Democracy Has Prevailed.

September 29, 2015

I Stand with Planned Parenthood #StandwithPP

Today is "Pink Out Day." People around the country--including Pittsburgh*--are rallying in support of Planned Parenthood as once again, congressional Republicans (and Republican presidential candidates) continue their relentless attacks on reproductive health care. They do this even to the point of threatening to shut down the government, despite the fact that government funds do not go to paying for abortions.

One in five American women have received care at a Planned Parenthood health center. And in 2013, Planned Parenthood served 2.7 million women, men, and young people. Maybe that's why USA Today found that Americans back government support for the group by more than 2-1.

If you're not already at a rally, you can still participate:

  • Wear pink to show your support for women's health and for Planned Parenthood, and make sure your friends know why. 
  • Share a #PinkOut selfie to #StandwithPP on social media.
  • Pink Out your Facebook and/or Twitter profile image.
  • Let them know that we're sick of this bullshit.

    * Thank you  Lynn Cullen, and City Councilman Dan Gilman!

    The Best The GOP Can Do? The Best The GOP Can Do.

    The Donald, a birther:
    Billionaire landlord, hotel magnate, television star and self-described Tea Partier Donald Trump is turning up the heat on President Barack Obama, insisting that after three weeks of probing the question, he is now more convinced than ever that the president has failed to prove he is a citizen of the United States.

    “Three weeks ago when I started, I thought he was probably born in this country,” Trump, who is very publicly mulling his own run for the Republican nomination for president in 2012, told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira. “Right now, I have some real doubts.”
    The Neurosurgeon, a creationist:
    In a “Faith & Liberty” interview posted last week, potential GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson discussed his rejection of the theory of evolution, arguing that the science of evolution is a sign of humankind’s arrogance and belief “that they are so smart that if they can’t explain how God did something, then it didn’t happen, which of course means that they’re God. You don’t need a God if you consider yourself capable of explaining everything.”

    He claimed that “no one has the knowledge” of the age of the earth “based on the Bible,” adding that “carbon dating and all of these things really don’t mean anything to a God who has the ability to create anything at any point in time.”

    Carson pointed to the “complexity of the human brain” as proof that evolution is a myth: “Somebody says that came from a slime pit full of promiscuous biochemicals? I don’t think so.”

    He said evolution is unable to explain the development of an eyeball: “Give me a break. According to their scheme, it had to occur over night, it had to be there. I instead say, if you have an intelligent creator, what he does is give his creatures the ability to adapt to the environment so he doesn’t have to start over every fifty years creating all over again.”
    Let me just say that no Darwinian ever postulated that the eyeball evolved "over night" and that it shows his vast ignorance of science to say so.  Also, let me ask this: why would an intelligent designer need to design in "his creatures" the ability to adapt?  Adapt to what?  A changing environment?  Didn't the intelligent designer design that, too?

    And finally, the tech-exec, a liar:
    Republican presidential contender Carly Fiorina has fiercely defended her claim during the GOP debate last week that undercover Planned Parenthood video footage shows a “fully formed fetus” alive on a table as “someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

    Fiorina again refused to back away from these comments during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” after host Chris Wallace said that her call for the defunding of Planned Parenthood was her “biggest moment of the debate,” but questioned the accuracy of her statements.

    “Do you acknowledge what every fact-checker has found that as horrific as that scene is, it was only described on the video by someone who claimed to have seen it?” he said. “There is no actual footage of the incident that you just mentioned.”

    But Fiorina wasn’t willing to agree with this sentiment.

    “No, I don’t accept that at all. I’ve seen the footage,” she responded. “I find it amazing, actually, that all these supposed fact-checkers in the mainstream media claim this doesn’t exist. They’re trying to attack the authenticity of the video tape.”
    The video that doesn't exist.

    This is the best the GOP can do right now?  This?

    Yes, sadly.  This is the best the GOP can do right now; a birther, a creationist and a liar.

    September 25, 2015

    The Company Metcalfe Keeps, Part II

    Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl "I Don't Speak Mexican" Metcalfe (R-Pennsyltucky) is more 'Merican than you or I could ever hope to be! The man sweats red, white & blue! He's always busy keeping 'Merica for 'Mericans! His latest efforts occurred on Monday when according to Eat That, Read This (#275):
    • Distended scumtroll Republican State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, chairman of the House State Government Committee, denied colleague Rep. Leslie Acosta, "herself an immigrant and the state's only Latina legislator," her allotted speaking time as she "attempted to lay out her argument" against the shiteous English-only bill, interrupting her and then cutting off her microphone. Metcalfe, who is a white, straight, Christian human-shaped agglomeration of dog shit animatronically operated by a groundhog, used the same tactic against another minority colleague in 2013, when Gay Fantasy Boyfriend™ State Rep. Brian Sims attempted to speak "about the Supreme Court's gay marriage rulings," informing us that "his religious views against gay marriage compelled him to do it." Fuck Daryl Metcalfe.
    But, True Patriot Metcalfe is even more 'Merican than stopping Latinas from speaking. According to Talking Points Memo, Metcalfe invited a white supremacist white nationalist to be a witness for his bill on Monday:
    A Pennsylvania lawmaker objected to accusations that he had invited a white supremacist to testify in front of a committee by clarifying that the witness was merely a white nationalist. 
    The witness, Robert "Bob" Vandervoort, appeared at a hearing Monday on a bill to make English the official state language, the Patriot-News reported, prompting state Rep. Leslie Acosta (D) to allege that the committee had invited a white supremacist. 
    The Southern Poverty Law Center has described Vandervoort as being tied "to white nationalist groups." But, as the Patriot-News noted, the center characterizes white nationalist groups as espousing "white supremacist or white separatist ideologies." 
    Metcalfe also said, "For whoever said the man was white to begin with, that person was actually the racist -- tying his skin color to his patriotism and what he stands up for for his country."
    Yes, you say "to-may-toe" and I say "to-mah-toe" and Metcalfe says pointing out racism is racist!

    And why is this post titled "Part II"? Because when Metcalfe is not busy inviting white supremacists white nationalists to speak (and shutting up Latinas and Gays), he is cavorting with people who call for elected Democrats to swing from ropes.

