Democracy Has Prevailed.

October 29, 2015

Notice to All Candidates for Public Office

Notice to All Candidates for Public Office: 

In order to receive an endorsement from the Post-Gazette, it is absolutely mandatory that you be for the abolishment of the State Store system as some person/persons on the Editorial Board desire to open a lovely, little wine & cheese shop after they retire.

Thank you

October 27, 2015

Maybe You CAN Tell Alot About A Guy (Reschenthaler)...From His Friends

In her blog post yesterday about Heather Arnet, the OPJ had a good run-down of her opponent, Guy Reschenthaler:
But you can get to where he stands on some issues by looking at his endorsements which include an anti-choice group and, not one, but two separate pro gun groups (just in case you didn't already know he was a Republican).
But take a look at who else our Guy's been palling around with: Rose Tennant, Rick Saccone, and Sue Means.

Let's go one by one:
Does Guy Reschenthaler support all these crazie religious ideas?  And if he does, do we really think he can represent all of the people of his district?  Christian AND non-Christian?  Believer AND non-believer?

One voter (and that would be me) would like to know.

October 26, 2015

Why you need to vote for Heather Arnet for PA State Senate (37th District)

The Reasons to Vote for Heather Arnet
On the Issues:
First of all, Heather has an actual issues page--Guy doesn't! You can see her positions on issues related to the workplace, education, taxes, healthcare & services, the environment, rights & representation, and more. She's particularly committed to fighting to:
- Attract high quality jobs to our district;
- Strengthen retirement security for seniors;
- Ensure we provide property tax relief for the middle class and seniors;
- Fully fund our school system and make high-quality pre-k available to all;
- Provide safe, affordable healthcare for our families that includes women making their own healthcare decisions.
Professionally, she's worked to increase rights and opportunities for working families as the CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation, as well as serving on the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education. She's also won numerous awards and has frequently appeared in both the local and national media.

Bonus Points:
A piddly 18 percent of the 253-member PA General Assembly are women. That earns PA the ignoble distinction of ranking 39th in the nation for the percentage of women in our state Legislature. We are grossly under-represented! (Also where the clever "We don't need another guy in Harrisburg" line comes from in her above ad.)

Additionally, knowing Heather personally, I can certainly vouch for her as a passionate and genuine person and fighter for rights for all.

The Reasons Not to Vote for Guy Reschenthaler
On the Issues:
As mentioned above, Guy has no issues page or, hell, even a paragraph on his website. You are meant to vote for Guy because he's a great American! He touts being "a son of western Pennsylvania" and "born here and raised in the values and traditions that make our region great"!

But you can get to where he stands on some issues by looking at his endorsements which include an anti-choice group and, not one, but two separate pro gun groups (just in case you didn't already know he was a Republican).

Reschenthaler is running primarily on his bio. The headline of which is "Iraq War Veteran | Former District Magistrate | Former Navy Prosecutor" and then the repeat about the whole "son of western Pennsylvania" thing, tradition, values, etc.

Penalty Points:
Oh, my, where to start? While Guy and the Republican Party have labeled Heather as an "extreme liberal," Guy's actual extremist values would make the Tea Party stand up and cheer, while going so far as to possibly embarrass the more enlightened members.

It seems that Guy used to host a conservative podcast in 2013 called "The Sound of Freedom with Hig and Resch," along with his co-host, Carl Higbie. They discussed topics like taxes, immigration and gun control and had on Tea Party members and Oath Keepers as guests.

It's worse than you may imagine. While his co-host made the most disgusting comments (“You cross my border, I will shoot you in the face” and “The black race is lazier than the white race” and "I don't like Muslim people"), he made them with Guy's name on the show and in some cases with little push-back. Guy himself said that people on government assistance are "abusing the trust the government." Guy calls Social Security and Medicare “scary,” because “we can’t cut them if we wanted to.” He says that they “turn our government into an entitlement generating machine."

If you can stomach it, you can hear and read more clips at as well as this from Keystone Progress:

Guy Reschenthaler: The Dark Side of Technology from Keystone Progress PAC on Vimeo.

So now ask yourself, not just "Do we need another guy in Harrisburg?" but "Do we need this extremist Guy in Harrisburg?"

And then, go vote for Heather Arnet. And, even if you don't live in her district, go sign up to help now through election day. And, throw some $$ her way.

October 24, 2015

A Victory In The Culture Wars...

