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.