Thursday, September 30, 2010

Once and again ...

So I bounce around the web in my spare time, or at least a couple of sites (like the NYTimes, Slate and Salon). Salon itself does the same thing apparently, which is how I happened upon this story.


(you were actually supposed to go read it)

Democrats aren't doing anything to help the economy ('cause when they spend money and increase the size of the government it doesn't help the economy) and in fact they are keeping the Republicans from helping the unemployed. Or so everyone says.

Because TANF was extended in March, right? Uhhhhh, or at least today, the last day to do so. The last paragraph of the post captures my feelings exactly.

Meanwhile, in a different vein, I think Gail Collins sets exactly the right note in a post on schools. I know that the the popular thing to do is to slam public schools (especially urban ones, with teachers in unions). So it was refreshing to find out (via Collins) that two thirds of the new supposed panacea - Charter Schools - are in fact failing: themselves and thus (more importantly) their students. I like how Collins spoke up for unions (Finland beats us ... no surprise, but jeez). Don't get me wrong, I think bad teachers need to be disciplined and perhaps fired (like Republicans like to advocate). But I also think the unions of today are a different animal than the (self destructive) unions of thirty years ago, perhaps because they survived the last thirty years. As I said, I think Collins sets a good tone about education.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I wuz robbed ...

Well, not really. On Sunday morning I walked the Great Race 5K course, which is kind of pathetic considering I used to run these kinds of things. But that is the shape I'm in right now and what I am capable of. I did the same thing last year, walking it in a little over an hour. This time I thought I was maybe under an hour (which at least would show improvement). But when I arrived at the finish line this year the clock wasn't running, so I couldn't get my time that way. Then, when I looked on the Great Race website, I still couldn't get my time, they seem not to have recorded me. Not that it matters in any real sense, but it is a little annoying.

Gail Collins, along with Glenn Greenwald, is now one of my new favorite columnists. She had an entertaining and educational essay on Saturday. She writes about the personal hold a couple of Senators have placed on a piece of legislation. Along with the filibuster, the personal hold is fast becoming one of the more abused tools available to Senators. Truly I do not know how it works, whether there is a time limit or limit on number.

Collins does not say that she thinks the hold should be abolished or anything like that, just that the couple of Senators should release their hold on a small, non-partisan bill to allow private funders to buy a piece of government property in DC, on which they wish to build a National Women's Museum. But looking at the general issue, I don't think that either filibusters or holds should be abolished, since one day the Democrats will eventually be in the minority (maybe next year) in the Senate. Still, I think that making Senators read their holds and the reasons they have used them aloud to the chamber would be a good thing, as would having a Senator actually (once again) stand and talk for as long as he/she can during a filibuster. I don't care if Democrats would be embarrassed doing these things (as I suspect Republican partisans might not care if their Senators were similarly embarrassed). But independent voters might pay attention, which might help a Senator decide whether to actually pursue a hold or filibuster.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Country Mouse and the Court Mouse ...

Jack Kelly continues his glorification of the Tea Party this week, although he pulls off the neat trick of never mentioning the Tea Party by name today. I think that for some time at least some in the Tea Party have been as suspicious of elected Republicans in their district or State (those of the ilk of a Susan Collins or an Olympia Snowe). Still, Jack probably doesn't want to name names, partly because the GOP and the Tea Party still need each other to retake first the Congress and then the white House. One that's done, there will be time later for the Tea Party to purge the weak sisters from government

Still, I have to laugh reading some of Kelly's conclusions. If it's not religious discrimination that fuels opposition to the "Ground Zero Mosque" (which is not a mosque and is four blocks from Ground Zero), then what is it? Being miffed at the insensitivity and inappropriateness? But a strip club is appropriate for sanctified ground?

Kelly also states that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a lousy landlord, and jumps from that to stating that Rauf is not the moderate liberals think he is. Because he's a bad landlord? One has nothing to do with the other.

But I think the ultimate irony is that it would stretch the bounds of credibility to say that a Mitch McConnell or a John Boehner is anything but a Washington insider. So are those two worthy gentlemen really country mice or court mice?

Friday, September 24, 2010

What kind of country?

