Posts Tagged New York Times
Here’s The Truth About Debt Ceiling Trutherism
JOE WEISENTHAL OCT. 9, 2013
Florida Congressman Ted Yoho, who believes that a default would be good for world markets.
One of the more concerning developments in the debt-ceiling fight is the growing contingent of Republicans who just aren’t that worried about raising the debt ceiling in a timely fashion.
The most famous remark came from Tea Party Congressman Ted Yoho who said he thought that hitting the debt ceiling would be a calming force for world markets, since it would signal that the U.S. is getting its debt under control.
Slate’s Dave Weigel was the first to put together a grand unified overview of the situation. The key observation is that the “Debt Ceiling Trutherism” is in large part the result of a lot of over-hyped events in the past (like the government shutdown) that didn’t turn into a total catastrophe; so they’re skeptical of claims that the debt ceiling is this huge deal. Yesterday, Jonathan Weisman at The New York Times also surveyed the GOP skeptics in an article Many in G.O.P. Offer Theory: Default Wouldn’t Be That Bad.
But, the truth is that there’s a lot of imprecise language being thrown around, and there are a lot of strains of debt-ceiling skepticism.
For example, in Weisman’s piece, he spotlights the comments of North Carolina Senator Richard Burr:
“We always have enough money to pay our debt service,” said Mr. Burr, who pointed to a stream of tax revenue flowing into the Treasury as he shrugged off fears of a cascading financial crisis. “You’ve had the federal government out of work for close to two weeks; that’s about $24 billion a month. Every month, you have enough saved in salaries alone that you’re covering three-fifths, four-fifths of the total debt service, about $35 billion a month. That’s manageable for some time.”
Saying that the U.S. has more money coming in each day than it pays out in interest payments is NOT saying that default wouldn’t be that bad. Burr is saying he doesn’t think hitting the debt ceiling would immediately lead to default. There’s a difference. Now, Burr’s stance is problematic for two reasons: One is that prioritization of interest payments may be technically impossible. The other is that there are some days when the U.S. has to pay more in interest payments than it takes in in tax revenues. So, while what Burr says is true for most days, it’s not even vaguely sustainable. But still! Burr is not saying default wouldn’t be that bad. He’s saying something else.
Weisman then quotes Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, who has a slightly different take:
A surprisingly broad section of the Republican Party is convinced that a threat once taken as economic fact may not exist — or at least may not be so serious. Some question the Treasury’s drop-dead deadline of Oct. 17. Some government services might have to be curtailed, they concede. “But I think the real date, candidly, the date that’s highly problematic for our nation, is Nov. 1,” said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee.
Again, this is not denying the importance of the debt ceiling, and it’s certainly not the same as being okay with default. It’s just saying, Treasury is too conservative with its U.S. cash balance estimates. And actually that’s probably true. A chart from the Bipartisan Policy Center puts the true “X-Date” as being somewhere between Oct. 22 and Nov. 1. Now Corker is being pointlessly blasé about this (the debt ceiling should be raised ASAP) but there’s a huge gap between what he’s saying (that there’s some wiggle room on the debt) and not worrying about default. Or even being worried about the debt ceiling.
In fact, in the NYT piece, the only TRUE default heretic is Ted Yoho. Everyone else is somewhere between Corker and Burr.
So what we really need is a taxonomy of trutherism.
The basic categories look like this:
Oct. 17 skeptics: This crowd thinks the Treasury has more time than its publicly admitting. They’re probably right, to some extent.
People who believe a debt ceiling breach doesn’t equal default: This crowd believes that the U.S. has plenty of money coming in each day, and that that money could cover payments on the debt. This is generally true, but there are also legal, technical, and scheduling challenges that should cause them to rethink their complacency.
Actual people who don’t care about a debt default: So far it seems like it’s only Ted Yoho of Florida who is in this boat.
And frankly, there is a non-insane defense of not freaking out too much about a debt default. HSBC points out in a note that a default on short-term T-Bills would not affect the mechanics of trading on all other non-defaulted securities, which means that for the most part the world’s most important asset class could function as normal.
And if you want a real trip, read liberal economist Dean Baker, who argues that a debt default would help the U.S. because it would weaken the dollar (making exports more competitive) and also accelerate the shrinkage of the financial system, which he regards as parasitical.
All this being said, there are huge risks associated with all these more optimistic scenarios. Maybe Oct. 17 is the drop dead date. Maybe there’s literally no way to technically pay Treasury holders first, and we do default on the debt, causing a stock market crash and a seizing up of every bank connected to the Federal Reserve system. There are very plausible ways this could be catastrophic. We don’t know and testing this is irresponsible, not just because it could all go bad, but the process of looking like we might test it is hurting economic confidence right now.
The government shutdown isn’t good for the economy, but it can be reversed, and there’s no risk of a financial system blowup. That’s a legitimate avenue for debate. The debt ceiling should not be negotiated. Just hike it.
ADDENDUM: One last thing that’s important here. None of these “Debt Ceiling Truthers” matter in any substantial way. When Boehner (who believes that breaching the debt ceiling would be bad) wants the debt-ceiling hike to happen, he’ll be able to get the votes.