I went to a wedding last weekend.  It was a few minutes north of the most southern part of New Jersey (full disclosure: I won't be doing any Jersey-jokes as my dad was born and raised in Trenton, though to my shame I have no idea what exit).

Anyway, the service was very nice.  Short but nice.  There was the near-mandatory reading from 1 Corinthians:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
(Full disclosure: this was read at my wedding as well.)

There was also a very interesting reading from The Alchemist.  I can't remember the details, of course, but it had something to do with love.

The service was on the deck of a fashionable hotel overlooking an inland bay, and this being the late afternoon, and as we were facing west, the sun hung just high enough in the sky over the bride and groom to necessitate lots of hands creating lots of shade over lots of squinting eyes.

The music before the service was Mozart (Nachtmusik, I think) and some Vivaldi, but no Wagner or Mendelssohn - which was a nice departure from the tried and true.

The music before the dinner (where the guests gorged ourselves on the appetizers) was Miles, Kind of Blue.  How cool is that?

The dinner food, ohmigod the dinner food was amazing.  I had the chicken while the lovely wife had the vegetarian meal (though she's not a vegetarian).   Since half the guests were from Southern PA, there was a YUGE cookie table pressed against one wall.  Cookies so good they kinda crowded out the usual wedding party desserts from the hotel (which were still amazing).

So why am I telling you this?  For this moment afterwards.

The DJ played a more than acceptable mix of wedding music after the dinner though my 52 year old ears were screaming "IT'S TOO LOUD!" at me after about an hour or so.  Kids these days, I tell ya.  At some point during, however, the DJ played a slow song.  This one:
That's what you are,
Tho' near or far.
At that point couples snuggled close and began to gently sway to Nat King Cole.
In every way,
And forever more
That's how you'll stay.
Among the slowly swaying, something caught my middle-aged eye.  One man approached another and they fell easily into a familiar embrace and began to dance. 

And no one noticed (other than me, I suppose).

Know what happened next?  Nothing.  No one left in disgust, the vice squad didn't knock the doors in, society didn't unravel, and G-d didn't punish the southern tip of New Jersey with a special delivery mega-storm.  It was just two guys slow dancing.

I realize there's a huge number of issues still facing the LGBT community but if two men can slow dance at a wedding reception in southern New Jersey and go more or less unnoticed, that's got to be something of a victory, right? 

Last thing I noticed (and this whole thing took about 5 seconds) was the face of one of the guys, his face nestled gently against the shoulder of his partner.  His smile communicated just one thing, "I am so happy right now."

Why on Earth would anyone want to get in the way of that?

October 22, 2015

Meanwhile, Outside...

NOAA is reporting:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for September 2015 was the highest for September in the 136-year period of record, at 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 20th century average of 15.0°C (59.0°F), surpassing the previous record set last year in 2014 by 0.12°C (0.19°F). This marks the fifth consecutive month a monthly high temperature record has been set and is the highest departure from average for any month among all 1629 months in the record that began in January 1880. The September temperature is currently increasing at an average rate of 0.06°C (0.11°F) per decade.
And is they were cued to, the braintrust over at the Tribune-Review posts this:
France Televisions has booted forecaster Philippe Verdier for writing a book that questions the theology of climate change. Mr. Verdier posited that the pastors and pols of global warming have “taken the world hostage.” France Televisions (akin to American public broadcasting) says its rules prevent anyone from using their professional status to push personal opinions. Cue the laugh track. [Bolding in original.]
Considering all the climate science evidence (not theology) that Monsieur Verdier has just rejected, why wouldn't they say au revoir?  What credibility can he possibly have now?

Meanwhile, there's another issue approaching the editorial board of the Tribue-Review.  From The Scientific American:
The latest UT Energy Poll released this morning reveals that U.S. attitudes on climate change have shifted significantly - and not just in the ways you might expect. Seventy-six percent of Americans now say that climate change is occurring--an increase from 68 percent just one year ago. Further, only 14 percent say it's not, compared with 22% when we first asked the question in the Spring of 2012.

The increase in acceptance climate change is not merely reflective of shifting attitudes on the left, which only rose a few points to 90 percent over the last six months. Republicans who say that climate change is occurring jumped from 47 percent in March to 59 percent this September. [Bolding in original.]
For the mathematically/scientifically illiterate, 59 percent is what's known in the biz as a majority.

According to this poll, at this point in time a majority of republicans believe that climate change is occurring. 

I wonder how the braintrust will spin this one.  If they ever address it, that is.

