“Objective” Journalism?

I figure if Ed Brayton can pull up a story from last November in order to write about a topic he cares about deeply, then I should be able to resurrect a dead blog to call attention to said issue, right?  That’s what I thought.

So over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Ed reminds us all of the CNN reporter who ended up an ex-CNN reporter after including her personal opinion in a tweet.

https://twitter.com/eliselabottcnn/status/667425269347704832?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

 

Ed writes a bit about that story, and then more on the larger issue of journalistic “objectivity,” which is something I feel a lot of people, including many in the news media, do not really understand.  The role of The Press in our system is worthless when it reports the news like competing press releases with no actual journalism involved.  I thought the press was supposed to search for the truth?  To tell the electorate what was really going on in the world, so they were better prepared to evaluate the issues, and see through the spin of politicians to make informed choices at the ballot box?  Or as Ed puts it:

At AINN, we measured our success through what we called “impact stories” — that is, stories that led directly to some kind of change in policy that improved a situation in a measurable way. And Michigan led all of our state news sites in impact stories by a wide margin, due entirely to my two amazing reporters, Todd Heywood and Eartha Melzer. They were tireless and committed to getting to the truth. They held the feet of the powerful to the fire time and time again and got real change.

Let me give you one simple example. At one point, Heywood got a call from a kid at the University of Michigan who believed he might have been exposed to HIV during a sexual encounter. He had gone to a clinic but they had not put him on a course of treatment called n-PEP: non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis. If someone is exposed to HIV, putting them on anti-retroviral drugs like Truvada within the first 72 hours is incredibly effective at preventing the infection as a result of the exposure.

The CDC has issued official recommendations for the use of n-PEP in any situation of exposure to HIV since 2005, but the Michigan Department of Community Health had not issued any guidance to doctors, hospitals and clinics instructing them that this is the standard for treatment in such situations. Heywood started reporting about this and hounding the MDCH about it. It went on for about three months before the MDCH finally issued the proper guidelines. This is the very definition of an impact story, one that will literally save lives.

We did not report the dodges and rationalizations offered by the MDCH at face value. We didn’t pretend to be “objective” and just report the things they were saying. We pointed out why those statements were wrong and were disingenuous, because they were. Our commitment was not to some ridiculous and fake “balance” but to telling the truth. That’s what real journalists do. That’s what they should do. But major news outlets punish them for doing that, for injecting something more than a mealy-mouthed he said/she said into important conversations.

Donald Trump’s campaign has shaken some reporters and some outlets enough that they are coming dangerously close to questions that real journalists would ask Trump’s spokespeople if given the chance, yet even in this insane cycle you see the horse race narrative fight to come to the forefront, as some in the industry fight to drag HRC down to the level they manage to elevate Trump.  And even the ones that are asking the “tough questions” this year will fall back into “bothsiderism” as soon as Trump is safely defeated.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, sure.  But if it’s not an opinion informed by facts, then you shouldn’t expect anyone to take you opinion seriously or treat it with the least bit of respect, least of all a member of the press. If the claim is that water is indeed wet, do you need to give equal time to the “dry water” holdouts?  If a political candidate flat out denies saying something you have video of them saying, how can you not just instantly confront them with the video evidence?  When did “follow up questions” become a major journalistic sin?

Anyway, go and read the whole piece over at Dispatches.  You’ll know when I post again.

Kimmel to Palin: “You Just Got Served!” ($&@#, Do People Still Say That? Am I Just Showing My Age Again?)

So if you’ve been able to peel your eyes away from the trainwreck currently taking place in the GOP presidential primary, then you are probably aware that climate science deniers have a new “movie” out, promoted by esteemed scientist Sarah Palin as well as Weather Channel founder John Coleman.  Climate Hustle is the latest attempt  by the deniers to trick the general public into believing man made climate change is some vast, underpants gnome-like conspiracy the left is using to fuck over white working class Christians, rather than an actual problem that we’ve already ignored for far too long that 97%* of scientists working in related fields agree is definitely taking place.

Look guys, I get it.  Climate change is scary.  It is a serious problem and we’re at the point now that any effective effort to fix it is going to be painful, especially to our wealthy western way of life.  I’m not immune.  I love steak.  Fucking love it.  I run an air conditioner constantly in order to make my attic room livable rather than just moving everything downstairs into a spare room each summer.  I take long, meaningless drives so my Chow can hang her head out the window and have her excitement.  Sure, I’ve taken steps to have a smaller carbon footprint, but the vast majority of changes I made were relatively pain free.  Ignorance is bliss; it means I can run my AC unit as much as I want and eat that 16 oz ribeye guilt free.  But it is happening.  Fast.  It is the climate changing, not necessarily the current weather, so just cause we get some snow doesn’t negate the fact that we keep setting records for hottest year, practically every year.  I don’t want to give climate change credit for things it didn’t cause, and I know we had an el nino this year, but damn, if you live in Pennsylvania tell me this wasn’t the strangest fall/winter/spring you have ever lived through.  Globally, the temperatures are rising, the ice is melting, and the oceans are rising.  And this is all shit that a layperson can figure out without an advanced degree in the relevant science.  What kind of a world are we leaving for the future generations?  Are we really that selfish, that deniers with conflicts of interest that make Andrew Wakefield blush can cause so many of us to doubt 97%* of climate scientists?

But, but, but….the founder of the Weather Channel!!!!  What about him, hmmm?  Checkmate, atheist liberal progressive person who accepts scientific consensus.  Wow, the founder of the Weather Channel?  That’s incredibly….meaningless.  Is John Coleman a climate scientist?  Is he publishing current research that challenges the results the rest of climate science keeps coming up with?

