I am CRomnibus, Hear Me Roar!

While we weren’t watching, Congress quietly passed a continuing resolution/omnibus bill to avoid a government shutdown and fund the government through FY 2015. The bill basically keeps spending flat and funds everything except the Department of Homeland Security, which will be the stage for a fight over Obama’s immigration orders.

I don’t have a problem with the budget, per se. Flat spending is OK, especially with revenues growing. Addressing the long-term problem is going to require entitlement reform, which is unlikely to happen while Obama is in the White House. But, as I said a month ago, I’d prefer the Republicans put together a reform package to balance the budget long term and force Obama to veto it.

What’s really gotten attention, however, are the riders on the bill, which are laws unrelated to the budget itself. I’ll go through them quickly.

  • The most controversial is the effort to block marijuana legalization in DC. It forbids the DC government from funding marijuana regulation. I think you can probably guess that I hate this provision. The DC voters decided to legalize pot. It’s ridiculous for Congress to override them like this and a worrisome sign that Republicans are going to fall on the wrong side of history. Again.
  • The bill increases the limits on what people can donate to political parties. I don’t really have a problem with this since organizations can give tens of millions if they want.
  • They have given some schools flexibility in how they meet the new nutrition requirements for school lunches. Considering that I think these new requirements are based on junk science and are going to leave active kids starving, I’ll take this baby step on the way to repealing the regulations completely.
  • They blocked the EPA from adding the sage grouse to the endangered species list. I don’t know much about this issue, but my impression is that the grouse is declining but not in danger of extinction.
  • They forbad the government from spending money painting portraits of government officials and committee chairs. Good. Let them pay for their own damn portraits. We pay them enough.
  • They extended the time that incandescent bulbs can be manufactured. Considering that I’m typing this by the dim light of a worthless CFC bulb, I’m fine with this.
  • They required the WIC program to include more fresh veggies. Sure.
  • They forestalled requiring truckers to get more sleep. I’m supportive of this law because I know someone who was nearly killed by a sleepy long-haul truck driver. This is one of those rare times I think the incentives are lined up badly and we need a regulation. Not that I expect truckers to obey it anyway; a trucker friend once showed me how to fake the logs to make it look like you’re getting the required sleep.
  • Some clean water rules are delayed in farming areas. Sure.
  • Gitmo prisoners can’t come to the United States. I’ve indicated that I would prefer these guys be tried, but that idea isn’t going anywhere.
  • They rolled back a provision of Dodd-Frank that forbids banks from using FDIC-backed money to trade in derivatives. This was one of the few Dodd-Frank provisions I liked. If banks want to play financial games, that’s fine. But I don’t want to have to bail them out when it inevitably blows up in their faces.
  • The bill blocks the IRS from targeting certain groups. This is fine, but I don’t see any reason why the IRS would obey a second law forbidding them from doing what they’re already doing.
  • The bill mandates sexual harassment training for Hill staffers. Sure. Everyone else in the country has to get sexual harassment training. Why should Congress be exempt?
  • So, a mixed bag overall. But what’s hilarious is that the liberals are screaming bloody murder over this, as if attaching unrelated riders to a budget bill is something that was invented this week. Our government has constantly done this. There’s even a phrase for it: land-mine legislation. Huge encroachments on our liberty are passed this way all the time.

    And to complain about the DC marijuana initiative being shut down this way is blazing hypocrisy. Yes, I think it was a bad thing to do. But when Barack Obama used the “stimulus” bill to shut down the DC Voucher program, we didn’t hear a peep out out of the liberals. So should the government of DC only have sovereignty when they’re doing something you like?

    I think we know the answer to that.

    Nazca Attack

    Dear Greenpeace: I accept the reality of climate change. I think environmental protection is important. So understand where I’m coming from when I tell you to fuck off:

    Peru says it will sue activists from the environmental pressure group Greenpeace after they placed a banner next to the Nazca Lines heritage site.