Anyway, it's still getting warmer out there.

October 18, 2015

Colin McNickle Fails To Adequately Research His Topic

This must be so embarrassing for The Tribune-Review's Colin McNickle.

Here's what he wrote today:
Writing in the American Thinker, Thomas Lifson points to a 2007 study published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy that debunks every contemporary contention of the latest crop of gun-grabbers.

Criminologists Don B. Kates and Gary Mauser, in the 46-page study, found “a negative correlation” between banning guns and reducing murder and suicide rates.

To wit, “where firearms are most dense violent crime rates are lowest, and where gun laws are least dense, violent crime rates are highest.”

The bottom line of Messrs. Kates and Mauser:

“(T)he burden of proof rests on the proponents of the more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death mantra, especially since they argue public policy ought to be based on that mantra.

“To bear that burden would at the very least require showing that a large number of nations with more guns have more death and the nations that have imposed stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions in criminal violence (or suicide).

“But those correlations are not observed when a large number of nations are compared across the world,” the researchers concluded.
Colin's "research" began and ended, apparently, here with this piece in the American Thinker.

He should have checked Snopes (oh, he so should have checked Snopes!).  Had he done a modicum of research, Colin McNickle would have discovered this:
Claim: A 2007 Harvard University study proved that areas with higher rates of gun ownership have lower crime rates.


WHAT'S TRUE: Gun rights advocates Gary Mauser and Don Kates jointly authored a 2007 paper in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy arguing that higher rates of gun ownership correlated with lower crime rates.

WHAT'S FALSE: The paper in question was not peer-reviewed, it didn't constitute a study, and it misrepresented separate research to draw shaky, unsupported conclusions.
Snopes continues:
Of primary importance is the subsequent, widely misapplied label of the word "study" with reference to the 2007 item in question. The Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy describes itself as "one of the most widely circulated student-edited law reviews and the nation’s leading forum for conservative and libertarian legal scholarship." Papers published in that journal are (while perhaps competitively sourced) in no way equivalent to peer-reviewed research published in a credible science-related journals as "studies." Use of the term "study" to refer that 2007 article dishonestly suggested that the assertions made by its authors were gathered and vetted under more rigorous study conditions, which didn't appear to be the case. [Link and Bolding in original.]
This applies to Colin McNickle's use of the term "study" as well.

Snopes leads us to this 6 year old criticism of the "study" Colin loves.  The criticism, by an actual expert at the Harvard School of Public Health, begins thusly:
The article appears in a publication, described as a "student law review for conservative and libertarian legal scholarship.” It does not appear to be a peer-reviewed journal, or one that is searching for truth as opposed to presenting a certain world view. The paper itself is not a scientific article, but a polemic, making the claim that gun availability does not affect homicide or suicide. It does this by ignoring most of the scientific literature, and by making too many incorrect and illogical claims.
Oh and by the way, the guy who wrote that published some actual science that said:
Firearms are used to kill two out of every three homicide victims in America. In the first nationally representative study to examine the relationship between survey measures of household firearm ownership and state level rates of homicide, researchers at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that homicide rates among children, and among women and men of all ages, are higher in states where more households have guns.
Analyses that controlled for several measures of resource deprivation, urbanization, aggravated assault, robbery, unemployment, and alcohol consumption found that states with higher rates of household firearm ownership had significantly higher homicide victimization rates for children, and for women and men. In these analyses, states within the highest quartile of firearm prevalence had firearm homicide rates 114% higher than states within the lowest quartile of firearm prevalence. Overall homicide rates were 60% higher. The association between firearm prevalence and homicide was driven by gun-related homicide rates; non-gun-related homicide rates were not significantly associated with rates of firearm ownership.
Snopes sums up what McNickle mistakenly trusts:
In short, the purported 2007 Harvard "study" with "astonishing" findings was in fact a polemic paper penned by two well-known gun rights activists. Its findings were neither peer-reviewed nor subject to academic scrutiny of any sort prior to its appearance, and the publication that carried it was a self-identified ideology-based editorial outlet edited by Harvard students. The paper disingenuously misrepresented extant research to draw its conclusions, and researchers at Harvard (among which Kates and Mauser were not included) later objected to the paper's being framed as a "study" from Harvard (rather than a law review paper). The paper wasn't "virtually unpublicized research" (as BeliefNet claimed); rather, it was simply not deemed noteworthy at the time it was published due to the fact it was neither a study nor much more than a jointly-written editorial piece representing its authors' unsupported opinions.
He would have found this with probably the same 20 minutes worth of googling that I did.  But he didn't.  Now nothing of what he wrote has any real value and he looks very very foolish.

