Thursday, August 16, 2007

Part II

Just in case there are individuals out there who liked a few of the songs I mentioned in my last post, and are wondering where my taste is coming from, I've decided to post a few examples of (what I think are) good songs.

These aren't necessarily, however, examples of songs I would put on a mix-tape- because when you give someone a mix-tape, you are trying to, uh, impress them, so it depends on the person and stuff. These are just songs I like.

(since these are good songs I included links to a version)
1. Come Go With Me - The Del Vikings
2. Crimson and Clover - Tommy James and the Shondells
3. White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane
4. For Whom The Bell Tolls - Metallica
5. Runaway - Del Shannon
6. Under Pressure - Queen
7. Another One Bites The Dust - Queen
8. Radio Ga-ga - Queen
9. Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor
10. With Or Without You - U2
11. Tarzan Boy - Baltimora
12. Blackbird - The Beatles
13. Norwegian Wood - The Beatles
14. All Madonna songs
15. Red Red Wine - UB40
16. Rockin' In The Free World - Neil Young
17. Proud Mary - Creedence Clearwater Revival
18. D'yer Mak'er - Led Zeppelin

Great Ideas Happen Every Day

UPDATE: Added some new songs here, Aug. 18.

Pay someone a backhanded favor: give them a mix-tape of the worst songs you can think of. In our modern world of politeness and law, it can be hard to take revenge on someone who really deserves it, or waiting for an opportunity to "get back" in a way that's appropriate can take forever. So get them by giving them insufficient courtesy. It won't reflect poorly on your taste, because your friends will find out what you're up to, and enjoy the joke.

Here are some suggestions to get you going:

1. Stay - Lisa Loeb
2. Margaritaville - Jimmy Buffet
3. Just Go Ahead Now - Spin Doctors
4. Little Miss Can't Be Wrong - Spin Doctors
5. Escape (The Pina Colada Song) - Rupert Holmes
6. Mr. Jones - Counting Crows (note: if you want women to like you, you can't let it be known that you don't like this one)
7. Take A Letter, Maria - R.B. Greaves
8. Me And Julio Down By The School Yard - Paul Simon (this one is annoying because, while it could be good in theory, as executed by Paul Simon in actual practice, it comes off as patronizing, white-boy-wanna-be-Latino (I think Simon even fakes a Latino accent) and makes him look like a weiner)
9. You Oughta Know - Alanis Morissette
10. Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden
11. Bad Day - Daniel Powter
12. Story Of A Girl - 3 Doors Down
13. Mm-bop - Hanson
14. All of the Creed songs.
15. All star - Smashmouth
16. Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood
17. Crocodile Rock - Elton John
18. Jessie Paints A Picture - John Denver
19. Rat In A Cage - Smashing Pumpkins (say what you want about how talented Smashing Pumpkins are- Billy Corrigan wrote this song so he could sing, in his whiny nasal voice, the lyric "Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage," over and over and over again, and there's nothing especially redeeming about the music. James Iha and good old what's-her-name would have been much better off ditching this egomaniac before recording this song and starting a side-project with that dude from Tool (the one who's supposed to be a real good guitarist and everything). Despite some other alright songs, this song is annoying.)
20. She's Always A Woman To Me - Billy Joel (this song shows how misogynistic Billy Joel is, and it's also musically annoying)
21. Hey Jealousy - Gin Blossoms
22. Hotel California - The Eagles

I like a lot of songs, and it's hard to think of more than these I truly don't like. If you any suggestions, please e-mail.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Plame scandal

I'll do a little follow up post to my July 4 "Plame scandal" post sometime soon, incorporating a few comments I wrote on the Washington Monthly blog recently. Then, maybe sometime after that (in a few days or so) I'll rehash both the posts together so they're very clear and concise and I've made sure of thought of everything.

Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann and 60 Minutes should both be looking into getting him a place on the show when his contract runs up. They're a really good place for a guy like him- either he can be groomed to be a journalist by the old ones there before they all retire (it's got to be coming soon) or he can be an Andy Rooney there (seems they'd have to give him a little more space than Rooney gets, though, since he already gets to be in front of the camera so much on his show, and do his own "editorials" already. But then, probably a lot more people watch 60 Minutes...) The real heroes on 60 Minutes are getting old, and that's just a fact of life, and they need someone they can count on to fill their shoes before it's time to pass the torch. I never watched the show that much, but it's nonetheless a really great American institution and it would be sad to see it fade away or turn into something else.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Plame scandal

I wrote some comments on the Plame scandal last night. Here they are, in slightly-edited form. A commenter on the Carpetbagger Report wrote:

And while I do not condone renegade actions by our own CIA, I would be highly intrigued if a member of our intelligence community would drop off some files of dirt about Scooter and his cohorts to a credible reporter like Sy Hersch to show that the CIA doesn’t approve of politicians f*cking with the secret covers of its operatives.

And I responded:

How do we know the CIA wasn’t cool with the Plame leak? How do we know they didn’t consider blowing Plame’s cover a good way to get at Wilson, and an acceptable sacrifice to advance Bush’s agenda in the context of whatever she was doing operationally? For all we know, Plame was even complicit in it, and for all we know, Plame isn’t even really a liberal (if that’s what she holds herself out as). Whatever really went on in this case, there’s a lot more to it- a bunch of cloak-and-dagger stuff- than just Bush, whose dad was a CIA agent, taking revenge on Wilson by outing Wilson's wife through White House minions and foolish journalists. Bush and Cheney have a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship with the CIA, they’re not going to just say ‘Fuck you’ to the CIA lightly. I think that was something in this case that was totally missed by the media and public, but that's perhaps to be expected-- it’s natural for people not to want to speculate about the doings of the CIA at length in these times, since they’re involved in national security. Also, perhaps it's natural in such times to want to believe the fantasy, that the CIA are a bunch of super-heroes who are out to save us- rather than that sometimes the people you are counting on to protect you are victimizing you, too.

Also, if Cheney and Bush (a couple of assholes) want to use the CIA (also possibly a bunch of assholes) to do things the CIA is not supposed to do and that would really revolt people, then the whole scandal serves the purpose of making it look like Bush and the CIA are at odds, so that people won’t be too alarmed at the risks of an autocrat that historically come with an executive who assumes a lot of power. However, this explanation seems a little too far-flung and Machiavellian to me- 1) first of all, it seems too clever for Bush and his type, and 2) it flies in the face of the facts we know about the case- it seems like the details of this thing (that is, that the White House at the highest level of command was behind it) is something that was really sought to be kept in the dark. But it’s just a possibility. At least, if the CIA is going to engage in things they shouldn't do- whether or not Bush orders it- and if Bush is their favorite politicians because he's wielding the power of the President, and he's a conservative, neocon yes-man, then they wouldn't want people to connect Bush with them if it ever happened to come to light what they were doing- they wouldn't want the public to see the Republican President as running a Gestapo. But as regards the chance that the Plame scandal specifically was used up to achieve these ends- to me it’s a more likely explanation that Bush (or Rove) just wanted to show a bunch of people that a lot of dirty tricks could still happen to you if you were going to try to criticize the White House / conservative war policy- they tried to nip the criticism in the bud- but, attacking people comes with the risks of attacking people. How to attack people (and thereby terrorize their peers against opposing you) but not risk drawing harm to yourself? Create a fake attack on one of them. The CIA says, ‘You could out one of our guys that’s married to a critic of yours, it’s perfect.’ And either more or less people are actually in on it. If less people are in on it, maybe they don’t really care so much because they figure she’s a woman and therefore not a ‘real’ CIA agent, and plus she’s married to a liberal. If more people are in on it, then maybe Plame herself doesn’t even care about what happened.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fox News

This is so awesome, and this is just the kind of thing I was suggesting- long time readers may recall posts or videos I've subsequently taken down that really tried to draw attention to the Fox News problem, and to thinking of ways of solving it, as one of the major goals of liberalism today. Remember, what Fox News does is too damaging for us not to try to think up countermeasures. This is the egregious example, latterly, of what Fox does- look how they try to shame you into eating a poison pill.

