Thursday, June 30, 2011

St. Louis Tea Party Sees Military Truck, Decides It's Proof of New World Order

The official St. Louis Tea Party blog as well as their daily news service featured a post last week claiming that they had noticed a number of military vehicles on the road and decided that this is evidence of a secret plan for a New World Order. The blog featured this awesome video:

Note the background picture for the video says:
Potential Hazards Include:
Military Draft
World War Three
Forced Vaccinations
Prison Industrial Complex
Elite Controlled Depopulation
The St. Louis Tea Party author of the post added the following:
Now I want to know what is really going on. . .far too many reports to be pure coincidence! Why the secrecy? Are we gearing up for the 10 year anniversary of 9/11? Preparing for Libya? Is Martial Law about to be enacted?

Sheesh, I guess someone should have told them that last week was Marine Week in St. Louis.

Photos from United Way's African American Leadership Society Kickoff

Message from the St. Louis United Way:
At the kickoff event, held at Vin de Set in St. Louis, Richard Mark, 2011 African American Leadership Society campaign chair, announced to a crowd of more than 400, a “one-two punch of 1,000 members and $2 million” for the 2011 African American Leadership Society goal for United Way’s fall fundraising campaign.

Nearly $300,000 in pledges was made toward the $2 million goal at the kickoff -- thank you!

In 2010, the Society had more than 800 members and raised more than $1.8 million to help people locally through United Way of Greater St. Louis. This Society recognizes African Americans who donate $1,000 or more to United Way annually.

Society members can expect special events exclusive to Leadership givers, membership in other local and national societies, opportunities for non-profit board trainings, networking events and more.

More than $19.75 million was invested into 61 of United Way’s partner agencies that primarily serve African Americans throughout United Way’s 16-county service area last year.
They're encouraging people to join their new facebook page.

The Need for the Midwest Rising Convergence

So many of us in the Saint Louis community spend so much of our lives working towards a more just and sustainable city. Whether this is through fighting against the tide of what exists already that must be changed or stopped, or through creation of infrastructure and new spaces coming from a vision of the world in which you'd like to live.

The seemingly disparate issues we work across more often than not have a common thread that links us together: the sapping away of influence and means into the hands of a very privileged and powerful few. Among those elected to national office, concern for the public good either doesn't seem to exist, or is constricted to the point of being negligible. The interests of elected officials at every step of the ladder all the way up to the highest office in the land are more reflective of their corporate sponsors then their public constituencies.

Corporate influence is seen in the stripping away of union bargaining power, opening huge swaths of land for coal and natural gas extraction, picking a superstar monoculture of the year at the expense of actually growing real food, or bailing out the most concentrated and powerful financial institutions ever (while in the same breath blaming the victims of their practices for getting kicked out of their homes). This list can go on, but it's exasperating enough as it is.

All the while we’re told that this is in our best interests because it's just the way the world has to work and you’re either naive or just plain stupid if you think otherwise. And often it does feel inevitable, that this truly is the way things have to be. This is in fact how the world works and how could it be otherwise?

How do you expect to power everything? How do you expect to feed everyone? Who’s going to give you a loan when you need it? Who's going to arm your soldiers or build your drones to blow up enough terrorists so that you aren't constantly terrified? How are you going to bring light and hope to the impoverished of the world? How will you ever retain your freedoms?

Valid questions, for the most part, and all that have fabulously perfected answers right on the tip of many a CEO’s tongue. Such answers range from plausible at first glance to obviously catastrophic to anyone without a corporate jet to fly one away to safety. The answers from these corporations all boil down to basically one premise: get out of our way, you’re blocking the path to progress that we are bulldozing through this earth. Give us more of what we need and we’ll set things right, the way God intended. Nearly half the nationally elected officials in this, the most powerful country that has ever existed, absolutely agree. That’s the way things have to be so best to get used to it ...

... OR! You say to "hell with that!" Because you see how the world is functioning right now is crazy and it absolutely must stop. Because you realize that while the world may function in idiotic ways, it does not, in fact, have to. Because it hasn’t always worked this way, and the sooner it gets in line with some semblance of reality the better. Thankfully there are plenty of people like yourself who are either willing or are already working on either pushing back against the onslaught of corporate influence or creating things and spaces in such a way as to diminish the capacity for corporate influence altogether. Whether you're out there creating barter circles, starting bike co-ops, taking the fight to your capital building, taking the fight to the streets, growing your own food, creating community gardens and other community spaces ... these are all key pieces in developing a more just and sustainable world.

Of the many lessons to be learned from the recent Wisconsin protests, a really textbook example of the influence of corporate power and thought, is this: it was not enough. More people and more ideas are needed. This can come from working across our different issues to find the common causes within them. This can come from having a shared vision. We can't work in isolation in the sometimes narrow scope of our own work, important thought it may be. We can’t solar cell and wind-turbine our way into paradise and we most certainly won't be led there by any President whose first priority is to a system that places profit at the very heart of human existence and the grotesque financial system that keeps it afloat at whatever cost.

The Convergence is meant to bring all sorts of people together who see the value in uniting and better understanding how our struggles are not as disparate as they might seem. To understand what does a sustainable and just world look like and not just through one set of eyes. Environmental and social justice activists, low-income and workers rights advocates, immigrant and indigenous rights advocates ... all will be present because all have their experiences and visions for what we're working towards to share.

We will be looking at the intersections between oppression, economic and environmental justice, and the need for direct action and organizing to address these concerns. The Convergence will be 4 days of workshops, trainings, discussion, and direct action targeted at understanding and changing the institutions that threaten the future of the planet we live on. We hope to see you there!

For more information and ways to get involved see

Climate Action Saint Louis

Instead of War Coalition

Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment

Rising Tide North America

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Carbon Disclosure Project Founder Speaks At Webster (VIDEO)

Paul Dickinson, Founder of the Carbon Disclosure Project, spoke at Webster University today about the project, arguing that energy efficiency will be good for the United States' role in the global economy:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Despite What His Spokesperson Says, Todd Akin Has Previously Made Similar Attacks On Liberals' Religious Beliefs

Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin has been getting slammed by religious leaders for making the following offensive comments:
I think NBC has a long record of being very liberal and at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God. And so they’ve had a long history of not being at all favorable toward many of things that have been such a blessing to our country.
Akin's spokesperson claimed that these remarks were "off-the-cuff" and that Akin didn't have sufficient time to explain his allegedly less-offensive point:
Akin Communications Director Steve Taylor said the point Akin was trying to make was that there is a basic difference between the tenets of liberalism and conservatism. Conservatives believe rights are granted by God and it is the responsibility of government to aid in protecting them, Taylor said.

“Liberals believe rights are granted by government,” he said. “Congressman Akin believes those two concepts define the basic debate between the two ideologies.”

