Tag Archives: New York Times

No, New York Times, Irma predictions were not wrong

The graphic above is from the NY Times home page just now. Notice the suggestions that storm predictions were wrong. They were not.
It’s important to note this not only to point out that whomever writes the Times home page does not have a clear understanding of hurricane path prediction, but also important because people living on the West Coast of Florida also did not understand these same concepts and might be in danger because of it.
A meteorologist on CBS-N (don’t recall his name) made a very good point last night about the media reporting on this issue.
The forecasted path of a hurricane is usually represented on maps by a single line with points of time along the line where the hurricane might be.
The predicted path of a hurricane (black line with circles) and the wider cone of a possible path in which all residents should be ready to evacuate.
The cone of the storm’s path is the likely area a storm will affect. It is represented by, just as it sounds, a cone on the map. It is less specific than the single line but is no less important.
Hurricane forecasters have always said the cone of the storm — the area most likely to be hit hardest — was different than the apparent path at any given point in time.  The Gulf side of Florida was always included in Irma’s cone. Using that information, residents of the state’s Gulf coast should have been ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice, even if they were not under an evacuation order because early on the storm looked to be heading up the east coast of the state. But western Florida was always considered high risk.
The sub-heading on the Times home page both misrepresents the actual storm predictions, but also does a disservice because it reinforces the notion that science is somehow to blame for not knowing the shift of the storm from east to west.
Science had predicted that a hit to the Gulf side was highly possible. Because people did not understand that some people are at additional risk.

Drone footage of nearly deserted Miami Beach

Normally bustling Miami Beach has a pre-apocalyptic feel to it in the drone footage of an area waiting for Irma to make landfall.

I have finally accepted the truth

Other doggy parents will feel joy I will never experience.

It is inescapable now. Otto the rescue pitbull does not like bacon.

I was making breakfast for dinner tonight, and fried up some bacon. When it was done I took a piece out to let it cool on a paper towel. 

I gave it to Otto and he, as he always does with any particularly messy food, carried it into the living room to eat on the new rug. I thought nothing of it.

Then I walked into the living room a few minutes later and there it was. Sitting there, untouched on the carpet. Mocking me.

The uneaten bacon.

I tried everything. I desperately offered it to him again as he was sleeping on the sofa. He turned up his nose then looked away.

I pulled out the big guns. I acted like I was eating it, making “nom, nom, nom” sounds and saying “Mmmm, DELICIOUS!” like I do right before he rejects yet another expensive  doggy treat and then eats some poop.

Nothing. He just looked at me, yawned and then licked his rope toy.

A rope toy? Over bacon?

You turn it over in your mind. Where did I go wrong?

There were signs I ignored. He would not take bacon-flavored treats. He did not like Pupperoni.

I should have known. But I was in denial.

Where did I go wrong? Did I love him too much? Did I love him not enough?

What will the other parents at the dog park say?

“His dog does not like bacon. Also he doesn’t use biodegradable waste disposal bags.”

The words ring in my ears.

I don’t want to talk about it.

I will post a vague reference on Facebook to something being wrong and hope nobody takes that extra step of asking, “What happened? Are you OK?”

The world seems off-kilter right now.

Snowstorm Stella stalks Northeast

With snow predictions wildly varying from less than a foot to more than two feet, the Northeast plays a waiting game as panicked food shopping yields the photo below.

Really, is there anything more New England prior to a snowstorm than a packed Market Basket in Chelsea (MA). And then there’s this one guy who really knows his storm shit with an armful of Hostess snack cakes.

If I had to choose one person with whom I’d like to ride out a civilization-ending snow event, I’m pretty sure it would be Little Debbie. 

Trump war on the press goes into overdrive

The White House press briefing room

This is pretty outrageous:

Journalists from The New York Times and several other news organizations were prohibited from attending a brieäng by President Trump’s press secretary on Friday, a highly unusual breach of relations between the White House and its press corps.

Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, 


Aides to Mr. Spicer only allowed in reporters from a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed. Those organizations included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. 

Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended. 

Reporters from Time magazine and The Associated Press, who were set to be allowed in, chose not to attend the briefing in protest of the White House’s actions.