    In 2010, he invited Jeff Lewis, national director, Federal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Coalition (FIRE), to stand with him at a press conference to promote PA House Bill 2479 which patterned itself after Arizona's controversial "Papers, Please" legislation. Here's the type of thing that Lewis writes:
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and other Members of Congress ignore the Constitution on a daily basis, and knowingly give support and comfort to special interest groups, foreign governments and the illegal alien insurgents they encourage to invade the United States, and betray everything their oath of office represents. Ask your governor, your federal and state judges why these traitors aren’t swinging from a rope? [Emphasis added]
    God Bless 'Merica! God Bless Pennsyltucky! And God Bless Daryl Metcalfe!

    September 23, 2015

    RICO, Climate Science, The Tribune-Review and A Whole Buncha Scaife Money

    I'm not sure the Tribune-Review editorial board sees how much they're involved in this story.

    Or perhaps they do and they're on defense - while hoping no one would notice that they are.

    Today they began with:
    Climate alarmists have reached a new and troubling low. They're calling for those who audaciously question the hardly “settled science” of global warming to be prosecuted as racketeers.

    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., suggests that the federal government treat climate skeptics as it did Big Tobacco — by filing civil litigation under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. And four gaggle of self-anointed leading climate squawkers signed a Sept. 1 letter to President Obama to that end.
    Ok, here's what Senator Whitehouse actually said:
    The Big Tobacco playbook looked something like this: (1) pay scientists to produce studies defending your product; (2) develop an intricate web of PR experts and front groups to spread doubt about the real science; (3) relentlessly attack your opponents.

    Thankfully, the government had a playbook, too: the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. In 1999, the Justice Department filed a civil RICO lawsuit against the major tobacco companies and their associated industry groups, alleging that the companies “engaged in and executed — and continue to engage in and execute — a massive 50-year scheme to defraud the public, including consumers of cigarettes, in violation of RICO.”

    Tobacco spent millions of dollars and years of litigation fighting the government. But finally, through the discovery process, government lawyers were able to peel back the layers of deceit and denial and see what the tobacco companies really knew all along about cigarettes.

    In 2006, Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decided that the tobacco companies’ fraudulent campaign amounted to a racketeering enterprise. According to the court: “Defendants coordinated significant aspects of their public relations, scientific, legal, and marketing activity in furtherance of a shared objective — to . . . maximize industry profits by preserving and expanding the market for cigarettes through a scheme to deceive the public.”
    Sound familiar? That's the point the senator was making.

    Where it gets RICO-scare for the braintrust comes when Whitehouse references this study, by Drexel University professor Robert Brulle.  Here's what the press release from Drexel had to say about the study.  One of the key findings included this:
    Conservative foundations have bank-rolled denial. The largest and most consistent funders of organizations orchestrating climate change denial are a number of well-known conservative foundations, such as the Searle Freedom Trust, the John William Pope Foundation, the Howard Charitable Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation. These foundations promote ultra-free-market ideas in many realms. [Bolding in Original.]
    See that?  Until his death, Richard Mellon Scaife both controlled the Sarah Scaife Foundation AND owned the Tribune-Review.

    If there's any RICO investigation, it will inevitably lead to money granted by Scaife.  Shouldn't that have been part of the editorial?

    Then there's this:
    The efforts to silence debate are Orwellian and self-serving. Climate Depot says the lead signer of that Sept. 1 letter and his wife received $1.5 million in government grants from 2012 to 2014.
    Climate Depot is a project of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (even says so on their website).

    Guess who gave $2.3 million to the Committee?

    Richard Mellon Scaife, by way of the Carthage and Sara Scaife Foundation.

    Last time I checked, $2.3 million was more than $1.5.

    Shouldn't THAT have been mentioned to the Trib-reading public?  Shouldn't it have been, at the very least, hinted at that the media structure criticized by Senator Whitehouse included the one-time owner of the very paper that's criticizing Whitehouse for that criticism?

    September 21, 2015

    Another Jack Kelly Slavery Column Follow-Up

    Sometime ago a letter writer from Squirrel Hill complained on the Post-Gazette's letters page about a column he read recently about slavery.  (It was written by Jack Kelly, doncha know.)  Our letter writer had a few issues with Jack's collection of "facts."  Here's one:
    Slavs were not the people most frequently enslaved by the ancient Romans. Hence the Roman word for slave was "servus" not "slav." "Slav" became synonymous with "slave" almost 1,000 years after the Germanic tribes sacked Rome. Moreover, those Slavs who did become slaves around 1300-1500 were not Catholic Poles, but Eastern Orthodox Bulgarians and Russians (among many other ethnic groups from the Balkans to the Caucasus).
    And another:
    Kelly's reference to the Arab slave trade is less inaccurate, but no less irrelevant. Yes, about 11 million sub-Saharan people were transported by the Arab slave trade in the thousand years before 1900, and about 12 million were shipped across the Atlantic by the Europeans in the 400 years before 1860. The relative size of groups has no bearing on claims being made for descendants of African slaves within the United States.
    And yet another:
    Finally, Kelly's double-standard undercuts his own basic point: "No American living today was either a master or a slave," therefore why should one accept guilt by inheritance? Only liberals, Mr. Kelly insists, "love to apologize for everyone's sins but their own."
    The letter writer was Seymore Drescher, history professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

    He also wrote it in August of 2000.

    That's right.  August of 2000.

    You see, Jack's column from a week or so ago was not his first foray into slavery revisionism.  He wrote another one almost like it 15 years ago.  And while I can't find it at the P-G website, luckily Jack's columns are also published at the Toledo Blade.  And the column, in all it's glory, can be found there.

    Here's how he started back then:
    This talk of reparations for slavery excites me. I had, according to family lore, only one ancestor in this country at the time of the Civil War. He was a soldier in the Union Army. Since blacks were freed not by act of God, but by the bullets and bayonets of men like my great-great grandfather, I figure it's about time Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton wrote me a check.
    Wow.  Not sure what to say about that.  So I'll let it the awkward settle in and then move on.

    Let's compare and contrast.  Here's Jack from last week:
    Slavery isn’t America’s original sin because it was unique, or uniquely horrible here. If prostitution is “the world’s oldest profession,” slave trading is second. Since the dawn of recorded history, slavery has been practiced in nearly every society known to man.
    And Jack from 2000:
    But to the extent American blacks believe slavery was a horror uniquely visited upon them, they are mistaken. Slavery has existed in every culture known to man, ancient and modern. The word slave comes from Slav, the peoples most frequently enslaved during Roman times.
    So I guess Jack didn't concern himself with Professor Drescher's corrections.  Oh well.  He rarely concerns himself with mine.

