Dumbassery Masquerading as Intelligent Commentary

I followed a link from Lawyers, Guns and Money to a site billing itself as trying to reignite the fires of dumbassery from long dead embers found in a burial chamber where something-something once lived, and I discovered this article and burst out laughing.

By any chance, do you remember what Roger Pielke, Sr. is famous for? Anyone? Why, he's the father of Roger Pielke Jr., the guy who lasted five minutes out there as a "climate science skeptic."

Now that they* have shut down his original blog, Roger Pielke, Jr., is desperately trying to remain relevant in the blogosphere. Pielke’s preferred strategy — as it has always been — is to utterly misrepresent what people say and then attack that misrepresentation in the hopes of garnering media attention. Baselessly smearing the professional reputation of hundreds of leading U.S. scientists means nothing whatsoever to him — if it gets him press coverage (see details here).

These days, the main “media” paying attention to Pielke, Jr. (as with Pielke, Sr.) are the global warming deniers (see “Uber-denier Inhofe gives big wet Valentine’s kiss to Pielke “” go figure!”). So it’s no surprise that Pielke Jr.’s latest distortion was immediately picked up by Swift Boat smearer Marc Morano, much as the main person pushing Pielke Sr.’s climate disinformation is anti-science blogger Anthony Watts (see “Like father, like son: Roger Pielke Sr. also doesn’t understand the science of global warming “” or just chooses to willfully misrepresent it”) What is (a little) surprising is that Pielke would utterly misrepresent something I wrote when everyone can plainly see what he is doing.

Yes, the dumbassery abounds.

The problem with trying to peddle bullshit in the Trump era is that there are so many more outlets who got there first, and there are so many more who kissed ass and received access to the White House press room. There is, literally, a plethora of whiny, fact-free conservative blogs out there who missed the boat and are now having to run pieces by the father of the guy who got laughed off of 538.com.

Oh, and who tried to help him out?

Wikileaks.

A University of Colorado professor who's been criticized for his writings about climate change has been caught up in  WikiLeaks' dump of emails involving John Podesta, campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton.

Roger Pielke Jr., who has been a faculty member on the Boulder campus since 2001, was the  subject of a July 2014 email about  an essay he wrote on climate change for the website FiveThirtyEight.

Pielke writes a  regular column about sports governance for the Daily Camera.

The email was sent by Judd Legum, the editor of  ThinkProgress, a site that's part of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the advocacy arm of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, which was founded by Podesta in 2003.

In his email to billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, Legum described how he believed Climate Progress, the environmental arm of ThinkProgress, got Pielke to stop writing about climate change for FiveThirtyEight.

"I think it's fair say that, without Climate Progress, Pielke would still be writing on climate change for 538," Legum wrote.

Peak wingnut? Nah, we're miles away from peak wingnut.

 

They're Coming For Your Weed

Just when you thought the whole thing was settled, the Trump Regime throws a monkey wrench into the gears just for the laughs.

But while Republicans generally support local control and the rights of states to pass their own laws, not all states' rights are created equal in the eyes of the new White House. Case in point: state marijuana laws.

In the White House briefing room Thursday, press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters federal law enforcement authorities would be taking a new view of state laws that have legalized recreational marijuana in recent years.

Never mind that the whole thing regarding "states rights" was settled decades ago--they're telegraphing their next move.

Do you live in a state where you can use marijuana for medical purposes or recreationally? Do you live in a state where it has been decriminalized? Good for you. The Trump people are going to undo all of that and destroy all of the progress we've made. This is because they still think marijuana is a "gateway" drug and that it's still 1983:

"When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people," Spicer said. "There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and drugs of that nature."

The Obama administration had fought states on the bathroom issue, but let states experiment with marijuana legalization even though federal law supersedes state law under the supremacy clause of the Constitution.

The real criminals are the people who created the opioid crisis in the first place. That would be the drug companies, their marketing people, and the doctors who get kickbacks for prescribing millions of painkillers to people who don't need them. We're not going after those criminals. We're going after the little people because it's much, much easier to fill up a for-profit prison that way. See how it's all a big scam? Cops will get to seize your property and receive military gear. The prisons will fill up with marijuana users. The drug companies will get off scot-free. Profits for them, and not for thee.