Both Fox News and CNN have recently invited John Coleman, one of the founders of The Weather Channel and former TV meteorologist, to express his views about climate change to their national audiences. Coleman is simply an awful choice to discuss this issue. He lacks credentials, many of his statements about climate change completely lack substance or mislead, and I’m not even sure he knows what he actually believes.

To begin, Coleman hasn’t published a single peer-reviewed paper pertaining to climate change science. His career, a successful and distinguished one, was in TV weather for over half a century, prior to his retirement in San Diego last April. He’s worked in the top markets: Chicago and New York, including a 7-year stint on Good Morning America when it launched. If you watch Coleman on-camera, his skill is obvious. He speaks with authority, injects an irreverent sense of humor and knows how to connect with his viewer.

But a climate scientist, he is not.

“Many people don’t accept my position that there is no significant man-made global warming because I am simply a Television Meteorologist without a Ph.D.,” he admitted in a blog post. “I understand that.”

I urge you all to go and read that whole article, it makes the point perfectly why it is one thing for a non-scientist to examine the data and agree that climate change is man made and happening, yet a completely different animal for them to look at the issue and declare that practically every climate scientist in the world is wrong or lying.  But the main point I’m concerned with is the meaninglessness of John Coleman’s scientific opinion on any subject.

Palin is actually worse.  No matter the subject, there is only one person I trust less than Sarah Palin in the United States and that person lived in Sarah’s womb for 9 months.  Yet sadly, for some reason probably related to why Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee for President, some people out there continue to not only care what she has to say, but actually consider her opinion when forming their own.  And when faced with Sarah Palin’s endorsement of this oil company propaganda film, today’s best course of action is to turn it over to Jimmy Kimmel**.

Boom, mic drop.  (There, that’s more current, right?)


** Yes, those were 13 words I never thought I would write in that order.

*Okay, time to make the climate deniers change their pants.  Saying that 97% of climate scientists agree that man made climate change is real and currently happening is misleading and I will never quote the statistic again after this post.  Why?  Well, sorry deniers, you shot your wads a bit prematurely, which I am sure has never happened to any of you before.***  Let’s go to volume 39.6 of the Skeptical Inquirer to check out an article by James Lawrence Powell: (Bolding is mine, as always.)

Since it is inconceivable that any climate scientist today could have no opinion on the subject, if 97 percent accept AGW it follows that 3 percent reject it. To those outside of science, 3 percent may seem an insignificant percentage. However, we scientists know that a small minority has often turned out to be right, otherwise there would have been no scientific revolutions. In the 1950s, for example, the percentage of American geologists who accepted continental drift was likely less than 3 percent. Yet they were right.

If there were a 3 percent minority on AGW it would matter, but there is not. The “97% consensus” is false. The percentage of publishing climate scientists who accept AGW is at least 99.9 percent and may verge on unanimity.

*cut out tweet from Obama here*

How, then, has nearly everyone from President Obama on down come to buy the claim of a 97 percent consensus? The figure comes from a 2013 article in Environmental Research Letters by Cook et al. titled “Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Scientific Literature.” They reported that “Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming” (emphasis added). The 97 percent figure went viral and, not surprisingly, the qualifying phrase “expressing a position”—the fine print, if you will—got dropped. But those three words expose the false assumption inherent in the Cook et al. methodology.

Cook et al. used the Web of Science science-citation research site to review the titles and abstracts of peer-reviewed articles from 1991–2011 with the keywords “global climate change” and “global warming.” They classified the articles into seven categories from “(1) Explicit endorsement with quantification” to “(7) Explicit rejection with quantification.” In the middle was “(4) No position.”

The sine qua non of the Cook et al. method is the assumption that publishing scientists who accept a theory will say so—they will “endorse” it in the title or abstract. To count an article as part of the consensus, Cook et al. required that it “address or mention the cause of global warming.” Of the 11,944 articles that came up in their search, 7,970—two thirds—did not. Cook et al. classified those articles as taking no position and thus ruled them out of the consensus.

Do we need to know any more to realize that there is something wrong with the Cook et al. method? The consensus is what the majority accept; you cannot rule out a two-thirds majority and still derive the consensus.

Moreover, is it true that scientists routinely endorse the ruling paradigm of their discipline? To find out, I used the Web of Science to review articles in three fields: plate tectonics, the origin of lunar craters, and evolution.

Of 500 recent articles on “plate tectonics,” none in my opinion endorsed the theory directly or explicitly. Nor did a single article reject plate tectonics.

…..

What of lunar craters? As recently as 1964, nearly every scientist who had studied the moon believed that its craters were volcanic. Then in July of that year, the first successful Ranger mission returned thousands of photographs showing that the moon exhibits craters ranging in size from the colossal to the microscopic. Except for a few senior holdouts, scientists quickly embraced the meteorite impact theory.

….

I reviewed the abstracts of the most recent 100 articles, which go back to 1997. As with plate tectonics, none explicitly endorsed meteorite impact, nor did any reject it.

…..

Do biologists writing about evolution routinely endorse Darwin’s theory? I reviewed the abstracts of articles in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology from 2000 through 2014. Of 303 articles, 261 had abstracts. Not surprisingly, none of the 261 rejected the modern evolutionary synthesis; neither did any endorse it.

That’s all I’m going to quote from it, but seriously, if you are interested in that 97% number and ever wondered about the apparent 3% who do not accept climate change, you owe it to yourself to read the whole thing.  The actual number is far closer to 99.9%.

***Yeah, I once received constructive criticism that I should leave out little digs like that, or my insinuations that MRAs possess micropenises, and while I understand the critique, in the famous words of Popeye, I yam what I yam.

You Know Guys, I’m Starting to Think Salon Has Something Against Hillary.

Quick stop at Salon (I know, I have a problem…), massive case of the eye rolls.