- Here’s The Truth About Debt Ceiling Trutherism (businessinsider.com)
- Born to Shatter Boundaries. Elliott Erwitt. Born in 1928. (salon.com)
- Meet 13 debt ceiling truthers (salon.com)
- If Debt Ceiling Is No Big Deal Why Is it Leverage? (fdlaction.firedoglake.com)
- The Complete Guide To The Rise Of The Debt Ceiling Truthers (thinkprogress.org)
- CHART OF THE DAY: This Chart Destroys The Debt Ceiling Truthers (businessinsider.com)
- VIDEO: Looking at Debt-Ceiling Ideas (marketcurator.com)
- Boehner Abruptly Changes Strategy Following Outcry From Koch Brothers And Heritage (thinkprogress.org)
- Ted Yoho Thinks Not Raising the Debt Ceiling Is a Great Idea (theatlanticwire.com)
- New GOP debt ceiling offer: We’ll put off shooting the hostages til Christmas (americablog.com)
Finally, Washington Sees a Way Out
OBAMA, HOUSE GOP LEADERS TO MEET TODAY
By Matt Cantor, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2013
(NEWSER) – Signs of hope in DC: Both parties are increasingly pushing for an end to the government shutdown and a debt-ceiling increase, with President Obama set to meet with 18 top House Republicans today, the Hill reports. Those Republicans include Paul Ryan, who’s at the forefront of a short-term plan to reopen the government and raise the debt limit for several weeks, and then overhaul Medicare, Social Security, and the tax code, the New York Times reports. Mitch McConnell is quietly gauging support for a similar fix that would hinge on more modest policy moves, such as cutting ObamaCare’s medical device tax and giving federal agencies more freedom in implementing the sequestration cuts, Politico reports.
Conservatives are under considerable pressure to cut some kind of deal, the Hill notes—yesterday, a Gallup poll found a 28% approval rating for the GOP, a record low for a party. The Hill, the Times, and Politico note that the fight over ObamaCare itself now seems to be taking a back seat, despite opposition from Tea Partiers:
· “There is a developing consensus that this is a lot bigger than an ObamaCare discussion,” says GOP Rep. Jack Kingston. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch puts it more bluntly: “I’d like to get rid of ObamaCare, no question about that, but I think that effort has failed … We’re going to have to take it on in other ways.”
· Ryan and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor each published op-eds yesterday in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, respectively; the Post points out that while the pieces called on Obama to start negotiating, they don’t list ObamaCare as part of the equation.
· “This is where we’ve been wanting to go all year long,” Ryan told Roll Call. “We’ve always known the debt limit is the way to get a budget agreement.” But he insisted that Republicans weren’t totally abandoning their ObamaCare efforts. “We’re bringing that to the table, too.”
- Finally, Washington Sees a Way Out (newser.com)
- In fiscal fight, do Republicans know what they really want? – First Read (mbcalyn.com)
- House GOP may offer debt plan (cnn.com)
- House Republicans propose short-term debt limit hike (kmov.com)
- Shutdown enters Day 9 (cltv.com)
- In fiscal fight, does GOP know what it really wants? (firstread.nbcnews.com)
- GOP mulls short-term debt ceiling extension (nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com)
- Obama ‘happy’ default not an option to GOP leaders in House (suntimes.com)
- Shutdown day 10: GOP heads to the White House (tv.msnbc.com)
- With default looming, Obama to host GOP contingent (kgw.com)
TEA PARTY AND THE RIGHT
Salon.com / By Brian Beutler
Republicans Finally Confronting Reality: They’re Trapped!
Obama’s ironclad resolve not to negotiate over the debt limit appears to finally be sinking in among GOP leaders.
Photo Credit: By United States House of Representatives (http://republicanleader.house.gov/Bio/) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
October 4, 2013
After struggling for weeks and weeks in stages one through four, Republicans are finally entering the final stage of grief over the death of their belief that President Obama would begin offering concessions in exchange for an increase in the debt limit.
The catalyzing event appears to have been an hour-plus-long meeting between Obama and congressional leaders at the White House on Wednesday. Senior administration officials say that if the meeting accomplished only one thing it was to convey to Republican leaders the extent of Obama’s determination not to negotiate with them over the budget until after they fund the government and increase the debt limit. These officials say his will here is stronger than at any time since he decided to press ahead with healthcare reform after Scott Brown ended the Democrats’ Senate supermajority in 2010.
There’s evidence that it sunk in.
First, there’s this hot mic moment in which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tells Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that the president’s position is ironclad.
Then we learn that House Speaker John Boehner has told at least one House Republican privately what he and McConnell have hinted at publicly for months, which is that they won’t execute their debt limit hostage. Boehner specifically said, according to a New York Times report, and obliquely confirmed by a House GOP aide, that he would increase the debt limit before defaulting even if he lost more than half his conference on a vote.
None of this is to say that Republicans have “folded” exactly, but they’ve pulled the curtain back before the stage has been fully set for the final act, and revealed who’s being fitted with the red dye packet.
If they got the same explanation from the president that I and several other writers got from senior officials at a White House briefing today, they know that for Obama this is more than just about preventing his own personal embarrassment (at having caved) and more than about his individual legacy (which will be harmed even if Republicans bear the brunt of the blame for a default). He sees “right sizing” the executive branch, and leaving it in better shape than when he inherited it, as a core responsibility of his presidency. Reducing the scope of executive powers in the foreign policy realm is one piece of it. But it would be a complete abdication, in his mind, to leave the next president vulnerable to the nullification of his or her election.