While the PBS show is a step in the right direction, it isn't enough.

For anyone who wants to see the show or send a link to a friend it's here.


I closed the post titled How To Annoy Republicans, posted on March 24, for editing, just to let you know.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

From the Kremlin to the White House

CB linked to an interesting point of view the other day that drew the comparison between the situation in this country and how communist Russia was run. A comment on this post suggested that it was interesting that "the wingnuts fought so hard against the commies" since they achieved the same result, in some respects, as the Kremlin in America. Not one to risk letting the wingers sound like heroes, because it's not true, I had to jump in. I responded to this in a few comments (starting here), and used that an opportunity to explain a few things. I'd like to re-cap that here.

My initial response is that the conservatives opposed Russia so determinedly in the Cold War not, of course, because they opposed all the excesses of social authority that led to human rights abuses. Those abuses, in fact, as we should all know, had nothing to do with the ideology of socialism of itself. The right wingers turned a blind eye to those kinds of abuses when they found those abuses to be useful concomitants of their own plots, such as during the East Timor/Indonesian conflict, to take one piece of evidence. There are many more inconsistencies along these same lines, and there are many left-wingers who are much more knowledgeable about them than I am, but I still feel confident referencing them because I've read and heard about many of the examples.

So even besides the human rights abuses, even without the violations of freedom, the right wingers still objected to socialism- because what they really opposed about it were the good parts of communism. These are the parts you left-wingers unfortunately mostly don't take the time to articulate and advocate expressly, because you're naive and dull enough to equate advocating for Castro Cuba in general, or similarly apologizing for the USSR, with advocating for the good parts of communism and socialism-- the parts you actually believe in, even though it's the human rights abuses of the USSR and Castro that the USSR and Castro have become equivalent to in the public mind in this country. Unfortunately, regardless of whether in this context it's way too easy and logical for your political opponents to paint you as anti-freedom and anti-human rights when you blanket-support those regimes of those countries- that is, without making a distinction between the consequences of totalitarianism/authoritarianism, on the one hand, and the consequences of socialism, on the other- you people vocally support Castro and the USSR. Back to the matter at hand: the spin you unfortunately walk into is just spin, and the rich conservatives (the conservative leaders) opposed the communist countries because those conservatives wanted money, just like they want money now, and they were so scared that what happened in Cuba would happen here and someone else, instead of them, would be planning the wealth-redistribution in this country. In the USSR, the leaders did it subtly, redistributing wealth to themselves through corruption and in the names of freedom and equality. Here, the leaders (the right-wing leaders of huge commercial corporations) do it subtly, redistributing wealth to themselves also in the names of freedom and equality (think of the conservative rhetoric surrounding the flat-tax and the estate tax). They wouldn't be any less opposed to authoritarianism in this country if they could practice it, I think, it's just that they couldn't get away with it here because people here do not want a conservative revolution. The conservatives need to be more subtle, also, they feel, because otherwise the communist revolution they feared might come would come and take it all away from them. That is, it would be someone else doing all the redistributing, not them, and it would get redistributed to America's downtrodden, not to them, and also perhaps to a new group of authoritarians who would be abusing socialism, just like they had in Russia. The idea of socialist wealth redistribution didn't appeal to middle-class conservatives, either, because no one like that wants wealth redistribution to the blacks. Racism is an unspoken tenet of conservatism in this country and you don’t understand shit if you don’t understand that.

The USSR was, and similar countries are, imperfect implementations of an idealistic, and by my view, maybe impossible vision: authoritarian, totalitarian and corrupt when they are not supposed to be, and poor enough so that the equal society could not be a functional society, could not give its people plenty. But the wingnuts aren’t scared of authoritarianism, they’re scared of wealth redistribution that they’re not in charge of, and they're scared of being out of power.

Recent events will bring this into relief, especially, in my mind, the U.S. Supreme Court's recent and controversial Kelo v. City of New London case, which concerned the government's power of eminent domain (to seize property from private citizens for public use, a power seemingly implicitly authorized by the U.S. Constitution's Takings Clause, found in the Fifth Amendment: "no property shall be taken for a public use, without just compensation. . ."). In Kelo, the court's more liberal members voted as a block to uphold the taking at issue, and the conservatives voted against it, in a ruling that held at stake the legitimacy of takings. In fact, the conservatives have funded scholar-lawyers working in think tanks and test-case law offices to oppose takings on constitutional grounds and to oppose similar powers allowed to the government under the constitution. Why are the Republicans against eminent domain and the liberal wing of the court for it? Obviously, such powers are necessary to wealth redistribution. The principal boogeyman of conservative politics is taxation. Conservatives are in favor of a system that makes it easier for the propertied (e.g., whites and the rich) to keep their property and harder for the downtrodden (blacks and immigrants who are struggling against the remains of the hundreds-of-years long history of being spit on or short-changed in some way each day because of their race-- the remains which continue to tax their all-too-human coping mechanisms and weaknesses, making it all to easy for racists to rationalize these peoples' disproportionate criminal convictions and lack of success) to attain some of it.

You may ask more specifically what eminent domain has to do with racism. It could be something as simple as the government's wanting to take a house owned by a rich old white person, and compensate them for the taking, on the edge of a downtrodden black neighborhood- and to turn it into a pool, so the kids in the neighborhood have something to do all day in the summer instead of getting involved with drugs.

But let me set up the horror story conservatives see for you: Affirmative action by itself isn’t enough to solve the variety of social problems that minorities are beset with as remnants of historical racism. Studies have shown that our society is not significantly less segregated than it was thirty years ago, and, the money earned by affirmative action isn't making it back into the communities as much as would help. The effect on other minorities besides the specific person who is hired or recruited under the affirmative action program is minimal. Apparently, most of the negative effect of historical racism comes from having one's Kindergarten-to-twelth-grade education in a neighborhood consisting wholly or almost wholly of others suffering the same historical effects. And so, despite affirmative action, you still have the criminal underclass in black neighborhoods (which you wouldn't have if you didn't have blacks in our country- someone would have to get the short end of the stick so the conservatives could be rich, and those people would just be white- we'd have a white criminal underclass). Kids who aren’t being raised right in bad neighborhoods go to all-black public schools- and even though those schools may be funded better than before, they still can’t get the best teachers, because you can't blame a person for not wanting to live and work in a community where her own students might rape her or a 6-year-old kid might point a gun at her. You can’t take the kids away from the bad influence in the neighborhood.

