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Blatherings

Stupid lies and Clever lies
Previous | Next by Casey 25 June, 2003 - 7:50 AM

There is a difference between a stupid lie and a clever one, a lazy lie and a calculated lie. The end result is the same though and both should be impeachable offenses.




6/25/2003 >> rich

The WMD argument is totally over my head and I do not think all of the information is in yet. I will with hold judgment on that one for now. I will pounce on him with the rest of you when the time is right.

However. Every tax rate did go down. While not every American received at tax cut, every tax payer did. There are charts and what not, but really the only part of the equation that you need to know is this. The first $6000 of gross income (after deductions) is now taxed at 10% rather then 15%. Savings of hrum... $300. If previously after deductions you had only a $100 in taxable income you would have paid $15 in federal tax, now you pay $10. It is really pretty simple. Everyone, that pays income tax, did get a tax cut.

A link of interest

Oh and Republicans are not the only ones who have thought tax cuts spur the economy. See John Kennedy


6/25/2003 >> Render

Whoever told you that a principal quality of a leader is to always tell the truth sold you a bill of goods.

While, at a simplistic level, a true statement may be said to be good and a false statement bad (to the extent that false statements frequently interfere with our appreciation of reality and, therefore, our determination of morality), the same can not be said about the _act_ of making a true or false statement. There are most certainly statements which are true, insofar as they accurately reflect reality, but the expression of which will result in bad and foreseeable consequences (repeat after me ... 'yes, those pants make you look fat').

The question of how to provide oversight of an entity that may best serve its assigned purpose by stating falsehoods or keeping the truth to itself is also an interesting paradox.

However, politics rarely has much to do with leadership, so it is not uncommon for the people in the various governing branches to act foolishly. They say things like "I am not a crook", and they avoid saying things like "yeah, she blew me good, but she didn't inhale."

And they ALWAYS, without fail, make statements like "this tax cut will help everyone" and "this tax increase will improve the economy". Statements about taxes are special. Economics is so complex, tax law so convoluted, the contrast between capitalist and socialist beliefs so divisive, and the willingness of various pundits to drop and switch contexts as it suits their purposes so prevalent that it is nearly impossible to make a statement about taxes that everyone will conclude is true, even with pages upon pages of refererences and numbers. If nothing else, the fact that taxes are largely about statistics should put almost any statement about them into question (keeping in mind the saying about "lies, damn lies, and statistics").

For instance, Bush says that he lowered the "tax rate". If you ask three people what a "tax rate" is, you'll come up with at least four definitions.

The article mentioned above references another Slate article (by the same author ... damn, there's nothing like pointing a link at your own articles to give the semblance of validity by consensus) in which he mentions that "this tax-the-poor meme [reflected by some statements supporting Bush's tax changes] has acquired some respectability inside the conservative think tanks [...]". He's not hiding his bias. Given the malleability of any statement about taxes, it's hardly surprising that he supports the idea that Bush has lied about the consequences of his tax plan. He's not alone. There's an equal number on the other side of the fence who can justify the opposing view. It's a useless debate. Do the research yourself, but understand that the conclusion is going to be specific to the information you were able to find, your existing knowledge, your ability to think logically or judge objectively, and your personal value system.

Many people view most of the purposes behind taxes to be an invalid use of government power. However, with the exception of the anarchists, most of them believe that increasing the safety of the citizens of the country is a valid purpose. But don't expect them to agree on the "how", "why" or "when". And don't be surprised by the political shell game after the fact ... even if you could justifiably claim that a president saved every person on the planet, his opponents would spin the facts to their own purposes.

For instance, the statement that Bush lied that Iraq had WMD. The statement is not that he was wrong, but that he _lied_. I can't even begin to count the ways in which I find this laughable, so I'll just refer to this article, which does nicely.

Which is not to say that Bush is not a stoopid shit. He almost certainly is. These just don't happen to be the best examples of that fact.


6/25/2003 >> Casey

Rich, what's wrong with this?


6/26/2003 >> rich

Honestly I really don't totally understand how they got their numbers. I mostly likely need more of an accountant mindset. What I want to know is what is wrong with my numbers? Because I am fairly sure I have it right on how the first bracket of the income tax cut works.

