Memo: Fox News Reporters Ordered To Promote Climategate Conspiracy Theory

December 15, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

In a memo obtained by Media Matters, Fox News vice president Bill Sammon ordered his reporters last year to question global warming, citing conspiracy theories about climate scientists based on hacked emails. Weeks before the leaders of the entire world gathered to address global warming pollution in Copenhagen, Denmark, hackers released a selective cache of emails stolen from the servers of the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. Right-wing blogs and global warming deniers scanned through the thousands of messages, attempting to portray the scientists who sent them as conspirators that falsified data and suppressed dissent. Furthermore, they argued that the handful of scientists in the emails controlled the entire enterprise of climate research, throwing the decades of work by thousands of scientists into doubt.

Bill Sammon, the Washington managing editor and vice president of Fox News, dictated to his reporters that the facts of climate change were just “notions,” because of the “debate” over the “Climategate” emails that Fox’s commentators were promoting. “Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data,” he wrote in the email, sent during the Copenhagen climate conference on December 8, 2009, “we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question”:

From: Sammon, Bill
To: 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 036 -FOX.WHU; 054 -FNSunday; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers; 069 -Politics; 005 -Washington
Cc: Clemente, Michael; Stack, John; Wallace, Jay; Smith, Sean
Sent: Tue Dec 08 12:49:51 2009
Subject: Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data…

…we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.

It is, of course, the place of journalists to sift fact from fiction. The assertion of a global scientific conspiracy to falsify the existence of a warming planet — particularly when the physical evidence of declining glaciers, changing seasons, intensifying weather disasters, and rising seas would be rather difficult to concoct — is a fantastic claim.

As Media Matters notes, Sammon sent the email 15 minutes after Fox News correspondent Wendell Goler performed his journalistic duties, debunking the Climategate conspiracy theory. Goler reported from Copenhagen that the World Meteorological Organization found the last decade is “expected to turn out to be the warmest decade on record.” When asked by anchor Jon Scott about the East Anglia temperature records, Goler responded that “the data also comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and from NASA. And scientists say the data of course across all three sources is pretty consistent.”

Watch it:

The evening after the memo was sent, Wendell Goler, anchor Bret Baier, and correspondent James Rosen all promoted the Climategate conspiracy theory to question global warming.

Wonk Room

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.”


  • 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

Memo To Congress: It’s The Economy, Stupid

December 3, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Over at National Review, Douglas Holtz-Eakin argues that today’s job numbers make it clear that Congress has only one task ahead of it at this point:

The main concern is that there were only 50,000 private-sector jobs created, not nearly enough to make a dent in the employment woes. And that was the bright spot. For blue-collar workers — “production and nonsupervisory employees” — aggregate hours fell, aggregate payrolls fell, average weekly hours fell, average hourly earnings fell, and average weekly earnings fell. In the household survey, employment actually declined.


But mostly this is an alarm bell for the lame-duck Congress. No more games — extend all the tax cuts for two years, patch the AMT, and turn to cutting spending and tax reform.

Going forward, Congress has lost the luxury of extended debate on boutique social issues. All focus should be on growth. Every policy should be evaluated for its impact on growth. Wake up.

On some level, the White House and the Republicans seem to get the message in that it appears to be fairly likely that all of the Bush tax cuts will be extended, at least temporarily. That alone could help the economy if only because it will end the uncertainty that the business community has been faced with on this issue. It’s not easy to make business decisions about what you might do in 2011 when you don’t yet know what your tax picture will be like so, when faced with that, the most rational course of action is to do nothing until the uncertainty is resolved. Getting the tax uncertainty out of the way could spur businesses to start investing.

But there’s more that Congress can do to help spur economic growth. They could start by repealing the absurd 1099 reporting requirements that were part of the Affordable Care Act. By some estimates, this one requirement could cost  small businesses at least $ 6,000 per year in administrative costs just to make sure that they are complying with the requirements of the law. Republicans have made several efforts to repeal the reporting requirement, but they’ve been blocked so far. Once the 112th Congress convenes, though, the new Republican majority in the House would be in an excellent position to remedy this situation before it starts costing small businesses money.

Beyond that, though, the best thing that Congress and the Federal Government can do to spur economic growth is to get out of the way and let people invest their money as they see fit rather than using subsidies and tax credits to try to force them to invest in politically approved industries. They’ll be amazed at how much doing nothing can actually accomplish.

