American Elephants

More Than Two Months of Secret Interrogation On A U.S. Navy Ship! by The Elephant's Child

Recall the pretentious posturing over the issue of the detention of terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.  The whole world was against our prison, and it was a blot on the character of America. Detainees were mostly innocent victims, picked up on the battlefield. We didn’t get any worthwhile intelligence by abusing them, and they all deserved a civilian trial according to our rules.

Well, unexpectedly, it turned out that Guantanamo was a model prison, followed the Geneva Conventions, and the detainees held there were — the worst of the worst. Dangerous, and all those nations that were supposedly appalled  by the prison, had not the slightest interest in taking over the care of any of them.  But all those secret prisons, the unaccountable interrogations, and the CIA mistreatment — the Justice Department was certainly going to look into that and prosecute all the brutal agents.  Of course, unexpectedly, it turned out that there really wasn’t anything to prosecute them for and it was, unexpectedly, a big embarrassment for Attorney General Eric Holder.

Now it has been revealed that the government captured a Somali terrorism suspect in the Gulf of Aden and interrogated him for more than two months, without reading him his Miranda Rights, aboard a U.S. Navy ship before flying him this week to New York, where he has been indicted on federal charges. If he is not properly convicted, well, they’ll just figure out some other way to detain him.  (Like sending him to Guantanamo?)

“What we’re seeing in this case is a government that is conflicted about the legal nature of its counterterrorism operations,” said John Sifton, a human rights attorney with extensive experience in detainee cases.

“On the one hand, it detains persons indefinitely, without access to counsel, using questionable Bush-era interpretations of the laws of war. On the other hand,” he said, “it embraces a more sophisticated approach, by indicting suspects, knowing that the Justice Department is better suited to prosecute them than the military.”…

Warsame was questioned aboard the ship because interrogators “believed that moving him to another facility would interrupt the process and risk ending the intelligence flow,” one senior administration official said.

In concert with recent unilateral form, and knowing that a fuss might be made about sending terrorists to prisons on mainland America, the White House didn’t even notify Congress that they were transferring Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame to the U.S. for trial until he was already on his way.  The expected letter from 39 Republican senators has been sent to Attorney General Holder., and it is still circulating so more may sign it.

They wrote that Holder’s decision goes against all legal precedents, as Warsame is not an American citizen and was not captured on American soil.  He should have been detained outside the U.S. and, if necessary, tried by  military commission. “Your decision to gran this terrorist full U.S. Constitutional rights and to try him in a civilian court reverses U.S. policy and legal precedent, and adds unnecessary costs and risks to local governments and populations.

The arrogance of this administration continues to astound. But it is so “sophisticated.” They do not learn from the times they live in:  they are stuck somewhere with the rhetoric of an earlier campaign, even though that train has already left the station.

Re-elect Me And I’ll Raise Your Taxes – Massively! by The Elephant's Child

How dare Republicans not agree to break their campaign promises and raise taxes when the jobless rate is 9.2% and President Obama’s economic recovery is in jeopardy?

So said the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Nobody seems to have noticed that Mr. Obama has already signed the largest tax increase since 1993.  While everyone has focused on the Bush tax rates that expire  after 2012, there are already new tax increases scheduled to hit the economy due to the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

  • Starting in 2013 the bill adds an additional 0,9% increase to the Medicare tax for singles who earn more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000.
  • Medicare’s 2.9% payroll tax rate is added to all investment income — dividends, capital gains and interest. ($210 billion).  Alternative Minimum Tax as well.
  • A2.3% excise tax on medical device manufacturers and importers ($20 billion)
  • Annual fee on ‘branded’ drug makers ($27 billion)
  • Cuts in allowable medical deductions from 7.5% of income to 10%
  • 40% excise tax om high-cost health insurance plans.
  • A new annual fee on health insurance providers starting in 2014.

Business doesn’t pay these taxes.  They pass them on to you in higher costs.  Many think this was Obama’s tax-and-spend plan from the beginning.  Mr. Obama is pushing to reduce the payroll tax by two percentage points for another year to boost the economy.  So if that creates jobs this year, what does raising the tax in 2013 do? And how many jobs does that kill?