    I gotta ask: Did he research the column again or just use his earlier column for research?  How much of this is a rewrite and how much a regurgitation?  Inquiring minds want to know.

    In any case, wanna know how long ago was August of 2000?
    • Bill Clinton was still president
    • Hillary Clinton had yet to be elected to the Senate
    • Monica and Chandler were still nine months away from getting married.
    That's a long time, Jack.  Did you think no one would find your earlier column? 

    (I only found it with a lot of help.  Mega hat tips to Ed Heath who was at John McIntire's comedy show where he heard the P-G's John Allison talk about Jack's slavery column from 2000.)

    September 20, 2015

    The Tribune-Review Editorial Board Flubs Its Climate Research. Again.

    From today's Trib:
    "Global warming” is getting so bad that weather forecasters say Great Britain is facing its most savage winter in 50 years, reports the Daily Express. Months of heavy snow and bitter Arctic winds are “set to bring the country to a total standstill,” the newspaper says. And the mayhem could strike as soon as next month. Historically low solar activity is blamed. Cold facts are a stubborn thing for climate alarmists. [Bolding in Original]
    Setting aside the fact that localized weather patterns (in this case winter in the UK) doesn't have much to do with overall global climate trends, let's take a closer look at the weather situation being described here.  As the braintrust utterly fails to offer up any sort of factual data to support the prediction of a cold colder winter in the UK, where can we go get it?

    Perhaps maybe we should look at the Daily Express reporting the braintrust quotes.  Is it there?

    Indeed it is:
    Scientists say part of the problem could be due to the melting Greenland ice cap allowing huge volumes of fresh water to flood into the North Atlantic.

    Fresh water floats on top of the ocean saltwater hindering the normal currents which are driven by a constant sinking of cold water to the ocean bed.

    This has slowed down the pace at which the Gulf Stream channels warm water from the Caribbean, up the coast of the US, and to north Europe.

    Professor Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said it has slowed by between 15 and 20 per cent.

    This has resulted in cooling equivalent to switching off a million power stations with possible catastrophic effects this winter.
    Huh - so according to the source cited by the Trib braintrust, part of the problem is that Greenland's ice cap is melting and pouring lots of fresh water into the ocean and that, in turn, messes with the Gulf Stream that helps keep the UK temperate and without that temperature temperance, the UK will get colder this winter.

    But why do you think Greenland's ice cap is melting?

    Could it be because the planet on the whole is getting warmer?

    The Washington Post, by the way, reported on Professor Rahmstorf's research back in March.  Part of that reporting included this paragraph:
    Rahmstorf points to a recent release by the National Climatic Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, finding that the winter of December 2014 through February 2015 was the warmest on record for the globe as a whole. However, there were several anomalies — not just a cold winter for the eastern U.S., but also record cold temperatures in the middle of the North Atlantic.  [Link and italics in original]
    What the Tribune-Review editorial board is describing as evidence against climate change is actually part of the evidence supporting climate science.

    They're just too intentionally myopic to see the mistake they've made.

    September 18, 2015

    Meanwhile, Outside...It's Still Getting Warmer

    This is what NOAA is reporting:
    The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for August 2015 was 0.88°C (1.58°F) above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F) and the highest August in the 136-year record. This value surpassed the previous record set in 2014 by 0.09°C (0.16°F). Most of the world's surface was substantially warmer than average and, in some locations, record warm during August 2015, contributing to the monthly global record warmth. This was the sixth month in 2015 that has broken its monthly temperature record (February, March, May, June, July, and August). August 2015 tied with January 2007 as the third warmest monthly departure from average for any of the 1628 months since records began in January 1880, behind February 2015 and March 2015 (+0.89°C / +1.60°F).
    But, it's OK.  We all know it's all a hoax because Senator James Inhofe found some snow in DC in the winter.

    And so none of this:

    Has any meaning whatsoever.

    Yea, that's it.  That's what amounts to science in some very large sections of the GOP.

    September 17, 2015

    BREAKING! Carly Fiorina has seen video proof of zombie outbreak!

    Here it is!


     Just in case you were wondering, when Ms. Fiorina said at the debates last night:
    "I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,'" Fiorina said Wednesday night at the GOP presidential debate, during a discussion about a congressional vote on defunding Planned Parenthood.
    1. No scene anything like the one she described were in any of the versions--edited or unedited--of the Planned Parenthood videos put out by Center for Medical Progress.

    2. There was a scene of a baby in a mini documentary by Center for Medical Progress that was not filmed at any Planned Parenthood, that may have simply have been ten-year-old stock footage of a preemie that was used to *illustrate* someone's never proven claims about Planned Parenthood.

    See here, here, here (and numerous other sites).

    But by all means, let's shut down the entire government over a scene that was not in the videos she claimed it was in and that did not show what she claimed it did!

    And, by the way, when she was the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, she illegally sold hundreds of millions of dollars of computer products to Iran, meanwhile every single investigation of Planned Parenthood about those videos has turned up nothing illegal.

    September 16, 2015

    A Jack Kelly Follow-Up (On Getting Jack's Column Removed)

    The reactions to Jack Kelly's slavery column have been swift and powerful.

    We've linked to the PBMF and VSB already.  There's even a couple of letters (here and here) at the P-G.

    Then there's the petition at
    This petition is a response to Jack Kelly’s offensive article, “Remnants of Slavery,” published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (September 13, 2015). In the article, Kelly makes numerous factually inaccurate, unsubstantiated, and inflammatory claims. The piece is of very poor quality as well as being offensive. Aside from the many highly dubious claims he makes throughout, we find the motivation for his writing the piece—essentially that African Americans should stop “blam[ing] all their problems on white racism”—unfit for publication. We expect more from Pittsburgh’s largest daily newspaper. To this end, we have two specific demands...
    Which are:
    1. That the article be removed from the Post-Gazette website.
    2. That the editors of the Post-Gazette publish an apology.
    I won't be signing this petition and I'll tell you why.

    Simply put: The column was so loathsome that it has to stay posted.  It has to stay accessible to everyone and anyone exploring Jack Kelly's columns.  From now until the day the internet crumbles, Jack Kelly's column on slavery has to be easily found by anyone looking for it.  If it's removed then it's almost like it never existed - and that would be nothing more than doing Jack a favor.

    And I speak as someone who actually succeeded (and I am pretty sure about this) in getting a Jack Kelly column removed from the P-G website.