Racism's tenets are incorrect, and the situation of Blacks can be improved. But the effective way to do it is to break up the segregated blocks in the inner cities and segregated suburbs, and to have Americans living in real desegregated neighborhoods instead of keeping the huge de facto ghettos we still have now. The whites don’t want their little girls to grow up with the blacks and that’s what this is all about. None of these people want to have to live with the black man, or to give him a dollar.

For those of you who know a little law: I’m not saying that the government having the power of eminent domain means the Supreme Court, one day when it's more liberal, would use the 14th Amendment to say that Brown v. Bd. of Ed.- the desegregation decision- isn’t working, and that therefore the ghettos have to be broken up somehow (housing redistribution via eminent domain) to achieve the goals of equality and equal treatment in the 14th Amendment (or that congress one day would make the same decision and decide to issue stronger federal desegregation legislation- pursuant to its 14th Amendment enforcement powers). I'm not even saying there are a lot of people who would think the Supreme Court would do this. But doubtless there are people who think that someday they might do it. What I am saying is that, despite liberals’ belief that so many conservatives are not racists and misogynists, but really just jolly, light-hearted, folk who happen to see things a little differently than us because they’re just a little dumb (with, albeit, a few mean people among them) the kind of concerns I've described do loom in the background for a lot of conservatives' political thinking and are what really motivate all these political confrontations, are what motivate resistance to anything that looks like a move towards affirmative action or wealth redistribution. People are scared that you’re going to take the lunch right out of their hand, so to speak, and give it to a black guy-- and they’re scared of black guys.

It’s a painful trade-off- what do you do? If you do more to integrate Blacks, you get them better socialized as a group (because right now they’re not as well socialized, and whites are better socialized- meaning you have a higher ratio of Black Americans relative to the total number of members of their own race, as opposed to white Americans relative to the total number of members of the white race, committing violent crimes, and not achieving as much education- some of these statistics are attributable to racism, like racist law enforcement, but not all) and you get less crime and violence in the long run, but as with all integration, it will cause pain, temporarily. For example, there could be crime in places where it never was before, and racial confrontation, and whites there will blame it on blacks- if the blacks had never come, they'll feel, there wouldn't have been this crime in the neighborhood. This would disappear over time, though. If you keep putting off the problem, you keep having a criminal underclass committing crimes against people. As I said, if we didn't have a black underclass, we would have a white underclass, but the effects of racism and remnants of historical aggravate make the conditions creating an underclass, and aggravate the social problems that underclass suffers. In other words, a uniform racial criminal underclass in a society that mostly composed of members of a race other than those of the underclass is going to be a worse criminal underclass than one in a society consisting of members of one race could be. That's why it's even more important to integrate to minimize the effects creating the underclass is a mixed-race society like our.

The racist Republicans don’t care about that dilemma, because they just see all blacks as genetically bad, and incapable of improvement. So they think it’s not a question of improving their lot- and these are the people giving the marching orders for a lot of the Republicans.

This in turn points to how Blacks become really important to conservative politics, and you start seeing black faces providing deceptive conservative lines on Fox News. The conservatives need conservative Blacks to screw over the rest of them, to try to make them think that all the looting of social programs that benefit minorities is somehow justified. Because publicly, to most of us racism is wrong. So conservatives do things to promote even blacks to being racist against blacks. Blacks will accept it if another black person is talking about it to them, but otherwise it will all too quickly and clearly appear to be the racism it is.

I hope you found this enlightening and it will help you better talk about these things to people you know.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

An interesting question, and my answer

The Carpetbagger asked this interseting question. Here's my answer:

The best thing to do would be to treat him according to option 2 and only treat him like option 1 to the extent he proves- not just appears- to be for real.

This doesn't mean you really treat him mean- quite the opposite, possibly. It just means that in your own heart you don't trust him. The best thing to do would be to keep him close until you can find out more about what he's up to. Let him think he has won you over. Don't let him really control or influence things. Spread doubt to his former friends, ambiguously, so they think he has in fact come over to your side and is giving you important confidences. If he's playing double-agent for the Republicans, make them worried so he becomes a more expensive double-agent- so they think they have to pay twice as much to be sure he'll be loyal. Even sacrifice, give up bits to him to win his confidence and make him think all the more he's won your confidence. Find whatever way you can to use him against the enemy and cast him adrift when you're done with him to live in the mercy of his (hopefully, effectively your) having burned his own bridges.

But this is in an ideal world. Actually, the typical liberal politician or activist is not nearly as cunning as the average punk maneuvering among his friends for respect or young woman maneuvering for romance. Your actions are going to show that you're respecting him, and it's too risky to try to tell fellow liberals or subordinates how to treat him because Republicans will want to know what you're all saying and thinking about this guy. You can't trust that other liberals will tacitly understand how to treat him, because they haven't learned this point of view from their experiences. They probably have other people around them telling them to forgive and forget and not scrutinize.

So you really just have to cut him loose and take comfort in the fact that if he's sincere, he deserves what may befall him because of what he did in the past. It really shouldn't be that way, and we should be able to conduct ourselves a smart way like I described above, but liberals really don't have it together to do that right now. Everybody wants to have their own opinion and too often the quality of that is equivalent to, trust a guy like Dowd as soon as he starts making some nice-person noises. Thanks for that enlightenment.

Right now, I'd barely trust your average bleeding-heart liberal activist to walk down the street holding the hand of my five-year-old daughter (if I had one) and not get gipped into selling her off to some child-molestor. I certainly wouldn't trust them around someone like Dowd.

Also check out my related comments here and here below this post.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


What explains the failure of the mainstream media to cover the purge scandal for so long, and so many other scandals? Do you think somebody just set up newspaper editors to cheat on their wives, and threatened to tell if the editors wouldn’t play ball when they come back some day and ask for something?

It wouldn’t be that hard to do, when you think about it. People wouldn’t talk about it.

Check out this Carpetbagger Report post about how Time magazine failed to cover the scandal at all until well after it had exploded on Capitol Hill.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Jersey City Geography

Today I mentioned in a comment that I lived near a couple of housing projects in Jersey City near the JC/Bayonne border when I was young. Just for the record, these projects may have been torn down since then (as a lot of housing projects have been in NJ) but anybody who's lived around that spot for a couple decades or so would be able to tell you where they used to be. It was right within a half mile or so of where Kennedy Boulevard runs between Jersey City and Bayonne, around a private highschool in Bayonne. Today's lesson is, if you're going to write or talk about fuzzy memories from your childhood, you'd better get it right- or say to what extent you don't know- because people are scuzzy and are not necessarily going to ask you or treat it realistically if you don't get it precisely right.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

From the people who brought you the K-Street Project, it's The Fucking Up The Rest Of Your Life Project

How many women Democratic staffers, liberal women in journalism, and women liberal social activists in DC do you think have actually fellated a guy who they thought was a liberal but actually wasn’t, or at least thought wasn’t dating them just to manipulate them, but actually was?

Sort of to have a contact that the guy’s bosses can alway have him swoop in to give bad advice or encourage it to be given, or for a hook-up when the woman is running low on time before a big deadline, needs her life otherwise disrupted, or is about to get into a relationship with a real liberal guy?

Sure, conservatives wouldn’t want liberals to have families, be seen as having families, or see themselves as having families- to have a stable community of friends, rather than a group of friends that is constantly cheating on, cuckholding, and divorcing each other. And who cares if you wanted to have real relationships and raise kids? Messing up your life is a fun way for a conservative to make the world what they see as a better place and only hurts a person who they think doesn’t really count.