We're entering a new phase of American history: the Drug War II. And if you know someone who drives to get their medical marijuana in a vehicle with a Trump bumpersticker, give them a pat on the back.

One Thousand Russian Trolls Helped Elect Trump

Buried at the bottom of this story about FBI Director James Comey's briefing to Senators yesterday is this amazing fact:

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence committee, did not answer questions about the focus of the Comey briefing Friday. But he did talk about the extent of the investigation he is building with Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr. 

"What we are trying to do -- and I give Richard (Burr) a lot of credit -- is to not have this devolve into a partisan food fight that doesn't serve the public purpose. This is so important that we get it right," Warner said. "But the amount of manipulation, why there's not more outrage about the fact there were close to 1,000 Russian internet trolls, actual people, working trying to manipulate our news."

This is nothing new to Western leaders, by the way--it was on CNN in September of 2015:

An army of Internet trolls is using cyberspace to promote Russia and wage war against opposition groups and the West.

A former employee of the Internet Research Agency, Lyudmila Savchuk, has offered a rare glimpse inside the propaganda machine where young people were paid to praise President Vladimir Putin and his government. 

Savchuk, 34, who runs a Russian group that campaigns against propaganda, said she went undercover to "unveil the trolls and make them show themselves." 

The freelance journalist told CNN she accepted a job with the agency as a blogger, and then filed a lawsuit over its employment practices to shed light on the shadowy organization. 

The Russian government had denied all knowledge of the operation, and cast doubt on its existence. But a court last month awarded Savchuk symbolic damages of one ruble in recognition of the legal claims she made.

Why is this being briefed by the FBI Director now? Shouldn't we have known about this before the 2016 primaries even began? And since Trump was an announced candidate in the fall of 2015, why didn't anyone connect the dots on his campaign's Russian connections earlier? It would seem to me that this was a missed opportunity to provide some basic level of protection for American democracy. At the very least, it should have been the FBI's responsibility to warn people that the Russians were actively engaged in trying to throw the election while, at the same time, having multiple connections to the Trump campaign for months and months.

Russia had this massive online manipulation program up and running long before the 2016 election and no one in our government did anything to warn anyone. Amazing.

Batshit Crazy Takes a Great Photo

President Trump and Vice President Pence meet with Lilian Tintori and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) at the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2017. (The White House)

President Trump and Vice President Pence meet with Lilian Tintori and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) at the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2017. (The White House)

This is an interesting photo. You can see the misery and panic in the eyes of this young woman. You can see that Marco Rubio is already saying a prayer every night that his male pattern baldness holds off for a little more than four more years. You can see that Trump has no idea what's happening, so he flashes a thumbs up because that's about all he can handle right now. Pence? Pence is lost, hopelessly lost, but the National Naval Observatory is much, much nicer than the Indiana governor's mansion, so his family probably isn't completely miserable right now.

It's a photo taken on the deck of the Titanic. The deck chairs are about to go sliding off into the ocean. Thumb's up! Freedom is just around the corner. 

Oh no.

Where's Trump's other hand?

Tamron Hall

I'm going to say some rude things, and I want you to be offended:

Celebrated NBC News anchor Tamron Hall has been ousted from NBC News, reports Deadline. According to several rumors and reports, The Today Show anchor was bumped to make room for Megyn Kelly, who previously anchored at Fox News.
Last week’s announcement that Kelly would be leaving stirred up controversy and questions regarding the placement of Hall and Al Roker, who previously led the 9 a.m. hour together. With Hall’s departure, Roker will host the third hour slot until Kelly begins her tenure.

Miss Hall is very talented and acclaimed. The mere fact that she has lost her job in television broadcasting is bad enough. But there are some social and racial aspects to this that I want to highlight because what the fuckity fuck, NBC--hello?

