Monday, March 30, 2009

2008 U.S. Official Development Assistance

2008 U.S. Official Development Assistance
Bureau of Public Affairsm, Office of the Spokesman
US State Dept, Washington, DC, March 30, 2009

United States Official Development Assistance (ODA) increased substantially across social and economic sectors worldwide in 2008 based on preliminary U.S. data provided to the OECD this week. Once again, the United States is the largest single donor in the world on the basis of net annual disbursements. The United States will provide final ODA data in November.

· U.S. ODA totaled $26.0 billion in calendar year 2008, a $4.2 billion, or 19 percent increase from calendar year 2007.

· Development assistance continues to be high – U.S. 2008 ODA is the second largest net level historically for any donor country, after the record U.S. level in 2005 of $27.9 billion.· U.S. ODA growth is due to expanded U.S. programs in a wide variety of areas, including global health and HIV/AIDS, humanitarian assistance, and economic development.

· U.S. ODA to the Least Developed Countries increased by over 40 percent to $6.9 billion, from $4.8 billion in 2007.

ODA is only one source of support for development; net private resource flows from the U.S. – trade, capital, remittances, and grants – dwarf global ODA. Development depends on effective, accountable governance and economic policies that stimulate private sector growth.

· The United States has both increased assistance levels and increased its effectiveness through foreign assistance reform and implementation of programs including the Millennium Challenge Account and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. We are committed to making bilateral and multilateral assistance effective and results-oriented, avoiding aid dependency and promoting long-term and sustainable economic growth.

PRN: 271

The G-20 London Summit 2009: Recommendations for Global Policy Coordination

The G-20 London Summit 2009: Recommendations for Global Policy Coordination
The Brookings Institution, Mar 30, 2009

Leaders of the Group of 20 (G-20), representing 85 percent of the global economy’s output, face a long list of agenda items when they gather on April 2 in London for their second summit. As the world combats a “great recession,” the leaders must address how to help stabilize financial markets and re-start economic growth, reform the global financial system, and aid developing and emerging economies.

Amidst this background of critical issues, Brookings’ global economic and development experts explore a range of recommendations for global policy coordination in advance of the summit and note which issues the leaders should address at the table—and beyond—in order to stem the crisis and avoid future ones.

Download the full report »

Industry Views: Seven Myths About Green Jobs

Seven Myths About Green Jobs. By Andrew P. Morriss, William T. Bogart, Andrew Dorchak, and Roger E. Meiners
IER, March 30, 2009

Executive Summary. [Full report here]


An aggressive push for a green economy is well underway in the United States. Policymakers now routinely assert that “green jobs” can simultaneously improve environmental quality and reduce unemployment. Our team of researchers from universities around the nation surveyed four often-cited reports (the “literature”) that were sponsored by interest groups, industry associations, and international NGOs. We analyzed their assumptions and found that the groups promoting the idea of green jobs had buried dubious assumptions and techniques within their analysis. We conclude that the massive expenditures demanded by special interest groups and politicians under the green jobs banner are not justified.

Rather than spend hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars on unproven technologies chosen through a political process, we favor market processes to increase conservation of energy and other resources, a strategy proven effective by experience. New green technologies should be explored and expanded by market forces, not government mandates. Before committing massive resources to chasing the green jobs these reports suggest, the special interests advocating strategies that impose costs on every American should expose their models and calculations to peer-reviewed scrutiny, making their process transparent.

We found seven underlying myths within the literature we studied. We believe it is important that these myths be exposed so that we can debate the facts as we move forward toward investing in a more eco-friendly nation.

The Myths And The Facts

Myth 1: Everyone understands what a “green job” is.

Fact 1: No standard definition of a “green job” exists.

According to the studies most commonly quoted, green jobs pay well, are interesting to do, produce products that environmental groups prefer, and do so in a unionized workplace. Such criteria have little to do with the environmental impacts of the jobs. To build a political coalition, “green jobs” have become a mechanism to deliver something for members of many special interests in order to buy their support for a radical transformation of society. Committing hundreds of billions of dollars to promoting something lacking a transparent definition cannot be justified.

Myth 2: Creating green jobs will boost productive employment.

Fact 2: Green jobs estimates in these oft-quoted studies include huge numbers of clerical, bureaucratic, and administrative positions that do not produce goods and services for consumption.

These green jobs studies mistake any position receiving a paycheck for a position creating value. Simply hiring people to write and enforce regulations, fill-out forms, and process paperwork is not a recipe for creating wealth. Much of the promised boost in green employment turns out to be in non-productive - and expensive - positions that raise costs for consumers. These higher paying jobs that fail to create a more eco-friendly society dramatically skew the results in both number of green jobs created and salary levels of those jobs.

Myth 3: Green jobs forecasts are reliable.

Fact 3: The green jobs studies made estimates using poor economic models based on dubious assumptions.

