Democracy Has Prevailed.

July 31, 2014

And We're Back To The Selective Evidence AGAINST The Reality

An embarrassingly typical "argument" against the Climate Science can be found in today's Tribune-Review:
Speaking of climate clucking, Western Pennsylvania broke records this week for summer cold. “What was that, honey? Why, yes, of course, I'll throw another log on the fire, baby — all that global warming is making it cold outside.” [Bolding in Original.]
As if the weather in one local area over a short time span is an indication of a global trend.

It isn't.

But I wonder if the Trib's editorial board would be issuing the exact same denial if they lived in Phoenix:
The official temperature in Phoenix hit 115 degrees at 1:32 p.m. on Thursday. That breaks the record of 114 degrees set in 2006. The high reached 116 degrees shortly after 2:15 p.m.

The overnight low on Thursday was 93 degrees. That also set a record.
Or Los Angeles:
Triple-digit heat scorched inland areas of Southern California on Wednesday as forecasters predicted that above-normal temperatures would continue into the weekend.

In the desert, Thermal hit 119 degrees, breaking a daily record of 118 degrees that was set in 2006. Palm Springs reached 116 degrees, tying a daily record that also was set in 2006, according to the National Weather Service.

As of 4 p.m. in Los Angeles County, Northridge, Saugus and Van Nuys each had hit 100 degrees. Acton and Lancaster topped out at 102, according to the weather service.
Or on Planet Earth:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that June was the globe’s warmest in 134 years of records following its report that May was also the hottest on record. These reports are feeding anticipation that 2014 could become the warmest year on record.
But, according to the scientifically illiterate editorial board of the Tribune-Review, none of that has any meaning because Allegheny County has been colder than usual for a few weeks.

So embarrassing wrong that it undermines the whole paper as a "news" source, doesn't it?

July 30, 2014

More Science Denial By The GOP

This happened yesterday in the United States Senate:
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) blocked Senate Democrats on Monday from passing a resolution that would have acknowledged the reality of climate change.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) asked unanimous consent to pass S.Res. 524, which is a measure that expresses the sense of the Senate that climate change is occurring and poses a risk to the United States. But Inhofe objected.
Where else but amongst American Conservatives (yes, I know - not ALL of them, but enough for the rest of them to be ashamed) can a resolution acknowledging reality be so easily blocked?

Luckily, there was someone in the Senate (a New Englander, thankyouverymuch) who responded to the ignorance with some science.  From thinkprogress:
[Rhode Island Senator Sheldon] Whitehouse began by addressing one of Inhofe’s most oft-used arguments against the existence of climate change — that the earth’s atmospheric temperature has not risen in the last 15 years.

That “little rhetorical device” Inhofe is using fails to consider two things, Whitehouse said. One, is that more than 90 percent of the heat generated from increased carbon emissions gets absorbed into the ocean, not into the atmosphere. Two, is that any changes in ocean temperature will eventually have “a pronounced effect” on atmospheric temperature. Indeed, recent studies show that global temperatures are set to rise rapidly in the face of our increasingly warm and acidic oceans.

“To say that we have no warming is just not factual,” he said.
You can watch Senator Inhofe get some science by Senator Whitehouse:

Here's the 2014 National Climate Assessment if you want to read it.

July 29, 2014

The Tribune-Review And (The Felon) Dinesh D'Souza

Back on May 20 of this year, this happened:
Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza entered a guilty plea Tuesday to a charge that he used straw donors to make $20,000 in illegal contributions to Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long in 2012, officials said.
Politico goes on:
The single felony count D’Souza admitted guilt on carries a maximum prison sentence of two years, but the plea agreement D’Souza’s lawyers reached with the government says sentencing guidelines applicable to the case call for a sentence of 10 to 16 months.
And that makes him a felon.

That was two months ago.  A few days ago Media Matters published this. When I read the title of the piece, "Dinesh D'Souza's Political Friends Rally To His Defense", it got me to wondering how his case was covered by my own (local) favorite conservative news source, The Tribune-Review.

And you'll never ever guess what I found (and didn't find) there.

When you enter "Dinesh D'Souza" into the Trib's search engine, you'll find (at this writing) three articles published after he admitted to that felony that mention him and none mention his guilty plea.

But hey, maybe the Trib's website just publishes Trib content.  Maybe the news of D'Souza's guilty plea made it onto the physical pages of the paper (via, say, Reuters or the AP) while not making it onto the Trib's online version.

Maybe - but then how do you explain this?
Dinesh D'Souza, a conservative commentator and best-selling author, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for arranging excessive campaign contributions to a candidate for the Senate.
It's on the Trib's website AND it's from Reuters.

So they post online the news of D'Souza's indictment but not his guilty plea?

Gee, for a news source, they're certainly selective about how they cover (at least one) conservative pundit.

July 27, 2014

Walking With Dinosaurs - And Its Implications

I saw this on the TV a day or so ago:
There’s a fascination with what life was like when dinosaurs, not humans, ruled the land.

And for a short time, you can get a better idea of what that was like, when the arena is transported 10 million years back in time.
And then:
In “Walking with Dinosaurs’” live show, 20 dinosaurs interact with each other on the arena floor in a theatrical production that cost $20 million to create.

“We take you through the three periods dinosaurs ruled the Earth in their massiveness, the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous period,” said Walking with Dinosaurs spokesperson Terey Summers, “And it’s hosted by a character that is a paleontologist, Huxley.”
We need to fill in a few blanks.  From the "Walking With Dinosaurs" website:
IN 1999 the Walking with Dinosaurs TV series changed the way we saw dinosaurs forever. This revolutionary show took viewers right into the dinosaurs' world, showing them as if they were alive and filmed in the wild. It covered an amazing 155 million years of prehistory with the most cutting-edge technology ever seen on television.