    Here's the story: It was 2009 and Jack wrote a profoundly incorrect column on a then recently resigned White House aide named Van Jones.  And it is perhaps simply a coincidence, considering the current discussion, that Van Jones looks like this:

    Anyway, that Sunday Jack wrote that:
    Mr. Jones was arrested during the rioting in Los Angeles in 1992 that followed the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King. Mr. Jones spoke of that experience in a 2005 interview with a newspaper in the San Francisco Bay area:

    "I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28, and then the verdicts came down on April 29," he told the East Bay Express. "By August, I was a communist."
    And then that Sunday afternoon I wrote that, according to that same East Bay Express piece that Jack quoted, instead of being arrested in LA during the Rodney King riots, Mr Jones was arrested one week later in San Francisco.  He wasn't in LA protesting.  He wasn't in San Francisco protesting.  He was in San Francisco monitoring the protests (as an intern from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area) when the police scooped everyone up - including Jones.

    None of that made it into Jack's column on Van Jones and by that Wednesday, the column was gone.  I'm guessing my blog post had something to do with it.

    But ponder this for a second:  Had I not written this blog post (the one you're reading right now) how would you have been able to find out about wrong Jack's Van Jones column was?  Would you have known that it even existed?  Certainly not by searching the P-G website.

    As much as I was overjoyed thinking that I may have had a hand in forcing the P-G to delete Jack's earlier offensive column, now I think that some level of accountability was lost when they did it.

    Jack wrote what he wrote.  He has to own it.  From now until the end of days he has to own it.  Burying it (offensive as it obviously is) only does Jack a favor he does not deserve.

    If the P-G wants to apologize for the column, fine.  Perhaps they should.  Or perhaps at the very least they should publicly explain their decision to expose such a virus to the public.

    If after reading this you're still of a mind to sign the petition, you should feel free.  I can respect that decision, too.  Maybe afterwards we can start a petition to force the P-G to properly fact-check Jack Kelly.

    The Tribune-Review's Dishonesty Crosses The Atlantic

    Take a look.

    In this hit piece from earlier in the week about the new leader of the UK's Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn they wrote:
    As Steven Erlanger writes in The New York Times, Corbyn is “a professed man of the ‘hard left' who believes that the Labour Party must return to its roots and fight inequality in all its forms.”

    Think “social justice” writ large. And think naiveté writ larger: Three years ago, Corbyn advocated for Britain to abolish its armed forces.
    And see how it's an indictment on lefty politics as well?  It's one nice little package for Scaife's braintrust.

    Too bad it's built on yet another lie.

    Take a look at what Corbyn actually said.  According to the Mirror in the UK, Corbyn was speaking at the 67th commemoration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  He started with this:
    On October 20, hopefully hundreds of thousands of people will be marching through the streets of London, protesting against libraries being closed, hospitals being cut back, schools being cut back.

    Young people being denied opportunities. High levels of unemployment. Cuts in social services. Increased charges for everything.

    Higher taxation in order to pay off a debt.

    Is it really conscionable or sensible or possible that in three years time in 2016 Parliament will compound the problem of already spending £3bn on preparation for the replacement of the submarines and Trident nuclear weapons system by replacement of the whole system which will cost this country £100bn.

    Is it really sensible to spend £100bn of money we can't afford and haven't got while there are homeless people, while there are hungry children around the world, while there's a sanitation crisis, while there's a crisis of people fleeing from absolute poverty to try and gain a place of safety in some of the slightly richer countries in the world?
    Pointing out, in effect, how expensive Britain's military is and the the money spent on it could be spent elsewhere - you know, like maybe helping people.

    Given how much it costs to have a military and how it actually hurts the well being of the people its protecting, Corbyn finishes with:
    Wouldn't it be wonderful if every politician around the world instead of taking pride in the size of their Armed Forces did what Costa Rica have done and abolished their Army, and took pride in the fact they don't have an Army.
    So what he said was not a unilateral call for just Britain to disarm but for everyone to disarm - spoken at the anniversary of Hiroshima.

    The Trib braintrust didn't tell you that, did they?

    That, my children, is what's known as a lie of omission.

    September 15, 2015

    The Jack Kelly "US Slavery Was Bad, But..." Monument

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    In case you missed it, the Post-Gazette's Jack Kelly had a pungently vile column published in the P-G this past weekend.

    If you were to scroll past the vile and down to the comments, there's more than a few protesters there.

    But instead of my usual debunking of Jack's rhetoric, I want to give the floor, entirely and without any comment from me, to this statement by from the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation
    Normally, the type of propaganda and twisted thinking evidenced in Jack Kelly’s column “Remnants of Slavery,” published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sept. 13, should not be dignified with a response. However, its content is so egregiously ignorant, its premise so flawed, and the platform that lends it credence so public that it must be addressed for the sake of truth and accuracy.

    Outrageous excerpts from the column are as follows:
    • “The words ‘slavery’ and ‘benign’ ought never to appear in the same sentence, but slaves in the American South and the British Caribbean (usually) were treated less harshly than in most other places where slavery has been practiced — especially in ancient times.”
    • “Slavery was horrible, but no black American living today has suffered from it. Most are better off than if their ancestors had remained in Africa.”
    Historians, sociologists and psychologists across the globe agree that U.S. slavery was uniquely pernicious in its practice and long-term debilitating effects on slaves and their descendants, a disgraceful legacy that still has adverse impact today. Some of the racial disparities that persist in educational achievement, access to quality housing and livable wages, and other areas have been linked to the lasting effects of slavery.

    The Pittsburgh Black Media Federation calls on all columnists, reporters and other media professionals to responsibly discuss salient issues.

    Before sitting down at his computer to write, Mr. Kelly should consider the professional and ethical mandates of responsible journalism. In this case, learning the facts about U.S. slavery and institutional racism before articulating an opinion likely would have resulted in a more legitimate expression of opinion and provided an important public service to P-G readers.

    To that end and for future reference, we are glad to furnish experts from every ethnic group who can educate Mr. Kelly about the myths, fallacies and erroneous assumptions that undergirded his column. We also would be delighted to introduce him to journalism ethicists who can remind him why an opinion piece is not a license to revise history.

    The Pittsburgh Black Media Federation strongly condemns the column as a blight on journalism. Shame on Mr. Kelly, and shame on the Post-Gazette for printing something unfit for a serious newspaper.

    September 14, 2015

    Absolute Morality?