The forecasts for green employment in these studies optimistically predict an employment boom that will take us to prosperity in a new green world. The forecasts, which are sometimes amazingly detailed, are unreliable because they are based on:
a) Questionable estimates by interest groups of tiny base numbers in employment,
b) Extrapolation of growth rates from those small base numbers, that does not take into consideration that growth rates eventually slow, plateau and even decline, and
c) A biased and highly selective optimism about which technologies will improve.

Moreover, the estimates use a technique (input-output analysis) that is inappropriate to the conditions of technological change presumed by the green jobs literature itself. This yields seemingly precise estimates that give the illusion of scientific reliability to numbers that are actually based on faulty assumptions.

Myth 4: Green jobs promote employment growth.

Fact 4: By promoting more jobs instead of more productivity, the green jobs described in the literature actually encourage low-paying jobs in less desirable conditions. Economic growth cannot be ordered by Congress or by the United Nations. Government interference in the economy - such as restricting further progress with already successful technologies in favor of speculative technologies favored by special interests - will generate stagnation.

Green jobs estimates promise greatly expanded (and pleasant and well-paid) employment. This promise is false. The green jobs model is built on promoting inefficient use of labor. The studies favor technologies that employ large numbers of people rather than those technologies that use labor efficiently. In a competitive market, the factors of production, including labor, are paid for their productivity. By focusing on low productivity jobs, the green jobs literature dooms employees to low wages in a shrinking economy. The studies also generally ignore the millions of jobs that will be destroyed by the restrictions imposed by governments on disfavored products and technologies.

Myth 5: The world economy can be remade by reducing trade and relying on local production and reduced consumption without dramatically decreasing our standard of living.

Fact 5: History shows that individual nations cannot produce everything its citizens need or desire. People and countries have talents that allow specialization in products and services that make them ever more efficient, lower-cost producers, thereby enriching all people .
The green jobs literature rejects the benefits of trade, ignores opportunity costs, specialization, and fails to include consumer surplus in its welfare calculations. This is a recipe for an economic disaster. Even the favored green technologies, such as wind turbines, require expertise and intellectual property rights largely provided by foreigners. The twentieth century saw many experiments in creating societies that did not engage in trade and did not value personal welfare. The economic and human disasters that resulted should have conclusively settled the question of whether nations can withdraw inside their borders.

Myth 6: Government mandates are a substitute for free markets.

Fact 6: Companies react more swiftly and efficiently to the demands of their customers/markets, than to cumbersome government mandates.

Green jobs supporters want to reorder society by mandating preferred technologies and expenditures through government entities. But the responses to government mandates are not the same as the responses to market incentives. We have powerful evidence that market incentives prompt the same resource conservation that green jobs advocates purport to desire. For example, the rising cost of energy is a major incentive to redesign production processes and products to use less energy. People do not want energy; they want the benefits of energy. Those who can deliver more desired goods and services by reducing the energy - and thus the cost of production - will be rewarded. On the other hand, we have no evidence to support the idea that command-and-control regimes accomplish conservation.

Myth 7: Wishing for technological progress is sufficient.

Fact 7: Some technologies preferred by the green jobs studies are not capable of efficiently reaching the scale necessary to meet today’s demands.

The green jobs literature’s preferred technologies face significant problems in scaling up to the levels they propose. These problems are well documented in readily available technical literature, yet are resolutely ignored in the green jobs reports. At the same time, existing viable technologies that fail to meet the green jobs supporters’ political criteria are simply rejected out of hand. This selective technological optimism/pessimism is not a sufficient basis for remaking society to fit the dream of planners, politicians, or special interests who think they know best, despite empirical evidence to the contrary.

Summary of Findings

As you can see in our seven myths listed above, our report finds that the analysis provided in the green jobs literature is deeply flawed. The reports rest on a series of exaggerated, inadequate, or incorrect economic, environmental, and technological assumptions. Moreover, the scale of social change that would be required to implement the proposed programs would be unprecedented.

Our key findings are:

No agreed, coherent definition of a “green job” exists in the public debate. Many of the jobs classified as “green” in these four most popular studies produce no environmental results.

Green jobs ultimately will not promote employment growth or improve production because many are concentrated by design in low productivity occupations.

Green jobs proponents rely on highly problematic assumptions about constant prices and lack of technological change that render their “multiplier effect” misleading and, therefore, useless.

Green job advocates incorrectly assume that government mandates are a substitute for free markets. Their models are based on the assumption that politicians can predict what technologies are best and what the markets will bear.

Many green jobs proposals are an effort to implement anti-trade policies and reduced consumption scenarios that would be unacceptable to most Americans.

Libertarians disagree with federal president on global warming urgency

Libertarians disagree with federal president on global warming urgency
Cato, Mar 28, 2009

"Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change.The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear."

With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true.

We, the undersigned scientists, maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated. Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now.1,2 After controlling for population growth and property values, there has been no increase in damages from severe weather-related events.3 The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior.4 Mr. President, your characterization of the scientific facts regarding climate change and the degree of certainty informing the scientific debate is simply incorrect.

See press ad here.