    The activists entered a restricted area next to the ancient ground markings depicting a hummingbird and laid down letters advocating renewable energy.

    Peru is currently hosting the UN climate summit in its capital, Lima.

    A Greenpeace spokeswoman said the group was investigating but its activists had been “absolutely careful”.

    Like hell they were. First of all, Greenpeace and other environmental radicals have made it abundantly clear that they have no regard for anything created by humans. If they thought it would save an endangered snail, they’d raze the Pyramids tomorrow. Second, you can check out video of Greenpeace activists bumbling around the Nazca site. Their smug self-satisfaction will radiate through your computer. And the Nazca lines are the sort of thing you have to be careful about:

    [Peruvian Deputy Cultural Minister] said the Nazca Lines, which are an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 years old, were “absolutely fragile”.

    “You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years,” he said.

    The Nazca lines are delicate, created by the removal of pebbles to expose the lighter soil beneath. Simply walking around the site can destroy a 1500 year old monument. If radical Muslims did this — as they did Bamiyan or in Timbuktu — we’d call it an act of terrorism.

    Greenpeace has issued one of the standard garbage “we’re sorry you were offended” non-apologies and are saying they will “take responsibility” for any damage. Good. I can think of no better way of taking responsibility than going to prison.

    And just a reminder that Greenpeace is not some impoverished grassroots org:

    Did this embattled scrappy activist group have no other means to get their message out other than casual vandalism of a historical site and the accompanying “earned media”? Guess not with their meager total assets, according to their financial reports for 2013, of just 54 million euros.

    Organizations like Greenpeace are, by far, the biggest impediment in environmental policy. For all the “evil oil money” out there, nothing turns people off of climate policy faster than the rabid anti-capitalism and mindless destructive stunts of organizations like Greenpeace. Forty years ago, when Lake Erie was almost dead and the Cuyahoga caught fire, there was a need for environmentalist organizations. There isn’t any more. Everyone supports a clean environment, with their actions and with their votes. The Western world is cleaner and healthier than it has been in centuries. So what we’re left with is “evaporative cooling” where mainstream sensible environmentalists like Patrick Moore have left the environmental orgs and they’re left with radical watermelons who pull stupid stunts like marring a world treasure.

    Go away, guys. We’ve got this.

    The Future of Law

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot:

    Columbia Law School is allowing students to postpone their final exams this month if they feel unnerved by the recent grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men.

    The policy was announced by the school’s interim dean, Robert E. Scott, in an email on Saturday to the school community. A small number of students have received postponements, a Columbia spokeswoman, Elizabeth Schmalz, said on Monday, though she declined to say how many.

    In his email, Mr. Scott wrote that following existing policies for “trauma during exam period,” students who felt their performance could suffer because of the decisions in the Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island cases could request a delay.

    “The grand juries’ determinations to return nonindictments 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,” he wrote. “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.”

    Other schools have announced or been asked to consider similar policies.

    You know, a lot of people were upset about the Ferguson verdict and especially the Garner verdict. But you know what? We learn to go on with our lives despite trauma that does not personally involve us. And if this is going to “shake your faith” in the legal system so badly that you can’t take an exam, what the hell are you going to do when you’re the attorney on the business end of a bad jury decision? Putting aside the specifics of these two cases, no one has ever claimed that our justice system is perfect. If you’re exposed to it for any length of time, you’re going to have to deal with crushing disappointment. In fact, there is no profession in the world where one does not have to deal, at some point, with disappointment. There is no person in the world who will go through life with dealing without pain a lot more intense than a grand jury verdict involving strangers.

    What’s next? Time off for final exams if their team loses the Super Bowl? I’ve had it with college and graduate school students who are made of eggshells. Everyone’s “offended”. Everyone has “triggers”. Everyone is obsessed with “microagressions“. We have thousands of students around this country who can’t get through a day without a fainting couch. Amy Alkon:

    This behavior is coming from students who have grown up in what, at any other time in history, would be considered luxurious comfort. And that is true of almost most people who grow up in America, even those who do not grow up in middle-class families.