Since then, the series has been seen by over 700 million people around the world. The Live Show was created in 2007 and has sold over 7m tickets in over 200 cities worldwide.
So that would be this BBC series from 1999:
Note: When the series was broadcast in the US, it was narrated by Avery Brooks.

The Triassic (252 to 201 million years ago), Jurassic (201 to 145 million years ago) and Cretaceous (145 to 60 million years ago) periods make up, as far as I know, the Mesozoic Era in Earth history.  The Mesozoic is the middle of the three eras of the Phanerozoic Eon; The Paleozoic (541 to 252 million years ago), The Mesozoic (252 to 60 million years ago) and The Cenozoic (60 million to the present).

Note to Kristine Sorensen: If "Walking With Dinosaurs" is a recreation, of sorts, of the Mesozoic, then you're off by between 242 and 50 million years when you used "10 million" years as a time frame.  You might wanna check something like that the next time you report a scientific fact.

But let's get back to the science.  The Phanerozoic is one of four eons;
  • Hadean (4.5 billion to 4 billion years ago)
  • Archaen (4 to 2.5 billion years ago)
  • Proterozoic (2.5 billion to 541 million years ago)
  • Phanerozoic (541 million years ago to the present time)
According to science, the Earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago and, again according to science, human beings have been present on the Earth for only about 200,000 thousand of those years.

And how do we know the ages of things?  From the data accumulated via radiometric dating.  And that in itself is based on the science of radioactive decay discovered in the very late 19th century.  The general notion is that:
A chemical element consists of atoms with a specific number of protons in their nuclei but different atomic weights owing to variations in the number of neutrons. Atoms of the same element with differing atomic weights are called isotopes. Radioactive decay is a spontaneous process in which an isotope (the parent) loses particles from its nucleus to form an isotope of a new element (the daughter). The rate of decay is conveniently expressed in terms of an isotope's half-life, or the time it takes for one-half of a particular radioactive isotope in a sample to decay.
So if you know the ratio of the parent stuff and the daughter stuff you can work out the mathematics to determine how long it took one to turn into the other.

Of course back then our friends in the evolution science denier crowd had a problem with all the science found in the BBC series.  But then again they have a problem with all that non-biblical sciency stuff.

And that's a problem for all of us.  Consider how wrong Americans are on evolution.  From a recent Gallop Poll, when asked this question:
Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings -- 1) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process, 2) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process, 3) God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so?
42% of those polled said 3) that God created human beings within the last 10,000 years ago, that we did not in any way evolve - despite all the science to the contrary.

In 2010 the National Center for Science Education issued a report that has some similarly frightening numbers.  For example, when asked whether this statement was true or fales:
Dinosaurs lived at the same time as people.
40% said it was true - despite all the science to the contrary.  I'll put it this way, if all those dinosaurs died out about 60 million years ago and human beings came into being only about 200 thousand years ago, then the time between now and the former is 300 times longer than all the time humans were on Earth.

300 times.  That's the same ratio as one foot is to an entire NFL football field (endzones not included, of course.)

And yet, 4 out of 10 Americans believe otherwise.  That's bad.  Very very bad.

Why is all this the case?  Perhaps this question gives us a clue.  According to the NCSE, when asked whether this statement is true:
The Bible describes the creation of life exactly as it occurred in six days.
Half said yes, it was.

I've written this before but I have to say it again: If we are a nation or a culture in decline, this has to be one of the reasons for it - our stubborn faith-based rejection of reason and science.

July 24, 2014

Now THAT'S A Switch!

This weekend, in its "Whispers" column, the Tribune-Review reported some embarrassing divorce news about a prominent Pittsburgher - Attorney Edgar Snyder.

For the record, I've never met Attorney Snyder (though his commercials are on TV often enough that I feel as though I do!) and I have no interest in the outcome of whatever divorce proceedings may or may not be taking place.  I just wish the two of them well whatever happens.

On the other hand, he's a public figure and so it's at the very least borderline as to whether news of his private life is newsworthy.

The Trib has decided that it is.

And that's the switch for the Scaife camp, isn't it?  A HUGE switch.

From Dietch at the City Paper in 2007:
Thanks to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, you no longer have to wonder why Pittsburgh Tribune-Review publisher Richard Mellon Scaife worked so hard to have his ongoing divorce proceedings sealed.

Earnings of $3.9 million per month; annual loses at his downtown paper totaling $20 million to $30 million a year; an alleged affair; and a whopping, record-setting temporary alimony payment of $725,000 per month.

Despite his best efforts, some of the most sensitive documents filed in the case of pre-nupless, billionaire Scaife's divorce are now a matter of public record. But Scaife is fighting to have those documents hidden again -- with a legal petition that is itself sealed.

On Sept. 16, the Tribune-Review's rival, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, published a story by reporter Dennis Roddy revealing some of the allegations contained in legal filings. The papers alleged that Scaife was underwriting his wife's living expenses, and the Tribune-Review's business losses, to the tune of millions of dollars a year.

On Friday Sept. 21, Roddy and the paper were served with summons to appear at 4 p.m. Sept. 26 in front of Judge Alan Hertzberg: Scaife was demanding that the paper return published documents to the court. the details of a divorce of a prominent Pittsburgh were to be sealed and hidden away from the public.

So I have to I wonder why the Scaife's Trib decided to out Snyder's divorce but his lawyers fought to keep his own embarrassing secrets hidden.

I guess I have an answer - and now you do, too.