So I am still trying to wrap my head around conservative/Republican ideas. I mean, unless they get sixty Senate seats, then getting the House will do them little good, except to render government inert. But suppose in 2012 the Republicans/Tea Party took the White House (Palin/O'Donnell?) and Congress. We see now that the Tea Party is evaluating candidates and proposed legislation based on their particular ideological standards. I have read that they are fanatical about following the constitution. Now, I respect the constitution a whole lot. The greatest system of government put into real practice (as opposed to the elegance but impracticality of Marxist-Leninism). A system with good checks and balances between the executive, the legislature and a court system that not only issues practical and workable justice, but is the final arbiter of the constitutionality of either the laws written or the action taken by the executive. And rights for individuals that are enshrined in the first set of amendments to the document.

But still, I know the founders struggled with the balance to set (Hamilton versus Jefferson). I can't help but wonder what they would think of how the world has changed. Millions of Americans. Slavery resolved after a bloody civil war, and yet blacks still seem to be struggling in our society for the (overwhelming) most part. And then there are the financial issues, the role of technology in the economy that have increased the speed and complexity of transactions (like for example, you are reading my blog). And the penultimate, at least for me. Guns and the Second Amendment. When the second amendment was written, handguns had one bullet, were enormous and used a flint scrapping on a piece of metal to ignite a little pile of powder to ignite a bigger pile of powder to move the bullet. Misfires were frequent, guns were inaccurate and it was hard to shoot more than one person at a time. Now of course it is fairly easily to carry a concealable weapon that could shoot literally dozens of people, or you can buy military-type rifles with bullets that can penetrate the sorts of body armor the police generally wear, and shoot a lot of them. Now, I think we need tighter controls on guns, and I think most if not all of the founders would agree. But not the Republicans.

But I think there's more. Apparently the Tea Party also connects religion to the constitution. So I guess not only would there be some new constitutional standard for new legislation, but apparently there would be other rules or laws or whatever, based on biblical standards for behavior. We would lose out (supposed) tolerance of other religions, and all have to follow others interpretations of Christianity. It wouldn't matter what my own interpretation might be, I would have to follow someone else's. Which is to say I have to wonder if the tea Party wants to create a theocracy. I expect the Tea Party wonders why someone like me, or everyone else, would not want to live in a better (more moral) country.

Not that any of this is likely. But it is frankly disturbing to me that people who might serve in the Senate who think this way.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Disenchantment fever ...

I think I have caught the disenchantment fever, although I came the long way around.

There is enough information, now in your home if you have an internet connected computer, for you to know much of the detail of the history of the United States pretty darn quickly. If internet surfing (and TV watching and driving fast) has has not so sapped your attention span as to give you de facto ADD. I know it has sapped m - SQUIRREL!!!!!

(sorry, bad joke you won't get if you didn't see "Up!")(and yes, Stewart used it first)

It bothers me that the media gives credence to every nut job theory that comes down the pike simply by "fairly" reporting on it. I first became aware of this when I read Jonathan Schell's "Time of Illusion" in college (Schell, I have come to realize, is another nut job, except he is a left leaning nut job: I don't necessarily agree with Schell except in this one instance). Schell pointed out that when the Nixon administration criticized the main stream media as being controlled by liberals, the media did not simply dismiss this as an attack from an administration with a conservative agenda. Instead the networks (remember CBS, ABC, NBC?) had one hour prime time specials with furrowed brows and tortured admissions of have been liberals in college. In other words, the media took Nixon seriously and treated his accusations as something worth considering.

Needless to say, the media is just as bad when they are not being attacked personally and things are, if anything, worse than they were in the early seventies (of course I could stop and look at my own role in all this, but I will settle for this parenthetical notation that I do have a role). We all know (or should know) that the mainstream media is largely obsessed with appearing balanced as journalists, and not editorializing in news reports. The practical effect is that the vast majority of scientists who study climate and believe climate change is real and caused by human activities is equated with a much smaller number of scientists and non-scientists who refuse to acknowledge climate change is real, or if they do say it is real, claim it is not caused by human activity. Personally I believe most if not all climate deniers have an agenda (and possibly a check from energy companies), but I can not prove that (although now, for better or worse, I have put the idea in your head: you may agree totally or dismiss me as a paranoid lefty, but you can't not think of the possibility of industry influence now). Regardless of that, I think it is a crime that the media is not being more explicit that at least a majority of climate scientists think we are cooking the planet.