Akin’s comments were off the cuff, Taylor said, and with more time to articulate his point he could have “provided a more artful answer.” But he wasn’t talking about anyone’s individual relationship with God, Taylor said, only the “defining principles of two political ideologies.”
Unfortunately for Akin, however, Gloria at ForwardSTL has unearthed some screen shots from Akin's 2010 website that show that, when he had all the time in the world to articulate his position, he said much the same thing:
True Conservatives believe that their Creator granted them certain unalienable rights, and this freedom has its origin in the heart of the citizens. This conviction works from the bottom up, moving from self-government to family-government to church-government and eventually to civil-government. Liberals instinctively seek to make civil government their god, and force everyone else to become their slaves through big government takeovers. They wish to control what you own, but also what you think.
In other words, even with all of the time in the world to craft his message, Akin still clearly is claiming that liberalism is in opposition to belief in God.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Washington Post: Nixon is Tough to Beat

Aaron Blake at the Washington Post states that Governor Jay Nixon will be "tough to beat" in 2012:
5. Missouri (Democratic-controlled, 2012): Nixon’s solid response to the tornado in Joplin, Mo., last month solidified the picture of a popular incumbent who will be tough to beat. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R), meanwhile, has stumbled out of the gate. About the only thing that suggests Kinder has a chance is the presidential race. (Obama lost the state in 2008 and isn’t likely to win in 2012.) But as we discussed above, that may not be worth much. If Lynch retires in New Hampshire, this one may fall off the list soon. (Previous ranking: 4.
Between this and redistricting of the state legislature, I wonder if there's hope for having a more sane political situation (at the state level) in 2013.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Carnahan Calls for Scaling Back Afghanistan Presence

Statement from Carnahan's office:
With the capture of Osama bin Laden and other gains against Al Qaeda’s terrorist network in the region, it’s time to scale back our military presence using a balanced approach.

We need to move swiftly to bring our troops home, but the drawdown must be measured and responsible – further progress on training Afghanistan National Security Forces and improved governance is fundamental to ensuring a successful transition to Afghan control and stability.

State Republican Party Message: Missouri Sucks and Should Be More Like Texas

Last night, Missouri Republicans (including 2nd Congressional District candidate Ann Wagner) cheered as Texas Governor Rick Perry told them that Missouri "can't compete" with Texas because of the state's personal income tax.

In case you thought this is merely polite clapping for a potential presidential candidate, the statements by Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Lloyd Smith make it clear that "Missouri Sucks and Texas Rocks" was the intended message of the evening:
Said state Republican Party executive director Lloyd Smith: "We are excited to hear from Gov. Rick Perry, who, unlike Jay Nixon, has exhibited tremendous leadership during the economic downturn."

Continued Smith: "The results could not be more clear: Rick Perry's Texas is growing and prospering, while Jay Nixon's Missouri is falling behind. Rick Perry is an example of the kind of responsible, conservative, job-creating leadership that Peter Kinder would provide for Missouri."
Before all the state Republicans go out and stock up on Texas A&M gear, they may want to consider that Texas is having it's own massive budget crisis comparable to states like Illinois, New York, and California, and has the largest number (and tied for largest percentage) of people working at or below the federal minimum wage.

Schweich Attends Fundraiser for the Guy He Should Be Investigating

New press release from the Missouri Democratic Party that makes a pretty strong argument about the inappropriateness of Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich attending a fundraiser for Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder while his office is supposed to be investigating Kinder:

Jefferson City, Mo.—State Auditor Tom Schweich attended a fundraiser for Peter Kinder in Chesterfield last night, despite the fact Schweich's office is in the middle of a highly-publicized investigation of Peter Kinder’s inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars.

Schweich’s attendance at the fundraiser further underscores Schweich’s conflict of interest with Peter Kinder and the need for an independent, third party investigation of Kinder’s travel.

“Tom Schweich has made it clear that he’s a politician first, State Auditor second and has compromised any ability for his office to conduct a real investigation as to how much taxpayer money Peter Kinder wasted,” said Caitlin Legacki, Missouri Democratic Party spokeswoman. “Schweich needs to appoint a third-party, independent auditor to conduct an appropriate investigation of how much taxpayer money Peter Kinder wasted to facilitate his lavish lifestyle.”

Three things to look for when Schweich’s office releases their “review” of Peter Kinder’s misuse of tax dollars:

  • Since the auditor’s office has said they’d have access to Kinder’s schedules, will those schedules be made public? To date, Kinder has refused to make his schedules available to the press and public.
  • Did the auditor’s office examine the costs of the meals of Kinder’s personal and political travels for which he charged taxpayers?
  • Did the auditor’s office examine the costs of Kinder's travel to attend personal and political events for which he charged taxpayers?

State Auditor Tom Schweich -- and his staff -- have serious conflicts-of-interest when it comes to Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder.

  • Deputy Auditor Harry Otto, a Schweich Appointee, Contributed to Kinder. In 2004, now-Deputy Auditor Harry Otto contributed $200 to Peter Kinder's debt committee. Schweich appointed Otto to the position of Deputy Auditor by in January 2011. Otto has also contributed generously to former Gov. Matt Blunt, State Sen. Brad Lager, and the Missouri GOP. [Missouri Ethics Commission; AP, 1/13/11]
  • Kinder Emceed Schweich Fundraiser Before Billing Taxpayers for a Night at the Chase. In 2009, Kinder was the master of ceremonies at a fundraiser for Schweich fundraiser, after which he billed taxpayers for a night at the Chase Park Plaza. [St. Louis Beacon, 10/5/09; Kinder Hotel Receipt]

  • Kinder Helped Persuade Schweich Not To Run For Senate & Contributed More Than $200,000 to His Auditor Campaign. The lieutenant governor kicked in a whopping $220,000 for Schweich’s 2010 campaign for state auditor. In fact, according to the Associated Press, “Kinder played a role in persuading Schweich to run for auditor instead of challenging Matt Blunt’s father, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, in a Republican primary for U.S. Senate.” Matt Blunt later forgave a $300,000 loan made to Kinder’s 2008 re-election campaign. [AP, 12/30/10; Kansas City Star, 1/9/2011]

As noted previously, Schweich's deputy auditor Harry Otto has already gone out of his way to water down the potential investigation.

Is there any function of government that modern day Republicans don't reduce to partisan politics?

Envisioning Hyde Park

Message from Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice:

The excitement is growing! The children in the Urban Expressions art and photography classes are in the second week of their 5 week program. Andrew Raimist, the photographer working with the students in the Women's Voices "North of Delmar" project, will soon be sending photos such as the one shown here for display on the WV website and Facebook pages.

The wonderful opportunity these children have to be empowered through artistic expression could be extended 2 more weeks with additional funding. And this would mean that we would have even more photos to show the entire St. Louis community what is happening "North of Delmar."

Although Women's Voices is not a fundraising organization, we thought you might like to view the video "Envisioning Hyde Park" and make a contribution to help this project continue through the end of July. Contributions made via this web site must meet or exceed $4,200 by July 7, or your gift will not be processed.

And in September, at our first program in the fall, Andrew and others will come tell us about Urban Expressions, the Rebuild Foundation, and we'll have an opportunity to talk about the "North of Delmar" photos. We have a fascinating year ahead of


Mary Clemons, president

Rick Perry Calls For Elimination of State Personal Income Tax

At a fundraiser for Peter Kinder, Texas Governor Rick Perry claims that Missouri is not "as competitive as it should be" because residents pay a personal income tax:

The text:
What that says to me is, the federal government was created by the states to be an agent for the states not the other way around. This man gets it about competition. See there is a reason that Missouri is not as competitive as it should be. Want me to tell you what it is? It's called an "income tax." A personal income tax. You've got one and we don't! You get rid of your personal income tax and then you can come compete with us. I'm serious as a heart attack here.

