Define “Intelligence”

Over at Alternet, an article by Steven Rosenfeld claims that the report released by the Trump administration included faked information, information not actually reviewed by or known to Trump when the decision to strike Syria was made, and otherwise misleading crap meant to help Trump politically, but not actually representing Trumps actual reasons for bombing human beings. Contextualizing the information for us, Rosenfeld reminds us this isn’t the first time something like this has happened:

President George W. Bush’s White House fabricated intelligence concerning Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction before his April 2003 invasion of Iraq. What seems to be unfolding at the top ranks of the Trump administration is similar to Bush’s pronouncements and evidence following the 9/11 terrorist attack.

The primary difference between the two situations is that the fake facts of Bush were released in advance of the attack on Iraq while the fake facts of Trump are being released after the attack on Syria.


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Hold My Beer: It’s greatly to his credit…

In my last post, I mentioned (inter alia) that the Physiocrats gave us the phrase “Laissez Faire Economics” through their policy guiding advice against regulations of the trade in grains, flours & breads that were intended to stop hunger. Despite riots in the spring of 1774 and again, more notably, in the spring of 1775*1 (the latter of which*2 were both serious enough and of such obvious focus and origin that they were named Les Guerres des Farines), the Physiocrats argued against regulations and social services that would prevent flour shortages and, as a last resort, simply pass out food to the people when shortages did occur. An individualist capitalist analysis made the authors sure that the wealth of the nation – the wealth of the king – would be increased if only the government could see fit to scrap regulations of the agriculture trade and harden their hearts to the temporary consequences of their wealth-building policies. The Physiocrats didn’t want their gloriously perfect economic regime to be destroyed by such human failings as pity or empathy. Riots? Pshaw. “Laissez faire, laissez passer” they told the King’s government: “let them happen, let them pass by”.

Stabilization: bad. Unbridled self-interest: good.

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Is it okay to wax nostalgic for Marie Antoinette?

While a number have agued that Marie Antoinette has been unfairly maligned, it’s my rather historically-uneducated opinion that any damaging stories likely misrepresent her more in degree than in kind. After all, historical facts include her incredible luxuries and the wealth that she lavished on the gardens and palace of Versailles – wealth that had to come from somewhere – and not only Antoinette’s public campaigns for food-charity (before, after, and during les Guerres des Farines) and opposition to the new economic ideology described at the time as “laissez faire, laissez passer” and remembered today as “laissez faire economics”.

The previously dominant economic ideology of France was one that demanded royal regulation of and intervention in the markets for necessities, in particular those for flour and for finished breads. Les Gendarmes (“Les gens d’armes” or “men at arms”) of the day carried the name contemporary French police forces still use, but they were more properly understood as a civil service with broad responsibilities including, but not limited to, keeping the peace. The security of French persons was understood, quite obviously, to be as threatened by hunger as much or more than it was threatened by violence, and les gendarmes, acting on behalf of the king, had for centuries acted to make sure food was shared during famine and to prevent price gouging.

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When do we take them at their word?

 

Sean Spicer:

I think when you come to sarin gas, there was no, he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Ashad [sic] is doing … there was not in the — he brought them into the Holocaust center, I understand that, but I’m saying in that the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down, to innocent, into the middle of towns, it was brought, the use of it,

Steve King:

Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.

Emphasis mine.

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For Your Enjoyment: Oops, He Did It Again

And I thought it was mere cynical humor. I’ve been tipped off about another PZ Myers prediction, this one even more specific. In his 2013 post, “Some people are born for twitter,” PZ says:

[S]ometimes [Twitter is] a good way to reveal the idiocy of bubble-headed celebrities. Case in point: Donald Trump.

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Section 40 and the Free Press

Clearly bad actors are found in all fields of business or employment. I am even forced to concede that, on rare occasions, someone involved in my own prestigious field of blogging might misbehave. This fact is one of the underpinning justifications for the creation of boards of regulation for certain businesses and professions. In many cases, however, the regulators either don’t focus on the proper priorities or they are even created for entirely spurious reasons.

In the UK we’re seeing regulation of the field of journalism that displays gob-smacking amounts of each of these flaws. The UK has already been roundly criticized for inviting “libel tourism”,*1 but new legislation amending the Crime & Courts Act would create a strong presumption that media outlets will pay the court costs of both parties in any libel action. Because of the language that it amends, it’s fairly clear that this is supposed to undercut the presumption that when someone wrongly accuses you of libel and then loses in court, it’s unfair for the courts to order the innocent media outlet, author, or artist to pay the costs of the party that made the wrong accusation.

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