July 23, 2014

CIS In The News

Yesterday, my good friends on the Tribune-Review braintrust published this on their op-ed page:
Blaming the surge in unaccompanied Central American minors illegally entering the United States on a 2008 anti-trafficking law that gave such children additional protections, the Obama White House and Democrats misapply that law, ignore sex trafficking's distinction from human smuggling and deflect attention from administration failures.

A new Center for Immigration Studies ( report points out...
And so on. Pretty standard stuff from our friends at the Trib.

That would be the same CIS that we've written about before.

But that's not the point of this blog post.  No no, this is the point of this blog post:
A senior policy analyst from an immigration-restrictionist think tank wants to see President Barack Obama not just impeached, but publicly executed, he told a sympathetic audience last week. During a talk at a Tea Party organization in Sebring, Florida, Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) analyst Stephen Steinlight said that Obama’s supposed executive overreach couldn’t be reined in by a lawsuit and that “being hung, drawn, and quartered is probably too good for him,” Imagine 2050 first reported. He then joked that Obama’s head should be on a skewer.
Do you know what sort of execution Steinlight is calling for?  Here's a description from Britannica.  It's:
...part of the grisly penalty anciently ordained in England (1283) for the crime of treason. Until 1867, when it was abolished, the full punishment for a traitor could include several steps. First he was drawn, that is, tied to a horse and dragged to the gallows. A so-called hurdle, or sledge, is sometimes mentioned in this context. Although such a device may have been a means of mercy, The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I (2nd ed., 1898; reissued 1996) states that it was more likely a way to deliver a live body to the hangman. The remainder of the punishment might include hanging (usually not to the death), usually live disemboweling, burning of the entrails, beheading, and quartering. This last step was sometimes accomplished by tying each of the four limbs to a different horse and spurring them in different directions.
Then there's the head on a skewer part - that's what Steinlight wants to see happen.

Did you know that it's a felony to threaten the life of the president of the United States?

When will the Secret Service be visiting the offices of the Center for Immigration Studies to investigate this threat on the life of the President of the United States of America?

July 21, 2014

In Case You Missed It, McCullough Trial Delayed. AGAIN

From the Trib:
Five years since a grand jury accused attorney Charles McCullough of taking money from an elderly woman's estate, the former Allegheny County councilman has yet to stand trial.

The case has been delayed at least eight times since September 2009, for various reasons, and appeals tacked on two more years of delays.

At a status conference on Wednesday, Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen stepped down from the case because scheduling conflicts would go beyond his November retirement, causing another delay.

The case goes to the court's administrative judge for reassignment, and it could be a month before a trial date is set.
And from the P-G:
It has been delayed at least nine times.

“This case has been around a long time,” Judge Machen said. “And I've entertained every one of your requests for continuance. I’m sending the case back for reassignment.

“Best of luck to all of you.”

The delays have been for various reasons, including both defendants’ switching counsel repeatedly.
Let's review the timeline here.  On Feburary 19, 2009, I blogged that Chuck McCullough had been arrested.

Some of the things that happened since Chuck McCullough was arrested and today:
  • Jerry Sandusky arrested (November 5, 2011)
  • Jerry Sandusky's trial began (June 11, 2011)
  • Jerry Sandusky was found guilty (June 22,2012)
  • H.R. 3590, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was introduced in the House of Representatives (September 17, 2009)
  • H.R. 3590 was signed into law (March 23, 2010)
  • Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot by Jared Lee Loughner (January 8, 2011)
  • Jared Lee Loughner pled guilty (August 7, 2012)
The list is endless.  If all these extremely complicated events could occur between February 19, 2009 and today, why can't we get Chuck McCullough in a court room to stand trial?

I'm just asking.

July 20, 2014

Um, I Think The Braintrust Left Something Out. Again.

From today's Tribune-Review:
The Obama administration might be painting a rosy picture of the federal deficit — the lowest thus far under Barack Obama's tenure — but the Congressional Budget Office is ringing the alarm bells. It reminds that the federal debt that today is 74 percent of the economy will explode to 106 percent by 2039. Spending and deficits must be curbed, the CBO warns. But, of course, that's anathema to “progressives,” who can't seem to wrap their brains around the Law of Diminishing Returns. [Bolding in original.]
But take a look at the report.  On page 5 (page 5!!) we read:
The unsustainable nature of the federal tax and spending policies specified in current law presents lawmakers and the public with difficult choices. Unless substantial changes are made to the major health care programs and Social Security, spending for those programs will equal a much larger percentage of GDP in the future than it has in the past. At the same time, under current law, spending for all other federal benefits and services would be on track to make up a smaller percentage of GDP by 2024 than at any point in more than 70 years. Federal revenues would also represent a larger percentage of GDP in the future than they have, on average, in the past few decades. Even so, spending would soon start to outpace revenues by increasing amounts (relative to GDP), generating rising budget deficits. As a result, federal debt held by the public is projected to grow faster than the economy starting a few years from now, and because debt is already unusually high relative to GDP, further increases could be especially harmful.

To put the federal budget on a sustainable path for the long term, lawmakers would have to make significant changes to tax and spending policies: reducing spending for large benefit programs below the projected levels, letting revenues rise more than they would under current law, or adopting some combination of those approaches. [Emphasis added.]
And what do you think "letting revenues rise more than they would under current law" could possibly mean?