This is the crucial context in which to read separate reports that Republicans want to revisit the “grand bargain.” For the most part, this is just a hangover from the denial phase — Republicans talking to each other, trying to convince themselves that they can walk away from the debt limit with some concession. But they’re also hoping to draw Obama into a negotiation he can’t later extract himself from. It’s not going to work, administration officials say. They are happy to entertain budget negotiations after the debt limit increases. And during those negotiations they believe Republicans can legitimately use the leverage sequestration gives them to extract concessions. But only then. No more negotiating over the budget before the debt limit goes up, as long as factions within the Republican Party are prepared to default.
The only thing that might change Obama’s position is if Boehner decided to sprint into his waiting arms, burning his bridges to House conservatives behind him. If Boehner wanted to finish the budget deal he almost reached with Obama late last year, revenue and all, then throw in a debt limit increase, and a budget for the government, Obama wouldn’t freeze him out. But it doesn’t sound like that’s what Boehner has in mind.
Boiling it all down, this means that Republicans only have one viable way to save face. And that is to come up with something non-substantive — a procedural side-car like “No Budget, No Pay” — that’s independent from the debt limit itself, tack it on to a debt limit increase, and put it on the floor.
- White House calls on Boehner to hold vote on ‘clean’ funding bill (presspass.nbcnews.com)
- Obama Invites Hill Leaders To Talk Debt Limit (talkingpointsmemo.com)
- House Speaker John Boehner demands cuts for debt limit increase (5newsonline.com)
- Defiant Boehner to Obama: No concessions, no hike in debt limit (capitolhillblue.com)
- Report: Obama Won’t Make Policy Concessions In Debt Limit Talks (talkingpointsmemo.com)
- Obama will urge House GOP to pass clean funding bill and raise debt limit in White House meeting (dailykos.com)
- Boehner: Debt default is ‘the path we’re on’ (tv.msnbc.com)
- Obama: Pass budget, raise debt limit, then we’ll talk (upi.com)
- Without Negotiating, Obama and Boehner Eye Big Deal (swampland.time.com)
Not All Republicans Will Follow the Tea Party Off a Cliff
As much as Ted Cruz and his teabag overlords wanted to have a government shutdown over defunding Obamacare, not everyone in the radical right agrees with the strategy:
We’ve already seen exhibit A of why it wasn’t a winning strategy. Because the government shut down yesterday and the Obamacare exchanges opened and continued anyway.
And on Wednesday at a private luncheon, several Senate Republicans — Dan Coats of Indiana, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire — assailed Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who has led the movement to block funding for the health law.
Ms. Ayotte was especially furious, according to two people present, and waved a printout from a conservative group friendly to Mr. Cruz attacking 25 of his fellow Republican senators for supporting a procedural vote that the group counted as support of the health law.
Ms. Ayotte asked Mr. Cruz to disavow the group’s effort and demanded he explain his strategy. When he did not, several other senators — including Mr. Johnson, Mr. Coats and even Mitch McConnell, the minority leader — joined in the criticism of Mr. Cruz.
“It just started a lynch mob,” said a senator who was present.
And then Senator Ayotte said this on the Senate floor today:
I would say to my Republican colleagues in the House, and to some in this chamber, it’s time for a reality check: Defunding Obamacare did not work as a strategy, so let’s work together to find common ground.
It appears that the constant threat of being primaried by the lunatic fringe is not enough to silence all teabag critics. called Ayotte a “backstabber” and a “Marxist”. I wonder how long it will be before Limbaugh calls her a “slut”.
- GOP “Elders” Turn On Ted Cruz (joemygod.blogspot.com)
- Cruz, battered by Democrats and some Republicans, presses the shutdown fight (thestate.com)
- Report: Closed-Door GOP Meeting With Cruz Turned Into ‘Lynch Mob’ (talkingpointsmemo.com)
- Report: GOP Senators Became ‘Lynch Mob’ Against Cruz In Private Lunch (swampland.time.com)
- Cruz, battered by Democrats and some Republicans, presses the shutdown fight (miamiherald.com)
- Closed-Door GOP Meeting With Cruz Turned Into ‘Lynch Mob’ (crooksandliars.com)
- GOP Senators Assail Ted Cruz In A ‘Lynch Mob’ Over His Government Shutdown Strategy (businessinsider.com)
- I am Butthurticus! No, I am Butthurticus! (rawstory.com)
- Ted Cruz and Rand Paul: A Tale of Two Shutdown Strategies (usnews.com)
- Ayotte says strategy of defunding health care hasn’t worked (wmur.com)
The Crazy Party
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: September 19, 2013
Early this year, Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, made headlines by telling his fellow Republicans that they needed to stop being the “stupid party.” Unfortunately, Mr. Jindal failed to offer any constructive suggestions about how they might do that. And, in the months that followed, he himself proceeded to say and do a number of things that were, shall we say, not especially smart.
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Nonetheless, Republicans did follow his advice. In recent months, the G.O.P. seems to have transitioned from being the stupid party to being the crazy party.
I know, I’m being shrill. But as it grows increasingly hard to see how, in the face of Republican hysteria over health reform, we can avoid a government shutdown — and maybe the even more frightening prospect of a debt default — the time for euphemism is past.
It helps, I think, to understand just how unprecedented today’s political climate really is.
Divided government in itself isn’t unusual and is, in fact, more common than not. Since World War II, there have been 35 Congresses, and in only 13 of those cases did the president’s party fully control the legislature.
