Radio Hosts to Pay for Lewdness

I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I’m not a Howard Stern fan. But if he didn’t break the law or violate his contract, I’m not sure how they can get away with this. Beyond all that, it seems hypocritical to me for Howard Stern to be suspended for a particular remark. Part of his act is skirting the thin line between taste and trash. The Clear Channel stations that carry him have high ratings (and probably a lot of ad revenue) as a result. But I guess there’s a lot more hypocrisy going around after the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl.

Secret Report Warns of Iraq “Balkanization”

Financial Times scoop on a secret report indicating fears of Iraq dividing into multiple regions (most likely a Kurdish north, Shia south, and Sunni center). So in addition to not finding nukes, biological weapons, or chemical weapons, and creating a convenient target for anti-American sentiment with the troop presence, the occupation could spark a civil war. I don’t think we need any other information to say conclusively that going into Iraq was a really bad idea.

The CIA: Method and Madness

Ok column by David Brooks in the NY Times today about the problems with the way the CIA analyzes threats against the US. In general, the points he makes about the use of “scientism” to predict these threats to the exclusion of all else is correct. He doesn’t specify the lists of errors that the intelligence community has made, but the general point that they’ve missed threats by non-rational actors is perhaps the most important he makes in the entire column.

If there’s any problem I have with the column, it’s the idea that “scientism” has no use whatsoever. Implicit in that argument is a defense of the creation of a new intelligence unit within the Pentagon. They operated on the sort of intuition that Brooks advocates. But without the sort of processes and actual intelligence know-how that exists in the CIA and elsewhere, intelligence information of dubious credibility was put forward as fact.

While relying solely on “scientism” to predict and stop threats isn’t the best idea, neither is turning to the other extreme (going exclusively with your gut, or instinct).