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9751  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sept. 11 Plotter Cooperated After Waterboarding on: August 29, 2009, 07:05:59 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/28/AR2009082803874_pf.html

How a Detainee Became An Asset
Sept. 11 Plotter Cooperated After Waterboarding

By Peter Finn, Joby Warrick and Julie Tate
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 29, 2009



After enduring the CIA's harshest interrogation methods and spending more than a year in the agency's secret prisons, Khalid Sheik Mohammed stood before U.S. intelligence officers in a makeshift lecture hall, leading what they called "terrorist tutorials."

In 2005 and 2006, the bearded, pudgy man who calls himself the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks discussed a wide variety of subjects, including Greek philosophy and al-Qaeda dogma. In one instance, he scolded a listener for poor note-taking and his inability to recall details of an earlier lecture.

Speaking in English, Mohammed "seemed to relish the opportunity, sometimes for hours on end, to discuss the inner workings of al-Qaeda and the group's plans, ideology and operatives," said one of two sources who described the sessions, speaking on the condition of anonymity because much information about detainee confinement remains classified. "He'd even use a chalkboard at times."

These scenes provide previously unpublicized details about the transformation of the man known to U.S. officials as KSM from an avowed and truculent enemy of the United States into what the CIA called its "preeminent source" on al-Qaeda. This reversal occurred after Mohammed was subjected to simulated drowning and prolonged sleep deprivation, among other harsh interrogation techniques.

"KSM, an accomplished resistor, provided only a few intelligence reports prior to the use of the waterboard, and analysis of that information revealed that much of it was outdated, inaccurate or incomplete," according to newly unclassified portions of a 2004 report by the CIA's then-inspector general released Monday by the Justice Department.

The debate over the effectiveness of subjecting detainees to psychological and physical pressure is in some ways irresolvable, because it is impossible to know whether less coercive methods would have achieved the same result. But for defenders of waterboarding, the evidence is clear: Mohammed cooperated, and to an extraordinary extent, only when his spirit was broken in the month after his capture March 1, 2003, as the inspector general's report and other documents released this week indicate.

Over a few weeks, he was subjected to an escalating series of coercive methods, culminating in 7 1/2 days of sleep deprivation, while diapered and shackled, and 183 instances of waterboarding. After the month-long torment, he was never waterboarded again.

"What do you think changed KSM's mind?" one former senior intelligence official said this week after being asked about the effect of waterboarding. "Of course it began with that."

Mohammed, in statements to the International Committee of the Red Cross, said some of the information he provided was untrue.

"During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop. I later told interrogators that their methods were stupid and counterproductive. I'm sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time," he said.

Critics say waterboarding and other harsh methods are unacceptable regardless of their results, and those with detailed knowledge of the CIA's program say the existing assessments offer no scientific basis to draw conclusions about effectiveness.

"Democratic societies don't use torture under any circumstances. It is illegal and immoral," said Tom Parker, policy director for counterterrorism and human rights at Amnesty International. "This is a fool's argument in any event. There is no way to prove or disprove the counterfactual."

John L. Helgerson, the former CIA inspector general who investigated the agency's detention and interrogation program, said his work did not put him in "a position to reach definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of particular interrogation methods."

"Certain of the techniques seemed to have little effect, whereas waterboarding and sleep deprivation were the two most powerful techniques and elicited a lot of information," he said in an interview. "But we didn't have the time or resources to do a careful, systematic analysis of the use of particular techniques with particular individuals and independently confirm the quality of the information that came out."

After his capture, Mohammed first told his captors what he calculated they already knew.

"KSM almost immediately following his capture in March 2003 elaborated on his plan to crash commercial airlines into Heathrow airport," according to a document released by the CIA on Monday that summarizes the intelligence provided by Mohammed. The agency thinks he assumed that Ramzi Binalshibh, a Sept. 11 conspirator captured in September 2002, had already divulged the plan.

One former U.S. official with detailed knowledge of how the interrogations were carried out said Mohammed, like several other detainees, seemed to have decided that it was okay to stop resisting after he had endured a certain amount of pressure.

"Once the harsher techniques were used on [detainees], they could be viewed as having done their duty to Islam or their cause, and their religious principles would ask no more of them," said the former official, who requested anonymity because the events are still classified. "After that point, they became compliant. Obviously, there was also an interest in being able to later say, 'I was tortured into cooperating.' "

Mohammed provided the CIA with an autobiographical statement, describing a rebellious childhood, his decision to join the Muslim Brotherhood as a teenager, and his time in the United States as a student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, from where he graduated in 1986 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

"KSM's limited and negative experience in the United States -- which included a brief jail stay because of unpaid bills -- almost certainly helped propel him on his path to becoming a terrorist," according to the intelligence summary. "He stated that his contact with Americans, while minimal, confirmed his view that the United States was a debauched and racist country."

Mohammed provided $1,000 to Ramzi Yousef, a nephew, to help him carry out the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. In 1994, he worked in the Philippines with Yousef, now serving a life sentence at the federal "supermax" prison in Colorado, on a failed plot to down 12 U.S. commercial aircraft over the Pacific.

Mohammed told interrogators it was in the Philippines that he first considered using planes as missiles to strike the United States. He took the idea to Osama bin Laden, who "at first demurred but changed his mind in late 1999," according to the summary.

Mohammed described plans to strike targets in Saudi Arabia, East Asia and the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks, including using a network of Pakistanis "to target gas stations, railroad tracks, and the Brooklyn bridge in New York." Cross-referencing material from different detainees, and leveraging information from one to extract more detail from another, the CIA and FBI went on to round up operatives both in the United States and abroad.

"Detainees in mid-2003 helped us build a list of 70 individuals -- many of who we had never heard of before -- that al-Qaeda deemed suitable for Western operations," according to the CIA summary.

Mohammed told interrogators that after the Sept. 11 attacks, his "overriding priority" was to strike the United States, but that he "realized that a follow-on attack would be difficult because of security measures." Most of the plots, as a result, were "opportunistic and limited," according to the summary.

One former agency official recalled that Mohammed was once asked to write a summary of his knowledge about al-Qaeda's efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction. The terrorist group had explored buying either an intact nuclear weapon or key components such as enriched uranium, although there is no evidence of significant progress on that front.

"He wrote us an essay" on al-Qaeda's nuclear ambitions, the official said. "Not all of it was accurate, but it was quite extensive."

Mohammed was an unparalleled source in deciphering al-Qaeda's strategic doctrine, key operatives and likely targets, the summary said, including describing in "considerable detail the traits and profiles" that al-Qaeda sought in Western operatives and how the terrorist organization might conduct surveillance in the United States.

Mohammed was moved to the U.S. military facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in September 2006, and his loquaciousness is now largely confined to occasional appearances before a military commission. Back in his 86-square-foot cell at the secret Camp 7 at Guantanamo, he spends most of his waking hours in prayer, according to a source familiar with his confinement who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

But Mohammed has not abandoned his intellectual pursuits. He requested a Bible for study in his cell, according to the source, in order to better understand his enemy.

Staff writer Walter Pincus contributed to this report.
9752  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Adrenaline on: August 29, 2009, 11:08:21 AM
Tachypsychia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tachypsychia is a neurological condition that alters the perception of time, usually induced by physical exertion, drug use, or a traumatic event. It is sometimes incorrectly referred to by martial arts instructors and self defense experts as the Tachy Psyche effect. For someone affected by tachypsychia, time perceived by the individual either lengthens, making events appear to slow down, or contracts, objects appearing as moving in a speeding blur. It is believed that tachypsychia is induced by a combination of high levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, usually during periods of great physical stress and/or in violent confrontation.

Contents [hide]
1 Physical Responses
1.1 Adrenaline Response
1.2 Psychological Response
2 References
 

[edit] Physical Responses
Also called the "fight or flight" response of the body to an event our mind considers life threatening, tachypsychia is believed to include numerous physical changes.


[edit] Adrenaline Response
Upon being stimulated by fear or anger, the Adrenal medulla may automatically produce the hormone epinephrine (aka adrenaline) directly into the blood stream. This can have various effects on various bodily systems, including:

Increased heart rate and blood pressure. It is average for a person's pulse to raise to between 200 and 300 beats per minute (bpm). Increased heart rate (above 250 bpm) can cause fainting, and the body may constrict itself into a fetal position in preparation for a coma.
Dilation of the bronchial passages, permitting higher absorption of oxygen.
Dilated pupils to allow more light to enter, and visual exclusion--tunnel vision--occurs, allowing greater focus but resulting in the loss of peripheral vision.
Release of glucose into the bloodstream, generating extra energy by raising the blood sugar level.
It is common for an individual to experience auditory exclusion or enhancement. It is also common for individuals to experience an increased pain tolerance, loss of color vision, short term memory loss, decreased fine motor skills, decreased communication skills, decreased coordination.


[edit] Psychological Response
The most common experience during tachypsychia is the feeling that time has either increased or slowed down, brought on by the increased brain activity cause by epinephrine, or the severe decrease in brain activity caused by the "catecholamine washout" occurring after the event.

It is common for an individual experiencing tachypsychia to have serious misinterpretations of their surrounding during the events, through a combination of their altered perception of time, as well as transient partial color blindness and tunnel vision. After the irregularly high levels of adrenaline consumed during sympathetic nervous system activation, an individual may display signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and it is common for the person to display extreme emotional lability and fatigue, regardless of their actual physical exertion.

It is possible to manage the "adrenaline dump" still occurring after the event, and it is common for soldiers and martial artists to use tachypsychia in order to increase their performance during stressful situations.
9753  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: August 28, 2009, 10:33:20 PM

 
August 28, 2009, 4:00 a.m.

Eric Holder’s Hidden Agenda
The investigation isn’t about torture, but about transnationalism.

By Andrew C. McCarthy


‘This is an administration that is determined to conduct itself by the rule of law. And to the extent that we receive lawful requests from an appropriately created court, we would obviously respond to it.”

It was springtime in Berlin and Eric Holder, a well-known “rule of law” devotee, was speaking to the German press. He’d been asked if his Justice Department would cooperate with efforts by foreign or international tribunals to prosecute U.S. government officials who carried out the Bush administration’s post-9/11 counterterrorism policies. The attorney general assured listeners that he was certainly open to being helpful. “Obviously,” he said, “we would look at any request that would come from a court in any country and see how and whether we should comply with it.”

As the Associated Press reported at the time, Holder was “pressed on whether that meant the United States would cooperate with a foreign court prosecuting Bush administration officials.” He skirted the question in a way Americans ought to find alarming. The attorney general indicated that he was speaking only about “evidentiary requests.” Translation: The Obama administration will not make arrests and hand current or former American government officials over for foreign trials, but if the Europeans or U.N. functionaries (at the nudging of, say, the Organization of the Islamic Conference) want Justice’s help gathering evidence in order to build triable cases — count us in.

Hue and cry followed Holder’s decision this week to have a prosecutor investigate CIA interrogators and contractors. The probe is a nakedly political, banana republic-style criminalizing of policy differences and political rivalry. The abuse allegations said to have stunned the attorney general into acting are outlined in a stale CIA inspector general’s report. Though only released this week — a disclosure timed to divert attention from reports that showed the CIA’s efforts yielded life-saving intelligence — the IG report is actually five years old. Its allegations not only have been long known to the leaders of both parties in Congress, they were thoroughly investigated by professional prosecutors — not political appointees. Those prosecutors decided not to file charges, except in one case that ended in an acquittal. As I outline here, the abuse in question falls woefully short of torture crimes under federal law.

Americans are scratching their heads: Why would Holder retrace this well-worn ground when intimidating our intelligence-gatherers so obviously damages national security? The political fallout, too, is palpable. Leon Panetta, the outraged CIA director, is reportedly pondering resignation. President Obama, laying low in the tall grass on his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, is having staffers try to put distance between himself and his attorney general. It is unlikely that many will be fooled: Both Obama and Holder promised their antiwar base just this sort of “reckoning” during the 2008 campaign. But the question remains, Why is Holder (or, rather, why are Holder and the White House) instigating this controversy?

I believe the explanation lies in the Obama administration’s fondness for transnationalism, a doctrine of post-sovereign globalism in which America is seen as owing its principal allegiance to the international legal order rather than to our own Constitution and national interests.

Recall that the president chose to install former Yale Law School dean Harold Koh as his State Department’s legal adviser. Koh is the country’s leading proponent of transnationalism. He is now a major player in the administration’s deliberations over international law and cooperation. Naturally, membership in the International Criminal Court, which the United States has resisted joining, is high on Koh’s agenda. The ICC claims worldwide jurisdiction, even over nations that do not ratify its enabling treaty, notwithstanding that sovereign consent to jurisdiction is a bedrock principle of international law.

As a result, there have always been serious concerns that the ICC could investigate and try to indict American political, military, and intelligence officials for actions taken in defense of our country. Here it’s crucial to bear in mind that the United States (or at least the pre-Obama United States) has not seen eye-to-eye with Europe on significant national-security matters. European nations, for example, have accepted the 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, while the United States has rejected it. Protocol I extends protections to terrorists and imposes an exacting legal regime on combat operations, relying on such concepts as “proportional” use of force and rigorous distinction between military and civilian targets. That is, Protocol I potentially converts traditional combat operations into war crimes. Similarly, though the U.S. accepted the torture provisions of the U.N. Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), our nation rejected the UNCAT’s placing of “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment” on a par with torture. By contrast, Europe generally accepts the UNCAT in toto.

