My Reaction To Senate Intel Report

CIAIf you click the link below, you’ll be able to hear my “Pat Political Point” from Sunday’s edition of WSGW’s First Day with Pat Johnston show. I’ve added some dissents I received after the show via email and on Twitter.

Pat Johnston On CIA Torture Interrogation–From the 12/14/14 Edition Of WSGW’s “First Day.”

In my political point, I mentioned how both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln established rules prohibiting torture. I found this information from an NPR article dated back in 2005. The article also goes through the brief history of who, exactly, is an “enemy combatant,” and what constitutes “torture” in both U.S. law and worldwide treaties. It also shows how the Bush administration made sure the CIA (which is not considered a military arm of government) would expose loopholes in both U.S. and world law regarding torture.

President Kennedy’s “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces” quote I used in my rant was featured in the book, The Brothers, by Stephen Kinzer about Eisenhower Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, and former CIA Chief Allan Dulles.

Some vehemently disagree with everything I said on Sunday, including this email:

Pat how could the CIA know in advance if their methods would work? That is a crazy argument.  During George Washington’s time there was no A bomb or planes to kill three thousand people at a shot—that makes Washington’s opinion irrelevant.  AND a  number of prior secretaries of defense and CIA directors AND the current CIA director all maintain that we DID get valuable information from the Enhanced interrogation. Interesting that you stand with Lincoln and Washington on this but not on supporting the American Constitution, progressive that you are.  

The CIA knows their torture interrogation methods didn’t work. If those techniques provided solid results, trust me, the agency would reveal it. Our legislative branch dropped the ball by refusing to perform any kind of meaningful oversight to ensure how we treated prisoners followed international law. As with anything else that happens in Washington, not one person will pay a price for performing anal feedings on prisoners. That’s not what we used to be about, or so I thought.

In a side note, I find the argument that Washington’s opinion on torture is “irrelevant” since “there was no A bomb or planes to kill three thousand people.” That’s an interesting stance, because I’ve been arguing that our Founders could never dream of semi-automatic weapons when they discussed “the right to bear arms” amendment in our Constitution. So, does that make their opinion on that subject outdated and moot as well?

I received this tweet:

How can you say your more worried about the treatment of people who kill innocent civilians? Than our civilians lives

Of course, I’m worried about those who kill or threaten to kill innocent civilians. Yet, we have laws in-place in this country to protect both innocent people and those suspected of causing (or to have caused) harm. That’s what separates us from many other countries throughout the world. Washington and Lincoln ordered protection for enemy combatants to illustrate how our humanity makes us unique amongst the world. By giving the CIA control of interrogating suspected terrorists (20% of which were completely innocent, according to the Senate Intel report), we played right into the hands of the very people we are fighting against.

And yet no one has been held accountable for either ordering or allowing these grotesque acts to take place.

pat@wsgw.com

This Is Wasteful Spending, Right?

CIAI’ll have a lot more to say about the Senate Intelligence Report on how the CIA’s torture program on Sunday’s First Day show on WSGW. In the meantime,  let’s stick with the money part. Brianna Ehley from The Fiscal Times reports:

In 2002, two former Air Force psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, became the masterminds of the CIA’s torture program, according to a new report released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The two men, identified in the report under the pseudonyms Grayson Swigert and Hammond Dunbar, devised and performed torture tactics – including waterboarding and mock burial on some of the CIA’s most significant detainees.

The report noted that neither of the men had previous experience as professional interrogators, nor did they have “specialized knowledge of al Qaeda, counterterrorism or any relevant cultural or linguistic experience.”

Isn’t that wonderful!?

Even if you believe torture was the best course of action, certainly I’ve got to believe that conservatives will agree that $80 million is kind of an egregious amount of cash for two inexperienced psychologists!

This little nugget is just another example of how everything was done on-the-fly, and failed to work at all–not to mention that it went against our country’s morals when it comes to warfare. Yet, I’m told it’s wrong to call-out the CIA on this kind stuff.

These guys make Jonathon Gruber look like a child.

pat@wsgw.com

Millennials Aren’t Cheap–They’re Broke?

collegedebt

There are a slew of articles out there trying to explain how and why Millennials spend–or don’t spend–like they do.

Donovan X. Ramsey argues that Millennials aren’t cheap or quirky, they’re just plain broke!

When the American public stops focusing on the minor cultural idiosyncrasies of Millennials, it’ll have to reckon with an economic system rigged against Millennials that badly needs fixing. We’ll have to rethink the affordability of higher education and take a real look at income inequality in this country. The folks with the most to lose if that ever happens are the Baby Boomers—like the editors who’ve been commissioning hit pieces on Millennials.

Ramsey provides evidence that Millennials account for a third of recent home-buyers, which goes against the conventional wisdom that the generation is shunning home ownership. However, Millennials are making less, and they’re in debt before ever hearing the starting starting gun thanks to exorbitant college loan costs.

Baby Boomers benefited from a federal government (and state governments) that spent much more on higher education during their formative years than is occurring today. Millennials aren’t as lucky thanks to a national trend of lower spending. Add to the fact that college debt isn’t easy to pay-off. USA Today reports:

And while 6.7 million borrowers in repayment mode are delinquent, the sad fact is that many lenders aren’t exactly incentivized to work with borrowers. Unlike all other forms of debt, student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. Moreover, lenders can garnish wages and even Social Security benefits to get repaid. A new report by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau details just how bad the situation is for private loan borrowers. (From Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, the agency handled about 5,300 private student loan complaints, an increase of nearly 38% from the previous year.)

