Media Mostly Ignore Democrat Saying ‘F-k the President’

December 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

As NewsBusters previously reported, the three broadcast networks completely ignored the revelation that an unknown Democrat said "F-k the President" during a heated meeting of the House Democratic caucus Thursday.

A further examination has identified that despite corroboration by other sources, practically no American media outlets reported the news:

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NewsBusters.org blogs

Media Mostly Ignore Democrat Saying ‘F-k the President’

December 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

As NewsBusters previously reported, the three broadcast networks completely ignored the revelation that an unknown Democrat said "F-k the President" during a heated meeting of the House Democratic caucus Thursday.

A further examination has identified that despite corroboration by other sources, practically no American media outlets reported the news:

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NewsBusters.org – Exposing Liberal Media Bias

Dem Congressman Fumes: ‘F**k the President,’ All Three Networks Ignore

December 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Thursday's network newscasts and Friday's morning shows all ignored the report that an unidentified Democratic House member muttered, "F**k the President" during a closed door meeting on a compromise over taxes. Yet, many journalists professed outrage when Congressman Joe Wilson yelled "You lie" at President Obama in 2009.

ABC's The Note website on Thursday afternoon explained, "An unidentified Democratic lawmaker let slip his frustration at President Obama’s proposed tax compromise, apparently muttering "f**k the president," during a heated debate this morning."

Yet, when GMA reporter Jon Karl covered the story on Friday, he reported more sanitized details of conflict: "…Yesterday, you had the House Democrats actually chanting, 'no, we can't' at a private meeting."

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NewsBusters.org – Exposing Liberal Media Bias

Special Forces Units Ignore Bureaucrat Memo, and Save Lives

December 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

By signing a memo Oct. 29, 2007, James R. Clapper Jr. exposed U.S. military personnel to greater-than-necessary danger as they served their country in Afghanistan, Iraq and other hot spots around the world.

Then an Under Secretary of Defense and now our nation’s Director of National Intelligence, Clapper designated the polygraph and its hand-held cousin, the Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System, as the “only approved credibility assessment technologies” in DoD. At the same time, he sent a dangerous message to U.S. troops: “Stop using the Computer Voice Stress Analyzer.”

Fortunately, some of our nation’s bravest warriors sided with common sense and opted to ignore The Clapper Memo. One of those who did was, until recently, a member of the Army Special Forces whom I will call “Joe” (not his real name).

Trained in counterintelligence and as an interrogator, this former SF operator used CVSA to conduct nearly 500 interrogations of enemy combatants and third-country nationals — more than anyone in the U.S. military — while serving in Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq and regularly working 18-hour days from 2004 to 2009.

Joe agreed to speak with me on condition of anonymity about his firsthand experience with CVSA and why Department of Defense leaders are wrong to keep the technology now used by more than 1,800 U.S. law enforcement agencies out of the hands of people in uniform.

“I was still downrange when that memo came out,” said Joe, who spoke with me on condition of anonymity.

After learning of the memo, Joe said he went to his commander and asked one question: “You want me to stop?”

His commander replied, “Hell no, don’t stop! You’re just not using it anymore, right?”

Despite Pentagon orders to the contrary, Joe’s SF commanders wanted him to continue using CVSA for one primary reason: They knew it was far superior to PCASS when it came to dealing with various types of detainees, captured enemy combatants, third-country nationals and others who could pose threats to U.S. and allied troops in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar.

“The craziest thing about this whole deal was that it became such a controversy that, for us to continue to go up there and continue to fight — to say, ‘Hey, we need to use this,’” — “we were ordered to stand down and not even mention the words anymore,” Joe said.

Why the stand-down order? Because, according to Joe, someone in Army leadership was more willing to rely upon laboratory studies commissioned by officials and agencies with vested interests in the continued use of the polygraph instead of trusting operational research like that Joe conducted almost daily.

One of the often-cited studies that proves his point, “Assessing the Validity of Voice Stress Analysis Tools in a Jail Setting,” was conducted by University of Oklahoma Professor Kelly R. Damphousse using funds from a noncompetitive $ 232,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice, the research, development and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Justice.