So a lot of voters, who are not really interested in politics, get these misleading messages of equivalencies. Except for the voters who get all their news from one of the more polarized networks or news magazines (Fox or Rolling Stone, for example). I favor the New York Times, which has some liberal leanings, but also shows some conservative tendencies, and frequently parrots the popular but also safe call (voters are angry and want to vote for Republicans). Unfortunately the more the equivalencies are repeated, and the standard line is repeated, the more people go from being confused to being sure of the mishmash they are being fed. So nobody in Washington or at the UN is actually sure about Climate Change, but at least the Republicans aren't trying to take our money to fix a problem that probably doesn't exist. And despite whatever silly thing Republicans are saying, either for themselves (shop owners should not be punished just bcause they refuse to serve black people and only black people) or about Democrats (Joe Sestak only cares what Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama want), we should vote for the Republicans, because the Democrats promised results and didn't deliver. So now we should hand the government back to the Republicans, because at least they aren't the Democrats. Plus there is playing on fear (Muslims, Mexicans) and claiming that Obama has already raised taxes (in fact, one third of the stimulus was tax cuts, and only three Republicans could bring themselves to vote for that).

We have better access to information than we have ever had before, and yet we settle for the same old simplified messages. I'm not disenchanted because the Democrats aren't delivering, I've made my own peace with that issue. I am disenchanted because you can lead a voter to a vast array of information, but you can't make him/her see.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What was she thinking ...

So I sure no one wants to see anything more about Christine O'Donnell, but I do find it interesting. In the nineties she was on Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect" apparently like twenty times(??!!). Maher released a clip where she talked about dating a witch (or wiccan?), and having a little picnic on some kind of alter that had blood on it (Maher is threatening to release more of 'em) ...

I know that nobody actually "vets" candidates in the sense that someone could tell a Christine O'Donnell not to run. Although I bet a number of people may wish they could have done.

I am curious to see if more of these old "Politically Correct" leak out.

By the way, to totally change direction, so now, nine years after 9/11, we are suddenly concerned that Muslims are taking over the country? How frickin' transparent are we?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tea, anyone?

Although I am trying to post more, and plan to continue to do that, it is Sunday, so I will comment on Jack Kelly's column today. I don't have that much to say about him, just a bit. Last week I suggested Jack wasn't really saying anything specific to support the TP, but I would have to say that he's come roaring back this week.

His major themes are that more Republicans are voting in the primaries than Democrats, and that more of the Republicans voting are Tea Party members. I decided not to research that, I suspect Dayvoe of 2PJ's will look (or maybe someone else). But I do want to call attention to an ironic comment made by Kelly "The last time Republicans received more primary votes than Democrats did was in 1930". Maybe it's just me, but I think I'd hesitate referencing an election held early in the Great Depression, given the current economic climate.

I don't think the current mindset of both Republican and Democratic voters is that complicated or hard to figure out. Obama built up some expectations during his run for the Presidency, some that the voters projected on to him, and some that admittedly he stoked. Since being elected, he and the Democrats in congress (mostly the Congressional Democrats) passed a stimulus bill presented as a compromise to unwilling to compromise Republicans. He also helped shepherd through a mild health care reform, something several President's had attempted and failed to do, but he spent/wasted literally a year doing that. He may also have been extending some wiretapping, surging in Afghanistan, and continuing some Bush detainee programs in that year. Meanwhile, the stimulus turned out to do so little that after a weak uptick, the economy has slipped back a bit (it doesn't help that banks and corporations are sitting on billions in capital, no doubt waiting for the results of the midterms or perhaps even the 2012 election). Now, the NYTimes has shown that the Tea Party is rural or suburban, relatively wealthy, white and has concentrations in the states not in the Northeast or California. So it is likely that Tea Party members are not unemployed, but they are people who have never supported Obama, idependents who either vote Republican or don't vote. They appear to be unusually susceptible to the anti-Obama propaganda that is emanating from Fox News and the "grassroots" (astroturf funded by the ultra rich) organizations leading the Tea Party in the absence of a party structure. i'll wait to look at this more in the future, but I think it is no accident that we are seeing anti Islamic fervor as we approach the first national election in the Obama administration.