Outside the Beltway

Helen Thomas gets memo, changes “Jew” to “Zionist”

December 3, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off 

Helen Thomas, speaking in front of a group in Dearborn, kept up and expanded her anti-semitic diatribes – but this time she was careful to substitute the keyword “Zionist” to shield herself from truthful accusations that she is anti-semitic.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Striking a defiant tone, journalist Helen Thomas, 90, said today she absolutely stands by her controversial comments about Israel made earlier this year that led to her resignation. But she stoked additional controversy with new remarks, claiming that “Zionists” control U.S. foreign policy and other American institutions. The local Jewish community strongly condemned her remarks.

Thomas, who grew up in Detroit the daughter of Lebanese immigrants, was in Dearborn today for an Arab Detroit workshop on anti-Arab bias. The Free Press asked her about her comments, which critics have said were anti-Israel.

“I paid the price for that,” said Thomas, a longtime White House correspondent. “But it was worth it, to speak the truth.”

“The Zionists have to understand that’s their country, too. Palestinians were there long before any European Zionists.”

Thomas claimed that “You can not say anything (critical) about Israel in this country.”
In a speech that drew a standing ovation, Thomas talked about “the whole question of money involved in politics.”

“We are owned by propagandists against the Arabs. There’s no question about that. Congress, the White House, and Hollywood, Wall Street, are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion. They put their money where there mouth is…We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way.”

Asked by the Free Press how she would respond to those who say she’s anti-Semitic, Thomas said:
I’d say I’m a Semite, What are you talking about? Who are you?

Ah, the last refuge for Jew-haters – false semantics.

(h/t Yid With Lid)

Elder of Ziyon

Memo to Vince; even Lib Dem voters love the immigration cap

November 30, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


Memo to John Carney re The SEC Exception to the First Amendment

November 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

John Carney spotted an interesting episode in which Bloomberg was the first with information that Janus was the subject of the ongoing SEC insider trading probe:

That information wasn’t publicly available to anyone who does not have a Bloomberg terminal. It wasn’t posted on Janus’s website. In fact, it took several minutes before it appeared in any place the general public has access to.

So is Bloomberg aiding insider trading? Of course not. It’s a journalistic enterprise whose right to report information is protected by the First Amendment. That’s true even if the information is ‘non-public’ and has obviously been leaked by an insider. And, although it’s less clearly spelled out in the constitution, the right to gate the information so that it is only available to subscribers is probably protected as well.

Bloomberg probably didn;t commit insider trading because it breached no fiduciary duties in disseminating the information and, I assume, neither did their tipster. Although the SEC would liek to change that rule, it remains the law of the land.

What John overlooks, in any case, is the little known SEC exemption to the First Amendment. The SEC has tried to get prior restraints against people who put out investment newsletters without registering under the 40 Act. It has argued that newspaper ads are proxy solicitations. It compels speech by mandating disclosures. The shareholder proxy rule compels the company to let some self-appointed yahoo put a proposal and supporting statement in the company’s proxy statement. The proxy access rule compels speech by requiring the company to include shareholder board nominees in the proxy statement. The SEC has argued that newspapers owe fiduciary duties to the readers in connection with insider trading cases.

As far as the SEC is concerned, there is a tiny footnote to the first amendment that says “The SEC is exempt herefrom.” Unfortunately, it’s been all too rare for courts to spank them.

Memo to Michael Gerson: Republicans Defeated Castle, Not Palin

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A fact-challenged Michael Gerson seems intent on largely blaming two lost Senate seats on Sarah Palin. But given that the facts don’t support his claim, what he actually reveals is just how much his brand of establishment Republican detests the Republican base – provided they are not doing as told, apparently.


O’Donnell and Angle were gifts of Sen. Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin to their party. Tea Party enthusiasm and shallow ideological purity were supposed to be better than outdated, “establishment” attributes such as achievement, wisdom or qualification. This approach to politics is expected of DeMint, who has gained national prominence by accusing his Republican colleagues of compromise. Coming from Palin, however, it is a threat to the Republican future.

According to Fox News, Christine O’Donnell “soundly” defeated establishment Republican Mike Castle in the Delaware primary on September 15th. Yet, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin only came out for O’Donnell on her Facebook page … just a mere six days before on September 9th.  Does Gerson now want us to believe that Palin can so alter a Senate race less than a week out from an election, especially after the establishment threw everything behind Castle for months? That’s foolishness.

What this is intended to be is a distraction from the GOP establishment’s failure to anoint a candidate seen as satisfactory to the majority of its own party’s base in Delaware in the end. Meanwhile, Public Policy Polling was already pointing out how many Delaware Republicans disliked Mike Castle back in August. Christine O’Donnell tapped into that, not Sarah Palin. If anything, Palin mostly followed the people’s lead.