    I take it that today's the day that Kim Davis goes back to work in Kentucky.

    In light of that and whatever "decision" she feels she needs to make, I want to play you something from Richard Dawkins regarding faith.  He's asked about faith and "absolute morality."  I've always loved his answer:

    Let's hear it for secular moral philosophy and rational discussion.

    September 11, 2015

    And Now The Connellsville Community Responds

    The Trib has a follow-up to yesterday's news that the unconstitutional Connellsville slab is going to be moved.

    Including this:
    The board this week said its decision to give the monument back to the Eagles was made to avoid future costly lawsuits to the already financially strapped school district.

    “We surely don't have the money to fight against something like this,” said Connellsville Area School Director Kevin Lape.
    And this:
    Chris Stern, school district solicitor, said the board's decision to return the monument to the Eagles was made while the board had control of where the monument can go. He said another lawsuit could take that control away.
    And some local reaction:
    Gary Colatch and David Show who were active in the Thou Shall Not Move group were shocked by the board's decision.

    “They gave in to a bully,” said Colatch of Connellsville. “That was the saddest part.”

    Colatch said he would have understood the board's decision if there were supporters from the community to move the monument. He said he never saw anyone protesting the school board to move the monument or showing up at a school board meeting to urge that it be moved.

    “I'm upset they did this without an open discussion or community involvement,” Colatch said. “They had the community's support.”
    Maybe they felt that had they spoken up at a school board meeting, they'd be bullied. I don't know I wasn't there.

    Doesn't matter because the presence of the slab is unconstitutional.  I said that years ago.  Had they listened to me (a boring, balding, blogger) they would have saved a pile of money in legal fees.

    We're still waiting, New Kensington.  When will you be allowing religious freedom in YOUR town?

    September 10, 2015

    Freedom Wins In Connellsville! The Connellsville Slab Is LEAVING

    From the Trib:
    Connellsville Area School Board voted to return the Ten Commandments monument on the property of Connellsville Junior High School to the Connellsville Eagles.

    The unanimous vote was held during Wednesday night's meeting and two weeks since a federal judge ruled that the district keeping the monument on school grounds is considered unconstitutional; however, Senior U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry did not order that the monument be removed.

    Connellsville Area School District Solicitor Chris Stern said the reason it wasn't removed was that the lawsuit was a moot point because the student whose family originally objected to the monument no longer attends the district.

    The plaintiff, who was not named in the case, was awarded $1, but once that amount of money was awarded, Stern said the district is obligated to pay for attorney fees.

    The judge's decision means the district is open for more lawsuits from students or parents.

    “It doesn't protect us from more litigation,” said Jon Detwiler, board president.

    Board member Kevin Lape said he, like others on the board, is in favor of keeping the monument, but the district cannot afford to spend more money on future litigation.

    And now it has to leave.

    Freedom won today - we must be free from government intrusion into matters of religious conscience.  Those who don't believe have just as much 1st Amendment protection as those who do.  And just as the government has no right to tell a Baptist that they MUST be Catholic (or vice verse), the government has no right to tell a non-believer that he or she must believe in a god.

    This freedom protects all of us - believers and non-believers alike.

    Most importantly and specifically, no school board (are you listening New Kensington??) has the right to post such an obviously religious message as the Decalogue on school property.

    One slab down and one to go.  Are you listening, New Kensington?  When can we celebrate religious freedom in your town?

    The Tribune-Review, The Warming Climate, And That "Death Panels" Lady

    From today's Trib:
    Among stops on Obama's jet-setting climate-change tour was Exit Glacier in Alaska, where the president blamed mankind's use of fossil fuels for the glacier's steady melting. But the glacier has been shrinking since 1815, long before mankind's industrialization, writes Betsy McCaughey for the New York Post. And according to the Alaska Climate Research Center, there's been almost no evidence of warming trends in Alaska since 1977, Ms. McCaughey reports — that is, aside from climate cluckers' incessant hot air.
    Wasn't Betsy McCaughey the "expert" who warned us all about the Obamacare "death panels" and didn't Politifact give her a "Pants on fire" ruling (as in "Liar, Liar Pant's on...") for being so darn wrong?

    The answer to the above is yes.

    So of course, she's now an expert in climate science.

    Here's what she said in the Post:
    President Obama hiked to Exit Glacier in Alaska last week, with photographers in tow, to send the world a message: The glacier is melting.

    Obama blames it on the increasing use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, which he wants to restrict not only in the United States but worldwide. The photo op was designed to build support for an international climate agreement he’s pushing hard to sell, so far with little success.

    Trouble is, the president needs to get his facts straight. Exit Glacier has been shrinking for 200 years — since 1815 — long before widespread industrialization and automobiles. As the president ended his trip, he sounded the alarm again: “This state’s climate is changing before our eyes.”
    However if you were to actually read the president's remarks (something I doubt the Trib editorial board bothered to do) you'd find this in the very first paragraph:
    So you guys have been seeing these signs as we’ve walked that mark where the glacier used to be -- 1917, 1951. This glacier has lost about a mile and a half over the last couple hundred years. But the pace of the reductions of the glacier are accelerating rapidly each and every year. And this is as good of a signpost of what we're dealing with when it comes to climate change as just about anything.[Emphasis added.]
    See that?  His facts are straight.  The only thing he didn't do was to give a start date (1815) but everything that the Death Panel lady said (the glacier "has been shrinking for 200 years") is exactly what the president said (the glacier "has lost about a mile and a half over the last couple hundred years.").  And yet to her and the braintrust this is somehow evidence against climate science.

    Coincidentally, this story's got a Palin connection.  Take a look at this Politifact deconstruction of Alaska's half-governor's views on glaciers and the science:
    [Palin's] claim that some glaciers are growing in Alaska is true, but this isn’t a reason to question human-caused climate change. Regional variations in precipitation patterns may cause some glaciers to grow, but most glaciers around the world are losing ice as the climate warms.

    President Obama did indeed point out a receding glacier during his trip to Alaska from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. He visited the Exit Glacier and called it “as good of a signpost as any when it comes to the impacts of climate change.” That glacier has retreated about 1.25 miles over 200 years, according to the National Park Service. Though a single receding glacier also does not provide any proof of climate change, the president talked about the wider trend. During his speech to the GLACIER conference in Anchorage, Obama said that a recent study found Alaska’s glaciers are losing 75 billion tons of ice every year. That’s accurate.