First we’ve got:

A liberal case for Donald Trump: The lesser of two evils is not at all clear in 2016

followed closely by:

Please, FBI — you’re our last hope: The Democratic Party’s future rests upon your probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails

Let’s quickly begin with Walker Bragman……wait, seriously?  *returns to Salon and clicks around his author page.*  Hmm, “Hillary is only Republican lite”,….ah, here’s “Fine, give the GOP four years,” wonder if he just expects all the Supreme Court justices to be fine and stay in office until 2020 or if he just doesn’t care?  Oh, wait.  I missed “Hillary supporters present a false choice.”  Hmm.  Oh god, sorry about that.  I got lost in his Salon history consisting of nothing but Hillary hit pieces.  Anyway, yeah, his name appears to be Walker Bragman and his is “a liberal case for Donald Trump“:

That said, now that the race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton is effectively over, with the former secretary of state essentially guaranteed the nomination, many liberals and progressives are preparing, once again, to vote for the lesser of two evils. The choice may not be as clear as some Democrats believe — especially if Democrats can take back the Senate and assure themselves of a check on a GOP House.

*raises hand*

Why the living fuck would we be expecting the Democrats to take back the Senate if the Presidential election results in a Donald Trump victory?

Like it or not, the Supreme Court needs to count for much more than anyone willing to concede 4 years to a GOP president is counting it.  GOP presidents have had a much stronger hand in shaping the present court, and that court has been horrible for those wish for a political system they can trust.  It isn’t all about reproductive rights, although if you honestly think we aren’t one judge away from allowing states to outlaw abortion, and if you really believe that they would stop at just abortion once they won that battle, then I envy you your ignorance supported bliss.  The current court gutted the Voting Rights Act.  Citizen’s United was their decision.  Union cases sit at 4-4 currently.  The Supreme Court matters.  It may be the most important result of the upcoming election.  Yet all of these “Sanders or Bust” or “HRC over my dead body” columns act like it’s no big thing.  I don’t get it.  Do they just think all the liberal justices are in perfect health?  Misogyny based on the ignorant belief that the only reason progressives care about the court is abortion access?  Forgetting that a Bernie Sanders presidency would more than likely see the Supreme Court rule every second move he made unconstitutional?  Refusing to believe in the third branch of government?  I just don’t get it.

Anyway, since any conceivable Trump presidential victory would result in the GOP retaining the House and Senate, I really don’t see the need to read any further.  Feel free if you want though.  When you’re done, join the rest of us below…..

As we mock H.A. Goodman’s open letter to the FBI.  (I’m serious.  That’s what it is.)  The letter starts right off raising the stakes super high for us readers:

“Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi.  You’re my only hope.

Wait, sorry, wrong letter.

To the Honorable James B. Comey, Jr. and all the good people at the Federal Bureau of Investigation,

Yeah, that’s all I can bring myself to quote.  I’m sorry, it’s kinda embarrassing, like that time Fonzie got roped into performing a water ski trick over a large fish.  The “TL;DR” version?  It’s a Bernie supporter who finally realized that the only way Sanders is going to get the Democratic nomination this year is if the FBI indicts Hillary before the convention, so he goes to the FBI, telling them how everyone else thinks they are total jokes who will never move out of their parents basements or get a date, but he respects  the FBI as a proud, patriotic, professional organization with VERY LARGE PENISES who should be held up as everything that’s right with America, and oh by the way if you would PLEASE INDICT HILLARY OMG PLEASE PLEASE I’M BEGGING YOU PLEASE!!!!

The saddest thing is that those of you who decide not to read the whole letter will never realize exactly how close my “TL;DR” summary actually is to the original.

Fuck Salon

I’ve bitched in the past about idiotic click-bait articles posted at Salon.  (Nope, not linking Salon.  You can find it if you want.)  And that made me examine articles a bit more before deciding to write about them here.  It is more than idiotic click-bait now, however.  Other than Amanda Marcotte, who I respect tremendously from her days at RH Reality Check (now Rewire), it now seems that half the featured articles are now hit pieces against Hillary Clinton.  Aww.  Did Bernie get beat in New York?  Must be that damned closed primary.  Did HRC win big in the south?  Damn black voters.  Is HRC attending victory fund events where both she and down ticket Democrats benefit?  It’s a corrupt system!!!

Look, I get it.  I felt the Bern.  Until seeing the way his campaign reacted to the New York defeat, I was planning on voting for Sanders in the PA primary.  No longer.  Sorry.  No, independents weren’t allowed to vote in the Democratic (or Republican) primary in New York.  Their votes weren’t suppressed.  They chose to register as independents.  I was once a registered Independent as well.  I changed my registration in order to vote for Obama in the 2008 primary.  Yeah, I’ve recently bitched about the closed primaries for US House and the state House, but those are races where the GOP winner will run unopposed.  If I cared more about which right winger won the primary than who the Democrats nominate for president, then I was free to change my registration once again.  I also understand the reasoning behind closed primaries.  Why should a non-Republican get to choose who the Republicans run for office?  As for HRC running up the score in the “conservative South?”  Yeah, I’m sure all those white Christian conservatives were lining up to vote in the Democratic primary.  How about just say it?  She won in the South because of black voters and that pisses you off?  And fuck Bernie, why don’t you get Susan Sarandon to host you a victory fund gala?  Is it because then you couldn’t bitch about George Clooney, or is it because you don’t give a flying fuck about down ticket Dems?

Jesus fuck.  There was a time that I thought Sanders was great for this election cycle.  Last fucking week I was planning on voting for him.  There was also a time where I read Salon daily and was interested in what they posted.

Times change.