#pageAs long as we haven’t ratified a couple of bad human-rights treaties, why should we care that Europe considers them binding? Because of the monstrosity known as “customary international law,” of which Koh is a major proponent. This theory holds that once new legal principles gain broad acceptance among nations and international organizations, they somehow transmogrify into binding law, even for nations that haven’t agreed to them. That is, the judgment of the “international community” (meaning, the judgment of left-wing academics and human-rights activists who hold sway at the U.N. and the European Union) supersedes the standards our citizens have adopted democratically. It is standard fare among transnational progressives to claim that Protocol I is now binding on the United States and that what they define as cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment is “tantamount to torture.”

And the transnational Left has still another treat in store: its notion of “universal jurisdiction.” This theory holds that individual nations have the power to prosecute actions that occur in other countries, even when they have no impact on the prosecuting nation. The idea is that some offenses — such as torture and war crimes — so offend the purported consensus of humanity (i.e., so offend left-wing sensibilities) that they may be prosecuted by any country that cares to take the initiative. In fact, many countries (the United States included) open their justice systems to civil suits against government officials — again, even if the country where the suit is filed has nothing to do with the alleged offenses.

So we come back to Holder in Berlin. Two months before the attorney general’s visit, the U.N.’s “special rapporteur on torture” told German television that the Obama administration had “a clear obligation” under the UNCAT to file torture charges against former president George W. Bush and former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The rapporteur was relying on documents produced because of American investigations — including a nakedly partisan report by the Democrat-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee.

Meanwhile, as I detailed here in March, Spain’s universal-justice crusader Baltasar Garzón is pursuing his own torture case against Bush administration lawyers who weighed in on interrogation policy. Garzón is the Spanish investigating magistrate who, with the help of a terrorist turned human-rights lawyer, had Chilean strongman Augusto Pinochet arrested in England for crimes against humanity. The same terrorist-lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, is helping Garzón on the Bush case. The Brits, by the way, eventually decided not to send Pinochet to Spain, but not before the law lords ruled that they could, a decision enthusiastically hailed at the time by U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland. That would be the same Mary Robinson of Durban infamy — the one President Obama just honored with the Medal of Freedom.

And then there is the Center for Constitutional Rights, a Marxist organization that for years has coordinated legal representation for terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay. The CCR has been attempting to convince Germany, France, Spain, and other countries to file war-crime indictments against former Bush administration officials, including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary Rumsfeld. In representing America’s enemies, CCR has collaborated with many private lawyers, who also volunteered their services — several of whom are now working in the Obama Justice Department. Indeed, Holder’s former firm boasts that it still represents 16 Gitmo detainees (the number was previously higher). And, for help shaping detainee policy, Holder recently hired Jennifer Daskal for DOJ’s National Security Division — a lawyer from Human Rights Watch with no prior prosecutorial experience, whose main qualification seems to be the startling advocacy she has done for enemy combatants.

Put it all together and it’s really not that hard to figure out what is going on here.

Transnationalists from outside and, now, inside our government have been ardent supporters of prosecutions against American officials who designed and carried out the Bush counterterrorism policies that kept this country safe after 9/11. The U.N.’s top torture monitor is demanding legal action, almost certainly as a prelude to calling for action by an international tribunal — such as the ICC — if the Justice Department fails to indict. Meantime, law-enforcement authorities in Spain and elsewhere are weighing charges against the same U.S. officials, spurred on by the CCR and human-rights groups that now have friends in high American places. In foreign and international courts, the terrorist-friendly legal standards preferred by Europe and the U.N. would make convictions easier to obtain and civil suits easier to win.

Obama and Holder were principal advocates for a “reckoning” against Bush officials during the 2008 campaign. They realize, though, that their administration would be mortally wounded if Justice were actually to file formal charges — this week’s announcement of an investigation against the CIA provoked howls, but that’s nothing compared to the public reaction indictments would cause. Nevertheless, Obama and Holder are under intense pressure from the hard Left, to which they made reckless promises, and from the international community they embrace.

The way out of this dilemma is clear. Though it won’t file indictments against the CIA agents and Bush officials it is probing, the Justice Department will continue conducting investigations and releasing reports containing new disclosures of information. The churn of new disclosures will be used by lawyers for the detainees to continue pressing the U.N. and the Europeans to file charges. The European nations and/or international tribunals will make formal requests to the Obama administration to have the Justice Department assist them in securing evidence. Holder will piously announce that the “rule of law” requires him to cooperate with these “lawful requests” from “appropriately created courts.” Finally, the international and/or foreign courts will file criminal charges against American officials.

Foreign charges would result in the issuance of international arrest warrants. They won’t be executed in the United States — even this administration is probably not brazen enough to try that. But the warrants will go out to police agencies all over the world. If the indicted American officials want to travel outside the U.S., they will need to worry about the possibility of arrest, detention, and transfer to third countries for prosecution. Have a look at this 2007 interview of CCR president Michael Ratner. See how he brags that his European gambit is “making the world smaller” for Rumsfeld — creating a hostile legal climate in which a former U.S. defense secretary may have to avoid, for instance, attending conferences in NATO countries.

The Left will get its reckoning. Obama and Holder will be able to take credit with their supporters for making it happen. But because the administration’s allies in the antiwar bar and the international Left will do the dirty work of getting charges filed, the American media will help Obama avoid domestic political accountability. Meanwhile, Americans who sought to protect our nation from barbarians will be harassed and framed as war criminals. And protecting the United States will have become an actionable violation of international law.

I’m betting that’s the plan.

 


— National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books, 2008).
 
 

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National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZGMyYTQ1ZTM5YTQ5NjJjNzJmNGUxZDIyOTFjYzIyM2Y=
9754  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: August 28, 2009, 10:55:27 AM
Australian Broadcasting Corporation

TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT

LOCATION: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2004/s1064193.htm

Broadcast: 11/03/2004

Krugman calls on Bush to reign in the red
Reporter:

 
TONY JONES: Well, the US is not just labouring under a record trade deficit, there are warnings tonight that its budget deficit could precipitate a Latin American style financial crisis.

Influential economist Paul Krugman says the US will face a severe downturn before the end of the decade unless the $500 billion fiscal debt is rectified.

In his latest book, The Great Unravelling, the Princeton University economist is calling on President Bush to abandon his program of trillion dollar tax cuts, otherwise, he claims, there may not be enough funds to pay for the waves of baby boomers who will soon retire.

I spoke to Paul Krugman a short time ago.

TONY JONES: Paul Krugman, history proved your predictions right over the Asian financial crisis.

You're now warning essentially that the engine of the world economy, the United States itself, is heading for a South American style financial crisis.

What's the evidence for that?

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN, PRINCETON ECONOMIST: Well, basically we have a world-class budget deficit not just as in absolute terms of course - it's the biggest budget deficit in the history of the world - but it's a budget deficit that as a share of GDP is right up there.

It's comparable to the worst we've ever seen in this country.

It's biggest than Argentina in 2001.

Which is not cyclical, there's only a little bit that's because the economy is depressed.

Mostly it's because, fundamentally, the Government isn't taking in enough money to pay for the programs and we have no strategy of dealing with it.

So, if you take a look, the only thing that sustains the US right now is the fact that people say, "Well America's a mature, advanced country and mature, advanced countries always, you know, get their financial house in order," but there's not a hint that that's on the political horizon, so I think we're looking for a collapse of confidence some time in the not-too-distant future.

TONY JONES: When you say the not-too-distant future, what does that mean?

We know there may be a crisis in paying, for example, in social security...

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: What I envision is that at some point, we have about 10 years now until the baby boomers hit the United States.

The US even more than other advanced countries has a welfare state that's primarily a welfare state for retirees.

We have the huge bulge in the population that starts to collect benefits and earn the next decade.

If there isn't a clear path towards fiscal sanity well before that, then I think the financial markets are going to say, "Well, gee, where is this going?"

I think, where in that 10 years the crunch comes, I don't know.

I think there's a real possibility that next year or one or two years from now, when they see that actually the same irresponsible tax cuts as the solution to everything continue, we might have a crisis that soon but more likely towards the end of the decade.

TONY JONES: Let me ask you this - just in the short-term, given today's policy settings and the ones that are going to prevail, we assume, through the election period, what's likely to happen to interest rates?

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Right now, long-term interest rates, short-term interest rates, I think, are going to stay where there are, which is not far above zero, right through the election and probably beyond because that's directly under the control of the Federal Reserve.

The economy is weak for the time being.

Job creation is essentially non-existent.

Long-term interest rates which should reflect all these things are actually quite low right now and it's an interesting thing when you try to talk to people in the bond market, why, you ask, doesn't the deficit worry you?

Don't you wonder that there's going to be a financing crunch?

And they say: "Well, we believe that next year Bush or whoever is in the White House is going to get responsible."

And you ask them: "What evidence do you have for that?"

And they say: "Well, I don't know but it's always happened before."

So right now again, the bond market is reflecting the credit built up in previous responsible governments.

TONY JONES: Actually the bond market's quite interesting because for the present moment there seems to be a huge influence on the US economy from the Asian central banks.

Is that risky?

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Well sure.

Although, I'm not sure that it's particularly riskier than a lot of other things. But yeah, we have this, I didn't say this, but we've got twin deficits.

We've got a huge budget deficit and an equally large current account deficit.

And if you ask, "How are we financing the current account deficit?", well that's a story.

A few years ago it was foreigners investing in the United States.

It was Daimler buying Chrysler, it was people investing in the strength of the US economy.

These days it's Asian central banks buying up US Government debt because they're trying to keep their currencies weak against the dollar and this can't go on forever.

TONY JONES: Your detractors - and there are quite a few of them on the Republican side of the equation - they're accusing you of scare mongering?

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: The first thing to say is to look at what some of those same people were saying in the middle of the Clinton years when the deficit was substantially smaller as a proportion of GDP and they were carrying on about what a bad thing it was.

The other thing is the comparison.

The only time post war that the United States has had anything like these deficits is the middle Reagan years and that was with unemployment close to 10 per cent.

A lot of that was a cyclical thing which would go away when the economy recovered.

Also the baby boomers were 20 years younger than they are today.

If you look at the actual fiscal situation, it's much, much worse than it was even at its worst during the Reagan years. One way to say this is we have social security which is a retirement program which viewed on its own is running a surplus.

If you take that out of the budget then we're running at a deficit of more than 6 per cent of GDP and that is unprecedented.

TONY JONES: One of your fiercest critics, Donald Luskin, seems to fear you because of your very credibility and your plausibility.

As he puts it, you're the most "dangerous liberal commentator in the United States".

He says he once admired you but now he actually runs a website called the Krugman Truth Squad?

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Yeah.

Well, look this is good.

Something I used - let them hate as long as they fear.

I think the point is, let me quote Harry Truman: "I give them the truth and they think it's hell."

I don't think I've been saying anything that isn't quite straight forward.

It's just arithmetic but it's been stuff that a lot of, very few journalists have been willing or able to say.

TONY JONES: It's a bit more than arithmetic though, isn't it?

Would you agree with the proposition that you're slowly transforming yourself, in a way, from a pure economist into also something of a political activist?

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Well, yeah, I mean, it's not what I intended. But I came in writing as a journalist, writing occasional columns in the 90s, mostly about economical fears with a political tinge.

I came to the New York Times intending to do pretty much the same thing.

But then it became clear very early on that the President of the United States was irresponsible and dishonest on matters economic and it turned out that what I learned there was true of other kind of policies as well.

So, I was forced, if you like, just by the arithmetic of understanding how the budget works into a much broader critique of this really kind of scary thing that's happening to my country.

TONY JONES: Let's look a little bit at that broader critique that you outline in The Great Unravelling, your new book.

You claim that President Bush is part of the radical right and that America has become a revolutionary power.

How did you come to those conclusions?

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: If you look at the policies and in a variety of areas, they're not within the range of normal partisan divides.

That is, Republicans always want lower taxes and Democrats a bigger state.

There are always disagreements about how strong environmental policies should be, but we're really way outside that now.

We're talking about repeated tax cuts in the face of enormous deficits and in the face of war.

Never done that before.

We're talking about a shift towards unilateralist foreign policy.

We've just gone to war without significant allies other than the UK to destroy weapons that didn't exist.

This is something that's kind of unique.

We're seeing a radical breakdown of the separation of church and state in a lot of policy issues.

This is something that's really outside normal politics and then if you just look at the political history, where do these people come from - you discover that there is a network of think tanks, organisations, funding sources, radical activists - which really, it's more than just an ordinary swing of the political pendulum.

If you like, the vast right-wing conspiracy isn't a theory, it's quite clearly visible to anyone who takes a little care to do his home work.

TONY JONES: One of those think tanks, of course, is the Heritage Foundation which was set up in a way to boost a series of ideological positions on the economy, on the social front and is now, you say, virtually running, to some degree, a lot of economic policy and one of the things they say, for example, is that social security and Medicare are violations of basic principals?

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: That's right.

Heritage is central.

