I watched several talking heads this past weekend expound in two areas that I felt crossed the line in presenting opinion versus fact. First there was a discussion regarding the release of the CIA memoranda concerning interrogation techniques used in the past against captured terrorists to extract information that allegedly kept our country safe from another 9/11 attack. Whether that is true is hard to confirm but we do know that there were no post 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. We do know that these aggressive techniques, including water boarding, have not been used since 2003.
Now, President Obama has decreed that these memos be made public over the serious objection of the current CIA Director Leon Panetta and four of his immediate predecessors. The rationale expounded by the talking heads supporting the President’s decision went along these lines.
1. Our allies will now love us and provide greater support in the "war on terror." - Debunked almost immediately by NATO nations’ refusal to supply troops and equipment to the Afghanistan conflict. If one defines "love" at the populace level, just open our already porous borders to one and all and watch people stream into our country from every nation and direction. That’s "love" for our country and its institutions in action!
2. As reciprocity, our fighting troops on the front lines will be treated humanly if captured. - Sure and pigs will fly. Any captured military will continue to be executed with beheading a favorite technique – all captured for subsequent showing on You Tube.
3. Recruitment of terrorists will substantially reduce because our new benign interrogation methods will remove a reason for participation. This is perhaps the most ridiculous reason of all and it was spouted by a US Senator to boot. Does anyone believe that at the level of recruitment, the recruits even know what our interrogation policy is? And as we have been denounced over the years as "The Great Satan" with accompanying phony wild slurs, terrorist recruiters will most certainly not apprise recruits of our interrogation policy changes.
In summary, the panty-waists now in charge who have re-designated the "war on terror" to "overseas contingency operations" inspire no confidence for the future safety of our country with the support of this action.
The second area occurred on "60 Minutes" where their correspondent strove to convince us that we needed the federal government to step in and play nanny because our 401k accounts have taken a big hit these past several months. We heard the usual sob stories from some in their 50's or 60's how their dream retirement to a log cabin in the woods cannot be fulfilled. It’s certainly true that 401k accounts along with IRA’s and annuities have taken a substantial hit and those in their 50's and 60's will probably not see a recovery to their previous values prior to retirement.
But that’s not the full story. The question is how much money did the individual invest and what is the value of that investment now. In my case, I determined that I had invested 34% of the value of my 401k with my own funds when I retired. I have subsequently taken the minimum distributions as required by law for the past 12 years and as of this writing my personal contributions are now 33% of the value of my 401k, so I am slightly ahead of where I started, plus having pocketed 12 years of payments. Sure my total portfolio value is down 36% from its maximum value, which saddens me, but I’m still ahead of the game. I also invested in a fixed annuity which at its zenith was worth over 4 times what I invested. As of today, it is only worth 3 times my investment – still pretty darn good.
My point is that those in their 50's and 60's who have been contributing to a 401k or an IRA with an employer match of some dimension are still ahead of the game and the whining CBS 60 Minutes correspondent who wants a nanny state intervention presented only one side of the picture – the decrease in value from the apex but not whether the investor is still substantially on the plus side of his/her investment. You might compare this to a Bernie Madoff investor who gave Bernie $1 million 15 years ago and watched it grow in value to $10 million through Bernie’s cooked bookkeeping – and now alleges he has a $10 million loss. So the 60 Minutes story is yet another example of the liberal media in action with a slanted presentation in the hopes of encouraging the nanny state’s control over another aspect of our lives.