First of all, firing a black woman in order to make room for a white woman who regularly talked about how bad black people are on her Fox News show is insulting and ridiculous. Does NBC really believe that firing Hall and replacing her with Megyn Kelly is culturally appropriate or sensitive to their audience?

Second of all, NBC just fired a black woman for being successful on television. Again, what the fuck is wrong with you, NBC? Is this how you maintain diversity and engage the public interest? By making room for another overpaid white woman to appear on television?

Third, of all of the news anchors and pundits and slimy cockroaches out there, you're telling me Tamron Hall is the one who gets fired? All of the people who got it wrong in November seem to still be working, especially all of the goddamned white women who show their legs on television and sit behind glass desks. All of the people who "normalized" the most insane president this country has ever had by reporting ABOUT HER EMAILS still have their jobs. All of the people who said that Hillary was as bad as Trump and boy, look how that turned out to be true, still have their jobs. Did David Brooks get fired? Did that jackass who goes on CNN every night called Jeffery Lord or whatever get fired? 

No.

But Tamron Hall got fired. Post racial America, right?

Seriously, NBC. What the fuck?

Show Me Your Papers

The Trump Regime's promise during the election to ban Muslims entering the United States has affected local law enforcement. This happened BEFORE the ban went into effect, but make no mistake about it--this is the country in which we live right now. 

There's no way a beat cop in Bel Air, Maryland should be accosting citizens and asking for their papers. The woman in question is just as American as you or I. The Bel Air police department should have fired that officer immediately. What an outrage. 

This shit will get out of hand fast. We are headed for panicky days ahead. If you're not ashamed of your country right now, you oughta be. This is not why I served in the Army. This is not what Americans should have to face when walking in their communities. And this is the logical extension of decades of subtle racism, courtesy of the Republican Party. White nationalism won the presidency and way too many people are cheering it on right now.

Governor Mark Dayton Has Prostate Cancer

cst 10814 Gov Dayton State of the State

This is horrible news:

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will undergo either radiation or surgery for treatment, he announced Tuesday at the state Capitol. 
Dayton revealed the information while taking questions from journalists following the state government budget proposal. They asked if a health condition caused him to collapse Monday while delivering the annual State of the State address.
 
"I will ... in the interest of full disclosure say that I learned last week -- I had a biopsy -- that I do have prostate cancer," he said. 
 
Dayton, 69, said doctors say it appears the cancer has not extended beyond his prostate and he was optimistic he would recover. He planned to receive treatment at the Mayo Clinic.

Dayton has been a successful governor primarily because he's done everything that Scott Walker won't do in Wisconsin. Dayton has raised taxes, fought for better health care, and has created a situation in Minnesota where there is not only a budget surplus but a very successful and business friendly economy. Dayton is the opposite of Sam Brownback, he of the Kansas miracle, which turned a state in deep trouble into a stack of dumpsters on fire.

This is horrible. Some wingnut is going to step in and do what Tim Pawlenty did and bankrupt the state once again. The modern Republican believes that if you give tax breaks to the wealthy and slash spending on education, you'll make people hate their government so much, they'll stop paying attention.  

Democrats and progressives need Dayton more than ever. He is one of the few remaining successful blue state governors. Here's hoping he comes back fighting.

Me, Me, Me

The first step in establishing a dictatorship is the creation of the cult of personality. This is the actual bio for the new president of the United States of America. There is no mention of losing the popular vote by nearly 3,000.000 votes, nor is there so much as a thank you to Vladimir Putin. 

Can't wait for the banners, the mega-portraits, and the parades.

Who even uses the word "likewise" anymore?

Republican Hypocrisy is Eternal

Edwin D. Williamson, today:

President-elect Donald Trump’s attempt to put the conflicts issue behind him has failed, at least according to the mainstream media. His announcement that he would resign from all positions with companies in the Trump Organization, put the Trump Organization in a trust run by his two sons and a Trump Organization employee, and not communicate with the trustees on the business did not stifle the howl from the media and such self-appointed ethics watchdogs as Richard Painter and Norman Eisen, who continue their dire warnings about the new president's potential conflicts of interests. Even the supposedly nonpartisan director of the Office of Government Ethics has chimed in, saying that Trump's "plan does not comport with the tradition of our presidents over the last 40 years" (which is incorrect with respect to President Carter; the others did not have financial interests that came close to the extent and complexity of Trump's).