For their participation in the 2007 study, inmates at the Oklahoma County Jail received candy bars as rewards but faced no real jeopardy, a factor that makes or breaks the validity of the test.

In places like Iraq, where CVSA worked so effectively for SF operators, Joe said, he could tell an interview subject, “Hey, you’re gonna be here for a really long time and convicted as a terrorist if I find out you’re lying to me.” Conversely, he could say, “You’re gonna go home tomorrow if you clear this chart.” In other words, jeopardy was clearly present. Not candy bars.

Not surprisingly, Joe isn’t the only soldier who shares Joe’s opinions about the polygraph and CVSA.

One “Anonymous Fort Bragg CVSA Examiner” sent me the message below soon after I published my first serious piece about the polygraph-CVSA controversy April 9, 2009. It appears unedited below:

“I was one of the first US Army soldiers trained on the CVSA system back in 2005. I have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and have used the CVSA in both theaters. Despite the unofficial “ban” on the system by the Army polygraph examiners, my commander and chain of command have supported and continue to support the CVSA.

“Over the past 4 years I have conducted over 200 CVSA exams, and kept records and logs of each exam as required by SOP. My CVSA exams have been accurate at least 94% of the time, because the information I developed from the CVSA was independently confirmed by other evidence we developed during our operations. And that is either Deceptive or Not Deceptive.

“Unlike the PCASS, there are no flashing lights, and no inconclusive results when you use a CVSA. The CVSA always lets you know whether a subject is Deceptive or Not Deceptive. Oh, did I mention some buddies from Fort Campbell who are also CVSA examiners went through PCASS training and they refuse to use it because it simply does not work. The whole PCASS concept is a joke, and when they went to PCASS training the instructors got pissed when they asked informed questions about the CVSA and polygraph.

“We will not risk our lives on a piece of junk that was put together by eggheads who don’t have a clue about the real world, and have probably never been to a combat zone. The CVSA is accurate, and has been instrumental in obtaining legal (by the book) confessions from the tests I have conducted. I have used it to get confessions from bombers , spies, infiltrators, killers, and other low life’s. They break down quickly once they know that you know the truth, and they confess.

“The CVSA has helped us round up more bad guys than I care to count. It is well regarded by Army SF and NSW, because it works. It has saved the lives of US personnel, ask any of the guys who have conducted the hundreds of CVSA exams in Iraq.

“I forgot to mention that the polygraph examiners go crazy when they find out we are using it. They will fly into our AO waving their regulations, and our chain of command boots them in the ass, and they leave with their tails between their legs. It is funny these clowns are more concerned about protecting their turf than they are about us and our mission. I am surprised the Army leadership puts up with the bullshit. They have ZERO successes to point to, only failures.”

Days later, another confidential source provided me a copy of an After Action Report written by an “insider” at Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility following a 30-day test of the technology in 2003. It’s summary included the praise below:

“During the test period, it was obvious that CVSA would become an invaluable tool for focusing the efforts of intelligence collection. By virtue of utilizing the CVSA equipment and training, interrogations could be focused on areas where deception if indicated, versus wasting time and energy on avenues of exploitation that would have little to no value. The outcomes of the 30 day test period has shown outstanding results, and has generated a high degree of interest and satisfaction among the intelligence community.”

I also received a copy of a letter written by a high-ranking interrogation official (name withheld) who served at GITMO while CVSA was tested there. He listed seven distinct advantages of CVSA (shown unedited below) over the traditional polygraph system:

1. It is more portable.

2. It is less intrusive (microphone as opposed to galvanic, heart, blood pressure, and breathing monitors).

3. Less training required for the examiner.

4. The test is easier to explain to the subject before the test is administered.

5. The test results are easier to explain to the subject. (The charts for both control questions and relevant questions can be shown and explained. This makes post test questioning much easier.)

6. There are no inconclusive test results.

7. The examiner can identify the questions to which the subject’s answers appeared to show deception. This helps to focus additional questions and subsequent interrogations. (The polygraphers would not identify the questions to which the subject appeared to be deceptive when answering. They would only say the test showed “No deception indicated, deception indicated or inconclusive.”