Heritage is in the middle of everything.

Almost every - if you like, the WAPs, the policy types such as they are, as opposed to the politicos - but the WAPs in this administration are almost all connected with Heritage or American Enterprise Institute but one or both of those.

And Heritage very clearly in its letters to fund raisers reminds them that our goal is to get rid of these programs, that we need to get rid of the legacy of the new deal on the great society and that means social security and Medicare.

TONY JONES: Now here's another quote from your book: "A revolutionary power does not accept the legitimacy of the state."

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: There's a very hardline view.

There was actually a kind of revealing moment recently - Bush gave an interview, was more or less dragooned into an interview on Meet The Press and the interviewer said: "Well, what if you lose the election?"

And he said: "I'm not going to lose the election."

And the interviewer said: "But what if you do lose?"

He said: "I'm not going lose the election."

The possibility that they just would not regard it as a legitimate thing if someone else were to take power.

Quite a few people as part of the Republican movement have said that God chose Bush to be President.

I don't know whether they would accept the idea that mere mortal men should choose for him not to be President for another four years.

TONY JONES: You also link the personal fortunes of George Bush and Dick Cheney to what you called the epidemic of corporate malfeasance.

Are you suggesting that, in a way, their business ethics somehow leaked out into the rest of the corporate world or that they're just representative of it?

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Oh no, they're representative of it.

Let's be clear.

Most of the explosion of corporate malfeasance really took place during the 90s.

It took place with Clinton in the White House, which is not to say that he caused it.

In fact, you could say a lot of it happened despite some mild efforts on the part of Clinton to stop it.

But the point is that you ask when Bush says, "I want to reform corporations," is he credible?

Well, you have to look back and say, "Gee his own personal fortune arose, in large part, through deals that look an awful like Enron."

TONY JONES: Nor do you spare Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Fed Reserve.

I always thought under the Clinton years or during the Clinton years he was the steady hand on the tiller.

You seem to refer to him these days as a partisan hack?

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Well, here's a special case.

I mean, the governor of the central bank has a terribly important job, enormous responsibility and power.

He's not an elected official.

This is an agreement that we've all reached - that this is a good thing to do because monetary policy is too easily politicised.

Best to have it in a technocrat.

In his role as a technocrat Greenspan has done a good job, not as stellar a job as his admirers will tell you but he's done a very good job.

There's an obligation that goes with this which is to stand above and outside the political fray.

Greenspan did that during the 90s.

But no sooner was Bush in office than Greenspan threw his weight behind tax cuts.

He actually went to Congress and argued that we need tax cuts because otherwise we're going to run excessively large budget surpluses and pay down our debt too quickly.

Which he shouldn't have done in the first place.

This was violating the role.

Then, of course, when it turned out to be completely wrong.

Instead we've plunged from surpluses into huge deficits, he has now said, "Well, I don't think we should rescind the tax cut, instead we need to talk about cutting social security benefits."

That's injecting himself into politics in a very partisan fashion.

TONY JONES: You essentially claiming the Fed is no longer independent?

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Well Mr Greenspan is acting as a partisan figure.

He is acting as somebody who is doing whatever he can to support the agenda of this right-wing movement that is now running a large part of the Government.

I think that the star at the Fed is as good as ever.

My belief is that if you were to promote one of the other governors to chairman of the Fed we would be back to business as we've had it before.

I don't think everybody has been corrupted but I do think that Mr Greenspan has gone very far - basically has abused in his position, in a way, that's no longer recoverable.

TONY JONES: We will have to leave it there.

Paul Krugman, we thank you very much for taking the time to come and join us tonight.

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Well, thank you.

 
9755  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: August 28, 2009, 08:43:12 AM
The next thing you know, muslims will flood into european supermarkets and rip Israeli products off of the shelves while American leftists try to defend it as free speech. Nah......That'd never happen.  rolleyes
9756  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: August 28, 2009, 08:39:56 AM
Despite the problems within China, as articulated above they are educating a lot of children to be at the cutting edge of technology while our schools are churning out illiterates with overinflated self images and a vague loathing of America.
9757  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mary Jo Kopechne unavailable for comment on: August 27, 2009, 04:55:56 PM
Where's Mary Jo Kopechne's Eulogy?
by Henry Rollins
August 27, 2009, 10:57 AM

Not Far Under The Surface. Let’s say I am driving myself and a passenger in my car at night. I accidentally drive off a bridge into the water below. I am able to get out of the submerged vehicle but for some reason, I am unable to free the passenger. I gather two friends, a relative and my lawyer and return to the scene. We are unable to rescue the person trapped in the car. Several hours later, myself nor the two others I took to the site have called the authorities. In fact, it’s two fishermen who find the car the next morning as even then, no one has been called to the scene. The car is removed from the water and it is determined that its occupant is dead. This tragic incident is made international news by my circumstances. I am very well known, a United States senator. My family is incredibly powerful. There are allegations that I had been drinking heavily hours up to the time I got into the vehicle with the passenger. I deny this for the rest of my life. That at no point did I make an attempt to call for rescue would probably be considered by many people to be outrageous and horrible, perhaps a crime that would carry a prison sentence. Can you imagine what the parents of the deceased would be going through when they found out that their 28-year-old daughter died alone in total darkness? I serve no time. Not inconvenienced by the burdensome obstacle of incarceration, I seek to maintain my elected position. I am successful and remain a senator for the next four decades. Would any deed I performed in that time, besides going to prison for the negligent homicide I committed all those years ago, be enough to wipe the slate clean? After my passing, would you fail to mention the incident and the death of this innocent person in reviewing the events of my long and lauded life? You wouldn't forget about her, would you? That would be negligent.
9758  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: August 27, 2009, 04:41:27 PM
- Pajamas Media - http://pajamasmedia.com -

Morale at CIA Plummets as Panetta Makes a Bad Situation Worse

Posted By Nate Hale On August 25, 2009 @ 10:28 am In . Column1 07, Crime, History, Homeland Security, Media, Politics, US News | 113 Comments

When Leon Panetta took over the CIA earlier this year, he was described (in some circles) as the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time.

Seven months later, that assessment is proving eerily prescient. As the agency prepares for a politically-charged investigation of its interrogation practices, Mr. Panetta’s leadership is noticeably lacking. Indeed, there is growing evidence that the director’s recent actions have made a bad situation worse.

We refer to the manufactured “scandal” surrounding the agency’s plans to enlist contractors in the hunt for high-value terror targets. That proposal — which involved the controversial security firm Blackwater — was discussed on several occasions, but never reached the operational stage. Three previous CIA directors declined to brief the proposal to Congress, largely because there was nothing to it.

But that didn’t stop Mr. Panetta from rushing to Capitol Hill when he learned of the project, offering an emergency briefing to members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Congressional Democrats immediately pounced on Panetta’s admission, saying it supported claims (by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) that the spy agency had repeatedly lied to lawmakers.

Sources now suggest that Mr. Panetta regrets his actions.  Columnist Joseph Finder, who writes for the Daily Beast [1], reported last week that the CIA director spoke with his predecessors after he reported the program’s existence to members of Congress.  George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden were all aware of the program, but they elected not to inform Congress because it never evolved past the “PowerPoint” stage.

My own contacts within the intelligence community paint a similar picture. There were a few meetings (along with that slide presentation), but the CIA made no effort to make the program operational. Indeed, the planned involvement of contractor personnel made agency personnel nervous, one reason the project never moved past the discussion stage.

In other words, Leon Panetta created an unnecessary scandal at the very moment his agency is facing increased scrutiny.  According to the Washington Post [2], Attorney General Eric Holder will appoint a special prosecutor to examine allegations that CIA officers and contractors violated anti-torture laws during interrogations of terror suspects.

Mr. Holder’s reported decision is anything but a surprise. Literally from the day they took office, members of the Obama administration have been weighing a probe into CIA practices under President George W. Bush. The recent leaks about the agency’s potential partnership with Blackwater — and claims of interrogation abuse — were little more than groundwork for Eric Holder’s pending announcement.

To counter the gathering tempest, the CIA needs its own advocate, someone who can factually counter allegations of widespread misconduct. The fact is, Mr. Holder’s special counsel will investigate only a dozen cases of reported abuse out of literally thousands of interrogations conducted by CIA specialists and contract personnel. Has anyone at Langley asked if such an inquiry represents a legitimate use of government resources? Or is it simply a taxpayer-funded witch hunt, aimed at placating the ultra-liberal wing of President Obama’s party?

True, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency can’t exactly say that sort of thing in public, but you’d think that Mr. Panetta — the ultimate Washington insider — knows how the game is played. Leaks can be countered with more leaks, providing the agency’s own version of events. Better yet, the DCI could call the bluff of his opponents at the ACLU and the White House by demanding the release of documents which affirm the effectiveness of CIA interrogations — and the limited use of so-called “torture techniques.” (Note: the CIA Inspector General’s report was released after this was written and can be found here [3].)

Instead, Leon Panetta became obsessed with a non-scandal, losing valuable opportunities to defend his agency and its personnel. One retired CIA official I spoke with referred to him as “another Colby,” — a reference to William Colby, the DCI who cooperated with the Church and Pike Committees that probed agency abuses in the 1970s. To this day, many CIA employees feel that Colby went too far in his cooperation, opening the door for increased congressional oversight that gutted the agency’s covert operations directorate.

The bitter “Colby” reference is a sure sign that morale at Langley is plummeting. And with good reason. The looming special counsel inquiry will make a skittish organization even more risk averse. Talented personnel will continue to leave the agency, believing (correctly) that the CIA will leave them twisting in the wind when the going gets tough.

It’s a trend that is sadly familiar. Following previous scandals in the 70s and 80s, thousands of skilled analysts and operations specialists left Langley for greener pastures, leaving behind the hacks and politicians who presided over such intelligence debacles as 9-11.

Strong leadership could go a long way in taking on the agency’s critics and preventing another mass exodus from the agency.  But sadly, Mr. Panetta is not that type of leader. Without any meaningful intelligence experience (except as a consumer) the former Democratic congressman and White House chief of staff was asked to lead the CIA during a time of difficult transition under the new director of national intelligence construct.

To his credit, Panetta has fought some battles for his agency. ABC News [4] reports the DCI erupted into a tirade during a White House meeting that apparently laid out plans for Holder’s investigation. Sources tell ABC that Panetta also threatened to resign, although a CIA spokesman denies those claims.

Meanwhile, the White House is said to be screening possible replacements, suggesting that Panetta’s departure is all but inevitable. Under normal circumstances, the removal of an ineffectual CIA director would be welcome news. But these are extraordinary times; American troops are fighting two wars and the threat from global terrorists remains critical. At a time when the agency needs an exceptional hand on the tiller, Mr. Panetta has only one thing going for him: his potential replacement are likely to be even worse, setting the stage for more bloodletting — and diminished capabilities — at Langley.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Article printed from Pajamas Media: http://pajamasmedia.com

URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/morale-at-cia-plummets-as-panetta-makes-a-bad-situation-worse/

URLs in this post:

[1] the Daily Beast: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-08-18/spy-agency-fiasco/

[2] Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/24/AR2009082401743.html

[3] here: http://washingtonindependent.com/56175/the-2004-cia-inspector-generals-report-on-torture

[4] ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=8398902
9759  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Happy Birthday Marc! on: August 23, 2009, 09:57:56 PM
Have a happy one!
9760  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / A nice primer on surveillance on: August 23, 2009, 08:12:09 PM
http://www.cdt.org/wiretap/wiretap_overview.html

The Nature and Scope of Governmental Electronic Surveillance Activity
July 2006

Even before the PATRIOT Act, federal agencies had broad legal powers to monitor telephone conversations, e-mail, pagers, wireless phones, computers and all other electronic communications and communications devices. The PATRIOT Act expanded some of these powers but generally did not disrupt the basic framework, which is constitutionally grounded.

Government wiretap authority
There are two sources of authority for wiretapping in the US.

(1) The Federal Wiretap Act, sometimes referred to as Title III, was adopted in 1968 and expanded in 1986. It sets procedures for court authorization of real-time surveillance of all kinds of electronic communications, including voice, e-mail, fax, and Internet, in criminal investigations. It normally requires, before a wiretap can commence, a court order issued by a judge who must conclude, based on an affidavit submitted by the government, that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed. Terrorist bombings, hijackings and other violent activities are crimes for which wiretaps can be ordered. (The PATRIOT Act expanded the list of criminal statutes for which wiretaps can be ordered.) This authority is used to prevent as well as punish crimes: government can wiretap in advance of a crime being carried out, where the wiretap is used to identify planning and conspiratorial activities. Judges almost never deny government requests for wiretap orders.

(2) The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 allows wiretapping of aliens and citizens in the US based on a finding of probable cause to believe that the target is a member of a foreign terrorist group or an agent of a foreign power. For US citizens and permanent resident aliens, there must also be probable cause to believe that the person is engaged in activities that "may" involve a criminal violation. Suspicion of illegal activity is not required in the case of aliens who are not permanent residents - for them, membership in a terrorist group is enough, even if their activities on behalf of the group are legal. The most important judicial opinion interpreting FISA is from a special appellate panel: In re Sealed Case at http://www.cdt.org/security/usapatriot/021118fisa.pdf

One major change made by the PATRIOT Act was to allow prosecutors to use FISA for the purpose of gathering evidence in criminal investigations of national security crimes.

