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Politics at its worst (update)

First I’d like to say that my position on torture is well known and not what this post is about.  It’s about intent and timing.  The subject just happens to be torture, or enhanced interrogation techniques, if you prefer.

Secondly, I’d like to point out that we’ve been through this before – this is truly old news.  This has been investigated.  It’s been commented upon and debated.  It is something that anyone who follows the news and politics has been aware of for years.

So why, then, in a lame duck session after which Senate Democrats lose their majority, does an idiot like Sen. Diane Feinstein decide that this is something that must be released now.  What is the utility of this report?  What is the intent of releasing it now?  What positive does a biased report that only casts America in a bad light in the middle of a war bring to the table?

Biased, you say?  How do you know that?  Well here’s a clue:

The outgoing Democratic leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on C.I.A. rendition, detention and interrogation of terrorists in the years following the 9/11 attacks. But here’s a red flag: Not one person who managed or ran the interrogation program was interviewed.

Not one?  So what sort of “report” was it then?  What sort of “investigation” took place?  Again, regardless of your views on “torture” this is pure politics.  And bad politics at that.  It is a smear dressed up as something to take seriously.

Why does it matter? Because the way this “report” was generated colors the notional facts it professes to share. Many of the “revelations” of C.I.A. techniques and black sites are old hat to most. Some approve; others don’t. Fair enough, and in a democracy, such a debate is worthy. The larger challenge comes in determining the efficacy of these techniques. Opponents insist (fueled less by fact and more by their sense of righteousness) that enhanced interrogation doesn’t work. So claims the outgoing chairman, of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein.

Here is the problem: Her claim is false. And taken in conjunction with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s unwillingness to interview the targets of their critique, one can only assume that much of the rest of the document is also tainted.

When you dig down to the very bottom of it, you realize its written to support a narrative.  It is the same sort of garbage we have seen in the Rolling Stone story about the rape at U Va.  As with this report, the “journalist” involved never interviewed anyone who might shed a different sort of light on the rape story. She never verified much of anything.  It was all about supporting a narrative.

Rape is bad.  Yes, it is.  We all accept and understand that.  But false and embellished accusations are bad too.  That’s what no one ever seems to say on the “rape is bad” narrative side of the house.  Additionally, there are two sides to every story – and if you want to report factually, you include both sides.  If you’re interested in pushing a narrative, then you don’t.

Hiawatha Bray sums up today’s journalism rather nicely and it applies to this biased piece of garbage Feinstein’s committee produced as well.

What’s wrong with journalism? Lots of stuff. But this is one of the worst features of our industry. All too many of us approach stories with preconceived “narratives.” What matters is not what’s actually going on; it’s whether a particular event gives us the chance to tell some story we already want to tell. If the story is that frat boys are incorrigible rapists, that’s how the story gets spun. What actually happened is of secondary importance. And that’s how we can get a student journalist–contra an earlier draft, I’m not sure she’s actually a journalism major–who can say without embarrassment that the facts of a story are not all that important. This is scary stuff. The only thing we have to offer as journalists–the only thing that’s worth a twopenny damn–is accurate, trustworthy information. If the facts in our stories can’t be relied upon, then those stories are worthless, regardless of what “noble cause” they’re designed to advance. To me it seems horrifying that it’s necessary to explain this.

It is the same story with this report that Feinstein, et. al, have decided must be published now.  Old news, repackaged, biased to come to a particular conclusion and intended, apparently, to embarrass the US.  Not to mention it is something which will further endanger our military in a time of war. And, of course, provide wonderful propaganda and recruiting material for our enemies (who, per some reports, are already using it).  And then there are the useful idiots who will revel in this diminishing of the country’s image.

How this helps the US is beyond my comprehension I guess.  It is something we’ve confronted and dealt with years ago.  The country is divided over the use of certain “techniques”.  And, we’ve seen a Democratic majority in government for 6 years who had the ability to ensure that whatever they believed about such use of these techniques was curtailed or eliminated.  What was the utility of this report except, as a friend of mine said, a willful “eff you” by the outgoing Senate majority?