That same GITMO interrogator included the paragraph below as his closing statement:

“My opinion based upon my observation is that CVSA is superior to the polygraph when used as a tool in the interrogation process. Consequently, I conclude that those who wish to remove CVSA from the “interrogator’s tool box” are more interested in protecting their turf than they are in gathering intelligence that protects the American people.”

The pro-CVSA opinions above stand in stark contrast to official answers I received in response to questions asked about the Army’s use of the portable lie detectors.

Appearing carefully-constructed and thoroughly-coordinated, they arrived in my inbox in early May 2009 — after 27 days and the exchange of dozens of e-mails — from U.S. Central Command. The person delivering the answers was Maj. John Redfield, an Air Force PAO assigned to CENTCOM.

Asked whether officials at the joint command considered PCASS effective after one year of use, CENTCOM responded as follows:

“The comments from forward commanders and their principal intelligence advisors regarding the value of PCASS have been very favorable. In Iraq and Afghanistan, PCASS has proven its value; aiding in the identification of individuals with inimical interests to the U.S. government and our allies has allowed commanders to take actions to reduce the risks these individuals posed.”

Asked if CENTCOM had plans to continue, expand or otherwise modify the use of PCASS devices in the field, they wrote:

“CENTCOM published guidance which authorizes the use of PCASS in our area of responsibility. The continued use and any expansion of use will be decided by commanders on the ground and those ready to deploy after consultation with their military service leadership. CENTCOM does not envision modifying the use of PCASS, as our current policy permits the use of the device as a screening tool in some very specific situations on specific individuals and under specific conditions. To expose those specifics would endanger the lives of American military personnel.”

Asked if PCASS has been credited with directly saving any American lives or thwarting any enemy operations, CENTCOM replied as follows:

“Unlike a bulletproof vest, PCASS is not a stand-alone tool which one can point to and give credit for saving lives. PCASS is an aid which complements other techniques and is a device which is complemented by other procedures. Together these tools have aided intelligence personnel in the identification of locally employed persons who were corresponding with violent extremist organizations, foreign intelligence and security services, and criminal elements. There is no way to measure how many lives were saved by taking positive action against individuals who would pass friendly information to persons who would then use that information to attack or attempt to disrupt U.S. and coalition military operations.”

In stark contrast to the official message coming from headquarters, Joe told me SF operators would “rather go back to the stubby pencil and taking an educated guess” than use PCASS.

One of the major flaws in the technology that cause Joe and others to discount PCASS can be found in polygraph training, Joe said.

“If you can trick yourself into thinking you’re a bomber,” Joe said, “then why can’t you trick yourself into thinking you’re not and trick that machine?”[Note: To see the training scenario Joe cited from the Defense Academy for Credibility Assessment (formerly the DoD Polygraph Institute) at Fort Jackson, S.C., click here.]

Joe added that he thinks rank-and-file polygraphers would embrace CVSA if given the opportunity.

“If you take PCASS operators and CVSA operators, cross-train ‘em and, at the end of that, give ‘em some time to work with the equipment in the field, I would say 95 to 96 percent of them guys — because, you know, some people just don’t like change if they were PCASS guys first — will tell you that the CVSA is a much better piece of equipment.

As for those who remain opposed to CVSA, Joe had this message: “Anybody looking out for the welfare of the soldier and really looking at this open-minded (would) see that the CVSA is the best tool for the job,” he said.

I asked Joe what he would say, if given the chance, to our nation’s leaders in Washington about the prohibition on the CVSA use by U.S. troops.

“I would testify in front of Congress that this piece of equipment is essential for HUMINT personnel on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “If they want to save lives, they’ve got to put this piece of equipment back into that theater. Every unit should have this equipment.”

Fortunately, Joe told me that SF operators are skilled in knowing how to keep equipment “off the books.” One can only hope that some of the CVSA computers remain in use.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Stay tuned! The information in this and previous articles I’ve written and published about the polygraph-CVSA controversy represents only the “tip of the iceberg.” More will appear in my upcoming book about this controversy, “Turf War: Detecting Lies and Deception.”

