Democracy Has Prevailed.

May 31, 2015

Jack Kelly Sunday

Does anyone still trust the "facts" found in “Clinton Cash” by Peter Schweizer?

That's obviously a rhetorical question as at least one person, the Post-Gazette's Jack Kelly, does and he shows it in this week's column.

Like the rest of the right-wing pundit class in this a lesson ad hoc ergo propter hoc Jack smears himself out of the range of credibility.

Let's start with his first paragraph:
The Clinton Foundation “received as much as $26.4 million in previously undisclosed payments” from corporations, foreign sources and other groups in 2014, The Washington Post reported 10 days ago.
Looks menacing, until you check the facts outlined in the source material.  Here's the Washington Post article Jack's referencing.  And its first paragraph:
The Clinton Foundation reported Thursday that it has received as much as $26.4 million in previously undisclosed payments from major corporations, universities, foreign sources and other groups.
See what Jack just did?  It was the foundation itself that reported the payments.  The Washington Post was just reporting on what the foundation reported.

But why were these payments "previously undisclosed?"  Here are the Post's next two paragraphs:
The disclosure came as the foundation faced questions over whether it fully complied with a 2008 ethics agreement to reveal its donors and whether any of its funding sources present conflicts of interest for Hillary Rodham Clinton as she begins her presidential campaign.

The money was paid as fees for speeches by Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. Foundation officials said the funds were tallied internally as “revenue” rather than donations, which is why they had not been included in the public listings of its contributors published as part of the 2008 agreement.
And what of this "ethics agreement?"  Here's what the Post had to say (and what Jack decided not to tell you):
The ethics agreement was reached between the foundation and the Obama administration to provide additional transparency and avoid potential conflicts of interest with Hillary Clinton’s appointment as secretary of state.
And then a few paragraphs later:
Vincent Salamone, a spokesman for the Office of Government Ethics, said this week that speeches delivered by public officials or their spouses acting as an “agent” of a charitable group in which the payment is made directly to the organization need not be disclosed in financial filings of public officials.

Brian Fallon, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said that analysis explains why the Clintons did not disclose the speeches while Hillary Clinton was a senator and then secretary of state.
And so in order to be more transparent, the foundation decided to post the material on its website - even though it didn't have to.

Now go back and look at Jack's first paragraph.  See how he played you only one track of the multilayered recording and then let you insinuate the full story from his frame of reference?  It's like hearing only Paul's bass line and being left to assume that "Harry the Horse" was a reference to heroin.

But let's get to the big Schweizer shite Jack offers us:
CharityWatch says even a “minimally efficient” foundation spends 60 percent of its budget on programs. In the years 2009-2012, the Clinton Foundation devoted just 15 percent to charitable grants, according to an analysis of IRS filings by The Federalist. That fell to 10 percent in 2013. Forty-five percent was spent on salaries, perks and travel for staff.
This is something that Polifact has already declared "mostly false."

But before we go into Politifact's argument, let's take a closer look at CharityWatch.   Ever wonder what sort of rating they gave the Clinton Foundation?  Take a look - they got an A.

Here's one reason, they describe how they analyze how much a foundation treats the funds it receives:
A charity's Program % is the percentage of its cash budget it spends on Programs relative to Overhead (Fundraising and Management & General Expenses)
And they rated the Clinton Foundation as:
  • 89% Program
  • 11% Overhead
Why didn't Jack tell you that?  Jack quotes CharityWatch with a criteria for how to rate good foundations and then quickly moves onto a questionable Federalist article with information that completely contradict CharityWatch itself.  Didn't anyone at the Post-Gazette catch this?

If so, why did they let it pass through?  And if not, why the heck not??

But let's look get back to Politifact:
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh aired this line of argument on April 23, 2015, citing a report in the Federalist, a conservative publication. Here’s a portion of what Limbaugh said:

"The Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation -- 99 percent pass-through. The Clinton Family Foundation pass-through is 15 percent. The Federalist reports only 15 percent of the money donated to the Clinton Family Foundation went to actual charitable causes. The bulk of the money donated to the Clinton Family Foundation went to travel, salaries, and benefits. Sixty percent of all the money raised went to other expenses. In other words, folks, 85 percent of every dollar donated to the Clinton Foundation ended up either with the Clintons or with their staff to pay for travel, salaries, and benefits. Fifteen cents of every dollar actually went to some charitable beneficiary." [Italics in original.]
And here's Politifact's main point in one paragraph:
[M]any foundations carry out charitable works by giving money to other organizations that, in turn, do the ground-level charity work, whereas the Clinton foundation’s charitable works are mostly done by people on the foundation’s payroll. "We are an implementing organization rather than a grantmaking organization," said the foundation’s [spokesman, Craig] Minassian. That’s why the Clinton Foundation’s 990s show a relatively small amount of money categorized as "grants" -- only about 10 percent of all expenses in 2013.
As the man said, you're entitled to your own opinion but you're not entitled to your own facts.  And Jack Kelly left out enough facts to invalidate his entire column.

Doesn't anyone check these things at the P-G?  And if they did and this is the result, imagine what Jack submits to them before they check his work.

May 29, 2015

The Tribune-Review Editorial Board Can't Help Itself

Even when they're right, they get it wrong.

Take a look:
Privacy concerns trumped presumed national “security,” or, more accurately, a false sense thereof, when the Senate declined to extend or change a Patriot Act provision that enables the feds' phone snooping. And barring an unlikely 11th-hour compromise, the government no longer will have systematic access to Americans' phone calls after June 1.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which is set to expire, enabled the National Security Agency's phone-snooping program, which collected numbers, dates and durations of all phone calls made in the U.S. A senior Obama administration official says the “wind-down” already has begun on the surveillance program and the administration has not filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to continue collecting data, according to The New York Times.

The resulting knee jerk was predictable. “Let's be clear,” Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in The Times report. “We tried to protect the country and (Senate) Republicans rejected it.”


In the two years since the data mining has been exposed, repeated reviews and even an audit by the Justice Department inspector general “couldn't point to a single plot that has been foiled thanks to bulk data collection,” The Washington Times reported.
 Let's get some real-life context to the braintrust's oh-so-subtle distortion.  Take a look at what Senator Boxer said.  Ask yourself, was she referring to an extension of that Patriot Act provision or a change of it?