An Apology to the Altoona Mirror and Another Local GOP Debate

Monday I made a comment about the Mirror’s article covering the Shuster V. Halvorson debate, suggesting that it seemed like ” a very amusing write up in the Altoona Mirror as a conservative newspaper attempted to perform simultaneous fellatio on two candidates.”  While I stand by the humor content of the statement, upon further review of the article in question I have decided that it doesn’t really describe the article justly and I feel that I owe the Altoona Mirror an apology.  There are more than enough legitimate gripes I could make about the Mirror.  The above quote was a cheap shot.  I am sorry.  I no longer believe the Mirror instructed the author of the piece to avoid offending either candidate in any way.

I just think the author of the piece is a horrible writer.

What changed my mind?  Yet another Republican debate, this time between the candidates for state House in the 79th district; incumbent John McGinnis and challenger (not from the far right?….*faints*) Pete Starr, and the accompanying write up in the Mirror by the same reporter who covered the previous debate.  (No, I’m not going to slam him by name.  Click the link and check the byline if you really want to know.  I feel bad enough complaining about a local newspaper reporter without causing this post to pop up every time he is Googled.)  Candidate Starr is a strange challenger for this area, where the Tea Party has a major presence in the local GOP and breaking with conservative ideology is political suicide.  As the candidates for the US House keep running so far to the right I expect them to circle back again, Pete Starr seems to be basing his candidacy on his actual beliefs, even if they earn him the “RINO” label.  I mean, can you believe the following is attributed to a Republican candidate?

Starr favors unions, saying the state doesn’t have enough jobs to handle much in-migration, that if an applicant doesn’t want to join a union, he or she should avoid applying to union firms

Wait, what?  Does he want to win this race?  Or how about the following:

On the budget impasse, McGinnis blamed Gov. Tom Wolf and credited lawmakers for holding firm.

Starr placed blame all around and suggested none of the responsible parties should get paid if it happens again, until they reach a resolution.

Putting all the blame on Gov. Wolf for the budget crisis PA is still kinda dealing with is one of the worst lies I’ve seen yet this season.  Oh yes, the poor, brave GOP lawmakers stood up to the evil, mean Governor, protecting their poor constituent’s bank accounts.  Never mind the fact that the way Pennsylvania’s congressional districts are currently drawn practically guarantees large Republican majorities in both the state House and Senate while the majority of voters statewide pull the Democratic lever.  Never mind how Gov. Wolf campaigned on his budget ideas and won 54.9% of the vote, making Corbett the first PA governor in the modern era to lose reelection, during an election year that the Republicans wiped the floor with Democrats all across the nation.  Ignore the compromise that the Governor forged with PA’s congressional Republican leadership only to see the far right Republicans stomp their feet, hold their breath, and insist that compromise is for Democrats and losers, infuriating most of the state as they blocked the deal and allowed the state to continue along without a budget.  Gov. Wolf is not totally innocent here, as especially after the compromise deal was derailed he seemed to take a more hard line stance, but I really have trouble blaming him.  If the situation were reversed, and the Democrats, holding a large state congressional majority, were blocking tax cuts that a Republican governor, who was just elected with 55% of the vote, had campaigned on, the GOP would be screaming about a “mandate from the voters” and how the Democrats were blocking the “will of the people.”

You have to love this line from McGinnis though, making the conservative dick waving that GOP primaries have become plain as day.

“Which of us is more Republican?” McGinnis asked rhetorically.

I would write a bit more about this debate and the article describing it, but I honestly am having trouble giving a shit.  The article is just more of the incomprehensible attempt at repeating the debate, word for word if possible, just like the previous article on the Shuster/Halvorson debate.  Rather than recapping each candidates major points and perhaps highlighting an important exchange or two, the author alternates between the two candidate’s views each paragraph.   Starr says this, but McGinnis said this, then Starr said “Nuh Uh, ” but McGinnis said “Uh Huh!,” causing Starr to claim he was rubber while McGinnis was glue, to which McGinnis responded with a vicious “I know you are, but what am I,” which is when Starr called McGinnis a “doody-head,” to which a visibly upset McGinnis yelled at him to “take it back or my brother is going to kick your ass so hard,” causing Starr to claim that his sister could beat up McGinnis, his brother, and his father, all without breaking a sweat, which caused the moderator to exclaim “oh come on, your sister could not beat up all those people without sweating,” at which point McGinnis, through visible tears, called Starr’s sister a “freak afflicted with cooties,” at which point Starr’s sister stood up in the audience and shouted for McGinnis to “take it back or I’ll step on a crack and fuck your mother right up,” at which caused the whole crowd to stand up and yell “Oh no, she didn’t!!!!,” causing McGinnis to take his ball and go home, ending all hope of a post debate kickball game.

At least that’s what I think I read.  It was a bit all over the place.

The other reason I can’t bring myself to care?  Well, I’m a resident of the 80th district for one.  Second, it’s a closed primary so where I live doesn’t change the power of my vote.  And when the general election comes around, whoever won the GOP primary is going to destroy the sacrificial Democratic candidate, if they even bother running one.  So tell me.  Why should I care?  I can’t even care about my own district, cause my far right representative is unopposed in the primary, unopposed in the general.  That election should be thrilling.

Ah, don’t ya love American democracy?  So good to know that I have a voice, and that my vote matters.

And people wonder why some people don’t bother voting.  Some years I wonder why I bother.

(For those who are wondering, the last Democrat to represent the 79th was in 1979.  The 80th is worse.  From the birth of the district in 1969, one Democrat served one two year term, beginning in 1977.  <Hey, if anyone reading knows why W. William Wilt lost his reelection bid in 1976 I would love to hear why.  Something tells me there is a story in Michael E. Cassidy’s victory begging me to write it.  Youngest PA state Rep in history.  Turned 21 two months prior to being sworn in.  Anyone who knows anything about that election, please let me know.>)

Meet the Newest Person Ted Cruz is “Honored” to Have Support Him.