The next page offers up an explanation.  In a discussion of two competing scenarios (do we do this sooner or later?) the CBO's authors use other language to describe what "letting revenues rise" means.  First the "sooner" scenario:
The sooner significant deficit reduction was implemented, the smaller the government’s accumulated debt would be, the smaller policy changes would need to be to achieve a particular long-term outcome, and the less uncertainty there would be about what policies would be adopted. However, if lawmakers implemented spending cuts or tax increases quickly, people would have little time to plan and adjust to the policy changes, and those changes would weaken the economic expansion during the next few years. [Emphasis added.]
And then the "later" scenario:
Reductions in federal spending or increases in taxes that were implemented several years from now would have a smaller effect on output and employment in the short term. However, waiting for some time before reducing federal spending or increasing taxes would result in a greater accumulation of debt, which would represent a greater drag on output and income in the long term and would increase the size of the policy changes needed to reach any chosen target for debt. [Emphasis added.]
Isn't it interesting how the braintrust, in informing its loyal readers about the impending budgetary doom described by the CBO, left out the part about the possibility of avoiding said doom by increasing taxes?

Yea, they want you to know the fullest picture possible of the CBO report.

July 19, 2014

Climate Denier Governor To Meet With Climate Scientists (An Update)

Hey, remember this?

My blog post started with this article in the Tampa Bay Times.  A group of actual scientists offered to meet with Florida Governor (and climate science denier) Rick Scott to explain the science to him.

I was wondering if we couldn't get a few climate scientists from Pennsylvania to meet with our own climate denying Governor.

Anyway, there's an update.  From the Miami Herald:
Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist fueled the climate wars Friday and called Florida State University oceanography professor Jeff Chanton offering to meet with the scientists who asked to meet with Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott said this week that someone in his administration would meet with the 10 climate scientists from universities and colleges across the state, but after Crist agreed to meet, them, the governor also agreed.
Of course, this is all about the upcoming gubernatorial election in Florida.

Hey, we have a gubernatorial election coming up in Pennsylvania, right?  Maybe Democratic challenger Tom Wolf should reach out to meet with some scientists and discuss the issue.  Maybe that would get Corbet to do the same - just like in Florida.

Wolf even has a "climate change" page on his website.  It starts with this:
Tom knows we need to remove the politics from the discussion about climate change and global warming. We need to take action so that future generations have access to fresh air and clean water, and have the opportunity to explore and enjoy Pennsylvania's natural beauty.

As governor, Tom will promote policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy alternatives, and invest in green energy technology and infrastructure. Additionally, Tom will appoint qualified individuals to lead the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources who will be responsible for proactively addressing climate change and promoting policies that are in the best interest of current and future residents -- not special interests.
Not a heck of a lot of room in there to say that climate change is "subject to debate" so it should be a rather easy conversation for Wolf to have with some climate scientists on climate change.

How long until we get a serious discussion about it from Governor Corbett?

July 17, 2014

Hey, Can We Get Something Like This In Pennsylvania??

From the Tampa Bay Times:
In an effort to push Gov. Rick Scott into the debate on climate change, 10 prominent Florida scientists on Tuesday asked for an opportunity to explain to him the impact human-induced global warming will have on Florida.

"We note you have been asked several times about how, as governor, you will handle the issue of climate change," the scientists wrote in a two-page letter to Scott. "You responded that you are 'not a scientist.' We are scientists and we would like the opportunity to explain what is at stake for our state."
I mean we have a Governor who's denied the science and we have some very important climate scientists in this state as well.  Why can't something like this happen in our state?

As a reminder this is exactly what Governor Corbett said:
I think everybody is taking a look at this. I think some people believe that it is clearly evident and it’s coming very, very quickly. I think there are others who are equally qualified that disagree with that. It’s a subject of debate.
And that's exactly untrue - especially since we know that 97% of climate scientists endorsed the position that climate science is real and that human beings are causing it. has a copy of the letter sent to Florida's governor.  Here's the text:
Dear Governor Scott:

We respectfully request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss the current and future impact of human-induced global warming on Florida. As scientists, we believe such information is vital given the threat posed by climate change. There is a clear need to develop a state plan to both mitigate and adapt to the threats to Florida's communities, businesses, tourism industry and protect the state's economic well being.

We note you have been asked several times about how, as Governor, you will handle the issue of climate change. You responded that you were "not a scientist." We are scientists and we would like the opportunity to explain what is at stake for our state.

We welcome the chance to present you with the latest climate science. Our hope is this will inform you as you consider Florida's plan for meeting the recently announced carbon pollution standards from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Each state will be called on to implement reductions with Florida's carbon intensity rate reduction target of 38 percent by 2030, from 2012 levels.

When asked about climate change, Florida Gov. Rick Scott's stock response is: I'm not a scientist. Florida scientists say: Let's talk.

We will also respond to any questions you might have regarding the recent National Climate Assessment (NCA) and any adaptation planning decisions you may be considering. That report, as you may be aware, concluded that climate change "is already affecting the American people in far-reaching ways." This includes more frequent and/or intense extreme weather events, more acidic oceans, and rising sea levels. The report further found "unambiguous" evidence that human activities — the burning of fossil fuels, the clearing of forests — are the cause. The NCA also found we are "exceptionally vulnerable to sea level rise, extreme heat events, and decreased water availability" caused by climate change, with "residents in some areas such as Miami Beach [already] experiencing seawater flooding their streets."

In short, Florida is one of the most vulnerable places in the country with respect to climate change, with southeastern Florida of particular concern.

This is not a hypothetical. Thousands of scientists have studied the issue from a variety of angles and disciplines over many decades. Those of us signing this letter have spent hundreds of years combined studying this problem, not from any partisan political perspective, but as scientists — seekers of evidence and explanations. As a result, we feel uniquely qualified to assist you in understanding what's already happening in the climate system so you may make the most effective decisions about what must be done to protect the state, including reducing emissions from fossil fuel burning power plants.