Nonetheless, the United States government continued to function. Most of the time divided government led to compromise; sometimes to stalemate. Nobody even considered the possibility that a party might try to achieve its agenda, not through the constitutional process, but through blackmail — by threatening to bring the federal government, and maybe the whole economy, to its knees unless its demands were met.
True, there was the government shutdown of 1995. But this was widely recognized after the fact as both an outrage and a mistake. And that confrontation came just after a sweeping Republican victory in the midterm elections, allowing the G.O.P. to make the case that it had a popular mandate to challenge what it imagined to be a crippled, lame-duck president.
Today, by contrast, Republicans are coming off an election in which they failed to retake the presidency despite a weak economy, failed to retake the Senate even though far more Democratic than Republican seats were at risk, and held the House only through a combination of gerrymandering and the vagaries of districting. Democrats actually won the popular ballot for the House by 1.4 million votes. This is not a party that, by any conceivable standard of legitimacy, has the right to make extreme demands on the president.
Yet, at the moment, it seems highly likely that the Republican Party will refuse to fund the government, forcing a shutdown at the beginning of next month, unless President Obama dismantles the health reform that is the signature achievement of his presidency. Republican leaders realize that this is a bad idea, but, until recently, their notion of preaching moderation was to urge party radicals not to hold America hostage over the federal budget so they could wait a few weeks and hold it hostage over the debt ceiling instead. Now they’ve given up even on that delaying tactic. The latest news is that John Boehner, the speaker of the House, has abandoned his efforts to craft a face-saving climbdown on the budget, which means that we’re all set for shutdown, possibly followed by debt crisis.
How did we get here?
Some pundits insist, even now, that this is somehow Mr. Obama’s fault. Why can’t he sit down with Mr. Boehner the way Ronald Reagan used to sit down with Tip O’Neill? But O’Neill didn’t lead a party whose base demanded that he shut down the government unless Reagan revoked his tax cuts, and O’Neill didn’t face a caucus prepared to depose him as speaker at the first hint of compromise.
No, this story is all about the G.O.P. First came the southern strategy, in which the Republican elite cynically exploited racial backlash to promote economic goals, mainly low taxes for rich people and deregulation. Over time, this gradually morphed into what we might call the crazy strategy, in which the elite turned to exploiting the paranoia that has always been a factor in American politics — Hillary killed Vince Foster! Obama was born in Kenya! Death panels! — to promote the same goals.
But now we’re in a third stage, where the elite has lost control of the Frankenstein-like monster it created.
So now we get to witness the hilarious spectacle of Karl Rove in The Wall Street Journal, pleading with Republicans to recognize the reality that Obamacare can’t be defunded. Why hilarious? Because Mr. Rove and his colleagues have spent decades trying to ensure that the Republican base lives in an alternate reality defined by Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. Can we say “hoist with their own petard”?
Of course, the coming confrontations are likely to damage America as a whole, not just the Republican brand. But, you know, this political moment of truth was going to happen sooner or later. We might as well have it now.
- Paul Krugman: The Crazy Party (economistsview.typepad.com)
- From the Stupid Party to the Crazy Party (blackchristiannews.com)
- The Crazy Party – Paul Krugman (tribuneofthepeople.com)
- FOCUS | The Crazy Party (readersupportednews.org)
- Krugman: The Crazy Party (drudge.com)
- GOP: going from stupid to crazy (seattletimes.com)
- Wall Street Journal Warns GOP That Government Shutdown Could Give Democrats The House (mbcalyn.com)
- Red State Pain – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Nuts (prairieweather.typepad.com)
- Palin: GOP ‘Gutless’ for Not Standing Against Obamacare (swampland.time.com)
Making Sense, by Michael Reagan
The Idiots Against Guns in the media and Congress overdid it this time.
Not wanting to miss a chance to politicize a shooting tragedy, the anti-gun nuts went berserk Monday when news broke that a man had gone on a rampage at a D.C. naval base and killed 12 people.
Rick McKee / Augusta Chronicle
Long before the facts were known or clear, The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN and their liberal cousins launched their latest gun-control jihad.
Seizing on an early report from the scene that Aaron Alexis used an AR-15 assault rifle, the Idiots Against Guns pulled out their hymnbooks and sang their favorite tune all day.
Forget the madman who pulled the trigger.
It was the evil AR-15 assault rifle that was responsible for his killing spree. And here was the latest proof that this demonic weapon of death should be banned by the federal government.
We now know the killer didn’t buy an AR-15 in Virginia, legally or illegally.
We know he didn’t pick up an AR-15 during his rampage.
And we now know the AR-15 never existed.
But the nonexistent AR-15 proved to be a godsend to the liberal media and the professional gun-grabbers in Congress.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin were at the top of their political game. They leaped in front of the TV cameras, blamed the slaughter on a “military assault rifle” and called for more gun control almost before the blood of the victims stopped flowing.
In the media, CNN won worst prize. It was so hung up on pushing the AR-15 angle that on Tuesday, after the FBI reported Alexis had used a shotgun to do his killing, CNN’s “journalists” invented a new weapon, the “AR-15 shotgun.”
Meanwhile, Monday night’s performance by Piers Morgan was pathetic.