If it this isn't incredibly embarrassing for him (a pause to let that sink in) then I just don't know what to say.

October 16, 2015

Tracking Teh Crazie

Here's the latest from birther central, WND:
Is Chelsea Clinton not the daughter of Bill Clinton?

That’s been a rumor swirling in the dark underworld of Clinton family speculation for years.

But a new book by Roger Stone and Robert Morrow, “The Clintons’ War on Women,” takes the story to a new level – naming the actual biological father as Webb Hubbell, Hillary Clinton’s partner at the Little Rock Rose Law Firm and, later, associate attorney general of the U.S. in the Clinton administration.
Rather than debunking the unnecessary, let's consider the sources of this rumor.

First there's Roger Stone. He's the guy who, in 2008 after Hillary Clinton's primary win in New Hampshire, was described this way but the conservative Weekly Standard:
Messages poured in expressing revulsion and woe, and described resulting adverse physical symptoms, including but not limited to: nausea, dizziness, insomnia, twitching, numbness, abdominal pain, myalgia, cutaneous lesions, and retching. One friend invited me to visit him in Bermuda, where he'll be relocating. The only silver lining that came my way was an email from the professional dirty trickster and high priest of political hijinks, Roger Stone. It was titled "the good news" and said, simply, "Out of NH C.U.N.T. lives . Gearing up!"

He wasn't referring to Hillary's chances in South Carolina. Rather, by using the most offensive word in the English language, the word people employ when the f-bomb has lost all potency (and the word I will henceforth replace with "special flower" so as not to give greater offense), he was referring to the acronym of his spanking-new anti-Hillary 527 group, Citizens United Not Timid (
He was also a close adviser to The Donald until a rather unceremonious break-up.  Hey, wanna know who introduced Stone to Trump?  From the National Review Online:
Trump and Stone first met in 1979, when Stone was working for Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign in New York state. “I was introduced to Trump by Roy Cohn, the legendary attorney,” he says.
Wow.  Enough said.

Then there's Robert Morrow.  Morrow is one of the more, uh, interesting JFK conspiracy theorists swirling around the bowl.  He believes that:
  • Lyndon Johnson made a dirty deal with CIA Republicans to murder John Kennedy in the 1963 Coup d’Etat. 
  • Lyndon Johnson’s reasons to murder were out of his deep desperation and fear of what would become of him after his imminent expulsion from the 1964 Democratic ticket and his fears of going to jail over the exploding Bobby Baker scandal. 
  • Richard Nixon knew the dirty truth about the JFK assassination, but I do not think he was directly involved. In fact, when Nixon was under intense Watergate pressure, his firewall strategy as recorded on the “smoking gun tape” (recorded 6/23/72) was to ominously say don’t investigate me because it you do “the President believes that this is going to open up the whole Bay of Pigs thing again” – an obvious reference to the JFK assassination. Nixon’s aide Dean Burch said that when George Herbert Walker Bush heard that “He broke out in assholes and shit himself to death.” (The Final Days, p. 369). GHW Bush was probably an elite CIA planner of the JFK assassination.
    To Morrow, the Council on Foreign Relations is especially guilty:
    A special word about the Council on Relations role in the 1963 Coup d’Etat and cover up: no other organization has been more responsible for the murder and cover up of John Kennedy than the CFR. The inner core of the CFR are high level US intelligence men who have used CFR members as a horse jockeys, whipping the media with their riding crops to tow the CIA line.

    Elite CFR members such as Allen Dulles (CIA), CIA Nelson Rockefeller (CIA, George Herbert Walker Bush (CIA) and CIA McGeorge Bundy (CIA) were probably sponsors of the JFK assassination.
    And here's a list of some of the CFR cover-uppers (Remember: these are the people who Morrow says are covering up the fact that there was a Coup d'Etat in November, 1963):
    • Nelson Rockefeller (CFR/CIA)
    • Henry Kissinger (CFR/CIA)
    • Bill Moyers (CFR)
    • William F. Buckley (CFR/CIA)
    • Walter Cronkite CBS (CFR)
    • Dan Rather CBS (CFR)
    • Bob Schieffer CBS (CFR)
    • Peter Jennings ABC (CFR)
    • Daniel Schorr (CFR)
    • Michael Eisner Disney (CFR)
    • Donald Rumsfeld (CFR)
    • Rupert Murdoch FOX (CFR)
    • John McCain (CFR)

