Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Giants Win The World Series! The Giants Win The World Series!

Rush Limbaugh admits he is not always right. But he also boasts, again and again, that he's almost always right, as he did on April 22, 2009 in this conversation:

RUSH: John, Charlotte, North Carolina, glad to have you, sir, welcome.
CALLER: Hey, Charlotte dittos and wax awe dittos and all the dittos in between, Rush.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: Got a question for you real quick.
RUSH: Yes, sir.
CALLER: Your accuracy rating as stated yesterday or the day before, 99.1.
RUSH: No, no. Documented now to be almost always right 99.
CALLER: Okay. When you started, obviously before you had an opinion, it was a hundred percent. What were you wrong to drop it?
RUSH: It's so long ago. You know, it wasn't just one giant thing. I mean a bunch of small, insignificant things. But they still count if they're offered as opinions. And they're just small, insignificant things that happened over the years. I mean my opinions have been audited since 1988. And so if you want to say, okay, I started out a hundred percent right, why was it that I didn't start out at zero?
CALLER: Well, I guess it's all how you look at it from a math point of view.
Lest you think he was joking about being right approximately 1% less often than God, note that Limbaugh immediately afterward blamed his staff for the 1% when he remarked
Well, you're an optimist. I started out never being wrong because I'd never expressed an opinion. Some would say you start out never being right. (laughing) So I've gone from 100 to 99%. One of the primary penalties that I suffered in my opinion audit -- and it was just in the past two years -- I took the fall for just horrendous mistakes and errors by the staff. I forget, there were two things I was totally misinformed about, I trusted the staff, and when I announced those things, I was wrong. These were factual things. But I then got penalized for expressing my opinion that it was my fault, when it wasn't, it was the staff's. And there was another one. I think perhaps these two, taking the fall for the staff and then saying it was my fault when it wasn't, and I predicted Hillary Clinton would not run for the Senate in New York, all by myself. I didn't have any help from the staff. In fact, the staff argued with me about that, everybody else did. But those two things probably are largely responsible for my opinion audit being only 99%. That's a great question out there, John, it's a great Open Line Friday on Wednesday question.
This was not a one-off deal; Rush frequently reiterates that he is certified to have been right 99% of the time.
A test of his theory recently transpired when the former Royals employee, on October 16 as the World Series was about to begin, predicted
When I worked there, I'll just share with you a little thing here and then, Sarah, I have to move on.  But when I worked there, you know, every year you hope you make the playoffs 'cause there's nothing better. The postseason is fun, the excitement, the place is packed, the town's buzzing, it's the best.  During a season, you see things -- I did.  I saw plays, late-game heroics, home runs that made me think this is the season of destiny, turning an unlikely double play in the ninth inning in Texas, I'll never forget one of those. I got on the phone, when I still used the phone back then, and I said, "This is the year. This is our year. We're gonna make it. Did you see that play?"
I saw so many of those things this season with the Royals, it made me say, even during the playoffs, that this team is destined.  And, so far, it's proven out.  So the World Series opens Tuesday night in Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium.
So how did that work out, big guy?
Not so well. It seems this symbol of the "Left Coast," the city of Nancy Pelosi  and lots of Democrats, has something to celebrate as the San Francisco Democrats defeated that team of destiny in game 7 of the World Series (video from Fox, which televised it).   
LImbaugh would have hailed himself had his Kansas City Royals won. He ought either to eat crow, which is possible, given the insignificance of the event compared to passage of the Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama's victory dealing with Syria, or the far superior performance on the economy by President Obama than by Saint Reagan.   Or he could acknowledge that baseball is simply a sport and therefore is not real life.
That he won't do, and the defeat of the Royals stands as one of the innumerable things that Rush Limbaugh has been wrong about- and therefore a great, joyous event.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hot Air

Weather Channel co-founder John Coleman, forced out at the network soon after it hit the air, was interviewed  (video below) Tuesday evening by Megyn Kelly of GOP TV.  Coleman is a long time climate change denier and his appearance gave Rush Limbaugh an opportunity to push his denialism when the latter remarked

One of my all-time favorite TV weather people is John Coleman.  John Coleman founded the Weather Channel.  John Coleman was the best weatherman Good Morning America has ever had.  I remember when I first heard of John Coleman, it was a winter in which Chicago had a week's worth or 10 days' worth of blizzards, and this would have been back in the seventies.  John Coleman didn't go home, and by day five he looked like he was asleep on that show doing the weather.  It was a yeoman job. 