Because, as we all know, if there's one thing Missouri needs, it's even more cuts to education and vital services.

And by the way, that's 2nd Congressional District Republican candidate Ann Wagner seen on the video clapping for Perry's suggestion.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Join The Missouri Sierra Club's Clean Energy Jobs Tour

Thursday, June 30, 9:30 am to 12 noon
Meet at the Three Brothers Restaurant in Labadie, MO

Participate in the Missouri Sierra Club's first Clean Energy Jobs tour on Thursday, June 30 in Franklin County, just west of St. Louis County.

Please RSVP here.

The bus tour will depart at 9:30am from the Three Brothers Restaurant in Labadie located at 117 Front St, Labadie, MO 63055 (get a map)
We will begin by viewing the site of Ameren's proposed new coal ash pit at the Labadie coal fired power plant. Leaders from the Labadie Environmental Organization will be our tour guides.

We will then tour the recently expanded CG Power Systems plant outside of Washington, MO, which manufactures transformers for wind and solar generators.

We will return to Labadie at noon. The tour is free.

RSVP today for the Missouri Sierra Club's Clean Energy Jobs Tour!

This is a great opportunity to see the birth of a clean energy economy here in Missouri.

If you have any questions, please call 314-644-1011 or else email

March In The Pride Parade With Women's Voices Raised For Social Justice

From Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice:
Join us for a fun event! Sunday, June 26 is the PRIDE Parade. We'll gather at the corner of S. Grand and Utah at 11:00 am, along with a huge, crazy, enthusiastic crowd of folks. We'll march with our signs and Women's Voices banner. The parade ends at Tower Grove Park where the PrideFest is underway. Bring family and friends - all welcome.

Suggestions: wear your purple WVs t-shirt, or a white shirt, khaki pants, comfortable shoes and sunscreen! Water is your best accessory. Carpool if possible - parking is available on the side streets off Grand.

Email Susan Hayman if you're coming:

MO Democratic Party Slams Rick Perry and Peter Kinder for Living Large On the Taxpayers Dime

Press Release:
Jefferson City, Mo.—As Peter Kinder welcomes Texas Governor Rick Perry to Missouri for a fundraiser tonight, Kinder draws attention to their shared tendency for mismanaging public funds and living extravagantly at the expense of taxpayers.

“Peter Kinder and Rick Perry are two undeclared candidates who think they deserve promotions, but here's the biggest difference: you can find Republicans who actually want Rick Perry to run,” said Caitlin Legacki, Missouri Democratic Party spokeswoman. “Peter Kinder's been nothing short of an embarrassment, still fumbling to explain why he hangs out at five-star hotels and sends the bill to taxpayers.”

Kinder, who repaid taxpayers more than $52,000 after filing inappropriate reimbursements to attend political and personal events, is still being audited by State Auditor (and Kinder campaign beneficiary) Tom Schweich. Will Schweich or any staff from the Auditor’s office attend the Kinder fundraiser tonight?


Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov Peter Kinder have more in common than you might think. Specifically, a penchant for living the high life on the taxpayer's dime.
  • Texas Faced a $27 Billion Shortfall for Fiscal 2012. Texas faced a $27 billion shortfall for fiscal 2012, among the worst in the nation. [Austin American Statesman, 6/15/11]
  • Perry Lives in $9,000 Per Month Mansion At Taxpayer Expense. Since 2007, Gov. Perry has charged taxpayers to live in a swank $9,000-per-month home in a gated community outside Austin. Texas taxpayers have been forced to foot the bill for more than $600,000 in rent and housing-related expenses for the Governor. [Austin American Statesman, 10/16/10; AP, 5/17/10]
  • During Tight Budget Times, Gov. Perry Spares No Expense for Life of Luxury. As reported by the AP, “it costs more than $10,000 a month in rent, utilities and upkeep to house Perry in a five-bedroom, seven-bath mansion that has pecan-wood floors, a gourmet kitchen and three dining rooms… Perry's state-paid expenses at the home include $18,000 for "consumables" such as household supplies and cleaning products, $1,001.46 in window coverings from upscale retailer Neiman Marcus, a $1,000 "emergency repair" of the governor's filtered ice machine, a $700 clothes rack, and a little over $70 for a two year subscription to Food & Wine Magazine.” [AP, 5/17/10]
Meanwhile, questions remain about Peter Kinder’s ongoing audit:

Deputy State Auditor Harry Otto and Schweich have already gone out of their way to manage expectations about the veracity and integrity of their “audit,” but here’s what we can expect:

  • Otto Will Have Access to the Calendars. Otto said the auditor's office has the technical experts needed to deal with any technical issues, and access the calendars. The auditor's office also plans to make its findings public -- without charge. [St. Louis Beacon, 4/28/11]

  • Otto Will Not Review Appropriateness of Kinder’s Stays. Deputy Auditor Harry Otto said the review will focus primarily on Kinder’s math and methodology in determining his payment — not on whether each reimbursement Kinder had received for lodging, meals or travel was appropriate based on the breakdown of official, political or personal functions he attended. “We don’t intend to drill into a calendar and make a determination with respect to whether a trip was 82.5 percent state and 17.5 percent non-state business,” Otto said. Rather, he added, “We want to see the supporting documents that justify the calculation that office has made.” [AP, 4/28/11]
  • Otto Will Not Delve Deeply into Whether Trips Were Personal or State Business. Otto said the audit would not delve too deeply into examining whether or not trips were for personal or state business purposes, unless contradictions were obvious. “A statewide elected official has some discretion with respect to determining what or what is not in the best of interest of the state government when it comes to traveling,” Otto said. “We don’t second guess every trip.” [Missouri News Horizon, 4/28/11]
  • Otto Will Not Evaluate Whether Kinder Mixed Political & Personal. The deputy auditor assigned to the inquiry, Harry Otto, said the focus is not whether Kinder mixed official business and political activity. Instead, "we want to see the supporting documents that justify the calculations that were made," Otto said. But, Otto said, if auditors notice a trip that was overtly personal or political, "we'll make the appropriate adjustments." It's also possible, the auditor's office said, that the review could find Kinder paid too much, in which case he could get money back. [St. Louis Post Dispatch, 4/28/11]
  • But We Know Kinder Billed Taxpayers While Attending Personal & Political Events. As reported by the Post Dispatch, “Kinder billed the state for hotel stays and meals when he came to St. Louis to attend society balls, baseball games and political events” and “often listed no official reason on his expense reports for billing taxpayers for nights at the Chase or Four Seasons.” [St. Louis Post Dispatch, 4/3/11]

  • And the St. Louis Stays May Only Be The Tip of the Iceberg: Earlier this month, the Kansas City Star raised new questions about Kinder’s use of the Kansas City Intercontinental Hotel at “taxpayer expense” after raising over $9,000 for his campaign and attending a fundraiser with Republican strategist Karl Rove. As reported by Star, “the bill for Kinder’s three-day stay at the Intercontinental may have exceeded the limits on government lodging reimbursement.” [Kansas City Star, 4/7/11]

  • What About Meals Associated with Politics/Personal Travel? Kinder told the press that the $52,320 check he wrote last month reflected all of the money Kinder was reimbursed by the state for in-state travel. But according to public records, Kinder has been reimbursed for over $11,000 in meal costs since 2006. An audit is needed to confirm these costs were associated with official state business. [St. Louis Post Dispatch, 4/26/11; Missouri Accountability Portal, Accessed 4/5/11]

Now Todd Akin on the other hand, he just likes to bill taxpayers for his tea party rallies.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Carnahan Pushing Back Against Paul Ryan's Plan to End Medicare As We Know It

Glad that Russ Carnahan is actively pushing back against Paul Ryan's budget plan which calls for privatizing Medicare:


Carnahan will give a brief update regarding Medicare and answer questions from residents

(St. Louis, MO) – This Tuesday, June 21 at 10:30 a.m. Central Time, Rep. Russ Carnahan will speak to residents of the Bethesda Terrace Independent Living Center regarding the upcoming congressional budget proposals and how we can get our debt under control without ending Medicare and scapegoating our seniors.