It was Delaware Republicans who defeated Mike Castle, not Sarah Palin. Gerson also reveals another ugly truth about his sort. Evidently, he doesn’t believe voters, even Republican ones, are capable of making up their own minds. How else to explain his weak reasoning that O’Donnell’s winning the GOP primary was somehow Palin’s, or someone else’s, fault?

As long as the Michael Gerson’s hold sway in Washington, the GOP will only continue to alieanate it’s very own base. We’re he truly as smart as he seems to think he is, he might consider taking responsiblity for his party’s failures over the years, instead of casting about looking for someone else to blame. Unfortunately, he seems incapable of that.

As for Sharron Angle – here’s another fact Gerson apparently didn’t check. Sarah Palin endorsed her on August 18th.  Sharron Angle won the GOP’s Nevada primary two months earlier, on June 9th, for heaven’s sake. But don’t tell Michael Gerson that, because Angle’s loss is suddenly all Sarah Palin’s fault.

What Sarah Palin did with Sharron Angle is precisely what Gerson and his ilk didn’t do in so many states, from Alaska to Delaware. She got fully behind the Republican nominee after they won a primary based upon the support of a majority of Republicans.

What Gerson and friends are really losing is influence, thanks, not to Sarah Palin, but mostly to conservatives and a growing Republican grassroots fed up with the very type of governance they spent several years selling to us. And that influence won’t be returning any time, soon – particularly given their now struggling so badly with the truth.

Save the demagogy, Michael. You are embarassing yourself. And, next time, check your facts, don’t leave them at the door. Oh, and don’t let said door hit you in your backside on your way out, either. You already sound butt-hurt enough.

Big Journalism

Memo to the Next Congress: Americans Want to Cut Government, Not Defense

November 5, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
style=”float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 10px;”> href=””> class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-35149″ title=”AircraftCarrier090720″ src=”” alt=”” width=”400″ height=”199″ />

Ask the average American about the strength of our nation’s defense, and the answer may surprise you.

According to a href=””>poll earlier this year, Americans are now more likely to believe the U.S. national defense is “not strong enough.” Intuitively, many Americans support the government in spending what is necessary for a strong defense — and that includes missile defense.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

This week, The Hill came out with another poll. In what should be a strong signal to the 112th Congress, most Americans do not want policymakers to cut defense to pay down the deficit. The href=””>midterm election poll found “six in ten Republicans and 53 percent of independents said they would not accept cuts to defense and homeland security spending.” id=”more-46219″>

Providing a strong national defense is the priority responsibility of the federal government and our nation’s elected leaders. Providing for the common defense is the only mandatory function of the federal government.

Keeping America safe is not a Republican, Independent, or Democrat issue; it’s an American issue.

Just this summer, a bipartisan blue-ribbon commission chaired by former Clinton Secretary of Defense Bill Perry and former Bush National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley agreed. Their report href=””>outlines the urgent investment needs in defense to maintain our national strength and military superiority, and the stark consequences of inaction. Even in today’s tightening fiscal environment, the panel highlights the fact that defense is actually under-funded. Specifically, the Commission found that the Pentagon can “achieve cost savings on acquisition and overhead [reforms], but substantial additional resources will be required to modernize the force.”

It’s the government’s foremost job to keep America safe. Most Americans agree. The only question is whether Washington is listening.

href=””>Cross-posted at href=””>Red State.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

Memo to the White House: Lawyer Up and Don’t Shred Documents

November 5, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Let the games begin.
American Thinker Blog

Third Way Memo Opposing Mortgage Foreclosure Moratorium:

October 20, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(Todd Zywicki)

Third Way, which I take to be a centrist Democratic think tank, has just released a memo opposing a foreclosure moratorium.  It is here.  They make a key point that others have overlooked, both in this context and in the foreclosure amelioration context more generally:

While the fact of so many underwater borrowers is a drag on the overall economy, these borrowers also present a specific threat: they are the most likely to walk away (i.e., “strategically default”). By doing so, they would cause home values to fall even further, which in turn would put yet more borrowers at risk of going underwater as well. To stop this vicious spiral, policymakers must encourage underwater borrowers both to stay in their homes and stay current on their mortgages.

A foreclosure moratorium, however, would have the opposite effect by essentially eliminating the penalties of a default. If a homeowner is underwater, why not stop paying the mortgage if they can’t be forced to leave the house?