Ahhhh.  They don't tell you, do they?  But in the context of the editorial it's easy to assume that they're pointing towards the former rather than then latter.  Their picture is clear; Section 215 is bad and the Democrats want to keep it and are lying about its usefulness.  And that's just plain wrong. 

In fact, it was right after the this vote on closing the debate regarding HR 2048 (or more specifically the Senate's version of the House Bill) that Senator Boxer made these remarks:
Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that since a strong bipartisan majority of the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the USA FREEDOM Act, that the motion to proceed be agreed to, that the bill then be read a third time, and the Senate vote on passage of the USA FREEDOM Act.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection?
Mr. BURR. Objection.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Objection is heard.
Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, let's be clear what happened here. We tried with the majority----
Mr. McCONNELL. Regular order.
Mr. BURR. Regular order.
Mrs. BOXER. To protect this country, and the Republicans objected. Let's be clear.
You'll notice the bipartisan list of co-sponsors of the bill (14 Democrats and 4 Republicans, including Ted Cruz of Texas) and the bipartisan list of yea votes (all the Yea votes were the Senate Democrats plus 12 Senate Republicans) and the completely partisan list of Senate Republicans voting no (and effectively killing the bill).  The bill would stop the NSA from collecting the phone meta-data and then force the FBI to subpoena the telecoms (who'd still be holding that data for regular business purposes) for specific information.

Now go back and look at what Senator Boxer said.

Now go back and look at what the braintrust said she said.

See the difference?  They're lying to you.  Again.

For the record, I am against Section 215 of the Patriot Act.  I am, however, always in favor of telling the truth - especially in a newspaper editorial.

And what of that last point?  About how the Inspector General report, here's where the braintrust found that line:
In the two years since Mr. Snowden revealed the program, repeated reviews have found it to be ineffective. In the latest audit by the Justice Department Inspector General, FBI agents couldn’t point to a single plot that has been foiled thanks to bulk data collection.
Now let's take a peek in the report itself, OK?  This is from the conclusion of the report:
For example, agents and attorneys told us that Section 215 authority continues to be a valuable investigative tool.  Agents said they relied on Section 215 authority when companies would not voluntarily produce the material sought by the FBI and when the material was not available through other investigate authorities.  The agents we interviewed did not identify any major case developments that resulted from the records obtained in response to Section 215 orders, but told us the authority is valuable when it is the only means to obtain certain information.  Agents told us that the material produced pursuant to Section 215 orders was used to support other investigative requests, develop investigative leads, and corroborate other information.
So a creative "reinterpretation" by the conservative Washington Times leads to a further creative reinterpretations by the conservative Tribune-Review.

The outcome being, even when they're right about the overall picture (that Section 215 needs to be abandoned), they still get it wrong - and they still manage to blame at least some of it on the Democrats.

Surprising, huh?

May 24, 2015

The Tribune-Review Editorial Board Distorts Obama (and Climate Science). Again.

Here's the whole mound of malinformation in today's Tribune-Review:
President Obama used his commencement address to the latest class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy to once again elevate “climate change” to a “serious threat” to our national security. He even blamed the rise of Boko Haram and Syria's civil war on climate change. Thus, erasing any remaining doubts that this president is the most delusional in our history. What's next, blaming ISIS' Christian genocide on global warming? [Bolding in original.]
In order to unravel we have to back to the source material, the president's speech at the Coast Guard Academy.

Sentence one - [President Obama used his commencement address to the latest class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy to once again elevate “climate change” to a “serious threat” to our national security.]

Here's how it looks in the president's speech:
Here at the Academy, climate change -- understanding the science and the consequences -- is part of the curriculum, and rightly so, because it will affect everything that you do in your careers. Some of you have already served in Alaska and aboard icebreakers, and you know the effects. As America’s Maritime Guardian, you’ve pledged to remain always ready -- Semper Paratus -- ready for all threats. And climate change is one of those most severe threats.

And this is not just a problem for countries on the coasts, or for certain regions of the world. Climate change will impact every country on the planet. No nation is immune. So I’m here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security. And make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act -- and we need to act now.

After all, isn’t that the true hallmark of leadership? When you’re on deck, standing your watch, you stay vigilant. You plan for every contingency. And if you see storm clouds gathering, or dangerous shoals ahead, you don't sit back and do nothing. You take action -- to protect your ship, to keep your crew safe. Anything less is negligence. It is a dereliction of duty. And so, too, with climate change. Denying it, or refusing to deal with it endangers our national security. It undermines the readiness of our forces.
This isn't just Obama preaching.  The Department of Defense has also made roughly the same point in its Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap of 2014.  Here are the first three paragraphs of the report's foreward:
The responsibility of the Department of Defense is the security of our country. That requires thinking ahead and planning for a wide range of contingencies.

Among the future trends that will impact our national security is climate change. Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. They will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe.

In our defense strategy, we refer to climate change as a “threat multiplier” because it has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we are dealing with today – from infectious disease to terrorism. We are already beginning to see some of these impacts
Sentence two - [He even blamed the rise of Boko Haram and Syria's civil war on climate change.]

Yea, with that one, the braintrust is stretching the truth so far they're kilo- or perhaps megaparsecs away from reality.  Here's what the president actually said about Boko Haram:
Understand, climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world. Yet what we also know is that severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram. It’s now believed that drought and crop failures and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East. So, increasingly, our military and our combatant commands, our services -- including the Coast Guard -- will need to factor climate change into plans and operations, because you need to be ready. [Emphases added.]
See that?  The president is, more or less, repeating what's already been published by the DOD roadmap (see above).  But if you want to see something more, this is from page 8 of the DOD's 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review:
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. [Emphasis added.]
So not so silly an idea, is it?  And yet the braintrust seems to think that mockery is the best response to the president's assertion.

Sentence three - [Thus, erasing any remaining doubts that this president is the most delusional in our history.]

Given how clearly the DOD (THE DOD!!) describes the "serious threat" of climate change, I'll leave it to you to decide who's being delusional - the president or the editorial board of the Tribune-Review.

May 23, 2015

On Thomas Sowell, Presidnet Obama's and Rhetoric

This week in the Tribune-Review, we found this column by Hoover Institution Senior Fellow, Thomas Sowell.

