Torture. Budget. Washington struggles with the release of a damning Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, and democrats appear to be willing to shut the government down over language in the budget bill concerning Dodd/Frank. These issues show how the contours of ‘partisanship’ and the causes of ‘gridlock’ will change after the new congress is sworn in, in January 2015. The Senate Intelligence Committee investigation and report was conducted and written wholly by democrats, offers no suggestions on what to do about what it called torture in the future, or for curtailing the CIA when it runs amok, and none of the accused parties were interviewed for have had the chance to defend themselves. As former Democrat Senator and Senate Intelligence Committee member Bob Kerry suggests, this does not bode well for the objectivity of the report or win any friends at the CIA. Even President Obama has been put in a difficult situation, since current CIA Director Brennan is furious that the report paints a one sided picture of what happened at the agency after 9/11. Maybe it is a good thing this information is released now, maybe not. One thing is for sure, neither party has come up with a foreign policy that addresses asymmetric warfare going forward. Libertarian, Interventionist, Neoconservative, Neoliberal, or whatever you want to call them, these policies aren’t going to be effective in future conflicts where it is likely potential state enemies of the US will use asymmetric methods because they strike at our weaknesses. On the budget front, Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren threatens to block passage of the budget bill because of changes it makes in Dodd/Frank regarding how derivatives are regulated. Which party is ‘obstructionist’ now? What will the minority party do after Republicans take over the majority in Congress? Expect a return to ideas like increasing gas taxes and ‘rebuilding’ America’s ‘crumbling infrastructure’, and to the idea that – since we can’t prove ‘inequality’ hurts the economy – we now have to deal with the ’empathy gap’. This is the idea that the working poor are just unfortunate and that we have to have laws to make the economic system ‘fair’, since hard work and brains have nothing to do with success. The founding documents talk about being created equal and having unalienable rights to life and liberty … not a ‘fair’ economic system. What you do with your liberty is your choice, rich or poor. The good news? All of these stories will be swept from television screens because of the storm-of-the-century in California. Finally, out of nowhere a movement we can all get behind, or in front of. “Free The Nipple”. Sponsored by Baklund R&D.
Cooking and Talking. Updating you on some key stories for midweek, while cooking dinner. Pan fried steak, broccoli and salad. One of the things cable news and talk radio does is talk about things over and over again, in an effort to gin up emotional response and viewership. They seem to get ‘stuck’ on stories and can’t move on until the next ‘big’ story. In our ongoing discussion about media and its pitfalls, one of the things podcasting allows is for more varied content. We don’t have to keep talking about the same subjects, because podcasts about those subjects are up to be listened to whenever subscribers desire. So podcasters can add to stories when its appropriate and begin talking about new stories that will be top topics in a few days or weeks. In this podcast, updates to the bias story on Rolling Stone magazine’s coverage of the ‘rape’ story at UVA, and how narrative journalism ill serves the people. The next big narrative story? The Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of the report on the CIA’s interrogation methods. At first blush it looks pretty bad, and it is reported may even spur terror attacks across the world, and on US citizens. On second thought, it looks like the last shot by democrats at the Bush Administration’s policies. And whether deserved or not, former CIA directors and employees are pretty upset at what they see as a biased report. Dad always said, “There are two sides to every story”. As people react to the emotional and lurid nature of yet another ‘narrative’ story, will the ‘rest of the story’ get covered with equal intensity? On the terror front; word is ISIL has yellow cake which it procured from a University in Mosul Iraq, and used to make at least one radioactive explosive device which has been spirited into Europe. Let’s wait and see how this one develops. On the political front: With all the talk about the Republican Brand being ‘dead’ it turns out the GOP is in the best position it has been in since the 1920’s, especially in individual states. 2014 turned out to be a great year for Republicans, but Minnesota republicans missed out. Why? Is it time for a change of state party leadership as in a house cleaning? Finally, the pundits saying lower gas prices act as a ‘tax cut’, a position which should be questioned. It has been reported this week that lower fuel prices also mean lower commodity prices, since farm cost inputs will be cheaper. But, lower oil prices also means big oil companies may reduce their capital investments, which hurts manufacturing and employment. Are oil price reductions due to the price war, or to more supply and less demand because of economic slow downs in China, Europe and Latin America. Will the effect be positive? Not so fast, say some. Sponsored by X Government Cars, and by Depotstar.