Carnahan will discuss how Republican budget proposals will affect seniors, and will reaffirm his efforts to prevent deep cuts to the programs seniors rely on.

“I am working hard every day with the help of my Senior Advisory Panel to protect Social Security, strengthen and improve Medicare, and defend programs vital to our seniors,” Carnahan said. “Instead of scapegoating seniors, we should look first at cuts to taxpayer giveaways for oil companies and giant corporations who ship jobs overseas.”

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Is StarChild111 Actually "Jennifer George"? -Updated X 2

Jennifer Preston at the New York Times wrote a fascinating story on Friday documenting that two high school girls who seemed to be at the heart of one of #weinergate's major sub-plots did not actually exist. The IDs they provided were not real, as Preston confirmed by contacting the state and the school they claimed to attend. At this point it's not at all clear what was going on: they might have been trying to set up Weiner, they might have been trying to set up Breitbart and Dana Loesch (because, as Tommy Christopher knew but did not report, one of them claimed that Loesch and Breitbart were trying to get them to tell a story about their interactions with Weiner), or they might be real but simply disguising their actual identities.

Anyway, yesterday, someone tweeted an interesting
link that showed that one of the girls, @starchild111, who throughout #weinergate was thought to be named "Nikki", originally had the name "Jenay."

This prompted me to reexamine some of the search results for @starchild, and it appears that the account @starchild111 is actually associated with the name "Jennifer George" (click the photo for a larger view):

It's not entirely clear what to make of this information...but it certainly seems like something worth investigating.

Update: I've removed a little bit of information that singles out particular individuals (though I should note that I never provided any information that would allow anyone to be directly contacted) because there are reports of people getting angry calls. Obviously this kind of behavior, like the constant pestering from right-wing bloggers of people associated with the story, is not called for.None of the people who regularly read this blog would engage in such idiotic behavior, but I sure hope whoever is doing it stops. Keep in mind that the name might be fake, and that even if it's real there are lots of people named Jennifer George in the world, so approaching any particular individual in an accusatory manner is obnoxious and unacceptable behavior.

Update #2: Lee Stranahan says he was called by a woman claiming to be Jennifer George, who told him that she owned the account in 2009 but then deleted it, and that someone later started a new account with the same name. So far, it is not entirely clear whether that explanation is even possible. Sounds like Twitter does make accounts available after 30 days of deactivation, so this story is possibly true. But that wouldn't explain why the cache from 1/1/11 used the name "Jenay" rather than "Nikki."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Broad Coalition of Missourians Call on Senator McCaskill to Protect Critical Services, Health, & Retirement Programs (PHOTOS)

From the press release:
ST. LOUIS – As Congress works to balance the budget and reduce the deficit, hundreds of Missourians rallied today in front of Senator Claire McCaskill's (D-MO) office to urge her to protect Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and workers who provide services that are critical to the safety and well-being of Americans. During the rally, Senator McCaskill met with representatives from the American Federation of Government Employees, Missouri Jobs with Justice, Paraquad, Missouri Budget Project, Metropolitan Congregations United, GRO-Grass Roots Organizing, Missouri Health Care for All, and Missouri Pro-Vote.

At the rally the Reverend Susan Sneed of Metropolitan Congregations United spoke of the importance of Medicare to her efforts to provide care for her elderly mother, stating that “balancing the federal budget on the backs of vulnerable Americans is never the answer. We promised our seniors that if they their taxes and paid into Social Security and Medicare, these programs would be there for them when they needed them. Rather than cutting critical programs, we must look for balanced budget solutions that uphold our American values, require all individuals and corporations to contribute their fair share, and ensure that all Americans have access to the basic services they need.” Monica Williams of Paraquad went on to add that Medicaid is her life line to independence since it provides her personal care attendant.

"It is absolutely critical that our efforts to reduce the deficit are balanced solutions that include new revenue,” said Ruth Ehresman of the Missouri Budget Project. "We are very concerned that Congress will try to impose global spending caps or a balanced budget amendment that may sound good on the surface, but which over time would require drastically cutting Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and other services that Americans value."

The general public was asked to sign a petition to Missouri’s Senators that read, "We urge you to stand strong and protect Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and the federal workers who deliver our essential services. A cut to our federal budget and workforce is a cut to Missouri. We have sacrificed enough. Now, we urge you to raise revenues. It's time for the rich and big corporations to pay their fair share. We do not accept that there have to be spending caps, cuts to essential services or balanced budget amendments."

Organizers of the rally were the American Federation of Government Employees, Missouri Jobs with Justice, Metropolitan Congregations United, Missouri Health Care for All, Missouri Budget Project, GRO - Grass Roots Organizing, Missouri Pro-Vote, Paraquad and the Disability Coalition on Health Care Reform.

St. Louis Right Next To Nation's Third Dirtiest Coal Plant

Think Progress put out a report yesterday listing the 25 Dirtiest Power Plants in the United States, based on the amount of mercury emissions. The plant in Labadie, MO, released 1,297 lbs in 2009, third highest in the country according to the post. The report goes on to note the following:
So do these plants at least provide an equally high amount of energy? No. According to EDF, while these plants represent one third of mercury emissions, they only provide about 8% of electricity generation.

The harm from coal, if it were actually added to the cost of their power, would make these plants uneconomic, as Climate Progress detailed in February (see Life-cycle study: Accounting for total harm from coal would add “close to 17.8¢/kWh of electricity generated”).
By the way, Labadie is also where Ameren is trying to build a coal ash landfill full of toxic chemicals in the floodplain of the Missouri River. You can learn how to get involved by going here.

h/t to Joe Mohr at Green Cartoons (another great St. Louis talent).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reardon Accuses Sarah Steelman of "Lying" About Paul Ryan's Plan

I'm not even sure Sarah Steelman has a coherent position on Paul Ryan's disastrous budget plan, but apparently is it's coherent enough for KMOX radio host Mark Reardon to accuse her of "lying" about it:

That's the modern Republican Party; if you dare even hesitate about the plan to destroy Medicare as we know it, you will be attacked.