Who knew that Politico, which started as a news source favoring Republicans, would be in this group? Politico seems to have found its journalistic footing while covering The Orange Great Leader.

I may need to renew my lapsed New York Times subscription, which I had let lapse over their shameful following of the journalistic lemmings over the Hillary emails cliff.

If nothing else, Trump is proving that the glorious White House access the media has long held as the sine qua non of prestigious presidential coverage is proving to be somewhat of a bust since the media outlets who are being shut out are doing a better job than the non-right-wing “mainstream” ones still in the White House’s good graces.

Along those lines, David Frum, once a reliably pliant journalist during previous GOP White House regimes, tweeted this very good question:

Front page of NY Times, one year ago

Where are our leaders who teach us to be better than we are?

Leaders who keep us away from our worst impulses, as leaders are supposed to do? Leaders who teach us how to be better citizens of America? Better citizens of the world?

How has this country fallen so far so fast?

How have we become the laughingstock of the world (the part not run by dictators) so quickly? 


Stop suggesting Donald Trump is mentally ill

Donald Trump mocks disabled New York Times reporter Serge F. Kovaleski at a campaign rally in November 2015.
Donald Trump mocks disabled New York Times reporter Serge F. Kovaleski at a campaign rally in November 2015.

There seems to be a meme of sorts starting among many members of the mainstream media trying to blame Donald Trump’s complete inability to follow norms of civilized behavior on some sort of mental illness.

During the primary season, as Donald Trump’s bizarre outbursts helped him crush the competition, I thought he was being crazy like a fox. Now I am increasingly convinced that he’s just plain crazy.

I’m serious about that. Leave aside for the moment Trump’s policies, which in my opinion range from the unconstitutional to the un-American to the potentially catastrophic. At this point, it would be irresponsible to ignore the fact that Trump’s grasp on reality appears to be tenuous at best.

Begin with the fact that he lies the way other people breathe. Telling a self-serving lie — no matter how transparent, no matter how easily disproved — seems to be a reflex for him. Look at the things he has said in just the past week.

On Wednesday, at a news conference in Florida, Trump said he has never met Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I never met Putin, I don’t know who Putin is,” he said.

Last November, he claimed that he “got to know [Putin] very well because we were both on ‘60 Minutes.’ ” That made no sense; while the two men were featured the same evening on the CBS newsmagazine show, they were interviewed in different cities and would have had no interaction. But there’s more: In 2014, speaking at the National Press Club, Trump said, “I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer, and we had a tremendous success.”


So was he lying last week, when he was trying to deflect criticism of his admiring words for the Russian strongman? Or was he lying two years ago, when he was trying to convince everyone what a big shot he was?

The answer? He was lying then and he is lying now. And he has been lying all the times in-between.

Stop saying he is mentally ill. Stop writing it.

Trump clearly has mental issues, most notably the worst case of narcissism ever seen outside of the ruling family that has long tormented North Korea. Although one suspects Trump might even give Dear Leader a run for his money in this department.

But to suggest that he is mentally deficient in some global way is to excuse what he is, what his party now represents, and those who are partly responsible for the making of Donald Trump and his rise to power.

First of all, the mental illness argument lets off the hook every single member of the mainstream media who laughed at, and excused, his childish, narcissistic lies all these years. Barbara Walters. Tom Brokaw. The entire casts of the Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning. Every entertainment news show ever created. 

None of them can act shocked now at that which was plainly in front of their faces for so so long, yet ignored by them because they wanted, they needed to be on The Donald’s guest list in New York and Florida.

Are you a member of the MSM who attended one of his parties or fundraisers instead of covering the real story — that he is a racist, sexist, homophobic lying pig who inflates everything about his life? Then you helped create him and, no, you cannot now credibly maintain that he has some mental illness you never noticed before.

Second, to say he is globally mentally ill ignores that Donald Trump is the living embodiment of more than four decades of the grubby, brazenly hateful Republican id. He is what happens when lies and self-aggrandizement are allowed to run their course in a human being without anyone around to tell him the truth of the horrible person he is becoming. He is the ultimate spoiled brat all grown up.

To say he is mentally ill ignores all these years of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. It’s as if both of those media entities mated and had a child named Donald. This is not mental illness. This is the perfect conception of greed and ignorance.