It is crucial for policymakers, such as yourself, to have a full understanding of the current and future threats to Florida. Most importantly, you should have a detailed understanding of the specific climate change impacts already affecting Florida to help you formulate the optimal plans for mitigating future impacts, while simultaneously preparing Florida's communities and businesses for the changes already underway, and almost certain to accelerate in coming years.

We look forward to meeting with you, and await your response.
And while I've not found any instance of Governor Corbett saying "I'm not a scientist" it shouldn't be that difficult to re-write the above letter, change some of the details (like replacing "Florida" with "Pennsylvania" and so on) and sending it to Harrisburg.

For the Governor to state that the science is still "subject of debate" only shows how much he needs to be properly educated on the subject and that's something one or more of Pennsylvania's climate scientists should seek to address.

How 'bout it??

July 16, 2014

Meanwhile Outside...

From Slate:
New data released Monday shows humanity has just unlocked another achievement in the race to cook the planet: The last three months were collectively the warmest ever experienced since record-keeping began in the late 1800s.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said June 2014 was the warmest June globally since at least 1891, when its dataset begins. This follows May 2014, which was the warmest May globally on record, which follows April 2014, which was the warmest April globally on record.
And this is the artwork from our friends in Japan:

See that red line? That's the long term linear trend.  It's going up.

And then a few paragraphs later:
Also on Monday, NASA released its monthly global temperature numbers for June, with nearly identical results that were reached by a different method. According to NASA, June was the all-time third warmest, May was the warmest, and April was tied for second, with 2010 nudging out 2014 by an imperceptible 0.003 degrees Celsius in the three-month average. [Emphasis added.]
Why did I emphasize the "reached a different method" part?  If two separate studies using different methodologies both point to the same conclusion, then the chances of both being incorrect are lessened.

The temperature is still going up.  The science is still solid and I still have to write this blog post (it seems) ever couple of weeks.

July 15, 2014

Did Mike Pintek REALLY Host Larry Pratt on KDKA?

If you were listening to Mike Pintek a few days ago, you were privileged to hear this:

Yea, that would be the same Larry Pratt profiled in Rolling Stone magazine.

Some highlights of the profile.  In a comparison between the Gun Owners of America with the NRA we can read this:
"The NRA describes itself as a religion, and Larry Pratt is the snake handler," says Tom Diaz, a former analyst at the Violence Policy Center, a Washington-based gun control group, and author of two books on the gun lobby. "The NRA debates using arguable premises of the American system: What is the meaning of the Second Amendment, of self-defense? Pratt unconnects from all that, and appeals to the least informed, most paranoid people." In parallel with his frequent national media appearances, Pratt aggressively pursues smaller radio audiences to peddle conspiracy theories and recycled John Birch Society propaganda from the 1960s. In recent years he has argued that the Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting was an inside job and that the Justice Department was pursuing charges against George Zimmerman to stir up racial animosity, trigger social chaos, and "build their own communist society."
Then there's this (are you paying attention, Mike?):
As with Pratt's frequent appearances on cable television over the years, no mention was made by the Times of his fringe political and religious beliefs, or the dark corners of American gun culture and rightwing politics to which these beliefs have led over the years. But these links between mainstream and fringe have long been at the core of his role in rightwing politics.

"Larry Pratt has served over the years as an extremely important bridge between the more rabid parts of the gun rights movement and the radical right," says Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. "The fact that he's been linked to so many different extremists for so long — including Klansman and Christian Identity leaders — together with his roaming around on the militia circuit for God knows how long — it should put him beyond the pale."
And this is what the SPLC has to say about Larry Pratt (again, Mike. ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION?):
Larry Pratt stands at the intersection of guns and Jesus, lobbying for absolutely unrestricted distribution of firearms while advocating a theocratic society based upon Old Testament civil and religious laws. A pivotal figure in the rise of right-wing militia, or “Patriot,” groups, he spoke at the notorious 1992 “Gathering of Christian Men” in Estes Park, Colo., where 160 neo-Nazis, Klan members, anti-Semitic Christian Identity adherents and others arguably laid the groundwork for the militia movement that would explode in 1994. He believes that white Christians must arm themselves for self-protection in the inevitable social implosions and riots that are soon to come.
But back to Rolling Stone:
On the afternoon of the Oklahoma City bombing, Pratt was in Washington, D.C., demonstrating in front of FBI headquarters for its role in the Waco tragedy. Three days later, Pratt spoke before a gathering of 600 Christian Identity adherents and assorted radicals convened by Pete Peters at the Lodge of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri. Pratt addressed the "Biblical Mandate to Arm" and seemed to justify McVeigh's act of terror, at the time the bloodiest in American history. According to an account by Michael Reynolds in Playboy, Pratt told the gathered, "The government behaves as a beast. It did in Waco, and we have somebody, whoever it might have been, whatever group it might have been, assuming they can't rely on the Lord to take vengeance."
Mike, that's the guy you had on your air the other day.

July 14, 2014

July 12, 2014

A Scaife Follow-up. (Where's His Money Going?)

There's a pair of local articles (one in the P-G and the other in the Trib) describing where Richard Mellon Scaife's stuff is going to go, now that he's passed on.

The P-G has more info than the Trib but perhaps that's because the Trib's Mike Wereschagin is writing more about Scaife's art collection than about his estate.

We start with the Trib:
The wealth, land and art collections of Richard Mellon Scaife, the late owner of the Tribune-Review, will be distributed among two foundations, a trust, an art museum and a conservancy, according to his will.
And then:
The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg and Brandywine Conservancy near Philadelphia will split Scaife's art collection, according to the will. The will allows the organizations to decide how to divide the collection and sets up a rotating selection system to resolve disagreements.
That's certainly good news for those two art museums.

