the driver's window and said "Stop. There are people behind you." The driver said "You don't care about killing babies", and she did it again. Deliberately. She sat in the car screeching "Abortion is murder." Apparently, she doesn't have a problem with vehicular homicide or critical injury. Pro-life my ass. 
We learned that the woman is Megan Readshaw Perfetti, Harry Readshaw's DAUGHTER
Perfetti is a health teacher and coordinates the health education curriculum for the Pittsburgh Public Schools. I guess she doesn't think women need health care. 
Before the event even began, a man from the business next door strongly objected to our presence. He shouted that he was calling the police. No one cared, since we were protesting legally. A Pittsburgh Police car arrived a few minutes later, after Perfetti's stunt, and sat in a parking space across the street. Perfetti walked over to talk to the officer. I don't know what they discussed, since she was clearly the only person committing a crime at the time, but the officer never left his car. He drove away as the event ended.
Wow! And they call themselves "pro life."

You can also read the City Paper's Blogh coverage here.

May 7, 2014

She's Not Teh Only Crazie Conspiricist

From New York Magazine:
Lynn Cheney has a theory about why Monica Lewinsky wrote a long Vanity Fair essay about her experience with Bill Clinton: It’s because the Clintons wanted it. Cheney explains her suspicions. “I really wonder if this isn’t an effort on the Clintons’ part to get that story out of the way,” Cheney, announced on an interview on Fox News. “Would Vanity Fair publish anything about Monica Lewinsky that Hillary Clinton didn’t want in Vanity Fair?”
She's not the only one with teh crazie conspiracy.

I was listening to KDKA's Mike Pintek today and a caller called in and asked about what The Cheney/Vanity Fair conspiracy and he said  that "there may be some truth" to it.

Way to go, Mike.

For the record, Vanity Fair responded:
This highly sane and well-substantiated allegation demanded a response from the highest levels of Vanity Fair. So the Erik Wemple Blog put the question to Beth Kseniak, the magazine’s executive director of public relations. Her response: “Seriously?”
Again, way to go, Mike. You do your profession proud.

A Man (or two) With A Plan!

(Recent mailers for Readshaw and Ravenstahl)

I have a plan to not vote for either of them...EVER.

Little girl, do your parents know what district you're in? (My guess would be PA-iStock.)

Inevitable. Just Inevitable

It's been said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

So let me ask you, where's the evidence in this inevitable anti-science editorial from Scaife's Tribune-Review?
The Obama administration released the National Climate Assessment on Tuesday. And to sell its latest installment of pseudoscience in promotion of social re-engineering required to combat “man-made” climate change, it invited in select meteorologists to indoctrinate them in how to propagandize the report and bring climate-cluckerism into every home. Be afraid — be very afraid.

So wrong in so many of its alleged causes and effects — a natural consequence of being so injurious to the scientific process — the assessment must be considered for what it is: a political manifesto that seeks to reorder the world economy for “the greater good,” a “good” that serves not mankind nor even the planet but those in positions of government power.
You'll notice there are no actual facts here.  No references to evidence, experts or any scientific experts.  Their argument, such as it is, has no such things.  There's not even a good fake any more.

So where is the science?  The evidence?  The experts?

Here, in the Climate Assessment released this week.  Take a look:
Evidence from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans, collected by scientists and engineers from around the world, tells an unambiguous story: the planet is warming, and over the last half century, this warming has been driven primarily by human activity—predominantly the burning of fossil fuels.
What evidence?

How's this?

And here's the description:
Global annual average temperature (as measured over both land and oceans) has increased by more than 1.5°F (0.8°C) since 1880 (through 2012). Red bars show temperatures above the long-term average, and blue bars indicate temperatures below the long-term average. The black line shows atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in parts per million (ppm). While there is a clear long-term global warming trend, some years do not show a temperature increase relative to the previous year, and some years show greater changes than others. These year-to-year fluctuations in temperature are due to natural processes, such as the effects of El Niños, La Niñas, and volcanic eruptions. (Figure source: updated from Karl et al. 2009)
Each one of those columns, red and blue, represent data.  Lots and lots of data - in this case global average temperatures.  The black like represents different data - CO2 in parts per million.  It all comes from vast reams of science journals - all tested and peer-reviewed.  It's something the science deniers don't have.

So unless you're going to make the extraordinary assertion that this is all a big fake, the evidence stands.  The science stands.  The world is warming up.

Where's the braintrust's extraordinary evidence to the contrary?

They don't tell you because they can't tell you.

And they can't tell you because it doesn't exist.

May 6, 2014

And Yet, No.