Its Gordon Klingenschmitt.  You know, Dr. Chaps!  From those tireless folks over at Right Wing Watch:

We have noted several times before that there seems to be no activist who is too extreme to be embraced by Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, so we were not particularly surprised when the Texas senator recently announced that infamous demon-hunting, anti-gay exorcist/state legislator Gordon Klingenschmitt would be part of his Colorado leadership team.

“I am honored to have the support of so many courageous conservatives in Colorado,” Cruz said in a press release celebrating the formation of “his Colorado Leadership Team with the endorsement of 25 current and former elected officials and key grassroots leaders,” including Klingenschmitt.

How extreme is good ole Dr. Chaps? Well….

Klingenschmitt is a viciously anti-gay theocrat who brags of having once tried to rid a woman of the “foul spirit of lesbianism” through an exorcism and believes that gay people “want your soul” and may sexually abuse their own children, which is why he says that they should face government discrimination since only people who are going to heaven are entitled to equal treatment by the government.
….

Klingenschmitt is a man who wrote a book arguing that President Obama is ruled by multiple “demonic spirits” and once even tried to exorcise the White House, claims that “Obamacare causes cancer,” that the Bible commands people to own guns in order to “defend themselves against left wing crazies” and that the FCC is allowing demonic spirits to “molest and visually rape your children“.

I could go on, but I won’t.  Instead, go on over to Right Wing Watch, read some more of his bigotry and watch the videos of him saying this shit, proudly, out loud.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it often at least until the convention, but the only two words that scare me more than “President Trump” are “President Cruz.”

Guess Who Won a Term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court?

The answer isn’t good news for rational minded Wisconsin residents, that’s for sure.  Rebecca Bradley earned herself a 10 year term on the bench yesterday, more than likely thanks to the extra 100,000 or so Republicans who turned out for the hotly contested GOP primary.  As to why a state Supreme Court election was held during the primary election instead of at later date when all Wisconsin citizens would have equal incentive to make it to the polls, say, in November perhaps, during the general election?  (Seriously.  I mean, I vote in every election held in Pennsylvania, but everyone knows we don’t have the best history with voter turnout in this nation.  Why elect a judge to the Supreme Court in April, during the presidential primary?)

So why is Bradley so objectionable?  How about her earlier published viewpoints?

In a column that appeared soon after Clinton was elected, she wrote: “Either you condone drug use, homosexuality, AIDS-producing sex, adultery and murder and are therefore a bad person, or you didn’t know that he supports abortion on demand and socialism, which means you are dumb. Have I offended anyone? Good — some of you really need to wake up.”

Calling Clinton a murderer because of his support for abortion rights, she wrote that anyone who voted for him was “obviously immoral.”

…..

The column and letters to the editor include these statements:

■ “Perhaps AIDS Awareness should seek to educate us with their misdirected compassion for the degenerates who basically commit suicide through their behavior.”

■ “But the homosexuals and drug addicts who do essentially kill themselves and others through their own behavior deservedly receive none of my sympathy.”

■ “This brings me to my next point — why is a student government on a Catholic campus attempting to bring legitimacy to an abnormal sexual preference?”

■ “Heterosexual sex is very healthy in a loving martial relationship. Homosexual sex, however, kills.”

■ “I will certainly characterize whomever transferred their infected blood (to a transfusion recipient) a homosexual or drug-addicted degenerate and a murderer.”

■ “We’ve just had an election (in 1992) which proves the majority of voters are either totally stupid or entirely evil.”

■ Clinton “supports the Freedom of Choice Act, which will allow women to mutilate and dismember their helpless children through their ninth month of pregnancy. Anyone who could consciously vote for such a murderer is obviously immoral.”

Now I know that all looks bad, but I’m sure she doesn’t have the same opinions now.  I mean, Scott Walker says she obviously has changed her views.  And she has been apologizing for her past writings as well.

“To those offended by comments I made as a young college student, I apologize, and assure you that those comments are not reflective of my worldview,” her statement said. “These comments have nothing to do with who I am as a person or a jurist, and they have nothing to do with the issues facing the voters of this state.”

See!  Nothing to worry about.  She’s totally redeemed.  Forgiven.  I’m sure she will be a fair, impartial jurist.  Moving on...

In another article by Bradley, she argued in favor of personhood and compared abortion to slavery and to the Holocaust:

“I recall a time in history when blacks were treated as something less than human for convenience and financial reasons. I recall a time in history when Jews were treated as non-humans and tortured and murdered. Now, at this point in our sad history, we are perpetrating similar slaughter, only we are killing babies,” Bradley wrote in a 1992 column for the Marquette Tribune.

Unlike her comments regarding homosexuals and drug addicts, she cannot back peddle from this. She wrote another column in 2006 repeating similar arguments in favor of allowing pharmacists to deny birth control pills.

It was also revealed this week that Bradley sympathized with Camille Paglia, who had blamed rape victims for the crimes committed against them. On top of that, Bradley had a few choice words about feminists which revealed just how deep her hate goes:

“I intend to expose the feminist movement as largely composed of angry, militant, man-hating lesbians who abhor the traditional family,” Bradley wrote, arguing that the feminist movement had been hijacked by the political left, abandoning its role as a defender of women’s rights.

Well, gee, isn’t that the writing of a well-balanced, impartial judge to be?

Ick.  And defending a pharmacist’s “right” to refuse to fill a woman’s birth control prescription because it is murder in 2006?  Damn.  But she apologized, right?!?

Still, these columns were written decades ago. Unlike some, I don’t think her hate speech from 1992 is an automatic disqualifier. I believe people deserve second chances, former felons and former letter-to-the-editor zealots alike. What bugs me today is the hollowness of Bradley’s apologies.

“I wrote opinion pieces 24 years ago on a variety of issues, and they are opinions that some people may agree with, some people might disagree with,” said Bradley in an interview with The Capital Times.

