From Volume 37, Issue 3 of EIR Online, Published Jan. 22, 2010

United States News Digest

Behavioral Economist Sunstein Calls for Ban on 'Conspiracy Theories'

Jan. 16 (EIRNS)—Civil liberties lawyer Glenn Greenwald has exposed in, a 2008 paper by behavioral economist and Obama appointee Cass Sunstein. Greenwald reports that in 2008, Sunstein wrote a "truly pernicious" paper advocating government infiltration of online groups and websites "which advocate views Sunstein deems 'false conspiracy theories' about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens' faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists." Such infiltration would be accomplished by government agents posing as sympathizers. He also proposes that the government make secret payments to so-called independent experts to bolster the government's message. "This program," Greenwald writes, "would target those advocating false 'conspiracy theories,' which they define to mean: 'an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.'"

Greenwald quotes Sunstein asking:

"What can government do about conspiracy theories? Among the things it can do, what should it do? We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might itself engage in counterspeech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help. Each instrument has a distinctive set of potential effects, or costs and benefits, and each will have a place under imaginable conditions. However, our main policy idea is that government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories, which involves a mix of (3), (4) and (5)."

To which Greenwald responds:

"So Sunstein isn't calling right now for proposals (1) and (2)—having Government 'ban conspiracy theorizing' or 'impose some kind of tax on those who'd do it—but he says 'each will have a place under imaginable conditions.' I'd love to know the 'conditions' under which the government-enforced banning of conspiracy theories or the imposition of taxes on those who advocate them will 'have a place.' That would require, at a bare minimum, a repeal of the First Amendment. Anyone who believes this should, for that reason alone, be barred from any meaningful government position."

More U.S. Rejections of CO2 Cap and Trade

Jan. 13 (EIRNS)—New expressions of opposition to the CO2 cap-and-trade swindle have come forth this week in the United States, reflecting the growing mood of rejection of these hoaxes, especially after the Copenhagen global warming flop.

Delegates to the 91st annual American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) convention in Seattle, yesterday voted up a resolution to oppose "cap and trade proposals before Congress." The Farm Bureau is historically Republican politically.

At the same time, Democrat Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, declared that he has changed his mind on carbon control cap-and-trade, and would oppose such legislation if it came up for a vote again. He is feeling the heat from his home district and throughout the Midwest, for playing footsie with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on this, last year. In June, the House passed a bill to curb CO2/greenhouse gas emissions (HR 2454), the first such bill ever, by the squeaker margin of 219 to 212, in part thanks to Peterson.

But this week, Peterson said, on a Minnesota radio talk show, that despite any concessions, he would vote "no" if the same or a similar bill came back through the House.

There are also demands to thwart the Obama Administration's use of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement economic destruction, under the CO2 pollution ruse. The Farm Bureau's resolution declared support for "any legislative action that would suspend EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act...." Allowing the EPA to intervene to limit CO2, "would significantly burden all sectors of the economy, especially agriculture."

Skirmishing in Congress is underway on this. In the Senate, Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.) may introduce an amendment later this month (that she attempted last September), which would restrict the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide for a one year period.

In the House, Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), has introduced a bill to stop the EPA from moving ahead with carbon gas pollution restrictions. He charges that any such action would cost thousands of coal-related jobs, and spike up electricity rates.

Obama Loves Arnie, But Not Enough To Take His IOUs

Jan. 13 (EIRNS)—Despite calling California's fascist governor Arnie Schwarzenegger "an outstanding partner with our Administration," the Obama White House has again told him to forget Federal aid in the state's economic collapse.

Top Obama hatchet-man David Axelrod said in an interview Jan. 11, "We recognize they have enormous problems. But we can't solve all of those problems from Washington."

As a result, investors and suppliers are afraid that California will again be issuing IOUs to pay its bills. Interest on the state's short-term bonded debt jumped up to over 4.5%. But more ominously, another $15 billion in cuts, as Schwarzenegger is threatening, would mean the state budget had been cut in half in three to four years, and education, medical care, police, fire, and other vital services would disappear.

Bipartisan Response to High Heating Costs

Jan. 11 (EIRNS)—A measure to release additional Federal subsidies for heating oil, authored by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Me.), has received 48 cosigners, of whom, six are Republican and two are Independent. The Department of Health and Human Services announced $1 billion in block grants for LIHEAP (Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program), over the weekend, and the signers, mostly from New England states, want more. The bipartisan letter asks Obama to release an additional $590 million "contingency" reserve for heating oil for low-income households. Worse than the price of gasoline (which is again on the rise), heating oil prices have jumped almost 10% in just the first weeks of the New Year, and are now over $3/gallon. The average "fill-up" is several hundred gallons. The number of LIHEAP recipients jumped 30% last year, to just over 8 million households, and they expect at least a 20% increase again this year.

The five Republicans are Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Judd Gregg (N.H.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Lisa Murkowsky (N.J.), along with Independents Joe Lieberman (Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.).

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