I always ask myself, Would they do it if someone suggested it? and if the answer is yes, my guess is they did it.

Would you think that was serious?

How To Annoy Republicans

[Closed for editing]

Friday, March 23, 2007

We all have to wonder. . .

I've got to wonder, in light of the headlines: what kind of world is this where veterans at the veterans retirement home live in such bad conditions that can get maggots in a wound, and an army hospital keeps patients in similar misearble conditions, but people try to bully prosecutors into letting big tobacco off the hook? What kind of Republicans are these?
Writing my recent blog posts reminded me of a few things, the kind of things that substantiate what I write about but that I don't often cite or repeat- trusting that you'll all have read basically the same things I have read and have an idea of how I'm getting my opinion. This makes my posts shorter and saves me time but I'd like to recount some of these things now to give a greater perspective on the kinds of personalities I've described in my last few posts.

First off, consider an anecdote you might have heard of from Hillary Clinton's Living History. In the book, Hillary Clinton talked about a guy who worked at the White House or in the executive branch during her husband's presidency who worked in a security capacity, or whose job involved security expertise. The guy was an ex-FBI agent or something like that. He didn't get along with any of the staffers in the Clinton White House and he went on to write a tell-all book about his experiences there, in which his biggest revelations and complaints consisted of stuff like not liking the manners of staffers serving themselves from the White House cafeteria. This is the kind of stuff we should all be used to by now from observing Republicans' behavior- all their deepest held beliefs are founded on irrational, arbitrary quibbles about liberals' personal behavior. When a Republican breaks little social rules, they consider it cool and cute and a demonstration of their knowing which lines can be crossed. When liberals do it, it's always wrong, and every nuance of behavior or miniscule screw-up you have is always goofy, dorky, and a symptom of something deeply wrong with you morally or psychologically. Hillary recounts a precious instance of first meeting this guy during which he gave her a stern stare and wouldn't part eyes from her. From a white guy's point of view, it really sounds like what happened is this guy wanted to stare Hillary Clinton down. Why would he do that? After having read it all, it really sounded to me like this guy just has a fantasy about himself being the ultimate man and the ultimate warrior, and in his fantasy world women can't be leaders, or can't be without somehow implicitly acknowledging his super-heroness and drawing her eyes aware from his world-tempered stare. My reaction to that kind of guy, is Oh, please. Guess what, buddy, women can be capable leaders too and just because you love yourself doesn't mean anything- it doesn't mean you're especially strong, and especially if your actions show you're actually a petty fool who cares most about what every single woman thinks about you- particularly, trying to dominate those women for no reason. And this is no matter whether she's your boss or whether the woman doesn't even have anything to do with you.

Here's another story about how great these guys who believe in a fantasy of their own manliness and righteousness are: according to the Justice Department’s inspector general, the “FBI engaged in widespread and serious misuse of its authority in illegally gathering telephone, e-mail and financial records of Americans and foreigners while hunting terrorists.” Glenn Fine, the internal watchdog who revealed the data-gathering abuses said “It really was unacceptable and inexcusable what happened here” (Hat tip to the Carpetbagger Report). What were they gathering those e-mails and telephone records for? Their own personal use? To make a list of people they don't like? Is the FBI their tool to pursue some kind of absurd hobby? Does every FBI agent who has this power use it to investigate the people he knows and the women he meets just for the hell of it? In short, who are these losers who did this?

Sometimes, one gets the impression that a lot of people in the FBI are fools from extremely boring towns in the midwest who have a distorted view of the cities as places that are completely vice ridden from the movies they watched growing up. But those are movies. There are plenty of good people in and near the cities and we all don't need these asses from the midwest who don't know anything about us illegally peeking into what we all do for their own absurd reasons.

Here's another one: the former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) (now an incarcerated convict), a month before pleading guilty to accepting bribes, criticized one of the purged U.S. Attorneys, Carol Lam, for “lax” handling of immigration crimes. Lam was pursuing Cunningham at the time. Cunningham worked with a CIA employee to illegally obtain government contracts. So what's this? This guy is especially interested in prosecuting brown people whose only crime is coming to this country to get jobs? That shows you what kind of people run in that Republican crowd.

Cunningham and his CIA friend were also involved with a whorehouse. Shows you that even people in the CIA have no claim over being right or wrong that the rest of us don't; this guy sounds just as corrupt as anybody involved with the Bush White House.

None of this was done for security, like all these Republicans say to our faces. It was done for bribes. They say we have to trust them for our security, and then these assholes use the power we gives them for their own little projects.

All this stuff may be old news, but seeing it all together really paints the picture of what these people are really like, doesn't it? Anyone can talk gallantly or self-righteously in front of a TV camera. But who are these guys really, Republicans and cops? Would we really be safe to assume that 90% of them are assholes no matter how they act?

The Oct. 24, 2005 issue of The American Conservative reports on all the money, your taxpayer money, that has been stolen by the Republicans who handled the contracting of reconstruction work to all their friends. Shows you why us liberals were so concerned about the war just being for profit, doesn't it? We know that this is what Republicans are like or to be suspicious of them. The American Conservative describes the scandal: "Billions of dollars have disappeared, gone to bribe Iraqis and line contractors’ pockets."

According to sources cited by the Carpetbagger Report, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen’s office “opened 27 new criminal probes in the last quarter [of 2006], bringing the total number of active cases to 78. Twenty-three are awaiting prosecutorial action by the Justice Department, most of them centering on charges of bribery and kickbacks.”

When we put these Republicans in power, we got military operations, but we got them performed by the worst people to do them.

Who Conservatives Are

Thinking about my last few posts has prompted me to think of some other things. A while ago I wrote something in which I talked about Republicans as being like bullies. I want to elaborate here a little more for people who wouldn't know on what I think those people might be like- the people who really make decisions for the conservatives now, as opposed to the rest of the conservatives. This will help you to understand what you're up against realistically.

Those who are, I think, choosing the direction of the conservative movement are pretty ugly individuals. Picture a guy who's biggest peeve is that he's heard people from other countries say one or two times that they think of Americans as fat, couch potatoes, basically wimps- not tough guys. This ignoramus wants, for some reason, everybody around the globe when they hear ugly middle class Americans' voices when they're taking their vacations at some tourist trap to break out in fearful trembling and think, "Oh no! Americans!" For some reason it is the most important thing in the world for this guy that people start to see our lazy, messy, self-centered, rude fat asses as some kind of dangerous thugs as be horrified when they see a middle-aged, middle-class American woman out with a couple of her young kids. His wet dream is that we're a warrior nation, and he wants to mold us into what he thinks that is, for no other reason than it makes him feel good, despite what the incidental consequences of his efforts would be if he could accomplish them, which he does not know. Or picture the jock from high school grown up and running things- his biggest grudge against the world was that there might be a young woman that might reject him, might like an artsy guy or a guy who's into music better. These guys are so sensitive and have such fragile personalities that to them it's the biggest blow in the world that every single girl does not think that the best guy is him and prefer muscles, height and dumbness over any other attributes a guy could have, every time. So when a girl does go for another guy, especially one not like him, he feels petty spite and literal feels that the girl and the guy deserve to be hurt for the injustice of him not being preferred over everybody else all the time. Picture somebody who never really cares when his own relatives or friends get sick or injured.