Finally, it is worth noting that there are no legislative limits on US government electronic eavesdropping carried out overseas. Neither Title III nor FISA have any application to intelligence collection activities outside the US. The legal authority for electronic surveillance outside the US is contained in Executive Order 12,333 issued by President Reagan in 1982, still in effect today. Intelligence agencies do not need a court order to intercept communications outside the US. If a United States citizen or US permanent resident alien is targeted for surveillance abroad, the Executive Order requires the approval of the Attorney General. By internal guideline, the Attorney General must find that there is probable cause to believe that the US person who is the target of the surveillance is an agent of a foreign power as defined in FISA. Decisions to target non-US persons are left to the intelligence community. And the vacuum cleaner approach that does not involve targeting of US persons also requires no approval from outside the intelligence community, although there are limits on the dissemination of information about US persons that is collected "incidental" to an intelligence collection activity.

Emergency authority
Both Title III and FISA allow the government to carry out wiretaps without a court order in emergency situations involving risk of death or serious bodily injury and in national security cases.

Roving taps
Under Title III, the government has "roving tap" authority, meaning that it can get a court order that does not name a specific telephone line or e-mail account but allows the government to tap any phone line, cell phone, or Internet account that a suspect uses. This authority was initially adopted in 1986 and was substantially broadened in 1999. The PATRIOT Act added roving tap authority to FISA.

Roving taps are relatively rare. In 2005, 8 roving taps were approved in criminal cases under Title III. Of those, one was for a federal racketeering investigation. The other 7 were at the state level: 4 applications were authorized for use in narcotics investigations, 1 application in a racketeering investigation, 1 application in a murder investigation, and 1 application in a money laundering investigation. The 2005 Wiretap Report, issued in April 2006, is available online at http://www.uscourts.gov/wiretap05/contents.html

Encryption
Use of encryption in the US is not regulated. If a service provider encrypts communication and has the key, the service provider must decrypt the communications when served with a wiretap order. But a service provider has no obligation to decrypt communication encrypted by the end user when the service provider does not have the key. Likewise, CALEA, which requires telecommunication carriers to support government surveillance activities on their networks, explicitly states that the carriers have no obligation to provide the plain text of communications encrypted by parties themselves. Beginning with the 2000 Wiretap Report, the government has been required to report on the number of wiretap applications granted in which encryption was encountered and whether such encryption prevented law enforcement officials from obtaining the plain text of communications intercepted pursuant to the court orders. In 2005, no federal wiretaps reported that encryption was encountered. For state and local jurisdictions, encryption was reported to have been encountered in 13 wiretaps in 2005; however, the encryption was not reported to have prevented law enforcement officials from obtaining the plain text of communications intercepted. So far, the government has reported only a single wiretap frustrated by encryption.

Courts Rarely Deny Wiretap Requests
The rapid changes in telecommunications technology have been accompanied by a growth in the potential intrusiveness of electronic surveillance and a steady increase in government surveillance activity. While the wiretap laws establish important protections -- most notably requiring for interception of call content a judicial order based on a finding of probable cause -- in practice state and federal judges rarely deny applications for authority to conduct electronic surveillance.

Every spring, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts publishes statistics on wiretap activity of federal, state, and local police in the prior year. The report covering 2005 is available online: http://www.uscourts.gov/wiretap05/contents.html. A useful summary, covering the years 1993-2005 and showing the nearly steady increase in the use of wiretaps, is provided by Table 7, which is at http://www.uscourts.gov/wiretap05/Table72005-1.pdf.

Highlights of the 2003 Report on Wiretaps in Criminal Cases
Number of wiretap requests approved in 2005: 1,773

Number of wiretap requests denied: 1

Percent of wiretaps that were against mobile phones: 91% (1,433 of 1,773)

Percent in which the most serious crime was a drug-related crime: 81% (1,433 of 1,773)

Percent in which encryption prevented law enforcement from receiving the plain text of intercepted communications: 0%

Average number of communications intercepted per wiretap: 2,835

Average number of people intercepted per wiretap: 107

Approximate number of conversations intercepted: 5.0 million

Longest running federal wiretap ending in 2005: 287 days

Longest running state wiretap ending in 2005: 559 days

Percent of intercepted conversations deemed "incriminating": 22%

Average cost of wiretap: $ 55,530

Recent Trends
Year Applications Wiretap orders approved Denied
2005 1774 1773 1
2004 1710 1710 0
2003 1442 1442 0
2002 1359 1358 1
2001 1491 1491 0
2000 1190 1190 0
1999 1350 1350 0
1998 1329 1327 2
1997 1186 1186 0
1996 1150 1149 1

Prior to 1996, the last time that any application, state or federal, for electronic surveillance was denied was 1988, when 2 out of 738 applications were denied. Meanwhile, from 1990 through 2000, 12,039 applications were approved. Wiretap authorizations have increased 103% since 1990, when there were 872.

These figures do not include consensual wiretaps, bugs and body wires, where a crime victim, an informant or an undercover agent consents to the recording of a conversation to which he or she is a party. Such interceptions, a staple of modern law enforcement practice, usually are not reflected in the statistics since, under federal law and the law of most states, they do not require court approval.

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Nor does the figure of 1,773 approved wiretaps for 2005 cover the separate set of authorizations issued by a select group of federal judges, operating under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), who yearly issue over 1,500 interception and secret physical search orders in foreign counterintelligence and international terrorism cases (2,072 in 2005). (It is hard to tell, given the classified nature of the court's proceedings, how many wiretaps these orders entail. Some of the orders are good for one year, while some require reauthorization every ninety days, so some targets are the subject of four orders in a year. On the other hand, one order may authorize multiple taps. Plus, starting in 1996, the figures for the FISA court included physical searches ("black bag jobs"), which are probably relatively few in number but which are included in the single overall number released by the court.) In its entire existence, since 1978, the FISA court has turned down only four government requests for electronic surveillance authority.

Year Applications Wiretap orders approved Denied
2005 2072 2072 0
2004 1754 1754 0
2003 1727 1724 3+1 (in part)
2002 1228 1228 0
2001 934 934 0
2000 1012 1012 0
1999 886 886 0
1998 796 796 0
1997 748 748 1 (sent back)
1996 839 839 0
1995 697 697 0
1994 579 579 0
1993 509 509 0

View chart of Combined Wiretap Usage, 1968-2003

Real-time Collection of Call-Identifying Information -- Pen Register and Trap & Trace Devices
The figures on court ordered wiretaps (interceptions of the content of conversations) also do not include orders issued on a lower standard for surveillance of transactional data through pen registers and trap and trace devices. In 1996, law enforcement agencies in the U.S. Department of Justice alone obtained a total of 4,569 original pen register or trap and trace orders, authorizing contemporaneous interception of dialed number information on the telephone facilities of 10,520 persons. This compares with 4,972 orders in 1995, covering the telephone facilities of 11,801 persons. There are never any denials of pen register and trap and trace requests, since the law provides that the judge "shall" issue the order whenever an attorney for the government certifies that the information likely to be obtained is "relevant" to an ongoing criminal investigation. These statistics cover only the law enforcement agencies of the U.S. Department of Justice. They do not cover other federal law enforcement agencies or state and local police. (In 1994 Congressional testimony, the FBI Director estimated that the total number of pen register orders in 1992 was 9,000.)

Subpoenas for Call-Identifying Information (Transactional Data).
Finally, a full picture of government surveillance activity must include cases in which law enforcement uses a subpoena to obtain stored transactional records relating to local or long distance calls or to Internet usage. Companies collect and store such information for billing and other business purposes, and law enforcement agencies routinely request the information in criminal cases, usually with a grand jury subpoena. (In foreign counterintelligence and international terrorism cases, the FBI can obtain such information without a court order using a procedure known as an NSL.) Data on these cases are not assembled by the government. However, the scope of law enforcement activity is suggested by data submitted by some telephone service providers in response to a congressional inquiry in 1993. Bell Atlantic, for example, indicated that for the years 1989 through 1992, it had responded to 25,453 subpoenas or court orders for toll billing records of 213,821 of its customers. NYNEX reported that it had processed 25,510 subpoenas covering an unrecorded number of customers in 1992 alone.

The Legal Protections and Their Erosion Over Time
The wiretap laws include several protections against abuse. Illegally seized evidence cannot be used in court. The exclusionary rule in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution is bolstered by a statutory exclusionary rule in the federal wiretap statute, making evidence obtained from illegal wiretaps useless in court. (Successive Administrations have proposed weakening the statutory exclusionary rule, to make the introduction of illegal wiretap evidence easier.)

However, it must also be said that judges tend to give law enforcement agencies broad latitude, as reflected in judicial decisions approving law enforcement conduct when defendants seek to suppress wiretap evidence at trial. Between 1985 and 1994, when there were 8,489 criminal wiretaps, judges nationwide granted 138 suppression motions to exclude intercepted material from evidence while denying 3,060, for a 4.3% suppression rate. Evidence gathered through FISA-authorized surveillance sometimes is introduced in criminal cases -- no FISA evidence has ever been excluded from a criminal case.

One of the most significant areas in which the courts have interpreted the law in the government's favor concerns the question of necessity. The wiretap law states that the court cannot approve an interception request unless it finds that "normal investigative procedures have been tried and have failed or reasonably appear to be unlikely to succeed if tried or to be too dangerous." Law enforcement officials regularly contend, as FBI Director Freeh did in 1994 testimony, that this provision of the law permits electronic surveillance "only when all other investigative techniques will not work or are too dangerous" (emphasis added). In practice, the courts have interpreted this provision to require only that law enforcement try some other techniques, not that they exhaust all reasonably available methods of obtaining the necessary evidence.

Courts have also been reluctant to enforce the minimization requirements of the law, which require law enforcement agents to screen the calls and turn off their recording devices whenever the conversation appears to relate to irrelevant, non-incriminating aspects of the target's life. Judges rarely rule that a wiretap was illegally carried out for failure to minimize.

July 2006
9761  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: August 23, 2009, 07:54:24 PM
Did Mossad hijack Russian ship to stop Iran arms shipment?

Aug. 23, 2009
The Media Line News Agency , THE JERUSALEM POST
Was Israel's secret service behind the unexplained hijacking of a Russian freighter, to foil a secret attempt to ship cruise missiles to Iran?

The mystery surrounding the hijacking of a Russian freighter in July has taken a new twist with reports claiming the pirates were acting in league with the Mossad in order to halt a shipment of modern weapon systems hidden on board and destined for the Islamic republic.

While Israeli and Russian officials dismissed the reports, accounts published in the Russian media sounded more like a spy thriller than a commercial hijacking.

"There is something fishy about this whole story, no doubt about it," former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh told The Media Line. "But I can't comment further on this."

The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported over the weekend that the vessel Arctic Sea had been carrying x-55 cruise missiles and S300 anti-aircraft rockets hidden in secret compartments among its cargo of timber and sawdust.

The eight hijackers originally claimed to be environmentalists when they boarded the ship in the Baltic Sea in Swedish waters on July 24. The Russian navy tracked it down three weeks later and recaptured it near the West African archipelago of Cape Verde on August 17, thousands of kilometers from its original destination of Algeria.

The hijackers were charged late on Friday with kidnapping and piracy, the Interfax news agency reported. Russian authorities have declined to revealing further information about the suspects' motives.

But Dmitri Rogozin, Russia's ambassador to NATO, said allegations that the Arctic Sea had been smuggling weapons were "fantasy" and "ridiculous."

Pravda's Web site reported that the ship had been smuggling cruise missiles to Iran on a well-worn path via Algeria, but a "power that has relations with Ukraine" had prevented this. Novaya Gazeta reported that the hijackers had been operating on behalf of the Mossad. It also reported that President Shimon Peres's visit to Moscow the day after the Russians recaptured the vessel had been motivated by an urgent request to his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, to refrain from arming Iran.

Israeli officials dismissed the reports as "classic conspiracy theories," but defense experts noted that Israel has a record of seizing foreign vessels carrying arms to its enemies.

"This appears as the classic conspiracy theory. I didn't see any evidence for it and so we aren't going to comment," said Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

A spokeswoman for Peres also dismissed the report, saying the visit had been planned long in advance.

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shlomo Brom, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, did not rule out Israeli covert action against Iranian efforts to acquire nuclear arms, but doubted Israel would take action against Russian ships.

"It seems that it's full of mystery since everything surrounding Russia is mysterious. And if it's mysterious they dump it on Israel," he told The Media Line.

Brom, a retired senior intelligence officer, added he did not believe such an operation could enhance the Mossad's image since it appeared to be a failed hijacking.

Israel relies heavily on intelligence. Naval Intelligence monitors vessels together with other agencies in order to detect suspicious behavior of ships around the world. It was this way that Naval Intelligence was able to detect the PLO arms ship Karine A in 2002. Officers noticed its log was not entirely in keeping with a cargo ship and correlated the information with other intelligence to build a picture of an arms shipment in the making. The weapons had originated in Iran.

Israeli security agents routinely stage surprise at-sea boardings of ships headed to Israeli ports to search for terrorists, contraband and stowaways.