Last week, we read this on the pages of Scaife's Tribune-Review editorial page:
Now, fast on the heels of Mr. Eggleston's naming comes the smoking gun of the Obama administration's efforts to cover up its failure in the Benghazi mess that left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya: An email, obtained by Judicial Watch, directly links the White House to authoring and pushing the false narrative that the attack was spontaneous, linked to an inflammatory Internet video, and not the organized terrorist attack that it was.
And I couldn't have said it any better than Jon Stewart:

Yea. What he said.

Benghazi OUTRAGE!
Iraqi WMD?  Not so much.

May 5, 2014

If it were 200+ white girls...

On Saturday, President Obama joked about CNN's obsessive coverage of missing plane MH370 and his trip to Malaysia, saying "The lengths we have to go to, to get CNN coverage these days. I think they're still searching for their table." The really sad joke is that if 200+ white girls had gone missing, we'd have wall-to-wall coverage on all stations and everyone would be clamoring for some type of action. US Secretary of State John Kerry did say on that same Saturday that 'Washington will do “everything possible” to help Nigeria deal with Boko Haram militants, following the kidnapping of scores of schoolgirls.'

If you think these girl's lives are as important as the typical single missing white woman/girl story that the media loves to obsess over, please attend today's rally:

Pittsburgh Women Rallying to #BringBackOURGirls 
When: Today (May, 5, 2014), 7:00 pm 
Where: Freedom Corner, Centre Ave. & Crawford Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 (map)
Facebook Event Page: Here

May 4, 2014

So How Misleading IS Governor Corbett's Ad? Lots.

First, here's the ad:

And here's the text:
Tom Wolf's record on jobs is a car wreck.

While Wolf served in Harrisburg as the state's top tax collector, our taxes went through the roof. (Text on screen: Wolf fought for a sales tax INCREASE Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2/21/07)

And higher taxes led to 152,000 PA workers losing their jobs and unemployment going up almost 50%.

Fortunately Tom Corbett came along and cleaned up Wolf's mess.

Corbett lowered taxes, creating 150,000 new jobs, and PA's unemployment rate dramatically fell.

Tom Corbett: Driving Pennsylvania towards a brighter future. ”
So, how much of that is actually, you know, TRUE?

Oh, not so much, as it turns out.  Let's take a look at the second sentence.  There's a serious voice intoning a serious charge with a reference to news article (presumably) plastered on the screen as back-up.

Funny thing, though, when you track down the actual article being referenced, here's what you find:
The nominee to be Pennsylvania's top tax collector defended Gov. Ed Rendell's call to increase the state sales tax yesterday, despite criticism from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia legislators who said the regressive levy would have a negative impact on lower-income residents of their cities.
But wait, this part of Corbett's ad was supposed to be about how when Wolf was tax collector and the article's about his nomination for that job.  How can one be used in conjunction with the other?  Simple answer: it can't, unless your intent is to mislead.

And what happened to the sales tax increase that nominee Wolf was defending?

Abandoned by Governor Rendell a few months later:
Gov. Rendell announced this morning that he is abandoning his push to raise the state sales tax, crediting a "soaring" Pennsylvania economy for producing more than $500 million in unanticipated revenue.

Through mid-June – two weeks shy of a complete fiscal year – Harrisburg has taken in $502 million more in revenue than first projected, negating, for now, the need to increase Pennsylvania's 6 percent sales tax by 1 percentage point, Rendell said at a Capitol news conference.
Doesn't that complicate the next sentence of Corbett's ad?  That's the sentence about how Wolf's "higher taxes" led to so many job losses.  Funny, they never discuss how 152,000 Pennsylvanians lost their jobs due to the sales tax that nominee Wolf defended but Governor Rendell later abandoned due to a "soaring" economy.

Isn't that misleading as well?  I mean unless they were referring to other taxes.  But if they were why didn't they say so?  Sloppy at best, misleading at worst.  We deserve better.

And about those 152,000 jobs - took a look at the number and found it, well, misleading (my term, not theirs). Here's how it begins:
A new radio ad from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett boasts that he “created 150,000 new private sector jobs,” a feat called “remarkable” in a Web ad on his campaign website. Not really. Pennsylvania ranks 46th out of 50 states in the rate of private sector job growth during the three years Corbett has been in office. In fact, the growth rate is less than half the national average.
Here's the funny about Corbett's "job growth":
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania has added a net 138,300 private sector jobs between January 2011, when Corbett took office, and December 2013, the latest figures available. The December figures are projected, and Corbett’s office said it looked at the numbers from January 2011 to November 2013, which show a net gain of 151,100 private sector jobs.

Corbett’s comments focus on private sector job growth. During his time in office, the number of government jobs has declined by a net 42,000 (most from local government jobs). When looking at all jobs, including government jobs, Pennsylvania has gained 96,300 total jobs under Corbett – a 1.7 percent job growth over three years, ranking the state 46th in total job growth among the states.