Stop saying he is mentally ill. He is not. He is the GOP nightmare come to life. And none of those people can now blame mental illness for that which they have created and nurtured themselves.




Who will prosecute the prosecutors?

Judge Marcus Gordon jefferly.com Mississippi New York Times ACLU judicial abuse
Brandon Buskey, a staff attorney with the A.C.L.U.’s Criminal Law Reform Project, describes Mississippi Judge Marcus Gordon’s record on the bench as “Callous. Appalling. Cruel.”

Being poor or middle class and involved in America’s criminal courts system unjustly is a nightmare. If you cannot afford your own high-priced lawyer you are likely stuck (if you even get this much) with an overworked, underpaid form of public counsel who may or may not be able to give you even just adequate representation.

Despite news stories about those few high-profile cases for which public interest law groups or prisoner innocence projects are able to exonerate the innocent, most prisoners, even those who were the victims of the egregious abuses by prosecutors and/or judges, will languish in prison. Even if they are cleared, the law makes it difficult to sue them in civil court because the standard of proof is so high.

But did you know there actually is a way under current law to go after corrupt or abusive prosecutors and judges?

Writing in the New York Times, Brandon Buskey, a staff attorney with the A.C.L.U.’s Criminal Law Reform Project, tells all of us how a little-used statute might be a way to reign in such abuses in the criminal justice system:

When it comes to poor people arrested for felonies in Scott County, Miss., Judge Marcus D. Gordon doesn’t bother with the Constitution.

He refuses to appoint counsel until arrestees have been formally charged by an indictment, which means they must languish in jail without legal representation for as long as a year. Judge Gordon has robbed countless individuals of their freedom, locking them away from their loved ones and livelihoods for months on end.

(I am the lead lawyer in a class­-action suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against Scott County and Judge Gordon.)

In a recent interview, the judge, who sits on the Mississippi State Circuit Court, was unapologetic about his regime of indefinite detention: “The criminal system is a system of criminals. Sure, their rights are violated.” But, he added, “That’s the hardship of the criminal system.”

There are many words to describe the judge’s blunt disregard of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Callous. Appalling. Cruel. Here’s another possibility: criminal — liable to prosecution and, if found guilty, prison time.

The article is an interesting read.

Paris: saved from the Bataclan gunfire

paris jefferly.com Islamic State ISIS ISIL Bataclan New York Times podcast iTunes

A young  Parisian explains how a stranger may have saved his life and the lives of others by pulling them from an emergency exit pile-up at the Bataclan concert hall.

This is from the New York Times iTunes video podcast. It’s very good. Enter this URL into your iTunes podcast directory or go here.

Tiny number of families vying to control election

New York Times election money jefferly.com
While there are a few wealthy progressives supporting the Democratic side, the vast majority of money given by the super wealthy is going to the GOP.

There is an article in this morning’s New York Times which shows what anyone who is tired of a world that is, in Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s words, “rigged against the little guys,” is up against in this election:

They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters.

Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns.

And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy.

Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.

Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago. These donors’ fortunes reflect the shifting composition of the country’s economic elite.

Relatively few work in the traditional ranks of corporate America, or hail from dynasties of inherited wealth. Most built their own businesses, parlaying talent and an appetite for risk into huge wealth: They founded hedge funds in New York, bought up undervalued oil leases in Texas, made blockbusters in Hollywood. More than a dozen of the elite donors were born outside the United States, immigrating from countries like Cuba, the old Soviet Union, Pakistan, India and Israel. But regardless of industry, the families investing the most in presidential politics overwhelmingly lean right, contributing tens of millions of dollars to support Republican candidates who have pledged to pare regulations; cut taxes on income, capital gains and inheritances; and shrink entitlement programs.

While such measures would help protect their own wealth, the donors describe their embrace of them more broadly, as the surest means of promoting economic growth.

Of course that is how they — including the notorious Koch brothers — frame their efforts. If they came out and admitted what they do is meant to benefit only them and people like them, they would lose every election. Instead they build astroturf front groups with high-minded names to fool the electorate.

Which begs the question: if what they are doing is so good for America as a whole, why do they have to hide it so much?

New York Times election money jefferly.com
Graphic: New York Times