In March, Israeli forces reportedly struck a weapons convoy in Sudan, some 1,400 km. from the Jewish state. According to CBS, the weapons were intended for Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Nearly 40 people were killed in that attack.

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1249418676474&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
9762  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: August 23, 2009, 07:51:35 PM
Quote
**The courts have ruled over and over that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the public sphere. That means anyone can view, photograph, film anyone or anything in public. This means the media, law enforcement or Joe Citizen.**

And this means I should be comfortable with the idea of a truck parked in front of my house with a camera pointed at my bedroom window?

**One word: Curtains.**

Quote
. . . at least one that won't pass someone's version of constitutional muster, and then casts anyone who does take pause as an unmitigated ideologue providing de-facto support for horrible criminal elements preying upon the weakest members of society, and likely strangling kittens, to boot

**Hardly. It would be nice for your critiques of police practices to have some grounding in actual caselaw rather than emotion. You wouldn't accept someone's assertion that global warming was indeed happining because "It feels warmer".**

I'm not a lawyer and hence have little acquaintance with case law and so won't quote what I don't know. And you have me dead to rights, my response is an emotional one: I feel strongly that I don't want police cameras pointed at my house recording the comings and goings of me, my wife, and kids and then used for purposes yet defined; nor do I want thermal imaging done through my walls; nor do I want lasers bounced of my windows to record conversations occurring inside my home; nor do I want people going through my trash or collecting and analyzing flushed body waste to determine if any malfeasance is occurring. Is there case law that allows each of these techniques to be employed? I imagine so. Does that mean I can't dislike it or shouldn't be concerned about misuse?

Be all that as it may, global warming ought to be a scientific debate based on empiric measurement. This debate is about privacy and governmental intrusion into one's life, which is a far more subjective matter that resists empiric measurement.

Quote
As pointed out before, you can pose stark questions faster than I can write reasoned responses.

**I'm trying to evoke a reasoned response, which on this topic is like pulling teeth. What we have here is the same unthinking emotionalism that fuels gun control supporters. Guns are scary so let's get rid of them. Police cameras are scary, so let's get rid of them. Why? Because the potential for misuse is there.**

I'm beginning to think this is a gulf we will not bridge. I look at the sorry history of the planet and can identify very few times and places where the powers that be were constrained from the exercise of arbitrary power. I don't want the status quo endured over most of the planet for just about all of time to impact me and mine here an now. If that's not reasoned well enough for you I'm not sure what more I can say.

***Keep in mind that as much as you fear the potential for the abuse/misuse of police power, living in a place without the rule of law is much, much worse. I know of no place in the US that is a police state, but I bet you live within driving distance of places where is little in the way of police presence and life in those location is a Hobbesian nightmare. Everything law enforcement officers do in this country is subject to many levels of scrutiny and judicial review.***

Quote
If you can't conceive of a misuse given this planet's sorry history of totalitarian governments using every tool at hand to snuff out liberty and life, no amount of keyboarding I do in response is going to do anything more than lead to further stark parsing.

**I have already stated that anything has the potential for misuse. There have been bad police shootings in the past, and there will be bad shootings in the future. Is the policy solution to then disarm police officers?**

I do not want police disarmed, but I do want them to use lethal force judiciously. I also want privacy infringements to be based on judicious standards. In this instance the standard seems to be based on a phone call or other complaint, to which the jurisdiction in question apparently responds by saying "we've got a report of a dirtbag living on Elm street. Let's park a butt ugly truck laden with cameras in front of the house and see if we can intimidate him out of the neighborhood." Be it use of lethal force, privacy infringements, or any other exercise of government power, I would hope they'd be based on standards more stringent than the one described.

I'd bet that there are policies in place that were reviewed by multiple lawyers before the "Armadillo" had day one in the field.
9763  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: August 22, 2009, 06:03:22 PM
Privacy and search in the US law
The expectation of privacy is crucial to distinguish a legitimate, reasonable police search and seizure from an unreasonable one.

In Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967) Justice Harlan issued a concurring opinion articulating the two-part test later adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court as the test for determining whether a police or government search is subject to the limitations of the Fourth Amendment: (1) governmental action must contravene an individual's actual, subjective expectation of privacy; (2) and that expectation of privacy must be reasonable, in the sense that society in general would recognize it as such.

In order to meet the first part of the test, the person from whom the information was obtained must demonstrate that they, in fact, had an actual, subjective expectation that the evidence obtained would not be available to the public. In other words, the person asserting that a search was conducted must show that they kept the evidence in a manner designed to ensure its privacy.

The first part of the test is related to the notion "in plain view". If a person did not undertake reasonable efforts to conceal something from a casual observer (as opposed to a snoop), then no subjective expectation of privacy is assumed. [6]

The second part of the test is analyzed objectively: would society at large deem a person's expectation of privacy to be reasonable? If it is plain that a person did not keep the evidence at issue in a private place, then no search is required to uncover the evidence. For example, there is generally no search when police officers look through garbage because a reasonable person would not expect that items placed in the garbage would necessarily remain private.[7] Similarly, there is no search where officers monitor what phone numbers an individual dials,[8] although the Congress has enacted laws which restrict such monitoring. The Supreme Court has also ruled that there is no objectively reasonable expectation of privacy (and thus no search) when officers hovering in a helicopter 400 feet above a suspect's house conduct surveillance.[9]
9764  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: August 22, 2009, 05:47:28 PM
There does seem to be a pattern:

1. a person of libertarian bent seizes on a legally defensible police tool because it's "scary" or involves some use of technology (especially cameras) and then decries the obvious signs that this means we are but days, if not seconds away from living in an Orwellian dystopia.

And then there's the converse: a person with a law enforcement bent seizes upon a new tool and can't conceive of a misuse,

**The courts have ruled over and over that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the public sphere. That means anyone can view, photograph, film anyone or anything in public. This means the media, law enforcement or Joe Citizen.**

at least one that won't pass someone's version of constitutional muster, and then casts anyone who does take pause as an unmitigated ideologue providing de-facto support for horrible criminal elements preying upon the weakest members of society, and likely strangling kittens, to boot

**Hardly. It would be nice for your critiques of police practices to have some grounding in actual caselaw rather than emotion. You wouldn't accept someone's assertion that global warming was indeed happining because "It feels warmer".**

Quote
2. I ask how it's bad given various constitutional/legal structures.

As pointed out before, you can pose stark questions faster than I can write reasoned responses.


**I'm trying to evoke a reasoned response, which on this topic is like pulling teeth. What we have here is the same unthinking emotionalism that fuels gun control supporters. Guns are scary so let's get rid of them. Police cameras are scary, so let's get rid of them. Why? Because the potential for misuse is there.**

If you can't conceive of a misuse given this planet's sorry history of totalitarian governments using every tool at hand to snuff out liberty and life, no amount of keyboarding I do in response is going to do anything more than lead to further stark parsing.


**I have already stated that anything has the potential for misuse. There have been bad police shootings in the past, and there will be bad shootings in the future. Is the policy solution to then disarm police officers?**

Quote
3. The response is "Well, it COULD be abused" coupled with boilerplate slogans invoking human freedom and constitutional rights.

Name a tool that hasn't been abused and I'll consider sparing you the slogans next lap around this track.

**Any police power has the potential for abuse, which is why we have multiple layers of review over police actions in this country. The courts and ultimately the citizens shape how policing is done here.**
9765  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: August 22, 2009, 03:46:15 PM
There does seem to be a pattern:

1. a person of libertarian bent seizes on a legally defensible police tool because it's "scary" or involves some use of technology (especially cameras) and then decries the obvious signs that this means we are but days, if not seconds away from living in an Orwellian dystopia.

2. I ask how it's bad given various constitutional/legal structures.

3. The response is "Well, it COULD be abused" coupled with boilerplate slogans invoking human freedom and constitutional rights.
9766  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: August 22, 2009, 03:34:01 PM


One beef I have from the story is that they defined success as either arresting the drug dealer or getting them to leave the neighborhood.  They don't leave the city and they don't leave the business.  Assuming they are known criminals committing crimes, it is not an equivalent success IMO to have them move on rather than marked with an arrest, a conviction and a sentence.

In general, there are many more drug dealers than narcotics detectives and patrol officers to chase them. Knowing that you have bad people doing bad things and being able to meet the standards of probable cause/beyond a reasonable doubt in court are very different things.

Specifically, because there are so many constitutional protections, making a case against a group that is dealing drugs and attracting assorted other bad things into an area takes time and resources and demand almost always outstrips the resources available to law enforcement.

Using tools like the "Armadillo" is a tool to restore some order where it's breaking down. A clever and legal use of police resources, IMHO.

9767  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: August 22, 2009, 08:29:32 AM
So how exactly is using the "Aramadillo" not good sense or adhering to the founding principles of this nation?
9768  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: August 21, 2009, 10:16:48 PM
Anything that law enforcement does has the potential for abuse. Is the answer then to not have law enforcement?
9769  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: August 21, 2009, 09:28:46 PM
If it can be seen from a public place, then it isn't private. The courts have made this clear.

Secondly, where is the concern for those that suffer in their homes from thugs that invade their neighborhood? What of their rights?
9770  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: August 21, 2009, 09:22:48 PM
If people are seeing "green shoots" it's more likely putrefaction rather than growth.
9771  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: August 21, 2009, 09:02:23 PM
As much as Eric Holder's free pass to the New Black Panthers' voter intimidation and general Chicago corruption disgusts me, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy for what can be seen or heard from a public place.
9772  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama to raise 10-year deficit to $9 trillion on: August 21, 2009, 05:10:44 PM
Obama to raise 10-year deficit to $9 trillion
Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:54pm EDT
By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration will raise its 10-year budget deficit projection to approximately $9 trillion from $7.108 trillion in a report next week, a senior administration official told Reuters on Friday.

The higher deficit figure, based on updated economic data, brings the White House budget office into line with outside estimates and gives further fuel to President Barack Obama's opponents, who say his spending plans are too expensive in light of budget shortfalls.

The White House took heat for sticking with its $7.108 trillion forecast earlier this year after the Congressional Budget Office forecast that deficits between 2010 and 2019 would total $9.1 trillion.

"The new forecasts are based on new data that reflect how severe the economic downturn was in the late fall of last year and the winter of this year," said the administration official, who is familiar with the budget mid-session review that is slated to be released next week.

"Our budget projections are now in line with the spring and summer projections that the Congressional Budget Office put out."

The White House budget office will also lower its deficit forecast for this fiscal year, which ends September 30, to $1.58 trillion from $1.84 trillion next week after removing $250 billion set aside for bank bailouts.

Record-breaking deficits have raised concerns about America's ability to finance its debt and whether the United States can maintain its top-tier AAA credit rating.

Politically, the deficit has been an albatross for Obama, a Democrat who is pushing forward with plans to overhaul the U.S. healthcare industry -- an initiative that could cost up to $1 trillion over 10 years -- and other promises, including reforming education and how the country handles energy.

DEFICIT WORRIES

Republicans have pounced on Obama for planning to spend too much when deficits are so high, and the issue is likely to loom large in next year's Congressional elections.

Obama, who has promised to halve the deficit by the end of his four-year term and likes to remind constituents he inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit from former President George W. Bush, says bringing down healthcare costs is critical to long-term deficit reduction.

Treasury markets have been worried all year about the mounting deficit. The United States relies on large foreign buyers such as China and Japan to cheaply finance its debt, and they may demand higher interest rates if they begin to doubt that the government can control its deficits.

"It's one of those underlying pieces of news that is liable to haunt the bond market at some point in the future," said Kim Rupert, managing director of global fixed income analysis at Action Economics LLC in San Francisco, referring to the revised 10-year deficit projection.

Many economists think it is unlikely the government can curtail spending, which means taxes would have to go up to cover the rising costs of providing retirement and healthcare benefits to aging Americans.

Higher taxes, which could slow economic growth, are also a major concern of voters on both sides of the political divide. Obama has promised not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $250,000 a year.

(Additional reporting by Butron Frierson in New York; editing by Chris Wilson)
9773  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: August 21, 2009, 04:49:21 PM
And what would those "civil liberties" ramifications be?
9774  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China reduces holdings in US debt on: August 21, 2009, 03:11:27 PM
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8207174.stm

China reduces holdings in US debt 
 
China wants to establish a new global currency regime
China reduced its holdings of US government debt by the largest margin in nearly nine years in June, according to data from the US Treasury.

China holds more US government debt than any other country and cut its holdings of US securities by more that 3% in June, said the BBC's Chris Hogg.

Japan and the UK - second and third largest holders of US debt - increased their holdings over the same period.

China's holding of US debt is about 7% higher than at the turn of the year.

Inflation fear

In recent months the US government's budget deficit has widened thanks in part to the Obama administration's costly stimulus plan.

Our correspondent in Shanghai says that China is worried about this, and fears the stimulus efforts will fuel inflation in the US, reducing the value of the dollar.

This would then erode the value of the debt China holds in the US currency.

In June, China cut its holdings of US securities by about $25bn, a fall of 3.1%.

'Dollar alternative'

The sales were made as the US treasury secretary was visiting Beijing to try to reassure the Chinese that their investment in his country's government debt is safe.

In 2008, the Chinese increased their holdings in US debt by 52% over 12 months.