    Teh Crazie continues:
    I think that George Herbert Walker Bush (CIA/CFR) became a made man with the JFK assassination in 1963. One of the first things the Bill Clinton (CIA/CFR) did after he got elected in 1992 was to ask Webb Hubbell at Justice to find out who really killed John Kennedy.
    That would be the same Webb Hubbell who the creepy, petty Morrow now says is Chelsea Clinton's dad.  That's who Jerome Corsi thinks is a credible source of information.  That's who the WND thinks is a credible source of information.

    Tracking Teh Crazie.  It's always a good idea to know what tales the loud and furious idiots tell, for eventually they may bubble up on Fox News.

    October 14, 2015

    Something Different Today - A Poetic Birthday!

    Since Tony's Tuesday column was about a poet, I don't think it's passing strange to point out that today is E. E. Cummings birthday.  He was born October 14, 1894.

    He's the guy who wrote this:
    i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
    my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
    i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
    by only me is your doing,my darling)
    i fear
    no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
    no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
    and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
    and whatever a sun will always sing is you

    here is the deepest secret nobody knows
    (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
    and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
    higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
    and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

    i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
    And this:
    maggie and milly and molly and may
    went down to the beach(to play one day)

    and maggie discovered a shell that sang
    so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

    milly befriended a stranded star
    whose rays five languid fingers were;

    and molly was chased by a horrible thing
    which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

    may came home with a smooth round stone
    as small as a world and as large as alone.

    For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
    it's always ourselves we find in the sea
    And this:
    i like my body when it is with your body.
    It is so quite a new thing.
    Muscles better and nerves more.
    i like your body. i like what it does,
    i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
    of your body and its bones, and the trembling
    -firm-smooth ness and which I will
    again and again and again
    kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
    i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
    of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
    over parting flesh...And eyes big love-crumbs,

    and possibly i like the thrill
    of under me you quite so new
    Blushing yet?  Who said poetry was boring?

    October 12, 2015

    "Just 158 families have provided nearly half of the early money for efforts to capture the White House"

    If you haven't already, go right now and read The New York Times article on who is funding the 2016 presidential race. Here's a tease:
     The Chicago hedge fund billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin, for example, earns about $68.5 million a month after taxes, according to court filings made by his wife in their divorce. He has given a total of $300,000 to groups backing Republican presidential candidates. That is a huge sum on its face, yet is the equivalent of only $21.17 for a typical American household, according to Congressional Budget Office data on after-tax income.
    I missed it the first time. That's "$68.5 million a month after taxes." So, yeah, for him, $300,000 is pretty much chump change and will always trump your $10 to Bernie Sanders.

    October 11, 2015

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    Wherein we learn in today's Post-Gazette of Jack Kelly's absolutely nightmarish vision of the future (nightmarish for us, of course).  Here's Jack:
    An outsider president could compensate for his or her lack of experience in government by assembling a Cabinet for the ages. My dream Cabinet would consist of...
    He then goes on to extol the virtues of a number of Bush-era war criminals (alleged) and other incompetents.  Remember this is his list of people with experience who if a non-experienced president were to:
    ...take advantage of the enormous pool of talent available, he or she would have a successful administration despite his or her lack of experience in government.
    The list starts:
    Condoleeza Rice or John Bolton as secretary of state. Ms. Rice was a disappointment the first time around, chiefly because she’s a lousy administrator. But she’s a brilliant woman, a Russian expert and an attractive spokeswoman for America.

    Mr. Bolton is brilliant, too, and tough as nails. He has the administrative skills Ms. Rice lacks. My preference would be to have Ms. Rice out front and Mr. Bolton as deputy secretary actually running the place.
    Wait, isn't this list about people with good job experience?  Then why does he start the list with someone he admits to being "lousy" at at least part of her job?  En passant, you'll note the quiet sexism of Jack's next sentence.  Condy's wicked smart and as an added bonus, she's easy on the eyes!  A double plus good!

    But let's look at how well Rice and Bolton did in their jobs.

    Condoleeza Rice.  From the BBC:
    As national security adviser, Ms Rice consented to the harsh interrogation
     of al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah, the Senate Intelligence Committee
    Waterboarding is a war crime.  Enough said.  She should have been prosecuted for it long ago.  Shame on the current administration for letting the previous administration get away with war crimes.  Shame. On. Them.