1 Swanson, K.L., and A. A. Tsonis. Geophysical Research Letters, in press: DOI:10.1029/2008GL037022.
2 Brohan, P., et al. Journal of Geophysical Research, 2006: DOI: 10.1029/2005JD006548. Updates at
3 Pielke, R. A. Jr., et al. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2005: DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-86-10-1481.
4 Douglass, D. H., et al. International Journal of Climatology, 2007: DOI: 10.1002/joc.1651.

Libertarian: Teacher Unions vs. Poor Kids

Teacher Unions vs. Poor Kids. By Nat Hentoff
Cato, Mar 28, 2009

The "education president" remained silent when his congressional Democrats essentially killed the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) in the city where he now lives and works.
Of the 1,700 students, starting in kindergarten, in this private-school voucher program, 90 percent are black and 9 percent are Hispanic.

First the House and then the Senate inserted into the $410-billion omnibus spending bill language to eliminate the $7,500 annual scholarships for these poor children after the next school year.

A key executioner in the Senate of the OSP was Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrat. I have written admiringly of Durbin's concern for human rights abroad. But what about education rights for minority children in the nation's capital?

Andrew J. Coulson, director of the Cato Institute (where I am a senior fellow) supplied the answer when he wrote: "Because they saw it as a threat to their political power, Democrats in Washington appear willing to extinguish the dreams of a few thousand poor kids to protect their political base."

Teachers unions are a major part of that base. Among those demanding that Congress kill the voucher scholarship program was the largest teachers union, the National Education Association.

Two of the kids affected by the action, Sarah and James Parker, attend Washington's prestigious Sidwell Friends School. Their scholarships will end with the next school year. The classmates they'll be leaving will include Sasha and Malia Obama. The Obama children, of course, do not need voucher money to avoid Washington D.C.'s failing and sometimes dangerous public schools.

As New York Times columnist David Brooks noted, the congressional Democrats even refused to grandfather in the kids already in the voucher program, "so those children will be ripped away from their mentors and friends ... ." President Obama, he added, "has, in fact, been shamefully quiet about this."

Doesn't Obama at least have something to say publicly to those children and their parents when his own Secretary of Education Arne Duncan opposed the congressional shutdown of Opportunity Scholarships?

Said Duncan (New York Post, March 6): "I don't think it makes sense to take kids out of a school where they're happy and safe and satisfied and learning. I think those kids need to stay in their school."

Duncan suggests that donors provide financial assistance through graduation to those kids stripped of their Opportunity Scholarships. Perhaps our "education president," from his continuing royalties from the sale of his books such as "The Audacity of Hope," might help out.

One of the recipients of the Opportunity Scholarships, teenager Carlos Battle ( said that in a D.C. public school she'd "have to think more about protecting myself than about learning."

As for the Sidwell Friends School, its headmaster, Bruce Stewart, told the Wall Street Journal that the school has welcomed the OSP students. He said that when parents get more educational choices for their children, their kids and the whole community benefit.

Virginia Walden-Ford, executive director of D.C. Parents for School Choice, offered an excellent suggestion for members of the White House press corps:

"I'd like to see a reporter stand up at one of those nationally televised press conferences and ask President Obama what he thinks about what his own party is doing to keep two innocent kids from attending the same school where he sends his?"

I wish Jay Leno had thought to ask Obama that question.

In a March 2 editorial, the Washington Post — not a conservative newspaper —summed up the Congressional Democrats' scholarship shutdown in these words: "It's about politics and the stranglehold the teachers unions have on the Democratic Party. Why else has so much time and effort gone into trying to kill off what, in the grand scheme of government spending, is a tiny program?"

US State Dept on Afghanistan Supreme Court Ruling

Afghanistan Supreme Court Ruling. By Gordon Duguid, Acting Deputy Department Spokesman, Office of the Spokesman
US State Dept, Bureau of Public Affairs, Washington, DC, March 30, 2009

The Afghan Supreme Court has endorsed the continuation after May 22 of President Karzai’s term of office until free and fair elections have been held and a duly elected successor can take office. The United States strongly supports and welcomes this ruling.
We believe that continuity of government in the critical period before elections is vital and contributes to creating stability.

We urge all Afghans to support this ruling by the Supreme Court and to focus on the elections to be held on August 22, rather than continuing to question the status of their government.

The United States calls on the Government of Afghanistan, joined by its international partners, to make every effort to ensure that the conditions are created for genuinely free and fair elections that will reflect the will of the Afghan people. For its part, the United States neither supports nor opposes any legitimate candidate and will concentrate its efforts on helping to create a level playing field for all candidates.

WSJ Editorial Page: Cap and Trade War

Cap and Trade War. WSJ Editorial
Team Obama floats a carbon tariff.
WSJ, Mar 30, 2009

One of President Obama's applause lines is that his climate tax policies will create new green jobs "that can't be outsourced." But if that's true, why is his main energy adviser floating a new carbon tariff on imports? Welcome to the coming cap and trade war.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu made the protectionist point during an underreported House hearing this month, when he said tariffs and other trade barriers could be used as a "weapon" to force countries like China and India into cutting their own CO2 emissions. "If other countries don't impose a cost on carbon, then we will be at a disadvantage," he said. So a cap-and-trade policy won't be cost-free after all. Apparently Mr. Chu did not get the White House memo about obfuscating the impact of the Administration's anticarbon policies.