CNN’s prime-time hysteric was so irrational, so emotionally revved up about the AR-15 being to blame for yet another mass shooting, he could barely blather about America’s need for greater gun control or interrupt his guests.
You’d think charter members of Idiots Against Guns like Morgan, Durbin and the editorial writers at The Washington Post would know by now to get the basic facts of a shooting straight before they begin politically exploiting these tragedies.
But that assumes they are interested in finding truth, not spreading propaganda. Facts and nuance and complexity mean nothing to the IAG crowd.
All mass shooting are the same to them. It’s always the guns that are to blame, not the troubled humans who pull their triggers.
And their simplistic solution to stop future mass shootings is always to call for new laws to ban military-style guns like the AR-15.
But whatever we do, we’ll never stop every mass shooting. I’ve said before, as one of my father’s Secret Service men once told me, “You can’t defend against the crazies.”
Alexis in Navy Yard, as well as Holmes in Aurora, Harris at Columbine, and many other mass shooters, were crazies. They each had serious mental problems.
Did they turn violent because they were naturally psychotic, or were they twisted by the side effects of the powerful anti-depressant drugs they were taking?
Could their rampages have been prevented by better medical care, better ways to keep guns out of the hands of crazy people, more armed guards in public places, or by ending the gun-free zones that attract young men bent on mass murder?
I don’t know if any of these common-sense methods would prevent or reduce future mass shootings. The Idiots Against Guns in government and the mainstream media obviously don’t know, either.
But they don’t want to find out. For them it’s always the gun that’s to blame — even when it doesn’t exist.
- FBI: No AR-15 Used in Navy Yard Shooting. (ammoheads.com)
- FBI denies claims that AR-15 used in Naval Yard shooting (640whlo.com)
- Some of Piers Morgan’s bogus AR-15 claims go down the Twitter memory hole (twitchy.com)
- AR-15: Anti-Gun Narrative Blows Up In Face of CNN, Daily News (breitbart.com)
- Video: Piers Morgan and the scourge of the AR-15 shotgun, or something; Update: FBI confirms no AR-15 used in Navy Yard shooting (hotair.com)
- UPDATE: IT GETS WORSE…Piers Morgan wrongfully claimed Naval yard shooter bought AR-15 in Virginia… (therightscoop.com)
- Even If the Navy Yard Shooter Did Not Use an AR-15, His Crime Shows Why AR-15s Should Be Banned (reason.com)
- Gun-grabbing media’s narrative crumbles: Navy Yard shooting suspect reportedly ‘NOT armed with AR-15′ (twitchy.com)
- FBI denies claims that AR-15 used in Naval Yard shooting (schnittshow.com)
- Media Buries Psychiatric Drug Connection to Navy Shooter (rinf.com)
Paul Krugman’s Stubborn Mastery of Facts Continues to Undermine G.O.P Policy
Every now and then a pundit publishes a piece of writing so simple, so right on, that it’s necessary to force a momentary pivot away from the gaping maw of the 24/7 news cycle to celebrate it. It’s one thing to share a link on Facebook or retweet a story, but I have to wonder if those sorts of essentially mindless activities have supplanted the demand of critical thought. And as a busy person who is as often as guilty of the “read, digest and move onto the next thing” as anyone else, I’m going to practice what I preach this week.
Because friends, Paul Krugman’s Monday morning column, “,” subtitled, “What the G.O.P. doesn’t know can hurt us,” is really what it’s all about. I have long admiredThe New York Times’ Nobel Prize-winning economist for his approachable, accessible good sense. That approval went to another level in the fallout from the late 2008 financial collapse and the Great Recession that we seem unable to fully shake. While a large assortment of Krugman’s colleagues began to issue battle cries railing against the Federal deficit and debt, when it was clear that our biggest problem was the dual devastations of joblessness and demolished home value and equity, Krugman refused to throw in with popular opinion.
The result is that while the often-heartless austerity team has been proven wrong time and again (there’s zero examples of cutting a nation’s way to prosperity – see Greece, Spain, etc.), Krugman’s Keynesian philosophy has been vindicated over and over. He labeled the 2009 stimulus package too small and argued that a larger plan would pose no great threat to our nation’s long-term debt structure. With a still hovering near 14 percent, a measure that includes people seeking full-time employment, as well as those forced into part-time positions out of basic necessity, the jobs situation hasn’t improved much in the last four years. Meanwhile highlights the obfuscations of the GOP’s favorite debt policy fraud, Paul Ryan, by concluding “Ryan’s chart ignores $2 trillion in deficit reduction and compounds that exaggeration by projecting the inflated deficit figures out for many decades in the future.”
If the data fails to support the G.O.P. platform and the liberalism of economists like Paul Krugman has been proven to encompass solid policy as well as human empathy (imagine!), why then have the failed ideas of the modern Republican Party been so difficult to banish from our discourse? Let’s go to the man himself for a possible answer:
“[A sizeable portion of today's Republican leaders] are inadvertently illustrating the widening ‘wonk gap’ — the G.O.P.’s near-complete lack of expertise on anything substantive. Health care is the most prominent example, but the dumbing down extends across the spectrum, from budget issues to national security to poll analysis. Remember, Mitt Romney and much of his party went into Election Day expecting victory.”