"China has said it would like to establish an alternative to the US dollar as the world's favoured currency for foreign exchange reserves," said our correspondent.

"So far there is no evidence that there is a suitable alternative. But these figures suggest they are exploring ways to diversify their investments where they can."
9775  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Update--Teetering on the edge of economic collapse on: August 21, 2009, 02:19:39 PM
http://www.examiner.com/blog/printexaminerarticles.cfm?section=examiners&blogtype=examiners&section=examiners&mode=alias&blogid=3704&blogURL=Columbia-Conservative-Examiner&byYear=2009&byMonth=8&byDay=21&byAlias=UpdateTeetering-on-the-edge-of-economic-collapse

Update--Teetering on the edge of economic collapse
August 21, 1:13 PM · Anthony G. Martin - Columbia Conservative Examiner
From Karl Denninger at the Market Ticker:

*U.S. TREASURY TO AUCTION $27 BILLION IN 52-WEEK BILLS
*U.S. TREASURY TO AUCTION $42 BILLION IN TWO-YEAR NOTES
*U.S. TREASURY TO AUCTION $31 BILLION IN THREE-MONTH BILLS
*U.S. TREASURY TO AUCTION $28 BILLION IN SEVEN-YEAR NOTES
*U.S. TREASURY TO AUCTION $30 BILLION IN SIX-MONTH BILLS
*U.S. TREASURY TO AUCTION $39 BILLION IN FIVE-YEAR NOTES

As we reported last week in this stunning revelation by some of the nation's top economists, contrary to the mantra of the Obama Administration that the financial stability of the U.S. is growing more secure and that his stimulus program 'is working,' the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury Department have been engaging in covert practices that indicate our economy is in deep trouble, teetering on the edge of collapse.

By monetizing part of the nation's debt by printing more money to cover it and then quickly selling off the bonds at auction, the Fed hopes it can avoid the hyper-inflation that normally ensues with our current economic policies. But it does so at a huge price.  Even more debt is added to the already mind-boggling multi-trillion-dollar national debt that threatens to unravel the entire U.S. economy.

The quote provided above concerning the Treasury's continued practice of auctioning off various notes and bills is an ominous signal that the economy is still very sick and is actually getting sicker.

As Karl Denninger states in the Market Ticker article cited above:

I count $207 billion, coming two weeks after a $250 billion dollar week.

Let's annualize - that would be about $5 trillion a year in annualized issuance.  My-oh-my how long can this continue?

Who knows.  What I do know is that this is absolutely unsustainable, it is approaching 40% of GDP annually, and yet this is what is required to keep all the balls and plates in the air as a direct consequence of our government's decision to sponsor and permit massive financial system fraud to continue.

The world's tolerance for this will eventually end and before it does our government had better have changed their tune and cleaned up the mess, because if that has not taken place first the economic consequences will be catastrophic.

This amounts to sheer insanity.  The Federal Government is playing a game of Russian Roulette with the American economy, and the only question is which pull of the trigger will result in a deadly shot to the nation's core, resulting in a shut-down of banks, financial investment firms, insurance giants, and mortgage corporations.

A concrete example of just how precarious the economy really is lies in General Electric's renewed financial woes.  GE benefited handsomely from the Obama bailout plan, receiving multi-billions of taxpayer dollars for which it reciprocated by overtly supporting Obama's 'green initiative' and promoting his agenda on its television networks--NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC.

Even after gobbling up our tax dollars, GE is still in trouble and is rumored to be looking for another handout from Obama and company, courtesy of the taxpayers.

This is not to mention that one of the largest banks in the South, Colonial Bank of Alabama, was seized by the FDIC last week and is thus the largest single bank failure so far this year.

And look out for auto repossessions to go through the roof when all of those that Obama and the Dems enabled to buy a car through the 'cash for clunkers' program suddenly discover in a few months they cannot afford that new vehicle.

We can also look for the jobless rate to spike significantly in August.

Take evasive action, secure your finances, and batten down the hatches.  We are nowhere near the end of this mess, and the worst may be yet to come.
9776  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: August 21, 2009, 09:37:44 AM
Actually Zogby has Barry polling at 45% approval rating.
9777  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Bush Presidency on: August 21, 2009, 08:58:00 AM
I call B.S.

Hype to spur book sales.
9778  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: The Power of Word on: August 20, 2009, 09:01:41 AM
From the wisdom of the Navajo, here's a way to define happiness and well-being:

The Navajo word hozro ... means a sort of blend of being in harmony with one's environment, at peace with one's circumstances, content with the day, devoid of anger, and free from anxieties.

Tony Hillerman, The Ghostway, p. 146
9779  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom on: August 20, 2009, 08:24:11 AM
I wish I could say I was surprised to read this, but I'm not.
9780  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 19, 2009, 09:45:17 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/08/19/unreal-msnbc-edits-clip-of-man-with-gun-at-obama-rally-to-support-racism-narrative/comment-page-1/#comments

Another proud journalistic moment from MSNBC.
9781  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama 'borderline anti-Semitic' on: August 18, 2009, 10:08:45 AM
Minister Herschkowitz: Some of Obama's policies are 'borderline anti-Semitic'

Aug. 16, 2009
Gil Hoffman , THE JERUSALEM POST
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will reject US President Barack Obama's request for a freeze on natural growth in Judea and Samaria, Habayit Hayehudi head Daniel Herschkowitz said Sunday, based on conversations with Netanyahu.

In an interview with the science and technology minister at his Jerusalem office, Herschkowitz told The Jerusalem Post that he did not believe Netanyahu would cross any red lines of Habayit Hayehudi, the most right-wing party in his coalition.

"From my own talks with the prime minister, I can say confidently that I don't think he will freeze natural growth in the settlements," Herschkowitz said. "I am sure he is in favor of allowing natural growth, but he must navigate smartly and walk between the rain drops to ensure that he will get along with the American administration."

Herschkowitz suggested that an arrangement could be found that could allow construction in the settlements to continue without public acknowledgment.

He said this would be preferable to the opposite scenario of press reports of settlement construction when in fact there is none.

A former resident of Madison, Wisconsin, where he was a mathematics professor at the University of Wisconsin, Herschkowitz did not hold back criticism for Obama, especially his decision to grant the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former UN human rights commissioner and longtime Israel basher Mary Robinson.

"I am disappointed in Obama's policies," Herschkowitz said. "Some of the steps he has taken, like giving a medal to Mary Robinson, are borderline anti-Semitic. Israel is an independent state. Relations with the US are important, but relations must go both ways. I don't know if Obama understands it, but most Americans believe that Israel is their only anchor in the Middle East."

Herschkowitz has been criticized by the Right for praising Netanyahu's June 14 policy address at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center in which he conditionally endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state.

He said he himself opposed a Palestinian state, but a prime minister had to speak differently than the average politician.

"It was a good speech, because he shifted the ball to the other side by setting important conditions," Herschkowitz said. "If they can't accept recognizing a Jewish state and the end of the conflict, it shows their real face. But if they would have, there would have been something to talk about. A leader must say yes, and not just no, so it's ideal to say yes while shifting the ball back to the other side."

The Habayit Hayehudi leader said there was a consensus that Israel did not want to control the Palestinians. He said a demilitarized Palestinian state as Netanyahu outlined it would not be that different from the autonomy the overwhelming majority of the Palestinians already had.

But Herschkowitz said he did not think a peace agreement could be reached.

"It is clear that there is no partner," Herschkowitz said. "Every diplomatic plan, even the most conservative one, is wishful thinking, because there is no plan that both sides would accept."

Regarding the tensions inside Habayit Hayehudi, Herschkowitz denied charges he had made a political deal with Netanyahu to vote for his Israel Lands Authority bill, a vote that enraged the other two MKs in his party, Zevulun Orlev and Uri Orbach. His opponents in the party accused him of receiving a commitment in return from Netanyahu that he would no longer advance the mini-Norwegian bill that would have forced Herschkowitz to quit the Knesset in favor of former MK Nisan Slomiansky.

While Herschkowitz said he had a long talk with Orbach, he admitted he had not yet discussed the matter with Orlev nearly two weeks after the August 5 clash in which Orlev called Herschkowitz's behavior shameful.

Netanyahu had threatened to fire Herschkowitz had he voted against the bill. Herschkowitz's associates mocked Orlev for urging him to take a step that would have resulted in him leaving the cabinet after Orlev himself hesitated to resign from his ministerial post ahead of the Gaza Strip withdrawal.

Asked whether he believed he would still be Habayit Hayehudi's leader in the next election, he said he did not know. He noted that to obtain his present positions, he turned down two plum jobs: president of the Technion and chief rabbi of Haifa.

"Politics is very dynamic," he said. "If you would have asked me nine months ago if I would ever be an MK or a minister, I would have said no. Anything, really anything can happen."

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1249418621164&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
9782  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 16, 2009, 03:08:55 PM
1. It is my understanding that you can always buy insurance, but it may be expensive depending on your circumstances.

2. I believe that 50 different states have 50 laws that define what insurance companies can and can't do in those circumstances, as well as federal laws on the topic.
9783  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: August 15, 2009, 11:12:45 AM
http://blogs.dailymail.com/donsurber/2009/06/11/why-the-left-ridicules-women/

Why the left ridicules women

Too many American liberals cannot handle a strong, good-looking, intelligent, independent woman who disagrees with them — and so they make the crude, cruel and sexist remarks — including those about raping them or their 14-year-old daughters.

 

From left, the women are Katharine Harris, Carrie Prejean, Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, and Michele Bachmann.

These five women are are not the only ones that American liberals ridicule without fear. They are like little boys who cannot handle a strong woman. These women dare challenge them intellectually, and so we get crude counterattacks.

So-called feminists stand on the sidelines like so many Silda Spitzers or Elizabeth Edwardses or Hillary Clintons, standing by their menfolk while the boys treat women like dirt. Heck, Mrs. Edwards even served as her husband’s attack dog against any critic — even as she knew he was sleeping with his mistress of many years.

Consider the lack of any reaction by the left to David Letterman’s crude remark that Gov. Palin is buying make-up for that “slutty flight attendant look” insulted not just her but every woman. How could any woman respect such a man?

And yet the left said nothing.

The next night, Letterman hid behind joking to fantasize about the statutory rape of Palin’s 14-year-old daughter. His later “apology” only underscored his perversion:

“We were, as we often do, making jokes about people in the news. These are not jokes made about her 14-year-old daughter. I would never, never make jokes about raping or having sex of any description with a 14-year-old girl. Am I guilty of poor taste? Yes. Did I suggest that it was okay for her 14-year-old daughter to be having promiscuous sex? No.”

Then this jerk had the nerve to invite Palin on his show, as if nothing was wrong.

Excuse me, he fantasized Alex Rodriguez knocking up Palin’s 14-year-old daughter when Palin and the girl went to a ballgame.

A new low was hit in America.

Letterman will get away with it because liberal misogyny is OK in America. It has the Seal of Approval of the National Organization For Women.

Hey, support abortion and NOW and its pseudo feminists will let you get away with murder.

[UPDATE: I was wrong. After I wrote this, NOW placed Letterman in its media Hall of Shame. I apologize. My analysis of this development is here.]

It is crude and it is wrong. But then, so were American  newspaper editors for making Tina Fey their “entertainer of the year” for cruelly mocking Palin last year.

Small wonder Fey gets along so well with co-star Alec Baldwin, whose crude voice-mail to his 13-year-old daughter should have made him unemployable for life. But he supports abortion, so OK. The girl had it coming.

Perez Hilton calling Carrie Prejean the C-word and the B-word. Liberals said nothing.

Then there is the Playboy online article on 10 conservative women the author would like to rape. To its credit, Playboy deleted the online article. But if you want to see a perverted liberal mind, read it here.

This is what happens when you do not look at people as individuals, but rather as members of a group. Many liberals think all women must act a certain way, otherwise they are deviants and therefore, targets. The same with black people. This is why Clarence Thomas and Michael Steele face racism that is not visited upon the president.

Believe it or not, this post was triggered by Republican Congresswoman Bachmann’s declaration that the American economy is the Titanic. She made a good point, so good that it showed why liberals mock her. The truth is, they cannot handle a strong, independent woman. Watching her speak, I realized just what is wrong with the people who mock her: They cannot handle it. The video.

UPDATE: Linked by Glenn Reynolds. And linked by Michelle Malkin.

Oh and follow my adventures on Twitter.

UPDATE II: The Palins to Letterman: No way are we going on your misogynist show. Their spokeswoman said: “The Palins have no intention of providing a ratings boost for David Letterman by appearing on his show. Plus, it would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman.”

UPDATE III: Dice Clay was run out of town on a liberal rail for saying similar things.