Steelman Undermines GOP Medicare Plan But Doesn't Want to Admit It

Yesterday, Sarah Steelman put out a video criticizing the Medicare privatization plan being pushed by Paul Ryan and pretty much every member of the Republican Party. However, despite the fact that she's opposed to a key provision in the plan, she's trying to pretend like she's not undermining the Republican Party. From Fired Up Missouri:
After criticizing the core component of the plan to eliminate Medicare as we know it put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, Todd Akin and supported by the full GOP delegation in Washington, Sarah Steelman says it's not right to say she opposes or supports the plan.
I don't think it's an either/or question on the Ryan Plan. I think those people in Washington, both Republicans and Democrats, say ‘Oh you gotta take a position on this.’ Well, there's some things I like about it, there's some things I don't like about it. I'm still working through it and looking at it and as an economist, I'm going to make my own conclusions about it."
I guess Steelman doesn't want to be one of those legislators who has to say "aye" or "nay" about complex issues that don't have perfect solutions that everyone agrees on.

Missouri American Water Company Sticking It To Workers

Hotflash at Show Me Progress has the details on how the Missouri American Water Company is needlessly sticking it to their workers:
Missouri American Water Co. is part of a nationwide privately owned utility. The national entity, every time a contract is up for renewal, follows this pattern: demands unreasonable concessions, refuses to budge during negotiations, eventually declares an impasse, and as a result imposes whatever contract it jolly well wants to. In November, MAWC declared an impasse and imposed a contract that hikes employee health premiums by 52%. As in 52 friggin' percent--all while raising out of pocket costs and cutting coverage. Oh, and one more little thing: they're demanding the right to outsource whatever jobs they're not in the mood to pay union wages for.

Other than that, it's a very nice contract.
As Hotflash points out, these attacks on workers come even as the company's 3rd quarter profits were 35% higher last year than the year before, and as they are hiking rates across the country.

More From Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle

Humane Society of the United States President Wayne Pacelle holds his own against Mark Reardon:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ira Glass and Wayne Pacelle on St. Louis On The Air

This American Life's Ira Glass and the Humane Society of the United States' Wayne Pacelle were the guests for a particularly interesting St. Louis On the Air. You can listen here:

Dump The Pump on Thursday

Thursday, June 16 is Dump the Pump Day. The idea is for people to eschew their cars for a day and try other ways of getting to work and getting around town, whether it's by walking, biking, public transit, or anything else that lessens the amount of pollution.

You can read more about it at NextStop St. Louis .

Conveniently, there's a also a Car Free Happy Hour on Thursday.

GOP Plan To End Medicare As We Know It Too Extreme For Sarah Steelman?

It sounds that way! Fired Up Missouri reports that she has now endorsed what her campaign adviser described as the "Obama/Reid plan."
According to Steelman, the budget legislation with the Medicare changes put forward by Reps. Paul Ryan and Todd Akin includes the "cuts" to Medicare Advantage that Republicans campaign against in 2010, and "I don't like the idea of vouchers that don't keep up with the skyrocketing costs of health insurance."
Steelman certainly tries to frame it as an attack on McCaskill, but it sure sounds like she's basically undermining a key Republican proposal.

Important Rally at Senator McCaskill's Office Friday to Protect the Federal Budget

The main weakness of Todd Akin and Sarah Steelman is that they will be forced by extremists in the Republican Party to demand cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and other programs that people rely on for their well-being. But this is only a weakness if Senator McCaskill stands up for these programs and the wishes of the vast majority of the population. So this rally I just heard about sounds like a great idea:
We are rallying to persuade Senator McCaskill to meet with community stakeholders regarding the current proposed federal budget.

Friday, June 17 4-5 pm Senator McCaskill's office 5850 Delmar Ave., St. Louis 63112

The current proposed federal budget has massive cuts to vital federal public services, programs including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and to public employee wages. We must fight to protect critical health and retirement programs.

This event is sponsored by Missouri Jobs with Justice, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Missouri Health Care for All, Missouri Pro-Vote, The Missouri Budget Project, and Metropolitan Congregations United.

We will ask Senator McCaskill to oppose any legislation that will continue tax breaks for the very rich and big corporations at the expense of federal workers and the services they provide. Missouri's veterans, farmers, and working families depend on government services, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and others. A cut to the federal budget and workforce is a cut to Missouri! Join us in asking Senator McCaskill to stand strong against the proposed cuts to Federal Services!

Bring your friends, neighbors, family and co-workers - people you know who benefit from Federal programs
If you can't make the rally, you can send McCaskill a message here.

Monday's Rally For the Middle Class In St. Louis

Some video from a recent rally outside of the offices of Representatives Fuhr and Haefner, who spent the last legislative session pushing legislation that would hurt Missouri workers:

Hopefully these reps either learn to shape up or voters ship them out.

National Blogs Pick Up on Akin's Voting Problems

From today's Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest:
So it turns out that GOP Rep. Todd Akin, who's gunning for the Senate seat of Democrat Claire McCaskill, changed his voter registration to reflect his actual address on the same day as the St. Louis Dispatch broke the story that he very possibly committed felony voter fraud by continuing to vote in a town where he no longer lived. What's more, he then compared himself to American soldiers serving in Iraq who nonetheless vote in elections back home. Click the link for the full details of this pathetic story.
The link goes to this post at Think Progress.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Loesch Lies About Climate Change At Koch Brothers Rally

At a rally this weekend organized by astroturf Americans for Prosperity, which just happens to be funded by the Koch brothers, who just happen to own a number of oil refineries and bankroll the leading climate change denial groups in the country, Dana Loesch declared that Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" was not allowed into British schools because it was "fiction:"

Here's the typical fact-free nonsense of Loesch:
And the British high court, told the educational system that they're not allowed to show this film. Why? Because it's fiction. Because it's propaganda. They said there was a number of things wrong with the film...wrong with the facts used to support this theory in the film. Nine of them were super-huge...they had a bunch of other complaints...but they're not allowed to show it in school districts.

Actually, the judge wrote that the film was, "substantially founded upon scientific research and fact" and said that he had "no doubt" that, "Al Gore's presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate." The judge did note 9 errors, but allowed the film to be shown in schools as long as it was accompanied by a"guidance note" that presented a contrarian point of view on those nine claims.

Among the claims that the judge said were persuasive and "supported by a vast quantity of research published in peer-reviewed journals worldwide and by the great majority of the world'd climate scientists":

  • (1) global average temperatures have been rising significantly over the past half century and are likely to continue to rise ("climate change");
    (2) climate change is mainly attributable to man-made emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide ("greenhouse gases");
    (3) climate change will, if unchecked, have significant adverse effects on the world and its populations; and
    (4) there are measures which individuals and governments can take which will help to reduce climate change or mitigate its effects."

So, in absolutely no way does this ruling support Loesch's claim that climate change is "fiction" or "junk science." And her claim that the film can't be shown in schools is wrong.

Loesch was, however, able to dispell some rumors about her education by stating that she had, in fact, completed a 9th grade science course and that it provided all of the information she needed to know that the world's leading scientists are all secret socialists plotting to steal money from upstanding citizens like the Koch brothers.

The full video, with even more ridiculous antics, can be found Doug Edelman's vimeo page.