SEE ALSO:

  • To read true stories about the use of CVSA technology on the Arabian Peninsula during the past decade, click here.
  • To read this author’s previous posts about the polygraph-CVSA controversy, click here.

Big Peace

Mr President, Ignore Frank Rich Please

December 5, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

I enjoy reading Frank Rich's column every week. It's usually a deeply researched, beautifully constructed, passionate read. But I wish it varied a little more. Longing for Barack Obama to be some kind of Huey Long, opening can after can of whup-ass on Rush Limbaugh's jiggly behind  seems, well, quixotic to me. And if I thought there was some way to win a culture and rhetorical war against the FNC/RNC vortex, I could see the point of this very elegant sentence:

No one expects Obama to imitate Christie’s in-your-face, bull-in-the-china-shop shtick. But they have waited in vain for him to stand firm on what matters to him and to the country rather than forever attempting to turn non-argumentative reasonableness into its own virtuous reward.

This strikes me as grotesquely unfair. I sure know what maters to the president, and a brief survey of his first two years would reveal it rather baldly. "Non-argumentative reasonableness" so far has prevented a second great depression, rescued Detroit, bailed out the banks, pitlessly isolated Tehran's regime, exposed Netanyahu, decimated al Qaeda's mid-level leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan, withdrawn troops fron Iraq on schedule, gotten two Justices on the Supreme Court, cut a point or two off the unemployment rate with the stimulus, seen real wages for those employed grow, presided over a stock market boom and record corporate profits, and maneuvered a GOP still intoxicated with failed ideology to become more and more wedded to white, old evangelicals led by Sarah Palin. And did I mention universal health insurance – the holy grail for Democrats for decades?

Ah, yes: Obama's restraint has been such a disaster, hasn't it? I'm with Carpenter:

Obama of course did stand firm on upper-end tax cuts throughout the 2008 campaign and continued standing in like manner as president — until, that is, it became all too obvious that success in Congress was not an option.

The timing of Obama's D-Day offensive against the recalcitrant GOP remains precarious. My initial thoughts were, for reasons explained, that he'd dismiss the tax-cut issue as his artillery-opening opportunity, but use it to assault Republicans when they then denied him a vote on New Start. Some reasonably lengthy demonstration of presidential good faith is incumbent on Obama in order to persuade independents that he's the reasonable One; and, it seems to me, on tax cuts Republicans are playing right into his carressing hand.

Yet, as I noted earlier, such timing might be aggressively premature. Obama might yet delay his assault well into 2011, and, my guess, initially over some relatively insignificant piece of legislation (for what else will we see next year?) — a political skirmish on which he can build, more and more thunderously, more and more Trumanesquely, heading into 2012.





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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Don’t Just Ignore the Arguments Against You

December 1, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(Eugene Volokh)

From American Bank v. City of Menasha (7th Cir. Nov. 29) (Posner, J.), discussed in the post below:

American Bank was a named plaintiff in the class action suit, and less than two weeks after the suit was filed it submitted a request to the City, pursuant to Wisconsin’s Public Records Law, Wis. Stat. §§ 19.31-.39, to inspect a large number of records, specified in the request, relating to the conversion project. (In an example of silly, and indeed unprofessional, advocacy, Menasha’s brief neither cites nor mentions the public-records law, as if there were no legal basis for American Bank’s insisting on compliance with the request and as if therefore the stay granted by the district court did not preempt a state law.)

A helpful lesson about advocacy, it seems to me.




The Volokh Conspiracy

Notes for Today: The Big Story Being Missed & Trying to Ignore Wikileaks

December 1, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

This post was written by Barry Rubin and is reposted here with permission.

Notes for Today: The Big Story Being Missed & Trying to Ignore Wikileaks

By Barry Rubin
December 1, 2010

I cannot urge you strongly enough to view this short cartoon video about U.S. Middle East policy, building on the Wikileaks. While it isn’t completely fair-not mentioning U.S. efforts against Iran in terms of sanctions, military help to Gulf Arabs, etc-it is also absolutely brilliant at getting across the main theme.