UPDATE IV: Chris Muir draws and quarters “Dice Clay” Letterman in a cartoon.
9784  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: August 15, 2009, 10:47:30 AM
Rachel,

Why wouldn't you want to discuss the high tech lynching of an uppity female that we saw last year? Why does the feminist mainstream celebrate the choice to abort but not allow a woman to chose to define her politics outside of leftism?
9785  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread on: August 15, 2009, 08:48:58 AM
Ironic to think of all the blue state women that loudly proclaim how they don't need men while clamoring for government to act as their supper-daddy while many conservative red state women actually have tangible skills and independent lives and yet are sneered at by blue state feminists. See Sarah Palin as a perfect example.
9786  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: August 14, 2009, 09:05:34 PM
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2559e768-88f0-11de-b50f-00144feabdc0.html

A rally with troubling aspects.
9787  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: August 14, 2009, 01:31:49 AM
http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/08/cars-gov-terms-service

August 3rd, 2009
 
Cars.gov Terms of Service: What Glenn Beck Gets Right and Wrong
Commentary by Hugh D'Andrade
There's an entertaining clip from Glenn Beck's Fox News program making the rounds on the Internet lately, featuring this language from the Terms of Service for the "Cash for Clunkers" program:

This application provides access to the [Department of Transportation] DoT CARS system. When logged on to the CARS system, your computer is considered a Federal computer system and is the property of the U.S. Government. Any or all uses of this system and all files on this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed... to authorized CARS, DoT, and law enforcement personnel, as well as authorized officials of other agencies, both domestic and foreign.

While this language was accessible only by registered dealers, and not the public (and has apparently now been removed), it nevertheless is a shocking example of the kind of problems that can come with click-through agreements written by faceless lawyers and basically imposed on the rest of us. No one should ever try to force you to "agree" that accessing a government website turns your computer into a government computer or gives up your privacy rights in the other contents of your computer.

This hopefully careless language demonstrates the concerns that EFF has long raised about the creeping reduction in user privacy and rights online that we see through various means, including terms of service, cookies and even the “phone home” nature of some of our devices like the Amazon Kindle. This sort of contracting away of our privacy and rights is bad enough when companies do it — it should be off limits for government.

Unfortunately, the commentary of Fox anchor Kimberly Guilfoyle was also wrong about the scope of the privacy issues:

They are jumping right inside you, seizing all of your personal and private information, and absolutely legal, Glenn, they can do it... They can continue to track you, basically forever, once they've tapped into your system, the government of course has, like, malware systems, and tracking cookies, and they can tap in any time they want.

Clicking "continue" on a poorly worded Terms of Service on a government site will not give the government the ability to "tap into your system... any time they want." The seizure of the personal and private information stored on your computer through a one-sided click-through terms of service is not “conscionable” as lawyers say, and would not be enforceable even if the cars.gov website was capable of doing it, which we seriously doubt. Moreover, the law has long forbidden the government from requiring you to give up unrelated constitutional rights (here the 4th Amendment right to be free from search and seizure) as a condition of receiving discretionary government benefits like participation in the Cars for Clunkers program.

The problems with overreaching terms of service are real, and EFF has been working hard to combat them, especially when your privacy is at stake. Companies and government departments repeatedly sow the seeds of confusion, concern and outrage when they sneak catch-all terms into the small print. Our ToSBack site tracks these agreements and allows the public to find out what they say and track their changes over time. But terms of service agreements don’t go as far as allowing the government ongoing, free range into your personal computer with a single mouse click. At least not yet.
9788  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jobless claims jump, retail sales fall on: August 13, 2009, 01:49:52 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/08/13/jobless-claims-jump-retail-sales-fall/

Jobless claims jump, retail sales fall
posted at 12:45 pm on August 13, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

If Barack Obama hoped that improving economic indicators would rescue his health-care plan, he will have to wait for at least another week to make that case.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that initial jobless claims increased last week to 558,000, up 4,000 from the previous week and 13,000 more than analysts predicted.  The continuing massive job losses show that the economy still has a long way to go to reach the corner-turning point (via Instapundit and HA reader Desmond L):
The Labor Department says new claims increased to a seasonally adjusted 558,000, from 554,000 the previous week. Analysts expected new claims to drop to 545,000, according to Thomson Reuters.
The number of people remaining on the benefit rolls fell to 6.2 million from 6.34 million the previous week. Analysts had expected a slight decline.
The four-week average of initial claims, which smooths out fluctuations, rose by 8,500 to 565,000, after falling for six straight weeks.
The decline on the rolls results from the expiration of benefits, however, and not a new hiring impulse in the marketplace.  With business shedding over a half-million jobs every week and now starting to rise again, the prospect for new jobs in any significant number looks bleak for the near term.
The retail numbers for July underscores that pessimism:
Retail sales outside of autos turned in a disappointing performance in July, underscoring concerns about the timing and durability of a recovery from the worst recession since World War II.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that retail sales fell 0.1 percent last month. Economists had expected a gain of 0.7 percent.
While autos, helped by the start of the Cash for Clunkers program, showed a 2.4 percent jump — the biggest in six months — there was widespread weakness elsewhere. Gasoline stations, department stores, electronics outlets and furniture stores all reported declines.
The Fed tried talking about a recovery yesterday, and the Obama administration has been salivating at the prospect of getting some good economic news.  Instead, we seem to be stuck in a rut.  While Germany and France have both shown GDP growth in Q2, the US economy declined an additional 1% in the same period.  Unemployment began to slow a little earlier in the summer, but appears to be regaining its downward momentum again.
Why?  The radical policies of the Obama administration has capital sidelined for the most part.  Investors who saw the White House’s bullying tactics with GM and Chrysler bondholders have little incentive to jump into American markets.  Those who see the coming takeovers of the health-care and energy-production sectors have no reason to invest in either.  And with energy prices about to explode through the imposition of cap-and-trade, who would want to sink their money into start-ups and expansions now?
As long as Democrats insist on shoving radical, business-hostile legislation through Congress, expect this fibrillating stagnation in the American economy.
9789  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 12, 2009, 10:20:15 PM
http://patterico.com/2009/08/12/roxana-mayer-im-not-a-doctor-but-i-play-one-at-town-hall-meetings/

A proud Obama supporter!
9790  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government Programs, spending, budget process on: August 12, 2009, 09:02:41 PM
http://formerspook.blogspot.com/2009/08/todays-reading-assignment.html

Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Today's Reading Assignment

To borrow a phrase from Howard Beale, Americans are mad as hell, and they're not going to take it any more.

If you don't believe us, participate in one of those (increasingly) infrequent town hall meetings, hosted by Democratic Congressmen. When those events were first scheduled, members of the House and Senate were expecting a modest turnout, with supporters of health reform out-numbering opponents.

So much for political calculations. Judging from the sound bites we heard today, the American public is still upset, and ready to send scores of politicians packing.

But it's not just health care that has pushed ordinary citizens past the point of no return. In today's edition of The Wall Street Journal, John Fund notes the firestorm that greeted Congressional plans to expand the government fleet of private jets.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg; coming next, a public eruption over un-reimbursed per diem--travel money paid to members of the Senate and House for food and lodging expenses overseas. But in many cases, those expenses are paid by the host country or other government organizations. When that happens, members of Congress are supposed to reimburse the government, but that almost never happens.

How much money are we talking about? On longer trips (or jaunts to pricey locales), the tab can reach $3,000 for each Congressman, Senator, or staff member. Multiply that by scores of visits, and pretty soon, you're talking about real money.

About what you'd expect from a group Mark Twain aptly described as "America's native criminal class."
9791  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 12, 2009, 08:48:22 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/08/12/ama-to-obama-stop-accusing-us-of-wanting-to-hack-off-peoples-body-parts-champ/

Obama and fearmongering.
9792  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nuclear Jihad on: August 11, 2009, 08:51:46 PM
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/world/pakistan/Revealed-Jihadis-thrice-attacked-Pakistan-nuclear-sites/articleshow/4879235.cms

Jihadis thrice attacked Pakistan nuclear sites
Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN 11 August 2009, 08:35am IST

WASHINGTON: Pakistan's nuclear facilities have already been attacked at least thrice by its home-grown extremists and terrorists in little reported incidents over the last two years, even as the world remains divided over the safety and security of the nuclear weapons in the troubled country, according to western analysts. ( Watch )

The incidents, tracked by Shaun Gregory, a professor at Bradford University in UK, include an attack on the nuclear missile storage facility at Sargodha on November 1, 2007, an attack on Pakistan's nuclear airbase at Kamra by a suicide bomber on December 10, 2007, and perhaps most significantly the August 20, 2008 attack when Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers blew up several entry points to one of the armament complexes at the Wah cantonment, considered one of Pakistan's main nuclear weapons assembly.

These attacks have occurred even as Pakistan has taken several steps to secure and fortify its nuclear weapons against potential attacks, particularly by the United States and India, says Gregory.

In fact, the attacks have received so little attention that Peter Bergen, the eminent terrorism expert who reviewed Gregory's paper first published in West Point's Counter Terrorism Center Sentinel, said "he (Gregory) points out something that was news to me (and shouldn't have been) which is that a series of attacks on Pakistan's nuclear weapons facilities have already happened."

Pakistan insists that its nuclear weapons are fully secured and there is no chance of them falling into the hands of the extremists or terrorists.

But Gregory, while detailing the steps Islamabad has taken to protect them against Indian and US attacks, asks if the geographical location of Pakistan's principle nuclear weapons infrastructure, which is mainly in areas dominated by al-Qaida and Taliban, makes it more vulnerable to internal attacks.

Gregory points out that when Pakistan was developing its nuclear weapons infrastructure in the 1970s and 1980s, its
principal concern was the risk that India would overrun its nuclear weapons facilities in an armored offensive if the
facilities were placed close to the long Pakistan-India border.

As a result, Pakistan, with a few exceptions, chose to locate much of its nuclear weapons infrastructure to the
north and west of the country and to the region around Islamabad and Rawalpindi - sites such as Wah, Fatehjang,
Golra Sharif, Kahuta, Sihala, Isa Khel Charma, Tarwanah, and Taxila. The concern, however, is that most of Pakistan's nuclear sites are close to or even within areas dominated by Pakistani Taliban militants and home to al-Qaida.

Detailing the actions taken by Islamabad to safeguard its nuclear assets from external attacks, Gregory writes that
Pakistan has established a "robust set of measures to assure the security of its nuclear weapons." These have
been based on copying US practices, procedures and technologies, and comprise: a) physical security; b)
personnel reliability programs; c) technical and procedural safeguards; and d) deception and secrecy.

In terms of physical security, Pakistan operates a layered concept of concentric tiers of armed forces personnel to
guard nuclear weapons facilities, the use of physical barriers and intrusion detectors to secure nuclear weapons
facilities, the physical separation of warhead cores from their detonation components, and the storage of the
components in protected underground sites.

With respect to personnel reliability, Gregory says the Pakistan Army conducts a tight selection process drawing
almost exclusively on officers from Punjab Province who are considered to have fewer links with religious extremism (now increasingly a questionable premise) or with the Pashtun areas of Pakistan from which groups such as the Pakistani Taliban mainly garner their support.

Pakistan operates an analog to the US Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) that screens individuals for Islamist sympathies, personality problems, drug use, inappropriate external affiliations, and sexual deviancy.

The army uses staff rotation and also operates a "two-person" rule under which no action, decision, or
activity involving a nuclear weapon can be undertaken by fewer than two persons. In total, between 8,000 and 10,000 individuals from the SPD's security division and from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau agencies are involved in the security clearance and monitoring of those with nuclear weapons duties.

Gregory says despite formal command authority structures that cede a role to Pakistan’s civilian leadership, in
practice the Pakistan Army has complete control over the country's nuclear weapons.

It imposes its executive authority over the weapons through the use of an authenticating code system down through the command chains that is deployment sites, aspects of the nuclear command and control arrangements, and many aspects of the arrangements for nuclear safety and security (such as the numbers of those removed under personnel reliability programs, the reasons for their removal, and how often authenticating and enabling (PAL-type) codes are changed).

In addition, Pakistan uses deception - such as dummy missiles - to complicate the calculus of adversaries and is
likely to have extended this practice to its nuclear weapons infrastructure.

Taken together, these measures provide confidence that the Pakistan Army can fully protect its nuclear weapons against the internal terrorist threat, against its main adversary India, and against the suggestion that its nuclear weapons could be either spirited out of the country by a third party (posited to be the United States) or destroyed in the event of a deteriorating situation or a state collapse in Pakistan, says Gregory.

However, at another point, he says "despite these elaborate safeguards, empirical evidence points to a clear
set of weaknesses and vulnerabilities in Pakistan's nuclear safety and security arrangements."
9793  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: August 10, 2009, 08:36:18 PM
Obama is now even doing worse than I anticipated.
9794  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 10, 2009, 07:03:17 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/08/10/protester-my-family-was-threatened-after-i-spoke-up-at-dingell-town-hall/comment-page-1/#comments

Gotta love the Chicago politics that have been brought to the national level. Obama's Purple Shirts are attacking and threatening Obamacare protesters.
9795  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: August 10, 2009, 06:41:13 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/08/10/cap-and-trade-will-kill-jobs-economy/

Economic killshot.
9796  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 08, 2009, 03:59:26 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/08/08/video-worlds-worst-tv-interview/

At least the left is willing to have an honest debate.  rolleyes
9797  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: August 08, 2009, 02:34:32 PM
http://europac.net/externalframeset.asp?from=home&id=16962&type=schiff

August 7, 2009

“Experts” Never Learn
 

There is an inexplicable, but somehow widely held, belief that stock market movements are predictive of economic conditions. As such, the current rally in U.S. stock prices has caused many people to conclude that the recession is nearing an end. The widespread optimism is not confined to Wall Street, as even Barack Obama has pointed to the bubbly markets to vindicate his economic policies. However, reality is clearly at odds with these optimistic assumptions.