The media and the watchdogs insist on a full divestiture by Trump of all financial interests in the Trump Organization (he will be the principal beneficiary of the Trump trust). For a variety of reasons, divestiture probably cannot be done at all, but it certainly cannot be done without creating an entirely new set of conflicts. What the president-elect has done would not satisfy the requirements of the federal conflicts law if they applied to him (they do not), but he has made a good-faith effort to distance his role as president from his financial interests.

Edwin D. Williamson, November, 2008:

An MSNBC article discusses ethics issues that former President Bill Clinton's extensive charitable activities could present if Barack Obama nominates Hilary Clinton to be Secretary of State. Here's an excerpt:

[V]ast amounts of money and prestige are involved, and those factors could pose problems for lawyers at the State Department who work to prevent ethical conflicts from corrupting the nation's foreign policy.

Edwin D. Williamson, who served as the State Department's chief legal adviser under President George H.W. Bush, said he does not know how the agency would resolve the potential conflicts. "If a client came to me with this set of facts, I would describe it as nightmarish," he said.

The gall of these people. Their moral compass disappears as soon as a Republican gets near the White House. Every single legal argument used against the Clintons for over 25 years is simply flushed down the memory hole.

You may remember how both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W, Bush placed their personal assets in blind trusts in order to ensure that they could not be accused of anything unethical, but that's not enough. You may remember how Presidents Clinton and Obama did the same thing, but you'd be sneered at for bringing it up. You might remember how all other candidates have released their tax returns, but now you're just being shrill.

Trump has made a "good faith" effort. Except that he hasn't used a blind trust in any way, shape or form. That's not good faith. That's thumbing your nose at the whole idea that a president should comport himself in an ethical manner.

The Republicans have set up a dangerous precedent. In the future, be prepared to laugh in their face if they ever raise a concern for the "appearance of a conflict of interest" with regards to any Democrat.

 

In Russia, This is Bug, Not Feature

Print

The Russians are messing with us now:

In a strange moment of startling symmetry with the current state of American politics, C-SPAN—the public affairs network that regularly broadcasts proceedings the United States House of Representatives and Senate—was interrupted by a broadcast of Russia Today.

The state-funded Russian news network briefly took over the online feed of C-SPAN1, which had been broadcasting a discussion in Congress regarding the Securities and Exchange Commission Regulatory Accountability Act.

As California Democrat Maxine Waters was speaking, the feed suddenly cut from the House floor to a broadcast of RT. The feed cut in with a commercial break before returning to the RT news desk, where an anchor spoke of a suicide bombing.

Multiple C-SPAN watchers made mention of the sudden change on Twitter, including Deadspin editor Timothy Burke, who captured the moment the C-SPAN feed switched to RT.

The takeover reportedly lasted about ten minutes before the C-SPAN feed was returned to normal. The interruption does not appear on the saved broadcast hosted on the network's website.

When contacted by IBTimes, A spokesperson for C-SPAN provided the following statement: "This afternoon the online feed for C-SPAN was briefly interrupted by RT programming. We are currently investigating and troubleshooting this occurrence. As RT is one of the networks we regularly monitor, we are operating under the assumption that it was an internal routing issue. If that changes we will certainly let you know."

When they substitute the Big Bang Theory with a parade of Russian missile launchers, maybe then and only then will Americans figure out what the hell is going on.

96 Million Americans Are Looking For a Job

The real number is around 5.1 million, but what does that mean anymore?

Donald Trump’s first press conference as president-elect will be best-remembered for his jeering at the press and vague dismissals of financial and ethical impropriety. But buried inside the taunting and dissembling was a Trump moment that stands out as a kind of microcosmic footnote—subtle yet representative of his ability to scramble the news cycle with simple falsehoods.

