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Current Topic: Politics and Law

Continentalism Of A Different Stripe
Topic: Politics and Law 3:27 pm EST, Mar 12, 2005

Are Canadian provinces and the blue states in the US quietly forging a radical new North American Union?

by Jeremy Rifkin

This article is not available online. Pick up a copy of Walrus at your local newsstand.

Continentalism Of A Different Stripe

How To Skew Intelligence
Topic: Politics and Law 10:05 am EDT, Oct 23, 2004

The Levin report is a primer on how intelligence can be cooked to fit a political agenda. It is another sad reminder of this administration's refusal to hold anyone accountable for the way the public was led into the war with Iraq.

As far as I'm concerned, the voting public must share the blame for not being more demanding, skeptical, and interested.

With two exceptions, the President of the United States is not your father. Do not expect him to treat you like his son or daughter.

If you play the sucker, expect to get taken. The world stage is bigger than your living room.

How To Skew Intelligence

Pre-War Intelligence Report by SASC
Topic: Politics and Law 9:57 am EDT, Oct 23, 2004

This report is the result of an inquiry initiated on June 27, 2003 by Senator Carl Levin, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), and conducted by the SASC Minority Staff.

The report focuses on

1) the establishment of a non-Intelligence Community source of intelligence analysis in the office of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith; and

2) the extent to which policy makers utilized that alternative source rather than the analyses produced by the Intelligence Community (IC) with regard to the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship.

This report is highly relevant to the current Congressional consideration of intelligence reform. As the House and Senate consider legislation in response to the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, it is of critical importance that any new structure or organization correct, to the greatest possible degree, one of the most serious and persistent flaws of the current system of intelligence analysis and estimates: the politicization of intelligence.

Full text of the 46-page report is available here.

Pre-War Intelligence Report by SASC

A Foreign Scholar, Kept Out
Topic: Politics and Law 11:17 am EDT, Sep  6, 2004

Tariq Ramadan rightly points out how hard it is to critique Western or American policies and institutions during the war on terror without being considered a "threat."

But the question he should be asking is, How does a nation allow for serious criticism, even of its foundational institutions, when it is quite clearly under a real attack?

A Foreign Scholar, Kept Out

Chief Recommendation Toothless, Say Critics
Topic: Politics and Law 11:18 pm EDT, Aug  3, 2004

Very Senior People are going on the public record with quotes like "not what America needs," "this makes no sense at all," "you'd be better off doing nothing," and "worse than useless."

Meanwhile, the White House responds with, "We're going to continue moving forward and talking in more detail about that authority as we move forward and as we work with Congress."

Did I mention moving forward? Did I mention our working group? Did I mention how we're adding detail to our issues list? Did I mention the bagels? Sorry, forget about the bagels. Did you review the read-ahead and contribute your pre-coordinated inputs to the comment resolution matrix?

Another case in point for the weakness of recommendations. On at least two levels.

How much did I just spend for a $10 paperback?

Chief Recommendation Toothless, Say Critics

Congress's 9/11 Fix-It Impulse Is More Outward Than Inward
Topic: Politics and Law 11:13 pm EDT, Aug  3, 2004

As always, introspection goes only so far on Capitol Hill.

It can be enormously difficult to break through the fiefs and jealousies that guard the status quo.

"We're going to create a working group to explore the issue," said Tom Daschle.

Congress's 9/11 Fix-It Impulse Is More Outward Than Inward

Mr. Bush's Wrong Solution
Topic: Politics and Law 11:10 pm EDT, Aug  3, 2004

At a time when Americans need strong leadership and bold action, President Bush offered tired nostrums and bureaucratic half-measures.

No surprise there.

There are a variety of credible ways to construct the job, whether in the cabinet or not, but what Mr. Bush proposed is not one of them. His intelligence director would be in the worst of all worlds: cut out of the president's inner circle and lacking any real power.

We don't care who gets credit. Just get the job done right.

Damn straight.

Mr. Bush's Wrong Solution

RE: The Problem With the CIA
Topic: Politics and Law 6:52 am EDT, Aug  3, 2004

Decius wrote:
] Jeremy says: Gold Star.
] I say: This link is on Free Republic. They are a bad
] reputation for being the Republican version of the Slashdot
] hordes. All power in numbers and no clue. However, the article
] is Stratfor, and hence worthy of attention. It reads a bit
] Republican, which is likely why the freepers have posted it.
] I'm not sure that it is. Stratfor likes to talk about what is
] going on and why. They don't usually talk about what might
] have been done. Its rare that they talk about what ought to be
] done.

The Gold Star is for the two paragraphs quoted, which are neither Republican nor Democrat. And while it is the problem with the CIA, it is also a more universal problem throughout government and the corporate world.

I don't care about Free Republic or the link or the reputation of their hordes. Don't click through. It's just a convenient cache/mirror. Find another one if you want or ignore it.

There are some emerging fundamental disconnects regarding the purpose of the site, of the status of an individual entry/article, and so on. The notion that an entry is a request to "click through" a particular link is one of the disconnects.

In this case, and in many others, the link is simply a convenient method of attribution. The text of the entry itself is the message. Do not click through. Go directly to the next post. Do not collect $200.

On 16 April 2004 you quoted a back-looking Stratfor article.

On 12 September 2002 you did the same.

On 20 May 2004 you did the same, in which Stratfor "offers an opinion", in your words.

On 20 March 2004 you expressed similar reservations about Stratfor "going political" on you. I didn't understand your William Safire comment at the time, and I still don't. Presumably it's not you, it's me.

As for why George Friedman isn't running for office, I'll quote you at

I've come to the conclusion that you actually want shifty, dishonest politicians elected by an apathetic populace. This means that things are working.

There are two reasons that people act: Carrots and Sticks. Lowering the barrier to entry might be a carrot, but the sticks are much more effective and come when the political situation makes it impossible for people to go about their lives without acting.

I'm confident that technology has improved the resources available to people if/when they choose to act. So far they don't need to, largely. Don't wish for times when they do. When people are involved and committed and political leaders are honest and have clear vision; that usually happens when things are really, really fucked up. Who are the U.S. Presidents we most admire? What was going on during their presidencies?

This can also explain why Stratfor "goes political" from time to time.

RE: The Problem With the CIA

The Problem With the CIA
Topic: Politics and Law 1:05 am EDT, Aug  3, 2004

There is a corporate culture in America that says as long as the process is adhered to, people have done their jobs. Orderly, predictable processes that can be clearly mapped and explained are not an end in themselves. The time and effort spent on them can be justified in only one way: success. Over and over, the lovers of ISO 9000, 9001 and endless other standards confuse the means with the end. They embrace order -- even when it leads to failure.

That is what happened at the CIA: A culture of process destroyed a culture of excellence. There are many outstanding people at the agency, in both the Directorate of Intelligence and in Operations. The agency's obsession with the intelligence process crushes these people daily. Those who flourish in this environment are those who can sit through long meetings without falling asleep. The people who can peer through the darkness and see the truth are either sucked into the surreal world of modern management or shunted aside.

Gold Star.

The Problem With the CIA

Protect Consumers, or Big Business?
Topic: Politics and Law 11:59 am EDT, Aug  1, 2004

Apparently, the FDA, along with the president, functions on a plane where errors are not made and judgments and decisions never need to be revisited.

For those of us who see questioning and constant re-evaluation as essential to progress of any kind, this is one more frightening reminder that our administration is taking us down the wrong road at ever increasing speed.

Protect Consumers, or Big Business?

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