But let's try to follow the money.  Where is the money going?  This is where Wereschagin stumbles:
The Sarah Scaife Foundation and Allegheny Foundation will divide the assets Scaife inherited from his parents, according to the will. The value of the assets was not available. The Sarah Scaife Foundation, which gives to organizations that study public policy issues, donated $13.5 million in 2012, according to the foundation's most recent annual report available. The Washington-based American Enterprise Institute and Cambridge, Mass.-based Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis received the most money, at $600,000 and $760,000, respectively.

The Allegheny Foundation, whose giving supports historic preservation, civic development and education in Western Pennsylvania, donated $2.6 million in 2012, according to its most recent annual report. The largest gifts — $210,000 and $200,000 — went to the Westmoreland Museum of American Art and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, respectively.
Ah, Mike. The two foundations are so much more than the borderline innocent with civic pride description you give us.  But let's take a look at the 2012 gifts.

You'll note that among the top 15 recipients there are a number of important conservative/free market institutions:
  • The Hoover Institution ($409,000)
  • The Claremont Institute ($400,000)
  • The Heritage Foundation ($400,000)
  • The Social Philosophy and Policy Foundation ($375,000)
  • The Competitive Enterprise Institute ($300,000)
  • The Hudson Institute ($250,000)
Include the money sent to AEI and Foreign Policy Analysis, and that gets you (by my count) about $3.5 million.  So if the total donated in 2012 was about $13.5 million and at least $3.5 million went to conservative think tanks (remember, I only looked at the top 15 recipients - out of 78), then that's a tad more than a quarter of the funds right there.

Given such a large chunk went to conservative think tanks, why not just say so?  Why omit that part?
It gets worse when you look at the Allegheny Foundation, which Wereschagin describes as "whose giving supports historic preservation, civic development and education in Western Pennsylvania".

Let's see who else the Allegheny Foundation gave money to in 2012.  On the list we find these profoundly non Pennsylvania historic preservation and civic development organizations:
  • America's Survival ($150,000)
  • David Horowitz Freedom Center ($150,000)
  • Young America's Foundation ($150,000)
  • Allegheny Institute for Public Policy ($125,000)
  • The Institute of World Politics ($100,000)
  • American Legislative Exchange Council ($50,000)
Why not mention any of that?  I mean the president of America's Survival is a man named Cliff Kincaid and on May 1 of this year, RightWing watch quoted Kincaid as saying: cannot be a conservative in the traditional sense and be a homosexual, you cannot be a conservative in the traditional sense and promote homosexual marriage and all these other libertine and left-wing causes...
Then there's the David Horowitz Freedom Center.  In late June RightWingWatch reported:
Yesterday on NewsMax TV, David Horowitz said that President Obama is intentionally destroying America and Israel, but no one dares to criticize him “because he’s black.”

“Obama is the Manchurian candidate, he represents America’s enemies and he has just cut us off at the knees,” he said. “He’s a traitor, you have to look at Obama as a traitor, he supports the enemy.”
And did you see the last bullet point on that list?  ALEC.

So perhaps we have a reason why that stuff went unmentioned.

But do not tell us that The Allegheny Foundation is best (or even accurately) described with this phrase, "whose giving supports historic preservation, civic development and education in Western Pennsylvania."

Just don't do it.  It insults our intelligence.

O'Toole and Silver do a better job over at the P-G:
The will steers Scaife’‍s art, his late mother’s real estate, and stock trusts that she left behind to various charities. It indicates the existence of two trust funds, one of which appears to be tied to the Tribune-Review newspapers.
And then:
The will also mentions, but does not detail, an irrevocable trust created in 2004 which includes among its five trustees at least three people involved with the Tribune-Review: Mr. Gutnick, former Tribune-Review president Edward H. Harrell and Trib Total Media CEO Ralph J. Martin.
Something else left out of the Trib's coverage.  Go figure.

July 10, 2014

The Trib Misleads The Climate Science. Again.

From today's Thursday Wrap at the Tribune-Review:
More bad news for the First Church of Global Warming. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a federal agency, mind you, reports that temperatures in the United States have not risen over the last decade. In fact, they've fallen. And that coincides with overall planetary temperature stagnation over the past 17 years, reports Rick Moran, writing in the American Thinker. Old farmers likely are making plans to put up a few extra cords of wood for the winter. [Bolding in Original.]
Sooo many misleads here.  It's a selective use of the data that brings the braintrust to this incorrect place.  Again.

We can start with the fact that they're using "temperatures in the United States" as a guide to global temperatures.  When NOAA (that same federal agency they're citing, mind you) posts this about global warming:
Temperatures measured on land and at sea for more than a century show that Earth's globally averaged surface temperature is experiencing a long-term warming trend.
They even have a chart showing the data:

Now go back and look at what the braintrust wrote.  Notice how given the long term frame of reference their shorter terms ("the last decade" and "17 years") what they wrote can be both accurate (in the short term) and not at all true (in the long term).

If you start and end with the el Nino year of 1998 it certainly looks like a tapering off (and perhaps even a "cooling") but when taken as a whole, the localized trends become less important than the overall trend.  Which is warming.

This is a typical mislead from the science denying Trib braintrust.  It's cooler now (6:18am) than it will be 6 hours from now - does that mean the planet is cooling?  Of course not.  But that's their argument right here right now.

Not only that, but the data that the braintrust cites is for surface temperatures.  As NOAA explains:
Just because the global surface temperature has not risen significantly in the past decade doesn't mean the Earth's heat energy imbalance has vanished, though. Excess heat energy trapped by greenhouses gases can have more than one fate in the Earth system; among other things, it can cause water to evaporate, it can melt ice, and it can be mixed into the deep ocean by overturning currents.