“Right now, there are 96 million [people] wanting a job and they can't get [one],” he said. “You know that story. The real number. That's the real number."

No. That’s not “the real number.”

This is a perfect example of the effect Trump will have on any policy debate he seizes. He takes a fraught yet critical topic—American work, lack of the work, and the way the U.S. government addresses both—reduces it to a bizarro sound bite that bears no relationship to reality, and bends the political and policy conversation toward his dramatic warping of the truth, all without offering a substantive plan to address even the moderate version of his apocalyptic proclamations.

Trump didn’t pull this particular figure out of thin air. There are 96 million Americans over the age of 16 who are not in the labor force. But “not in the labor force” does not mean they want a job and can’t get one. In fact, it means something quite different: that they are neither working nor looking for work.

To use this number as a data point about unemployment is absurd. Most of these 96 million people are retired. Most of the rest are stay-at-home parents and students. To say that 96 million people “want a job and can’t get one” is to argue that a 90-year-old grandfather at a nursing home is struggling to find a suitable job. Is Trump hoping grandpa gets back on his feet and starts realizing his latent labor potential? If not, don’t call him unemployed! If yes, we have deeper issues.

I don’t want to give the impression that unemployment is a cut-and-dry issue just because Trump’s mistake is cut-and-dry. As CNBC's Steve Liesman wrote, the real number is closer to the 5.4 million Americans who say they want a job but aren't working. Liesman is technically right. That is the official figure. But determining the “real” unemployment rate is not like measuring the pressure of a gas in a beaker. It’s a measurement inflected with mutable values and arbitrary definitions.

The Trump Regime has a whole host of Baghdad Bobs on the payroll. Their job is to appear on television, repeat lies, and pretend they are hurt when someone points out that they are lying.

Florida Woman Can't Be Blamed For Being Drunk in Wal-Mart

This poor woman was tricked into getting drunk in public. Somehow, Wal-Mart should be held accountable for the fact that she was able to get these five beers into her system before being helped by the employees. 

Don't they have security cameras? Aren't they there to assist? What kind of customer service is this?

Yeah, I know what you're going to say about personal responsibility and all that. But, really, when you're eighteen and there's beer everywhere, what are you supposed to do? Someone should have been there to help this poor young woman make better choices. Her support system broke down, the store's commitment to customer service broke down, and I see a lot of failure here on the part of local law enforcement to let her sober up and go home under her own power.

Racist Jerk Loses His Business

Now, this is how things are NOT supposed to work in this country:

The Dairy Queen owner shouting the n-word at Deianeira Ford told her he could say whatever he wanted at his fast-food restaurant — that any accusations and complaints she uttered would fall on deaf ears.

Ford was vindicated two days later, when her Facebook post about the incident provoked outrage so strong that the Dairy Queen in Zion, Ill., didn’t open for business.

But her victory was tempered by something even more troubling that she heard at a protest: Although she was the most vocal victim of the owner’s racism, she was not the first.

On Wednesday, Ford had taken her two children to visit their grandmother — and, because they were well-behaved, she stopped by the Dairy Queen on the way home. She ordered a $5 box, but part of the order was wrong, and another part was missing.

So she asked the owner to fix the order, and when he balked, she asked for a refund. That’s when things spiraled.

The owner, James “Jim” Crichton, returned her $5, but gave her a mouthful, according to Ford and the police in Zion, 50 miles north of Chicago.

“He called me and my children n—–; he said I can go back to where I came from,” Ford told The Washington Post.

This is how things ARE SUPPOSED TO WORK:

On Friday, Dairy Queen announced that it was closing the location in Zion, Ill., and that it was terminating Crichton’s franchise rights.

Ah, the free market. It has a certain ring to it, doesn't it?