This is actually a pretty horrible situation, with political neophytes receiving direction from front organizations funded by the ultra rich. These neophyte dupes could become the driving force of the midterms, which could result in a Congress that by this time next year that will have not only repealed HCR, but also voted to eliminate OSHA, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare (although Obama would likely veto what he could).

And where are the people who voted for Obama? Well, before I answer that, let me repeat a thought I have suggested before (I think I said this before). Once he was elected, I think Obama decided that in being the first actually black African American President (sorry Bill Clinton), Obama did not want to also be the last (at least, the last for the next fifty to one hundred years). So Obama has been ultra cautious, keeping Bush programs (such as war) intact to avoid confirming the expectation that a black President would have a black agenda. In doing so, he is losing his liberal supporters. Which is worse, allow conservatives even more cause to say that Obama is a radical or socialist (more than they already are, which is a quite a lot), or lose that liberal support, enthusiasm and energy? I will allow that it is a tough call, but the process of setting a balance is heartbreaking.

Meanwhile Jack Kelly is crowing because neophytes are being misled with propaganda. I am constantly amazed that people who claim to be patriots are happy when America is put at risk in this manner.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Boehner, Boehner, Boehner

I remember once watching both the PBS Newshour and the Daily show back to back, and the Newshour had the more clever caption for their graphic of a particular story than the Daily Show. Ever since the Daily Show started, occasionally mainstream news shows will run something just a little funny (OK, maybe that started with Charles Kuralt)> Just this past Sunday, ABC's This Week (which I watched) had a video montage of Obama's Cleveland speech which consisted of showing us how many times Obama said Boehner. I believe it was eight, like something out of the Daily Show, Obama in rapid succession saying "Boehner"(snip)"Boehner"(snip) "Boehner"(snip) etc.

Apparently I should have been watching "Face the Nation", where Bob Schieffer had the man himself. Whether by Republican design or not, Boehner showed a rare flash of reasoned insight and declared himself in favor of the Obama tax plan, if that was his only alternative. He even apparently admitted that only 3% of small businesses yielded personal incomes of over $250,000.

Now I doubt many, if even any, other Republicans are going to take this position. So Boehner's position, even as House Minority Leader, amounts to essentially nothing in terms of votes or the real world. It could be a nice wedge for Republicans, though, if blogs and pundits around the country talk about it a lot. But since Boehner is in the House, even if he could get a lot of Republicans to vote with him for the Obama plan, the legislation would still face the Senate. Where they have yet to decide they have no alternative.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oh, *there's* the oil ...

Maybe the Post-Gazette has this story somewhere buried below Rich Lord's excellent series on the local "Network", which itself is being buried below Steeler mania. But Yahoo only listed the Tribune Review for this story (the author is "Wire Reports"). I also saw it on Treehugger dot com.

So instead of floating on the top of the water as Lisa Margonelli tells us it should (June 2010) , there is a bunch of oil on the sea floor in the gulf, covering lord knows how much area (zero miles from the Deepwater Horizan well, 80 miles from the well, yada yada). Of course, the Wire Reports story the Trib chose includes lots of doubting experts. But personally I blame those kooky dispersants that BP (and the stupid government) said was evaporating the oil (as if airborne oil is somehow better). One thing I do know is that I am not going to be eating any shrimp for the next few years (or any warm water fish).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ever Notice How ...

So, it being Sunday I will comment on Jack Kelly's PG column today. Before I do that, I want to mention that I took Steve Goreham's book "Climatism" out of the library and i am slowly making my way through it. That book was addressed in a 2PJ post back on June 1st, it is basically supposed to be the climate skeptic's response to things like "An Inconvenient Truth" and the various IPCC reports.

But first I want look at Jack Kelly today. For the last few weeks I have suggested that Mr Kelly is trying to either court or support the Tea Party, but this week I would put a different slant on things. In this column, Jack Kelly seems to turn into a mean spirited Andy Rooney. He rants about a couple of barely related environmental issues, sounding a fair bit like the famous 60 Minutes curmudgeon.

Kelly starts by complaining that a plant in Virginia that manufactured incandescent light bulbs is closing, putting 200 people out of work. I don't cheer that, but I do wonder where Kelly's concern is for the other 15 million (or more) unemployed Americans, many of whom have been unemployed for many months.