The Chinese certainly heard Mr. Chu, with Xie Zhenhua, a top economic minister, immediately responding that such a policy would be a "disaster" and "an excuse to impose trade restrictions." Beijing's reaction shows that as a means of coercing international cooperation, climate tariffs are worse than pointless. China and India are never going to endanger their own economic growth -- and the chance to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty -- merely to placate the climate neuroses of affluent Americans in Silicon Valley or Cambridge, Massachusetts. And they certainly won't do it under the threat of a tariff ultimatum.

But give Mr. Chu credit for candor. He had previously told the New York Times that "The concern about cap and trade in today's economic climate is that a lot of money might flow to developing countries in a way that might not be completely politically sellable." He is admitting that one byproduct of cap and trade is "leakage," by which investment and jobs are driven to nations that have looser or nonexistent climate regimes and therefore lower costs. At greatest risk are carbon-heavy industries such as steel, aluminum, paper, cement and chemicals that are sensitive to trade and where business is won and lost on the basis of pennies per unit of product. But the damage could strike almost any industry when energy prices "necessarily skyrocket," as Mr. Obama put it last year.

So in addition to all the other economic harm, a cap-and-trade tax will make foreign companies more competitive while eroding market share for U.S. businesses. The most harm will accrue to the very U.S. manufacturing and heavy-industry jobs that Democrats and unions claim to want to keep inside the U.S. A cap-and-tax plan would be the greatest outsourcing boon in history. And it may even increase CO2 emissions overall, because the developing nations where businesses are likely to relocate -- if they don't simply close -- tend to use energy less efficiently than does the U.S.

Meanwhile, carbon trade barriers would almost certainly violate U.S. obligations in the World Trade Organization. Since carbon energy cuts across so many industries, a tariff would presumably have to hit tens of thousands of products. Any restriction the U.S. imposes on imports can also just as easily be turned around and imposed on U.S. exports, whatever their carbon content.

Run-of-the-mill protectionism is already adopting a deeper shade of green. In January, the president of the European Commission said he may slap tariffs on goods from the U.S. and other non-Kyoto Protocol nations to protect European business. After Mr. Chu's comments, the U.S. steel lobby began calling for sanctions against Chinese steelmakers if Beijing doesn't commit to its own carbon limits, knowing full well that it won't. Look for more businesses to claim green virtue to justify special-interest pleading, a la the 54-cent U.S. tariff on foreign ethanol.

Democrats are already careless about trade -- i.e., the Mexican trucking spat, the "Buy America" provisions in the stimulus, and blocking the Colombia and South Korea free-trade pacts. Now cap and nontrade may lead to a retreat from the open global markets that have done so much to boost economic growth and innovation. The closer we get to the cap-and-trade dreams of Mr. Obama and Congress, the more dangerous they look.

The Real Afghan Issue Is Pakistan

The Real Afghan Issue Is Pakistan. By Graham Allison and John Deutch
WSJ, Mar 30, 2009

In announcing his new Afghanistan and Pakistan policy, President Barack Obama articulated "a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future."

This is a sound conception of both the threat and U.S. interests in the region. Mr. Obama took a giant step beyond the Bush administration's "Afghanistan policy" when he named the issue "AfPak" -- Afghanistan, Pakistan and their shared, Pashtun-populated border. But this is inverted. We suggest renaming the policy "PakAf," to emphasize that, from the perspective of U.S. interests and regional stability, the heart of the problem lies in Pakistan.

The fundamental question about Afghanistan is this: What vital national interest does the U.S. have there? President George W. Bush offered an ever-expanding answer to this question. As he once put it, America's goal is "a free and peaceful Afghanistan," where "reform and democracy" would serve as "the alternatives to fanaticism, resentment and terror."

In sharp contrast, during the presidential campaign Mr. Obama declared that America has one and only one vital national interest in Afghanistan: to ensure that it "cannot be used as a base to launch attacks against the United States." To which we would add the corollary: that developments in Afghanistan not undermine Pakistan's stability and assistance in eliminating al Qaeda.

Consider a hypothetical. Had the terrorist attacks of 9/11 been planned by al Qaeda from its current headquarters in ungoverned areas of Pakistan, is it conceivable that today the U.S. would find itself with 54,000 troops and $180 billion committed to transforming medieval Afghanistan into a stable, modern nation?

For Afghanistan to become a unitary state ruled from Kabul, and to develop into a modern, prosperous, poppy-free and democratic country would be a worthy and desirable outcome. But it is not vital for American interests.

After the U.S. and NATO exit Afghanistan and reduce their presence and financial assistance to levels comparable to current efforts in the Sudan, Somalia or Bangladesh, one should expect Afghanistan to return to conditions similar to those regions. Such conditions are miserable. They are deserving of American and international development and security assistance. But, as in those countries, it is unrealistic to expect anything more than a slow, difficult evolution towards modernity.