    I believe that so much comfort — and the notion that even the slightest discomfort is a form of injustice — has played a role in both many people’s unwillingness to stand up for our civil liberties and in the witch hunts going on on campus. Oh, the horror that a professor would correct your grammar!

    And yes, there’s obviously all sorts of multi-culti victim studies-think behind this, too — of course — but I think the perceived “right” to comfort at all times is something we’ve overlooked.

    But you know what? I strongly suspect this is bullshit. I would bet the euros left in my wallet that this is mainly law students trying to weasel out a few more study days. And I suspect the school knows this, if their faculty aren’t complete morons (always a possibility). I suspect they’ve allowed this because they want to “make a statement” about the verdicts.

    One step closer to the revelation that the orders came from the WH

    So now we have a Forbes article titled “Obama Justice Department Was Involved In IRS Targeting, Lerner Emails Reveal” which leaves no doubt that Eric Holder’s DOJ, which has been tasked with investigating the connection to the WH of all things, was part of the IRS scheme to attack political enemies of the left:

    Sadly, the 18 month investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative groups isn’t over, and it may be worse than anyone thought. A federal judge has broken loose more emails that the DOJ had surely hoped would never surface. The picture it reveals isn’t pretty. The documents prove that Lois Lerner met with DOJ’s Election Crimes Division a month before the 2010 elections.

    It has to be embarrassing to the DOJ, which may not be the most impartial one to be investigating the IRS. In fact, the DOJ withheld over 800 pages of Lerner documents citing “taxpayer privacy” and “deliberative privilege.” Yet these internal DOJ documents show Ms. Lerner was talking to DOJ officials about prosecuting tax-exempt entities (yes, criminally!) two years before the IRS conceded there was inappropriate targeting.

    Ms. Lerner met with top officials from the DOJ’s Election Crimes Branch in October of 2010. Although Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the DOJ (Judicial Watch v. Department of Justice, No. 14-cv-01239), the DOJ coughed up dirt only on court order. Even then, the DOJ handed over only two pages of heavily redacted emails.

    What’s more, the DOJ withheld 832 pages in their entirety. They revealed that Mr. Obama’s DOJ called an October 8, 2010 meeting with the IRS “concerning 501(c)(4) issues.” On September 30, 2010, the DOJ’s Election Crimes prosecutor emailed Ms. Lerner:

    “Hi Lois-It’s been a long time, and you might not remember me, I’ve taken on [REDACTED] duties. I’m looking forward to meeting you, Can we chat in advance? I’m a [REDACTED]“

    Ms. Lerner responded on October 2, 2010:

    “Sure-that’s a good Idea [sic]. I have a meeting out of the office Monday morning, but will try you when I get back sometime early afternoon. You can try me at 202 283-8848.”

    Documents from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the IRS show that Ms. Lerner asked the DOJ whether tax-exempt entities could be criminally prosecuted.

    Heh, that faux scandal Obama told us this was sure looks real to me, and the reason why Lerner has avoided testifying now absolutely makes sense. Of course, I am not surprised to find out she sought legal advice from the DOJ on how to abuse power. Considering that this DOJ’s primary function has been to attack the enemies of the Obama administration, coordinate criminal and illegal acts with other government agencies- such as gun running schemes to undermine support for the 2nd Amendment (Fast & Furious) or telling the EPA to usurp the power of congress when congress couldn’t pass some job killing special interest helping bullshit, for example – and to foster every and all sort of racial or sexist bullshit story that would help the democrats divert attention from their abysmal economic record, I suspect there is a lot more bad shit to be found out still.

    In the end the facts will come out and we will have verification that the orders and coordination came from the WH. I don’t doubt that. These are criminals in charge of things these days after all, and criminals will commit crimes. The sad part is that they still feel they are going to get away with the crimes and are eager to commit more of them. This is what the most transparent administration evah! has amounted to. Shit, they went far beyond my wildest predictions. Of course, the Obamanauts will tell you they meant well and evil Boosh!, so there. Can you imagine the response if a republican was doing what these people are doing from the left ad the media? Fucking idiots.

