Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Debates: How they can help arrive at truth

As you're well aware, the media is a-buzz with talk about the Fitzgerald grand jury, and how Bush and Cheney are in real trouble.

I looked back at an old post on the same topic, and found something interesting.

Jul 2005 I was having an interesting debate with a fellow Republican.

As you can see from the headline, the information simply matches what we now are hearing about Bush, Cheney, and Fitzgerald.

Which is the point: What people are talking about in October 2005 isn't "news," it's timely.

News is actually "new things." But we actually "knew" this earlier. How?

* * *

Take a look at a single line of text in any speech. It is either true, false, uncertain, or somewhere in the middle of this scale.

Nothing needs to be 100% certain for it to be true.

Conversely, given both true and untrue information, we can still make a judgment about facts: What did or didn't happen.

This is the situation with shading, and hints of what is going on: We don't have to "have 100% proof" of something to make an informed decision.

The way a sentence is structured can lead us to insight into what is or isn't a problem with the logic, evidence, or argument.

* * *

If you take a look at the general arguments presented in blue you'll see where the logic falls down.

Each of these logic-problems leads to more questions. Either the answers are resolved; or there are more questions.

A sign of a problem is when there are more questions than answers. This means that things aren't adding up.

* * *

Based solely on the conversation I had, and how the arguments were framed in this interchange, I concluded that there was a problem with the President's standing.

Indeed, there were many other people talking about it. But the point is that based on a single anecdote, a fatal flaw in the "most sure fire defense" can tip the balance on whether we believe or disbelieve a version of events.

If things don't add up, are not defendable, or the argument isn't stacking up, the decision will more likely than not be more true than false.

* * *

The point is that you can do this with any sentence, text, blog, or piece of written material.

This is the value of debating: Each side can learn what is strong or weak with both arguments, not just their own.

Eventually, the scale tips one way or the other.

* * *

This is how the adversarial nature of law works: Both sides are presumed to be doing their best to present the arguments, however weak or strong, for their client.

As we heard with Judge Roberts, the court then takes a broad view, applies the law, and then sees where the arguments, facts, evidence, jury instructions, caselaw, and other information guide the court to a decision in that case.

* * *

What's happened in America is that this normal "open, adversarial system" of debate on the Senate and House of Representatives has been undermined.

False, incorrect, and invalid information was injected into the debate.

Also, the evidence was twisted, and certain sources of information [CIA] were given deference: Despite flimsy evidence, and no evidence, "because the CIA said it" [actually it was Cheney], the Congress voted to authorize the use of force.

Not declare war, but give the President the option to do that.

Small problem. The option was also premised on a lie: Why it was needed, what the risks were, and the impact if the President didn't have that option.

It's like a Russian doll: Many layers.

* * *

If you simply look at what someone is saying, and examine what they are or are not saying, you can learn alot about them.

One thing I had been assuming in the blogosphere was that this "new forum of communication" was what people were doing, what they craved, and were hungry for.

I've found the opposite: People talk about truth, but they really mean: "We want others to believe our interpretation of the truth." They don't explicitly admit that "it is an interpretation," but that's what I've found: They want to have information presented in a way that is consistent with what they are familiar with, not simply taking the text as a neutral source of information, and then digging through it.

The problem is that the blogosphere, despite its desire to "find truth," will not take kindly to information that is not obvious, takes time to digest, or is not obviously "one way or the other."

The nuances are what the blogosphere doesn't handle well, especially when the nuances, going forward, are not known.

* * *

You can apply this technique to anything: It's not novel, its simply noticing.

The problem the blogosphere has is when it makes a conclusion that is wrong, but continues to shape and define that information not on its own merits, but in terms of other factors that are unrelated to the argument.

Recall, truth doesn't come from people; it emerges from the text, the logic, and the flaws of the argument.

What I learned was that if enough people are convinced that a particular source [not a way of analyzing] can be discredited, then ignored, that information when it is most true and "in need of getting attention" will get ignored.

That's what happened prior to 9-11.

The arguments were shut down.

* * *

I've also seen in both the blogosphere and in "real life," how the other side of the coin works: Not only are the arguments of the flawed side full of holes, but the level of energy to continue to assert that false reality gets larger.

In other words, the key is to notice not only what is being said, but whether the speaker themselves is convinced based on logic, or passion.

Passion, as I wrote in the "Beware the leader quote" is what blinds people's eyes; logic is what is the path to prudence.

* * *

This nation, for whatever reason, chose to embrace passion over prudence and logic. But this wasn't by chance.

Rather, look at it from the side of those who did this [the debate rages on who was actually behind it; I believe the US government was behind it].