    The study in question was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in July. Researchers from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Washington in Seattle measured the “mass balance” of 116 glaciers in Alaska — of 616 named and many thousands of unnamed glaciers, representing 41 percent of the total glacial area — and extrapolated the results to the rest of the state. They found that Alaska’s glaciers are losing 75 gigatons of ice every year.

    And the part about no warming since 1977?  Here's a chart from the Alaska Climate Research Center:

    Notice anything?

    And the idea of using such a localized area (Alaska) to generalize on the global climate trends is cherry picking at it's best.

    Betsy McCaughey is as wrong about climate science as she was about the death panels.

    September 7, 2015

    Salena Zito And The Trib Are Spinning PA's Senatorial Race. It's Embarrassing (For Them) and Sad (For Everyone Else)

    I thought that, for all of it's conservative misinformation on its editorial page, the Trib at least promised to have it's news division delivering straight news.

    But I guess when it comes to Republican political candidates and Salena Zito, that's not exactly true.

    And the sad part is that this has happened before - almost exactly two years ago.

    Then it was about Mitt Romney.  This time, it's subtle but no less disappointing.  Zito's reporting on the ongoing political debate between Senator Pat Toomey and one of his democratic challengers, Joe Sestak over the former's record on Veterans' issues.  Let's see how Zito shades the argument ever so slightly in the direction of the candidate who (surprise surprise surprise!) just happens to be the republican candidate.

    Let's start here, with the commercial:
    Last month, Concerned Veterans for America aired a $1.5 million digital and television ad campaign praising Toomey. The group considers him “a leader in the fight to hold VA bureaucrats accountable for failing Pennsylvania veterans,” CEO Pete Hegseth said when announcing the ads, which ran through Aug. 25.

    “There should not be such a thing as at-risk veterans. Sen. Pat Toomey is committed to making sure every veteran is provided with the health care and benefits they deserve,” Navy veteran Barb Doyne of Malvern, Chester County, said in the ad.

    The nonprofit CVA, based in Arlington, Va., and funded in part by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, on its website says veterans and their families “have the potential to constitute a powerful force if they make their voices heard in the policy process.”
    Interesting thing to note how Zito describes the connections between the Koch brothers and the CVA.  She writes simply that the "non-profit" CVA is funded "in part" by the brothers.  Funny thing, CVA CEO Pete Hegseth is quoted as saying that the Koch network "virtually created" the CVA and The Washington Post characterizes CVA's level of  Koch funding this way:
    The group was funded almost entirely by TC4 in 2012.
     Propublica lets us know what TC4 is:
    Fundraising by the libertarian billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch supports a tangle of nonprofits, sometimes referred to as the Kochtopus, all aimed at advancing conservative causes. Two groups, the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and TC4 Trust, handed out almost $264 million from mid-2011 to October 2012 to 30 other nonprofits.
    So CVA was created by the Koch network and almost entirely funded by the Koch trust and yet Selena Zito hides it all behind an ambiguous "in part."

    Gee, I wonder why.  And the CVA?  It may be non-profit but it's hardly non-partisan.  The Nation has more on Hegseth's speech:
    Nevertheless, the Hegseth speech is an interesting window into how the Koch network operates: funding an ostensible advocacy group that is, in fact, a relentless political operation—and one that can, with the right situation to exploit, do everything from take out political attack ads to help craft legislation.
    None of which is even hinted at in Zito's quietly appreciative prose.

    But there's more to that ad, isn't there?  Yes, there is.  In her next paragraph Zito dutifully regifts the  quotation in the ad from Navy Veteran Barb Doyne.  Ever wonder who Barb Doyne is?

    If you happen to take a look at the "Veteran's for Toomey" facebook page, you'll see that she's listed as a "Captain" of the Host Committee for a fundraiser for the Senator back in 2014.

    Something else Salena Zito didn't tell you.

    Then there's this.  Compare how Zito describes the CVA with what she does here:, which advocates to elect Democratic veterans to Congress, backed Sestak then and now. The Portland, Ore.-based group — which calls itself “the voice of America's 21st century patriots” — gets money from hedge fund manager and environmentalist Tom Steyer, as well as Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection and the United Steelworkers of America union, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
    So many funding details!  Isn't it interesting how she found all these interesting the details on the side of the democrat but somehow, I guess, just couldn't find the time to do the exact same thing for the republican?

    Oh, and she made a mistake (yea, we'll call it that) about Votevets.  Take a look at this from their own "candidates" page:
    The mission of Political Action Committee is to elect Veterans to public office; hold public officials accountable for their words and actions that impact America’s 21st century service members, Veterans, and their families; and fully support our men and women in uniform. Though progressive, VoteVets PAC has endorsed both Democrats and Republicans. [Emphasis added.]
    I'd say that that's a big mistake, wouldn't you?

    But finally there's this.  After going through Sestak's arguments against Toomey, she finds another voice to settle the matter:
    Joe Eastman, 64, a retired Navy lieutenant colonel in Philadelphia, said he respects Sestak's service to the country but finds his allegations that Toomey abandoned veterans in Washington unacceptable.

    “His accusations are completely unfounded,” said Eastman, who spends time helping homeless veterans. “Anytime I have a problem or identified a growing concern, Senator Toomey's office has responded immediately.”
    Since that's the only way she describes Eastman - as a "retired Navy lieutenant colonel" - you'd think he was unaffiliated with either candidate, right?

    Wrong.  Take a look at this page and what it says about Joe Eastman:
    He has served on the boards of the Philadelphia Senior Center, Nationalities Service Center, the Philadelphia Homeless Veterans Coalition which is an advisory body to the Mayor’s Office of Supportive Housing. He presently serves on the board of directors of The Veterans Group, Thank-A-Vet, and is a member of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s Military Academy Advisory Board advising the Senator on appointments to our nation’s service academies and serves as a veterans advisor to several Pennsylvania elected officials.
    Don't you think that it would've been nice for that little bit of information to have been included in a "non-partisan" summing up the discussion?

    I guess this is what we have to look forward to as the campaign unfolds and Selena Zito "reports" on it - more slanted coverage by the Tribune-Review news division.

    Sad, embarrassing, and sad.

    September 6, 2015

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    The Post-Gazette's Jack Kelly's still misleading (read: lying to) his readers.  Sometimes it's subtle.  Sometimes it's blatant.  And sometimes it takes some digging to find out the depth of his dishonesty.

    I'll leave it to you, o gentle reader, to decide which one it is today.