Liberals are really missing, I think, a lot of the time when they try to imagine the minds they are up against, that they are opposing politically. You tend to take the public face of the GOP and mix that in with your own psychological needs for comfort from the world around you, and you don't adequately explain where all the ugliness you've encountered in life goes and why it is not running things. You don't consider the actions of people and groups and try to explain what kind of mind pursues those actions. If you try to correct for these sources of error I think you will understand much better where the GOP is going and what they are.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Defense against assholes

In these unusual times, a lot of people, or a lot of people who just didn't know enough about politics, may find themselves working for assholes. A question arises then, what should you do if you find yourself working for assholes, let's say if you're a minority and you find that the people who patronized you, who you work for, are really racist. You got what seemed like the best job in the world, and you were happy about that, but now you have to face the truth. What should you do?

In Nazi Germany, things went so bad and the Nazis got so powerful only because many people were intimidated- that's true enough. But the Nazis were brought down partly because so many people feigned loyalty- survived the Nazis' purges on undesirables, and the secretly disloyal- and then used their positions to undermine the Nazis. There was a man I read about who was a high-up official in the German intelligence during WWII, who was actually a very right-wing German, and he disagreed with Hitler because he saw what Hitler was doing as wrecking his country. He pretended to be loyal, though, and Hitler trusted him, made him a higher-up in the intelligence agency, and from that position the guy was able to do a lot to screw up Hitler's plans in the war. This guy saw himself as saving lives in the long-run, which of course is true.

If you find yourself in a good job that you could have only dreamed of, the type that would impress your friends and family, but then find out the people you are working for are assholes, but the job is so hard to leave you didn't want to believe it at first, I think you should consider staying and doing your part. I don't think you should worry about people like me, any other specific liberals. I think you should try just being exactly what they want to see from you, staying on and looking realistic as possible, and then you can do more to help things get better. And remember, people often believe the most not what's the most believeable, but what they most want to believe. So it might be the best route if some guy sees you as a loyal, obedient person who is in awe of how great he is (even if he secretly gets to think that you're just another inferior person he can screw over and that you're going to get what's coming to you when the assholes get a chance).

Similarly, if you find you've made friends with a conwoman, you actually shouldn't stay friends with her. If you do, even if you hinted to other people not to trust her, your friends could make their own judgments and end up deceived into something really bad. Even if you have a feeling the conwoman is not so bad, if her loyalty is to someone else she might still decide to do the bad things they order her to do to you, or if they see that she's like that, they might keep everything they want to do hidden from her, and just let her see her part of the job, while letting her think she's being told everything so she'll trust them. If you stay friends with a conwoman, 1) You should have specific reasons for doing it that have to do with solving the problem of getting deceived by a conwoman, and 2) you should have specific plans for how you are not going to let yourself and others be harmed. But not wanting to feel stupid is actually not a reason to stay friends with her. You can not let her know you suspect her and still stop talking to her; a lot of naive people actually overestimate the effect that confronting a deceiver will have on them, and end up doubly deceived when the conwoman or man stays cool under questioning.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

An imaginary exercise

* I updated this a little bit and added three sentences.

In these unusual times we live in, I hope you'll join me in what might be a fruitful imaginary exercise for a moment, the better to examine the lessons of the past. When people think about the Holocaust, they often marvel that six million modern, savvy, well-off people could be led to their deaths so easily. Scholars examine this, and they determine that one of the reasons that so many went to their deaths so passively is because a lot of the Jews were cooperating more closely with the Nazis, as basically subordinates in dealing with the Jews. This helped the Nazis conduct the final solution more efficiently, because they dealt with their victims through intermediaries who knew about them, and the faith the Jews had in their leaders led them to trust the voices who were telling them that their problems might be solved if they'd only abandon all their property, go live in a camp for a while, or give up their business to an ethnic German or wear a yellow star on their clothes, or whatever other surrender of rights was called for. That these leaders got some of the Jews to participate gave an air of legitimacy to following the orders, and the others Jews who would not have followed in the absence of seeing some other people follow were won over. Then, a bandwagon effect was created, and even people who wouldn't think too much about who to trust or who remained very skeptical of the Nazis' orders went along. So all these people went unknowingly to their deaths until it was too late, and despite hearing rumors that the camps Jews were being sent off to were actually death camps. If we live in interesting times today, it may be worthwhile to consider what is the equivalent in America of getting some of the people to cooperate to make oppression of the rest possible.

So people can screw you over the best by getting help from some of your own. Now begins the exercise: let's say you're a liberal. Now, people come to see you who you suspect of being Republicans, or think are totally nonpartisan, or you suspect of being slightly conservative. They decide to tell you some fantastic things, and they ask you to help them in their project. The question is, are they really complete ideologues, like the George Bush White House, complete Rush Limbaugh nuts who are only working for partisan advancement, or are they regular people who have legitimate goals? They talk very nicely to you, without any open contempt. They tell you that they need your help in dealing with a threat posed by someone who, in the absence of what they're telling you, seems to be a very nice person. Why shouldn't you think that these people who have come to talk to you are totally legit?

The answer comes from something we learned in law school: giving 'em the headlines. If you want to be persuasive, and get people on your side, you want to be the first one that tells them everything. You don't want the other side to tell them anything having to do with your problem you haven't told them first. At best, you don't want the other side to get to tell his side of the story at all. This is why the Rush Limbaugh types, the Republicans might actually try to get you on their side first, and not be openly disdainful of you as a liberal, even if what they're trying to get you to do is participate in something totally wrong- like the political firings of the prosecutors, and all the other scandals and abuses of power Republicans created- if they can get you to believe it. This is why it's preferable, at the best for them, to effectively make unscrupulous conservative efforts look like bona fide legitimate causes with true bipartisan appeal.

This also provides great cover- if it ever gets out into the open what they're doing, they'll be able to say that they were working on what they were doing with you, the biggest liberal in the world, and whoever else, and you all thought it was ok. Also, you're not really necessarily going to know what's going on. If the Republicans are coming to you, the biggest liberal of all, and asking you to help them, if you're not too penetrating and skeptical about people, you'll take it for granted that they're not doing something abusive, partisan, and wrong, and you'll really hesitate, maybe even when you think you're not hesitating, to really perceive what's going on and what it is you're being asked to help with.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Some more thoughts on the CIA

(This is a follow-up on a post on the CIA and the Iraq war from a few weeks ago)

Over the past few years, the CIA has been mentioned in the media much more frequently than it had been before that. Often, as I noted in my previous post, these reports have supplied fodder for the inference that the CIA is a nonpartisan organization (unlike Fox News, many other federal bureaus and regulatory agencies since Bush came to office, and, at least to a lesser degree, probably every other institution in contemporary America) or at least for the inference that it is nonpolitical enough to be professional and competent in the face of a White House and legislative branch which have been increasingly exposed as exploiting their powers and responsibilities for selfish political gain, and, unfortunately, for little else. However, for liberals, this description belies what for many of us had been old hat and common sense.