Watch it!

And at the end, check out the expression on the face of the character on the right (who represents Arab leaders).

In all the excitement over the Wikileaks story, I want to remind people that there’s another big story being ignored. You will be reading about it in the mass media in two or three months.

The Obama Administration has messed up its attempts to get Israel-Palestinian negotiations going. The whole misplaced emphasis on a freeze of construction on settlements-something this government initiated-continues to put a freeze on talks. The presentation of the proposed three-month-long freeze to Israel was done so badly that nobody is quite sure what’s in it.

U.S. policy on the issue has lost its way. Looking back over what is now almost the first two years of the Obama Administration, one finds an unbroken record of bungling here. I wouldn’t say that irreparable harm has been done to the region or to U.S.-Israel relations, precisely because there was no chance of great progress on the peace process any way and nothing much has actually happened despite all the rhetoric. But a huge amount of U.S. prestige, time, and resources have been squandered.

Here’s a quiz for you: What is the one factor regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict that the Obama Administration has changed and which is disastrous? [See end of article for the answer.]

If you haven’t read it yet, you might want to look at my analysis of this issue HERE.

Speaking about the Wikileaks story, it is amusing to see how the champions of the 1980s’ conventional wisdom-that everything in the Middle East is about the Arab-Israel conflict and not about Islamism versus nationalism, and Iran-Syria versus the Arab states-are telling people to ignore that man behind the curtain.

One such person remarked that the Arab rulers didn’t say nice things about Israel in the many meetings described in the leaks. That’s true. But the point is that they didn’t say nasty things about Israel either and, generally, spoke of it as a normal regional power.

Others have pointed out one or two instances where Arab leaders, in passing, gave lip service to the notion that the best way to fight Iran and Islamism was to have an Israel-Palestinian peace. That’s true. But the point is that hardly anyone said that and when they did they passed over it briefly.

Here’s the best one-sentence summary I’ve seen, from Lee Smith, author of The Strong Horse:

“What comes through most strongly from the Wikileaks documents, however, is that U.S. Middle East policy is premised on a web of self-justifying fictions that are flatly contradicted by the assessments of American diplomats and allies in the region.”

I read one distinguished British journalist who wrote-no exaggeration-that this shouldn’t distract us from seeing that the real problem is that the US government-that’s the Obama administration, mind you-is dominated by a right-wing Zionist cabal (no kidding). A USA Today article said the leaks proved that an Israel-Palestinian peace settlement would help get Arab support on Iran, etc.

The admirable Jeffrey Goldberg points out that the leaks should also put an end to the exaggerated (sometimes crazed) talk of the all-powerful Israel lobby since Israel, even with agreement from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other Arab governments, couldn’t get the United States to act more toughly against Iran.

Of course, the people who hold to this false and outdated image of the Middle East don’t want to admit we are right so they keep talking about details, atmospherics, etc., without pointing out the conclusions to be drawn from this material. BUT this is one more step in turning the tide and more and more people are starting to question the conventional wisdom.

Answer to Question: By pressuring Israel to end high-level sanctions on the Gaza Strip and greatly increasing its own aid, the U.S. government has in effect accepted long-term Hamas rule there, making peace even harder to achieve and strengthening the Iran-Syria axis.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). You can read more of Barry Rubin’s posts at Rubin Reports.Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). You can read more of Barry Rubin’s posts at Rubin Reports.

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Daled Amos

Media Mostly Ignore Gore Admitting He Only Supported Ethanol Mandates to Help His Presidential Ambitions

November 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

On Monday, NewsBusters was the first American media outlet to report Nobel laureate Al Gore's admission that he only supported ethanol mandates in the '90s because he thought it would help his presidential ambitions.

As it turns out, with very few exceptions, no major news divisions thought this was at all important:

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NewsBusters.org – Exposing Liberal Media Bias

Ignore PC and Go After The Bad Guys

November 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

We all know the common sense solution to the problem of terrorists at airports: Profiling.