The problem in Pakistan is more pressing and direct. There, the U.S. does have larger vital national interests. Top among these is preventing Pakistan's arsenal of nuclear weapons and materials from falling into the hands of terrorists such as Osama bin Laden. This danger is not hypothetical -- the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, A.Q. Khan, is now known to have been the world's first nuclear black marketer, providing nuclear weapons technology and materials to Libya, North Korea and Iran.

Protecting Pakistan's nuclear arsenal requires preventing radical Islamic extremists from taking control of the country.

Furthermore, the U.S. rightly remains committed to preventing the next 9/11 attack by eliminating global terrorist threats such as al Qaeda. This means destroying their operating headquarters and training camps, from which they can plan more deadly 9/11s.

The counterterrorism strategy in Pakistan that has emerged since last summer offers our best hope for regional stability and success in dealing a decisive blow against al Qaeda and what Vice President Joe Biden calls "incorrigible" Taliban adherents. But implementing these operations requires light U.S. footprints backed by drones and other technology that allows missile attacks on identified targets. The problem is that the U.S. government no longer seems to be capable of conducting covert operations without having them reported in the press.

This will only turn Pakistani public opinion against the U.S. Many Pakistanis see covert actions carried out inside their country as America "invading an ally." This makes it difficult for Pakistani officials to support U.S. operations while sustaining widespread popular support.

As Mr. Biden has warned: "It is hard to imagine a greater nightmare for America than the world's second-largest Muslim nation becoming a failed state in fundamentalists' hands, with an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a population larger than Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and North Korea combined."

Avoiding this nightmare will require concentration on the essence of the challenge: Pakistan. On the peripheries, specifically Afghanistan, Mr. Obama should borrow a line from Andrew Jackson from the battle of New Orleans and order his administration to "elevate them guns a little lower."

Mr. Allison is director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and author of "Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe" (Holt Paperbacks, 2005). Mr. Deutch is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Bill Clinton.

David Horowitz on Obama Derangement Syndrome

Obama Derangement Syndrome. By David Horowitz Monday, March 30, 2009

I have been watching an interesting phenomenon on the Right, which is beginning to cause me concern. I am referring to the over-the-top hysteria in response to the first months in office of our new president, which distinctly reminds me of the “Bush Is Hitler” crowd on the Left.

Speaking of this crowd, have you seen any “I am so sorry” postings from that quarter as Obama continues and even escalates the former president's war policy in Afghanistan and attempts to consolidate his military occupation of Iraq?

Conservatives, please. Let's not duplicate the manias of the Left as we figure out how to deal with Mr. Obama. He is not exactly the anti-Christ, although a disturbing number of people on the Right are convinced he is.

I have recently received commentaries that claim that "Obama's speeches are unlike any political speech we have heard in American history" and "never has a politician in this land had such a quasi-religious impact on so many people" and "Obama is a narcissist," which leads the author to then compare Obama to David Koresh, Charles Manson, Stalin and Saddam Hussein. Excuse me while I blow my nose.

This fellow has failed to notice that all politicians are narcissists – and that a recent American president was a world-class exponent of the imperial me. So what? Political egos are one of the reasons the Founders put checks and balances on executive power. As for serial lying, is there a politician that cannot be accused of that? And once, the same recent president set a pretty a high bar in this category, and we survived it. As for Obama's speeches, they are hardly in the Huey Long, Louie Farrakhan, Fidel Castro vein. They are in fact eloquently and cleverly centrist and sober.

So what's the panic? It is true that Obama has shown surprising ineptitude in his first months in office, but he's not a zero with no accomplishments as many conservatives seem to think – unless you regard beating the Clinton machine and winning the presidency as nothing. But in doing this you fall into the “Bush-is-an-idiot” bag of liberal miasmas.

It is also true Obama has ceded his domestic economic agenda to the House Democrats and spent a lot of money in the process. But what’s the surprise in this? After all, Bush and McCain both proposed (and in Bush's case pushed through) massive government giveaways (which amount to government takeovers as well). This is bad, but it doesn't make Obama a closet Mussolini, however deplorable the conservatives among us may regard it. Moreover, he's already run into political resistance even within his own party. Charlie Rangel has made it clear that the itemized deduction tax hike is not going through his committee – and that should tell you that the American system, the one the Founders created, is still in place.

Even as astute a conservative thinker as Mark Steyn has been swept up in the tide that thinks Obama is a “transformative” radical. But look again at his approach to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In both cases, as noted, he is carrying out the Bush policies – the same that he once joined his fellow Democrats in condemning. And that should be reassuring to anyone concerned about where he is heading as commander-in-chief.