Great Man of History Brian Nieves

Apparently, some people are criticizing State Senator Brian Nieves because he allegedly bullied several of his constituents and then was caught on video calling one of his constituents "sub-human" over the radio and announcing the constituent's home address. Don't worry though, Nieves informs us that this is just the typical reaction of lesser lifeforms when they come in contact with a Great Man of History:

Now you may think that makes Nieves sound pretty obnoxious, but that just proves even more how Great he is.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jim Hoft Cites Discredited Source to Claim Obama "Screamed F-Word"

The same source, in fact, that claimed that the U.S. military had staged a coup against Obama.

This might actually be an improvement for Hoft, who has unknowingly cited parody sources like the Onion on multiple occassions in the past, and who famously mistook closed captioning as "applause signs" at Obama's speech for victims of the Tuscon shooting.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs has the story.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Push Back Against Oil Slick Ed's Misdirection On Gas Prices

Via Democratic fighter Barbara Woodruff:
This Saturday (June 10), wrong wing 2nd Congressional District candidate Ed Martin (Yes, the same Ed Martin who resigned in disgrace for legal and ethical problems as Gov. Matt Blunt's Chief of Staff) is heading a rally at the intersection of K & N at 10 AM. The main purpose is to showcase Ed Martin's corporate give away programs, but that is hidden under the guise of erroneously blaming President Obama for high gas prices.

Before Martin and his crew can spew waste worse than a BP oil rig and flood this busy intersection with raw, unvetted, mind numbing sewage, voters should know the facts about today's high price of gas:
  1. ‎Last month, Exxon Mobil's CEO testified to Congress that oil would be selling for $65 a barrel instead of $100, if it weren't for commodities speculators. Obama's every attempt to stop these speculators has been thwarted by oil owned politicians like Roy Blunt.
  2. Big Oil Blunt, as he is affectionately known, is one of the leading recipients of oil and gas money according to Center for Responsive Politics. A large chuck of that has comes from the oil barons, the infamous Oklahoma Koch brothers. The Koch brothers are funding all the anti-union fervor in Wisconsin. Remember Roy, we are judged by the company we keep.
  3. With the US using 26 percent of world oil production and only having 2.2 percent of the world's known oil reserves, 'drill baby drill' is a misleading mind opiate for the misinformed. The longer we wait to develop alternative sources the more dependant we become and the more severe the recession.
  4. Former Shell Oil executive John Hofmeister, author of "Why We Hate the Oil Companies", points out that China is wisely buying up world oil fields in order to secure a long term price stability for their energy. Meanwhile the US is subject to the volatile day to day fluctuations of commodities markets where a bomb going off in the Middle East one day can mean $10 more for tank of gas the next day. Yet, any attempt to reform our 'rich get richer' trade system is a third rail to Ed Martin and the wrong wing Republicans beholding to Wall Street and the oil barons.
Respond now to stop the oil slick that is Ed Martin, call or contact:
  • Ed Martin at 314 256 1776
  • Senator Roy Blunt at 314 725 4484
  • Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer at 636 239 2276
  • Congressman Todd Akin at 636 949 6826
Tell them that you're informed and active, and will not stand idly by and let voters be mislead by politicians beholding to corporate interests rather than the people.

Working Families in St. Louis Join Statewide Week of Action

Press Release:

Working men and women bring Forget Me Nots and a message: Start Standing Up for the Middle Class

On Monday, June 13 at 11 am, Workers, community members and religious leaders will speak out at a press conference in St. Louis as part of a statewide week of action to hold elected officials accountable for choosing the interests of CEOs ahead of middle class Missourians. Although both Republicans and Democrats stood up against Wisconsin-style attacks, including SB202, Representatives Fuhr and Haefner took the side of CEOs and corporate special interests against their own constituents.

“Paycheck deception, right to work for less and efforts to cut the minimum wage attack people like me that are just trying to provide for our families.” said retail worker Beth Dysart. “While I’m relieved that these bills didn’t pass last session, we need to make sure our representatives don’t forget us next year.”

Workers like teachers, firefighters and nurses are essential to the well-being of our communities, and it’s time for our leaders to come together to stop the power struggles and create good jobs. For this week of action, workers, community supporters and faith leaders will call upon their elected leaders to quit playing political games with the lives of working and middle class families, reminding politicians like Representatives Fuhr and Haefner to choose their own constituents over the CEOs that helped to create our economic troubles.

From St. Louis to Kansas City, St. Joseph to Springfield, and at the Capitol, workers will send a strong message to their elected officials: “WE are the people of Missouri and it’s time for politicians in our state to start standing up for the middle class.”

Click here for more info.

Will Senators Who, According to Brian Nieves, Lack Spines And Male Anatomy, Decide to Investigate Nieves?

The Post-Dispatch wrote a blistering editorial about State Senator Brian Nieves earlier this week, saying that his antics were no longer funny. The op-ed was in response to allegations of Nieves bullying his constituents, followed by Nieves going on his radio show to call those constituents "sub-human" and even announcing the home address of one of them! Yesterday, Jo Mannies at the Beacon reported that a formal complaint had been filed against Nieves:
Three critics of state Sen. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, have filed a formal complaint about his behavior with the state Senate's Committee on Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics.

The three retired teachers -- residents of Nieves' 26th District -- earlier had complained in the Washington Missourian newspaper about a combative meeting they had with the senator about a month ago in the state Capitol.
So of course the question now is whether the Republicans in charge of the committee will put aside partisanship and actually go through with a legitimate investigation. My guess is no, since Brian Nieves has informed me that the members of the Senate other than Jim Lembke and himself do not have "spines" and various "parts of the male anatomy:"

Now I don't know what a male anatomy has to do with anything, but if Republican Senator Mayer, Lager, Dempsey, Dixon and Goodman are lacking a spine as Nieves says they are, then they surely won't have the guts to go through with an impartial investigation.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Despite What Loesch Says, Breitbart Bloggers Revealed Identity of Woman In Weiner's Tweet

Since Anthony Weiner's press conference, Andrew Breitbart and Dana Loesch have been running around whining about how unfairly they were treated, what with people pointing out their histories of dishonesty and all. Loesch has in particular been directing her ire at Salon's Joan Walsh and hilariously demanding an apology (BTW, did Loesch ever apologize to the UMKC and UMSL professors she slandered?). Loesch is upset because Walsh tweeted that the "Breitbart empire" and other conservative blogs revealed the personal information of the woman who received the text, thus leading an army of neanderthals (my words not Walsh's) to pick through every detail of the victim's personal life. Here's what Loesch had to say about that in her self-aggrandizing pity party blog post about the topic:
She continued with her smear job by insisting that the “Breitbart empire” named the girl who received the infamous Tweet in question and “savaged” her. This is categorically false: I was the one who readied the graphic and placed the black boxes over the woman’s identity in the very first post which broke the story. The Bigs had refused to identify her.
Walsh actually later clarified her statement as follows:
One last point: Breitbots have accused me of blaming Breitbart for naming the young woman in question, based on this tweet from me Saturday night:
If the story is false, we only know about it because of the Breitbart empire and #tcot blogs, who named the girl
(You can read all my tweets on the story here.)