In 1999-2000 time frame, the US was spiraling into a depression. There is a relationship between government spending and macro-economic cycles: This is called a cause-effect relationship. Statistically, if you use a regression analysis of the relationship between economic growth and military spending there is an auto-correlation between the two.

This means that has military spending goes up, so does growth; and as military spending falls, so does growth.

This relationship exists even as the military percentage of total budget outlays falls as a percentage of GDP. ["Even though military spending makes up a smaller fraction of our total output, the auto-correlation still exists.]

* * *

At the same time, in the 1999-2000 time frame, the US was also in the wake of the 1996-8 Asian Financial Crisis.

The problem was that deflationary forces were spreading: This meant that even though there were falling interest rates, the Federal Reserve was having less and less effect on the economy.

The problem also was that as the Fed was lowering interest rates to 0%, it was still having problems impacting the economy.

This was well discussed in the early 1990s, and for the most part dismissed, ignored, and explained away. The Federal Reserve staffers in various of the regional districts emphatically asserted that deflation wasn't a problem, and would never be.

Small problem: deflation arrived, and prices were falling despite reduction in interests rates; and despite increases in the money supply. Theoretically, inflation is a function of the money supply: As the money supply increases at a rate faster than the output of goods, prices will rise. [This is a simple way of looking at it].

* * *

The problem the Fed was having was that the normal relationship between interest rates, money supply, and inflation were turned upside down: Increases in the money supply were not effectively translating into increases in inflation.

Rather, we had the opposite, or "bad deflation": Increases in the money supply were actually driving down prices.

* * *

I speculate that there was a conscious decision to launch the nation on a war footing in 1999. This about the lead time away to produce the jets which would later be retrofitted in Ft Collins and then collide with the towers.

The problem was that the nation wasn't ready for war--the war needed to jump start the economy, get the economy out of the deflationary spiral we were slowly entering.

* * *

Bush entered the office not knowing about the real story about the Asian deflation. He had promised to cut spending, not engage in nation building, and not to use our military forces to go on crusades around the globe as Clinton had done.

Small problem. The economy wasn't cooperating.

* * *

Based on what I've been able to figure out, it appears as though there was a conscious desire and plan to arrive at the decision: War, but without regard to reality.

This is where the idea of debates comes in: The founders didn't want us to be saddled with debt, nor paying for large wars.

Rather, deflation wasn't really a factor back them: There were just normal booms and busts. Part of the "Adam Smith brutish capitalism" way of looking at things.

* * *

We suddenly had the 21st Century Deflation colliding with the "great promise" of the Post Cold Era.

During the Post WWII era in the US, we enjoyed large and sustained growth around the country. It was, in part, built off the momentum of a WWII victory. [This is simplifying things].

But there's been one nagging problem: The rising debt.

The answer has been to offload that debt onto "someone else," whether it be you as a bond holder, or to a foreign country.

American debt was traditionally safe, and despite high debts people would buy into it.

* * *

The problem with deflation and debt is that as prices fall, so do margins, and this means that the ability to repay those debts falls, just as the debts are rising.

Rising debt, and a falling debt repayment ability.

This translates into a debt default, which we saw in the 1996-7 Asian Financial Crisis.

* * *

The concern in the later 1990s was that this could happen to the US, if the deflation continued. And everything that was being done wasn't working.

So the question becomes: How does a nation, that prides itself on open debates, regulate the flow of capital, prevent booms and busts, and then get out of a deflationary spiral?

In 2001, I speculate that the nation choose to do the WWII-route: Go to war, then expand the war from Afghanistan into Iraq.

All of this was based on fiction.

* * *

The issue going forward, what happens next time there is a downturn in the economy, the Fed gets close to zero, and we're on the verge of another debt-deflationary cycle?

In 2001 we chose war based on illusions.

Are we going to go to war next time based on other illusions?

Or should there be "other mechanisms" to prevent the US having to make up reasons for war, and then starting a war based on falsehoods and illegalities?

* * *

The easy answer is to say, "It will never happen" or "We don't do that." Unfortunately, it appears that that is how the evidence against Bush and Cheney is staking up.

What happened in the Summer of 2002, before the US started its official "non official raids into Iraq," was defense contractors had massive inflows of capital into their stocks. The stocks started to rise.

But theoretically, the Downing Street Memo-decision hadn't been firmed up until later that year.

The reality is that someone inside the White House and Number 10 was meeting with lobbyists and defense contractors on the assumption that war was going to happen, even before they put the story together and lied to Congress.

There are big financial interests who do not want the markets regulated; they enjoy legally engaging in insider trading. If you watch the blips in the market, you can see where funds are flowing. It appears Senator Frisk was involved in some of this insider trading.