While the fact of so many underwater borrowers is a drag on the overall economy,
these borrowers also present a specific threat: they are the most likely to walk away (i.e.,
“strategically default”). By doing so, they would cause home values to fall even further,
which in turn would put yet more borrowers at risk of going underwater as well. To stop
this vicious spiral, policymakers must encourage underwater borrowers both to stay in
their homes and stay current on their mortgages.
A foreclosure moratorium, however, would have the opposite effect by essentially
eliminating the penalties of a default. If a homeowner is underwater, why not stop
paying the mortgage if they can’t be forced to leave the house?

The Volokh Conspiracy

MEMO: Health Insurance, Banking, Oil Industries Met With Koch, Chamber, Glenn Beck To Plot 2010 Election

October 20, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

In 2006, Koch Industries owner Charles Koch revealed to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore that he coordinates the funding of the conservative infrastructure of front groups, political campaigns, think tanks, media outlets and other anti-government efforts through a twice annual meeting of wealthy right-wing donors. He also confided to Moore, who is funded through several of Koch’s ventures, that his true goal is to strengthen the “culture of prosperity” by eliminating “90%” of all laws and government regulations. Although it is difficult to quantify the exact amount Koch alone has funneled to right-wing fronts, some studies have pointed toward $ 50 million he has given alone to anti-environmental groups. Recently, fronts funded by Charles and his brother David have received scrutiny because they have played a pivotal role in the organizing of the anti-Obama Tea Parties and the promotion of virulent far right lawmakers like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). (David Koch praised DeMint and gave him a “Washington Award” shortly after the senator promised to “break” Obama by making health reform his “Waterloo.”)

While the Koch brothers — each worth over $ 21.5 billion — have certainly underwritten much of the right, their hidden coordination with other big business money has gone largely unnoticed. ThinkProgress has obtained a memo outlining the details of the last Koch gathering held in June of this year. The memo, along with an attendee list of about 210 people, shows the titans of industry — from health insurance companies, oil executives, Wall Street investors, and real estate tycoons — working together with conservative journalists and Republican operatives to plan the 2010 election, as well as ongoing conservative efforts through 2012. According to the memo, David Chavern, the number two at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Fox News hate-talker Glenn Beck also met with these representatives of the corporate elite. In an election season with the most undisclosed secret corporate giving since the Watergate-era, the memo sheds light on the symbiotic relationship between extremely profitable, multi-billion dollar corporations and much of the conservative infrastructure. The memo describes the prospective corporate donors as “investors,” and it makes clear that many of the Republican operatives managing shadowy, undisclosed fronts running attack ads against Democrats were involved in the Koch’s election-planning event:

Corporate “investors” at the Koch meeting included businesses with a strong profit motive in rolling back President Obama’s enacted reforms. Several companies impacted by health reform, including Allan Hubbard of A & E Industries, a manufacturer of medical devices and Judson Green, a board member of health insurance conglomerate Aon, were present at the meeting. Other businessmen at the meeting, like Omaha Burger King franchiser Mike Simmonds, are owners of fast food stores which have fought efforts to provide health insurance to their employees. Many corporate attendees of the meeting represent the financial industry impacted by Wall Street reform. For instance, attendee Bill Cooper is the CEO of TCF Financial, a corporation involved in the mortgage banking industry. Cooper recently filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Wall Street reform. Other financial industry players in the meeting hail from firms ranging from Bank of America, JLM Investment, Allied Capital Corp, AMG National Trust, the Blackstone Group and Citadel Investment. Annie Dickerson, a representative of Paul Singer, a powerful hedge fund manager who also gives tens of millions to Republican causes, was present. In addition, Koch Industries itself has a hedge fund and other financial derivative products in its portfolio of interests, which include oil pipelines, coal shipping, asphalt, refineries, consumer goods, timber, ranching, and chemicals.

Corporate “investors” at the Koch meeting included businesses with a strong profit motive in preventing progressive reforms promised by President Obama. Several executives at the meeting have an incentive to stop Democrats and President Obama from addressing climate change and enacting clean energy reform. The meeting included oil executives from Aspect Energy, Murfin Drilling, Anschutz Company, GeoPark Holdings, Smoky Oil, and several members of Koch’s various subsidiaries. The meeting documents explicitly state that funding efforts to curb “climate change alarmism” were discussed.

Fred Malek, Karl Rove’s top fundraiser for his $ 56 million attack ad campaign against Democrats, attended the meeting, along with leaders of other secret attack groups. Heather Higgins, who leads the Independent Women’s Forum, a shadowy group that has spent millions of dollars in attack ads on health reform, attended the meeting. So did Gretchen Hamel, a former Bush flak who now runs an attack ad group called “Public Notice” that runs ad which denounce spending programs.