In other words, while it's reasonable to be unhappy with a Democratic administration and even concerned because the Democrats are now a socialist party in the European sense, we are not witnessing the coming of the anti-Christ. A good strategy for political conflicts is to understand your opponent first – not to underestimate him, but not to overestimate him either.
Once conservatives do that, they will find some silver linings in the first moves of the Obama administration. Through a combination of ineptitude and zeal, Obama has in two short months locked down the conservative and Republican base. On fetal stem-cell research, on borders (e-verification), on spending, on unions, on shutting down talk radio, Obama has flexed the leftist muscle so nakedly and unmistakably that there isn’t a conservative left who will vote Democratic in the next election (and there were many who did so in the last).

As we move forward, Obama faces increasingly tough choices in the wars against Islamic fascism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Gaza and Iran. Hopefully, he will make the right choices, and should he do so conservatives will need to be there to support him. If he makes the wrong choices, conservatives will need to be there to oppose him. But neither our support nor our opposition should be based on hysterical responses to policies that we just don't like. Let’s leave that kind of behavior to the liberals who invented it.

David Horowitz is the founder of The David Horowitz Freedom Center and author of the new book, One Party Classroom.

The Progressive: We should stop treating our schools as businesses

Schools are not businesses. By Wayne Au, Bill Bigelow, and David Levine
We should stop treating our schools as businesses.
The Progressive, March 24, 2009

Since the early 20th century, prominent business leaders have acted on the belief that since they are good at making money, they are the most qualified people to decide how to best educate the country’s young.

Entranced by the power and efficiency of American industry, many educational leaders have looked to these businessmen for leadership and for models of operation. They have tried to govern school systems as if they were corporations, organize schools as if they were something akin to factories and orient education toward testing and tracking students toward presumed “real world” destinies.

Today’s mantra is to allow the much-ballyhooed magic of the market to solve educational problems. Thus the emphasis on consumer choice among schools through vouchers or charters or plans to pay teachers based on test-score improvements.

There are many flaws inherent in imagining that schools will work well once they adopt factory or free-market models. Perhaps most fundamental is the presumption that schools work best when they emulate business.

But schools are not businesses.

When they flourish, they are living communities defined by powerful and caring collaboration.

Students are not things to be produced. They are human beings who are learning and growing in ways that are too complex for any standardized scores to truly measure.

Nor are teachers mere robots that drill students in how to take a test. The most talented and dedicated teacher is better nourished by a supportive work culture than by narrow appeals to individual self-interest, which pit teacher against teacher.

The purposes of schooling should not be degraded into privatized preparation toward the fattest paycheck.

Clearly, schools should prepare students to earn decent livelihoods. But just as importantly, they should prepare students to look toward — and even demand — jobs that are a major source of fulfillment and creative expression.

Schools should go far beyond preparing students for work. There are many non-market (perhaps even anti-market) lessons that schools impart: They inculcate an appreciation of the arts, establish healthy habits of exercise, teach cooperation, promote citizenship and show our children how to live together peacefully.

If schools do these tasks well, students when they become adults are much more likely to participate in socially positive ways, such as creating art and music, preventing domestic violence, working for racial equality, promoting clean energy and opposing war.

We have to remember, education is a humane and human process with social values beyond the bottom line. Business leaders have no expertise in this quest, and business models do not apply.
For that matter, now that casino capitalism has imploded, isn’t it time to stop looking to the corporate elite for advice on how to run the schools? These “experts”— the bankers and corporate CEOs — couldn’t even manage the one thing they are supposed to be good at: running their own businesses.

Educators should shed their subordinate status and sense of inferiority. Schools work best when teachers — in dialogue with parents and other citizens — design the educational experience, not corporate officials.

Wayne Au, Bill Bigelow and David Levine are editors of Rethinking Schools (, a quarterly magazine based in Milwaukee.

WaPo: Immigrants from the storm-ravaged Haiti should be allowed to stay in the US

Hope for Haitians? WaPo Editorial
Immigrants from the storm-ravaged island should be allowed to stay in the United States.
Monday, March 30, 2009; A16

HAITI WAS already an island of unimaginable suffering, a country ravaged by war and roving gangs where four out of five residents lived in extreme poverty. Then, in less than a month last year, four vicious storms lashed it, killing up to 800 people, leaving as many as 1 million homeless and inflicting at least $1 billion in damage -- 15 percent of the country's gross domestic product. The State Department cautions visitors that there are no "safe areas" in Haiti, and that "kidnapping, death threats, murders, drug-related shootouts, armed robberies, break-ins and carjackings are common." Yet, it is U.S. policy to deport the estimated 30,000 Haitians in this country back to this hotbed of violence and squalor. The United States grants temporary protected status (TPS) to immigrants from countries with extreme economic or political conditions; Haitian immigrants more than qualify.

Haitians in the United States are one of the few sources of stability for their home country, sending back remittances that total an estimated one-fourth of the Haiti's GDP. Deporting Haitians, and thereby diminishing millions of dollars in what is essentially foreign aid, would devastate a country that can ill afford to take more economic hits. A surge of deportees, who would arrive without either homes or jobs, would also place an impossible burden on Haiti's skeletal social services.