They cut away to Chicago when it was time to do the weather.  He was entertaining. He was credible.

He may have been very entertaining and apparently worked hard three or four decades ago, but Coleman was not then- nor has he ever been- a meteorologist, much less a climate scientist.  When Kelly asked him about carbon dioxide, he contended

Well, there are 9,000 PhDs and 31 scientists who have signed a petition saying it is not a significant greenhouse gas.  Oh, it's a teeny, itsy-bitsy greenhouse gas. But it's not in any way significant, and we are sure of it.  It's not like something I made up or just thought of.  I've studied and studied and studied.

Media Matters swiftly debunked both this claim and Coleman himself, explaining

Moreover, Coleman's experience in weather forecasting does not make him an expert in climate science -- there is an immense difference between a scientist and a weather forecaster. For starters, they use different models and ask different questions: climate scientists observe and predict long-term trends over entire ecosystems, while meteorologists focus on weekly, daily, and hourly changes in the weather. MIT climate scientist Kerry Emanuel previously compared asking a meteorologist's opinion on the state of climate science to "asking a country doctor to comment on the latest developments in biomedical research." Disregarding the fact that Coleman never received a formal education in meteorology -- his degree was in journalism -- his experience predicting the weather does not make him a credible source to debunk the vast majority of scientific literature on climate change.

Coleman also claimed that "9,000 Ph.D.'s and 31 [thousand] scientists" agree with his position on climate change, referring to the widely discredited Oregon Petition Project. Its signatories are mostly engineers with master's degrees, and it once included the names of fictitious characters and a member of the Spice Girls.

Coleman thanked Fox News for giving him a platform (in contrast to "the media" he berated), and in fact, Fox News has frequently turned to Coleman to deny the scientific consensus on global warming.

For years, Coleman has been connected to the Heartland Institute, which has been funded by fossil-fuel interests, and its promotion of climate change denial. Coleman was featured at a Heartland Institute climate conference in July of this year. Previously, he hosted four paid associates of Heartland to deny climate change on the San Diego station where he worked as weathercaster for 20 years (he has since retired). As Coleman told Kelly, the Heartland Institute has been promoting his letter urging UCLA's Hammer Museum to "provide balance" to a debate it recently hosted on climate change. In the letter, Coleman wrote, "It is important to have those who attend know that there is no climate crisis."

Along with the claim that innumerable (though one number or another is invariably cited in order to appear more credible) scientists believe global warming is a hoax, conservatives love to claim the ice sheet in the Antarctic or, in the case of Coleman, in the Antarctic and the Arctic is diminishing. Coleman maintained

Well, I would like to announce tonight to people who are friends of Algore's that, whoops! He got that one wrong.  The Antarctic ice cap is at an all-time record high in both coverage and thickness, and the Arctic ice cap at the North Pole is at the highest it has been in several years.  It's in its so-called normal range since we got satellite observations that could measure it.  So not only is the ice not melting, more polar bears are alive and happy today than we've had in a hundred years! Life is good, Miss Kelly. I gotta tell you, life is good.

It was a nice touch- "satellite observations" and "in its so-called normal range."  If one didn't know who this guy Coleman is, or that his forum was Fox News, he might be half as credible as Limbaugh thinks he is.  However, summarizing a study from earlier this year in the journal The Cryosphere, The Guardian reports

German researchers have established the height of the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps with greater precision than ever before. The new maps they have produced show that the ice is melting at an unprecedented rate. 

The maps, produced with a satellite-mounted instrument, have elevation accuracies to within a few metres. Since Greenland’s ice cap is more than 2,000 metres thick on average, and the Antarctic bedrock supports 61% of the planet’s fresh water, this means that scientists can make more accurate assessments of annual melting.

Dr Veit Helm and other glaciologists at the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, report in the journal The Cryosphere that, between them, the two ice sheets are now losing ice at the unprecedented rate of 500 cubic kilometres a year.

Further, September

also marked the highest departure from average for any month since records began in 1880, breaking the previous record of 0.65°C (1.17°F) set just one month earlier in August. This is the third time in 2014 this all-time monthly high temperature record has been broken. Record warmth was observed in parts of every major ocean basin, particularly notable in the northeastern and equatorial Pacific Ocean. 