Kelly goes on to whine about CFL's. They're too expensive, they have mercury, they can trigger migraines. But when Kely says the bulbs cost five times as much, Kelly doesn't say the use a fifth of the energy, and last five times as long. Plus it is possible to buy the CFL bulbs in bulk at Walmart or Home Depot, so they only cost maybe twice as much. As for the mercury, if you don't break the bulbs, it will never be an issue. If you do break a bulb, apparently instead of contacting your state department of environmental protection you should just open the window and maybe turn on a fan. And avoid eating Tuna, because the mercury coal powered electric plants generate is getting into Tuna, which can cause the same or worse brain damage that a broken CFL. The migraine thing is interesting only in that it blew up as an issue in January 2008, before fizzling out. It seems like the only way someone would link migranes and CFL's is if they one did cursory research (showing what Kelly really thinks of his readers).

Kelly then tackles the DDT ban of the early seventies (clearly the fault of Obama and Pelosi). Apparently DDT is not harmful after all, because a doctor of agricultural bacteriology (who was on a committee at the National Academy of Science; now conservatives trust the NAS?) thought that Rachel Carson exaggerated the effects of DDT. I would hope that DDT was banned based on scientific studies, not just Rachel Carson's book (during the Nixon administration). Kelly brings up a resurgence of bed bugs and malaria. Now, bed bugs are unfortunate, although I would rather find alternatives than sleep on a DDT-treated mattress (I will freely admit I don't know how DDT figures in bad bug control). As for malaria, in turns out that international treaty specifically allow DDT to be used in disease vector control and in fact the liberals Obama and Pelosi have our government apparently paying other countries to use DDT to control malaria. So Kelly either didn't actually research DDT very well, or did and decided to deliberately lie to his readers.

These were odd topics for complaints, moderately dated and somewhat trivial and/or incorrect. And Kelly manages to make himself whiny. Plus no mention of 9/11. Could it be Jack Kelly just doesn't care about people who actually kill Americans?

I wanted to say at least a little bit about "Climatism". I am only midway into chapter two. In chapter one, Steve Goreham complained about AL Gore, James Hansen and a Brit named Nicolas Stern. He also supposedly disproves eight "disasters" of global warming. Looking at just one, Goreham talks about how all three of his villains predict a twenty foot rise in the ocean level. Goreham admits in the same paragraph that the IPCC itself says about seven inches (at least, maybe 15 inches by 2100). The IPCC notes that that is enough ice in one part of the Antarctic to create that twenty foot rise, but they don't think it would occur in this century

Now I will admit that James Hansen and especially Al Gore are given to hyperbole. But I don't think exaggerations (accidental I would say, Goreham would probably say deliberate) have any effect on the validity of the actual climate science. So far, by calling attention to other's predispositions to believe that climate change is man made, he has managed to mostly call attention to his only predispositions. More later.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Kelly's Spin Around the Track

In his column today, Jack Kelly becomes a small, petty man. Kelly suggests that with his speech on Tuesday Obama takes unjustified credit for winning the war in Iraq. I guess Kelly is trying to help out his Tea Party chums by trying to undermine a well received speech. Kelly suggests Obama was bored with his own speech, the speech flat. Kelly complained that Obama talked about the US economy too much (four times as much he talked about our “future relations with Iraq and why this is important to U.S. security” whatever that means).

Kelly trots out quotes from a variety of relatively famous and relatively obscure critics that reflect negative about Obama’s speech, but I want to suggest the real issue is the larger problem of the war/occupation of Iraq. Although he wants to present Michael O’Hanlon as critical of Obama and the administration, O’Hanlon presents a much more balanced picture in an article written just before the speech. The funny thing is, a lot of Obama’s critics are on the left. At least some people are taking note of the 50,000 troops still in Iraq. Some of those troops are special forces, whose mission is still to go and hunt terrorists. I sure that hunting will not be combat, just a minor unpleasantness.

Kelly is particularly perturbed that he feels Obama does not credit Bush for winning the war: “President Bush handed him a military victory there”. I think the real irony is that this is the second time combat operations have been declared over. We might remember the first time was on the deck of an aircraft carrier, with a banner. Kelly thinks Obama shortchanged Bush with the few words of praise Obama had for Bush, I suspect many on the left were annoyed Obama praised Bush as much as he did.