    Jack begins with a brief discussion of Republicans, RINOs, and why Congressional leaders McConnell and Boehner are actually "Whigs."

    (So would you like to swing on a star
    Carry moonbeams home in a jar
    And be better off than you are
    Or would you rather be a Whig?

    A Whig's a politico who lived long ago
    Replaced by Republicans, you know...)

    [It's from a song - google it and get a little culture]

    The Whigs made up one of the two dominant political parties pre-Civil war and the party dissolved over slavery.  Its anti-slave Whigs in the north (the "Conscience" Whigs) being absorbed by the new Republican Party and the pro-slavery Whigs (the "Cotton" Whigs) moving south to the older States-Rights flavored Democrats.

    And here's where Jack makes his first big mistake/lie.  An earlier error is his description of "Free Speech, Free Press, Free Soil, Free Men, Fremont and Victory" as the platform of the Republican party in 1856 - actually, it was only its slogan.  The actual platform can be found here.

    Why does the P-G let Jack Kelly get away with such obvious stupid (and easily checked) mistakes?

    Anyway, onto the lie:
    The party of slavery and segregation has done nothing to prevent, and much to facilitate, the murder of thousands of Americans by violent felons among illegal immigrants. Passage of “Kate Steinle’s Law” to cut off federal funds for so-called “sanctuary cities” and to make the Democrats who run them liable for wrongful death suits, is one of two great moral imperatives for 2015.
    This is a two-fer.  Look at the first sentence.  By the "party of slavery and segregation" Jack Kelly means the Democratic party.  As Steven Benen of Washington Monthly noted five years ago:
    This comes up from time to time, whenever Republicans are feeling particularly defensive about the civil rights issues. But in light of the party's confusion, it's probably time for a quick refresher.

    The Democratic Party, in the first half of the 20th century, was home to competing constituencies -- southern whites with abhorrent views on race, and white progressives and African Americans in the north, who sought to advance the cause of civil rights. The party struggled, ultimately siding with an inclusive, liberal agenda.

    As the party shifted, the Democratic mainstream embraced its new role. Republicans, meanwhile, also changed. In the wake of Democratic President Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act, the Republican Party welcomed the white supremacists who no longer felt comfortable in the Democratic Party. Indeed, in 1964, Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater boasted of his opposition to the Civil Rights Act, and made it part of his platform. It was right around this time when figures like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond made the transition -- leaving the Democratic Party for the GOP.
    Indeed, look at the political platform of those "Dixicrats" in 1948 (those would be those "southern whites with abhorrent views on race" that eventually went to the GOP in the mid-60s).  It actually contained this:
    We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one's associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to earn one's living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government and a minimum interference with individual rights.
    So tell me again how the Democrats are the "party of slavery and segregation"?

    Now onto Jack's next big lie - it's about immigration and crime.  Jack should have done his homework better (or some at all).  Take a look at this from the Libertarian Cato Institute:
    Myth: More immigrants means more crime

    Remember Trump’s now-infamous description of Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists”? The facts suggest something quite the contrary.

    Indeed, the academic literature on this question is pretty clear: Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native born citizens, and there is no credible evidence that they have any effect on overall crime rates.

    According to research by the American Immigration Council based on data from the Census Bureau, 1.6% immigrant men from 18 to 39 are incarcerated compared with 3.3% of native born men in the same age bracket.

    Other studies look at crime rates in cities and states that have different immigrant populations, finding that increases in the immigrant population coincide with big decreases in violent crime rates. Nevertheless, the myth of the immigrant-driven crime wave remains prevalent.
    Why doesn't anyone at the P-G do this before publication?  How much more do we need to do?

    Ok, one more, I guess.  The big one:
    The other is to end federal subsidies for Planned Parenthood’s abortion mills. The nine gruesome, heartbreaking videos released so far by the Center for Medical Progress make plain the wine-swilling Mengeles who run the organization have committed multiple felonies.
    As the man said, you're entitled to your own opinions but you're not entitled to your own facts.  From Thinkprogress:
    Following the release of several inflammatory videos that suggest Planned Parenthood is improperly profiting from the sale of “aborted baby parts,” GOP lawmakers have been quick to condemn the national women’s health organization. However, their current strategies to attack Planned Parenthood are falling short.

    Planned Parenthood officials say they’re simply helping their patients donate fetal tissue samples, which can help scientists develop new treatments for serious diseases. Anti-abortion activists, meanwhile, say the misleading videos released by the right-wing group Center for Medical Progress prove the organization is acting immorally.

    In response, several state officials have launched investigations into their local Planned Parenthood affiliates, looking for proof that the group is breaking the law.

    But so far, they’ve come up completely empty.

    Officials in states including Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, and South Dakota have not been able to turn up any evidence that Planned Parenthood clinics are violating state laws and regulations regarding the collection of fetal tissue donations. Records obtained from other states, like Kansas, reveal that some Planned Parenthood clinics don’t even give their patients the option to donate this tissue.

    “In every state where these investigations have concluded, officials have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing,” Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement released on Friday. “We’ve said all along that Planned Parenthood follows all laws and has very high medical standards, and that’s what every one of these investigations has found. This campaign by anti-abortion extremists is nothing less than a fraud.”
    You're free, of course, to be skeptical of ThinkProgress, but take a look at their sources.

    So, Jack.  Where are the felonies?  Where/when did they occur?  What's your evidence that they did?  How do you reconcile that to the actual facts produced above?

    And most importantly:
     As a follow-up:
    Go on.  Have a good Sunday.

    September 5, 2015


    The coffee invitation is still stands.

    I read that you'll be in Pittsburgh on Labor Day so I'm inviting you over for some coffee.

    We can sit at my kitchen table and discuss foreign policy or politics or whatever.  I can even get some Primanti's if you want.

    Let me know.  I know you're busy but how often do you get to chat with one of Pittsburgh's oldest political bloggers?

    More importantly, how often would I get to chat with a sitting Vice President?

    With great respect

    2 Political Junkies

    Who's Authority? God's Authority.

    For the record, MSNBC reported this a few days ago:
    A Kentucky clerk is still refusing to issue marriage licenses due to her religious opposition to same-sex nuptials, even after the U.S. Supreme Court dealt the final blow to her argument.

    On Tuesday morning, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis denied marriage licenses to at least two couples, telling them she was acting ”under God’s authority.” She then asked David Moore and David Ermold, a couple who has been rejected by her office four times, to leave.