That mixing coupled with water's naturally large heat capacity makes the global ocean the Earth’s biggest absorber of heat; scientists estimate the ocean absorbs more than 90 percent of the excess heat trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases. When analyzing temperature patterns at different depths of the ocean, scientists observed that deep ocean temperatures—measured more than a half-mile down from the surface—began to rise significantly around 2000, while shallower waters warmed more slowly. This divergence took place at the same time that a natural climate cycle called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO, was shifting to a negative phase.
So not only where they selective about the area (the contiguous USA vs the globe) in misleading you, their reading public, but they were selective in what data they used (surface temps vs water temps).

See how much do they have to mislead for their story to be accurate?

What does that tell you about their story?

July 9, 2014

Richard Mellon Scaife - An Obituary

I was out of town when I learned of his passing and this is the first chance I've had to write about it.

Every death is sad.  Every one.  This is an obvious axiom when the deceased is a good person as we will miss their warmth, humor, good deeds and so on but it's a little trickier when the deceased has done any sort of damage to us or anyone else.  Why would THAT death be sad?  It's sad for what could have been.  Given all the gifts of anyone's life, to spend that life harming others when it could have been helping them, well that's sad.

Isn't it?

I'll let you decide which sort or sad it is regarding the passing of Richard Mellon Scaife.

I never met the guy and so I have nothing to say of his passing personally.  From the obituaries I've read he was a good friend to his friends and to the people who knew him and loved him, I am sincerely sorry for your loss.

It's hardly surprising that his paper's obituary would be laudatory.  Nor should it be surprising that the P-G's obituary would be, well, less so.

In another memorial piece in the Trib, Frank Craig begins this way:
One measure of a life is what people say when it's over.
With that said we can't gloss over the damage he's done to our collective political process.

Let me begin with something no American Newspaper has deemed fit to put into their obituaries (as far as I can tell).  For that we have to turn to a British newspaper, The Guardian:
Then came his curious London adventure. His father had become an officer in the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA, in second world war London, and Scaife maintained an interest in clandestine activities. In 1973 he bought Kern House Enterprises, a US firm that ran Forum World Features, a London-based supplier of articles to dozens of newspapers around the world.

However, in 1975 a CIA memo from seven years earlier came to light. It described Forum as a propaganda unit sponsored by the CIA to combat communism and to further conservative politics. Scaife quickly withdrew his money amid widespread unfavourable publicity about the syndicate.
I've written about Scaife's ownership of the Forum World Features here.  It's from the Washington Post in 1999, that we learn:
Scaife undertook one unusual media enterprise in his own name. In 1968, he agreed to replace John Hay Whitney, last owner of the New York Herald Tribune, as the head of the parent firm of Forum World Features, a London-based news agency that received subsidies and guidance from the CIA. The proprietor of Forum, Brian Crozier, has said he was introduced to Scaife by the CIA. Scaife has never spoken about this.
The Forum World Features was an interesting CIA construction - it was set up to look like a legitimate news organization (and some who worked there thought it was) but every now and then some CIA propaganda was slipped in.  At the time it was to tell positive Vietnam stories.  While Scaife certainly wasn't the first newspaper owner to skew the news in his own political direction, it's interesting to note that it was at about the same time that he owned Forum World Features that, as the New York Times reported:
In the 1970s, Mr. Scaife bought several newspapers, including The Tribune-Review in Greensburg, Pa., southeast of Pittsburgh. He spent lavishly to turn it into a metropolitan newspaper marketed as The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette remained the city’s dominant newspaper, but Mr. Scaife cared primarily about winning readers over to his conservative views.
I'm not saying that the Trib is a CIA front but at the very least, it's an interesting coincidence that at about the time that Scaife's Forum World Features was surreptitiously injecting pro-Vietnam "news" into our media mainstream he gets the idea to purchase what became the Trib for similar conservative "news" stories.

And from the Trib we got the Arkansas Project (do I really need to go into how incorrect that project turned out to be?) and Christopher Ruddy's "reporting" on Vince Foster:
On the off chance that you haven't followed every twist and turn of the case, there are two ways to reassure yourself that former Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster killed himself in Fort Marcy Park. One is to read Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's just-released report on the subject--a briskly efficient 114-page document that makes an already overwhelming case for suicide about as close to airtight as you can get. The other is to read Christopher Ruddy's new book, The Strange Death of Vincent Foster. Ruddy, of course, is the Inspector Clouseau of the Foster case--a determined, if bumbling, former New York Post reporter who has virtually single-handedly spawned a cottage industry of conspiracy buffs dedicated to the proposition that a foul and monstrous cover-up surrounds the circumstances of Foster's death.

Financed by a cranky right-wing philanthropist, Richard Mellon Scaife, Ruddy's repeated bromides about the Foster case have been republished in newspaper ads across the country; his sheer persistence has led some casual observers to conclude he might be on to something. The Strange Death, published by The Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, is endorsed as "serious and compelling" by former FBI Director William Sessions. In the New York Times Book Review, National Review senior editor Richard Brookhiser chides political journalists for failing to pursue Ruddy's many "unanswered questions" about the case. the controversy!  Where there's smoke, there's fire!  There has to be something there or else there wouldn't be so many "unanswered questions" so why aren't you reporting on it?  Remember those arguments?

Then there's The Trib's repeated use of Scaife funded think tanks to legitimize his conservative talking points - all while failing to mention his funding and support of those think tanks.  Like this straight news story.  Or this column by Colin McNickel.