Critics say that granting TPS would bring a rush of Haitians to the United States in search of citizenship. But TPS would apply only to Haitians in the United States at the time the order is issued. As the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners in Florida wrote recently in a letter to President Obama, there was no "mass exodus" of Haitians to the United States after the Clinton administration granted a stay of deportation in 1998.

The Bush administration was consistently inflexible on the issue, turning down Haitian applications for TPS with minimal explanation. After last year's storms, the Bush administration temporarily suspended the deportations, only to resume them months later, while the country was still reeling from the disasters. The Obama administration has so far maintained the Bush administration's policy, but advocates have met with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and were encouraged by her response.

Mr. Obama recently issued an order that allowed Liberian immigrants to stay temporarily in the United States. Immigrants from Somalia, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras have also been granted TPS in recent years. Why are immigrants from a disaster-wracked country that is the poorest in the hemisphere less deserving?

WaPo on Russia: Mr. Obama isn't contemplating change solely on the part of the US

Russia's Reset. WaPo Editorial
Mr. Obama isn't contemplating change solely on the part of the United States.
WaPo, Monday, March 30, 2009; A16

WITH A FIRST presidential meeting set for this week between Barack Obama and Russia's Dmitry Medvedev, it appears that the two sides may have different ideas of what to expect from the "reset" in relations that the Obama administration has promised.

The Russian view seems to be that the resetting has to come primarily from the Americans. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov furthered that impression in an interview with the Financial Times last week. "Practically on any problematic issue which we inherited from the past eight years, I understand the Obama administration is undertaking a review which we welcome," Mr. Lavrov said. Russian officials appear to hope that such a review will mean less U.S. pressure to form a united front against Iran's development of a nuclear weapon and, above all, acceptance of a Russian "sphere of influence" over countries that were once part of the Soviet Union or the Warsaw Pact -- what Mr. Medvedev has called "a region of privileged interest."

Indications from Washington, recently reinforced by Mr. Obama, suggest that his administration does not share this view of a one-sided need for change. The administration is hoping for improved relations across a range of issues, including Iran, Afghanistan, and fighting terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons. It will be more willing than the Bush administration to engage in arms control talks, especially to extend the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires at the end of this year. But Mr. Obama has given no signs of being less alarmed than was President George W. Bush about Iran's nuclear program and certainly has shown no willingness to acquiesce in the "privileged" position that Mr. Medvedev claims over his neighbors.

On the contrary, at the same time that Vice President Biden introduced the "reset" concept, in a speech in February in Munich, he also repudiated the concept of spheres of influence. And after meeting with the secretary general of NATO last Wednesday, Mr. Obama reiterated the point. "My administration is seeking a reset of the relationship with Russia," the president said, "but . . . we are going to continue to abide by the central belief that countries who seek and aspire to join NATO are able to join NATO." The message: Georgia and Ukraine, former Soviet republics, should be free to form and join alliances as they choose, notwithstanding Russia's vitriolic objections.

The administration believes, in other words, that it can develop constructive relations with Russia without sacrificing the interests of Russia's neighbors. Whether such a reset will be acceptable to Mr. Medvedev or to Russia's de facto top ruler, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, remains to be seen.

Conservative comments on WaPo and Abu Zubaydah

The Post and Abu Zubaydah. By Marc Thiessen
The Corner/NRO, Mar 30, 2009


[The assault] on the CIA program continues with today’s front-page story about the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah: “Detainees Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots.” The story, like so many on this program, is rife with errors and misinformation.

For example, the Post states:

“Abu Zubaida quickly told U.S. interrogators of [Khalid Sheikh] Mohammed and of others he knew to be in al-Qaeda, and he revealed the plans of the low-level operatives who fled Afghanistan with him. Some were intent on returning to target American forces with bombs; others wanted to strike on American soil again, according to military documents and law enforcement sources. Such intelligence was significant but not blockbuster material. Frustrated, the Bush administration ratcheted up the pressure — for the first time approving the use of increasingly harsh interrogations, including waterboarding.”

This is either uninformed or intentionally misleading.

In fact, what Abu Zubaydah disclosed to the CIA during this period was that the fact that KSM was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks and that his code name was “Muktar” – something Zubaydah thought we already knew, but in fact we did not. Intelligence officials had been trying for months to figure out who “Muktar” was. This information provided by Zubaydah was a critical piece of the puzzle that allowed them to pursue and eventually capture KSM. This fact, in and of itself, discredits the premise of the Post story – to suggest that the capture of KSM was not information that “foiled plots” to attack America is absurd on the face of it.

The Post also acknowledges that Zubaydah’s “interrogations led directly to the arrest of Jose Padilla” but dismisses Padilla as the man behind a fanciful “dirty bomb” plot and notes that Padilla was never charged in any such plot. In fact, Padilla was a hardened terrorist who had trained in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, and was a protégé of al Qaeda’s third in command, Mohammed Atef. And when he was captured, Padilla was being prepared for a much more sinister and realistic attack on America.