“To those offended by comments I made as a young college student, I apologize, and assure you that those comments are not reflective of my worldview,” said Bradley in a press statement.

I cannot judge what is in Rebecca Bradley’s heart, but these read to me like the apologies of someone who feels bad their past caught up with them, not the apologies of someone truly regretful. ‘To those offended’ makes it sound like she feels bad for offending potential voters, not for having written the column in the first place.

Even her best defense thus far has some problems.

“As a judge on the Milwaukee children’s court, I presided over adoptions for gay couples who were adopting children and providing loving, safe homes for them,” said Bradley.

While this is a good statement on its surface, it just means she no longer thinks that all homosexuals are bad people. That’s not exactly an apology for her statements on HIV and AIDS. She is okay with monogamous couples adopting children. That’s not even saying she accepts LGBT people; she’s saying she accepts LGBT couples who have adopted a lifestyle she approves of.

She further dilutes her own apology by saying her own views are not relevant.

“At the end of the day, I am called upon to apply the law regardless of how I feel about the law. It is our job to apply the law and follow the law regardless of how we feel about the outcome,” Bradley said.

Those sound like the words of someone who wants to minimize her transgressions, not atone for them. 1992’s Rebecca Bradley isn’t up for election, but 2016’s Rebecca Bradley is — and her wishy-washy apologies don’t reflect the traits I want to see on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

But see her on the Supreme Court is the fate we are all stuck with, for at least the next ten years.

And people wonder why politics has started to depress me.
Sigh.

The Honesty Was Nice While It Lasted

So here is the title of the original post I was writing about this:

Trump Says Something Anti-Abortion Activists Have Been Drooling for Decades to Hear a Politician Say, Anti-Abortionists Promptly Do What They Do Best: Lie.

Yeah, that’s a mouthful.  But since this is Foster Disbelief and not The Daily Mail, I decided to scrap it and start over.

For some reason Donald Trump, the(gag) front running candidate for the Republican presidential (I just threw up a little) nomination, had a sit down interview with Chris Matthews the other day.  I didn’t watch it.  I actually stayed as far away from the television as I possibly could when MSNBC aired the interview.  No thank you.  I can suffer through a Trump interview to see if anything is newsworthy.  I can tolerate watching Chris Matthews on MSNBC because I respect the other voices that make up MSNBC’s political coverage.  Matthews interviewing Trump is just a black hole of idiocy that I won’t even pretend I would willingly put myself through.    (Seriously, listening to Matthews go on about the possibility of a Clinton/Kasich unity ticket during one night of MSNBC’s primary coverage had me contemplating either switching to Fox News or puncturing my ear drums with an ice pick.  He’s the liberal answer to Bill O’Reilly.  Something that, along with the ideological purity police, is something we really don’t need.)

And seemingly for no reason but to punish me and force my poor ears to hear clips of the interview all week, Trump decided to show anti-abortion activists that he really was one of them, honestly, scout’s honor, no take backs, no crossed fingers, he swears.

At a taping of an MSNBC town hall that will air later, host Chris Matthews pressed the Republican presidential front-runner Trump for his thoughts on abortion policy. Trump said he’s in favor of an abortion ban, explaining, “Well, you go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places, but we have to ban it,” according to a partial transcript from Bloomberg Politics.

Matthews asked if there would be a punishment for women who received abortions if they were made illegal. Trump responded, “There has to be some form of punishment.” He elaborated that the punishment would have “to be determined” and the law will depend on the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation battle and the 2016 election.

Matthews, to his credit (I feel dirty for typing that), was all over Trump like a bad toupee rather than allowing the reality show star to word salad his way out of the question.  Progressives immediately held it up as yet another extremist view held by Trump,  Wow, that’s a surprise.  Liberals were going to disagree with Trump’s position on abortion no matter what he said.  Trump’s running as a Republican, which means he has to be “pro-life.”  (What a great political system we’ve built on the corpses of the founding fathers.  Sigh.)  What was surprising was the response by anti-abortion activists as they rushed to distance themselves from Trump.

The central goal of the pro-life movement may be to eliminate abortion, but to the vast majority, the responsibility doesn’t lie with the woman getting an abortion, but the doctor who is providing it.

Even the most staunch pro-life groups were quick to express their disappointment with Trump’s initial statements. Susan B. Anthony List and March for Life, two of the country’s most prominent anti-abortion groups, tweeted that women who have abortions need “healing and compassion” and that punishment is “solely for the abortionist who profits off of the destruction of life.”

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League and a long-time pro-lifer, says that the responsibility of an illegal abortion “should fall on abortion providers, not the women who turn to them in desperation.”

“If Donald Trump is going to run successfully as a pro-life candidate, it’s time he started listening to the pro-life movement,” he says.

Trump’s Republican rivals said much of the same.

“But of course women shouldn’t be punished,” Republican candidate John Kasich said. “I don’t think that’s an appropriate response. It’s a difficult enough situation.”

Fellow GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz echoed Scheidler’s sentiments, saying in a statement that being pro-life isn’t just about the “unborn child,” but the mother as well – something that is “far too often neglected.” The movement, he said in a statement, is about “creating a culture that respects her and embraces life.”

“Of course we shouldn’t be talking about punishing women; we should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world,” he said.

Me thinks the activists doth protest too much.  The only reason pro-life people claim they don’t want the woman punished is because that is a horrifically unpopular position in the larger population.  I am sure some anti-abortion activists honestly do not want the woman punished beyond being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, just as I’m also sure some of them really want to reduce the amount of abortions and would support proven programs such as Colorado’s IUD program,  and some of them think those who shoot abortion providers are murderers.