Moreover by tuning out any creditable sources that conflict with the party’s wish fulfillment, Krugman writes, “conservative ‘experts’ are creating false impressions about public opinion…Modern conservatism has become a sort of cult, very much given to conspiracy theorizing when confronted with inconvenient facts. Liberal policies were supposed to cause hyperinflation, so low measured inflation must reflect statistical fraud; the threat of climate change implies the need for public action, so global warming must be a gigantic scientific hoax. Oh, and Mitt Romney would have won if only he had been a real conservative.”
I experience a genuine surge of adrenaline, accompanied by an increased pulse rate, flushed cheeks and giddiness when I read truth manifestos like this one. Whereas the majority of conservative pundits have to contort themselves to make anything resembling a logical point, Krugman’s very success is located in the simplicity of his arguments. He is unafraid to continuously point out, very respectfully, that the emperor is wearing no clothes.
I respect Krugman’s apparently genuine belief that there will be a time when facts win, when the people of this Great Union will pause to wonder why they keep getting poorer, availing themselves of less and less opportunity anytime the modern Republican party controls an arm of the government. More war, less jobs and the removal of the social safety net even as the top one percent and the corporate interests they represent gobble up remaining resources. There are certain weeks I feel almost too demoralized, too exhausted to continue raising my voice in an attempt to counter the efforts at middle and lower class suppression I see everywhere I look. It is in part the stubbornness of experts like Krugman, with too many credentials to ignore, that inspires me to continue. We can’t let today’s G.O.P. destroy this great democracy. If Krugman can find new and interesting ways to spread a staunchly consistent message, then so can I.
- Paul Krugman’s Stubborn Mastery of Facts Continues to Undermine G.O.P Policy (syndicatednewsservices.com)
- Paul Krugman’s Stubborn Mastery of Facts Continues to Undermine G.O.P Policy (politicususa.com)
- Paul Krugman: The Wonk Gap: Noted for September 9, 2013 (delong.typepad.com)
- Krugman: Conservatism is now “a sort of cult” (salon.com)
- Paul Krugman: Years of Tragic Waste (economistsview.typepad.com)
- Paul Krugman: The Wonk Gap (economistsview.typepad.com)
- Years of Tragic Waste – Paul Krugman (stoweboyd.com)
- Krugman: Obamanomics “an Astonishing, Horrifying Failure” (powerlineblog.com)
- Paul Krugman’s Fantastic Advice To Everyone Who Writes (businessinsider.com)
- Paul Krugman and ‘reality TV economics’ (marketmonetarist.com)
The Border Is a Back Door for U.S. Device Searches
Katherine Taylor for The New York Times
David House is a fund-raiser for the defense of Chelsea Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
By SUSAN STELLIN
Published: September 9, 2013
Newly released documents reveal how the government uses border crossings to seize and examine travelers’ electronic devices instead of obtaining a search warrant to gain access to the data.
The documents detail what until now has been a largely secretive process that enables the government to create a travel alert for a person, who may not be a suspect in an investigation, then detain that individual at a border crossing and confiscate or copy any electronic devices that person is carrying.
To critics, the documents show how the government can avert Americans’ constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure, but the confiscations have largely been allowed by courts as a tool to battle illegal activities like drug smuggling, child pornography and terrorism.
The documents were turned over to David House, a fund-raiser for the legal defense of Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Pfc. Bradley Manning, as part of a legal settlement with the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. House had sued the agency after his laptop, camera, thumb drive and cellphone were seized when he returned from a trip to Mexico in November 2010. The data from the devices was then examined over seven months.
Although government investigators had questioned Mr. House about his association with Private Manning in the months before his trip to Mexico, he said no one asked to search his computer or mentioned seeking a warrant to do so. After seizing his devices, immigration authorities sent a copy of Mr. House’s data to the Army Criminal Investigation Command, which conducted the detailed search of his files. No evidence of any crime was found, the documents say.
“Americans crossing the border are being searched and their digital media is being seized in the hopes that the government will find something to have them convicted,” Mr. House said. “I think it’s important for business travelers and people who consider themselves politically inclined to know what dangers they now face in a country where they have no real guarantee of privacy at the border.”
A spokeswoman from Customs and Border Protection said the agency declined to comment about the settlement with Mr. House, or answer questions about travelers’ rights when their devices are seized or inspected during a border crossing.
On Tuesday, however, Michael Friel, a spokesman for the agency, said in an e-mail that searches of electronic devices “are essential to enforcing the law, and protecting national security and public safety – always with the shared goals of protecting the American people while respecting civil rights and civil liberties.”
While many travelers have no idea why they are singled out for a more intrusive screening at a border, one of the documents released in Mr. House’s settlement shows that he was flagged for a device search months before he traveled to Mexico.
On July 8, 2010, Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators in New York created an alert, known as a TECS lookout, for Mr. House, noting that he was “wanted for questioning re leak of classified material” and ordering border agents to “secure digital media” if he appeared at an inspection point.
TECS is a computer system used to screen travelers at the border, and includes records from law enforcement, immigration and antiterrorism databases. A report from the Department of Homeland Security about border searches of electronic devices says a traveler may be searched “because he is the subject of, or person-of-interest-in, an ongoing law enforcement investigation and was flagged by a law enforcement ‘lookout’ ” in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement computer system.
On Oct. 26, 2010, an automated message notified investigators that Mr. House had an airline reservation on Oct. 30, traveling on American Airlines flight 865 from Dallas-Fort Worth to Los Cabos, Mexico; a later query noted that he would be returning to Chicago O’Hare on American flight 228, landing at 6 p.m. on Nov. 3.