Some gibberish in the bottom part of that document might be were the discrepancy between my analysis and their analysis is however.
(2) Taxpayers with negative AGI are excluded from the lowest income class but are included in the totals.
(3) Taxpayers are defined as returns with positive income tax liability net of refundable credits (EITC and
additional child tax credit). Taxpayers who are dependents of other taxpayers are excluded from the analysis.


6/26/2003 >> Casey

Render, in reference to your lesso,n I agree with you that all leaders lie. However I don't think what constitutes a lie is as complicated as you make it sound, no more so than what the definition of "is" is. I'm just thinking that if a president can be impeached for lying under oath about his sex life, then we certainly should impeach one for lying to us about the grounds for a tax cut. In conservative circles I'm becoming more and more affiliated with, I hear "its about the principle". No situtational ethics, a single morality applied to all. If so, we should subpoena Bush to re-tell some lies under oath and then impeach him for it, right? If not for a tax cut then maybe something a little more trivial, like his record in Vietnam? Or past drug use? It hardly matters, the point is he's going to lie about something scandalous if you put him under oath.

Now as far as the whole WMD thing. I think the logic proverb "absense of evidence not being evidence of absense" applies here. However, you may all remember that Bush put the responsibility of proving Saddam Hussein had no WMD on Saddam Hussein. In that case the logic proverb "its impossible to prove a negative" also applies. No matter what Saddam may or may not have done Bush could always make some accusation, as long as burden of proof rests with the accused, you can never lose an arguement. Unfortunately now its come to bite him in the ass, because he's inheirited Saddam's problem. The burden to prove there were any WMD at all now rests with Bush and if he doesn't find any, then the conclusion will be they never were there (as wrong-headed as all this war logic is). That isn't even the right conclusion though, the right conclusion goes like this:
"Mr. President, you assured us that Saddam had WMD"
"Now you cannot find any, did they ever exist?"
(he can't say "no" here)
"Yes Saddam still has them hidden somewhere"
"Mr. President, if you cannot find them, and they are still there, doesn't that mean that the potential threat of them still exists? Perhaps these WMD were transferred to another hostile state? In short Mr. President, wasn't this invasion of Iraq a waste of time if the only outcome is to have these materials that threaten our country still flaoting around? Aren't we less safe now, after the war, in not knowing where these WMD are, than we were when we knew Saddam Hussein had them?"


6/26/2003 >> Casey

Rich, PS:

Its not gibberish, AGI stand for "aggregated gross income". Those with negative AGI's exclusion from the lowest income class would not change the data in any way.

The second bit just means they defined taxpayers as people who still owed taxes after credits. (ie, if you had some many tax credits that you didn't need to pay any net tax, they didn't call you a taxpayer)


6/26/2003 >> Render

a.If you're talking about a "lie" about taxes, then yes, it is that complicated, because no-one can even agree on the semantics, let alone the facts. For instance, whereas Bush talks about the fact that his plan will reduce "tax rates" (which Rich referred to above), this Chatterbox guy and the analysis he refers to address "tax cuts". Some people think the two are synonymous, some people don't. Guess which group thinks Bush lied. My point there was that you're not going to have a consistent objective standard with which to judge the truth or falsehood of statements about taxes.

b. I agree that "it's about the principle". However, I also think that most people couldn't identify a principle if their lives depended upon it (which it would, if evolution was still doing its job). Just because the same term, "lie", is used, doesn't mean two lies in and of themselves are morally equivalent. Next time you hear someone say that it's all about the principle, ask them which principle they're referring to. It'll be good for a laugh.