My point was that right-wing blogs were naming her, after Breitbart put out the story, though the original story did not. But I get the confusion: It's easy to misunderstand things on Twitter.
However, I think it's actually pretty clear that Breitbart's "empire" was primarily responsible for publicizing the identity of the woman, even though they didn't do so on Breitbart's sites. First of all, Breitbart bloggers Lee Stranahan, Patterico, Ace of Spades, and of course Jim Hoft all released the woman's name on Saturday, the day the scandal broke. In fact, Stranahan's guest post on Patterico revealing the woman's name was posted at 4:29 AM, about four hours after the story broke. So there were basically no "waking hours" whatsoever between the time the story broke and the time that Lee Stranahan, a paid employee of Breitbart, revealed the victim's name (albeit not on Breitbart's websites).

And how did the Breitbart bloggers figure out who the woman was? I have no insight into that, but I'll say that one way they could have known is by reading Dana Loesch's tweet that told them exactly how to get the name of the woman. Here is Loesch retweeting something that lead directly to the tweet that identified the woman early on Saturday:

That link led directly to the Tweet Congress page, which showed a tweet revealing the woman's identity.

So maybe you think what Loesch did was irresponsible or maybe you think it's fine, but either way, it's pretty clear that Loesch and other Breitbart bloggers did play a central role in revealing the identity of the woman the tweet was directed at. In other words, they should quit their whining.

Update: I forgot to mention the fact that a post on Breitbart's site linked to Jim Hoft's despicable blog that included the names and photos of high school girls. According the html address, the title on Hoft's original post included the phrase "young, luscious hook-ups."

So yeah, real responsible journalism there.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When Dana Loesch Makes a False Statement, She's Actually Asking If It's True

Wow, I have to say, this really explains everything! Dana Loesch said today that when she makes a false statement, she's actually just asking a question about whether it's true. Now I see why she thinks she's a journalist!

As I just pointed out, Loesch retweeted this completely false claim earlier today:

Eric Boehlert at Media Matters retweeted my blog post pointing out that it was a lie:

And here was Loesch's response:

See? So when Loesch said that Media Matters wrote 9 pages, she was actually "asking" if they wrote 9 pages!

I can't tell you how much clarity this adds to her rhetoric. So, for example, when she had Andrew Breitbart on her radio show to falsely claim that Shirley Sherrod is racist, they were really just asking if Sherrod was racist!

And when she falsely claimed that a UMKC professor said that "Violence is a tactic," she was actually just asking the question, "Do UMKC professors teach that violence is a tactic?"

And so on.

At last, it all makes sense! Dana Loesch has really just been asking questions this whole time!

Progress and Missouri, Together At Last

I'm very excited about a new organization that I think will change the face of politics in Missouri: Progress Missouri. They describe themselves as follows:
Progress Missouri is a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization that combines cutting edge online organizing and communications with rapid and hard-hitting earned media strategies. Year round, Progress Missouri will work to engage citizens from across the state around issues of immediate state or local concern.
The executive director of the group is Sean Soendker Nicholson, who did a fantastic job at Fired Up Missouri (named the best political blog in Missouri by the Riverfront Times). And they already are perfectly on message in my opinion, asking people to get involved by making sure that Republicans don't dismantle Medicare.

Since I've been here, Missouri politics has always seemed to lack a cohesive and organized progressive voice, held back by internal politics, powerful regressive forces, and a lack of a strategic plan. I think Sean has shown a great ability to be a uniter around the issues that matter to progressives. I hope you check out the group, sign up for their action alerts, and join them on facebook.

Dana Loesch Reminds Us That Right-Wing Bloggers Lie Every Day

Check out this tweet from Dana Loesch:

This claim is absolutely, categorically false. Media Matters, to their credit, would not touch this story with a ten-foot pole. Eric Boehlert mentioned it in a post, but the post did not claim that the story was "fake;" rather, it criticized CNN for allowing Breitbart on the network after he has been discredited multiple times. And, for the record, Breitbart did not fail to hit Boehlert's low expectations for him: Breitbart explicitly cited a source that he later admitted was not credible to make the claim that Congressman Weiner "had relationships" with "quite young girls." Relying on unvetted information from completely untrustworthy sources is not the kind of garbage a respectable news organization should entertain.

So yeah, Loesch lied again, or at least did not bother to check her facts. Keep that in mind as she spends the next week lecturing people about how principled Breitbart bloggers are.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ugh. Weiner Lied and I Admit I Believed Him

Sadly, I spent multiple hours this past week questioning the conventional wisdom about Anthony Weiner based on a lewd tweet he sent out which was later posted on Andrew Breitbart's websites. I still think that Breitbart covered the story irresponsibly in many (but not all) ways. For example, I think it was wrong for someone at the Breitbart sites to crop the original photo to change its context. I also think it was shameful for Breitbart to allege that Weiner had "relationships" with "quite young girls" based on sources that even he later said were questionable. And most of all, I think it was despicable for Jim Gateway Pundit Hoft to post photos and personal information of high school girls just because Weiner followed them on Twitter, and for Breitbart to allow Hoft to link to that disgusting post from his website.

But, ultimately, I made the age-old mistake of thinking that because Weiner was a smart and righteous congressman he would also be a smart and righteous person in his personal life, and in that I was definitely mistaken. I especially believed that there was no way he'd be stupid enough to post lewd photos of himself to a public forum, but he was. He sure was.

The worst part is that I do think the media did a sloppy job covering this story (unless they knew things they weren't saying publicly), yet I'm sure at this point they will conclude that their approach to potential sex scandals has been completely vindicated. I'll even bet there will be some clown writing a story about what an honest and ethical "journalist" Breitbart is in the next couple day, so we've probably moved almost back to square one on how the media treats his garbage. The media, to some extent like Congressman Weiner (though not nearly to the same degree), is also prone to having the rational parts of their brains short-circuited by things like sex , theatrics, and controversy, and this is a problem that will need to be combatted even more vigorously in the future if we're going to have any hope of reasonable discourse.

And the last thing to note is that there have been some really crappy diaries and blogs promoted by the left that claimed, without any good evidence, that Breitbart and Loesch were responsible for "hacking" Weiner's account. I argued against these posts. Here's me (amazingly?) defending Dana Loesch about an allegation that she was asking how to "hack" an account:

And here's a comment of mine on Daily Kos asking people to stop making baseless accusations:
I'm very critical of Breitbart and Loesch. If you want proof, you can see what I write about them here and here. I've also bitten my tongue for a while at the recent diaries on this subject. However, at this point, there can no longer be any doubt that these sloppy attacks on Breitbart and Loesch are doing far more to damage the credibility of the lefty blogosphere than helping anything.

Breitbart and Loesch are absolutely guilty of shameful behavior in this mess. They irresponsibly pushed bogus information and, as can be seen on the CNN clip, Breitbart lied when he claimed he didn't use any of @patriotusa76's (Wolfe's) dishonest smears.

However, the claims that Breitbart, "realizes some serious criminal charges are coming and he’s either a co-conspirator or an accessory after the fact to a federal felony." or that Loesch "appears to have been intimately involved in a computer intrusion crime" are simply not supported by the facts. They're not.

If you want to say that it looks suspicious and should be investigated, that's fine. But acting, as diaries on this site have done multiple times, like there is conclusive evidence that Breitbart conspired to hack Weiner's account puts a giant bullseye on Daily Kos as a site that irresponsibly throws allegations around. Breitbart is guilty of pushing a smear from an untrustworthy source. The details of what precisely happened to Congressman Weiner's phone are still being worked out. To claim more than that, and especially to do so flippantly, is profoundly irresponsible and ultimately self-destructive. We need to do better than this.
Though the lefty blogosphere is about 100 times more honest and ethical than folks like Breitbart, I nevertheless hope that they've learned some lessons from this debacle. I know I have.