* * *

The issue before America, if it is to be a Constitutional Republic is to what extent the rule of law will guide:

  • Our debates

  • National policy

  • Decisions about the economy

    * * *

    Regardless what we choose, if the United States is going to be a nation of laws, which I presume we shall be, then how do we get the economy going and keep the nation out of a debt-deflation cycle when all the options have failed?

    Do we let the situation deteriorate as we did in the 1920s and 1930s?

    Do we implement other options?

    Are there new ways to address the issue?

    * * *

    In the wake of Iraq and Katrina, we've seen how the US planning will fall down. This is, in large part, due to the self-evidently "poor planning": We had a goal to go to war, we just didn't know specifically how we would sell it, or what we would actually do to "define success."

    * * *

    Notice what I just did in the previous paragraph: I simply outlined a simple condition, and then identified the holes:

  • Vague goal

  • Lawful foundation

  • Specifics

  • Success criteria

    Each of these factors fits into an overall framework of "how things get organized".

    By simply noticing just in the text the holes of the argument related to these factors, you can look forward and backward in time to see what has or hasn't been resolved.

    This is what happens in debates: There is an ideal structure of a solid argument; each side take turns attempting to destroy the other's framework.

    Then, time is called, and the court reviews the results.

    * * *

    What happens if the court is encouraged to ignore the real results?

    What happens if one house is undermined using non-sense?

    What if one house is given special shields and protection?

    These are the types of general issues anyone can look at when looking at the text; and it is what happens when the court reviews caselaw, the evidence, facts, jury instructions, and other factors.

    It is based on one simple thing: Logic.

    * * *

    The United States, if it is to be a nation of laws, must decide whether it is going to base its decisions on logic or fantasy.

    * * *

    The RNC has chosen fantasy, and the results are self-evident: Non-sense in Iraq, and no relief effort worth celebrating in the Gulf Coast.

    * * *

    The question remains:

    What will ensure we drive national policy on the basis of factors that are consistent with the rule of law [logic]; or factors that are based on something else [non-logic, or passion]?

    This is at the heart of the "Beware the Leader" quote: A leader will hope to beat the drums of war, muddy people's minds, and then launch a crusade to spend money and keep us out of an economic disaster.

    "Don't look at the facts, Toto. Don't look behind the curtain."

    * * *

    For a Constitutional Republic to survive, the rule of law and logic must always prevail over passion.

    At the same time, if we are to have a nation based on prudence and logic, what is to be done when the national leadership concludes they have no option but to lie?

    * * *

    Given enough time, the excesses in the economy [too much debt] will get wiped out.

    The question is: Are leaders willing to stay within the bounds of the law, ensure voters are taken care of, and do what is lawful to ensure the economy is robust; or will the nation turn a blind eye, let the leadership wander, and take on the passions of absurdity as the Constitution is destroyed by lawlessness?

    We've seen that "the desire to protect the economy" can overshadow the "desire to preserve the rule of law".

    Unfortunately, in the wake of Katrina, our prior rationalizing to ignore the rule of law to "protect the economy" then justified sending troops and national guards men where they were least needed during an emergency at home.

    The war in Iraq was a war of choice. It was known prior to launching combat operations that the force structure was already thin.

    In my view, if the action is truly going to preserve its constitution, then it must commit to that end, and fully mobilize its national population to achieve that end: Preserve both our constitution and our way of life.

    * * *

    The problem we currently have is that this drive to "preserve the way of life" has been a justification to "ignore the rule of law."

    That's the definition of tyranny.

    * * *

    There is hope. One of the plans considered was an export-market for the emerging markets in Africa. In the early stages of the Bush Administration, this started to take root.

    The idea was that there would be something that would not require a war to get out of the debt-deflationary cycle, but something that would transfer the excess debts to future assets. These are called bond swaps.

    In short, the idea was that there would be something that would transfer excess capacity from region 1 to region 2; while at the same time issuing bonds against region 2 and purchased by region 1.

    By getting rid of the excess capacity, and putting seed money into Africa, it was hoped that the deflationary cycle would be offset.

    This option was not chosen.

    * * *

    The question is: What options and financial instruments are needed to ensure that, when we have another wild fluctuation in the economic cycle, planners can use lawful options to better control and mitigate the adverse affects of deflation.

    We chose war. And with that, we chose to undermine our values, system of laws, and we have squandered our national prestige and wealth.

    Katrina just gave the US a kick in the pants, thank you.

    * * *

    Part of what the DNC needs to do is to work with the economic planners to wade through the 1990s Asian Economic problems, figure out what really went wrong, and find out exactly why certain options were or were not used.