American Thinker Blog

Huckabee Calls For Lawmakers To Ignore Court Rulings They Disagree With

November 19, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

In a recent interview with right-wing radio host Steve Deace, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee claimed that lawmakers may flout court decisions they happen to disagree with:

A president has certainly got to respect a ruling of the court, but if the ruling of a court is wrong, and it’s fundamentally wrong, and you have two branches of the government that determine that it’s wrong, then those other two branches supersede the one. . . . The two branches of government, legislative and executive, have every right to make it clear to the Supreme Court that their interpretation is wrong.  And whether they do that by constitutional amendment to spell it out to the court, or by passage of further amplification of law, there are many means, I think, at hand to do that.

Listen:

Huckabee is, of course, wrong about the separation of powers — and embarassingly so. While Congress does have the authority to overrule court decisions that wrongly interpret its own acts, the whole point of having a Constitution is that it draws lines that can’t be crossed by elected officials.  What’s the point of announcing that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” if Congress can ignore any court decision preventing it from establishing a religion?

Indeed, even Huckabee doesn’t agree with Huckabee’s stance on the separation of powers. He has been an outspoken opponent of the Affordable Care Act, even touting the absurd view that the health reform law lis unconstitutional.  Yet if the President and Congress are free to ignore court decisions declaring acts of Congress unconstitutional, than it really doesn’t matter what the Constitution has to say about health reform because Congress passed the law and the President signed it.

In the end, it seems Huckabee doesn’t care much about what the Constitution actually has to say. He’s just reading out of the same right-wing playbook that says that the Constitution means whatever he wants it to mean.

ThinkProgress

LSU Professor: Pakistan and India might nuke us in 50 years if we ignore global warming

November 17, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Kablooey.


Dr. Schaefer from Louisiana State University says that if our attitude is to just “sit on our tuffets and screw the kids” and do nothing to solve the critical problem of global warming, then in 50 years Pakistan and India might decide to send a couple of nukes our way for being one of the […]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

Podesta advises Obama to ignore voters, bypass Congress through agency action

November 17, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Unitary Executive suddenly looking good to the Left.


Remember when the term “unitary executive” got thrown around a lot by the Left as a way to argue that the Bush administration thought itself above the law and above Congress?   The criticism fundamentally misunderstood the phrase, but that didn’t keep progressives from arguing that a Republican President was making himself into a dictator through […]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

Why Did The Debt Commission Ignore The Carbon Budget?

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The co-chairs of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also known as the debt commission or deficit commission, released their recommendations for United States budget policy this week. Nowhere in their discussion of the prospects for the next generation did they mention the challenge of global warming, nor did they integrate climate policy into their economic suggestions. Leaving the critique of the co-chairs’ proposal itself for others, the plan’s first guiding principle is:

We have a patriotic duty to come together on a plan that will make America better off tomorrow than it is today.

One might naively think that the plan would thus address the generational threat from manmade global warming.

The plan purports to reduce the deficit to sustainable levels by 2015 and balance the budget by 2037. Coincidentally, those dates are not dissimilar to what is needed for a sustainable planet. The Copenhagen Prognosis, prepared by top climate scientists in 2009, indicates that for a good chance (75 percent) of avoiding “major societal and environmental disruptions through the rest of the century and beyond,” “global GHG emissions would almost certainly need to decline extremely rapidly after 2015, and reach essentially zero by midcentury.”

Climate scientists have been warning about the threat of unrestrained fossil fuel pollution for decades, and have more recently worked to establish a clear “budget” for policy makers — like those on the debt commission — to work with. Again working with a risk tolerance of a 25 percent chance of catastrophe, the carbon-dioxide budget for 2000-2050 is about one trillion tons, with about 380 billion tons already burned away. Our remaining carbon budget is thus 620 billion tons.

If greenhouse pollution from fossil fuels and ecological degradation continue at their present rate — without any increase, “we would exhaust the CO2 emission budget by 2024, 2027 or 2039, depending on the probability accepted for exceeding 2°C (respectively 20%, 25% or 50%).”