Prior to 9/11, a well-informed, well-educated liberal could hear of or read the stories of how the CIA was involved in fomenting massacres of innocent civilians in South America, and of how the FBI was extremely racist not very long ago, and how in the COINTELPRO cases (Hobson v. Wilson, etc.) the FBI was found liable for harassing and committing civil rights violations against activist groups-- acts beyond its legal authority. Today, the FBI are treated as heroes in movies, but not too long ago, in pursuit of racist goals, they were hunting down politically active liberals of any race to harass them and destroy their lives. Having heard these stories, one has to wonder what kind of people these groups draw their personnel from, and to wonder how we know some change has occurred so that the personnel who used to be racist in these groups, are all now somehow replaced, or not racist anymore, so that these groups cannot be using their power anachronistically to promote aims that are contrary to the values of the American people.

Common sense- in addition to the anecdotes we've heard about the FBI or the CIA- tells us that no one kind of people, no people in any particular context (whether race, occupation, or geographic location, etc.) are uniformly great, moral people. All sorts of institutions have a variety of people working for them, in terms of aptitude and morality. And these institutions go through cycles of becoming corrupt and abused and well-functioning. With all the focus on the CIA in the news, that common sense may make one wonder who are all these people, what are the ways their actions may be reviewed and who reviews them, what really governs them, how can they be fired if individual people within the CIA are capable of doing so much covertly, how they can be trusted not to hire people and assign people to jobs and promote people on illegitimate bases (such as political party affiliation, holding of racist views, or religion) and how we can be sure their judgment and their methods are competent.

Take this a little further and consider the CIA with your common sense in the context of today's time. With all the concern over civil liberties since 9/11 happened, it's natural to wonder who are the people who so badly want to be able to torture suspects in their custody that whether to augment their authority becomes a national controversy. Especially when those suspects turn out to be innocent of wrongdoing- just cab-drivers and such and not terrorists (if the CIA were so excellent, you'd think we wouldn't hear stories like this, wouldn't you?). Look at this in the context of history and consider what other things people have done when they've felt threatened: when the nation and its police have such a long and recent history of racism, it's natural to wonder who are the individuals who will be conducting our "War on Terror" against these Middle Eastern people (After all, a war against a radical, popular religious enemy of a religion held almost exclusively by non-whites is the closest thing you can get to an actual race-war. And the biggest supporters of the war describe it in the press as a nigh-perpetual war). It's natural to want to know whether those people are the kind of people who are into the Christian Identity movement, whether they are the type of people who love G. Gordon Liddy and other irrational conservative talk show hosts.

It's natural knowing the history of secret police to not want crazy individuals who would go beyond their authority or not understand where their authority should end to wield that power; people who would decide in the course of using their authority in a heavy-handed, overly-broad way against the Muslims they are investigating, to "imagine" they also see wrong-doing by the liberal political activists they hate. And it especially makes sense in the context of post-9/11 time, when it's all too easy for people to talk to themselves in language suggesting that, now, anything is justified-- even when we all know that the complicated rules that govern our police and society are just in place to prevent evil abuse and damaging incompetence. Despite all the focus from the media, recently, though, we don't see much speculation on the CIA, or questioning of their performance or judgment, even though they wield such extensive power.

Once you've awakened this interest to make sure the sins of secret police of the past aren't repeated, and these people do not become corrupted, I think a few reasons draw attention to themselves to question the specific things we've heard about the CIA over the past few years. And even more than the general concerns that secret police in a general sense should work in a fair and just manner, there are specific reasons to prompt you to worry about our particular CIA now, even though you individually may be more naturally inclined (incorrectly, as I think I've shown) to believe that everything the CIA does should remain the CIA's business and no one else should care. For example, we know the CIA trained Bin Laden, and we know the CIA quit looking for him for quite a while- but you'd think they have nothing better to do than look for him. This should prompt anybody to wonder why. And this is regardless of how much sense any explanations particular people might guess for this make. With this CIA, it seems that not only do most of us not wonder, but that we've cut off our ability not only to ask but to even wonder. In any other context, we might ask, How do we know these people are not just a bunch of dopes or have lost their taste for dangerous work? Or, How do we know that they have not lost their taste for hard work, that usually goes with any kind of good reputation?

Even though it's possible the CIA could be a bunch of dopes, or people who want to control our society, or losers, while they are responsible for investigating terrorism, we have all not seemed that interested in questioning it. The urban legend about the CIA is that they've got the best people working for them, and that they only recruit the best people (they don't sound like the kind of people who would capture innocent cabbies and torture them, they sound like true heroes). Why do we believe the urban legend, when we don't believe legends applied to other groups (the virtue of priests, cops, and members of our own ethnic groups and faiths)? As we grow more old and mature, we lose our naivete about all types of people. But the CIA, unlike any other group or person, is uniquely positioned to protect its reputation. No one else can not only say what they want about themselves and what they do, but keep what they actually do otherwise secret.

So once we've been prompted to become skeptical again, there are a few things we might be skeptical of that we've seen in the media, that go beyond particulars (e.g., stopping chasing Bin Laden) to implicit themes the media messages support about what the CIA really is.

1 One is that the CIA is not ideological.

2 Another is that you can judge what the CIA is really about from how one spokesman to the media of the CIA, or one press statement, represents the group, or how one ex-CIA operative who discusses the CIA and security matters to the press seems.

3 Another is that the CIA is professional and competent and works within the bounds of ethics and within the legal limits placed on the organization's power, and not to further any individual CIA officer's personal, egotistical, or ideological ends, to the point of damaging the legitimate, practical ends of the American people.

As far as being ideological, you should think about what kind of person would want to belong to a secret police organization. What kinds of people have you known that wanted to become regular police? What kinds of people that you knew actually became police? Or became military personnel? A lot of us think police stories and war adventures are interesting when we're growing up. A lot of liberals enjoy movies and books and fiction that center around those kinds of themes, and probably secretly wish or have wished they could do the kinds of things portrayed there. The popularity of police and military movies attests to the appeal of these stories beyond any particular profession or type of person. But do liberals actually get those jobs? Not really. It's much more common for a liberal to grow out of that, to think that other pursuits are a better use of his or her abilities-- and if a liberal does join the military, to only use it as stepping stone to something greater in life. Liberals are not hobby warriors who mentally masturbate themselves to the idea of warfare and controlling people and hurting people, to the idea of humiliating people, and they think that other things are more interesting than fighting. They may think fighting is interesting, but they read books on other things, on science and literature and so forth, and not just about police and fighting and wars all the time. There's a reason why police organizations were historically racist. That there aren't liberals in a group means that it's conservatives who are left over, and we know what conservatives are like, especially when they're left in a group with no one else around.

I don't mean to imply that police departments are all racist or all full of assholes, and we all have stories of the good cop we've met. But I do mean to suggest what people tend to do. I think most police departments, if I had to guess, can be described by a three-way split. One third of the guys may be the worst, real assholes- the guys who harass you when they pull you over, real racists, the guys we read about who rape women or run whorehouses. Another third of the guys may be along for the ride with that first third of the guys, may admire the first third, may know about most of the wrong and criminal practices the first third engages in, and may be easily talked into what those guys want to do- but in the absence of the worst, they wouldn't exactly be thinking up all those horrible things to do, or want to do it all, themselves. Then we have the third that are really just along for the ride, and this includes those who are (relatively) good cops. These may condone what the others do just out of loyalty to fellow cops- to not be policing their buddies so that their buddies will support them- and even though they know those guys are bad guys, they may never speak up about the wrong things the others do, even if they may really want to a few times. Even some of this third may be racist (which partly motivated them to become cops), but only in a passive way, not at all like the active way members of the other two thirds may be. Of course we should be worried about who calls the shots in a police department- the bad third is easily enough going to contain pushy people, and we tend to make people who are relatively pushy leaders- rather than push-overs. Whether one third or another controls a particular police department is going to be a matter of chance and history as regards any particular police department. And I do think this is a pretty fair summary of a typical police department, if you want to know what I honestly think.