Participants collaborated with infamous consultants who specialize in generating fake grassroots movements, as well as experts on how corporations should take advantage of Citizens United. One session, about how to “mobilize citizens for November,” involved a discussion with Republican strategists Tim Phillips and Sean Noble, anti-union leader Mark Mix, and longtime Koch operative Karl Crow. Phillips — a veteran astroturf lobbyist who previously managed a deceptive grassroots lobbying campaign to help the Hong Kong-based Tan family maintain their forced abortion sweatshops in the Mariana Islands — now leads the day-to-day operations of Americans for Prosperity, the group ThinkProgress first reported to have helped organize many of the initial Tea Party rallies against Obama. Americans for Prosperity, founded and financed by David Koch, has a field team of over 80 campaign staffers spread out around the country, and additionally plans to spend $ 45 million dollars worth of attack ads against Democrats. Shortly before the planning meeting, Crow authored a campaign finance memo explaining that because of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, he advised specifically that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 501(c)(6) and Americans for Prosperity’s 501(c)(4) can “now use general treasury funds to produce communications materials opposing or supporting specific candidates” and corporations can aggressively pressure their employees to vote a certain way.

The memo notes that participants in the 2010 election planning meeting “committed to an unprecedented level of support.”

Interestingly, the Koch meetings are managed by Kevin Gentry, an executive who doubles as a staffer in the Koch Industries lobbying office in Washington and as the key point person who helps deliver Koch charitable foundation grants. As ThinkProgress has documented, Koch Industries has dramatically boosted its own profits by using conservative front groups to manipulate public policy. The fusion between the “intellectual” conservative movement and big businesses opposed to regulations and accountability has a history in America dating back to the New Deal. During the thirties, the Du Pont family and other wealthy interests organized an assortment of “Liberty League” front groups to try to defeat New Deal agenda items and repeal President Roosevelt’s Social Security program. Now, corporations fund groups like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute — both had representatives at the Koch meeting — to further their lobbying agenda. The American Enterprise Institute even changed its name from the New Deal-era American Enterprise Association to try to dispel the notion that they were nothing more than a glorified business trade association.

As the memo states, Beck has addressed this regular gathering of conservative corporate executives in previous years. Past Koch meetings have included various Republican lawmakers, including DeMint, and Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia as speakers.

After ThinkProgess published its exclusive investigation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealing that the Chamber has been actively fundraising from foreign corporations for its 501(c)(6) account used to run a $ 75 million attack ad campaign, Chamber lobbyists found common cause with Beck and many of the conservative talking heads. Shortly after our investigation, Beck hosted an on-air fundraiser, asking his audience to give to the Chamber. Casual observers might have been surprised by the Chamber’s swift alliance with Beck (Chamber executives appeared on the Beck radio program and sung Beck’s praises on the Chamber blog), who has compared Obama to Adolf Hitler and called the President a “racist” who has a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” By telling his listeners to give money to the Chamber, Beck, who owns a media company worth more than $ 32 million dollars and an experimental Mercedes Benz, essentially told his working class viewers to give their wages back to their employers. However, Beck never disclosed his long working history of discussing political strategy with America’s largest corporations. The Koch memo clearly shows that Beck has been collaborating with the Chamber, as well as other titans of industry, for years. In his latest appeal for support to the Chamber’s foreign-funded trade association, which already counts JP Morgan and ExxonMobil as dues-paying members, Beck yesterday told his audience that the Chamber simply “defends the little guy.”

Click below to view a letter inviting corporate executives to attend the next Koch meeting in January, along with a list of the sessions held by Koch for the last meeting in June of 2010. An attendee list of the June, 2010 meeting is attached at the bottom of the document:

CAPAF interns Salvatore Colleluori, Riley Waggaman, and Ben Kaldunski contributed to this post.

Some of the donors at the Koch meeting were longtime Bush fundraisers, like Cintas Corporation CEO Dick Farmer and wholesale executive Art Pope. However, many names appear to be relatively new to conservative movement “investment.” Click below for a listing of the attendees