(I point out Sowell's fellowship at Hoover only because, according to the bridgeproject, just over a quarter of Hoover's foundational support - $12,602,900 out of $49,772,197 - came from Scaife foundations.)

Anyway, in the column that starts like this:
In a recent panel discussion on poverty at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama gave another demonstration of his mastery of rhetoric — and disregard of reality.
Sowell does his own fair share of rhetorical flourishes and disregard of reality. Mostly regarding out of context quotations.

Sowell goes on:
One of the ways of fighting poverty, he proposed, was to “ask from society's lottery winners” that they make a “modest investment” in government programs to help the poor.
And here's the context from which Sowell scooped out his handful of Obama-words:
When I, for example, make an argument about closing the carried interest loophole that exists whereby hedge fund managers are paying 15 percent on the fees and income that they collect, I’ve been called Hitler for doing this, or at least this is like Hitler going into Poland. That’s an actual quote from a hedge fund manager when I made that recommendation. The top 25 hedge fund managers made more than all the kindergarten teachers in the country.

So when I say that, I’m not saying that because I dislike hedge fund managers or I think they’re evil. I’m saying that you’re paying a lower rate than a lot of folks who are making $300,000 a year. You pretty much have more than you’ll ever be able to use and your family will ever be able to use. There’s a fairness issue involved here. And, by the way, if we were able to close that loophole, I can now invest in early childhood education that will make a difference. That’s where the rubber hits the road.

That’s, Arthur, where the question of compassion and “I’m my brother’s keeper” comes into play. And if we can’t ask from society’s lottery winners to just make that modest investment, then, really, this conversation is for show. [Emphasis added.]
Oh, and by the way, the part about Obama as Hitler (or at least "like Hitler going into Poland")? That's true.  Looking at it gives us a better idea of how some on the right use rhetoric to protect their own position.  From Newsweek:
President Obama and the business community have been at odds for months. But in July the chairman and cofounder of the Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms, amped up the rhetoric. Stephen Schwarzman—the leading John McCain supporter in a firm that, in 2008, gave more money to Obama—was addressing board members of a nonprofit organization when he let loose. “It’s a war,” Schwarzman said of the struggle with the administration over increasing taxes on private-equity firms. “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”
Schwarzman’s original beef with Obama grew out of a 2008 campaign promise that “carried interest”—the compensation structure of private-equity-fund managers—would be taxed as ordinary income (35 percent) instead of capital gains (15 percent). Obama and many Democrats have argued that it’s unfair for people like Schwarzman, with a net worth of about $8 billion, to pay taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries and chauffeurs. More substantively, the commissions and fees that hedge-fund managers reap (20 percent of their clients’ profits) are not, strictly speaking, capital gains because the managers themselves never held the stocks.
So that's at the core of Sowell's lottery winners/modest investment/government programs charge.   He obviously doesn't like the idea of taxing the income that hedge fund managers make managing hedge funds (15%, according to Newsweek) at the same rate as everyone else's income is taxed (35%).  The fact that that revenue would benefit early childhood education doesn't seem to enter Sowell's reality.

No.  To Sowell, it's just one more example of government unfairly taking from those who earned it and giving it to those who don't deserve it - all while pushing the notion that it's working in the interest of "tax-fairness."  That's the rhetorical point he's trying to make.  Too bad reality doesn't support his initial positions - as if closing an already unfair loophole that's benefiting extreme wealth, (and in doing so would benefit a huge number of people) is somehow unfair because instead it inconveniences those exceedingly few who are already extremely wealthy.

But Sowell's big out-of-context failure happens later in the column:
When all else fails, redistributionists can say, as Obama did at Georgetown University, that “coldhearted, free-market capitalist types” are people who “pretty much have more than you'll ever be able to use and your family will ever be able to use,” so they should let the government take that extra money to help the poor.
Let's get this all back into context.  Here's what the president actually said:
Part of the reason I thought this venue would be useful and I wanted to have a dialogue with Bob and Arthur is that we have been stuck, I think for a long time, in a debate that creates a couple of straw men. The stereotype is that you’ve got folks on the left who just want to pour more money into social programs, and don't care anything about culture or parenting or family structures, and that's one stereotype. And then you’ve got cold-hearted, free market, capitalist types who are reading Ayn Rand and think everybody are moochers. And I think the truth is more complicated.[Emphasis added.]
See that?  The "coldhearted, free-market capitalist" is one of two straw man stereotypes that the president is arguing against.  Indeed, he says immediately after:
I think that there are those on the conservative spectrum who deeply care about the least of these, deeply care about the poor; exhibit that through their churches, through community groups, through philanthropic efforts, but are suspicious of what government can do. And then there are those on the left who I think are in the trenches every day and see how important parenting is and how important family structures are, and the connective tissue that holds communities together and recognize that that contributes to poverty when those structures fray, but also believe that government and resources can make a difference in creating an environment in which young people can succeed despite great odds.
Huh.  Thomas Sowell disregarded that incredibly obvious point in a piece that charged the president with disregarding reality.

We should expect more from our friends on the right.

May 21, 2015

The Trib, Stephanopoulos, and the Clinton Foundation (oh, and the late Mr. Scaife)

From today's Tribune-Review:

Ah, I've been waiting for this one.

I've been waiting for the day for someone at the Tribune-Review to point an ink-stained finger at the Clinton Foundation and the allegations of influence buying made by Peter Schweizer's anti-Clinton harange, "Clinton Cash."

I'll let another Scaife-funded "news" service explain the right wing outrage:
ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos on Thursday apologized in a statement to Politico's On Media blog for his previously undisclosed donations totaling $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

"I made charitable donations to the Foundation in support of the work they’re doing on global AIDS prevention and deforestation, causes I care about deeply," he said in the statement. "I thought that my contributions were a matter of public record. However, in hindsight, I should have taken the extra step of personally disclosing my donations to my employer and to the viewers on air during the recent news stories about the Foundation. I apologize."

The large donation by Stephanopoulos, who was the communications director for Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign and then was the White House communications director, was revealed a month after he interviewed the author of the book Clinton Cash, which investigated donations made to the Clinton Foundation while Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton was working as secretary of state, on ABC's "This Week."
The point being that Stephanopolus should have let his audience know that he donated 50 large to the Clinton Foundation.