Just when you think this sort of politics can’t get any worse … it does.

UPDATE:  Well, of course.  Feinstein’s “mission accomplished”:

A United Nations human rights official is calling for individuals who carried out, planned or authorized abusive practices against al-Qaeda detainees in the aftermath of 9/11 to be put on trial, saying the U.S. was obliged under international law to bring those responsible to justice.”

He also warned Tuesday that perpetrators could be prosecuted anywhere in the world, noting that “torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction.”

Meanwhile the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of a declassified portion of a report on CIA interrogation and detention programs was insufficient, calling for the full 6,000 page report to be released, and for “accountability” for those who overstepped the mark.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 9 Dec 14

The NFIB’s small business optimism index jumped 2.0 points in November to 98.1, the highest since February 2007.

Wholesale inventories rose 0.4% in October, while a 0.2% rise in sales left the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged for a third month at 1.19. 

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly chain store sales fell -1.5%, and rose a weak 2.9% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook also reports retail sales were weak, up only 3.9% on a year-ago basis, down -0.9% from last week.


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Like I said … the “stupid party”

They can always find a way to turn an advantage into a disadvantage.

The GOP’s draft 2015 “omnibus” spending bill reportedly includes $948 million to help poor and unskilled Central American migrants establish themselves in the United States, but includes no effective restrictions on President Barack Obama’s plan to provide work permits and tax payments to millions of resident illegal immigrants.

That new spending works out to $16,928 for each of the 56,000 youths, young adults and children who crossed the border during the 12 months up to October 2014.

Another apt adjective is “spineless”.

The GOP leadership has given merely lip service to supporting the opposition among GOP legislators and much of the public to Obama’s welcome for foreign migrants, and is now refusing to direct the Department of Homeland Security not to spend any funds on implementing the Obama amnesty.

Instead, the leadership, led by House Speaker John Boehner, drafted a bill imposing a 60-day spending limit for Obama’s immigration agencies.

The planned 60-day spending limit is largely symbolic, because the most important immigration agency can operate on fees paid by the illegals.

“Leadership is basically giving in to every facet of Obama’s amnesty. We’re giving up an astonishing amount of leverage on every issue imaginable,” said one Hill aide.

Useless, ineffective, spineless and stupid.  That’s no way to go through life, for most.  Wonder how the GOP faithful, who pretty forcefully made their desires known, feel about this group now?

~McQ

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Special snowflake students pwn Columbia into postponing law finals

In this era of absolutely absurd stories there’s this … frankly, it should be an Onion story, but it’s not – it’s real:

Columbia University has allowed law school students who feel they suffered trauma from two high-profile grand jury decisions to postpone taking their final exams, the school’s interim dean Robert Scott wrote in a message to students this weekend.

“The law school has a policy and set of procedures for students who experience trauma during exam period,” reads Scott’s message, according to the blog PowerLine.

“In accordance with these procedures and policy, students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events may petition Dean Alice Rigas to have an examination rescheduled,” Scott continued, citing a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown in August as well as a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for using a chokehold which killed 43-year-old Eric Garner in July.

Both cases have sparked heavy protests, as both officers are white while both Brown and Garner are black.

“The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” the message says.

“For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”

Oh my goodness.  This is just freakin’ sad.  These little special snowflakes are traumatized by these events.  So, Columbia makes concessions to them because they’ve set up a policy that likely pertains to family situations and that has been used to claim trauma in general.  What’s next claims of PTSD?  And what do you suppose the percentage of students allegedly traumatized vs. students who will claim anything to postpone an exam?  Pwned.

Consider this though, what will the real world do when one of these duffuses claims trauma when he or she loses a law suit?  Well certainly not this:

The school will be holding special sessions next week with trauma specialist Dr. Shirley Matthews, Scott announced. Several faculty members have also agreed to hold special office hours to discuss the implications of the grand juries’ decisions.