Name(s) Industry Notes
Jack and Rose Marie Anderson Finance Culver Corp, Rose Marie and Jack R. Anderson Foundation- Financial Advisor
Neil Anderson and Amy Fisher-Smith   Runs Rose Marie and Jack R. Anderson Foundation
Phil and Nancy Anschutz Investment Industrialist, Owner, Weekly Standard, Examiner newspapers
Cliff Asness Investment AQR Capital Management
Nate and Lynda Bachman Finance The Bachman Group-Financial Advisor
Whitney Ball Think Tank Owner of a firm that helps corporations give anonymous gifts to front groups
Michael Barone Media Fox News
Frank and Kathy Baxter Banking Ambassador Frank E. Baxter is Chairman Emeritus of Jefferies and Company, Inc., a global investment bank focusing on mid-cap companies.
Steve and Betty Bechtel Engineering Owns the Bechtel Group (Corporation), Largest engineering company in United States
Glenn Beck Media Fox News
Bernard and Margaret Blasingame Manufacturing President and owner of Aqua Dynamics Systems, Inc
Alan and Lisa Boeckmann Oil CEO Fluor Corporation
Boysie Bollinger Shipping/Commerce Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Bollinger Shipyards
Patrick and Paula Broe Real Estate Founder and CEO of Denver-based real estate asset management firm, The Broe Group
Arthur Brooks Think Tank President, American Enterprise Institute
David and Ann Brown Think Tank Heritage Foundation
John Bryan    
Bob and Martha Buford Oil C. Robert Buford has been President and owner of Zenith Drilling Corporation
Tim Busch    
Shelby and Nell Bush Energy Vice President, Legal and Administration – Hillwood Energy
Tim Carney Media Political Columnist, Washington Examiner
Charlies and Marla Chandler    
David Chavern Lobbyist Executive Vice President and COO at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
John Childs Insurance Chairman and CEO of J.W. Childs and Associates
Paul and Lea Clifton   Runs Robert and Marie Hansen Family Foundation
Susie Coelhoe Media founder and CEO of Susie Coelho Enterprises Inc.
Bill Cooper and Kristen Tollefson Finance/Banking CEO of TCF Financial
Dino and Joan Cortopassi    
Joe Craft Coal Joseph W. Craft III is president, chief executive officer and director of Alliance Resource Partners LP
Alex Cranberg Energy Aspect Holdings, LLC – Chairman
Jeff Crank Americans For Prosperity / Radio Pundit AFP State Director
Karl Crow Policy Analyst Capital Research Center
Eric Crown and Isabella King Technology Sales Sell Technology Equipment
Kevin Crutchfield Coal Kevin S. Crutchfield serves as Chief Executive Officer of Alpha Coal Sales Co., LLC.
Ravenell and Beth Curry    
Jim and Shirley Dannenbaum Engineering Mr. Dannenbaum, Chairman of Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation
Veronique de Rugy Think Tank Senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center
Rich and Helen DeVos Business Founder and CEO of Amway
Annie Dickerson Business CBRE analyst
Ned and Nancy Diefenthal    
Jim and Dorothy Patterson Oil Gulf Stream Petroleum
Dan and Kellie Peters Non-for Profit Daniel S. Peters is president of the Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation in Cincinnati, Ohio
Tom Petrie Banking Co-founder of BofA Merrill Lynch Petrie Divestiture Advisors
Dixon and Carol Doll Technology Co-Founder and General Partner of DCM
Karl and Stevie Eller Advertising  
Ron and Kris Erickson Retail Ronald A. Erickson is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Holiday Companies
Melvyn and Suellen Estrin Natural Gas Director of WGL Holdings INC
Dick Farmer    
Peter Farrell Biomed Founder of Resmed
Jim and Zibbie Ferrell Fuel Oil Ferrellgas Partners, L.P. engages in the distribution and sale of propane and related equipment primarily in the United States.
Dave Fettig Natural Gas Tank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy
Bob Fettig Natural Gas Tank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy
Steve Fettig Natural Gas Tank Craft, Duracraft Fuel energy
Jerry and Nanette Finger Banking Managing Partner, Finger Interests LTD
Richard Fink Koch Industries Director of Georgia-Pacific, EVP of Koch Industries
Budd and Lauri Florkiewicz Manufacturing Foam Fabricators
Charlie and Kaye Lynn Fote Finance Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Fotec Group LLC
Randy and Jean Foutch Oil Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Laredo Petroleum, Inc.
Foster Friess Investment Mr. Foster Stephen Friess is the Founder and Chairman of Friess Associates, LLC
Steve and Polly Friess  
Jerry and Leah Fullinwider Energy/Petroleum Vice Chairman, Hillwood International Energy, L.P.
Richard and Leslie Gilliam Coal Richard Gilliam has been President of Cumberland Resources Corporation since 1993.
Susan Gore Think Tank Founder, Wyoming Liberty Group
Oliver and Carolyn Grace Jr. Med and Telecom President and chief executive officer of Anderson Group, Inc.,
Judson and Joyce Green Energy and Med Mr. Judson C. Green is the President and Chief Executive Officer of NAVTEQ Corp.
Ken and Anne Griffin Investment Banking Founder and CEO of Citadel Investment Group
Gretchen Hamel    
Fred and Jane Hamilton Oil Mr. Frederic C. Hamilton served as the President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of BHP Petroleum, Hamilton Oil Company and various Hamilton Oil Corporation subsidiaries and affiliates
Bob and Mary Sue Hawk Communications President of Hawk Communications
Dick and Ethie Haworth Retail Head of Haworth Furniture, Multi-national corporation, 3rd largest corporate furniture company in US
Robin and Barbara Hayes Government Former NC Congressman
Dan and Carolyn Heard Manufacturing Executive Officer of John H. Carter Co.,
Diane Hendricks Manufacturing Husband of Ken Hendricks
Steve and Regina Hennessy Auto Sales Auto Sales
James and Heather Higgins Think Tank Independent Women’s Forum
Paul Hill Oil Paul J. Hill serves as the Chief Executive Officer and has been President of Harvard Developments Inc. since 1978. Mr. Hill serves as the Chief Executive Officer and President of The Hill Companies.