    If you doubted that there was some agenda in Ferguson

    When the whole debacle in Ferguson was playing out I kept quit. That was mostly because I suspected we were being fed an enormous amount of lies and fabrications by a media eager to help out the democrats and Obama – and man, do they believe this racially divisive shit they peddle to be effective to their agenda – whom were getting a shellacking from disillusioned and angry Americans precisely because their focus has been on divisive shit like this, instead of dealing with the economic disaster that their policies have caused us all, to begin with. I suspected that when the details came out we would discover that the bulk of the stuff to peddle the racial nonsense would end up discredited. I do admit I expected pressure from the media, the DOJ, Obama, and the usual race hustlers that flock to these tragic events like flies do to a dead body, to force the grand jury to indict even if there was no case, so at least on that account I was pleasantly surprised. But being the cynic that I am, I suspected an agenda, and while this could be purely coincidental, I think it is not:

    The father of the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” slogan has just been employed by the United States government.

    Dorian Johnson, the star witness to the Michael Brown shooting and the man who was assisting Brown during the strong-arm robbery moments before Brown was killed, has been hired by the city of St. Louis.

    According to STLtoday.com, “Jeff Rainford, Mayor Francis Slay’s chief of staff, has confirmed that Johnson was hired under a state grant through the city’s Agency on Training and Employment, or SLATE.”

    Meeting the low income eligibility requirements, the 22-year-old will be holding the temporary position and will be making about $8.50 an hour.

    Johnson told media that Brown had been shot from behind and then shot while surrendering to police with his hands up, both statements discredited by a majority of the evidence. Johnson will not be charged in the strong-arm robbery of the store, authorities said.

    Yeah, that doesn’t smack of a payoff at all. When you profit from racial tensions, despite all your assertions to the contrary, one should not be remiss in expecting you to not only see it everywhere, but to foster as much of it as you can while pretending to do the opposite. Who still doubts that race relations are at their worst since Obama and his crew have been dealing with this stuff and hinting that anyone that has a problem with their color – and I am talking about the fact that they are reds – is a racist, huh?

    And I need to add that the problem goes beyond race. We have a plethora of fake rape stories to rile up the feminists, with all of the top ones falling apart. And lie after lie about economic improvement, when nothing of the sort is going on. Then there is the campaign to overwhelm every American system by rewarding law breakers, and then all for political gain, by people that think these freeloaders will help push things their way at the ballot box. Things are falling apart, and it costs $1 trillion to pay the cost of part of a year to keep the lights on, even when that’s the case. About the only respite the American people have gotten is related to energy costs as the price of oil and gas have dropped the costs associated with the products we get from them, and that all is happening despite the Obama administration and the agendas of the left. No “Good Times” going on these days.

    Rolling Stone Gathers Some Moss

    A couple of weeks ago, Rolling Stone ran a horrific story about an alleged rape at the University of Virginia. They claimed that “Jackie” was lured to an upstairs room in a frat and brutally gang-raped by seven men. They further claimed that Jackie’s friends persuaded her not to tell anyone and she maintained her silence until she found out about other women who had been gang-raped at the fraternity. She then went to the Administration, who tepidly listened to the claim and told her to do whatever she was comfortable with rather than taking action.

    Over the next few weeks, several people raised questions about the story, pointing out that it had some issues. When they found out that the reporter had not spoken to the alleged rapists, they pressed Rolling Stone further. For this, they were branded as idiots, rape apologists and rape truthers. Because, apparently, the Duke Lacrosse thing never happened.