The International Energy Agency has calculated that inaction in 2009 has increased the cost of climate stabilization by $ 1 trillion, an amount that will grow each year at a faster rate until we have passed the point of no return. As the changes to our climate system that we’ve already experienced demonstrate, we’ve passed the threshold of safety and security.

Unfortunately, most economic analyses of the climate threat, such as the work by William Nordhaus, Dale W. Jorgenson, and even Sir Nicholas Stern, are not “qualitatively consistent with the much better established science of climate change.” That is to say, economists use models that tell them that there would be practically no discernible economic impact from rates of warming that scientists say would cause worldwide ecological collapse.

On the flip side, the debt commission and other economists are ignoring the profound economic benefits of action. An analysis by the Center for Climate Studies finds that instead of slowing the economy, household wealth and jobs will grow faster in a green economy. Carbon limits and efficiency-focused policies would have a net positive employment impact of 2.8 million jobs and expand the economy by $ 154.7 billion by 2020, while US emissions are cut to 27 percent below 1990 levels — if standards consonant with our carbon budget are set.

If a hawkish climate budget is adopted, US investment will flow into jobs and, yes, into drawing down both the national debt and the federal trade deficit. About half the trade deficit — approximately $ 200 billion — is oil importshttps://southcapitolstreet.com/files/tag/ignore/._estimates_for_the__a_href_.css”http://www.e3network.org/papers/socialcostofcarbon_sei_20100401.pdf”>social cost of carbon — what economists believe to be the optimum current price for a ton of carbon dioxide — range from about $ 20 to $ 100. The upper range is consonant with the scientific carbon budget of 620 billion tons, as global GDP — all of which is at stake — is $ 61 trillion. An American market at $ 100 a ton would have a capitalization of $ 580 billion — about three times as much as the debt co-chairs recommended cutting from the national budget.

Wonk Room

Nadler: ‘Shameful’ For Holder To Ignore Bush Waterboarding Admission (VIDEO)

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said Wednesday that President George W. Bush’s recent admission that he approved the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was “a smoking gun” and renewed his call for Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate torture.

But Nadler, the current chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, doesn’t expect Holder to act.

“Judging by the record of this Attorney General, he will not pay attention, he will not respond,” Nadler said in an interview on MSNBC on Wednesday. “And that is shameful.”

Bush said in an interview that waterboarding is legal because his Justice Department lawyers said it was. The CIA asked Bush if he could use waterboarding. “Damn right,” Bush boasted in his memoir that he replied.

That statement “absolutely indicts the president,” Nadler said.

“It is a smoking gun, I’m dubious that [Holder] will do it because this administration unfortunately has taken the opinion, taken the attitude that they’re not going to look at any criminal actions by, within the prior administration,” Nadler said. “They say ‘let’s look forward, not backward.’ By that standard no one would be prosecuted for any crime.”

The human rights group Amnesty International has called for Bush to be prosecuted due to his admission.

Earlier this week, the Justice Department announced that no one would be charged for the destruction of CIA videotapes which showed the use of harsh interrogation methods against two other terrorism suspects.

Also this week, the Associated Press reported that DOJ officials reviewed and briefed two congressional committees on newly discovered e-mails sent by John Yoo, one of the former DOJ officials who came up with the legal justification for the use of waterboarding. Justice Department investigators were originally told that the e-mails could not be recovered.

After reviewing the new e-mails, which the AP said were also made available to the two congressional committees, DOJ stood by the conclusion that Yoo did not commit professional misconduct when he authorized CIA interrogators to use waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques.

Watch video below:







TPMMuckraker

Why We Can’t Ignore Burma’s Rigged Elections or Abandon Suu Kyi

November 4, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

While President Obama was watching his party lose control of the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm elections, let’s hope he was planning a response to another vote-this coming weekend’s elections in Burma.

FreeBurma1

The Nov. 7 elections will be held with pro-democracy opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi still under house arrest, and they have been rigged by the ruling military junta to ensure Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), cannot effectively participate. The elections are the first since 1990, when Suu Kyi’s party won, resulting in her arrest and the junta’s increased-and illegitimate-control over the country.