And now President Obama is suggesting that if he doesn’t get his way — the old folk’s Social Security checks just might not go out in August — he can’t guarantee that they will.  When all else fails, scare the old folks! Maybe they will rise up and attack the Republicans and make them give Obama all the money he wants to spend on — oh yes, infrastructure again.

The Out-of-Control EPA Strikes Again and Again! by The Elephant's Child

— The Environmental Protection Agency issued final regulations on Thursday aimed at “slashing toxic air pollution from power plants that crosses state lines and potentially puts thousands of lives at risk.” Administrator Lisa Jackson said “No community should have to bear the burden of another community’s polluters or be powerless to prevent air pollution that leads to asthma, heart attacks and other harmful illnesses.”

By 2014, the regulations will cut SO2 emissions by 73 percent and NOx emissions by 54% below 2005 levels, EPA  said.  The agency said that will prevent 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 heart attacks and 400,000 cases of asthma starting in 2014, which would amount to $280 billion a year in health benefits.

Ms. Jackson needs to get in touch with the National Center for Health Statistics.  Little is understood about preventing asthma from developing.  Medicine knows how to control the symptoms, but not how the disease develops.  The prevalence of asthma has grown from 3.1% of the US population in 1980 to 8.2 percent in 2009, Particularly in the Northeast and Midwest regions, yet air quality has improved enormously in urban areas since the 1970s.  Translation: Once again the EPA is making up statistics. Explain how you know if you are preventing heart attacks?

— In New York, the EPA wants New York City to build a $1.5 billion-plus cover for Hillview, a 90-acre, 900 million gallon reservoir in Yonkers, to prevent contamination by cryptosporidium, a water-born pathogen that causes diarrhea.  The problem is that the pathogen hasn’t been found in the reservoir despite years of tests, and is barely present at all in the city.  The EPA claimed that covering the reservoir (remember it’s 90 acres) would prevent between 112,000 and 365,000 cases annually.  Another release from the EPA Department of Making Up Statistics (MUS).

— Meanwhile down in Texas, the EPA adopted a rule to place especially stringent regulations on sulfur dioxide emissions that would shut down the use of lignite coal in Texas. Retrofitting plants that now use lignite would involve three to four years of engineering, fabrication, boiler re-construction, new rail construction and complex new permits — at multi-billion dollar costs.  About 11% of electricity in Texas comes from lignite coal. In the last decade, power plants in Texas have cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 33 percent without EPA assistance.

Lignite mining in Texas supports  10,000 to 14,000 jobs, the local tax base and many Texas communities.  It contributes $1.3 billion to the state economy and $71 million to state revenues.  President Obama could not get cap and trade past Congress, but he’s finding other ways to make good on his promise to bankrupt coal, and destroying jobs by the thousands.

— With unemployment continuing to rise, President Obama must dream of some big corporation showing up to offer a shovel-ready, multibillion dollar project to create 100,000 jobs and on top of it all to reduce U.S. reliance on oil from the Middle East.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has had that offer sitting on her desk ever since she was first sworn in.

Trans-Canada applied in 2008 to build a new pipeline —the Keystone XL — to bring oil from the oil-rich tar sands of Alberta to refineries on the Gulf.  The Keystone  pipeline has been operating from 2010 to Cushing, OK.  Another Canadian pipeline runs across the border to Chicago. Trans-Canada projects that construction would generate $600 million in new state and local taxes.  The pipeline would even carry oil from the Bakken formation  for efficiency gains for oil producers in North Dakota and savings for Gulf Coast refiners.

The State Department found that the XL would meet industry standards and not significantly affect the environment.  The EPA has been stalling and putting up roadblocks ever since.

The National Resources Defense Council explains: “This is really a campaign against tar sands expansion rather than a single pipeline.” The EPA complains at length about the ‘greenhouse gas intensive tar sands” and frets about what Canadians are doing to migratory birds.  There are many thousands of jobs that are not being created because of the EPA’s power-grab, and the regulations they drum up to keep it from happening.

Domestic Battles: The Attack of Inanimate Objects! by The Elephant's Child

Sorry about the light posting the last few days.  My house has declared war on me.  Appliances acting up , my computer crashed about five times yesterday, the kitchen sink requires a plumber, and there was a small child’s birthday to attend.  Some days are like that, but usually not all at once.

I’ll think of it all tomorrow, at Tara.  After all, tomorrow is another day.

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