If the CIA is anything like this, you may agree we have reason to be concerned, and especially if the bad third is in control of things- as probably too often has been the case with municipal, state police departments. With all the right-wing yahoos out west, and with the Evangelical co-opting of the Air Force Academy, do you think there are no wackos in the CIA? It might be that a lot of the leadership are like a cross between D-FENS from the movie Falling Down and John Doe from the movie Seven- guys who would love the movie Seven but who would never in a million years see that its message is a critique of unbridled law enforcement, not praise of it- that the writer is saying that maybe homicide detectives really should be able to kick down doors without a warrant sometimes, but that Puritan wackos like John Doe don't realize that what they want is unobtainable and not worth the efforts they make (basically terror) to try to obtain.

As far as thinking that the whole personnel of the CIA, including its current leaders, are accurately represented by the impression you got from one person you saw on TV speaking for the CIA, or one instance of CIA action being reported on TV news, I would just like to remind you that it would be really unlikely if any organization so large contained only people who were birds of a feather. Indeed, the GOP in general contains stooges (for example, black people in the GOP are sell-outs or stooges), people who are useful for stupid-work because they are more expendable (i.e., perhaps not as ideological, or racist, as others are) and who can rise in the ranks from being lower servants to being greater servants, but can never really make real decisions. That one person who used to be in the CIA decides to write novels, become a consultant on terrorism to the federal government, write other books on learned subject, speaks very well and seems alright when he is interviewed on TV for his security point of view, does not represent what other people in the CIA are like- and he may not even really be as nice as he seems. And how many examples of openly ex-CIA people who are like that are there, really?

Going back again to the third assumption- that the CIA is not ideological to the point of doing things they're not supposed to to pursue goals they're not supposed to pursue- reminds me of all the criticism of the Iraq war intelligence by the CIA in its statements to the press. Surely, the CIA knows what is in its interest and knows what's not, and knows that it is a threat to it if it is seen as doing anything it is not supposed to be doing. The CIA probably thinks the American people are a threat to it and that CIA employees are a threat to it, and knows that it's best for it that the American people and CIA employees both perceive it as not dishonestly sending them to do things for the wrong reasons, and is conscious of effecting how both perceive it. What this means is, if you think it's likely that the CIA knew that endorsing the intelligence the Bush administration was using about weapons to justify the war to the press would be leaving themselves vulnerable to being caught in a lie to the press, and the lie was a lie that would set Congress to send the American people to war, do you really think the CIA would do it? Secret police that are seen as Gestapos cannot last or thrive. So statements from the agency about what it thinks about something are worthless for telling us what it really thinks, but only definitely useful for telling us how it wants to be perceived. Especially if you are inclined to conclude that CIA people are a lot more likely to be like Rush Limbaugh, conservative radio wackos than other types of people, who would probably enjoy the idea of eliminating people who aren't white.

Focus On The Family

The Carpetbagger Report, in a recent post, reported how James Dobson responded to
the Media Matters report on this obvious conservative bias of the Sunday-morning politics talkshows. Dobson's subordinate's complaints included, for one, that Focus was afraid that Dobson would get spoken to in a disapproving tone. I've actually noted Tim Russert's modus operandi of of his voice to communicate approval for Republicans and disapproval for Democrats. I expect Dobson would receive the same warm treatment from Tim.

the media and blogs

Just a little sidenote on this post from yesterday: if the media is doing all this on mainstream newspapers and tv stations, including news channels, how much easier would it be to accomplish the same effect with blogs?

How do you know for sure that all the bloggers you love best aren't something different than they claim to be? Reason by analogy from Republicans' voting in other parties' primaries. That's a long-standing and common practice, that wasn't hard for people to think up- you kow Republicans have been involved in many similar practices. And what if like 85% of the commenters on a favorite blog you read weren't really liberals, but were there to create a misperception and a bandwagon effect? How hard wouldn't that really be to do?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Few Words On The Media

A few days ago, the Carpetbagger wrote this and I wrote this. So what's going on with the media? I think everyone who pays attention can agree it seems like something- from our own experiences with the major outlets, to what we see reported on in the blogs, to all the things Media Matters catches because they're looking for it all the time, the irregularities in the media have been proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, irregular. FNC's regular promotion of statements a blog later proves false, or headlines that are misleading, without ever a correction or a retraction, make FNC's operations equal to those of a propaganda news organization in a fascist state. So I have to ask you, if someone is using improper influence on major newspapers throughout the country as well as major news channels, why after all these years hasn't evidence turned up? Why hasn't the scandal come to light as evidence of any scandal involving bumbling party politicians and activists always inevitably does? If this is just the people who do K-street, if this is just the Harriet Miers types, the young Republicans, the people who were involved in the prosecutor purge scandal or the outing of Valerie Plame-- just threatening to blacklist people or to spread gossip about them, the usual modus operandi we always hear about by way of explanation-- why hasn't somebody leaked something about it this time? Think about that, and you'll start to appreciate why I write on my blog and say in my videos that someone has to create an organization to deal with the threat of FNC, and the problem has to be taken seriously by liberals.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Dick Cheney

On Wednesday, the Carpetbagger mentioned that Dick Cheney is refusing to allow reporters who interview him while he's on a trip abroad to quote him by name. The Carpetbagger thinks that this behavior is a snub that reflects disdain for the media, after days of Dick's refusing to talk to the reporters who were following him around. I think that's not what it is. I think that the Vice President is becoming extremely paranoid because he's up to his neck in criminal exposure and despicable deeds. I think that he doesn't want to be quoted by name because he's worried about people tea-leaf reading anything into his comments that could end up leading someone (a reporter, a colleague, a blogger, etc.) to something that could hurt his reputation and career. Think about it: this is Dick Cheney, whose office retains 81 staff members (no one knows why) but adamantly refuses to give out their names when asked. When it started to become an issue people were looking at (people were wondering why would he be so silent about who was working for him) then it finally turned up that there was one list that somebody disclosed the names of all the people working for him to. But prior to that, why deny requests for the names of his staff members all along?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The CIA and the Iraq War

Ever since the months prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there have been a few reports in the newspapers that the Central Intelligence Agency was casting aspersions on the intelligence the White House was relying on to justify the war. The CIA has never given a position on whether the war is needed or justified or said that Bush is wrong to go to war. But doesn't it seem much more likely that the CIA is an extremely right wing organization than a left wing one? After all, even if the people working for them and at least a lot of the leadership really wanted a war for their own reasons, there are a lot of reasons for them to not want to tie their credibility to what they know is faulty information. They and their personnel, present and former, could use other means of promoting the Iraq war, and still be motivated to make the statements in the media. If the CIA got behind faulty information, they would have to make a choice between whether they would be involved in scamming the American people and the world once the military had invaded Iraq and no weapons were found- so: 1) Imagine the incredible difficulties involved in pulling off a hoax that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. Imagine all the people you would have to be able to show the weapons to- the inspectors from the UN / the international community, the American press, statesmen, etc. Then imagine the difficulties of substantiating that story to people who would examine it- the lack of witnesses to a production plant that made the weapons or to transportation operations or storage of the weapons during Hussein's regime of them. 2) If the story fell apart upon inspection or the CIA tried not to hoax it at all, imagine the loss of credibility they would suffer. The CIA, it is safe to bet, does not want to be known to the American people as a group that lies to them to send them to war. Even within the CIA there could be disagreement among people about how involved they should be in promoting the war or the neo-con agenda more broadly, so the CIA would have to worry about lying to and managing its own people after trying so hard to get them to trust their superiors in the agency, and perhaps there simply might be too many people in the agency who knew enough about what was going on in Iraq to know if someone was deceiving people to promote this war.