In June of 2001, Padilla met in Afghanistan with Atef, who asked him if he was willing to undertake a mission to blow up apartment buildings in the United States using natural gas. He agreed, and was sent to a training site near the Kandahar airport to prepare for the attack under close supervision of an al Qaeda explosives expert, who taught him about switches, circuits, and timers needed to carry it out. He was training in Afghanistan when Coalition forces launched Operation Enduring Freedom. Atef was killed by a Coalition airstrike, and Padilla joined the other al Qaeda operatives fleeing Afghanistan.

It was at this time that he met Abu Zubaydah, who helped arranged his passage across the Afghan-Pakistan border. At the time, Padilla told Zubaydah of his idea of a “dirty bomb” plot. Zubaydah was skeptical but sent him to see KSM, and told KSM he was free to use Padilla for his planned follow on operations in the US. Instead of the dirty bomb plot, KSM directed Padilla and an accomplice to undertake the apartment buildings operation for which he had initially trained. KSM’s right-hand man, Ammar al Baluchi, gave Padilla $10,000 in cash, travel documents, a cell phone, and an email address to be used to notify al Baluchi once Padilla arrived in America. The night before his departure, KSM, al Baluchi, and KSM’s nephew and 9/11 plotter Ramzi bin al Shibh hosted a farewell dinner for him and his accomplice. Think about that for a moment: Padilla was feted at a dinner the night of his departure for America by the mastermind of 9/11, and two of his key accomplices.

Padilla left Pakistan on April 5, 2002 bound for the US by way of Zurich. En route, he spent a month in Egypt, and then arrived in Chicago’s O’Hare airport on May 8 where he was apprehended – because, even the Post acknowledges, of the information provided by Abu Zubaydah. At the time of his apprehension, he was carrying the $10,000 given him by his al Qaeda handlers, the cell phone, and the email address for al Baluchi. (For a detailed account of Jose Padilla’s activities, see this speech by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey.
So again, the premise of the Post story, is wrong.

Since his capture, Abu Zubaydah had provided the CIA with the critical link that had identified KSM as “Muktar” and the mastermind of 9/11, as well as information that led to the capture of Padilla and the disruption of a planned attack on the American homeland. The CIA knew he had more information that could save American lives, but now he had stopped talking. So the CIA used enhanced interrogation techniques to get him talking again -- and these techniques worked.

Zubaydah soon he began to provide information on key al Qaeda operatives, including information that helped us find and capture more of those responsible for the attacks on September the 11th, including Ramzi bin al Shibh. At the time of his capture, bin al Shibh had been working in Karachi on follow-on operations against the West – including a plot to hijack passenger planes in Europe and fly them into Heathrow airport. Bin al Shibh had identified four operatives for the operation, when he was taken into custody.

Together Zubaydah and bin al Shibh provided information that helped in the planning and execution of the operation that captured KSM. KSM then provided information that led to the capture of a Southeast Asian terrorist named Zubair—an operative with the terrorist network Jemmah Islamiyah, or JI. Zubair then provided information that led to the capture of a JI terrorist leader named Hambali—KSM's partner in developing a plot to hijack passenger planes and fly them into the tallest building on the West Coast: the Library Tower in Los Angeles. Told of Hambali's capture, KSM identified Hambali's brother "Gun Gun" as his successor and provided information that led to his capture. Hambali's brother then gave us information that led us to a cell of JI operatives that were going to carry out the West Coast plot.

KSM also provided vital information that led to the disruption of an al Qaeda cell that was developing anthrax for attacks inside the United States. He gave us information that helped us capture Ammar al Baluchi. At the time of his capture, al Baluchi was working with bin al Shibh on the Heathrow plot, as well as a plot to carry out an attack against the US consulate in Karachi. According to his CIA biography, al Baluchi “was within days of completing preparations for the Karachi plot when he was captured.”

In addition, KSM and other senior terrorists helped identify individuals that al Qaeda deemed suitable for Western operations, many of whom we had never heard about before. These included terrorists who were sent to case targets inside the United States, including financial buildings in major cities on the East Coast. They painted a picture of al Qaeda's structure and financing, and communications and logistics. They identified al Qaeda's travel routes and safe havens, and explained how al Qaeda's senior leadership communicates with its operatives in places like Iraq. They provided information that allowed the CIA to make sense of documents and computer records that we have seized in terrorist raids. They identified voices in recordings of intercepted calls, and helped us understand the meaning of potentially critical terrorist communications. It is the official assessment of our intelligence community that “Were it not for this program, our intelligence community believes that al Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland.”

And the whole chain I have just described began with the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah.

The Left is desperate to discredit the efficacy of this program, and they have launched a desperate campaign to destroy it. Last week it was the leak of an ICRC document describing some of the techiques allegedly used in the program – one of the most damaging leaks of classified information since the war on terror began because it allows al Qaeda to train against the techniques. And now we have this highly uninformed front-page story in the Washington Post. All of this is incredibly damaging to the security of the United States. And if America is attacked again, those responsible for the disclosure of this information will bear much of the blame.