And if the majority of anti-abortion activists share those beliefs, if they truly want to end abortion and not punish women for being sexually active, if they’re “pro-life” position prohibits the assassination of providers and the bombing of clinics, then those people need to make that clear and stop providing cover for the more extreme members of their movement.

It is the same argument I make to “moderate” Christians.  Shrugging your shoulders and saying that the gay haters aren’t “real Christians” doesn’t cut it.  In fact, going from the Bible, most of the time the fundamentalists have more textual support for their position.  Hey “moderate pro-lifer?”  When you call abortion “murder” and insist it is the “American Holocaust,” you are giving coverage to the clinic bombers and doctor killers, just as the moderate Christian who argues for the infallibility of the Bible protects the anti-gay bigots.

Watching Ted Cruz attack Trump over this issue is even more rich.  The “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition that Ted loves pointing out, is co-chaired by the president of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman.  Newman wrote the book “Their Blood Cries Out,” which was written before anti-abortionists began softening their language to find more support.  Here’s a telling passage (and I urge you to read the whole article from Right Wing Watch.)

While Newman never explicitly calls for the execution of women who have had abortions, as he does abortion providers, he makes very clear that he sees these women as equally culpable for the supposed crime.

He tells the story of a woman in California accused of paying two men $1,000 and some “sexual favors” to murder her husband. Both the woman and the men who executed the hit, he reports, received the same sentence. How, Newman asks, is this different from abortion?

There was no outpouring of public concern from the community declaring her a victim of society. There were no help centers set up to give aid to all future contract killers so that they might find alternatives to murdering their husbands. The churches did not welcome her on the condition that neither of the parties would discuss the crime. There was no legislation brought forward by the National Organization for Women to pardon her and all future murderesses. There was no sympathy publicly expressed for her — only the satisfaction that comes from witnessing justice.

Why, then, do we consider any differently the women who seek to hire killers to murder their pre-born children? Why the hesitancy to say that not only the mothers, but also the fathers who willfully abort their babies, are guilty of murder? Why is there such outrage expressed at the notion that those who know of the crime but do not intervene, like most of the churches in America, share a portion of the guilt?

Who holds the fathers, the mothers, the neighbors, the pastors, and the bystanders guilty? Who would dare?

God can! God does!

By comparing abortion directly to any other act of premeditated contract killing, it is easy to see that there is no difference in principle. However, in our society, a mother of an aborted baby is considered untouchable where as any other mother, killing any other family member, would be called what she is: a murderer.

..

When Newman endorsed Cruz, Ted was quick to play up the endorsement on his campaign website.
“I am grateful to receive the endorsement of Troy Newman,” Cruz said. “He has served as a voice for the unborn for over 25 years, and works tirelessly every day for the pro-life cause. We need leaders like Troy Newman in this country who will stand up for those who do not have a voice.”
How extreme is Newman?

“Today’s scheduled execution of Paul Hill is not justice, but is another example of the judicial tyranny that is gripping our nation. A Florida judge denied Rev. Hill his right to present a defense that claimed that the killing of the abortionist was necessary to save the lives of the pre-born babies that were scheduled to be killed by abortion that day. Our system of justice is based upon ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ but in Rev. Hill’s case, there was no justice because the court prevented him from presenting the legal defense that his conduct was justifiable defensive action.

“There are many examples where taking the life in defense of innocent human beings is legally justified and permissible under the law. Paul Hill should have been given the opportunity to defend himself with the defense of his choosing in a court of law. [Operation Rescue West press release, 9/3/03, via Media Matters]

How about banned from Australia extreme?

Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, had been scheduled to begin a speaking tour in Australia on Friday. But immigration officials canceled his visa before he left the United States after Australian politicians raised concerns that he might encourage violence against abortion providers or women seeking the procedure.

He managed to board a flight from Los Angeles despite not having a valid visa but was detained by immigration officers at Melbourne Airport while trying to enter the country on Thursday.

[…]

Terri Butler, a Labor member of the Australian Parliament, had called for the government to revoke Mr. Newman’s visa this week. In a letter to Mr. Dutton, she cited passages from a book that Mr. Newman co-wrote that called for abortion doctors to be executed. [New York Times10/2/15]

Anti-abortion activists may spend the whole week screaming that they don’t want women punished for having an abortion.  Just like they claim they aren’t against contraception when it serves their purposes, just like they claim they are against violence in the aftermath of each clinic bombing or doctor assassination.

What matters is their language when no one is watching.  The stuff they say when they are surrounded by only true believers.  As they continue to escalate the debate with inflammatory language.  As they publish the names and home addresses of providers.  As they unscientifically claim one contraception method after another is actually abortion.

It is about ending abortion.  It is also about taking reproductive control away from women and forcing them back into the kitchen.  If it was honestly all about abortion we live in a nation that is rich enough to practically eliminate elective abortions.  Abortion could be nothing but a procedure that occurs only during the current “exceptions.”  Rape, incest and the life of the mother or non-viable pregnancy.  We could provide every woman of reproductive age contraception.  We could turn abortion into an incredibly rare procedure, rather than one that is more common than anyone realizes.  But there’s no slut shaming involved there, and it doesn’t serve to reinforce the patriarchy.

Trump says some insane shit.  Trump takes some extreme positions.  Don’t buy the lie that this (even though he did walk it back later) is one of them.  This is a mainstream belief in the GOP.  It just isn’t one they like outsiders to know about.

 

You Mad, Bro?

So what is the proper response to this piece at Salon, continuing their tradition of “If Bernie isn’t the nominee, I’m taking my ball and going home!” posts?

Democrats, you can’t vote for Hillary: The case for writing in Bernie Sanders If Hillary Clinton is the nominee

Can I be Frank?  (Which is only fitting since H.A. Goodman is oh so Ernest.<sic>)  This article comes very close to triggering my “Poe’s Law” alarm.