Corbett’s numbers on private sector job growth are accurate, or pretty close if using December figures. But a much different picture emerges when the job growth is put into a national context. [Emphases added.]
So there's not so much job growth, is there.  At least according to the folks at

But let's get back to the ad.  Was Wolf responsible whatever rising unemployment and tax rates when he was tax collector.

Another fact checking organization, this time politifact, says no. First on those "job killing" taxes:
We did find a basis for the ad’s claim that 100,000 Pennsylvania jobs were lost during Wolf’s tenure. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed Pennsylvanians rose by 150,000 between April 2007 and November 2008.

However, the problem with this part of the claim is that it’s a stretch to blame taxes in general -- much less Wolf specifically -- for the loss of these jobs (especially their "killing," in the ad’s overheated rhetoric).

We asked Tara Sinclair, a George Washington University economist, how much straight-line causation we can draw between tax policy and those job losses.

"Basically none," Sinclair said, saying the much bigger factor during that period was the national economic downturn, which officially became a recession almost halfway through Wolf’s tenure.

While she acknowledged that tax policy can affect job growth, Sinclair added that "economists disagree wildly on the ‘job-killing’ effects of taxes. So, confidently drawing any line of causation is impossible. And throw in that the entire country lost about 2.3 million jobs over that period. I don't think it was the high taxes of Pennsylvania that caused the job losses."
And then whether he was responsible for the taxes in the first place:
Why does this matter? Because the ad said that "on Wolf’s watch, taxes were high." This suggests that Wolf is to blame for the state’s overall tax structure, rather than just for proposing marginal expansions. In reality, most of the state’s tax structure was already well-established before Wolf was even sworn in, so it’s a stretch to lay the blame for "high taxes" at his feet.

Second, the ad overhypes how much impact Wolf had on tax policy as revenue secretary. While Wolf certainly engaged in at least some advocacy, as the newspaper articles noted, his job duties were exclusively administrative, not policy-setting.

The secretary’s job, according to the department’s website, is to "administer the tax laws of the commonwealth in a fair and equitable manner." Raising taxes or creating new ones is up to the governor and the Legislature (which during his tenure had one chamber controlled by the Republicans).
So how much of Corbett's information in his "Toy Story" ad was accurate?

Very very little.  And that makes it very very misleading.

We deserve a better Governor and a better campaign than this.

May 1, 2014

Senator Pat Toomey Misleads On The Minimum Wage

In case you missed it:
The Senate voted on Wednesday against going ahead on a bill that would gradually increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, another rejection for legislation that has been a major focus of the Democrats' 2014 midterm campaign.

The final vote count was 54 to 42, with Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who supports the legislation, taking the procedural step of voting against the bill so that he can reintroduce it at a later time.
Of course, our Republican Senator voted against:
"The last thing the American people need is a bill coming out of Washington that would wipe out hundreds of thousands of their jobs. Yet this is precisely what the Senate voted on today. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Senate Democrats' minimum wage bill will eliminate 500,000 jobs nationwide. And according to other studies, as many as 118,000 Pennsylvanians could lose a paycheck under this measure.

"Even worse, this bill will hit people who have fewer skills and younger workers the hardest -- the very people who most need an opportunity to get into the workforce, get their first job, and start their way up the economic ladder.

"I do not support government policy that puts hundreds of thousands of people out of work.
Ah, but Senator. You left out some very important CBO information, didn't you?

From the CBO webpage called The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income, we read:
Increasing the minimum wage would have two principal effects on low-wage workers. Most of them would receive higher pay that would increase their family’s income, and some of those families would see their income rise above the federal poverty threshold. But some jobs for low-wage workers would probably be eliminated, the income of most workers who became jobless would fall substantially, and the share of low-wage workers who were employed would probably fall slightly. [Emphases added.]
You left that out, didn't you?  You had to know it's there because you cited the CBO report but you decided not to tell us about how raising the minimum wage would boost the pay of most low wage workers.


So how many people are we talking here?  How many would see their incomes boosted?

Luckily the CBO report you only partially cited has an answer (it's on the same page, btw):
Many more low-wage workers would see an increase in their earnings. Of those workers who will earn up to $10.10 under current law, most—about 16.5 million, according to CBO’s estimates—would have higher earnings during an average week in the second half of 2016 if the $10.10 option was implemented. [Emphasis added.]
16.5 million??

Yea, ya left that part out, dincha?

I'd say that by withholding this rather important information, Senator, you're misleading your constituency.

Oh, and one last thing.  You say in your statement that:
We need to stop this bad legislation in its tracks and move ahead on proposals that would actually spur hiring and economic growth...
And yet that very same CBO report says:
Once the increases and decreases in income for all workers are taken into account, overall real income would rise by $2 billion.
Isn't that economic growth?