And in a startling coincidence, August (temperature anomalies in degrees of Celsius, map below from NASA) and September were the 354th and 355th consecutive months in which the average global land and sea temperature was higher than the 20th century average for those months. Self-proclaimed expert John Coleman is right about one thing, though: life is good for ideological extremists like Limbaugh and himself who shoot their mouths off with little accountability.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Christie Being Christie

"Last night Jon Stewart tore into the state level response to the first Ebola patient in New York City, writes Salon's Sarah Gray, "starting with the knee-jerk quarantines set up by Governors Christie and Cuomo."

"'Why does Christie have to be such a dick about everything!” (Jon) Stewart exclaimed" (video below).

Well, because he's set to run for the Repub nomination for President, silly man.

As found in the video below, Christie had self-righteously patronized caretaker and nurse Kaci Hickox by remarking "I know she didn't want to be there. No one ever wants to be in the hospital. I suspect,and so I understand that. But the fact is I have a much greater, bigger responsibility to the people and the public, and so I think when she has time to reflect she will understand that as well." Digby responded

No, she is not a silly bimbo who didn't understand her situation and "upon reflection" will understand that Daddy Knew Best. She is a medical professional, an epidemiology specialist, who knows very well that Chris Christie is completely ignorant about protecting the public from this disease and had no business spending several days talking about her as if she was a spoiled child who needed to go to bed without her supper. He betrayed his ignorance by repeatedly saying she was "ill" and hoping that she "recovered" even tough she has tested negative and has no symptoms at all.  (It was assumed that he meant she had Ebola but looking more closely at his comments it's possible that he was saying she was having a mental breakdown. That's what gaslighting pigs like Christie commonly do...)

That hospital quarantine actually took place in an unheated tent with a portable toilet for a bathroom. Will Bunch termed the move "bone-headed, tone-deaf and cowardly." Now that the policy has been reversed, apparently with a nudge by the Obama Administration, it appears bone-headed, and it was clearly cowardly.

As quintessential Chris Christie, however, it was hardly tone-deaf. .Simultaneously defending his initial move and attacking his opponents, Mr. Macho threw some red meat to the base, declaring "I will take whatever steps are necessary to protect the public health of the people of New Jersey, and if someone wants to sue me over it, they can."  Hickox hired a legal team, it threatened to sue, and promptly the governor had a change of heart.

But of course Christie wouldn't concede he had budged an inch. "I didn't reverse any decision," contended the Governor, because a Republican can never be seen as unsure, indecisive,or admitting to a mistake.  And now, he may be able to avoid a lawsuit and still not be held accountable for a bone-headed move.

Prior to Christie reversing but not reversing his policy, Digby had added

Judging from what I read around the internet this week-end, the right-wingers think Christie's jackboots are awesome. He can lock up nurses in FEMA camps all day long on a whim and it's fine with them. All it takes for their little authoritarian skirts to show is a little tough guy action toward a woman and they're on board. 

It helps if it is a woman, but this is a character who once called a former Navy SEAL an "idiot" (video below). It's what he does, and he does it well, exciting conservative voters and impressing much of mainstream media.

Nonetheless, Steve M. believes Christie made a tactical error in claiming "There’s been no reversal or change in any way to our policy or to our approach" because it will prevent him from

actively playing the victim card. If he were whining now that he was forced to do this by jackbooted Obama administration thugs, or possibly by evil trial lawyers (as Newell notes, Hickox was threatening a federal lawsuit), he might be looking good right now in the eyes of Limbaugh and his crowd whining now that he was forced to do this by jackbooted Obama administration thugs, or possibly by evil trial lawyers (as Newell notes, Hickox was threatening a federal lawsuit).

At worse, however, Christie did himself no harm among Repub primary voters because he will be seen as doing whatever he reasonably could to make at least one liberal Democrat and member of Doctors Without Borders suffer.  He can be seen as standing up to the Obama Administration as much as reasonably possible and, just as importantly, maintaining his manhood.  And if he can derail Scott Walker from being derailed in his gubernatorial re-election bid in Wisconsin, it will indeed have been a fine election season for Governor Christie.

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