Yeah, I know it isn’t satire.  I know it is an honest argument against voting for HRC, written by someone who honestly feels that electing her President would be worse for the nation than either President Trump or President Cruz, who of course would be working with majorities in both congressional bodies.  I think that is nucking futs, but I understand how one could get to that belief.

Hillary Clinton as president would seamlessly merge Republicans and Democrats into one party on war and foreign policy, led by the same people who advised Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, and even Richard Milhous Nixon.

*eyebrow raise*  Really?  Seamless merger into one party on foreign policy and war?  Seriously?  I mean, I’ll admit it, HRC is a bit to the right for my tastes.  The entire Democratic party is too far to the right for me, to be perfectly honest.  Yes, I believe that the trainwreck the GOP has become, sending it so far to the right it threatens to come back around, has dragged the Democrats to the right as they attempt to pick up the moderates abandoned by the Republicans.  I believe progressives need to drag the party, kicking and screaming if must be, back to the left.  And we are.  Sure, it isn’t coming fast enough for my liking, but I didn’t think it would be easy.  And yes, I think we need to do it with our votes, in addition to other resources.  I just do not feel the proper time for that is during the general election.  But HRC is not Cruz or Trump.  Or did I miss her pledge to rip up the Iranian deal on day one?

I love Bernie Sanders as a candidate.  I love his ideas, while admitting that I don’t agree with every word that drops from his mouth.  (For the record, I think a national 15 dollar minimum wage isn’t currently a good idea.  I really think that is too high for many areas, including the Altoona, Pennsylvania area where I reside.  It needs to be higher, don’t get me wrong, and in many urban areas <and other locations as well, I’m sure> 15$ is a fair minimum, but instead maybe we should figure out a way to tie it to average housing and food costs. county by county, or some other equation?  12$ an hour would be perfectly fine right now in the Altoona area.  15$ could seriously shut places down.)  But he is my candidate of choice.  When the Pennsylvanian primary rolls around, I will be voting for Bernie no matter what the state of the race may be.  But when the general comes around, there will be no protest vote coming from these hands.  Whomever the Democrats nominate will have my presidential vote.  Why?  One last quote from the Salon piece.:

As for risking a Trump future, I explain why none of Trump’s plans would pass Congress during my recent appearance on CNN International with John Vause.

None of them? Hold on, let me watch his appearance quick and see what he is saying…..

Wow.  I wish I wouldn’t have watched that.  He seriously thinks that single payer healthcare could get through Congress, but none of Trump’s policies would?  I really don’t even know what to say to that.  Maybe his exact policies would run into trouble, but do you really believe he won’t be able to work out a deal on a tax cut for the rich?  That the GOP will block his judicial nominees?  Are we really so sure we should be underestimating Trump’s ability to get things done, when a year ago I would be laughed off the planet for predicting the current nomination battle?

I really don’t know how I should respond to these pieces.  I mean, isn’t rigid political ideology the GOP’s mess, with their pledges to never raise taxes, and their threats to primary anyone who dare compromise, with their House Freedom Caucus and their, well, with Ted Cruz?  Am I just missing the countless Democratic voices complaining about Dino’s at every turn?

Yes, I want the party to move to the left.  Yes, I support Bernie Sanders.  Yes, I think the whole political spectrum needs to move to the left.  But throwing a Presidential election to either Trump or Cruz?  I just don’t get it.  Even if the Supreme Court is the only reason you pull the lever.  Protest voting has a time and a place.  During the primary.

I don’t know.  Maybe its just being a voting progressive in 2000.  Gore won my state, so my vote for Nader didn’t really cost anything, other than running up the popular vote tally.  But if I lived in Florida and cast the same ballot, I would have been begging for the ballot back.  *shrugs*

 

A “Wait, What?!?” That Caused Me To Cover My Monitor In Coffee.

There is so many delusional people in the United States today that it is difficult to pick a most delusional faction of the populace.  Is it members of the GOP who insist they had nothing to do with the rise of Trump?  Members of the GOP who still think Marco Rubio will become the GOP nominee?  Voters who believe Ted Cruz wouldn’t strangle a puppy on camera if it got him the nomination?  Progressives who apparently think the Tea Party and the House Freedom Caucus are on to something and claim they will sit out the election if HRC wins the nomination, refusing to acknowledge that another Clinton in the White House would be better than the modern GOP having control of every branch of government for a few years?  Pro-lifers who honestly believe Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts out of the trunk of their car to the highest bidder?  Gun owners who seriously believe the authors of the Bill of Rights would agree that the private ownership of an assault rifle is a right, not a privilege?  Citizens that truly believe we are living in a post-racial society, even after being smacked in the face with the crime that is the poisoning of Flint?

Just when I think it is impossible to choose a winner, Ed Brayton rescues me, drawing my attention to indeed, the most delusion segment of the population, hands down.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your hysterical overreaction of the day. In an article on Pat Robertson’s CBN website, unhinged anti-gay bigot Brian Camenker of MassResistance says that Christians today are being treated just like the Jews were in Nazi Germany because they’re being “demonized.”

 

Some say American Christians are paranoid, that they’re feeling targeted and persecuted. But is it possible America is facing a growing anti-Christian agenda?

Some on the frontline of the culture wars have responded with a resounding “yes.” They feel it up close and personal – right in their faces.

“I’m particularly sensitive to that because I’m Jewish,” Brian Camenker, with Mass Resistance, told CBN News.

“I saw what happened to Jews in the 1930s and 40s and much of that same thing is happening to Christians now,” he said. “There’s an organized movement to demonize Christians.”

Maggie Gallagher, with the American Principles Project, agreed.

“What we’re seeing very clearly is an effort to target them [Christians] legally when possible and then to humiliate or deprive them of social respect,” she said.

I’m honestly speechless.  Thanks Ed.