So there is a lot of reason to be cautious against being seen as endorsing what they knew was false intelligence even if they were very strong supporters of going to war.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Liberal hypocrisy isn't real

If you're looking for liberal hypocrisy, you won't find it at my blog. But I don't spend all day working on my blog, so, something may have slipped in there that may sound inconsistent to some, so just in case it does, I'm going to clear it up. Please be on guard to describe these concepts precisely if you want to talk about them so you won't risk sounding bad to anyone you want to try them out on.

I made two statements, or sets of statements, that I am going to write about. There are a few things about these statements that we have to consider to compare them.

-what are the objects of the statements. Both of the statements are about particular strategies.
-who the people discussed in the statements draw their conclusions about.
-what or how much the people discussed in the statements conclude from the evidence they look at. In one circumstance they seem to think they can draw an airtight conclusion from a single factor; in the other, they seem to think that one can't consider certain evidence of a certain type (not the same type as the factor they drew the purportedly airtight conclusion from in the first circumstance).
-what type of evidence it is the people discussed in the statements used or rejected.

Both discuss particular strategies, but while one set of statements discusses what people's conclusions are- based on those people's ideology or general socioeconomic background- about their own intelligence as it relates to forumlating strategies compared to the ability of conservatives to do the same thing, and whether those conclusions are fair, the other set of statements discusses what we can infer about conservatives from their own accomplishments that are greater than mere wealth-attainment (wealth attainment too often has a lot to do with inheritence, not necessarily merit). Also, while the first set of statements deal with people's more-or-less absolute conclusions (that is, conclusions that A is a necessary result of premise B) about their own backgrounds, the second set of statements deals with people's failure to allow evidence of others' backgrounds in drawing a conclusion about the other people's strategy forming ability, and again, the second set of statements deals with the relevance of different background criteria than just general wealth.

First statement

I stated recently that liberals should not consider their liberal political ideology, privileged socio-economic position or ethnic background as necessarily meaning that they are so much more intelligent than conservatives or people of different backgtounds to the point that liberals conclude that those particular conservatives who are responsible for creating the conservatives' political strategy are incapable of sometimes generating and implementing strategies that those liberals tend not to even think of. This statement actually includes two conclusions, a) that some liberals believe in a Social Darwinism which guarantees a specific degree of intellectual superiority over people of lower socioeconomic backgtound or other different background (pretty absurd, eh?) and b) that some liberals believe that liberals (just for being liberals-- not counting background) are so much smarter than conservatives that this necessarily guarantees the particular intellectual superiority (in terms of plan-making) between the liberals who hold the belief and the particular right wingers who are formulating and implementing strategy (again, not right wingers as right wingers generally). It was my fault for conflating these two statements- I apologize.

Second statement

Later, I made a statement implying that liberals could take the privileged societal position (but here I didn't mean simply socioeconmic background or other background- but rather, leadership positions in politics or government or business which guarantee a hand in saying what goes in terms of crafting conservative political strategy) of particular conservative individuals as support for not concluding that those particular individuals would be so unwise as to take a particular course of action (I didn't say that the conservatives couldn't take the unwise course because of their intelligence and social class, but I implied that their position-- in terms of leadership positions, not wealth-- made it less likely that they would necessarily adopt the unwise response). I implied it could support thinking those people were intelligent and might choose a more intelligent option over a substantially less intelligent one, not that it necessarily meant they would act more intelligently rhan other people do, as I criticized the liberals for concluding of themselves in thinking about others' reasoning. So I was arguing against using political ideology as a measure from which to make absolute conclusions about predicted, reasoned behavior, just as I was in my prior statement. Also I was not using socioeconomic background as a sort of absolute predictor of capacity for intelligent, rational behavior, as I criticized a few liberals for doing in my statement before, but rather I was referring to much more specific criteria (powerful leadership positions) which do not exist among more than a minority of the upper class and are available to a limited extent to members of lower classes- as examples of particular individuals may demonstrate.

So, my statements were not inconsistent at all and they don't lose any validity just because they may be susceptible to being misportrayed as inconsistent by those who like to drum up inconsistency where there is none, or because they might superficially appear inconsistent to people who don't think enough. It was my mistake to conflate the two pieces of reasoning I've described as implicit in my first statement, and although that may have made the first and later statements more susceptible to misportrayal as inconsistent, it certainly doesn't merit the misportrayal, and it certainly doesn't take much thinking to see that the statements I made are consistent, and are wholly sound critiques of obviously flawed conclusions about people.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Just some words on bravery.

Stephen Colbert and Freedom of Speech

When you are in school there are a few different types you meet: there are bullies, who hurt people physically or psychologically because they have screwed up parents (every other day, or every once in a while, the bully may act ok, but this doesn't make them stop being a bully any more than your mother's or babysitter's hiding behind her hands when playing peek-a-boo with you as a toddler made that person cease existing; the bully knows what he or she is doing), there are people who cheer on the bullies (who don't look or act like bullies, who don't think of themselves as bullis, but who are because they condone what the bully does), there are people who get picked on by the bullies and who never really accept how they're being victimized- who go through life always thinking that the bully is about to start appreciating them or that the bully really likes them, and that he or she isn't just a clod who never changes And then there are people like me: people who realize that there are some people who just want to hurt people (because it makes them feel significant), some people who cheer those who hurt others on (because they are weak), and some people who are victimized and never own up to it (because they are cowardly), and that you can't make everybody perfect and you just have to accept the types that are out there and that when you have to deal with them you just need to get them to do what you need them to in terms of their own way of looking at things, their own paradigm.

These two (I was interrupted in making them) are my take on Stephen Colbert's gutsy words at the 2006 White House Correspondent's Association Dinner. They're very simple and they're each under 4:00.

Simply McCain

This is the video I refer to in my recent videos about Sen. John McCain (R. AZ).I took this video down for a few days but here it is again- a short one explaining as briefly as possible my take on the recent appearance by John McCain on Meet The Press.

Below it is a predecessor video explaining some of my thinking in more detail. Both videos refer to remarks I've written elsewhere.

As the quickest stand-alone statement of what I thought, the newest/shorter video on this post is the best, but for more insight into how I reached my conclusion, watch my other videos.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sunday, February 18, 2007


These are some thoughts on my blogging and commenting that will be useful if you have some time to look at them.