Since airline passengers are required to provide carriers with their birth date and passport number before a flight to or from the United States, and airlines pass that information to Homeland Security (as part of the Advance Passenger Information System), computers matched the lookout alert with Mr. House’s itinerary. Agents were then dispatched to meet him.
“It is clear from these documents that the search of David House’s computers had nothing to do with protecting the border or with enforcing immigration laws,” said Catherine Crump, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Mr. House along with the A.C.L.U. of Massachusetts. “The government used its broader powers at the border to conduct a search of House’s devices that no court would have approved.”
The documents, released by the A.C.L.U. on Monday, also detail the extent of the government’s examination of Mr. House’s computer. After a search using 183 keywords that turned up more than 26,000 files, the investigation concluded that “no data was found that constituted evidence of a crime.”
As part of the settlement, the government agreed to destroy all copies of the data taken from Mr. House, and update his file so he will not automatically be detained when he returns to the United States after traveling abroad, which has happened repeatedly since 2010.
Courts have largely supported the government’s authority to search electronic devices when travelers, including citizens, enter the United States. The so-called border search exception to the Fourth Amendment is based on the government’s interest in thwarting illegal activities.
But in March, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California set a new limit on device searches at the border, ruling in United States v. Cotterman that reasonable suspicion of criminal activity was required for a forensic search of a device — for instance, using software to analyze encrypted or deleted data, as opposed to performing a more cursory look at documents, photos or other files.
Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department of Homeland Security, said that it conducted electronic media searches on 4,957 people from Oct. 1, 2012, through Aug. 31, 2013, or about 15 a day, which is similar to the average during the previous two years. About 930,000 people are screened daily by border agents.
But for those pulled aside for a secondary inspection (about 35,000 travelers a day), the experience can be distressing, resulting in a missed connecting flight, a prolonged interrogation, and in Mr. House’s case, the loss of a laptop necessary for his livelihood.
“I was worried about losing my job, and not being able to pay my rent, and what I was going to tell my parents,” said Mr. House, 26, who was working as a computer programmer at the time. He was also concerned about the government getting access to names stored on his laptop of individuals who had donated money to Private Manning’s legal defense. Private Manning was sentenced by a military judge last month to 35 years in prison for providing more than 700,000 government files to WikiLeaks.
Mr. House’s lawsuit was among a handful of cases challenging the government’s authority to search devices at the border. Pascal Abidor, a graduate student in Islamic studies, sued the government after he was detained and his laptop was seized during an Amtrak trip from Montreal to New York in 2010. A decision in that case is expected soon, according to the case manager for Judge Edward R. Korman, who is writing the opinion for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Mr. Abidor is also being represented by Ms. Crump of the A.C.L.U.
For now, the law remains murky about any limits on intrusive border inspections, including how long travelers can be detained, whether they are required to provide passwords for their devices — Mr. House refused — and whether they must answer any question an agent asks. Responses may be recorded in a traveler’s TECS file and shared with other government agencies.
- [2013.09.10] The Border Is a Back Door for U.S. Device Searches (boramleeblog.wordpress.com)
- Government uses borders to seize, surveil electronics (salon.com)
- An angry government checks you out at the border (prairieweather.typepad.com)
- No Warrant? No Worries! The Immigration Service is Your Friend. (motherjones.com)
- Device Security: How Border Searches Are Really Used (news.slashdot.org)
- Pure Big Brotherism (esquire.com)
- Feds target US travelers and seize laptops at border, new files detail (nbcnews.com)
- New Details in How the Feds Take Laptops at Border (abcnews.go.com)
- New details in how the feds take laptops at border (utsandiego.com)
- New details in how the feds take laptops at border (bostonherald.com)
FBI Adds Syrian Electronic Army To Wanted List; Supporters Of Hacker Collective Will Be Regarded As Terrorists
FBI Adds Syrian Electronic Army To Wanted List; Supporters Of Hacker Collective Will Be Regarded As Terrorists
on September 05 2013
The U.S. government has had enough of the Syrian Electronic Army’s hacks of Western media and government outlets. A week after the SEA , the FBI Cyber Division unit has officially added the pro-Assad hacker collective to its wanted list.
The FBI that included information about the SEA, its capabilities, and some of its more heinous attacks. The advisory also warns networks to be on the lookout for attacks, and that anyone found to be aiding the SEA will be seen as terrorists actively aiding attacks against the U.S. websites.
Before the New York Times, SEA also took credit for hacking the Washington Post and a . They are also known for hacking several high-profile Twitter feeds, including an that led to a temporary stock market crash.
, though some security experts have been . The group of hackers formed to support Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2011 as the uprising began. The international hacker collective Anonymous claimed to have hacked the SEA and exposed its members, but SEA denies the claim.