    John Bolton.  Again with the BBC:
    John Bolton, United States Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, today said the US is "confident" Iraq has hidden weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, and production facilities.
    And yet those pesky WMD just didn't exist.  Heckuva job, Johnny!

    Jack goes on with his list:
    Duncan Hunter Sr. as secretary of defense. The former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and former Army Ranger is just the guy to restore order, direction and morale to a bloated Pentagon that has gone badly awry.
    So who's Duncan Hunter?  He's the guy who said this:
    The inmates of Guantanamo have never been treated better and they've never been more comfortable in their lives. And the idea that somehow we are torturing people in Guantanamo is absolutely not true, unless you consider having to eat chicken three times a week is torture.
    When it was absolutely not true. From CNN:
    The U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay drew fresh criticism Sunday following a Time magazine report on a logbook tracing the treatment of a detainee who officials believe was intended to take part in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
    And a little while later:
    During the period covered by the logbook, Time reported, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved 16 additional interrogation techniques for use on certain detainees.

    Afterward, interrogators began their sessions with al-Qahtani at midnight and awakened him with dripping water or Christina Aguilera music if he dozed off, the magazine article reported.

    The magazine said the techniques approved by Rumsfeld included "standing for prolonged periods, isolation for as long as 30 days, removal of clothing, forced shaving of facial hair" and hanging "pictures of scantily clad women around his neck."
    And Time had this:
    The first break in al-Qahtani ‘s facade comes with a long-delayed call of nature. When a hunger strike he has launched fizzles, he starts refusing water. That becomes a battle of wills — and teeth. Al-Qahtani quickly becomes so dehydrated that medical corpsmen forcibly administer fluids by IV drip. He tries to fight them off with his hands and is restrained. Another time, al-Qahtani tries to rip the IV needle out; when he is cuffed to his chair, he turns his head and bites the IV line completely in two. He is then strapped down and given an undisclosed amount of fluids. An hour or so later, around 9:40 a.m., al-Qahtani tells his guards that he would be willing to talk if he is allowed to urinate. The log notes he is given 3 1/2 bags of IV fluid. He starts to moan and asks again to be allowed to relieve himself. Yes, but first he must answer questions:

    Interrogator: Who do you work for?

    Al-Qahtani: Al-Qaeda

    Interrogator: Who was your leader?

    Al-Qahtani: Osama bin Laden

    Interrogator: Why did you go to Orlando?

    Al-Qahtani: I wasn’t told the mission

    Interrogator: Who was with you on the plane?

    Al-Qahtani: I was by myself

    That answer frustrates the interrogator — You’re wasting my time, he says — and when al-Qahtani requests his promised bathroom break, he is told to go in his pants. Humiliatingly, he does. The log notes 30 minutes later, “He is beginning to understand the futility of his situation … He is much closer to compliance and cooperation than at the beginning of the operation.”
    But they were treated well and not tortured (or humiliated), they were fed chicken! - thus spake Jack's dream choice for Defense Secretary.

    Then there's Jack's choice for Homeland Security, Texas Governor Rick Perry.  Who's under indictment in Texas:
    A grand jury indicted Gov. Rick Perry on two felony counts on Friday, charging that he abused his power last year when he tried to pressure the district attorney here, a Democrat, to step down by threatening to cut off state financing to her office.

    The indictment left Mr. Perry, a Republican, the first Texas governor in nearly 100 years to face criminal charges and presented a major roadblock to his presidential ambitions at the very time that he had been showing signs of making a comeback.

    Grand jurors in Travis County charged Mr. Perry with abusing his official capacity and coercing a public servant, according to Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor assigned to the case.
    You'll remember, of course, that in July one of those charges was dismissed.  The "abuse of power" charge still stands.  Does Jack even know this?