John and Joan Hotchkis Education Board of Directors for Teach for America UC Berkley
Allan and Kathy Hubbard Chemicals and Manufacturing Founder and Chief Executive Officer, E & A Industries, Inc.
Stan and Karen Hubbard Communications Executive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc.
Ethelmae Humphreys Think Tank Cato Institute
Manley and Mary Johnson Political Consultant  
Merritt Johnson    
Gerry and Priscilla O’Shaughnessy Oil Gerald Eugene O’Shaughnessy Co-founded Geopark Holding Limited in 2002.
Michael O’Shaunessy Technology Petters Consumer Brands, LLC develops consumer electronics and appliances.
Tim O’Shaughnessy Media Hungry Machine, Inc., doing business as, is a social discovery and cataloging network.
Marshall Johnson    
Kyle and Kirsten Johnstone    
Mike and Beth Kasser Real Estate President, Holualoa Inc
Ken and Randy Kendrick Education/Technology Chairman, Datatel
Phil and Joanna Kerpen Advocacy Group/Think Tank VP of Policy, Americans for Prosperity
Gerry and Kathryn Kingen Restauranteur Red Robin, Happy Guests Int’ll
Scott Kirkpatrick Investor Teton Capital
Charles and Liz Koch Koch Industries  
Chase and Annie Koch Koch Industries  
David and Julia Koch Koch Industries  
Elizabeth Koch Koch Industries  
Bob and Cindy Koch Koch Industries  
Bob Kohlhepp Manufacturing/Services Vice Chairman, Cintas Corp.
Dennis Kuester Banking Retired CEO of M&I Bank
Andrew Kupersmith Consultant MD, Cardiology Consultants
Andre Lacy Investment Chairman, Lacy Diversified Industries
Ken and Elaine Langone Retail Invemed, Home Depot
Jay and Sally Lapeyre Services Laitram Corp
Ken and Frayda Levy Investment JLM Investment Mgmt
Tom Love Retail CEO, President, Love’s Country Stores
Bob Luddy Manufacturing President, Captive Aire Systems
Fred and Marlene Malek Investment Management Thayer Capital Partners
Elaine Marshall   Homemaker
Pierce Marshall Administrative Management MAROPCO
Preston Marshall    
Bill Mayer Health Care MD, Mayer & Cope Family Practice
Glen and Diane Meakem Business Solutions CEO, Freemarkets Inc.
Ed Meese Think Tank Heritage Foundation
Lew and Suzy Meibergen Goods/Services President, Johnston Enterprises/WG Johnston Grain Co
Don and Deede Meyers Attorney Self Employed
Jerry and Caroline Milbank Investment Management CEO/Principal, Milbank Winthrop & Co.
Jack and Goldie Miller Retail CEO/President, Quill Corp.
Mark Mix Advocacy Group President, National Right to Work Committee
Joe and Mary Moeller Koch Industries Vice Chairman
Steve Moore Media member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board
David Murfin Energy President, Murfin Drilling Co.
Walter and Suzette Negley    
Mina Nguyen    
Larry and Polly Nichols Energy Executive Chairman, Devon Energy Corp
Sean Noble Front Group Americans for Prosperity
Tim and Teresa Oelke Advocacy Group/Construction Teresa – State Director of Americans for Prosperity, Tim – Crossland Construction Corp
Eric O’Keefe Front Group Sam Adams Alliance
Kurt and Nancy Pfotenhauer Media President of MediaSpeak Strategies/former political commentator on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC and former Senior Policy Advisor and National Spokesperson with the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign
Tim Phillips Advocacy Group president, Americans for Prosperity
Ramesh Ponnuru Media National Review magazine
Art and Kathy Pope Goods/Services Senior Exec, Variety Wholesaler
Russ Roberts Attorney Roberts, Ashby & Parrish
Corbin and Barbara Robertson Energy President, Quintana Minerals Corp
Richard Roder and Karin Hsu Construction Management CEO, Cmt-Construction Management
Gary and Kathleen Rogers Goods Former CEO, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream
Durk Rorie Manufacturing United Air Specialists
Chris Rufer Goods/Manufacturing Morningstar Company
Peter Schiff and Martha O’Brien Investor Schiff: Euro Pacific Capital Inc.,
Steve and Christine Schwarzman Financial Services CEO/founder, Blackstone Group
Rick and Sherry Sharp Retail Former CEO, Circuit City
Mike and Lin Simmonds Services CEO, Simmonds Restaurant Mgmt
Peter Smith Services CEO, Service Group of America
Dick Strong Investment Services Strong/Corneliuson Capital Mgmt
Michael Sullivan Investment Services CR Intrinsic Investors
Ray and Ladeline Thompson Manufacturing President/CEO, Semitool
Lynn Tilton Investment Management CEO, Patriarch Partners LLC
Dave and Melanie True Oil Partner
Steve Twist Consultant Rose & Allyn PR Consultants
Jim and Gayla Von Ehr Research/Development CEO, Zyvex Corp
Rick and Debra Waller Manufacturing Owner, Rollmeister Inc
Peter Wallison Think Tank Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
Bill and Sarah Walton Real Estate Allied Capital Corp
Lew and Myra Ward Oil Ward Petroleum Corporation owns and operates wells. It engages in oil and gas exploration and production. The company was founded in 1963 and is based in Enid, Oklahoma.
Dick Weekley Real Estate Weekley Properties
Fred and Susie Wehba Real Estate Bentley Forbes Real Estate
Nestor Weigand and Darcy Buehler Real Estate JP Weigand & Sons Real Estate
Dick and Mary Beth Weiss Life Insurance Wells Fargo, Hawthorne Rances
Howard and Rhonda Wilkins Insurance Diversified Insurance
Don and Sue Wills Oil  
Larry and Lorraine Winnerman Real Estate Win Win Enterprises
Joe Woodford    
Earl Wright Finance AMG Natinal Trust
Karen Wright and Tom Rastin Energy/Manufacturing Tom Rastin, vice president of marketing and engineering, Ariel Corp – Karen Wright, Ariel CEO
Cliff and Susan Yonce Investment Banking Goldman Sachs
Fred and Sandra Young Services Diversified Search, LLC provides senior-level executive and corporate board search services in the United States and internationally. It provides recruitment services for various organizations in consumer and industrial, education, not-for-profit, arts and culture, financial and professional services, business, healthcare and human services, life sciences, media and entertainment, sports and leisure, energy and utilities, private equity, retail, and technology and communications industries.