Wanna know who else gave money to the Foundation?

I'll let another Scaife-funded "news" service provide you with some of the details:
Scaife, Ruddy, and Clinton met on July 31, 2007, in the Clinton Foundation's offices in Harlem, after the former president extended an invitation. Scaife later donated more than $100,000 to the foundation.

Clinton said he was amazed that Scaife had decided not only to see him, but took a strong interest in the Clinton Foundation and its work.
Last time I checked $100,000 was twice as large as $50,000.  However, that must've been only the beginning of Scaife's "strong interest" because Politico has reported that Scaife actually donated between $250,000 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

That's between five and ten times larger than the now measly-by-comparison $50 grand Stephanopoulos gave.

So what does this mean for The Trib whenever they report something (anything) regarding the Clinton Foundation?  Will they now report, whenever they mention the Clinton Foundation that the former owner of the paper donated between a quarter and a half million dollars to it?

I mean if Randy Bish can point that out about George Stephanopoulos, why wouldn't they want to be scrupulously honest and tell us about Scaife's Clinton Foundation even larger donations?

May 20, 2015

Who Is Mike Sigov and is he auditioning for Jack Kelly's Post-Gazette job?

Let's start with the first question and I'll leave you to deal with the second amongst yourselves.

So who is he?  At the bottom of a column posted today in the Post-Gazette, we read this:
Mike Sigov, a former Russian journalist, is a U.S. citizen and staff writer for The Blade of Toledo, Ohio ( The Blade and the Post-Gazette are part of the Block NewsAlliance.
So he's at least an employee of the Block family.  If he is next in line for token wingnut columnist at the P-G, at least they already know where to mail the check.

Today at the P-G Sigov's running with this bit of discredited bunk:
Hillary Clinton may have weathered criticism concerning her family’s financing and ethics regarding Russia and uranium, but the worst may be yet to come.
Most voters won’t remember 17 months and two weeks from now that [Clinton] failed to prove that she wasn’t involved in the U.S. government’s approval of the 2010 acquisition of Uranium One by Rosatom, the Russian atomic energy agency, when she was secretary of state. Uranium One controls one-fifth of the U.S. uranium supply.

The problem is that others, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, will.
And that of course will lead to some nasty Putinesque blackmail.

Sigov's source for this story is this:
The story was detailed in an April 24 New York Times article in which Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Ms. Clinton’s presidential campaign, says that no one “has ever produced a shred of evidence supporting the theory that Hillary Clinton ever took action as secretary of state to support the interests of donors to the Clinton Foundation.”
The Times article leads back to the latest bit of right wing Anti-Clinton "research" - Peter Schweizer's "Clinton Cash" - that's already crumbling under considerable media scrutiny.

The one thing, perhaps, you'll notice when you read Fallon's piece (and this is something I presume he is hoping you didn't do) is a sentence Sigov conveniently left out of his P-G piece.  It's this one:
Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown.
This is curious to me as the sentence that Sigov does quote is from the very next paragraph. So he had to read through the first to get to the second.  Tells you most everything about his piece when you realize what he decided to include and what to leave out.

Indeed Newsweek had this to say two and a half weeks ago about the very "deal" that Sigov is asserting could lead to Putin blackmailing Clinton (or Congress impeaching her):
Schweizer’s style is on display in the first press story to emerge from the book. It appeared in The New York Times, which got early access to Clinton Cash and tasked reporters with investigating Schweizer's claims. In the book, Schweizer alleges that Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, approved a deal for Russia's nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, to buy Uranium One, which Giustra controlled after UrAsia merged with Uranium One in 2007. The deal, which, according to the Times "gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States," required State Department sign-off because uranium, used in the construction of nuclear weapons, is considered a strategic resource.

Schweizer writes that Clinton could have "vetoed" the deal, an assertion the candidate's camp rightly denies: At the time, Clinton sat on the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency group, which according to "is required by law to investigate all U.S. transactions that involve a company owned or controlled by a foreign government." While CFIUS did indeed review the Uranium One sale, Clinton did not have "veto" power—any one of the nine voting members of the committee can object to a deal, but the president has final say.

Asked by FactCheck to explain, Schweizer said "he meant that Clinton could have forced the issue to the president’s desk."

But if eight other department and agency officials were OK with the deal—not to mention the president—why the implication that Clinton was somehow bought?
And that's at the core of Putin's supposed blackmail.  But if Clinton wasn't bought, then Sigov's entire thought experiment evaporates entirely.

Doesn't it?

I ask this most every time I look at Jack Kelly's "work" at the P-G.  Will we now have to ask the same question of  Mike Sigov?

Didn't anyone fact-check this?

Considering Newsweek already debunked the story more than two weeks ago (on May 1), I would have to say, No, I guess no one did.

May 14, 2015

Meet The Candidate - Rosemary Crawford

[Third of the Series - still waiting on the other campaigns to respond to my email]

Earlier this week, I had the good fortune to chat with Rosemary Crawford, candidate for Judge for the Court of Common Pleas.

I suspect that as a student Crawford was always (ALWAYS!) well prepared and I say this because as soon as I sat down, she had a pile of stuff for me to peruse; news clippings, a resume, a few proclamations from Pittsburgh City Council and the State Senate praising her work, the ACBA letter letting her know she was rated "Highly Recommended" by the Judiciary Committee - you know the usual stuff from someone really really accomplished.

A Georgetown Law grad with 25 years experience as an attorney, she's currently a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee for the Western District of Pennsylvania.  In doing that job, she says, she's gained some tools that would be very useful for a Judge on the Court of Common Pleas; conflict resolution, for one, also the ability to deal respectfully with people who are at, possibly, the lowest point in their lives - bankruptcy.  She's also got a huge list of organizations endorsing her.

One thing she did say that was highly important to her view that judges should be fair, is cultural competence.  Crawford defined it as knowing that regardless of race income, etc all people are human beings and are the same - but it's also a recognition of the cultural backgrounds of different people.

And for that, it's important for her that for there be diversity on the Court of Common Pleas.  She was disappointed, for example, that the Allegheny Count Democratic Committee failed to endorse anyone who wasn't a straight white male.