    I could go on but I want to end with a special reference to another of Jack's dream secretaries:
    Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, a former Indiana governor and Reagan budget director. We’ve got to clamp a lid on wasteful federal spending. No one could do this better than Mr. Daniels.
    Do I need to point out (ARE YOU WATCHING P-G FACT-CHEKERS???) that Mitch Daniels was NOT a "Budget Director" under Ronald Reagan (the head of the Office of Management and Budget is usually the one described as the president's "budget director").  The three OMB directors under Reagan were David Stockman, James Miller and Joseph Wright Jr.  Daniels was, in fact, OBM director under George W Bush (from 2001 to 2003) and during that time...well let me let the Indystar describe the budget back then:
    When George W. Bush became president in 2001, Daniels returned to Washington to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Bush gave Daniels the nickname "The Blade," but the administration's tax cuts combined with an economic downturn put Daniels in the awkward position of watching a $236 billion annual surplus turn into a $400 billion deficit during his 29-month tenure. [Emphasis added.]
    That's the guy Jack Kelly wants the next inexperienced Republican president to watch over the budget.  And another thing, does Jack know that CNN reported last year that:
    As a share of the economy, spending on domestic and defense programs has been on the decline since 2010, and is on track to reach the lowest level in more than 50 years by 2023.

    At its height in 2010, "discretionary spending" under Obama reached 9.1% of GDP. That was largely due to the stimulus law intended to dig the country out of a deep recession. But even at that high level, it wasn't that much higher than the 40-year average of 8.4% and was still below the 40-year peak of 10% reached in 1983.

    Today, levels are well below the long-term average. And the Congressional Budget Office projects that by 2023 discretionary spending will fall to 5.3% of GDP, the lowest since 1962.
    Please, please, Post-Gazette.  Someone needs to rein in Jack Kelly.  With every column like this that's published your reputation as a worthwhile source of news and information is degraded just a little more.

    Oh, and you let Jack make another factual error with that "Reagan budget director" thing.  Do I need to start a petition demanding that you guys fact-check Jack Kelly?

    I can you know.  You know I can.

    October 8, 2015

    On the Spot

    You may have heard of girls in developing countries skipping school when they had their periods due to a lack of menstrual supplies, but do you know that it happens right here in Pittsburgh?

    On the Spot is a campaign to raise funds to help purchase supplies/donate supplies for local schools to hand out to girls who find themselves unsupplied and ‘on the spot.’

    You can either attend their fundraiser tonight or donate online here.

    Back-To-School Happy Hour
    When: Today at 6:00pm - 8:00pm
    Where: The Brew Gentlemen Beer Co., 512 Braddock Ave, Braddock, PA 15104
    Cost: $10 at the door, or $5 and a box of supplies
    Facebook Event Page: Here

    Climate Change, Creationism and A Venn Diagram

    Let's start here:

    Turns out that most of the Republican presidential candidates are both creationists (in one form or another) and climate science deniers (again, in one form or another).

    I'm thinking that this will probably turn into an ongoing series.  But first let's look at Ben Carson.

    CNS News reported this only a few days ago
    Dr. Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon, National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine member, and the author of six best-selling books, said he believes in the six-day creation as described in the Bible and that there is abundant geological evidence there was a worldwide flood.
    While he's not a "young earth" creationist (whew!  that's a relief!!) he does believe that evolution is wrote because of what he reads in the book of Genesis.

    On climate science Bloomberg reports:
    "There's always going to be either cooling or warming going on," the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate said in an interview this weekend in Des Moines, Iowa. "As far as I'm concerned, that's irrelevant. What is relevant is that we have an obligation and a responsibility to protect our environment."

    Carson, a retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon, often talks about his medical background and science during his speeches. Pressed on the fact that the bulk of the scientific community believes the Earth is indeed warming, Carson pivoted. "You can ask it several different ways, but my answer is going to be the same," he said. "We may be warming. We may be cooling."
    But we're not cooling. The science says we're warming.  Anyway, however smart he may be, he doesn't get that he's got this one terribly wrong.  Nor does he recognize the inadvertent truth of this statement:
    In a speech he gave Saturday night in Des Moines to evangelical conservatives, Carson pointed out the value of data. "The wonderful thing about medicine, when you show data, it changes people's minds," he said. "That doesn't happen in politics."
    How true, Dr. Carson.  How true.

    I am thinking that the least we can expect of our elected officials (ALL OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS) is for them to be scientifically literate.  And for someone who's pursuing the highest office in the land, it's simply unacceptable for that person to be so ignorant on such basic science.

    October 7, 2015


    I'm fighting a really bad cold - one so bad I am hoping the zombie apocalypse arrives at my doorstep and takes away my pain.

    I'll be back as soon as I can.


    October 4, 2015

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    This won't be your usual Jack Kelly debunking, just letting you know up front.

    Today, in the Post-Gazette, Jack Kelly informed the the public of this:
    Every day this week I shaved, brushed my teeth, showered, dressed myself, made my own breakfast. Big steps for a recovering invalid.