Incompetence

Did you want to read a positive, uplifting story about an old Internet company? Keep moving:

Yahoo can’t help being Yahoo, the technology industry’s most hapless company. And now the market is betting the company's incompetence might cost shareholders $1 billion or more.
Yahoo Inc.’s latest embarrassing stumble was a disclosure on Wednesday that cyberthieves in 2013 siphoned informationfrom more than 1 billion Yahoo accounts, including users' email addresses, scrambled account passwords and dates of birth. Criminals could use the information to go after more sensitive personal data elsewhere online. Yahoo previously disclosed a likely separate cyberattack that involved at least 500 million accounts.

Don't worry--only a handful of Yahoo! executives are going to walk away with millions. It's not like everyone is going to share the pain equally and it's not as if the people running things are going to do something foolish and dramatic like give back all the bonuses they were promised.

Poor performance does not lead to shame and doing the right thing. It leads to more money and promotions! Yay!

 

https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2016-12-15/yahoo-s-cyberfail-could-cut-1-billion-from-verizon-deal

 

Don't Forget About the People in Louisiana

national-guard-louisiana-ts600.jpg

And don't forget their pets, either:

Between 20 and 30 parishes in southern Louisiana remain in a state of emergency on Wednesday, five days after severe flooding ravaged large portions of the region.

Six of the hardest hit areas last week recorded more than two feet of rainfall. Expertsestimate that from Aug. 12 to Aug. 14, the equivalent of 4 trillion gallons of water — enough to fill more than 6 million Olympic-size pools — fell on southern Louisiana.

Officials estimate the flooding damaged 40,000 homes and displaced more than 30,000 people. As of this writing, 11 people have died, though that number isexpected to rise as rescue efforts continue.

Several roadways were also affected by overflowing waterways. According to a New York Times report, “Parts of major roadways became islands, including a stretch of interstate where hundreds of drivers had been stranded for over 24 hours.”

As of Monday, the Weather Channel reported that 125 vehicles were “still stranded on Interstate 12 between Tangipahoa Parish and Baton Rouge, according to Maj. Doug Cain from the Louisiana State Police.”

President Obama on Sunday declared that “a major disaster exists” in four of the hardest hit parishes — East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena, and Tangipahoa — allocating federal funds to “grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.”

It is way too easy to ignore rural American in this country. Part of the problem is the infrastructure of modern news gathering. There used to be news bureaus all over America and now there are just people with their phones. This keeps people from really knowing what's going on because reporters are supposed to provide context and scale to their stories. That's not really happening right now.

One helpful thing, though--the presence of the Louisiana National Guard certainly helps. It's a good thing they're not sitting in Iraq right now.

Leave People Alone

Erin Bailey is a fellow blogger on Squarespace, and she has written a powerful essay on what she faces on a day to day basis. As a woman and a fitness blogger, she runs up against some of the nastiest misogyny you can imagine. 

Honestly, just leave people alone. You can smile, you can wave, and you can appreciate how much better this world would be if people would stop acting like assholes. What you can't do is sexually harass someone just because they are exercising in public.

I blame hookup culture. There are some men who know that it is a numbers game. The more women they accost, the better their chances for being accosted right back. Never mind that 1,000 women have to endure endless amounts of sexist bullshit--it's all about getting lucky. There is something to be said for granting other people the space to live their lives in dignity.

There is Nothing Masculine About Hating People

Let's not overthink things here:

Political analysts have repeatedly made the case that Trump is a mirror; that he does not create but only stokes Americans’ deep-seated fears, xenophobia, and racism that surface by way of economic instability. The bitterness and primal scorn that Trump has tapped among white Americans in struggling areas is aimed not just at those of foreign extraction, as Alec MacGillis writes in our magazinethis month, but also the even more impoverished people whom homegrown “working-class” whites see as scavengers ripping a cut of many already meager paychecks.

Economically, Americans are much better off than they were eight years ago. But it was a black man who accomplished this, so Donald Trump is the natural rally point for white supremacy in America. You cannot make the case that Trump is a smart choice in any regard. He is explicitly the candidate who sticks it to minorities. He is home base for the kind of Americanism that has been hidden for decades. He gets away with saying and doing things that would have sunken a candidate in the 1980s and 1990s because he is a master manipulator of social media.

There is nothing "masculine" about hating people.