Pentagon Memo To Troops: Don’t Start Telling Us You’re Gay Yet

October 15, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The Pentagon sent a memo to service members today warning them not to come out of the closet quite yet.

In the memo, Undersecretary for Personnel Clifford Stanley cautions troops that although the military has been ordered to stop enforcement of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the government is seeking a stay and will appeal the ruling.

“In light of the appeal and the application for the stay, a certain amount of uncertainty now exists about the future of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law and policy,” it reads. “We note for Servicemembers that altering their personal conduct in this legally uncertain environment may have adverse consequences for themselves should the court’s decision be reversed.”

Read the full memo here.


The dismantled Al Aqsa Brigades didn’t get the memo

October 10, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

Yet again, the supposedly dismantled, Fatah-associated Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have shown up:

Fatah’s armed wing the Al-Aqsa Brigades said Friday that their response to the killings of two Palestinians in Hebron was “only a matter of time.”

In a statement, the Al-Aqsa Brigades cited the men as “friends” of the armed wing of Fatah, and said the two groups had participated in joint missions in the West Bank during the Second Intifada.

Where does the Al Aqsa Brigades get its funding from, if not from the “moderate” Fatah that supposedly dismantled it years ago?

Elder of Ziyon

Memo to all employees

September 26, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

One company deals with ObamaCare
American Thinker Blog

Memo to Dems; stop worrying

September 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Where there’s the One, there’s a way.
American Thinker Blog

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