- FBI adds Syrian Electronic Army to wanted list (rt.com)
- HACKER WAR: Anonymous Takes Down Syrian Electronic Army (businessinsider.com)
- Public Intelligence wrote a new blog post: (U//FOUO) FBI Cyber Division Advisory: Syrian Electronic Army Targeting of Social Media (publicintelligence.net)
- Syrian Electronic Army Denies Being Attacked By Anonymous (huffingtonpost.com)
- FBI Spying on Syrians Living in US, Fearing Potential Cyber Attack (thestateweekly.com)
- Syrian Electronic Army hackers deface US Marines website (itpro.co.uk)
- Syrian Electronic Army Denies Anonymous Exposed Its Members (techweekeurope.co.uk)
- Syrian Electronic Army hacks US Marines (stuff.co.nz)
- Explaining the Syrian Electronic Army Hacks (wnyc.org)
- Syrian hackers attempt PsyOps campaign against U.S. Marine Corps (networkworld.com)
Jason Healey August 30, 2013
Why the U.S. Should Use Cyber Weapons Against Syria
If the Obama administration does conduct military strikes against Syria, as seems likely, it should use military cyber weapons at the earliest possible moment to show the upside of military cyber power. Though this is risky, as it puts the focus on the U.S. militarization of cyberspace, it is likely worth doing to show that cyber operations are not evil witchcraft but can be humanitarian.
This is not the first time the United States has been here. In 1999, the White House was reported to have initially approved a plan for covert “computer attacks on foreign bank accounts held by [Slobodan] Milosevic and other Serbian leaders, such as draining assets or altering banking records.” A few years later, during the time of the second invasion of Iraq, a similar plan was rolled out to “cripple” the financial system of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, leaving him “no money for war supplies. No money to pay troops.”
Jason Healey is the Director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council of the United States and the editor of the first military history of cyberspace, A Fierce Domain: Cyber Conflict, 1986 to 2012. You can follow his comments on cyber cooperation, conflict and competition on … Full Bio
Neither plan seems to have been executed. The Treasury Department and senior political officials apparently blocked these attacks, for fear of cascading failures and setting a precedent of targeting banks.
More recently, according to the New York Times, the Obama administration and military commanders considered “a cyberoffensive to disrupt and even disable the Gaddafi government’s air-defense system.” A cyber strike on Libya was apparently ruled out both because there was not enough time and also because officials felt that cyber capabilities are like a “Ferrari” which should be saved for the “big race.” The Israeli Air Force apparently did not think so, as it was widely reported they used a backdoor “kill switch” to disable Syrian air defenses en route to destroying an illicit nuclear reactor.
Given this history, what can and should the United States do today against Syria?
It is unlikely that President Obama will authorize covert cyber operations against Bashar Assad’s finances. Both of his immediate predecessors declined such attacks and the world economy and financial sector are already in a perilous state. A limited cyber attack integrated with traditional military forces should be a far more tempting option.
Cyber capabilities could first disrupt Syrian air defenses directly or confuse military command and control, allowing air strikes to proceed unchallenged. A cyber strike might also disable dual-use Syrian critical infrastructure (such as electrical power) that aids the regime’s military but with no long-term destruction as would be caused by traditional bombs. Last, it is possible the U.S. military has cyber capabilities to directly disrupt the operations of Syria’s chemical troops. This would need very specific capabilities against hard-to-reach computers; any disruption would be short but such an attack is feasible.
The first constraint which reportedly ruled out cyber attacks against Libyan air defenses, the time needed, should not be a constraint for Syria: the U.S. military has had months if not years to develop the requisite cyber capabilities along with options to deliver them to the optimal targets.
On the second constraint, this might be the ‘big race’ that U.S. officials have been waiting for, but for political reasons, rather than military. In the past several years, the United States has been caught using Stuxnet to conduct a covert cyber campaign against Iran as well as trawling the Internet with the massive PRISM collection operation. The world is increasingly seeing U.S. cyber power as a force for evil in the world.
A cyber operation against Syria might help to reverse this view.
Recently, experts from United States, China, Russia and other states reported to the U.N. Secretary General that existing international law, including international humanitarian law (aka, the laws of armed conflict such as the Geneva and Hague conventions) apply to cyber conflict. By sparing the lives of Syrian troops and nearby civilians, an opening cyber operation against Syria could demonstrate exactly how such capabilities can be compliant with international humanitarian law. European allies would see an operation within the norms of shared transatlantic principles, not at odds with them like Stuxnet or PRISM.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely cyber capabilities will be used, or at least unlikely the White House and military will discuss them even if they are. The classification around these operations has created a self-sustaining taboo. Even though the U.S. national interest is greatly served by removing the voodoo mystique around them, official silence will allow doubters and the ill-informed to continue to dominate the debate.
Despite my own background in U.S. military offensive and defensive cyber operations, I have long been a skeptic of the use of military cyber power as it has been used off the battlefield in sneaky circumstances. America should take this chance to demystify these weapons to show the world they, and the U.S. military in general, can be used on the battlefield in line with humanitarian principles.
- Why the U.S. Should Use Cyber Weapons Against Syria (defenseone.com)
- US may launch cyber attacks on Syria: Experts (dnaindia.com)
- Syria Facing U.S. Cyber Attacks in Upcoming Strikes (glblgeopolitics.wordpress.com)
- US expected to launch cyber attacks against Syria as part of military action (terminalx.org)
- Syria and Iran Could Retaliate with Cyber Attacks (heritage.org)
- Syria: Preparing for the Cyber Threat (nationalinterest.org)
- Syria could be a crucial proving ground for U.S. cyberwarriors (washingtonpost.com)
- Why the U.S. Should Use Cyber Weapons Against Syria (fedcyber.com)
- Iran Unveils New Warship Ahead of Potential Syria Strike (freebeacon.com)
- How the US Could Cyber Attack Syria, Too (motherboard.vice.com)