To flesh this part out, there were three candidates endorsed by the ACDC:
  • P.J. Murray
  • Dan Regan
  • William F. Caye
And the Allegheny County Bar Association rated five candidates as "Highly Recommended":
  • Rosemary Crawford 
  • Jennifer Staley McCrady
  • Hugh McGough
  • Daniel Regan
  • Richard Schubert
And only one name on both lists.  No room on the ACDC's list for either Highly Recommended woman on the ACBA's list or for the Highly Recommended gay man on the ACBA's list.  This is disgraceful, Crawford said.

For her, it's also a little more personal.  She said that she didn't want to bring race into the issue but that they already are.  When I asked who the "they" was she said that members of the "executive and legislative branches" told her that while they felt that she was the most qualified candidate, they wouldn't support her because, they added, African-Americans don't vote.

She came across in our chat as intensely intelligent and committed to justice.

May 13, 2015

Meet The Candidate - Jennifer Staley McCrady

[Note: This is second in a series of blog posts regarding the candidates running for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.  I've reached out to each campaign (via each campaign's website) and offered the same interview set-up.]

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to chat with Jennifer Staley McCrady, candidate for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas:

Right now, McCrady is the "Supervisor/Program & Policy Coordinator" for KidsVoice, an organization that, according to it's website:
...represents nearly 3,000 children involved in the child-welfare system in Allegheny County’s Juvenile Court.
Child advocacy at KidsVoice goes beyond the traditional child welfare and juvenile court arenas. Our staff advocate for clients in educational, medical, mental health and social security matters as well as providing representation for minor criminal citations and for expungement of delinquency records. We also assist our older clients as they pursue college or vocational training opportunities and transition to living independently.
And in Fall 2013, the Pennsylvania Bar Association Children’s Rights Committee named her "Child Advocate of the Year" for 2013, writing:
McCrady is described as a prime mover-and-shaper of most of the ground-breaking KidsVoice initiatives. Many of the initiatives include a significant focus and provision of specialty advocacy to older youths, a focus on the needs of the medically fragile youths, representation of dually adjudicated youths and a focus on educational quality and stability for youths in a residential setting.
And she is among those named "highly recommended" by the Judicial Excellence Committee of the Allegheny County Bar Association.

In our interview, she came across as solidly knowledgeable and completely committed to being an advocate for kids - something she said she's always wanted to be and something she's done for more than a decade.  And in doing that job, she's become well-versed in the workings of the Family Division of the Court of Common Pleas - where new judges are typically assigned.

She's also been endorsed by the P-G and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, the latter saying:
Jennifer Staley McCrady’s passion for protecting children is undeniable. She has dedicated her career to advocating for children both inside and outside the courtroom. Jennifer Staley McCrady understands that the court plays an important role in identifying and remedying the underlying issues that often accompany the delinquency and truancy offenses that disrupt learning in our schools.

May 12, 2015

Prosecute The Torture, Mr President.

From the Huffingtonpost:
The Obama administration is facing renewed pressure to answer for its track record on torture after the relative calm that followed the release of the Senate torture report’s damning executive summary in December.

In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch Friday, human rights group Amnesty International pressed the Justice Department to revisit its decision not to prosecute former officials from the CIA and the George W. Bush administration for their involvement in the agency’s post-9/11 torture program. The new evidence from the report prepared by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence merits another look, says Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, in the letter.
As the NYTimes pointed out last December:
The long-delayed report delivers a withering judgment on one of the most controversial tactics of a twilight war waged over a dozen years. The Senate committee’s investigation, born of what its chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, said was a need to reckon with the excesses of this war, found that C.I.A. officials routinely misled the White House and Congress about the information it obtained, and failed to provide basic oversight of the secret prisons it established around the world.

In exhaustive detail, the report gives a macabre accounting of some of the grisliest techniques that the C.I.A. used to torture and imprison terrorism suspects. Detainees were deprived of sleep for as long as a week, and were sometimes told that they would be killed while in American custody. With the approval of the C.I.A.'s medical staff, some prisoners were subjected to medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” — a technique that the C.I.A.'s chief of interrogations described as a way to exert “total control over the detainee.” C.I.A. medical staff members described the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, as a “series of near drownings.”

The report also suggests that more prisoners were subjected to waterboarding than the three the C.I.A. has acknowledged in the past. The committee obtained a photograph of a waterboard surrounded by buckets of water at the prison in Afghanistan commonly known as the Salt Pit, a facility where the C.I.A. had claimed that waterboarding was never used. One clandestine officer described the prison as a “dungeon,” and another said that some prisoners there “literally looked like a dog that had been kenneled.”
The torture happened and it was illegal.

And here's another problem as described by Amnesty International in that letter:
In April 2009, President Obama wrote to CIA employees to assure them that anyone who followed Department of Justice advice in using “enhanced” interrogation techniques would not face prosecution. Attorney General Holder subsequently gave assurances that: “the Department of Justice will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and withi n the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees.”

In Amnesty International’s view, the USA is granting what amounts to a de facto amnesty for crimes under international law and has effectively engaged in an executive encroachment on judicial power. This arrogation of judicial function can be seen as a continuation of the Bush administration’s deliberate and calculated removal of the judiciary from any oversight over the secret detentions in que stion. During the course of these detentions multiple crimes under international law were committed, crimes which the Obama administration continues to insulate from judicial determination of individual criminal responsibility.

Granting immunity for crimes under international law, or introducing any other measure that prevents the emergence of truth, a final judicial determination of guilt or innocence before an ordinary civilian court and full reparation for victims, by design or effect, by legislation or by executive policy, violates international law. An amnesty for torture would violate express provisions of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and an amnesty for enforced disappearances would be incompatible with that treaty and others such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Hardly surprising but not only was the torture illegal but covering up for the torturers is also illegal.

Prosecute the torture.

May 10, 2015

The Tribune-Review Editorial Board Misleads On Climate Change. Yet again.