    The plan going forward needs to look at how the US will better position itself to weather this type of landscape.

    My attempt at communicating my concerns in the 1990s failed. I would hope that, in the future, as we enter new challenges, there be mechanisms to ensure that information and perspectives get the needed attention.

    The nation chose to bang the drums of war, and broaden the march into many lands.

    Let's look at what needs to get fixed so that the nation can stay within the lane of the Constitution.

    * * *

    As you look at the events unfold around the RNC and the implosion within the White House, know that your job will be to come up with credible alternatives.

    This will take time.

    Your job should be to look at the broad picture. Perhaps you have an entirely different view on what happened.

    That is fine.

    The key, however, must be to know what went wrong, what needs to get fixed, and what needs to be done to ensure our system of checks and balances works, and is not used as an excuse to resort to imprudent wars.

    The key will be to be honest. That is the challenge with government. Nobody wants to say, "It's all my fault."

    At the same time, there are many reports and audits that show the problems. We need to understand what we are trying to do, what resources are going to get there, and whether we are truly committed to implementing the needed solutions to fix those problems.

    This is not rocket science: It is simply the normal budgeting process that goes on each year.

    But we need to figure out what went wacky.

    We owe it to ourselves, unlike what we did after 9-11, to really find out, and really implement a plan that is going to fix what went wrong, and move us forward.

    * * *

    Perhaps we have taken on too much. Maybe the real requirements are too large. maybe the required time to get to that result is far longer than is possible.

    The problem is to believe that "the American public can't handle it" or that "our enemy will exploit it."

    here's hint: The enemy simply has to open their eyes and see what can be exploited.

    * * *

    Our nation needs to make a decision whether it wants to survive as a constitutional republic.

    Do we want to mobilize a nation to assert the rule of law, or assert the rule of lawlessness and war?

    We have chosen the rule of lawlessness. The results speak for themselves.

    We can do better.

    We shall, otherwise our present Constitutional government is at stake. IF that's the case, then it is time to call it like it is: "We're not serious."

    If you're not serious about being honest with what's flawed, regardless what party did or didn't do it, then your time on the stage is over.

    If you want to blog about solutions, fine.

    If you want to dream big things, and implement plans, great.

    But if you're going to simply pretend "you didn't know," all the while you've rejected the information and feedback, you have only yourself to blame.

    * * *

    The current problems we see were well known enough for me to have written this quote, "Beware the leader."

    The question is why is this quote so well known, but the nation has decided to march down the path of fascism?

    The answer is: The nation chose to not debate based on facts; and it chose to lose its head.

    The same thing is going on with these bogus "AlQueda plans." Your "leadership" is doing it to you again.

    * * *

    If you don't want to know, and don't want to think, why are you still reading?

    * * *

    If you do not use your mind, someone else will use yours. That is how manipulation occurs. It's what we've seen in Guantanamo.

    It's also what is going on in the blogosphere.

    I'm still speaking. And the threat that my identify may be disclosed hasn't silenced me.

    You were warned and you ignored it.

    Now, you have a large mess on your hands. And it's time to quit finding someone in the RNC or DNC to blame; eventually, these toads who have failed are going to be replaced.

    Your job is to step in with some lawful plans that are going to move us forward.

    It will be some time before the President and Vice President either resign, get convicted, or are voted out of office.

    Regardless, there will be a Presidential Election in 2008.

    Now is the time to get serious about whether you want your own country to be based on the rule of law and the Constitution; or tyranny.

    Fitzgerald is going to give us some information.

    It is our job to translate that information into a way forward.

    If you want to assert the rule of law and Constitution over tyranny, you made the right choice.

    If you want to play games, make threats, or suggest that people should "be quiet" or "behave" or "make nice in their blog," you're going to lose.

    That's what got us into this mess.

    You have a simple choice: Are you going to pick the Constitution or this Tyranny?

    No matter what you do or say, I'm still here.

    Please, show your desperation. Let the world know my name.

    You have no other option, and it isn't going to work.

    I'm still writing.

    You've lost, and the world knows it.

    It's time to re-read that quote and ask, "Do we need another slap in the face, or are we going to listen?"

    It is your choice. If you don't' listen this time, I will still be talking while you slap yourself for having not listened. Again.

    Pick: The easy way, or the hard way.

    Either way, I'm going to win.

    It is time to discuss based on arguments, not threats nor innuendo, nor silly remarks about "that's not in the right format" or "we don't want to hear it."

    You can no longer hide. The future has arrived.

    Or do you want to read another quote?

    Your choice.