    I have multiple myeloma, a bone-marrow cancer. Just after I started chemo, I fell down the stairs and tore my left anterior cruciate ligament, complicating treatment for both.

    For the last six weeks, I’ve essentially been confined to my bed, with another week or so to go. If you sent me an email, and I haven’t responded, this is why.
    I was very sad to learn of Jack's diagnosis.  As you may recall from this blog, I lost my father a few years ago to a very quick and devastating cancer.  It wasn't multiple myeloma but what difference does that make?  It started as a tumor found on his right lung but it wasn't lung cancer.  The surgeons in New Haven successfully removed it but were never able to determine what sort of cancer it was.  For a number of years they monitored his status and he was fine.  Then in the space of about three months it took him.  Quickly.  And with a vengeance.

    So it's more or less a completely different story from Jack's but what difference does that make?

    It was cancer and cancer can be devastating.  I've watched in quiet awe (via facebook) a woman I barely knew in high school battle (and beat back) her own cancer with Asgardian-sized courage.  Takes a lot to face it.  My hat's off to anyone (INCLUDING YOU, JACK) who's looked into that abyss.

    But Jack, that doesn't mean you get a pass when you try to misinform your readers.  You still own what you've written and it's still misleading.

    For example, Jack writes:
    The president said Obamacare would reduce unsubsidized, employer-based health-insurance premiums by $2,500 a year, and since 2008 the growth in premiums has slowed, but the average family premium still has risen $4,865, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
    First, there's this from Politifact:
    When it came to health care premiums for the typical family, Obama said he would cut the annual cost by $2,500. Months before Obama took office, a New York Times reporter dubbed it one of the most audacious pledges of the campaign.

    We reached out to David Cutler, an economist who advised Obama during the 2008 campaign and helped calculate the $2,500 figure that appeared in Obama's speeches. He said the calculation encompassed total health care costs, not just premiums. These would include out-of-pocket costs, employer-provided insurance costs, and taxes to pay for public insurance programs.

    Cutler acknowledged that Obama made "occasional misstatements” that tied the $2,500 reduction to premiums and not total medical spending.
    That was written 3 years ago.  So why use the point now?  If only to evade the reality of the situation, I guess.

    But let's look at the other side of the sentence - the growth of the premiums.  Here's what Kaiser wrote about three weeks ago:
    Single and family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose an average of 4 percent this year, continuing a decade-long period of moderate growth, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) 2015 Employer Health Benefits Survey released today. Since 2005, premiums have grown an average of 5 percent each year, compared to 11 percent annually between 1999 and 2005.
    There's more from the Kaiser survey itself:
    Premiums for family coverage increased 27% during the last five years, the same rate they grew between 2005 and 2010 but significantly less than they did between 2000 to 2005 (69%) (Exhibit B).
    They even have a chart:

    Wait, wait, doesn't this mean that while yes the premiums have gone up, they probably would've been higher without Obamacare?

    Yes, it does.

    And if you look carefully at Jack's sentence above, he actually affirms that (or at the very least that "the growth in premiums has slowed").  It's hidden in all that anti-Obamacare stuff.  Huh.  Interesting.

    And then look at what he writes later:
    The first steps to giving more Americans access to quality care are to repeal Obamacare...
    Which would of course would hit the deficit hard, according to Politico:
    A new cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office underscored the magnitude of the task: The budget scorekeeper last Friday said a full Obamacare repeal would add $353 billion to the deficit over the next decade.
    I thought conservatives were against doing stuff that would raise the deficit.  I guess it's OK if the cost of it comes from actually helping people who otherwise couldn't afford health care to get health care.

    So Jack I am very sorry to hear about your health issues.  No one should have to face what you're facing.  But you're still spinning Obamacare in a way that does no favors to your readers or the public at large.

    October 1, 2015

    US: More Mass Shootings Than Days in the Year

    "That brings the total of mass shootings this year -- incidents where 4 or more people are killed or injured by gunfire -- to 294. 
    There have been only 274 days this year."
    Via Wonkblog @ The Washington Post 

    Nailed it


    Just another mass shooting in the U.S. with over a dozen dead and many more injured. But, hey! What did the Pope say to Kim Davis? And, what's the latest on Trump? And, damn it, keep those dangerous Syrian refugees out of my town!!!

    ("This is the 45th shooting at a school in 2015 and the 142nd shooting since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut." - ThinkProgress)