    This weekend, the roof caved in:

    In the face of new information reported by the Washington Post and other news outlets, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account. The fraternity has issued a formal statement denying the assault and asserting that there was no “date function or formal event” on the night in question. Jackie herself is now unsure if the man she says lured her into the room where the rape occurred, identified in the story as “Drew,” was a Phi Psi brother. According to the Washington Post, “Drew” actually belongs to a different fraternity and when contacted by the paper, he denied knowing Jackie. Jackie told Rolling Stone that after she was assaulted, she ran into “Drew” at a UVA pool where they both worked as lifeguards. In its statement, Phi Psi says none of its members worked at the pool in the fall of 2012. A friend of Jackie’s (who we were told would not speak to Rolling Stone) told the Washington Post that he found Jackie that night a mile from the school’s fraternities. She did not appear to be “physically injured at the time” but was shaken. She told him that that she had been forced to have oral sex with a group of men at a fraternity party, but he does not remember her identifying a specific house. Other friends of Jackie’s told the Washington Post that they now have doubts about her narrative, but Jackie told the Washington Post that she firmly stands by the account she gave to Erdely.

    The entire debacle is alarming. Rolling Stone never contacted the frat or the accused ringleader, despite having his name. They apparently didn’t talk to Jackie’s friends, who they accused of telling her not to go the hospital for fear of being barred from the frat scene. They did not note that her story had changed. Most disturbing of all: Jackie herself apparently asked Rolling Stone to not use her in their story and they refused, which one rape victim believes was like violating her all over again.

    (I’ll take a moment here to note my tenuous connection to the story: I went to UVa for graduate school. That may have informed my initial response to the story. I know how strong Greek culture is at UVa and how big a role alcohol plays in the social life. My girlfriend at the time lived near the frats and would be catcalled if she walked by them unescorted. But the story nagged me. It sounded a little too horrifying.)

    The following should go without saying but apparently it doesn’t: even if Jackie’s story were complete bullshit, this does not mean that sexual violence isn’t a problem in the country, on college campuses or at UVa in particular. But to some liberals, this needs to be said because, apparently, if you question the story — any story — you’re denying that rape exists.

    Moreover it’s possible that Jackie’s story is partially correct or even mostly true. Three of Jackie’s friends have now gone on record as saying that something bad did happen, apparently a group of men forcing her to perform oral sex. If that or anything close to that is true, it’s still horrifying. And if the Administration provided her with as little guidance as alleged, that’s damning.

    So this is not about “rape denial”. Nor is it about a “hoax” perpetrated by a young woman who may have a distorted memory of that night or may have her own psychological issues. This is about the complete and utter failure of journalism and an indictment of the debate we are having over sexual violence.

    It’s one thing to write about the problem of campus rape and unsympathetic authorities. It’s not like there’s a dearth of real documented cases of women making substantive allegations only to see them dismissed. But in this case, a specific allegation was made about a specific frat and specific men within. Maybe they did do it. But if you’re going to name names like that, you have to do due diligence. You can’t just take one girl’s claims and run with it because it’s so sensational (especially when she has begged you not to). You have to talk to the other principles, you have to give them a chance to respond, you have to do some basic fact-checking.

    And this may not be the first time this exaggeration has happened. People are now poring through Sabrina Erdely’s writings and finding other cases, involving sexual abuse in the priesthood and in the military, where her facts are wrong or extremely unlikely. In all three cases, no one doubts that sexual abuse and cover-up existed in these institutions. But in all three cases, that wasn’t enough for Erdely. She had to go with a more sensational story. Because apparently, an 18-year-old freshman being forced to perform oral sex wasn’t sensational enough.

    This is the problem with the attempts to make rape and sexual violence an important issue. The people who trumpet bullshit statistics or demand that believe every accuser by default are actually doing a disservice to rape victims. They are destroying the credibility of all victims, destroying the credibility of all advocates. In politics, you only have so much ammunition to use in advancing your goal. You can’t waste it shooting at shadows. Investigating Jackie’s claims might have done her some harm. But nowhere near the harm that not investigating them has done. Because now her credibility is completely shot even though at least three people can testify that she claimed to have been assaulted on the night in question. And that’s to say nothing of the frat and the accused. If they are innocent, they have been badly harmed by these allegations. And for all of the principles here — Jackie, the boy who supposedly initiated the rape and several of the alleged participants — they’re real names have come leaking out from Rolling Stone.