Recently NOAA posted this:
The average temperature across global land and ocean surface temperatures combined for March 2015 was 0.85°C (1.53°F) higher than the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F). This marks the highest March temperature in the 136-year period of record, surpassing the previous record of 2010 by 0.05°C (0.09°F).
So, of course, the brain trust publishes this (not understanding what exactly it is they're reading):
Chicken Little climate cluckers issue one failed doomsday prediction after another. Think of, eight years ago, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declaring that “as little as eight years were left to avoid” global-warming catastrophe.
Their mistake (intentional or not) is subtle but still very telling.  Look at what they want you to think.  They want you to think that the IPCC declared eight years ago a "global-warming catastrophe" would occur within eight years (meaning "by now").  Since this "doomsday prediction" hasn't happened, they must be reasoning, the climate cluckers must've been wrong.

But let's look at exactly what was being reported in 2007.  From The Guardian:
Yesterday's report follows two studies by the IPCC this year, which said unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions could drive global temperatures up as much as 6C by 2100, triggering a surge in ocean levels, destruction of vast numbers of species, economic devastation in tropical zones and mass human migrations.

The report said global emissions must peak by 2015 for the world to have any chance of limiting the expected temperature rise to 2C, which would still leave billions of people short of water by 2050.
But that's just the reporting on the report. What did the IPCC actually report in 2007.

I direct your attention to page 15 to Section D:

Mitigation in the long term (after 2030) [Bolding in original]

Subsection 18:
In order to stabilize the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere, emissions would need to peak and decline thereafter. The lower the stabilization level, the more quickly this peak and decline would need to occur. Mitigation efforts over the next two to three decades will have a large impact on opportunities to achieve lower stabilization levels (see Table SPM.5, and Figure SPM. 8) (high agreement, much evidence). [Bolding and Italics in original]
 And then there's Table SPM-5 (for size purposes, I'll only post the relevant part):

By the way, the average CO2 concentration worldwide is now above 400.

I see you shiver with anticipation over what this all means.

It means that the IPCC did not predict that the "global warming catastrophe" they were warning us 8 years ago (the one that would would be mitigated quickest if the CO2 levels peaked within 8 years) would be taking place now.  If the braintrust actually did any research they'd see that that information was found in a section talking about the long term.

They make the same mistake with their next "example":
Alarmists' proclamations of a “tipping point” beyond which disaster can't be prevented go back to a senior U.N. environmental official's 1989 call to keep rising sea levels from wiping out nations by 2000. And The Daily Caller cites similarly off-base statements.
And this is what was actually reported in 1989:
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.
I know that reading carefully might not be among the skill set of our friends on the Trib braintrust, but take a close look at that sentence.  It's a rather simple "if/then" statement.  I'll map it out for you:
  • IF the...trend isn't reversed by...2000
  • THEN entire nations could be wiped off...the Earth.
See how that works?  See how the original quotation is not about "rising sea levels...wiping out nations by 2000"?

They're misleading you.  Yet again.

May 9, 2015

Meet The Candidate - Hugh McGough

A few weeks ago I stumbled across this campaign ad:

It's caused something of a buzz statewide - take a look at this from PoliticsPA:
Judge Hugh McGough, who has already received the endorsements of Allegheny Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, released a video today in which Mayor Peduto actually raises his voice for McGough.

The ad, which draws similarities to a Chevy Chase SNL skit from the 1970s, features Peduto repeating McGough’s talking points by shouting into the camera with his hands cupped around his mouth.

McGough tells viewers that, “…it’s hard to get voters’ attention when you are running for judge. Mayor Peduto is helping me out.”
Let's flesh out some of those talking points.

On the "highest possible rating from the Bar Association."  The Judicial Excellence Committee of the Allegheny County Bar Association, rated McGough as "Highly Recommended" and they define "Highly Recommended" this way:
The candidate:

a. Exhibits pre-eminence in the law by way of outstanding legal ability and a wide range of experience, either in a specialized field of law or a more varied practice, and has a reputation in the legal community as standing at the top of his or her profession.
b. Possesses a reputation for the utmost integrity and temperament to excel as a judge of the court for which he or she is a candidate.
c. Exhibits outstanding citizenship by way of community and professional contributions
d. Is an exceptional individual who will enhance or has enhanced the competence, dignity and public perception of the bench.
On being named a "Legal Champion."  At a program titled "The Pathway to a More Inclusive Bench" and sponsored by the Pennsylvania Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness, ACBA Diversity Collaborative Committee, in conjunction with the Women in Law Division, the Homer S. Brown Division, and Young Lawyers Division, and the diverse affinity committees, McGough (and three other judges") were named "Legal Champions" for
...their work in paving the way to a more inclusive bench through their advocacy on behalf of and mentoring of historically underrepresented attorneys.
On being named an asset for families.  This comes from McGough's endorsement from the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers:
“As a teacher at Allderdice High School, I have seen the positive effects Magisterial District Judge Hugh McGough has had on our students. He takes the time to understand what is really going on with the student and his or her home life and makes decisions accordingly. Hugh McGough holds children accountable for their actions, but gives them the opportunity to learn and grow from their mistakes,” said PFT 400 Political Action Committee Vice Chair Saul Straussman. “Hugh McGough will be a real asset to our children and families on the Court of Common Pleas.”
I had the good fortune to sit down with the candidate a few days ago.  (For the sake of full disclosure, I went to grad school two decades ago with Hugh's husband, Kris.)  And in conversation, McGough comes across as a thoroughly knowledgeable and compassionate Judge who's interested in justice and fairness, taking the time to describe the job he does (District Magistrate), the job for which he's campaigning, and how the experience from the first would help him with the second.

We spent a good deal of our conversation discussing his time dealing with truancy cases and how that's given him experience with families in crisis.  In this setting, he said, "truancy" does not mean "kids playing hookie to go fishing."  It's a sign of something gone wrong far deeper, problems intermixed with some large scale social problems, for example poverty.  What does it mean for a family living in poverty if, at the end of the process, the full punishment for truancy is a $300 fine?

That's not a simple question so its answer isn't simple either.

The ad should be running now in the local Pittsburgh market. [Peduto (with his hands cupped around his mouth): THE AD SHOULD BE RUNNING NOW IN THE PITTSBURGH MARKET!!]

May 7, 2015

An Interview With Christina Hoff Sommers

This week, I had the good fortune to interview, by phone, Christina Hoff Sommers (and yes, that's her AEI webpage).