There are multiple facts that both Kelly and also frankly Obama are willfully ignoring. On Kelly’s side, he is ignoring that Bush started the war (without cause), declared victory prematurely once himself and really did not hand Obama any victory. On Obama’s side, he is choosing not to blame Bush for starting the war, and Obama has now himself declared victory prematurely (are we victorious if we leave 50,000 troops in place?).

But really bothers me about today’s column is that Kelly repeats his obnoxious charge that the stimulus cost one hundred billion more than the Iraq war and the stimulus failed and we won in Iraq. This suggests that without the stimulus our economy would be doing as well better than it is now.... Really? Well, leaving that nonsense aside, I am surprised Kelly wants to associate himself with the cost of the Iraq war. After all, Cheney had said he believed Iraq would cost maybe 80 billion. A previous (2007) CBO report suggested the war would cost 2.4 trillion by 2017, including interest costs. But the Nobel Prize winning economist (no, not Krugman) Joseph Stiglitz believes the war could cost 3 trillion when all is said and done. Perhaps that includes the 350 to 700 billion estimate for care for our wounded and disabled soldiers (something Kelly continues to fail to mention). Meanwhile, while Krugman has said all along the the stimulus was too small, at the very least it kept us out of another financial collapse and depression.

At the risk of having this post go too long, but on a tangential note, I have noticed at least a few Republicans/conservatives defending their desire to keep the bush tax cuts for the very rich by claiming that the Reagan tax cuts "worked", they generated more revenue than they lost. This is demonstrably untrue, although one certainly has to say that the economy rebounded from the stagflation of the 1970's. It is difficult to give Reagan unqualified credit for the increase in the GDP, it is possible (likely?) that then Fed Chair Paul Volker may have had a hand in that. To further illustrate that the Reagan tax cut did not work, Reagan's successor George HW Bush famously stated "Read My Lips: No New Taxs" and then, in the face of a recession (another failure of Reaganomics), Bush grew worried about the rising level of federal debt and during a recession, Bush decided to raise taxes. Evidently Reagan's policies were not as wise as Republicans would have us believe.

Do they think we are stupid?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Who could have known ...

Glenn Greenwald (yeah, him again) had an interesting column on Tuesday, talking about an evidently common theme in the media, of saying that no one could have known that Iraq would turn out the way it did. This sort of article is apparently very common now that our "combat" troops have pulled out of Iraq.

I have to say I think it should not have been a mystery that a) Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, b) that Iraq would have no weapons of mass destruction and c) that our "benign neglect", dismantling of the Iraqi army and our lack of a plan for Iraq post-invasion resulting in a disastrously long and painful occupation. In point of fact, much the same can be said about Afghanistan: I remember reading that the Taliban government tried desperately to find a way to hand over Osama bin Laden (remember him?) from September 12th until they were invaded and deposed. They offered bin Laden, but with conditions (such as that they wouldn't be invaded). Now I don't remember/didn't research the details, so there be things I am missing (but I am inclined to believe otherwise).

Getting back to Iraq, I remember hearing interviews on NPR (particularly Fresh Air), with Scott Ritter back in the late 1990's. Greenwald makes a point of mentioning Ritter in an update to his post. Ritter was convinced and convincing back in the 1990's that the various high tech methods used by the UN weapons inspectors had found all the WMD's that Iraq had, before Saddam Hussein had kicked them out, in 1998 I think. I believe at that point the UN and the US tightened the sanctions on Iraq that were already in place (or at least kept them as tight).

And it is not like I have some special access, so that I knew things about the UN weapons inspection program that the media wouldn't have access to, rather the opposite. Yet nobody could have known.

My tiny bit of research showed me something I hadn't seen before. Apparently Scott Ritter has a thing for underage girls. He was apparently noticed in April 2001 and then arrested in June 2001 for trying to contact and meet girls over the internet. The charges were dropped and the records sealed in exchange for his staying out of trouble for an unspecified period of time. The records were later leaked to the press in what Ritter says was a political effort to silence him. Unfortunately, the same thing happened with a cop posing as a fifteen year old girl in November of 2009. At least Ritter didn't go for someone younger, which I hope makes him only a scumbag, not a full on pedophile. And I still trust his judgment on WMD's.