In the first place, stock markets have been taken by surprise throughout history. In the current cycle, neither the market nor its cheerleaders saw this recession coming, so why should anyone believe that these fonts of wisdom have suddenly become clairvoyant?

According to official government statistics, the current recession began in December of 2007. Two months earlier, in October of that year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both hit all-time record highs. Exactly what foresight did this run-up provide? Obviously markets were completely blind-sided by the biggest recession since the Great Depression. In fact, the main reason why the markets sold off so violently in 2008, after the severity of the recession became impossible to ignore, was that it had so completely misread the economy in the preceding years.

Furthermore, throughout most of 2008, even as the economy was contracting, academic economists and stock market strategists were still confident that a recession would be avoided. If they could not even forecast a recession that had already started, how can they possibly predict when it will end? In contrast, on a Fox News appearance on December 31, 2007, I endured the gibes of optimistic co-panelists when I clearly proclaimed that a recession was underway.

Rising U.S. stock prices – particularly following a 50% decline – mean nothing regarding the health of the U.S. economy or the prospects for a recovery. In fact, relative to the meteoric rise of foreign stock markets over the past six months, U.S. stocks are standing still. If anything, it is the strength in overseas markets that is dragging U.S. stocks along for the ride.

In late 2008 and early 2009, the “experts” proclaimed that a strengthening U.S. dollar and the relative outperformance of U.S. stocks during the worldwide market sell-off meant that the U.S. would lead the global recovery. At the time, they argued that since we were the first economy to go into recession, we would be the first to come out. They claimed that as bad as things were domestically, they were even worse internationally, and that the bold and “stimulative” actions of our policymakers would lead to a far better outcome here than the much more “timid” responses pursued by other leading industrial economies.

At the time, I dismissed these claims as nonsensical. The data are once again proving my case. The brief period of relative outperformance by U.S. stocks in late 2008 has come to an end, and, after rising for most of last year, the dollar has resumed its long-term descent. If the U.S. economy really were improving, the dollar would be strengthening – not weakening. The economic data would also show greater improvement at home than abroad. Instead, foreign stocks have resumed the meteoric rise that has characterized their past decade. The rebound in global stocks reflects the global economic train decoupling from the American caboose, which the “experts” said was impossible.

Though the worst of the global financial crisis may have passed, the real impact of the much more fundamental U.S. economic crisis has yet to be fully felt. For America, genuine recovery will not begin until current government policies are mitigated. Most urgently, we need a Fed chairman willing to administer the tough love that our economy so badly needs. That fact that Ben Bernanke remains so popular both on Wall Street and Capital Hill is indicative of just how badly he has handled his job.

Contrast Bernanke’s popularity to the contempt that many had for Fed Chairman Paul Volcker in the early days of Ronald Reagan’s first term. There were numerous bills and congressional resolutions demanding his impeachment, and even conservative congressman Jack Kemp called for Volcker to resign. Had it not been for the unconditional support of a very popular president, efforts to oust Volcker likely would have succeeded. Though he was widely vilified initially, he eventually won near unanimous praise for his courageous economic stewardship, which eventually broke the back of inflation, restored confidence in the dollar, and set the stage for a vibrant recovery. Conversely, Bernanke’s reputation will be shattered as history reveals the full extent of his incompetence and cowardice.

As congress and the president consider the best policies to right our economic ship, it is my hope that they will pursue a strategy first developed by Seinfeld character George Costanza. After wisely recognizing that every instinct he had up unto that point had ended in failure, George decided that to be successful, he had to do the exact opposite of whatever his instincts told him. I suggest our policymakers give this approach a try.
9798  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense Law on: August 08, 2009, 01:53:25 PM
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=864.100
9799  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Self-Defense Law on: August 08, 2009, 01:46:40 PM
The above is bad advice, unless you have committed a crime. If you lawfully used force to defend youself/another, a brief statement needs to be given.
9800  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Rising Anger in America on: August 06, 2009, 09:41:59 PM
- Works and Days - http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson -

Prairie-Fire Anger
Posted By Victor Davis Hanson On August 5, 2009 @ 8:15 am In Uncategorized | 176 Comments

Why Are People in Revolt?

The approval ratings on nearly every one of the President’s key policy initiatives—cap-and-trade, health care overhaul, government take over of industry and finance, deficit spending, stimulus—are already less than half of polled voters. Obama’s own popularity has fallen dramatically and hovers near fifty percent. A number of well-publicized town meetings have erupted in shouting, as administration and congressional representatives try, often in condescending fashion, to explain the Obama agenda. The Republicans—written off just a few weeks ago as an obsolete party headed for oblivion—are now often polling higher in generic surveys than are Democrats.

Why the sudden uproar?

Bait-and-Switch

There is a growing sense of a “we’ve been had”, bait-and-switch. Millions of moderate Republicans, independents, and conservative Democrats—apparently angry at Bush for Iraq and big deficits, unimpressed by the McCain campaign, intrigued by the revolutionary idea of electing an African-American president—voted for Obama on the assumption that he was sincere about ending red state/blue state animosity. They took him at his word that he was going to end out of control federal spending. They trusted that he had real plans to get us out of the economic doldrums, and that he was not a radical tax-and-spend liberal of the old sort.

Instead, within days Obama set out plans that would triple the annual deficit, and intends to borrow at a record pace that will double the aggregate debt in just eight years.

He not only took over much of the auto- and financial industries, but also did so in a way that privileged unions, politically-correct creditors, and those insider cronies who favor administration initiatives. On matters racial, his administration is shrill and retrograde, not forward-looking. It insists on emphasizing the tired old identify politics that favor a particular sort of racial elite that claims advantage by citing past collective victimization or piggy-backs for advantage on the plight of the minority underclass.

 In other words, the Obama swing voter thought he was getting a 21st-century version of pragmatic, triangulating Bill Clinton—and instead got something to the left of 1970s Jimmy Carter.

 

Those Who Receive and Those Who Dole Out

There is, of course, a growing fear of government—but a new sort of anxiety that transcends the traditional skepticism of statism. Few Americans younger than 60 can recall the magnitude of the current government take-over of the economy that may reach 40-45% of GDP. Evocation of “socialism” is still considered inflammatory by the Left, but it is now simply an empirical term, not a slur, given that America’s tax codes and entitlement spending may look like the  social landscape in France or Scandinavia in short order.

Apprehensive voters dread turning their hard-won and paid-for private health care plans into something like the emergency room on Saturday night, where the care reflects the chaos. The new anti-Obamians do not want industry run like the Department of Motor Vehicles, where most time and money are invested mostly in those  who do not follow the rules like registering their cars or getting a driver’s license. And it is not just the waste, inefficiency, and lack of accountability inherent in government-run enterprises that bother the growing cadre of angry voters.

There is, again, a mounting anxiety that the current federal expansion is politically-driven in rather radical ways—an effort to create a permanent new constituency of millions who either receive expanded federal largess or are gleefully employed in doling it out. The zealotry of expansive bureaucracy and dependency instills fears, rational or not, of a radicalized huge federal work force, a sort of national version of Acorn to the nth degree that in pack-like fashion is mobilized to target potential naysayers.

Bastille Day—All the Days

Voters are beginning to sense a certain edge to the Obama revolution, a meanness in its class-driven rhetoric aimed at the more successful. Even the middling classes do not necessary like this constant bashing of their bosses and lawyers, doctors, dentists, contractors, brokers, and real estate agents. The constant harangue about taxing only those who make over $250,000 (or is it now $200,000?, or $150,000) accentuates the notion that those who run successful businesses, who create  profitable medical practices, and who are accomplished professionals are somehow culpable—greedy, conniving, or worse.

If well over 40% of the population pays no federal income tax, and the demonized 1% pay more federal income tax than does the bottom 95%, and still we are to hear whining about Bush-era greed, what is next? What does the Left ultimately want—confiscation of 90% of all income? Tax exemptions for 99% of the electorate? Continual Barney Frank show-trial congressional hearings to grandstand the bullying of the now satanic CEOs and investors?

In just six months has arisen a Storming the Bastille anger of “pay-back.” Class envy and anger are unleashed through careless presidential rhetoric about Las Vegas junkets, Wall Street vampires, Super Bowl trips, and all the other slurs and slanders that have nothing to do with the building contractor who makes $250,000 a year by working weekends and twelve hour days—only to plow back his profits immediately into his business.

Existential questions are now being raised—isn’t compensation fickle (why should the brain surgeon make more than the auto worker?) and in need of federal readjustment on April 15? Is your income really your own, but not more to be envisioned as something on loan from society at large, to be morally recalled as needed?

Yet how strange that the highly-compensated, privileged DC technocrat deprecates the manifestation of success of the small businessman while bailing out the Wall Street buccaneers who have so lavishly donated in the past to the Obama cause. In the world of Obama, make $300,000 in household income and you deserve to be in the crosshairs; make $30,000,000 and you are a sensitive fat cat donor, who rises above class and personal interests, and so becomes deserving of  a bail-out, insider exemption, honorific federal post or ambassadorship, or dinner at the White House. The grandee talks of Harvard-educated children and Martha’s Vineyard, and  so in his noblisse oblige is one of ‘us’, the grasping plumbing contractor goes to NASCAR and deserves what he gets.

One senses that a number of the successful are already detaching themselves psychologically from the American scene—and figuring out how to reduce, shield, and avoid income. They often see themselves, if not in melodramatic fashion, as modern-day Kulaks, targeted for extinction by equality-of-result state, FICA, and federal tax hikes that may result in nearly 70% of their income going for the Obama New Deal. They sense the more they pay, the more they will pay more to come. In Obama world, the fact that you will pay 40% federal tax, a health care surcharge, higher state taxes, and FICA on most of your income, is proof that you should have paid those tax rates all along, and will pay even more in the future.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

 

There is a cascading anger at a new sort of left-wing elitism and hypocrisy as well, one that feeds the rhetoric of class warfare. The rules of the game simply do not apply to this bunch of wannabe Platonic Guardians. Stopping Bush’s private Social Security accounts was patriotic; using the same tactics to stop Obama care is nearly disloyal; a gross Joker-like image of Obama surfaces on the Internet and is deemed horribly unfair; that Vanity Fair published something identical about Bush was hilariously legitimate criticism. Radio talk show is now deemed radically insurrectionist; Moveon.org’s and Michael Moore’s open hostility to the U.S. military and American society at time of war (remember “General Betray-Us” ads, and Moore’s lament that bin Laden hit a blue-state city?) did not earn them ostracism from the Democratic leadership.

A well educated technocracy—we see such figures in the emblematic Timothy Geithner, Eric Holder, or Barack Obama himself —have most of their lives served in government, largely regulating, overseeing, organizing, auditing, and sermonizing far more productive and capable others. One of the worst flaws of this species of utopian technocrat is the notion that he wishes to curtail in others the very things he wishes to enjoy without constraint himself.

Thus we sense that a Geithner does not wish to pay the taxes he hikes on others. A Holder wants to destroy through subpoena and litigation the Bush lawyers, but pleaded once for mercy for his own shenanigans involving the crooked Clinton pardons. And Obama lectures about the inequality of wealth and the burdens of racism while his wife’s salary climbed as his political influence grew. Meanwhile his own rarified tastes translated into a shady transaction with Tony Rezco to help to score a stately home and expansive yard—while attending a Trinity Church that radiated racial venom from a charlatan preacher who ended up in a mansion on a golf course.

In other words,  a great number of people are scared of these new versions of Al Gores and John Edwardses who live one way, and quite shamelessly preach another. I don’t think anyone in this green administration is going to be chauffeured to work in a Civic. Few will put their kids in the DC school system as they oppose vouchers. None would be happy in an environmentally-correct 1200 square foot home, with an ideal carbon-footprint, as they preach cap-and-trade taxes on energy for apartment dwellers.

Al Gore, for example, preached the evils of DC insiderism and the need for a new independent TV network. But when his company foolishly sent two of its employees into modern-day Mordor, he uses his status to convince the spouse of the Secretary of State and former President to grant concessions (by the mere fact of his presence with such a monster) to North Korea, free his workers, and set the precedent that hostage-taking does indeed earn high profile exposure. Some egalitarians.

 Epilogue

I confess that when I first read Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope, first learned in depth about Trinity Church and its tirades about “black middle classness”, first studied the modus operandi of Obama’s state legislative campaigns and the mysterious implosions of both his primary and general election senatorial foes—all this belatedly in late 2006 and early 2007—I had little hope that he would prove to be anything other than the fossilized angry liberal that he is sadly proving to be.

But I erred in one key regard: I assumed his prepped oratory, youth and “cool”, transracial profile, media sycophants, and “Bush did it” excuses would ensure that his ratings stayed well above 60% at least through the midterm elections.

In other words, I underestimated the righteous anger of those who are daily deprecated by a utopian class—one that has neither the ability nor the fortitude to achieve what it now wishes to undo in others.

 

Post script: I will finish Mediterranean reflections, ancient and modern, next posting–on thoughts about Rhodes, Bodrum, the Cyclades and Istanbul as well as the Greek mainland.

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