If there's a reason for the sorry state of our current media machinery at least part of the blame goes to the man who just passed away from cancer.  In an institution that should be focusing on informing the public about the world around it as reliably and as credibly as possible, Richard Mellon Scaife used his vast wealth to skew the reporting of the facts to support his own politics - so much so that he gave us the "news" a few decades ago that Vince Foster was murdered, and far more recently that climate science is a hoax.

How much damage was done to the body politic from that?

Yes, I am sad Richard Mellon Scaife the man has passed away.  But we can't forget the damage he did, either.

July 4, 2014

Independence Day

"I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation."
- Patriot Abigail Adams, 1776
"Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't. Nobody ever thought that that's what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws."
- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, 2011

While the Founders would obviously have no problem with discrimination against women, how many truly believe they'd be in agreement that corporations were people who had religious beliefs that allow them to discriminate against a class of citizens and be exempt from duly passed laws?

Certainly the five Catholic, male judges on the Roberts Court believe that it's perfectly fine for corporations to hold others (others of course being women) hostage to their own particular religious views.

And while the media and supporters got the Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case wrong by insisting that it was a "narrow" ruling, it only took a day for that to be proven false and for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be correct (in calling it a "decision of startling breadth"):

In fact, it only took a day for the Court’s “narrow” decision to start to crack open. On Tuesday, the Court indicated that its ruling applies to for-profit employers who object to all twenty forms of birth control included in the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, not just the four methods at issue in the two cases decided on Monday. 
In light of its ruling on Hobby Lobby and a related suit, the Supreme Court ordered three appeals courts to reconsider cases in which they had rejected challenges from corporations that object to providing insurance that covers any contraceptive services at all.
 It’s bad enough that the Court privileged the belief that IUDs and emergency contraceptives induce abortion over the scientific evidence that clearly says otherwise. With Tuesday’s orders, the conservative majority has effectively endorsed the idea that religious objections to insurance that covers any form of preventative healthcare for women have merit.
Just as bad, these males on the court actually lied about their ruling.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing in a dissent on Thursday (signed by all the women on the court), noted, “Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word. Not so today.”

Sotomayor was referencing that accommodation was one of the reasons Justice Samuel Alito cited to justify his Hobby Lobby decision:

Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the government has to show it has pursued the least restrictive means to accomplish its goal. Alito claimed that because the nonprofit accommodation exists, that means the government has other ways to get women access to contraception that respects religious liberty. Yet only a few days later, he ruled that the nonprofit accommodation – again, signing a form – is also a violation of religious liberty.
Yep, that means that the often trotted out example of the Little Sisters of the Poor (with a name like that, how could anyone deny them anything?) can refuse to even sign a damn sheet of paper saying they want a waiver for providing birth control because: religion.

To recap: Corporations are people with religious beliefs. Their beliefs trump women's beliefs, women's rights under the law and women's health. Women can be discriminated against and have no rights against discrimination under the Constitution. And, it's perfectly fine for Supreme Court justices to lie in their rulings.

Happy Fucking Fourth, ladies!

July 4th.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.

They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

July 3, 2014

Governor Tom Corbett, Science Denier

From Thinkprogress:
Climate denial runs rampant in the halls of Congress, with over 58 percent of congressional Republicans refusing to accept the reality of basic climate science. A new analysis from the CAP Action War Room reveals that half of America’s Republican governors agree with the anti-science caucus of Congress.
And so what did they report about Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett?

Take a look:
Governor Tom Corbett (R) questions the science behind climate change: “I think some people believe that it is clearly evident and it’s coming very, very quickly. I think there are others who are equally qualified that disagree with that. It’s a subject of debate.” In 2011, Corbett withdrew the state of Pennsylvania from the legal defense of the EPA’s endangerment finding for greenhouse gases. While he did implement a climate action plan, it was criticized as inadequate because it fails to set greenhouse gas reduction goals and fails to incentive renewable energy, according to an op-ed by Rep. Greg Vitali (D) in the Lebanon Daily News. The governor has cut funding for climate change research, has appointed climate science deniers to his administration, and has eliminated bipartisan programs that focused on renewable energy and conservation. Instead, he has moved his focus to natural gas production and the booming fracking industry in Pennsylvania. Despite coming under fire for pollution from drilling, Corbett handed authority of some of the state’s most critical environmental decisions to C. Alan Walker, a Pennsylvania energy executive who has fought against environmental protections and donated $184,000 to Corbett’s campaign efforts. The governor also made false job claims on behalf of the fracking industry, has been accused of trying to confuse the public with an environmentally friendly fracking agreement, and has called to lift the ban on oil and gas drilling in state parks and forests. Governor Corbett is running for re-election in 2014.
What the Governor's doing, by saying that it's "a subject of debate" is to set up a false equivalency of sorts.  He's asserting that there's a pro-climate science side and an "equally qualified" con-climate science side and that are still debating the science.

Which we know is factually incorrect.

To assert that the debate is still on going is to deny the science.

Tom Corbett, science denier.

July 1, 2014

Yea, What Tony Said

If you haven't already, go read Tony Norman's column in today's Post-Gazette.

He begins:
In the end, no one really expected the current majority of the U.S. Supreme Court to do anything other than what it did in its Hobby Lobby ruling. Given the ideological drift of a court nominally run by Chief Justice John Roberts, but ideologically dominated by Justice Antonin Scalia, no other outcome was possible.

But something can be both anticlimactic and sickening at the same time. The court’s 5-4 ruling in favor of a corporation’s right to object on religious grounds to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate doesn’t begin to detract from its central absurdity — that a corporation has religious scruples that must be respected in the first place, even if it comes at the expense of female employees.
Well, of course.