    One cost of minimizing false negatives is to the false positives who get hurt. But another cost is to the credibility of all rape reports. People who responded to the problems with the Rolling Stone story by saying that this didn’t have anything to do with the real problem — the culture of rape on college campuses — were missing something important. Actually, two important things. First, that deciding what to do in the face of these trade-offs between false positives and false negatives is actually a vital matter of public debate in all areas of policy, and this story cast important light on how those trade-offs may have been made outside of the public eye. And second, that by declaring that this story, which just a week before was a grave matter demanding the urgent attention of the nation, somehow became trivial and irrelevant when it started to look as if it might be false, writers and activists were suggesting that they simply didn’t care about false positives. Which undercuts the very public trust they need to advance their cause.

    McArdle references Emily Yoffe’s excellent article at Slate, which you should read. It makes the case that a young man at Michigan was railroaded by a single Administrator with an agenda. McArdle also touches upon an important point which is that people wanted to believe the Rolling Stone story. As horrible as it was, it played to many of our biases: that victims always tell the truth, that frat boys are evil, that there is an epidemic of rape in this country.

    For me, the ultimate take from this is to only firm up my conviction that rape and sexual assaults should be handled by the police. Jackie should have gone to the police on the night she was allegedly attacked. She should have been told, from the moment she set foot on campus, that sexual violence is a crime and a crime is something you go to the police for. Her friends should have been told to encourage victims to go the police. The Administration, upon hearing her, should not have adopted a “neutral” position but told her to go to the police. Easterbrook:

    Going to police would be traumatic for those who allege sexual assault, but talking to police is traumatic for all victims of violent crimes, including for all male victims. Some law enforcement departments now have specialists in personal trauma, trained to soften the nature of the complainant interview. If local police near a college knew they’d be the ones to handle sex-assault claims, departments that do not now have specialists likely soon would.

    The core aspect of campus sexual assault is that male students think they will get away with it. If the new campus standard was that police would be involved from the get-go, male students would face real consequences, and it’s possible their behavior would change. That would make women safer and also improve the situation for male students who respect women.

    Yes, sometimes police can be dismissive or ask uncomfortable questions about what a woman was wearing or how much she had been drinking. Their conviction record in cases of campus rape is poor. It is difficult to bring out the truth in he-said she-said situations. The solution to that is to change the way police handle allegations of sexual violence, not to hand the process over to poli-sci professors with delusions of grandeur. As Joseph Cohn points out, the conviction rate when you don’t go the police is zero.

    If something really did happen to Jackie — and I think it’s likely it did — and she had gone to the police that night, it’s possible that her attackers would be in jail. And that is a far better outcome than some frat boys being kicked off campus. Or some reporter with an agenda making stuff up so she can get some clicks.

    I call BULLLSHIT cubed

    So as Gruber shows his sorry ass up in congress to speak truth to power, it looks like the strategy adopted by the scumbags that straddled us with Obamacare after a massive campaign of disinformation, lies, and falsehoods, is to pretend that Gruber was telling the lies when nothing could be further from the truth. I guess the progressives have chosen to save face and hide their abuse of power and criminal behavior by accusing the scumbag that was making fun of the American people by pointing out what progressives think of US tax payers of doing the lying. The American people have not been fooled, and they have voted accordingly.

    This bait and switch shit that these democrats are now engaged in is classic. Man does the number of unlucky people thrown under that Obamacare bus keeps rising. Landrieu got fried the other day for and I am sure it was a response of her selling her Obamacare vote. The usual lefty moonbats are now actually saying she lost because she didn’t go left enough, which is just more of the same nonsense as Cummings pretending that Gruber was lying about how the demcorats lied to pass Obamacare. Remember that Obamacare was passed on a purely partisan vote that required major payoffs because that thing was exactly the disaster we have now waiting to happen.