If you were to ask why you should continue reading this blog post, considering the political slant of AEI and the political slant of this blog, all I could off you as a response would be this quote from Bertrand Russell:
A good way of ridding yourself of certain kinds of dogmatism is to become aware of opinions held in social circles different from your own. When I was young, I lived much outside my own country in France, Germany, Italy, and the United States. I found this very profitable in diminishing the intensity of insular prejudice. If you cannot travel, seek out people with whom you disagree, and read a newspaper belonging to a party that is not yours.
Hearing differing opinions can only lead you to having a "Yes, but..." moment or two in dealing with them - and possibly your own.

Remember, every intellectual statement is a "Yes, but..." statement.

Let's start with a couple of direct quotations from Professor Sommers:
  • Rape crimes are horrific and they do happen on campus.
  • A feminist is someone who wants for women what they want for everyone - fair treatment.
Keep those in mind as you continue reading.

So what's been happening with Professor Sommers these days?  In mid-April, she lectured at Georgetown and Oberlin on feminism and things did not go well.

An editorial from the The Hoya:
The Georgetown University College Republicans hosted Christina Hoff Sommers, an author and philosophy professor known for her criticism of contemporary feminism and her disavowal of a so-called “rape myth,” last week.

By giving Sommers a platform, GUCR has knowingly endorsed a harmful conversation on the serious topic of sexual assault.

Giving voice to someone who argues that statistics on sexual assault exaggerate the problem and condemns reputable studies for engaging in “statistical hijinks” serves only to trigger obstructive dialogue and impede the progress of the university’s commitment to providing increased resources to survivors.

It is necessary and valuable to promote the free expression of a plurality of views, but this back-and-forth about whether or not certain statistics are valid is not the conversation that students should be having.
From a letter written to the Oberlin Review prior to the lecture:
The Oberlin College Republicans and Libertarians are bringing Christina Hoff Sommers to speak on Monday, April 20. This Monday happens to be a part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which makes the timing of this talk particularly objectionable. Though OCRL advertised Christina Hoff Sommers as a feminist with a “perspective that differs from the general Oberlin population,” they failed to mention that she is a rape denialist. A rape denialist is someone who denies the prevalence of rape and denies known causes of it. Christina Hoff Sommers believes that rape occurs less often than statistics (those which actually leave out a plethora of unreported rapes) suggest.
By denying rape culture, she’s creating exactly the cycle of victim/survivor blame, where victims are responsible for the violence that was forced upon them and the subsequent shame that occurs when survivors share their stories, whose existence she denies. This is how rape culture flourishes. By bringing her to a college campus laden with trauma and sexualized violence and full of victims/survivors, OCRL is choosing to reinforce this climate of denial/blame/shame that ultimately has real life consequences on the well-being of people who have experienced sexualized violence. We could spend all of our time and energy explaining all of the ways she’s harmful. But why should we?
By the way, each venue had a separate space set aside for those individuals who, upon hearing the lecture, needed some place to feel safe - though at Oberlin, it was Professor Sommers who was granted the police escort.

So which is it?  Is she some sort of anti-feminist who denies rape culture or not?

It all depends, of course, on your definitions.  Only if someone can show some disconnect between Sommers' definition of "feminist" and her own actions, that first part is clearly wrong.  The only way it could be wrong would be if there's another distinct definition of "feminist" out there.  But if that's the case then what is it and who decides which definition is more valid?  Or at the very least why it would be more valid than "A feminist is someone who wants for women what they want for everyone - fair treatment"?

As I see it, as there's no reason to disagree with Sommers' definition, the charge that she's an anti-feminist is clearly wrong.

As for "denying rape culture" the entire argument has to rest on the extent of rape on campus.  Note that no one is saying that there's no rape on campus - the disagreement here is to the extent of the problem.  Sommers does not deny that rape occurs or that it's anything other than "horrific." 

In describing the extent of the problem, she says one thing and her accusers say something different.  Who's closer to being right?  The Hoya editorialist is exactly wrong in writing that:
...this back-and-forth about whether or not certain statistics are valid is not the conversation that students should be having.
No. That's exactly the conversation students should be having.  Which statistics are more valid?  If public policy is to be guided by statistics, let it be guided by as clear a statistical picture of the problem as possible.  Just as no one would want to minimize as serious an issue as campus rape, no one should want to inflate it, either.

For her part Professor Sommers is on record about for instance the statistic that asserts that 1-in-5 college women will be sexually assaulted:
The one-in-five figure is based on the Campus Sexual Assault Study, commissioned by the National Institute of Justice and conducted from 2005 to 2007. Two prominent criminologists, Northeastern University’s James Alan Fox and Mount Holyoke College’s Richard Moran, have noted its weaknesses:

“The estimated 19% sexual assault rate among college women is based on a survey at two large four-year universities, which might not accurately reflect our nation’s colleges overall. In addition, the survey had a large non-response rate, with the clear possibility that those who had been victimized were more apt to have completed the questionnaire, resulting in an inflated prevalence figure.”

Fox and Moran also point out that the study used an overly broad definition of sexual assault. Respondents were counted as sexual assault victims if they had been subject to “attempted forced kissing” or engaged in intimate encounters while intoxicated.

Defenders of the one-in-five figure will reply that the finding has been replicated by other studies. But these studies suffer from some or all of the same flaws. Campus sexual assault is a serious problem and will not be solved by statistical hijinks.
On the other hand she's also pointed towards this document coming out of the DOJ's Bureau of Justice Statistics and she's said:
The 1-in-5 claim is based on a 2007 internet survey with vaguely worded questions, a low response rate, and a non-representative sample. Other studies with similar findings have used the same faulty methods. But the real number, according to the BJS, is 1 in 53; too many, but a long way from one in five. Does that mean that sexual assault is not a problem on campus? Of course not. Too many college women are victimized, and too often they suffer in silence. But it is not an epidemic and it is not a culture. Exaggeration and hysteria shed no light and produce no solutions, and actually diminish the real problem
She gets her 1 in 53 number this way.  From Appendix 1 of the report, she's taken the estimated rates of rape and sexual assault (per thousand ) of college women aged 18-25 from 4 recent years:
  • 2010 (4.1)
  • 2011 (4.6)
  • 2012 (5.9)
  • 2013 (4.4)
And averaged them to 4.5 per thousand or 1 in every 210.5.  Then by applying that to 4 years (where it becomes 4 out of every 210.5) she comes up with 52.6 which she then rounds up to 53.