    “Would you do this to an interracial couple?” Moore asked.

    “A man and a woman, no,” Davis said. “I just want you to know that we are not issuing marriage licenses today pending the appeal in the 6th Circuit.”

    “The Supreme Court denied your stay,” Moore shot back.

    “We are not issuing marriage licenses today,” Davis repeated.

    “Under whose authority?” asked Ermold.

    “Under God’s authority,” said Davis, before asking them to leave.
    It's distressing that this argument is still around, given what Antonin Scalia wrote in 1990:
    We have never held that an individual's religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition. As described succinctly by Justice Frankfurter in Minersville School Dist. Bd. of Ed. v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586, 594 -595 (1940): "Conscientious scruples have not, in the course of the long struggle for religious toleration, relieved the individual from obedience to a general law not aimed at the promotion or restriction of religious beliefs. The mere possession of religious convictions which contradict the relevant concerns of a political society does not relieve the citizen from the discharge of political responsibilities (footnote omitted)." We first had occasion to assert that principle in Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879), where we rejected the claim that criminal laws against polygamy could not be constitutionally applied to those whose religion commanded the practice. "Laws," we said, "are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. . . . Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself." [Emphasis added.]
    And yet, that is precisely what Kim Davis was trying to do.

    September 4, 2015

    Denali, McKinley, And Obama.

    Today, I start with this column from the P-G's Tony Norman:
    Last month, Mr. Obama announced that Alaska’s Mount McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America, would officially revert to the name it had been known by for many centuries prior to 1917 — “Denali.” Mr. Obama wanted to honor the request of indigenous Americans who resented the name imposed on their mountain in honor of the assassinated 25th president of the United States decades before Alaska was a state.

    This was simply a “bridge to nowhere” too far for those who pretended to care about — or who had actually even heard of — President William McKinley prior to his demotion from mountain namesake by the tyrannical Obama. Within a day or two of the announcement, a Facebook meme was born about the president’s real motive for the change: “‘Denali’ is the Kenyan word for ‘Black Power.’ Like and share to spread awareness,” the post read.
    The fact that that's not a fact hasn't swayed the truly ignorant.   As Tony points out, the meme "has been “liked” and shared on social media tens of thousands of times."

    Tony does reference something I want to expand:
    Alaskans had already reverted to using the mountain’s original name in official records as far back as 1975.
    And Republicans in Congress have been trying to change the name since 1999. Take a look:

    Mount McKinley, located in the State of Alaska at 63 degrees 04 minutes 12 seconds north, by 151 degrees 00 minutes 18 seconds west shall hereafter be named, referred to, and known for all purposes as Denali. All references in law and regulation, and all references on any map, to ``Mt. McKinley'' or ``Mount McKinley'' shall hereafter be treated as references to ``Denali''
    This was introduced in the House of Representatives in May, 1999 by Representative Don Young (who's hardly a political friend of the president).

    Feel free to use this the next time your Fox News spewing, batshit-crazy conservative cousin tries to say it's yet another "tyrannical power-grab" by President Obama.

    September 2, 2015

    The Tribune-Review Editorial Board Gets One Right (The 10 Commandments Monument in Connellsville)

    Gotta give credit where credit is due.

    Today, the braintrust's collective brain is working:
    Whether a tree falling in a forest makes a sound if no one is around to hear it is a metaphysical conundrum. But a federal court ruling that says a Ten Commandments monument on school property in Fayette County violates the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, but doesn't order the monument's removal because the objecting family doesn't frequent the school anymore, is a constitutional non sequitur.
    And at the end of the editorial:
    Having ruled the monument unconstitutional, McVerry should have, as a matter of law, ordered the monument's removal. Case law provides ample basis for doing so. Instead, McVerry left the matter unnecessarily unsettled — with each side able to claim victory and district taxpayers exposed to further costly litigation if the monument remains.
    Yes, costly litigation that Fayette County tax payers will have to pay for.  And they'll still loose.

    As an aside, I DO have a solution to the braintrust's "metaphysical conundrum."  (Actually it's not metaphysical at all - but epistemological, but that's even further beside the point).

    Here's my solution to the the question "if a tree falls in the forest and there's no one around to hear it, how do you know it made a sound?" - it depends on the definition of sound.

    If you define "sound" as the vibration of some sort of medium (in this case air), then yes the falling tree made a sound.  If it's a tree, then it's in a place where there's air and gravity and so on and so by virtue of the act of falling (or even just moving) the air will be displaced, causing a sound.

    If you define "sound" as a perception of that vibration, then no with no one there to perceive the air vibration then there's no "sound."

    And there's nothing metaphysical about it.

    But good for the Trib editorial board for calling for the removal of the Connellsville slab.

    September 1, 2015

    A Sad Ten Commandments Follow-Up

    The Trib reported yesterday:
    A Fayette County pastor who advocated against the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from a Connellsville Area School District property died unexpectedly Monday morning, just days after a federal judge rejected an atheist's group's request to have the tablet removed.

    The Rev. Ewing Marietta, 49, of South Connellsville was pronounced dead at 4:20 a.m. Monday in Highlands Hospital in Connellsville, according to the coroner's office. An autopsy has been scheduled to determine the cause of death.
    Um, Liz? Liz Zemba of the Trib?

    Hi, yea.  This is Dayvoe over at 2PJ. Before I continue onto Rev Marietta's passing, I want to tell you that YOU'RE SPINNING THE STORY - AND THAT'S REPREHENSIBLE.

    You wait two more paragraphs to tell the truth about the FFRF's lawsuit:
    Senior U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry on Friday found the 3,000-pound stone monument to be unconstitutional, but he did not order its removal. McVerry said ordering its removal would be “moot” because the family who in 2012 objected to it no longer attends the school. [Emphasis added.]
    By omitting that bit from your opening, you're actually taking sides with the story - that McVerry's decision was less about the Constitutionality of the slab's placement than it was about its removal - a confusing decision that's the very reason why both sides claim victory.

    You took sides and I was led to understand that that's a no-no in journalism circles.

    Or am I wrong?  Can you guys do that now?

    Anyway, I was very sad to hear of Rev Marietta's passing.  Obviously he and I differed on many many things, but death (any death) is always very sad, as it always leaves an unfillable emptiness in the lives of the deceased's loved ones.

    Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

    My sincerest sympathies to his family and to everyone that knew and loved him.  I am very sorry for your loss.