    While you watch the freak show unfolding in Congress, remember that every one of these democrats that pushed that abomination on us and are now acting all butt hurt and indignant, then told us we had to pass it to see what was in it. Don’t fall for the attempt to do damage control by acting indignant and the accusations that Gruber was doing anything other than pointing out what they all did. Fuck the lot of them.

    The Torture Report

    The Senate has release their report on the CIA torture program:

    The CIA’s harsh interrogations of terrorist detainees during the Bush era didn’t work, were more brutal than previously revealed and delivered no “ticking time bomb” information that prevented an attack, according to an explosive Senate report released Tuesday.

    The majority report issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee is a damning condemnation of the tactics — branded by critics as torture — the George W. Bush administration deployed in the fear-laden days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The techniques, according to the report, were “deeply flawed” and often resulted in “fabricated” information.

    The CIA immediately hit back at the report, saying in a statement that the program was “effective” and substantially helped its understanding of Al Qaeda’s tactical operations and goals.

    I am disinclined to believe the CIA on this, given their desperate attempts to cover it up, which included the destruction of video tapes of interrogations and attempts to spy on members of Congress. The report was trimmed down from more than 6000 pages to the current 480 and large parts were redacted at the behest of the CIA. And it’s still pretty damning. The initial reporting is that it included weeks of waterboarding and sleep deprivation, usually used almost immediately after capture.

    I’ll post more as commentary comes in and I get a chance to read some of the report. The report itself is here.

    Update: NYT:

    Detainees were deprived of sleep for as long as a week, and were sometimes told that they would be killed while in American custody. With the approval of the C.I.A.’s medical staff, some C.I.A. prisoners were subjected to medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” — a technique that the C.I.A.’s chief of interrogations described as a way to exert “total control over the detainee.” C.I.A. medical staff members described the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, as a “series of near drownings.”

    The report also suggests that more prisoners were subjected to waterboarding than the three the C.I.A. has acknowledged in the past. The committee obtained a photograph of a waterboard surrounded by buckets of water at the prison in Afghanistan commonly known as the Salt Pit — a facility where the C.I.A. had claimed that waterboarding was never used. One clandestine officer described the prison as a “dungeon,” and another said that some prisoners there “literally looked like a dog that had been kenneled.”

    The report also addresses the CIA’s list of terror attacks they claim were prevented by torture, noting that in most cases the torture information was either inaccurate or confirmed information they already had.

    You can read the response of ex-CIA directors here.

    Update: A look at claims made by the CIA that torture worked. None of them stand up to scrutiny … according to the CIA’s own documents.

    Anarchy Is Right

    It has been a great ride, but tonight it ends, carnage and mayhem to follow.

    For those interested, I wanted to throw up a quick post before the last episode of SOA, we can discuss any prognostications out there or what you want to see happen once the dust settles.

    I have always had a fondness for the show, for several reasons, not least of all because I have traveled the San Joaquin valley extensively, have ridden Harley’s for a good portion of my life, have conversed and shared beers with ex motorcycle gang members, and understand, to some degree, the life and affection for clubs like this.

    Once Tara died in the last episode of last season, I pretty much knew Sutter was going to blow the whole thing up this season, leaving no one unscathed or unharmed. But what we have seen so far, holy crap.

    Two characters I have grown to love and am sorry to see them go, Juice and Unser. Unser should have gone all doped up on Morphine dying of cancer, or at least taking a stray bullet for Jemma. For Jax to gun him down like that, ouch. Like a son who craved a father’s love but could never get it, as a last ditch effort for redemption, Juice went out in the end helping the club.

    Throughout the show, Jax has been a sympathetic figure, trying as he might, doing all the wrong things for the right reasons, hoping to find his moral compass, but never really willing to do the heavy lifting. Almost all of his decisions could be rationalized, the greater good and all that, but this year he went totally off the rails and now is deserving of a bullet in the head. This year I was actually rooting for anarchy and the expansion of the collateral damage circle. I expected Jemma and Nero to live out their days, helping Wendi raise the two kids, trying to minimize the damage and the trauma already inflicted on them.