So there's a flawed limited study on the one hand and DOJ statistics on the other.  Which is more valid?   This is hardly a harmful conversation to have.  This is hardly rape denialism, either.

Nor is it anywhere near where this protest poster was pointing:

(Note: OCRL is the "Oberlin College Republicans and Libertarians" - the organization that hosted Sommers at Oberlin.)

A university education is supposed to be a challenge.  It's supposed to include exposure to ideas you might not like.  It's supposed to be a little bit scary that way.

From what I could tell, Professor Sommers' protestors have a vastly different definition of what constitutes a university education.

May 3, 2015

The Tribune-Review Editorial Board Misleads The Public. Again.

Take a look at the important part of this editorial:
Egged on by the eco-wackos and those self-anointed hipsters, the health department, claiming pollution problems that don't appear to exist, wants McConway & Torley to cut production by 77 percent. [Italics in Original.]
If we take a look at the Trib's own reporting of the story, we'll get a much better idea of what's going on:
A steel foundry that employs hundreds in Lawrenceville is under fire from some in the neighborhood it's called home for nearly 150 years.

Residents, neighborhood groups and environmental activists want McConway & Torley LLC to cut the pollution, truck traffic and noise coming from its 48th Street foundry and support an Allegheny County Health Department permit that could reduce its steel production by 77 percent.
As well as the P-G's slightly different take on this:
McConway & Torley Foundry, the last steelmaking plant in Pittsburgh, may soon be forced to significantly reduce production and lay off some of its more than 400 employees under a proposed Allegheny County Health Department operating permit that limits hazardous emissions to protect public health.
From April 2011 through 2014, fence line monitors measured manganese levels that averaged 50 percent higher than federal health limits allow.

The draft permit would limit production to reduce high levels of airborne particles and volatile organic compounds, including benzene, a carcinogen, and manganese, a neurotoxin that can cause impaired motor skills and cognitive disorders. The Health Department, which has received air pollution complaints from residents of the area, proposed the limitations after discovering that the foundry had underestimated its emissions and the effectiveness of controlling them within the plant.
But wait, didn't the braintrust say that the health department was claiming, "pollution problems that don't appear to exist"?

So what about that manganese?  What about how the foundry underestimated its emissions?

So what does that draft permit say?

From the document we learn that:
  • Installation Permit Application (IP7) to reactivate an old EAF [Electric Arc Furnace] was received in 2008 with a maximum production potential of 116,800 tons/year of steel.
  • IP7 was issued on 1/21/2011. The facility was now permitted for two (2) EAFs with a combined production limit of 92,500 ton/yr steel.
  • A stack test on EAF 2 (IP7) was performed in July 2012. The facility exceeded numerous parameters including, but not limited to, PM10 [particulate matter less than 10 microns] (filterable + condensable), baghouse performance efficiency, CO [Carbon Monoxide] & VOC [Volatile Organic Compounds]. 
Since the meeting with McConway & Torley on November 7, 2013, the Department has performed a review of the above information along with a review of other air permits for steel foundries across the country. Additionally, the Department no longer accepts unsubstantiated claims of particulate control from buildings (the Department does not consider building structures to be a control device). These changes, discussed in detail below, result in maximum potential emission estimates at McConway & Torley that exceed major source thresholds for particulate matter less than 10 microns (PM10) , particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions at the throughput levels of McConway & Torley’s Operating Permit Application. [Emphasis added.]
Let's look at that "particulate control from buildings" part.  A few paragraphs later the permit reads:
The Department has historically allowed fugitive emissions released inside of a building to have a certain level of control ascribed to them for purposes of emissions inventory and permitting. Upon review of this procedure, it was found to have no technical basis to reference and was incongruent with policies and procedures of other air agencies, including, but not limited to, the PADEP, Ohio EPA and Oregon DEQ. The Department no longer allows for the use of buildings as a control device for particulate matter in Allegheny County unless the reduction is physically measurable. [Emphasis added.]
This part is actually referenced in the Trib's own reporting of the permit:
Changes in the estimates of how much pollution the foundry's building captures led the department to propose lower production levels, said Jim Thompson, deputy director of environmental quality at the Health Department.
Back to the permit:
McConway & Torley submitted a revised facility-wide potential emissions estimate to the Department on 12/18/2014. McConway & Torley calculated their PM10 potential to emit as being 93.89 ton/year for melting 92,500 ton of steel and using 730,000 tons/year of sand. This estimate used a 50% building control throughout the facility for fugitive PM10, a 60% reduction on the AP-42 emission factors for pouring and cooling PM10 emissions, incorrect emission factors for EAF #1 and EAF #2, and did not use the emission factors derived from the 2008 and 2009 stack test for bagshouse nos. 5 and 8 to estimate those potential emissions. The Department revised the McConway & Torley submittal to reflect those changes and calculated a potential that exceeds 100 tons/year of PM10. McConway & Torley’s usage of buildings as a control device, the 60% reduction in AP-42 emission factors for pouring and cooling, exclusion of permitted emission limits for EAF #1 and EAF #2, and their exclusion of emission factors derived from stack tests for baghouses nos. 5 and 8 (requested multiple times by ACHD) eliminates an additional 262 tons/year of potential PM10 emissions from their estimate. [Emphasis added.]
Remember according to the ACHD, buildings themselves were no longer considered to be "a control device."

More importantly, after reading all that, go back and take a look at how the Tribune-Review characterized what's going on in Lawrenceville.  To read it with only your right eye, you'd think that the heavily-bearded, multiply-tattooed hipsters snapped their tree-hugging fingers and Health Department said, "Um, ok.  We'll change the permit fer y'inz and destroy a business you don't like."

When the reality of the situation is far more complicated.  The braintrust is handing you an incomplete version of events in giving you its collective opinion.  And yet again, the Tribune-Review editorial board owes it to its readership to get the facts (at least most of them) right.

But that's probably too much to ask.

May 1, 2015

Still waiting...

Still waiting for a "Six Thugs Charged in Death of Freddie Gray" headline...

Not holding my breathe.