That is seriously screwed-up, and we’re not doing anything to fix it. And their debt affects all of us, y’all:

Even if you don’t have student loans, or know someone who does, you better believe this huge debt load is impacting your financial well being. When students of the greatest nation on Earth are buried with student loans, their ability to buy a home, to have disposable income, to be a vital participant of the economy, is greatly reduced.

Why are we not doing something about those high interest rates, or how student loans can’t be forgiven in bankruptcy?

Both private and public student loan institutions are way too powerful, but don’t hold your breath for Congress a Republican Congress to do anything substantive about it.

In the meantime, Millennial debt will affect all of us.

Cheers!

pat@wsgw.com

Why The Oil Price Is Dropping

OilPumpOil prices keep plunging, which is a good thing for the lower and middle classes of America.  Why is oil dropping?

The Economist explains:

Four things are now affecting the picture. Demand is low because of weak economic activity, increased efficiency, and a growing switch away from oil to other fuels. Second, turmoil in Iraq and Libya—two big oil producers with nearly 4m barrels a day combined—has not affected their output. The market is more sanguine about geopolitical risk. Thirdly, America has become the world’s largest oil producer. Though it does not export crude oil, it now imports much less, creating a lot of spare supply. Finally, the Saudis and their Gulf allies have decided not to sacrifice their own market share to restore the price. They could curb production sharply, but the main benefits would go to countries they detest such as Iran and Russia. Saudi Arabia can tolerate lower oil prices quite easily. It has $900 billion in reserves. Its own oil costs very little (around $5-6 per barrel) to get out of the ground.

There are other reasons, but this is a pretty straightforward and simple explanation. My only fear is that lower gas prices will curb demand for energy efficiency, which in the long run is the best for both our economy and planet.

pat@wsgw.com

Monday Music Minute–John Lennon

It’s the 34th anniversary of John Lennon’s (my favorite Beatle) assassination.

Beatles1966

On WSGW’s First Day show this past Sunday, I played “Love” from The Plastic Ono Band to commemorate the anniversary. Today, I’d like to feature one of my favorite deep-cut John Lennon songs while with The Fab Four. It’s from their groundbreaking 1966 album, Revolver, and it’s one that’s resonated with me ever since I first heard it as a 14 year old. John was always at his best whenever he shared his vulnerabilities with the listener.

Here’s I’m Only Sleeping.

Enjoy!

Football

Pat’s Perfect NFL Picks–Week 14 Edition

It’s now time for what I might consider to being the most entertaining and prestigious three minutes in Sunday News-Talk radio. That’s right, time for my Week 14 edition of “Pat’s Perfect NFL Picks” on WSGW’s First Day!

Once again, I’ve reached the .500 mark with my picks this year thanks to a 2-1 record in Week 13. I said the Buffalo Bills would embarrass the Cleveland Brownies, and they did. I said the Green Bay Packers would prevail over the New England Patriots, and they did! My only wrong call was my upset prediction of the Kansas Chiefs beating the Denver Broncos. That did NOT happen.

Still, a respectable effort which has now given me a 20-20 record for the season.

Can I finally get over the hump and get above the .500 mark? Let’s hope so!

Here are my Week 14 picks!

The New England Patriots fly-out West to take-on the San Diego Chargers. The Patriots lost an emotional game against ChargersGreen Bay last Sunday, and now must play a road game for the second straight weekend. The Chargers are back home after an emotional comeback win at Baltimore. Yes, I know Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hasn’t lost to Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers during his illustrious careers. And yes, the Patriots are probably the better team. Yet, I can’t overlook the Pats having to play back-to-back road games, and the Chargers are playing some good football. I’m going against the trend with this pick.

Give Me The Chargers OVER The Patriots–31-21!

In Philadelphia, the Eagles host the defending champion Seattle Seahawks. It’s the high-flying Eagles offense against the eaglesstout Seahawks defense. The Seahawks have to control the ball with bruising running back Marshawn Lynch to keep the Eagles offense on the sidelines. The Eagles had better put-up some points because if it’s a low-scoring affair, the Seahawks could walk away with the win. This is a tough game for the Seahawks, who have to travel across the country to face this dangerous Eagles team. In Seattle, the Seahawks might win. But I have to go with the home team.

Give Me The Eagles OVER The Seahawks 30-17!

And finally, your Detroit Lions host the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field this afternoon. The Lions ended a DetroitLionstwo-game skid with a blowout win against the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving Day. Matt Stafford and the Lions offense got back on track thanks to a Swiss cheese Chicago defense, but they needed that. The Lions can’t treat this game as a cakewalk. The Buccaneer defense has played better football of late, and as a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I can only warn you that you underestimate Tampa Bay at your own peril. Detroit won’t allow that to happen today, though, as a healthier Lions offense will be too much for Tampa to handle.

Give me the Lions OVER Tampa Bay–31-10!

And that’s the Week 14 edition of “Pat’s Perfect NFL Picks” on WSGW’s First Day!