    If a Charming chapter of the Son’s can exist, Chibs is the natural selection for pres, although Happy is such a loveable guy (smiley face tattoos on abdomen for every kill, classic). Sure, the love affair between Chibs and the local sheriff, ridiculous, but a minor distraction.

    So, on to the ending tonight. What I don’t want to some Dexter like let down, an ending so preposterously stupid and un fulflling that fans are left wanting bloodshed for the writers. Sutter has many options here. Jax can survive, booted out of the club, of course, this is a given for killing Jury, earning a meager living as some low paid mechanic somewhere but having a life with Wendi and his two kids, having to live with the bad decisions he made in life and how miserably he failed at fulfilling the vision John laid out for him in his manuscript. Or, Marks could put a bullet in his head, not unwarranted.

    I gonna be pissed if anything happens to either Wendi or Nero, two folks who have tried to walk the straight and narrow. Somebody needs to raise those two boys. Although now that Jemma is gone, Nero might just be the odd man out, hope not.

    Frack the Russians

    It is well known that, during the Cold War, the Soviet Union quietly funneled money to Western peace movements. It funded people who opposed nuclear weapons and wanted unilateral disarmament of the West. It funded people who opposed strategic nuclear weapons in central Europe. It funded parts of the anti-war movement.

    To be clear, most of the people involved in these movements had no affiliation with the Soviet Union or knew of Soviet involvement. They were “useful idiots”. But many in the leadership knew. And, to be clear, Soviet funding did not make these movements illegitimate, per se. You could oppose Vietnam and nuclear weapons and not be a Communist stooge. But the Soviet Union had and pursued an interest in certain factions within Western politics that overlapped with their own interests.

    Nothing changes, does it?

    NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recently announced that the Russian intelligence service was covertly funding European environmental NGOs to support their campaign against fracking. The former Danish Prime Minister stated that he had “met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organizations – environmental organizations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.”

    The accusations do not seem too far-fetched. Russia is very keen on dissuading Europe from exploiting its shale reserves. Disregardful of their own massive fracking projects in Siberia, Vladimir Putin uses environmental arguments to push an EU-wide fracking ban. In a similar fashion, he tries to discourage the US from exporting of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to Europe. This is an option some European politicians such as Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague suggested as a way to reduce European energy dependency from Russia. It is currently on the table in the negotiations on the trade agreement between the European Union and the United States (TTIP).

    Right now, much of Europe is dependent on Putin’s oiligarchy for their energy. Fracking is not only a threat to that but a threat to all of Putin’s imperial ambitions. Wide-scale fracking would deliver a huge blow to the Russian economy. So naturally he opposes it. Naturally, as former KGB, he’s willing to fund anti-fracking groups. And I suspect that, like the Peace movement, some within the anti-fracking leadership are aware of this and more than willing to take his money.

    Fracking opponents will, of course, claim that Putin’s money doesn’t matter; fracking is so awful that they have to oppose it. They will, of course, claim that what they want is a world that runs on renewables, with neither fracking nor Putin having a role. But that’s living in fantasy world. Even under the most optimistic assumptions, Europe will not be able to provide more than a fraction of their power through renewables within the next few decades. And with nuclear now on the wane, that means they will need tons and tons of fossil fuels.

    So it really is a matter of picking the lesser of two evils. In fracking, you have some legitimate environmental concerns (most of which have been addressed or are being addressed). But you have a less carbon-intensive source of energy and companies that are accountable to Western nations. Russian oil not only props up a bloodthirsty tyrant, it supports one of the dirtiest polluters on the planet. As bad as fracking may or may not be, Russian oil is far worse for the planet, for Eastern Europe and for global security.

    Fracking opponents will tell you that fracking is being pushed by “dirty money” from natural gas interests. But, good Lord, is there any money dirtier than Vladimir Putin’s?