Suu Kyi is one of 2,100 opposition members who will spend election day under lock and key, and as Britain’s ambassador to Burma Andrew Heyn has noted, the supposedly independent Union Electoral Commission, which oversees the elections, is essentially taking its orders from the junta.

The junta has ensured that state media coverage tilts overwhelmingly in favor of its proxy political party, the Union Solidarity and Development party (USDP). The largest opposition party has been barred from fielding candidates for all but about 14 percent of the seats up for election. Twenty-five percent of the new parliament must be made up of military nominees.

Any vote against the USDP, therefore, is nothing more than a protest vote-as is boycotting the election completely. Those are the two choices facing Burma’s suffocated citizenry. Heyn wrote:

“The regime’s dreadful record on the economy matches its record on democracy and human rights. It is based on an apparent disregard for the general population’s welfare, demonstrated by its chronic underfunding of public services such as health and education while money is poured into the defence budget and private bank accounts.”

In August of last year, Democratic Sen. Jim Webb visited Burma and met with Suu Kyi and junta leader Than Shwe, precipitating the highest-level engagement between the two countries in a decade and a half. Webb suggested that the U.S. consider easing some sanctions put in place to pressure the military leaders.

The fallout from Webb’s visit and the administration’s engagement began immediately. Webb claimed Suu Kyi supported lifting some sanctions; Suu Kyi responded that she hadn’t even discussed sanctions with Webb. Two leaders of Burma’s democratic activists called Webb’s methods “ignorant” and “damaging to our democracy movement.”

The junta’s armed forces stepped up their attacks on the ethnic minority Karen community, conscripting children as young as ten into servitude, and refugees flooded into Thailand.

Reuters reported last week on the divisions within the Obama administration on its approach to Burma. Webb thinks the outreach didn’t go far enough, and he apparently has some support within the administration. He claimed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wanted to try it his way, but was pressured against it.

Not only does the junta have a stranglehold on the Burmese people, it has powerful allies. China has exerted much effort in keeping close relations with a country it sees as a source of natural resources. China’s moves brought India to the table to compete for Burma’s attention, especially after China built a station in Burma from which to monitor India’s naval activity. Both countries are now investing in infrastructure and oil projects in Burma.

There are two important lessons in the junta’s success in Burma. The first is, as James C. Scott notes in The Art of Not Being Governed, Scott’s history of Southeast Asia’s upland peoples, ethnic groups occupying the margins of a state-like the Burmese Karen-are often “linguistically and culturally distinct from the populations that dominate the state cores,” and they “spill promiscuously across national frontiers, generating multiple identities and possible foci of irredentism or secession.”

This can prove disquieting and destabilizing, but to a country ruled by a dictatorship such peoples can embody the otherwise broken spirit of a restive population. Therefore, the junta’s ability to dominate the Karen could inspire similar misbehavior in the region by Laos, China, and possibly even Cambodia.

Second, one of the side effects of the Western left’s cultural relativism is its condescension on democracy, often expressed via doubt that other cultures are “ready” for representative self-government. Rest assured this isn’t the case in Burma.

“Under totalitarian socialism, official policies with little relevance to actual needs had placed Burma in an economic and administrative limbo where government bribery and evasion of regulations were the indispensable lubricant to keep the wheels of everyday life turning,” Suu Kyi wrote in her essay “In Quest of Democracy” two decades ago.

Democracy, she continued, would be the cure:

“At its most basic and immediate level, liberal democracy would mean in institutional terms a representative government appointed for a constitutionally limited term through free and fair elections. By exercising responsibly their right to choose their own leaders the Burmese hope to make an effective start at reversing the process of decline. They have countered the propagandist doctrine that democracy is unsuited to their cultural norms by examining traditional theories of government.”

Suu Kyi went on to explain why democracy is perfectly consistent with Burma’s Buddhist culture. Her country’s response to this weekend’s sham elections will prove that she is right, Jim Webb is wrong, and we need a new strategy-if, that is, we still care.

Big Peace

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