c. Let's treat the WMD question in context ... 1- We know Hussein did have them, because he's used them, he admitted having them at the time, and the early inspectors saw them. This is well documented. 2- We know, in general, the quantities he had because of the work of UNSCOM and other services in the late 80s-early 90s. 3- The UN gave him guidelines and inspectors that were specifically intended to identify, approve and monitor the destruction of said weapons. 4- Hussein kicked those monitors out while known stockpiles still existed. 5- During this period, we know that he continued to try to develop weapons programs (or do we think Clinton lied, too, when he ordered the strikes in '98?) 6- Hussein had a history of hiding, camoflaging, and covertly stockpiling all kinds of things (like the gas centrifuge parts recently revealed buried under a rose garden). 7- Hussein had a history of stating that he will not allow a "violation of Iraq's sovereignty" and, therefore, would not comply with UN resolutions. 8- During the period that Hussein permitted inspectors to be in the country, he consistently and blatantly continued a campaign of deception with regard to the quantity and location of weapons (e.g., holding inspectors at the front gate for hours while they moved trucks in, loaded them up, and drove them off). 9- The weapons would have had to be destroyed in a specific way to be safe, yet the only location the inspectors were shown in which said destructions supposedly took place was a pit in which they were, supposedly, exploded (which, of course, is not safe at all) and in which no residual trace could be detected. 10- Iraq was a Stalinist police state, which means that there was tight, centralized control. People going off without Hussein's knowledge and taking initiative was frowned upon, to say the least. Everything is directed from the top. 11- It also means that the government was demonstrative of bureaucracy in the extreme ... there's a paper trail for damn near everything, which is what UNSCOM used (in part) to determine what quantities had been produced, and which would have resulted from any process of destruction. 12- Despite their equivocation on the decision to escalate the issue with Iraq, no country on the security council disagreed with the conclusion that Iraq had WMD. 13- Despite bringing in South African advisors to tell him how he could demonstrate that he no longer had WMD (SA had recently voluntarily gone through the same process the UN wanted of Iraq), Hussein made no real concerted effort to do so.

Ignore all of this and, yes, you might be able to say that we were asking Hussein to prove a negative assertion. Ignore all of this and, yes, you might be able to say that now Bush is in the same situation.

d. If WMD were transferred to another hostile state, all that demonstrates is that we were too late, and should have moved sooner. This serves more to condemn the UN and Bush's effort to act within the UN framework (which is something Clinton rarely bothered to do) than to demonstrate the futility of the war.

e. If they are still there, but buried, and the governing framework of Hussein's centrally controlled state is gone, then the hope is that the weapons will degrade before they are discovered by someone with the knowledge and intent to use them. This, also, is not an indictment of Bush's statements. One nice benefit of that form of government ... take away Hussein and his staff, and the ability of the remaining government to perform any concerted, directed action is reduced dramatically, even if they had been given the knowledge and weren't thoroughly conditioned not to act without instruction.

f. Do you honestly believe that the "only outcome" of the fall of Iraq centers around WMD? They weren't even the only justification for the war _before_ the war. The positive consequences I can list are legion and range from the blatantly obvious elimination of government managed murder of children to the far more subtle coincidental significant increase in Iranian pro-democracy protests and activities (which still aren't getting much US press coverage, which I find 'interesting').


6/26/2003 >> rich

I was writing something trying to make the same points as above but render did a good job. I am just going to have to ditto head him.
Just to provide a source to ballence Slate regarding WMD I will quote this lovely site.
http://www.rightwingnews.com/quotes/demsonwmds.php
and no, if other people lied it does not make it right for Bush to lie.


6/26/2003 >> Casey

Render, yes well done. On the point of "f" though. I have always felt that we did the right thing in Iraq and that it was about way more than WMD. However Joe six-pack never felt threatened by Saddam Hussien until Bush started linking him to Al Queda (lie) and exagerating his capabilites to manufacture WMD (lie). Bush had to lie to get Americans to support the war. I don't think that the aims of the Iraq war (as Bush represented them) have been achieved better than they would have been had sanctions simply continued. So while I don't care that Bush has invaded Iraq, or even that I think it was a good thing to do, I'm beginning to care that he lied (and I do think he lied), particularly about the threat of WMD and the Al Queda link. it seems like everyday there's an new article about cooked intel


6/26/2003 >> rich

Along the same lines as Casey I am bothered at polls that show something like a thrid of the country thinks that Sadam had something to do with 9/11. He didn't, no really, nothing to do with it.
I also supported the war for reasons other then fear of WMD. Honestly all that was needed for me was his flaunting of post Gulf War I agreements.


6/27/2003 >> Casey

As a follow-up to clarify my position, so you don't think I'm being self-contradictory, let me say that I think invading Iraq was a good thing to do because in the long run the Iraq people will better off for it. The Iraqis couldn't get rid of that fucker on thier own and they really needed him gone. However, I think the whole Iraq war hasn't had any benefit at all for Americans. It didn't improve our security at all, and frankly I'm worried its actually made us more of a target and thus less secure. I felt as threatened by Saddam Hussein as I did by Castro. So sure, invading Iraq, good thing from a humanist perspective, stupid thing from an American perspective. I would feel the same way about invading Cuba.




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