The school will set up a reading group, speaker series and teach-ins next semester to “formulate a response to the implications, including racial meanings, of these non-indictments.”

And here these folks thought the legal and judicial systems were perfect.  How will they ever cope?  In the real world they’d hear “suck it up, buttercup, and grow up!”  But of course, academia has set itself up for years for stupidity like this … and now they have it.

Nauseating.  Btw, if they’re this fragile make sure you don’t hire a Columbia law school grad for your lawyer.  He or she will likely have to undergo trauma care if they take your case, and you’ll likely be billed for it.

~McQ

 

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Economic Statistics for 5 Dec 14

The Labor Department reports that 321,000 net new jobs were created in November, while the unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.8%. Average weekly hours rose 0.1 hours to 34.6, while average hourly earnings rose 9 cents to $24.66. The labor force participation rate was unchanged at 62.8%. The real rate of unemployment, using the pre-crisis historical average participation rate of 66.2%, rose 0.06% to 10.59%.

In October, the US trade gap narrowed very slightly to $-43.4 billion from a revised $-43.6 billion in September.

Factory orders fell a further -0.7% in October, following September’s -0.5% decline. 

Consumer credit rose $13.2 billion in October, mainly on a $12.3 billion rise in non-revolving credit, which disappoints retailers.


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Economic Statistics for 4 Dec 14

Chain stores are reporting monthly sales today, showing mostly stronger rates of year-on-year sales growth in November than October.

Challenger’s Job Cut Report shows that the layoff count fell to 35,940 in November from 51,183 in October and 45,314 in November last year. 

Gallup’s November Payroll to Population employment rate was 44.2%, down two ticks from October’s rate of 44.4%.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 17,000 to 297,000. The 4-week average rose 5,000 to 299,000. Continuing claims rose 39,000 to 2.362 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.9 points to 39.8 in the latest week, still close to a seven-year high.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $0.3 billion last week, with total assets of 4.486 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-7.6 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $3.5 billion in the latest week.


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They don’t call them the “Stupid Party” for nothing

Senator Jeff Sessions points out:

“Polling shows voters believe that Americans should get preference for available jobs by almost a 10–1 margin,” Sessions said.  “Republicans should not be timid or apologetic, but mount a bold defense of struggling Americans.”

Remember what I said about framing the illegal alien amnesty as being about jobs?  Remember I said they could own this politically.  Remember I also said “of course we’re talking about the Republicans here”?

Yeah, well like I said:

Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) suggested that House Republicans are on the verge of breaking their campaign promise to fight President Obama’s administrative amnesty, judging by the legislative text currently being circulated.

Sessions said that the proposed language “fails to meet [the] test” established by Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who promised earlier this year that the GOP would do everything possible to thwart Obama’s executive orders.

“The executive amnesty language is substantially weaker than the language the House adopted this summer, and does not reject the central tenets of the President’s plan: work permits, Social Security and Medicare to 5 million illegal immigrants — reducing wages, jobs and benefits for Americans,” Sessions said in the statement expressing his dissatisfaction with the results of a House Republican conference meeting today.

Yes, yes, the usual nonsense from the stupid party.

Look they’re getting ready to vote on a continuing resolution to fund government for next year – so this can’t wait till then.  It’s time to do this now.

Sessions wants Congress to attach a rider to the government-funding bill that prohibits Obama from implementing the orders; his office released a list yesterday, compiled with the assistance the Congressional Research Service, of instances in which Congress did just that on a variety of issues last year.

“Congress must respond to the president’s unlawful action by funding the government but not funding illegal amnesty,” Sessions said. “This is a perfectly sound and routine application of Congressional authority. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reports that last year’s omnibus spending bill included 16 such funding restrictions on fee-based programs.”

To those inclined to worry that using the spending power would backfire on Republicans, Sessions suggested that economic populism would lead to a GOP victory.

Yes it would.  But that’s if they had a collective spine and actually meant all the fire and brimstone rhetoric they spouted while they were trying to get elected/reelected.

But we’re talking the GOP here – always snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

~McQ

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