Did Loesch Dana Distort The #Weinergate Image? And If So, Why?

According to the suspicious conservative who hinted about a Weiner scandal weeks ago and mysteriously was the only person to retweet the original post before it was deleted, Dana Loesch grabbed the original screen shot used on Breitbart's websites to kick of the so-called #weinergate scandal:

And Loesch's statements from that night were consistent with the suggestion:

Since the photo was deleted within hours and no one else seemed to have a copy, the Loesch/Breitbart version of the photo is the one used by every news outlet since the story broke. However, a funny thing happened since that time. Someone actually found the original photo. And, at the very least, it seems to change the, err, context of the the situation. Cannonfire, which I found via a diary by Stef at Daily Kos, points out that the Loesch/Breitbart version of photos is actually upside down, and edited to hide that fact.

Here's the version posted on Breitbart's web sites:

And here's what the yfrog image looked like before being cropped by someone at Breitbart's site:

Since the table leg clearly shows that image is upside down, here's what the actual image looks like:

The new angle on the photo changes it significantly:
The image has been manipulated. It has been rotated to look like the person is standing when in fact they are sitting. Further, Breitbart has cropped it to omit the table leg which gives this away.

An ordinary guy who wants to send photos of his junk to a woman does not stop first to rotate the photo so it will look like he's standing instead of sitting.

The upside-down image is more plausible, which is why they rotated it. The rightside-up image is ridiculous. Humongously ridiculous.
So questions: was Dana Loesch the person who cropped the image to change the context? If so, why did she do so? And what's her justification for misleadingly presenting the information?

Also, yes I know that there have been "shocking new developments" today in the story. Obviously, I can't claim to know what happened, especially when Breitbart and other publications have not yet released full information nor provided evidence for their claims. But even if it is true that Weiner is stupidly sending messages online, that does not rule out the possibility that he was hacked on this occasion. After all, why would he say that he was hacked and that he didn't send the picture but claim that he "couldn't say" that the picture was of him? It seems like he's at least trying to not state any falsehoods. Anyway, my cynical guess is that even if Weiner was provably hacked, our lame media will completely ignore that story. Cannonfire has been doing a great job on covering this story, and his take on the latest developments is worth reading.

Friday, June 3, 2011

My Response to Tommy Christopher's Response on #Weinergate

Tommy Christopher has kindly emailed a response to my earlier criticisms of his coverage of Daily Kos and Breitbart. Some of what he said was already addressed in my update, but he wouldn't have had any reason to have know that. My understanding of his defense is that (1) he was already highly critical of Breitbart earlier, (2) that he specifically restricted his criticisms to focus on the "publications" of Breitbart, rather than other communications, and (3) he stands by his original criticisms of Markos for several reasons.

So I'll start first with his response about restricting his argument to "publications," or as Christopher puts it: "the publication of factual evidence." Christopher notes this restriction and then points out a number of tweets where he's been critical of Breitbart's behavior on Twitter in recent days, writing things like:
Drawing conclusions from an ambiguous fact pattern is yellow. Publicly claiming "we have more"=yellow. @AndrewBreitbart
First thing to note: it's ironic that Christopher himself was critical, just two days ago, of the idea that it's acceptable to be dishonest on Twitter yet claim that one's "publishing" has been honest:

So, by his own standards, it seems weird to argue that it's OK to differentiate Breitbart's behavior on Twitter from that on his web site. And the fact that he criticized Breitbart's tweets just bolsters my point that the target article presented an inaccurate piture of Breitbart's role in his mess. What we want to know is whether Breitbart behaved honestly and ethically, not just whether he was somewhat-honest-and-ethical-on-his-websites-but-not-necessarily-anywhere-else. So it's true that Tommy Christopher circumscribed his arguments to focus only on the Big websites, but by doing so it ceases to be a helpful evaluation of Breitbart's role in the controversy.

The reality, however, is that Breitbart did not even meet the lowered bar of "somewhat-honest-and-ethical-on-his-websites-but-not-necessarily-anywhere-else." As I pointed out, he allowed Jim Hoft to post links to the pictures and personal information of high school girls during his smear campaign.

Christopher's response to this criticism of Breitbart was twofold. One, he pointed out that he was critical of Hoft on Twitter. That's admirable, but not really relevant to my point that Breitbart allowed the filth on his site. Second, Christopher wrote the following:
If I am guilty of something, it is not noticing this link in Hoft's BG article, but once I did, I emailed Breitbart to alert him to it. If he sends me back an email saying he's leaving it up because she was asking for it, and I do nothing, then you will have a point. And what are you doing linking to it?
He later added, via email:
Since I alerted Andrew Breitbart to the presence of that link in Hoft's story, it has been deleted.
Well, that sounds just dandy that Breitbart decided to delete the link only a mere four days later, after everyone has already looked at it, and while he's trying to smear Markos as someone who publishes information about high schoolers. Just dandy, except for the fact that Media Matters' Eric Boehlert was criticizing Breitbart over Hoft's post four days ago, and the link has remained up until today. Here's Boehlert's criticism, which was retweeted by Breitbart:

And this was Breitbart's response:

So forgive me if I don't take Breitbart deleting the link four days later as strong evidence of the high quality of his moral character.

Finally, in my post I defended Markos's decision to not edit a recommended diary on his site:
I had found the photo myself several days ago, and chose to redact the personal information on the yfrog image I posted because one of the people was in high school. I agree with Tommy to the extent that I personally did not want to share that information. However, that is a different context entirely from what Markos is being accused of. Christopher is attacking Markos because Markos owns a site that allows community diaries and has a policy that is biased very heavily against censorship of the community part of the site. The diary in question was not written by one of the paid front page authors: it was written by one of the community members. Thus, while I personally did not want to share the full information, I don't think it's "reprehensible" for Markos to choose not to censor the content choices of diarists except under extreme circumstances (which is what he said was his policy in an email to Christopher).
And Christopher responded as follows:
3 problems with this: 1. redacting the names would have had no effect on the content's news value. 2. This was an extreme circumstance. Two minor children and their parents feared for their safety. 3. There is no "policy" against it, made clear by his offer to consider a "counter-argument" that he deemed worthy. He never argued the girls weren't being endangered, he just didn't care.
My thoughts. I agree that redacting the names wouldn't have decreased the "news value:" however, I think that a site owner making a decision to edit content of a user is a serious decision that some would have objected to. What actually happened, the author of the diary deciding to change the content, is preferable. As I said before, I personally would not divulge the girls' information, even though I previously saw the image, since I saw what happened to the women subjected to harassment after neanderthals like Hoft posted their personal information and Breitbart's site linked to it. My only point was that there is a difference between deciding what you personally write about and what is allowed to appear in a community that values free expression and investigation. Thus, though I don't agree with Markos's decision, I can see why he would (perhaps mistakenly) lean against the idea of censoring his community. And again, this is different from Breitbart's site hand-picking an article from Hoft that links to pictures and personal information of high school students. In the later case, the people who run the web site are directly responsible.